Greetings, from Scott County!  Rhonda West, here, reporting on our 2015 kick off of the Grow Appalachia program.  I have had the wonderful job of making the first calls to our new gardeners to let them know that are in the program this year.  It was so fun to hear how thrilled they are to be a part of Grow Appalachia.   Many of our first time gardeners can not believe that it is already time to get started!

Our first meeting was held Feb 3, 2015.   We had a wonderful time getting to know the new gardeners, as well as “catching up” with old friends.

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And look who showed up for the meeting!

Its Buddy!  Meet Buddy, one of our favorite gardeners.  He is our jail manager, Gayther’s, dog.    He never leaves Gayther’s side.   Buddy spends more time in the garden that just about anybody I know.

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We are glad to have you back again this year, Buddy!


This first meeting was a very important orientation for our new gardeners.  They had a chance to meet the Grow Appalachia team and were introduced to the program with a short video and slide show presentation of previous years.  Seeing what we have done in years past got everyone excited about all of the possibilities for this year.  The new gardeners were also presented with their participant notebook, which is full of important program and  useful gardening information.  Topics that were covered included program goals, expectations, garden planning, and how to collect soil samples. The meeting was concluded with a garden planning session.  Each participant put their gardening dreams on paper.   This was a lot of fun!  Deciding what to plant, where to plant, and how much to plant can be challenging for a first time gardener.   We encouraged them to create their (realistic) dream garden, and to consider planting extra to sell in the marketplace.  We were really proud of the results.

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The meeting really caused us all looking forward to getting our gardens started.  And then came:


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On the bright side, I guess that we should all be thankful for the snow that we have had these past couple of weeks.  One of our experienced gardeners, Elbie, told me that the snow covering has actually helped to protect the plants.  The perennials have been insulated by the snow from the -8 degree weather. Even the grass is green under the snow!   In some places the daffodil bulbs are about 4 inches in growth.

Check out what Elbie has been doing to keep plants, chickens, and gold fish alive during this cold winter weather.


Elbie covered her greenhouse with a solar pool blanket…genious!

Ice was blocking the door, but Elbie was able to reach her hand and phone inside just enough to get this picture.  This glimpse inside her greenhouse shows all the beautiful green plants!

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Elbie has various plants. Some that are even considered too tender to live in this area.  In addition to growing tomatoes and a wide variety of herbs, she is growing “cuttings” from her outside plants that might not have made it this winter.  Wow!
Elbie is using incandescent light inside the roost to keep her chickens warm…and it might be helping with laying too.  She has a variety of chickens, including black sex-linked, americana, and barred rock.
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She has recycled these blue coffee containers and she swaps them out daily. She doesn’t fill them all the way up in the morning so she can add more water a couple of times during the day.  This way they have access to non-frozen water.

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Elbie has had her pond covered with a vinyl tablecloth and blanket during the winter and kept the pump going.  During the -8 cold she put the metal water heater in the second tier to keep it from freezing.


It only activates at really low temperatures. The gold fish are still alive!

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Elbie, you are one smart cookie!  We are so proud of you.