As Sam Miltich says, "I've sort of asked myself over the years...what is more important: art and music or the outdoors? And I've come to the conclusion that I can't have one without the other. They're both equally important and they balance the other one out. When one is getting to be a lot, the other one steps in and creates a whole new palette; and then I'm ready for the other side again."
We caught up with Sam between gigs. He had just finished the first performance of "The Improvised Life" (spreading his message of recovery from schizophrenia through music) in Cook, had been to Duluth the following day, and then Bagley. Next he was headed to the Twin Cities for a gig at Crooners Lounge with saxophonist Dave Karr.
"Gardening is sort of my little version of Zen," he said. "After a long weekend I get to go into the garden and pick beans or hoe the potatoes, and I can just kind of let my mind wander and not worry about logistics or whatever else."
Sam often finds time to garden on Sundays. "Sundays are typically my down days; sort of designated for baseball and gardening."
"We live in a little white stucco house. There was a lawn out in front of it and I tilled up the entire patch. I went into the mines north of town and got a bunch of rocks, and I got some green stakes and got some wiring, and I dug a trench around it and buried a fence around those posts (I need to redo that because I did find a few bunnies in there this year)! It's just a square patch of tilled-up earth. This year I sort of cut it in half and planted rows. There are 2 rows of beets, and 2 rows of carrots. I had quite a few cabbages because I like sauerkraut in the fall. I just harvested all of my yellow onions--they were ready super fast! I couldn't believe it! This is way early this year!"
The tomatoes did not do well due to blight. "I started getting really depressed because I'm like, 'Oh I can't grow tomatoes anymore. And I love tomatoes and I love tomato sauce,' and I'm like, 'What's wrong with me?'" Then Sam learned about the blight. "Everyone's getting it. It's airborne or something. Next year I'm going to get continer pots and I'm going to try and make an elevated platform for my tomatoes to see what happens."
Listen to the full interview (audio below) to discover how Sam learned to garden in the Miltich home, influences from his Croatian heritage on what he grows, his advice for urban gardeners, and how he just goes out and grabs what's available to make fabulous meals.