Meet the ‘Maker: Kurt of Kurt’s Dirt
In the middle of urban Austin, Texas lies a 3 acre bright spot of horticulture: Sunshine Community Garden. And deep in the dirt of this this garden is where you’ll find Kurt’s hands most days. In Kurt’s Dirt, if you will. Kurt is the gardener and photographer behind Kurt’s Dirt, an Instagram page that celebrates the beauty of urban gardening through stunning photography. He has been around gardens his whole life, but planted his first solo gardening plot just five years ago. He is also a world explorer – he’s using the garden off-season to travel and collect inspiration for his next gardening project. His Instagram community is following his garden journey through his photographs, and can’t wait to see what gardening innovations he plants next!
What is the greatest challenge associated with growing in a community or urban garden, and how do you overcome it?
The biggest challenge for me, and I’m sure many other urban gardeners, is simply having limited space. My favorite way to deal with the issue is to grow vertically as much as possible. I use trellises, fencing, tall cages, poles, and other structures to help train and support plants to grow upward in order to maximize space. It’s a very efficient way to grow, but also just kind of fun and impressive.
How do you decide what to plant each year?
Growing uncommon varieties is my favorite part of gardening, so I’m always on the lookout for new things that I might want to try. And luckily, it’s relatively easy to get my hands on a wide variety of seeds through various online dealers or seed swaps with other gardeners. When it comes time to actually planting, I like to mix up new-to-me varieties with more proven, possibly less exciting ones that I’ve had success with in the past. This ensures that my harvests won’t be a complete bust if the new varieties don’t work out.
What is one thing your garden will never be without, and one thing you’ll never allow in your garden?
One thing I won’t ever be without again is a watering system. It took me a few years to realize how crucial a tool this is (especially during summers), but it changed my gardening almost instantly. It also frees up time to do other things I enjoy more than watering, like taking photos in my garden. One thing I’ll never allow? Until this past year I would’ve said bird netting, but I had to pull it out as a last resort this past fall to keep the critters from tearing through my corn. Wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done.
What advice do you have for taking stunningly beautiful garden photos like the ones you post?
Change your vantage point — take a closer look, step back, or even get down on the ground to see things from a different angle. For the most part you’re probably taking photos of stuff many people are used to seeing all the time, so try to do something that makes it more interesting. Also, consider the background when you’re shooting. Try to keep it simple so the subject really pops.