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Hey Y’all from the Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia.  Here in Alderson gardening is in full bloom.  All of our gardens are planted with mine being the last to go in.  We had a very wet early spring, which slowed us down a bit. However, once we did get seed and transplants in the ground, the rain has slowed to near nothing.

The picture in the top left is Linda.  Linda wins the award for best potato plants.  They are beautiful.  Linda is trying mulching with straw to reduce watering.  She has a well but with the dry weather she and the rest of us are worried it won’t hold up to household and garden use.  She is using a rain barrel to collect what rain she gets.

Top right is Shaun. He and his wife and two boys have a beautiful garden in the Blue Sulphur Valley area.  Their bottom land is rich in nutrients and much higher in moisture as they receive signifigant run off.  As you can see he is using an antique cultivator which he picked up at a local estate sale.  It works great, but he is loving his new sccuffle hoe. Shaun has the best looking corn so far but his tomatoes aren’t far behind.

Lower left is Roselin.  She is the three year old daughter of particiapnts Gwen and Ron.  They live litterally on the side of one of our beautiful mountains.  In addition to raising chickens for eggs and meat, this wonderful family have two beautiful gardens.  They have terraced off sections between wooded areas, applied lots of manure compost from neighbors cows and their chickens, and collect rain to provide for watering needs.  Gwen brings about 2/3rd’s of their harvest to the market each saturday to increase the families income.

Bottom right are Peggy and Robert. This couple and their sons have an absolutely beautiful garden on about a 1/4 acre.  Peggy cans nearly everything and Robert and the boys have built a root cellar from cinder blocks which had been disgarded by a contractor. They even filled the blocks with straw as they built to provide more insulation and provide a constant temperature.  These producers have had trouble getting radishes to grow in their soil, so Peggy decided to use one of her large flower containers this year and see how it would work.  As one who taste tested them I can tell you it worked beautifully. This family is trying soaker hoses to help in watering their plants.

Nearly every participating family is seeing some damage from both cabbage worms and flea beetles.  We purchased a large bag of BT and a large bottle of Neem Oil, divided it among everyone and made sure each family had a copy of the label and directions.  This should get these little pests under control.

Harvests are also starting as greens, radishes, and peas are in full swing.  At our May meeting we discussed harvest techniques and measuring quantities.  Members are reporting their harvest numbers twice a month.

Our group also wants to give a big thank  you to one of our members, Gwen, who put together a presentation about seed saving and sharing for our June meeting.  The group is excited to be able to try this during this growing season.

Nearly every family received a scuffle hoe.  Many were sceptical but I am glad to report that everyone is loving them.  It makes much easier work of the dreaded weeding chore. We hope everyone else is having a great growing season and enjoying the new gardening community the Grow Appalachia program is helping us create.

Keep growing and keep cool!!!

Beth Massey, Grow Appalachia Coordinator