Spring has sprung around here.  Wisteria, redbuds, and dogwoods are all in bloom, trees are happily leafing out, and gardeners are happily planting their gardens.

Potatoes and early spring crops have been planted, and some who started seeds indoors now have peas 12” high. Tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli plants have been started by one of our gardeners to be handed out in early May, and we are expecting sweet potato slips any day.

One of our gardeners who recently passed away was a devout seed saver, who loved trying different varieties of plants and saved the seeds from year to year with notes on whether or not they grew well. He did neglect to label some seeds in this past year, except for a shorthand that only he understood. His family gifted us the seeds, enabling us to offer our gardeners some things like Cushaw, Trucker’s Delight, Cranberry beans, and even some heirloom beans, that we would not otherwise had the opportunity to offer. We also received seeds from WV Extension and will be offering Cosmic Purple carrots, sure to appeal to our younger gardeners who have joined our Youth/Teen Grow Appalachia program.

I think as we start our new gardening season and the nurturing of our garden produce, I’m also looking forward to nurturing a new generation of gardeners. While our main outreach was to older youth and teens, we do have both a two-year-old and a four-year-old signed up, who was adamant about having their gardens apart from the family garden. The four-year-old went as far as working hard to turn the soil over for his garden patch to prove he understood the amount of work a garden requires. The two-year-old helped his grandpa last year, and again this year, and informed grandpa he thought he should have his own garden.

So, as we enter the 2024 growing season, I’m expecting a bumper crop of tomatoes, peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and future adult gardeners, and plan to enjoy watching all these grow and mature. And much as I enjoy fresh produce, somehow I think I’ll enjoy watching our young gardeners grow more than the plants.