You know what I can hardly wait for? Fresh vegetables out of the garden! These last few days have felt like spring, and our program is up and running in full swing here in Hindman. I’ve been out with our Field Coordinator and self-proclaimed “dirt man” Bobby visiting a few homes/gardens over the past few weeks – we received a generous donation of a pickup truck that we’re happily putting to use! We have a bunch of new faces signed up as participants this year, and great returning participants full of excitement and ideas. Some of those ideas are for new varieties of vegetables that we are going to try out for the first time ever (watermelon radishes seem to be all the rage, and we have a local heirloom white sweet potato we’re going to try to make popular again! More on that to come later). This week we’ve begun tilling our campus gardens, and just this morning we planted 10 rows of peas. Bobby keeps telling me, “just wait, we’ll have you working hard soon!” and I believe it. I’m ready!

At the Hindman Settlement School we’re trying our best to learn new things, and introduce the most helpful information we can find. Sometimes it’s hard to know what those best practices are! Recently, Bobby and I have been debating the merits of using row cover in the spring and fall (is it worth the input cost for small gardeners? Did we use it the wrong way on our fall crops? Do we need the support hoops, or can we make do with draping it directly over the plants?). Does anyone out there have information or things they’ve learned while using fabric row cover?? We’d love to hear from you!

ALSO, on a similar note of confusion, if anyone has brilliant/favorite chicken coop or chicken tractor designs, I would love to to talk to you! As we’re looking to start some small egg-laying operations we’ve been inundated with ideas and designs, but without much sense as to what works best for home use and small flocks, with the least cost and the best resistance to predators like foxes, dogs, bears and the like.

Happy warm and sunny March!
– Jacob