Debbie here, Appalachia Cares/AmeriCorps, at Rural Resources in Greeneville, TN, hoping everyone had a wonderful week!  I have been busy scheduling and re-scheduling garden setups and tilling for several weeks now.  It seems that the rain, as wonderful as it is and needed to make everything grows, knows just when to rain to keep me confused.  As the rain continues to come down, the ground is too wet to till, or I cannot get the topsoil I have on order.  The topsoil cannot be harvested until they get enough dry days to harvest and haul it in.  Half my teens are wanting large tilled up gardens, and the other half can only have raised beds.  I feel like I am not winning very well, but I am winning!  I did manage to begin tilling one garden site this week, but have to call in the “BIG BOY” tiller to do the job.  My smaller tiller just is not breaking up the clay and slate.  If the “BIG BOY” can’t do it, I will have to haul topsoil in or come up with another plan B.  I will not fret, “BIG BOY” is a very powerful tiller and I have total faith it will do the job.  Now, if the rain holds off so we can finish this on Monday!  This coming week is looking like we will have 4-5 dry days, I am re-scheduling my other till jobs, and keeping my fingers crossed on my topsoil.  Just in case my topsoil comes, I am going ahead and gathering all my other necessary equipment – shovels, rakes, boards, nails, screw guns, trailer, tarp, seeds, and plants.  I want to be ready the moment it gets in!

In the mean time, I have a few teens that can only grow things in pots on their porch.  They want strawberries, and who would not!  In preparation for their strawberries, I recruited some help from a Tusculum College student to put together 5 gallon strawberry pots like these:



This is how we made them, if you would be interested in making any yourself.  The bucket can hold a dozen or more strawberry plants, but we only put 10 in.  We took the buckets and drilled 4 holes close together to form a square, then used snipers to cut the squares out.  The squares will be where the strawberry gets placed.  We cut two rows of 6-8 squares.  After cutting the squares out, we drilled a few smaller holes in the bottom for water drainage.  Just a note, a jigsaw would be ideal to cut the squares out, and much simpler than the drill and snipers, but we did not have one on hand to use, so came up with the drill and snipers.

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Now, we can start filling the bucket with dirt.  I filled the bucket a layer at a time with dirt, packing the dirt down slightly.  When I reached the first row of squares, I then place a strawberry plant in every other square.  I added more dirt to the second row, then once again, planted a strawberry plant in every other hole, but alternating the holes from the bottom row.  Then, I finished the bucket up with dirt to the top and planted 3 plants on the top.


The reason I did not put a strawberry plant in every hole, I wanted to leave space for new runners to attach on the sides and produce more plants and strawberries.  By alternating the top and bottom squares with plants, that allows potential for the top plants to run down to the bottom hole.

I am hoping the strawberry plants will do well this way.  These buckets will offer ease to the teens and families.  They will be able to move them around the porch, yard, house, etc. with ease.  They should also be very easy to maintain.  I am looking forward to seeing how they do!

Also this week, I found myself busy building our Farm and Food Training Center for our Land Blessing Ceremony on Thursday night.  I spent many wee hours working on it, and it was not perfect, but was very delicious!


Our land blessing was more of a Rural Resources’ family event to celebrate the milestone for our organization and to begin preparations for a better community!  The cake was a homemade zucchini cake with a cream cheese frosting.  The teens that came out for class today finished up the last bit, and wanted more!  It’s so exciting to see them try new (and some would say) crazy things.

And coming up, we will be hosting, along with our local NRCS office, a soil health workshop.  Please join us if you are in the area.  The information will be presented for pastures, but the same concept exists for those growing vegetables.  It is all about building up the microbes and organisms in your soil so you do not have to fertilize.  Here is all the information, and more can be found on our website


Do you feed your animals below ground? Find out how…
Grazing for Soil Health Workshop
675 West Allens Bridge Road
May 7th, 2015 (rain date May 14th) 1:30-5:30 PM; $20 to register (includes workshop and supper)

SPACES ARE LIMITED. Please register by Monday May 4th: 638-4771, ext. 3, or register online at

As seen on RFDTV, Greg Brann and many other experts will show you what your farm looks like below the surface–and why it matters to your pocketbook.

Hands on demonstrations will show you…
-The Soil Food Web
-Indicator Plants to Help Assess Soil Health
-Effects of Overgrazing
-Soil Testing

I hope to see some of you there!