Deer, elk, rabbits, squirrels, slugs, beetles, rattlesnakes, and bears, oh my! Amy Grisak knows how to solve those pesky pest problems. An avid gardener for nearly thirty years, Amy Grisak's love for gardening was founded when she helped her father on their 4th generation family farm in Copley, Ohio. From an early age, Amy learned every aspect of growing herbs, flowers, and vegetables from veteran gardeners, even managing her own garden.
After completing her hands-on education working for veteran growers, Amy made a daring move to Montana, where there were more animals than people. She realized quickly that she would have to relearn gardening techniques in the land of perpetual winter. That proved to be an exceptional training ground. Because the ground was glacial till, she used rocks to build 220 raised beds out of the native stone. These gardens have been featured in Garden Design, Fine Gardening, Mary Englebreit's Home Companion, and Sinra (a Japanese publication), amongst others.
As her love for gardening grew, so did her ability to manage nature's pests. Some of Amy's pest challenges include: deer openly grazing her flowers, herds of elk in the backyard, slugs in her garden beds, and even grizzlies licking the barbeque grill! In addition to these critters, the unique Northern Montana climate produces additional obstacles with high winds, alkaline soil, 14-inches of annual precipitation, and radical temperature fluctuations with little snow cover in the winter. To help to combat these weather issues, Amy employs four-season gardening techniques to help to stretch the seasons utilizing floating row covers, cold frames ,and a small greenhouse to stretch her third planting of the season well after the snow flies. She enjoys fresh spinach and other greens for Thanksgiving, and is constantly experimenting to prolong the harvest.
An educator at heart, Amy taught gardening classes for adults and children at her local community college and is currently initiating a community garden in Great Falls where she'll continue to educate gardeners on growing their own fruits and vegetables. She also belongs to the River City Harvest organization whose mission is to provide an opportunity and a hands-on education for individuals and families to grow their own food. With her personal garden supplying more than half of her own family's groceries, she donates the leftovers to other families. A strong passion for Amy is the involvement of children in gardening. She firmly believes in starting them while they are young. For example, her two-year-old son, Samuel, helps with regular watering duties, has his own section of garden, and is already entering his vegetables in the Montana State Fair. Amy also often wears her newborn son, John, in a front carrier as she works in the greenhouse giving this future gardener an eye-level experience.
In addition to being published in Garden Design, Fine Gardening, Gardening How-To, Grit, Mother Earth News, Natural Home, Hobby Farms, and Hobby Farm Home, Amy is a regular garden writer for the Great Falls Tribune and appears on the Darla Shine radio program's gardening segment. To learn more about Amy, visit her personal blog that details her current projects and articles at: http://www.thebackyardbounty.com .