It’s time! If you haven’t started planting your zone 6b garden yet, the time has come and is quickly passing by. Lee County has a last frost date of April 30th and first frost date of October 15th; this gives us a 167-day growing season here in Pennington Gap, Virginia. According to https://www.ufseeds.com/zone-6-planting-calendar.html, “Zone 6 has a medium length growing season. Most vegetable varieties will have no problem maturing before your first frost date.” However, you will want to start some of the longer growing varieties—such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants—as transplants. Since these plants should be started indoors several weeks before transplanting, if you don’t already have these growing and ready to set, you should consider purchasing these at this point.
Here at the Lee County, Virginia Grow Appalachia program—known as Grow Sustainab-LEE—we have already handed out seeds and transplants for our participants. Seeds were given out in previous months. Transplants were given out recently and should already be in the ground. Some transplants were late to come in and so we were late getting them into the hands of our participants. However, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and jalapeño pepper plants are being handed out as of today.
Ms. Nina Jenks and her husband, one of our participating families, have such a beautiful garden started. They were kind enough to share some images with us, and we can see the love and dedication they put into growing each piece of produce they harvest. They are market gardeners and sell at the Big Stone Gap Farmer’s Market each Thursday afternoon. Our gardeners are encouraged to use all of the produce they have available from their gardens. They can do this by sharing with neighbors, selling at a farmer’s market, or by using food preservation techniques to save their produce so that they have healthy food year-round.
Our program offers, seeds, transplants, tools, chemicals, education, and support for our gardeners. All materials used and techniques taught in this program are organic in nature. Grow Sustainab-LEE is brand new to Lee County and we are so excited to be a host site for a Grow Appalachia program. Many in the community will benefit from the new gardeners who have emerged as a result of this program, as well as the “old pro” gardeners who are just being supported as they transition into growing organically. As a new program, we are so excited to see what our participants do with the program and the materials provided to them.
For more information on our program, please visit https://sites.google.com/view/leemastergardeners/home and go to the “Grow Sustainab-LEE” tab. While you are there check out some of our other programs like the Heirloom Seed Library, or get information on joining the Lee County Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers.