By: Kathryn Engle

July was busy at Lend-A-Hand. Lots of rain messed up our plans, but we had great cooking and canning classes thanks to the Knox County Cooperative Extension Office. You can check out pictures of the classes here.

This article originally appeared in the Barbourville Mountain Advocate

Stinking Creek News
Irma Gall
Lend-A-Hand Center

It is so easy to take things for granted—morning follows night and weekends come every Friday.
For gardeners it is the usual assumption that if you plant the right seeds at the right time with the right amount of care there will be a harvest. Now is the time for harvest of some vegetables. Last year was the first year of the Lend-A-Hand Center/Grow Appalachia program which went well with an abundant harvest. There was plenty to eat, preserve and even sell at the Farmers’ Market.

So this year we took it for granted that the harvest would be even more abundant because now we had some experience. However we were faced with one challenge after another, mostly by the weather department, a factor we have little control over. We were late in getting started due to a late cold rainy spell. But when the ground was finally warm enough we got busy with good early results.

We who plant several plantings, one after the other to stretch out the harvest, planted more sweet corn, squash, beans, etc. were frustrated when very little vegetation appeared maybe due to the dry weather of late May and early June. It was a stalk here and a plant there—too many to start all over but not enough to make it worthwhile. The dry weeks made cultivating easy; we could stay ahead of the weeds but for some reason the seeds did not germinate. We talked it over at the Farmers’ Market and learned others were having the same problems.

Then along came July with tropical weather, rain after rain. Water ponded in lower sections and soured the soil while the higher area washed away. Mud splattered the beans and water seeped up the stalks as if they were wicks. Just when the tomatoes and beans were expecting dry weather as needed they had an onslaught of water. To make matters worse we couldn’t spray enough to stay ahead of the hungry pests. Wet weather also brings on the blight so one day the plants seemed to be healthy and the next day are gone.

So we meet each challenge as it comes our way still expecting the harvest to reward our toils. And we were rewarded with more harvest than we expected. In Romans 5 we find “we rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character…” Even though we did not expect to harvest character we do find strength in the living of life even as we plan our next garden adventure. And in spite of what it would appear, we do have a harvest.