May 1, 2023 marked my one year anniversary of living in Tazewell, VA. We moved here from Charleston, SC, and bought a 185 acre farm in the mountains, with acres of grass and trees and plenty of room for cattle, alpacas ( I just got my first 5) and our two Australian Shepherds who think they are living in heaven on earth. Of course I would have a garden, since that’s what I’ve always wanted to have outside the kitchen window, growing enough food for us to eat , and some to can for the winter. It’s what folks here do.

I got started a little late this year, so my veggies are just now reaching their peak. I started the seeds inside under grow lights in my basement. The most vigorous growers at first were the sugar snap peas, and the lettuces stayed tiny for so long! After I got everything in the ground, it took awhile for everything to really take off and start growing. I think it was because June was fairly chilly. Now that it’s hot and sunny, everything is much happier. I am picking a few squash every few days, and there are about a hundred blooms still, so that’s promising. I am harvesting cilantro, parsley, purple basil, oregano, thyme, various lettuces, and a little kale, but I think it’s too hot for the kale, I think I didn’t get it in the ground early enough. I have a huge tomato plant that I brought from Charleston, and it is dominating the round bed. The fruit is tiny and so delicious and sweet. I have pumpkins, watermelons, cucumbers and tomatoes that are almost ready. The sugar snap peas played out fairly early, I think they don’t like the heat so much, so I pulled those up. My plan for next year is to amend the soil , which I didn’t do at all this year. I will be using cardboard or newspaper and mulch over the winter, and now that I have the alpacas, their manure is supposed to be excellent fertilizer. We have also started composting, so we will be ready for spring 2024. I appreciate all the meetings and support from ASD and Morgan. The meetings are informative, and I love my little pruners we got at one of the early meetings.

Thank you for this program, it’s been a real help to me this season, and I am looking forward to next year.

Laura Hunt