Sun, warmth, plants, beaches, swimsuits, sand, oh!  Boy, it is so easy to get distracted with the sun shining so bright, warm air moving in, and dreams of sandy white beaches and swimming take over.  Debbie, Appalachia Cares/AmeriCorps, here in Greeneville, TN, enjoying warm and sun at Rural Resources!  I am so excited to begin thinking that we might have a bit of dry sunny weather and can FINALLY, again I say, FINALLY get some gardens tilled, built, amended, and planted!  Of course, this means many afternoons of hitting the dirt with teens to get everyone growing by the end of May.  That’s 15 new gardens, and 5 existing gardens that need a bit of work, not much, but many hours and days of “a labor of love”.  With all of this, there is still my normal weekly classes with 2-3 groups of teens, special events/demonstrations, field trips at the farm, reporting, animal care, gardening, etc, etc, etc.  We all know how much work piles up, and this is the time to be quite busy.  So, I am rolling up my sleeves and tackling one task at a time.

First task – invite to healthy soil workshop – Yes, you are all invited to our event on Thursday, May 7, 2015, 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.  Call us at 423-636-8171 to register.  The fee is $20 for the workshop and dinner.  I mentioned this in the last post, but it never hurts to share it again.  Come stop and see us if you can.  Learn how to feed those microbes and organisms that live underground.  Don’t worry, I can’t see them either, but they do exist and need nourishing.  Find out how to nourish them to make them flourish and in turn making your soil healthier for grass production!  A lot of this information will be useful to the gardener to keep healthy soil as well, not just a herdsman.  Here is a link to the information about the workshop, hope you make it!  healthy soil

Second task – tomato planting – Yep, we are hardening our tomatoes and hoping to plant them at the farm this week!  Melissa has been busy starting 21 varieties of heirloom tomatoes.  We sold some today, and the rest are going into the ground!  She will be very busy planting, I am sure, about 200 tomato plants for use in our programming, our CSA, and going home with some of our families.


Third task – move pigs UGH – Well, Ham and her babies need a shelter for a few days till the calf hutch gets in for their more permanent housing, and Momma pig needs to be put into the farrowing barn. She is ready to pop!  So, today was the deadline to move Momma in and have a shelter for Ham and babies as Momma is due Monday.  This always takes me 3-6 hours to do, figure out how to make a temp house and chase pigs to China and back.  This is what happens, one of our graduated out teens who has been interning for the past two years, is the animal guru, and no you cannot have him :), I have permanent claim to him.  He walks in, I don’t think it took five minutes for him to figure out a temp housing, 10 minutes to collect materials, 5 minutes to put it together, and boom done!

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But, the most miraculous part, and it’s almost always this way with him, he walks up to Momma and calls her like a dog.  Now me, I would be like um I don’t think so, nope, here she comes!  She follows him all the way to the gate, through, then right into the barn!  My chasing to China just turned into less than 2 minutes.  Yep they all love him till it’s time for medical attention, then they ignore him for quite sometime afterwards.  They are afraid of what is coming.

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(A bit younger in the picture above, but Bobby, our animal guru!)

Task 4 – introduce our new gardeners to bugs – Our newest group of teens, Catastrophic Kitchen – Chicken Nuggets (as they want to be called), spent last weekend learning about bugs – good and bad.   After Melissa shared a PowerPoint she put together, she then walked them through the garden spaces to see what is growing and if they noticed any bugs.  They found many flea beetles, cabbage moths, and potato beetles.  Most of the teens did not like seeing us squish the potato beetles, but it had to be done.  Melissa discussed many options to treat different pests, especially using BT and spinosad, and sometimes a good old pick them off and squish them routine was needed.  I have encouraged the teens to take pictures of the pests they find, or to put them in a jar and bring in.  We will identify them and help them come up with a treatment plan for their garden space.  When I mentioned bring it in to share, they were excited.  Who said older kids don’t like show and tell.  Who will bring in the baddest, biggest, most colorful bug of all?  Well, time will only tell.

Well, I could make the tasks go on, as I did many more things, and others on the farm did so much as well, but sometimes its best to save some stories for the next time.  Happy growing!!