Wendy Johnston here from the Grow Appalachia program at the Appalachian South Folklife Center in Pipestem, WV. This past month has handed us some hot temperatures, huge ragweed and finally, finally some tomatoes!
It has been a rough year for tomatoes here. The weather has been inconsistent and from one extreme to another as far as wet and dry goes. The tomato plants in our teaching garden never got very large or happy, the ones at my house have produced like crazy but I am having to pick as they start to turn or they seem to go bad on the vine. The tomatoes at the Home Place garden, however, where a couple of our participants are gardening, are absolutely gorgeous! We have also had reports of vibrant tomatillo plants and we were even able to sell some at the Farmer’s Market this past weekend. We are already canning lots of roasted tomato sauce and tomatillo salsa and will have lots more to do over the next few weeks.
Several of us have planted fall crops. At my house there are three raised beds newly planted with beets, turnips, carrots, spinach, kale, lettuce, collards and even a row of purple royalty beans. Eliot planted some fall things in
our teaching garden this past week. We are doing better about preparing some things for colder weather though. As
with every summer, we sure hate to see the end of the season but we are also looking forward to fall gardening and some cooler temperatures here in the muggy hills of Southern West Virginia.
The month of August also brought our County Fair here in Mercer County, West Virginia. Eliot and I were able to gather many vegetables to enter in our Agriculture Categories at the fair. Our vegetable display basket that was required to have 10-12 vegetable varieties in it actually had 20 varieties. It was beautiful and won the first prize in its category. The colors of all the different vegetables were amazing and it was displayed in a 100+ year old basket made by my husband’s great-grandmother. The display was also a great way of reminding us just how much food we have been growing. We had 25 other vegetable and fruit entries that did quite well. We came a bit shy of winning the annual Premier Vegetable Exhibitor trophy but were happy to see that the family who won is continuing to garden their Grandfather’s farm, who years ago regularly won that trophy with vegetables grown on that land.
We will be doing lots of canning, pickling and learning to preserve over the next month. Our local Extension Agent will be leading two workshops for us in the coming weeks.