Hello good people. I admit it: I am utterly late on posting my March blog. Folks say that it is the slow time of the season, but I beg to differ. I find that there is always something to be done to be getting ready or improving or adding to or planting (oh yeah!) the garden. Add 16 families on to that to-do list and the early spring season gets pretty busy.
This first photo is from our first workshop in Wolfe County held in mid-March on basic gardening: planning and planting. It was led by the every talented, knowledgeable, and generous Master Gardener, Toni Welch-Eddleman. We had a great turn out of GA and non-GA participants. I couldn’t get to sleep that night from all the excitement of potential and possibilities– everyone in the room was glowing. I dare say that our community of Grow Appalachia families is a budding beacon within the county.
While I hope that everyone would plant a spring garden I know that is not going to happen this year; though several families already have crops in their green little heads. But that doesn’t mean waiting until May to get in the garden who aren’t ready to plant. I have been suggesting to our families to start working on their garden preparation in some form or fashion. Whether it is seeking out local sources for hay mulch for their beds or wood chips and cardboard for the walkways, planning a time for our trusty Coordinator (ahem, me) to come out and till, coming up with a realistic garden plan, or creating a compost bin.
Here is my three bin system in use. I just finished spreading the aged compost from the (see how dark the remnants are? That’s a good sign for compost). I am layering the middle bin with dried, crushed leaves that I piled in the corner in the fall and weeds that I just pulled from the winter beds (Yes, I did a poor job overwintering my garden and the result is WEEDS—I have learned my lesson). The far right bin is working compost that I am not adding to any more—just letting it cook. Since this picture was taken I have used the whole “cooking” bin and flipped that middle pile into the empty bin and it is in the cooking stage. Since getting this three bin system, I always have a pile that I am adding to and a pile that is working away (i.e. the bacteria and worms are eating, working, and heating up the pile to decompose all the organic materials I have accumulated).
The other photos show my mulched garden in the process of spring takeover. Some of it is covered in tarps to help kill the weeds in areas that I didn’t have well covered over winter. To prepare my beds for planting I weed then I put aged manure and/or compost and 3-4-3 Replenish fertilizer then cover with a thick layer of hay and/or leaf mulch on the beds. I have wood chips on the walkways that I laid last year. Oh yeah, you can see my truck full of manure that I am unloading into one of the compost bins. Yay for friendly neighbors with manure!
You know what they say: when food grows, communities and families grow too.