Big Ugly, March 2023

Here in the coalfields of southern West Virginia, the winter has been relatively mild. There are
daffodils, forsythia, crab apples, red buds, and more in bloom. All those days in the 60’s and
70’s had many itching to throw seeds into the ground despite the potential of Mother Nature
getting cranky (which she is over the next few days!).

Some gardeners have been winter gardening cold weather crops like kale, collards, etc., while
others have gone ahead and started cool weather crops such as peas and some herbs. Both
seem to be doing well where gardeners have been able to cover them over cool nights.

We’ve already had our first meeting, and the second is scheduled for the 25th . Potatoes, tools,
and hopefully seeds will be handed out at that time. As a lead-up to this meeting, gardeners
have been viewing online resources talking about things such as plants that do well if planted
together, and things that ought not be planted together (like the time I planted loofah sponge
squash and spaghetti squash next to each other- think I ended up with loofah-getti squash).

This year we also are opening applications to youth gardeners so that they can grow food for
their families. This grows out of a Try This grant from last year that had youth participants do
gardening in a supported environment with mentors who helped them learn gardening basics.
Just like the adults, they will be expected to attend meetings and to report weekly on their

This year, thanks to Logan’s Buck West and to Coalfield Development’s WRAPS program, we
are once again able to start our own plants. Cabbage and tomatoes are already started, with
more tomatoes and peppers to be started in the next couple of weeks. One of our gardeners is
assisting the WRAPS program participants in learning how to start and care for seedlings. That
will be much cheaper than having to pay a nursery to start plants for us.

So here’s to a great garden year growing and nurturing seeds, plants, and future gardeners.