It’s garden time

Hurray, the garden has taken a new turn. Up to now it has been work, work and more work. First came the planning which is not hard for those who have been gardening for a time. There are certain vegetables and fruits we are well acquainted with and some we don’t want to deal with. In the planning stage we have to consider the space, the seeds or plants and the tools available. Grow Appalachia can help with all these.

After the planning stage comes soil preparation. In my case since I have lots of space and a tiller for my farm tractor this is a fairly easy stage. I also have access to a 6 inch small hand-held tiller, which is very handy for small spaces such as raised beds and boxed areas. Then there is a larger 16 inch front tiller and a 26 inch behind tiller which walks almost on its own through the row. However the most useful tool is the hoe which soon becomes like a second or third hand to the gardener.

But the real work begins in the third stage as the plants begin to grow. But the planted seed is not the only thing to grow. Oh, no, the weeds are just waiting their chance. It is often hard to distinguish which is which. I use radish and/or lettuce seeds planted at the same time in the same area as an aid in this stage as they sprout quickly and establish the row for the much slower seeds to sprout. They can easily be pulled and used for food and leave space for the corn or beans or red beets and especially carrots. This is more important than it would seem as it points out the row. For example, new morning glories look remarkably like new green beans or Johnson grass resembles corn. Knowing exactly where the row is helps to know which is to be pulled out and which gets a chance to grow.

By the middle of June the garden takes a new turn. Oh, there is still planning and cultivating, even planting, but now it is time to harvest. One evening I walked through the garden and picked up a yellow squash, a green zucchini, several green onions and soon had all I needed to make a delicious stir-fry. I sometimes add chunks of potatoes, some Swiss chard or amaranth leaves or stem for a different taste. Another day I might plan a meal around sugar snaps or peas or newly picked green beans. I am also aware there is broccoli and cauliflower ready to harvest with tomatoes and cucumbers coming on fast. I also note the first of the sweet corn is in tassel and even silk stage.

Incidentally, if you don’t have a garden, you can experience some of the same thrill by visiting the Farmers Market located at the Extension Office each Thursday evening from 5:00 until 8:00. If you live near the Dewitt school there is also a community garden for harvesting some of the same fresh vegetables. Just call 542-5766 for more information. Here is your chance to enjoy not only the variety but truly fresh and wholesome food raised in Knox County.