Spring!?! It’s like winter is really mad and keeps storming out of the room and then coming back yelling, “And another thing!” We’ve gone from 5 degrees with snow on the ground to a balmy 70 degrees in a matter of 8 hours here in Eastern Kentucky, but despite that our bees have survived the drastic temperature changes by being placed in the high tunnel for an extra layer of protection. It’s been a bipolar kind of winter.
February had people very enthusiastic about getting their hands into the dirt with 35 families flocking to our first Grow Appalachia meeting, but March had a decline in numbers to 19 families. We’ve also committed to partnering with a Senior housing development and two low income developments in the summer ahead.
Highland Terrace (Seniors) have 21 raised beds from past years that we’ve already got a good start on planting with peas, potatoes, lettuce, onions, radishes, beets, and carrots. They are very enthusiastic gardeners that enjoy the companionship and laughter shared. Several have said that the one thing they hated to give up when they moved away from their homes was the gardening, but here at Highland Terrace they haven’t had to give that up. We’ve tried to fulfill their need to get their hands dirty and we’ve shared some great laughs in the garden already. This years gardening has been very uplifting for the residents and we plan on keeping that enthusiasm going.
Left Beaver Creek Townhomes in McDowell, Kentucky is a beautiful housing development with lots of families with children. The families have shown great commitment in being at meetings, learning all they can, and trying new things. We had a dozen tenants show up to put together a nice little 4 foot by 5 foot greenhouse and plant up some peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, and radish seeds. The kids did a great job of following the paper directions and working with each other to have a good time.
Unfortunately, the wind and weather had other plans for our little greenhouse a few short days later. “AND ANOTHER THING!” was shouted one late night along with strong winds and torrential downpours. Bent poles and busted fittings greeted the families the next day, but they showed great tenacity by gathering up their seedlings and sheltering them in their townhomes. We discovered delightful little green centers in each of the pots that they rescued! Life is like that tho, and we learn to pick up where we’ve left off, and jump right back in. We’ll not let this dampen our enthusiasm in getting the big garden out in the next few months.
This past weekend we had the honor of planting two American Chestnut 15/16 trees donated to us by Father John Rausch from the American Chestnut Society. A blessings ceremony was held with Chris Barton from UK Forestry saying a few words and several other participants helping to make it a special occasion. We hope and pray that these trees are around for 100 years or more and that our great great grandchildren retell the story of us planting them to their children. These trees are our hope for the future of American Chestnuts.
St. Vincent is looking to revamp our Community Garden this year since our raised beds are deteriorating, and our lasagne garden has lost lots of height over the last few years. Our plan is to till a large plot to get our peas, beans, and corn in first and then to replace the rotting boards in several of our raised beds, adding more soil, compost, and organic fertilizers to build them up again. Lots of work ahead of us.
We’ve settled on a plan for our high tunnel as well! With the practical advice of Mark Walden, we’ll be planting a ‘Salsa Garden’ with tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, strawberries and herbs. Yes, you read that right, Strawberries! The salsa will be canned up and offered at the Floyd County Farmer’s Market once all of our permits are in place and we have approval of a recipe. My mind is overflowing with ideas at this prospect!
We look forward to this growing season, if it’ll ever let us get started! Have I said recently how much I love this ‘job’!?!