Hello, this is Rhonda West reporting from Scott County.
As I arrived at the meeting tonight, I was very pleased to see the parking lot full of cars. I was happy to find that there wasn’t an empty seat in the room. Tonight’s class was “Basic Gardening” with Cameron Lee.
Cameron is the Agriculture teacher at McCreary County High School. He also operates the greenhouse at the high school. I have enjoyed getting to know him. His teaching has brought a smile to my face. He combines the greenhouse/gardening to teach math skills and weight and measure and much more. One of the students was there to help me distribute the last of the potato seed. He looked at me, smiled and asked if I knew that today was “National Tater Day?” I wondered, what is “National Tater Day”?
March 31st celebrates the potato, both white potatoes and sweet potatoes. Potatoes, both white and sweet, can fill many roles. The lowly spud is an essential part of the diet of the economically challenged, providing essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, while being inexpensive, comforting, filling and tasty. Who isn’t comforted by a big hot and steamy bowl of potato soup, a pile of perfectly mashed potatoes swimming in gravy, or that summertime favorite, old fashioned, American potato salad?
Although the white potato is delectable and versatile, those concerned about their glycemic index should avoid them and opt for sweet potatoes. As strange as it may seem, the sweet potato is a far wiser choice. A white potato will cause your blood sugars to rise about 30% more than a sweet potato. Almost any dish that is traditionally made with white potatoes may be made with sweet potatoes. Try sweet potato home fries – delicious. Sweet potato fries are to die for, and hey, a simply steamed sweet potato is a thing of joy.
The white potato has a few more calories than a sweet potato, however, the sweet potato has more vitamins, fiber and calcium. White potatoes have a bit more iron. And look at this; we’re always told we should eat bananas for potassium. Sweet potatoes have more potassium than bananas. Sweet potatoes rule!
Gardeners got their first set of plants from Cameron – broccoli and cabbage. He told them to get their gardens ready and to remember to harden off the plants before they go in the ground. He said to take the plants home and wait a couple of days before planting to prevent shock. Also, make sure that you rotate your garden so you don’t deplete the soil.
Soil testing is highly recommended and be sure to ask your extension agent how to read the soil test result.
He also told them to get their compost bin started. The longer the compost sits the better it will be. “Get your gardens tilled and get ready to plant”. Redbud winter will be gone soon and your plants will be itching to get in the ground.
By the next meeting, we should have lots of things planted – carrots, peas, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, potatoes and onions. At the next meeting, we will get ready to plant warm crops.