image (4)Hello from the very wet Mountain State. Grow Appalachia Alderson has been so busy these past few weeks. Our transplants are growing well and cold season crop transplants have been moved to a shade house. This will protect them from the killing frosts which are sure to happen before mid May. The semi shaded space also slows the plants down with the help of cool nights and encourages short thick stems. This is so important for vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. Participants are also busy planting early season crops which are direct seeded into their gardens. Seed potatoes, onions and scallions are in the ground along with snow peas and spinach seeds. A couple of growers are trying their hand at low tunnel structures built using PVC pipe and plastic, with pipes or old wood sealing the edges. This should speed germination and growth up significantly. Our April Grow meeting was held this week and participants spent the evening at the Alderson Food Hub Community Garden. We literally got our hands dirty and learned about soil aggregates, tillage and movement of water, nutrients, earthworms and beneficial bacteria in the soil profile. We also spent time talking about bed width, mulching ideas and shared successes and challenges in early season production. Members are looking forward to the arrival of our new tiller this week and being able to get our garden plots tilled and ready to plant. The moisture level has prevented us from any soil work to this point. We are biting at the bit. Our May meeting will be the 11th at Wolf Den Family Farm. We will discuss pest identification and management, and beneficial pests. Integrated Pest Management is a good way to address the pesky problem insects but it also can aid in attracting our six legged friends. One of the most important subject for May’s meeting is harvest and preparation of crops for sales and getting connected with our Alderson Community Market and Green Grocer store. Yes we are busy but we are having a great time getting to know each other and learning together. Happy planting everyone.