Happy Solstice everyone! Yvonne Scott here in Wolfe County and we’ve had alot of fun helping our families with their tomatoes this season. With my amazing summer assistant, Garrett Dunn, we are weaving our way from site to site, setting posts, trying various types of support materials and getting those tomatoes out of cages and off the ground. Probably the most difficult part is trying to explain why this is more beneficial than those cages and single stakes. But once in place, most tell us how pretty this system is and how easy it is to keep going.
We’ve learned through trial and error (and doing with what we have on hand or can find locally) that getting thicker posts at the end of the row cut from rough-sawn timber, you can utilize something thinner in between like tobacco stakes (new) or these 1X2’s. We ordered tobacco twine from our local Farm Supply Store in Wolfe County and Garrett spent several hours replacing some flimsy end stakes with rough cut, untreated 2X2’s from the sawmill and re-roping the stakes. He’s worked with four of our families now, so has become our resident ‘expert’ on Florida weave. And he’s encouraging his family to use it as well!
Another new concept for our gardeners has been the many uses of row covers. Our program has purchased a large roll of Agribon to distribute to members willing to try it for insect control and later for fall crops. Only a couple of our families have previously used any of the gardening methods we promote through Grow Appalachia. The learning curve has been steep for some but I’m so proud of their willingness to dig in and TRY! My mantra has been: Just try it alongside areas that you are growing in your customary fashion and then decide what works best. The great news? The new methods such as mulching, raised rows, Florida weave, companion planting have ignited in our families a real curiosity to learn more. And that’s what it’s all about. I don’t know how the harvest will be; we’re struggling with late planting and more rain after a very wet spring but at the very least, they now have more tools in their toolbox.
At our next meeting, we’ll take orders for fall crops we can start in the greenhouse. Between my summer assistant, Garrett, and some of our family members, we will be seeding out the fall crops starting in late July and distribute during August. We are very fortunate to have a greenhouse right behind the Extension office where we are based.
Next up for our families: compost systems, mulch, more mulch, more mulch. And more mulch! Our next meeting will provide water bath canning equipment and jars for those ready to do some summertime food preservation. Enjoy the last long days of summer!
PS: Here is a short video showing how to set up the Florida weave.