This is always an exciting, and daunting, time of the year for me. In spite of how severe this winter has been, I appreciate the shorter days and indoor time to be able to fix things, stand back and take in the dormant garden, and muse about how gloriously green and productive it will be in a few months.
Then all of a sudden the weather turns, buds appear on the trees, and I start to feel a creeping panic. Why did the hoe handle decide to break now? Where did that hole in the fence come from? I forgot to order peas!
I’m grateful to be a part of the Alderson Grow Appalachia group this year as much to be able to expand my own production as to avail myself of the structure it provides. I’ve been a rather undisciplined garden planner in the past, shoehorning in crops where others didn’t come up, even if the spacing and timing wasn’t appropriate. The exercise of making a garden plan well before I turn the soil over has allowed me to reevaluate companion plantings, think more in depth about what to amend the soil with in different places, and strategize about how to manage pests.
I’ve also felt a fresh sense of motivation this year that certainly is a reflection of the creative energies of my fellow Grow Appalachia participants. A few weeks ago, I was motivated to pick up some PVC pipe, rebar, 6-mil plastic and scrap bamboo I had lying around to put up a makeshift high tunnel, with the help of some students from Virginia Tech that were coming through town. It felt like a rebirth of a part of my ambition as a gardener, and sufficiently hillbilly (in the best, most resourceful sense) that it might just work. I hope to see my first rows of greens and carrots this week.
As a member of the Board of the Alderson Community Food Hub, I’ve also been privileged to play a part in the implementation of the program in Alderson this first year. I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know the participants, who I believe represent the spectrum of people in our community. I look forward to learning alongside them and from them, challenging ourselves to coax our best harvest ever from a piece of ground.
– Kevin Johnson