Here are a couple of articles from Lend-A-Hand Center co-director Irma Gall. These articles originally appeared in the Barbourville Mountain Advocate.

Stinking Creek News
Irma Gall

Lend-A-Hand Center


Spring is here—at least the calendar says official spring comes in on Friday, March 20th. Hopefully winter is slipping away and giving us a time with some warmer weather. Last year by this time I had peas, lettuce, radishes and onions already planted but the late winter weather has certainly changed that this year. But spring will come and maybe in a rush. The seed catalogs arrived in January and just when we were beginning to dream and plan the snow shoved such thoughts back in our minds.
But now maybe we can start planning again. In fact the Grow Appalachia Garden Program [GAGP] has had the first planning meeting at Lend-a-Hand Center this past Saturday after postponing that first meeting several times. If you missed it and you are still interested there is still time to contact us at 542-4212 or email

This is the program last summer that had some twenty home gardens mostly on Stinking Creek as well as the Dewitt Community garden at Dewitt school and two community gardens in Barbourville. Another part of the GAGP was the development of the Farmer’s Market. The Farmer’s Market was such a success they have organized their own program. The Stinking Creek program is a two part program. If you have the space at your place it can be a home garden. If you lack a nice place you can get a space or some rows at the Dewitt Community garden. If you need help with equipment, seeds, planning, planting, plants, herbicides, fertilizer and other help, please call. We do have a garden tiller that will even break up sod and turn it into a workable garden. The community garden also demonstrates several types of trellis for beans and vines. Once again we plan to have a wide variety of vegetables there.
We also plan several workshops with the County agent on food preservation methods. We plan to have a space at the Farmer’s Market to sell some of the produce if you are able to harvest more than your family needs. We do get some things donated which are there for sharing.
Sharing is a big plus for the GAGP. We share work, equipment and expertise. Even more important is the sharing of friendship. We don’t have a bandwagon but we do urge you to get in the wheel barrow and be a part of this win-win program. And most certainly one of the best parts of the garden program besides having good food for the family table was the fun of sharing good food with friends.


One way to enjoy rainy April mornings is to go hunting morel or hickory chicks or dry land fish—names for delicious edible mushrooms that grow in the wild on Stinking Creek. They are the safest mushroom for the beginner hunter. It is important for the beginner to pair up with an experienced and knowledgeable hunter as they know where to find them and the ability to distinguish between the edible ones and their poisonous relatives.

Botanically, there is no distinction between mushrooms and toadstools. There are about 38,000 known species in the mushroom family. A spell of wet weather in spring, summer or fall always means  sudden increase in mushroom growth for the plants require lots of moisture. Since they do not have the green color called chlorophyll of their own they feed on old rotted matter or decaying vegetable matter of a once living green plant.

Let me say once again, it is important for a new hunter to have an experienced mushroom picker along, not only to help them learn where to hunt, but also to know which plants to pick. It is important to know that there are many kinds of mushrooms, many of which are edible and then there are also toxic plants. Some plants are slightly toxic usually meaning stomach cramps, while others can cause severe abdominal pains, which can cause death unless prompt medical attention can be gotten. The morel mushroom is one of the safest to hunt in our area. They love to hide in dead leaves the same color around dead or rotted trees, old apple orchards, old sawdust piles etc.

Mushrooms can be raised commercially and by anybody in a cellar or mushroom houses. There are specially prepared compost with pieces of spawn or spores available in seed catalogs. In the wild the spores are spread by wind, animals and even hunters’ wet boots.

Mushrooms must be eaten fresh as they deteriorate rapidly. There are various ways of preparing them for the eater—baking, frying, broiling, stewing or even raw in a salad. Most experienced hunters also have a  preferred method of cooking.

So instead of getting frustrated at the April showers maybe you can find some morels. It could be a good tramp in the woodlands. Take care to enjoy the whole scene instead of just walking around with your eyes on the ground.