It’s the beginning of June and its time again to work on the blog. From my observations, visiting gardens and talking to gardeners, the growing season is off to a good start. I stopped by the Jail Garden the other day and found it looking awesome. Rows of potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, beans, broccoli and potatoes were looking great. They put my home garden to shame, but that’s ok because that garden is feeding a large crew. Potato bugs and cabbage butterflies have been pretty much absent in my garden so far and I’m hoping they stay that way. However, we have had more than our share of rain in my section of the county, so I hope that we won’t be dealing with too much disease in the gardens in the near future.
The gardens at the Scott Christian Care Center are slowly coming along. However, we have had a banner crop of strawberries since we’ve covered them with bird netting and the sugar snap peas are producing well. The potatoes, early greens and root crops, including turnips and beets, have done very well in the raised beds. The tomatoes are coming along, but the cucumbers are still waiting to be planted in the new raised bed in the back section of the garden. I hope slow and steady still wins the race.
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My biggest nemesis this year has been the squirrels. Bird netting did not phase them as they stripped the peach tree and cherries of all their fruit way before they were ripe. Did I mention this WAS a banner year for fruit at my house? The trees WERE loaded. Today, however, I finally did get around to cooking a strawberry rhubarb pie. My rhubarb plant this year has grown three times its previous size. There was more than plenty to harvest this year. I’m still hoping to harvest the damson plums, but I am going to have to find a way to outsmart the squirrels. The blackberries are also filling out well with all the recent rains and warm weather. Hopefully, I will have enough plums and blackberries to bake with this summer.

This is also the time of year that I realized I’ve planted too many seeds and have too many plants that I have no room for. I’m always looking for people to give them away to. I would sell or give them away at the Saturday farmer’s but that is the one day my husband is home to help me in the yard so I usually don’t venture out in the morning when the market is open. I have excess oregano, mints, tomatoes, peppers, fall blooming perennial begonias and anemones, and tall phlox, to name a few. Plus, there always are a handful of plants that volunteer and I dig up and put in a pot to grow until I find a home for them. Two years ago I made a woven fence of pruned limbs such as weeping willow, quince and butterfly bush. Many of the limbs I put in the ground rooted to my surprise so I recently dug those “living” fence stakes up and gave several to a fellow Grow Appalachia participant. We actually were able to fill up her truck bed with extra plants from around my home. But there are still more plants to give away.
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On a final and disturbing note, I find it very hard to be an organic gardener. I try to minimize all pesticides including organic ones in my gardens. Recently, I found a reduced delphinium at a garden department store and I was excited to add it to the flower garden. However, when I got home I realized that tucked behind the label, totally hidden until I removed the plant from the pot, was a second tag stating it was treated with a neonicotinoid insecticide. The problem with this type of pesticide is that it is systemic. The whole plant becomes and remains toxic to the bees and butterflies, pollen, nectar and foliage. I feel like I was deceived by the grower by the hidden tag.

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