Michele Gore reporting for the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour (ECOS) in Richmond, KY
It has been a very busy month in the gardens and we have the plants and sore muscles to show for it! Almost all the vegetable planting is done and we’ve had to till another large plot to find room for the squash, corn, and cucumbers. Dan and Martin used a Florida weave method to stake the many tomatoes and those plants are thriving. Onions, potatoes, kale, spinach, beets, and peppers were planted in the church garden, tatume squash, radishes, green beans, and yellow squash were planted in the Migrant Head Start garden, and the raised beds have been set up at the Salvation Army youth group’s site.
So far we have conducted three classes: two on planting seeds and nurturing seedlings, one on nutrition for the Salvation Army youths, and one class is scheduled for next week with the parents of the Migrant Head Start (MHS) children. Dan Evans taught the novice GA team and the Salvation Army (SA) youths how and when to plant and did a hands-on session at the SA plots. Janie Jordan taught the youths there about nutrition and convinced them that the tomatoes they said they disliked were the same ones making up the spaghetti and pizza sauces they love. I’ll be teaching the Head Start parents, through an interpreter, about GA in general and the work their children have been doing.
Of course, the weeds are very healthy and prolific and we’re trying hard to manage them. We’ve dug, pulled, scraped, and sprayed organic pesticides until we’re all worn out and know it has only just begun. Rabbits have feasted on the beets and humane efforts to trap them have been unsuccessful–they just devour the carrots in the traps and run back to the beets. The spinach bolted and many of the heirloom seedlings did not make it and we’re not sure why. We found that the store-bought seeds have been generally healthier and more reliable than the heirlooms, although we have some wonderful heirloom tomatoes, such as our native Madison County Pinks and Lurley’s Paste. The hot weather and recent lack of rain has prompted Dan to devise a more efficient sprinkling plan.
There are many joys to report. Working with the SA youth and MHS children has been so much fun and such a blessing. The MHS children speak mainly Spanish and they talk up a storm when they are planting. Every time a child puts a seed in the ground all the others jump up and down and yell “yay”. I practically do the same thing any time something I have planted starts growing!! They are seeing how the sun and rain affects their plants and we are all having a great time learning.
The kale and some of the potatoes are ready to harvest, so we get to pass on the bounty to our local soup kitchens with much more to follow in the coming weeks. We will soon be planting beautiful flowers to brighten up our corner of the world and share with our GA families.
We are experiencing the joys of learning, hard work, and perseverance. I have discovered a great community resource–the Madison County Horticulture newsletter Pay Dirt, published by the Cooperative Extension service through the University of Kentucky–http://madison.ca.uky.edu A recent article written by Amanda Sears, our local extension agent, discussed the difference between mulch and compost and why they are needed. We will be doing a lot of mulching in the coming days.
On a personal note, being in the garden has become a very therapeutic and spiritual experience for me every time my hands get in the dirt. Maybe that recent research showing that there are natural anti-depressants in the soil is true! When I’m in the garden I think of my wonderful grandparents, Ella and Tommy, and my father-in-law, Bailey, all of whom have passed from this earth, and all the amazing gardens they grew and the food they gave away. I feel close to them and relish the memories that flood me. I keep hearing that wonderful old hymn “In the Garden”, which was one of Bailey’s favorites, reminding me of the true Master Gardener. I know that others are experiencing some of the same joys and it is great to read about all the good work being done out there. We are making a difference!!