-Bea Sias
Step by Step, Logan County

I know it’s February, but here in the coalfields of southern West Virginia, everything says it’s spring, trees are starting to bud out, early flowers are blooming, and with temperatures predicted to be around 70 all next week. It just makes me want to be out in my garden tending plants. February is supposed to be snow, not pussy willows and daffodils! I have to keep reminding myself that we could still have a heavy snow or some heavy frosts that would hurt young plants put out in the garden too soon. Somehow gardening by misting my indoor herbs just isn’t the same.



However, with spring just around the corner and the thoughts of needing to start planning gardens in my head, I attended the Grow Appalachia Gathering in Berea last week, and came away from there with lots of ideas and resources:

-johnnyseeds.com has a growing calculator that you put in your last frost date, and it gives you a calendar telling you when to start seeds indoors and when you can safely transplant them outside.
-johnnyseeds.com also has a lot of other helpful resources and information for the small gardener.
-Lots of us have had issues with bugs, and there are a lot of organic options out there that can help reduce bugs, including what is called partner planting, to draw bugs away from your crops.
-Partner planting can also help you by growing one plant for example, that produces nitrogen, with a plant that is a heavy nitrogen user, so that your plants and harvest are abundant.
-Rotating crops in such a way that plants are separated by space from the area where they were grown last year can reduce the risk of plant diseases.
-Value added foods that can be sold at local farmer’s markets or through other sources include canned and baked goods as well as pre-prepared foods; you do need to follow local health department guidelines on these items.

I think the best part of the Grow Appalachia Gathering, though, was the ability to spend time sharing ideas and resources, as well as building connections. We don’t all have the answers, but all of us together are pretty darn smart.