Yesterday Karen and I finished planting our Grow Appalachia community garden. We now have a nice variety of vegetables growing here on campus and in our participants family gardens. It is awesome to see such enthusiasm from our participants as they look at their garden filled with beautiful plants and looking forward to the great food they will provide to their families. We are beginning to see some harvesting  from some of our earliest plants. Here at Red Bird we have harvested a couple bushel of lettuce, a couple gallon of strawberries and we have peas and onions ready to eat. Some of our participants have already harvested and eaten peas, lettuce, mustard and turnip greens and one family graveled out new potatoes. Some were already the size of a grapefruit.

       We now have to focus on tending to these gardens and to stress the importance of a well kept garden to our participants. Another important step is to see that they have the resources they need such as poles for trellising, and organic sprays to ward off all the plant destroying diseases we have here. Proper care of these gardens will have a huge impact on our yield.  We plan on using our gardens here to demonstrate a few different methods to stake, cage and trellis tomatoes, beans and cucumbers as well; as showing the benefits of using some type of mulch. We will also use the raised beds to compare the growth and yield provided by them along with advantage of having the structure around them making it much easier to add fencing for predator protection and adding cover in the fall to create a small cold frame extending your growing season.
 I am also going to show the effects of pruning tomatoes by pruning  two plants and leaving a couple unpruned  and recording their yield so they can see the difference a little extra attention can make, and also as a learning experience for me seeing as I am new to the pruning of tomatoes.