That’s what I keep asking my fellow Wolfe County Grow Appalachia participants. Can I come see your garden? I get directions to the end of the road of this area or that (why does it seem so many of our Wolfe GA folks are at the end of the line?). Over the last month I’ve had the pleasure of meandering our fine county’s windy gravel one and a half lane roads with a truckload of local S&S milled 1 1/2 inch squared wide by 8 foot tall oak stakes, glorious 7 foot t-posts and post driver, Hortonova netting, zip ties, lightweight Agribon row cover, black plastic, a step stool, a few seeds… I feel like a sweaty plaided little garden fairy. I’ve been remembering (rather, they live in my truck) my hat and sunscreen or lightweight cotton shirt as protection on these wonderfully sunny days. This first garden photo is from a new Wolfe GA family garden plot. They have been doing some great work! I’m headed there today to help trellis. Some of my families need help setting up Hortonova trellising for beans or the Florida weave trellis for tomatoes. Like with my friends Mary and Barbara who held the stakes while I drove them in.
Mary and I worked in her garden for hours, trellising beans and tomatoes; talking luffa gourds and potato bugs; discussed harvesting and eating all the lettuce and peas that were ready and to make sure to write the harvest on her records to turn in. We talked about covering the lettuce with the Agribon row cover to shade the cool weather crop from the heat. Also, I showed her how important it is to thin the kale, mustard, beets, and turnips so that the crops could develop more fully (but not to forget to count and eat the wonderful greens). We talked chickens and crows and had to finagle Chase out of the Hortnova a couple of times.
Barbara, a second year participant, just finished laying cardboard and wood mulch in her walkways to keep weeds from growing and robbing nutrients and time from her planted crops. She worked until 10 the night before, but was out in the garden with me at 9:30 the next morning. Dedication to the garden certainly shows– you get out of it what you put in. Her ground is harder than she’d like and clay-ey so we talked about the option if creating raised beds and walkways that would stay in the same place year after year by adding in more organic material to growing rows and establishing set walkways to help keep a hard pan of soil which makes it hard for roots to grow properly from forming in the growing areas. Also, she is finding that she is tending the garden alone more than with the help she expected; illness in the family can sadly make a growing season a challenge. Maybe next year a smaller garden could be in order as well.
Speaking of illness, our seniorest woman in the program (though you wouldn’t know it!), who has been to all the meetings and is a returning family, has come down with tonsillitis. She is struggling to get her full strength back but we both feel optimistic and excited about the potential for a return of her health within the month and a small fall garden.
At the end of the road is a new Wolfe GA family with a beautiful hand built home surrounded by a fantastic porch on which they have a parch-garden containing lettuce and herbs and flowers galore. Doug is a whiz with cars and farm equipment and batteries and tinkering and fixing. It shows with the electric fence protecting the long, large garden, operated by his tractor’s battery. There is even a retired but full-of-potetial Thunderbird parked on the other side of the crops of potatoes, onion, tomatoes, and beans. I am so excited to see the entire row of sunflowers as the bloom by the corn. Here is Doug and his grandson (who was a huge help in rolling out Hortonova and Agribon) in the garden and the tire tower of potatoes.
Here’s a photo from our Garden Maintenance course that was led by UK experts. We discussed compost, mulch, irrigation, and integrated pest management. These girls were not afraid to get a handful of rich worm castings and worms.
Lastly, here are the 4 beds that we set up at the different sections at the Methodist Community Housing Garden. The folks who live in these apartments are thrilled to have a little plot to grow in.