Wow! I feel good! Put in three gardens this week and toured a greenhouse, where some of the teens got to shop. Debbie, Appalachia Cares/AmeriCorps, at Rural Resources in Greene County of East Tennessee. Yep, some of these teens can relate to being born on a mountain top, if not, their gardens can. Two gardens this week are on top of hills/mountains and the slate and rocks! Both gardens have been tilled before, one ready to go, the other needing a larger tiller to get in.
Shyla’s garden was started a couple of weeks ago, but our cub cadet tiller just could not get any deeper than 1-2 inches. So, I had to bring the big boys toy in, the John Deere tractor and tiller. Even this tiller couldn’t get much deeper than 6-8 inches. So, we are going to try to see how it goes. Shyla’s garden is top of a large amount of slate. The area she chose is fertile in spots from the hay they store for their horses on the empty lot. It is in full sun, allowing those sun-loving plants to enjoy the space. There is a water pump on the gardens edge to make it very easy to run a hose and sprinkler. We tilled the garden Tuesday, and I came by Thursday after school to help Shyla seed and plant her garden space.
Monday I helped Zoe and Faelyn Campbell start Zoe’s raised bed. Faelyn, along with her older sisters Rhiannon and Corina, have graduated out of the teen program but they are all still passionate about the work and what we do. Zoe is finally old enough to be in the program, and complete all the Campbell family. Her family is very excited to finally get a garden to help grow fresh produce for their family. Health issues with one of the parents has caused the family to become more conscious about the food they eat. This family is no newbie to growing food, as grandma has been doing it for a long time and many farm arts that are being lost by the way. Grandma will be coming out this summer and teaching us some of those lost arts like soap making and spinning. Here is the beginning of Zoe’s garden and we will be finishing it up this week:
Zoe’s garden is a bit bigger of a raised bed, but the space and where she can put it at her home, did not allow us to till the area. She is growing where some trees are and were. There is a pretty area of tree roots all around. I don’t think the tiller would have been very happy, or the trees. So, above we go! There is also a big slant just past the back edge, with a good rain, it will be a complete wash out. So we began building and will finish filling this week so they can begin growing veggies and herbs.
The next garden was that of Ashley’s. Ashley’s dad tilled her garden about a month ago, and with all the rains in April, we were not able to get out and plant. I headed to Ashley’s Wednesday after school, where we planted the remainder of her garden. Her dad has gotten excited about the garden and had planted some tomatoes and onions before I had gotten there. We added some very nice composted rabbit poo into the holes of the plants we put in. Then Ashley broadcasted the remaining poo into the garden to help her plants grow!
Friday I headed back to Meryem’s garden where I fought tilling her garden the first time. She had so many rocks that the tiller got pushed this way and that, and I am sure I got tossed this way and that! We had to re-till before planting, but this time was much easier. We still hit rocks, which I couldn’t believe after all we hit the last time, but the soil had been worked before, and the tiller just went this time. Meryem’s family used to have a garden in this spot several years ago, and were looking forward to having one again this year. They were very excited to plant things to make fresh lettuce salads, so we put plenty of lettuce, spinach, radish, squash, zucchini, and cucumbers in to make those wonderful summer salads. They also put in onions, tomatoes peppers, and basil. All can be used in salads and for pesto. Mom’s excited about pesto! Meryem’s mom shared a story of remembering how Meryem’s grandpa would grow corn, bring it to their house, and the family would come over and have a corn party. She said they would bring in a bunch of corn and everyone would come over, sit and eat, and enjoy family time together.
Meryem was applying harmony to her garden before I began tilling it the second time. She also added rabbit poo to the holes of her transplants of tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, and onions. And yes, we did plant corn too!
Saturday, I took the teens out to a local greenhouse, Summerfield Farm, where the teens toured the greenhouse in search of herbs and specialty plants we did not get for their gardens. The teens were able to pick out herbs for their gardens and were encouraged to pick out something they were not familiar with and give it a try. To my amazement several teens had already picked up a new herb they new nothing about to try out at home. One of the teens, Zoe, said we should do this more often. She said she had a good time and enjoyed seeing all the different plants and herbs. The teens did very well, each picking out a mix of herbs and plants for their gardens.
I didn’t get very many pictures of all the plants the teens bought. I must say, I got caught up looking at the herbs and reading about what they are used for, answering teen questions, and simply enjoying them seriously looking and studying the plants! We had a great time and a very full week. Off to next week, and hopefully no more rocky mountain tops!!