A Look Into East Tennessee Life

Hello from Build It Up East Tennessee! We are happy to say that our gardens are growing and producing abundantly. This season has brought tons of rain — it seems like every day it rains. But after the rain comes the sun and it’s blissfully warm and beautiful. Our gardeners are starting to see the results of their hard labor and are reporting excellent harvests. I have received so many comments just saying “Wow! I had no idea my small garden could grow so much!”

We are getting ready to start our July garden visits and couldn’t be more excited! The visits will take us all over East Tennessee, from the tops of mountains to low in the valleys. It’s going to be a treat to see sparkling eyes of excitement and pride when checking out each garden.

As per tradition, I have included an excerpt from a returning gardener, Jessica. Jessica’s garden, shown above, utilizes row covers, raised beds and trellising!


Jessica’s Story:

“Our family was involved in the Build It Up Garden Program in 2016 and 2017 and we returned to the program this year when Lexy announced that past gardeners could participate again. I really appreciate the webinars, resources, plants, seeds, and support. Also, the advice is well-timed! We learn about things the same time they happen in the garden.

We created our garden many years ago based on ideas from Square Foot Gardening. Our crops grow in boxes with flowers and bushes around the garden. I also try to incorporate these other types of plants to bring in more varieties of insects, birds, and toads in. Hopefully we can keep the insects that want to feed on our plants in check by the birds, toads and other insects who want to feed on them! In addition, we have hidey homes for toads in the garden and a water feature nearby for the birds. One day, our water feature attracted a wild turkey. What an amazing thing to look out and see a turkey outside the house!

The photo of the garden shows our use of row covers on some of the plantings. We utilize row covers from Build It Up years ago to prevent moths from laying eggs on the leaves of the brassicas. It is amazingly effective at keeping them from getting eaten up by the caterpillars. The row covers are great for protecting the plants during cold spells in late fall, winter, and early spring. It makes it possible for us to have chard, spinach, and kale through the fall, winter, and spring by using these covers.

Last fall and winter, we took a break from gardening and used the time to catch up on weeding. We started planting this year in February and got to enjoy the cool weather crops of broccoli, kale, collards, lettuce, peas, chard, cabbage, parsley, and mustard greens. Chickpeas and soybeans are new crops for us this year. Basil had a slow start this year, perhaps due to cooler temps, but we are so excited to have pesto later this year. It is great to be part of such a great program as well as have access to all the learning materials. We continue to learn!”


More pictures from BIU East TN gardeners!