Monday, April 30, 2012

Farmer's Market and Cabbages at St Vincent Mission

It has been a very busy few weeks here in David, KY with lots of things starting up due in part to the Vision Planning on Sustainable Agriculture hosted by St Vincent Mission the end of March. I attended a great meeting of people interested in the Floyd County Farmer’s Market at the Extension Office. The market manager is Todd Howard, the mentor for our Green House Mentoring Program with the David School students. Todd called the meeting to get some input from producers and consumers so that the Farmer’s Market members can make decisions as to date, time and place for the third year of the market. While only one new producer came to the meeting, there were several consumers who were willing to start a “Friends of the Market” group and one person who came as a consumer and decided that she might be able to grow enough on her property to sell.

Speaking of growing enough to sell, I did a home visit the other day with a participant interested in the Farmer’s Market, that was wonderful. When I met James at the gate to his property, he asked me how long I had been in Kentucky. I said seven years and he replied, “You ain’t never been to a place like my place” and off we went to his property in the middle of a reclaimed strip mine. When we got to the acre he planned on using for his garden, we got to talking about his soil and what he had been doing to add organic matter and such. He has put in over 200 pickup truck size loads of manure and he and his six kids have pulled out several tons of rocks. “They grow in there” he remarked about the rocks and I have heard that from several of my gardeners. 

Raised beds are probably not deep
enough to store these cabbages.

What I hadn’t heard before is how his daddy stores cabbages. James told me that he had plowed the garden spot real deep this time for his cabbages. When I asked him why he said, “to store them”. It seems that when the cabbages are ready to harvest, his father pulls them out, root and all, digs a hole where the cabbage was, puts it back in the hole head first, covers it with plastic, then covers them with dirt leaving the root exposed. James says they stay good all year and that burying them makes them sweeter. This is one harvesting method I am going to have to follow up on.

Laurel Co. Grow Appalachia

                                 Our Community Garden in Laurel Co.
We got our community garden planted this past week. With the help of some of our garden particapants. Some plants, and some seeds in the ground, on our way to a great year of fresh vegtables. It was a fun, beautiful day. We enjoyed getting out in the sunshine, and just putting all our ideas and experiences to work. Hopefully, within a few weeks we will see our work on that day start sprouting up out of the soil.

An onoin bed, a kale bed. Cucumber, and yellow crookneck squash mounds. Bush beans, and potato heels. Cabbage, broccili plants.

There will be more later, after any threat of frost. Hope everyone that enjoys gardening has a great year.....

                                                                            Salena Henson

Grow Appalachia is gearing up at Project Worth Outreach in Menifee County, Kentucky

Hello, everyone.  On April 23 Project Worth Outreach held our latest participants meeting.  The meeting was well attended.  We had a local county extension agent, Courtney Jenkins, do a power point presentation on the importance of using their soil sample results to treat their garden area so it will produce the most harvest possible.  After the presentation we had a really good question and answer session.  Courtney also handed out home gardening catalogues which contained lots of interesting tips on gardening.  We also handed out most of the seeds and fertilize to those that had not received them yet.  We are in the process of ordering tools and making appointments to visit our participants garden sites.  Several of our participants are anxious to start major planting but due to the rain and cooler weather we have received lately it has slowed the progress a bit.  Most participants have planted some items but are ready to get more out in the garden.  It looks like this week should be a bit more dry and warmer so hopefully this is the week that a lot more gets accomplished.  Project Worth Outreach is in the process of building a rather large raised garden as well as an in-ground garden.  We have several participants with items growing in our greenhouse and it looks like in about 7-10 days most of these items will be ready to move to our gardens.  In closing, I have a question from one of our participants.  Does anyone have any ideas on how to keep squirrels and moles out of his garden?   Any information would be greatly appreciated.  Have a great week.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Scott County Grow Appalachia

May is almost here!  We have gone through a cold snap this past week.  I have encountered varying opinions on what to call our recent winter like weather.  Some people are calling it Dogwood Winter, and some people are calling it Blackberry Winter.  The winters of spring that I am familiar with are Locust WinterRedbud Winter, Dogwood Winter, Blackberry Winter and finally Whippoorwill Winter.  

I have been awoken the last two mornings before daybreak by the long song of a whippoorwill outside my window.  This reminds me that Whippoorwill Winter may be just around the corner.     


Many of our elderly and handicap participants have requested
raised bed gardens.  The students at Scott High School have been making the raised bed boxes this past week.  

Students working on raised bed boxes

Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring Chickens, well, at least Chicken Tractors-- Pine Mountain, Kathleen Powers

Participants working together to tie on chicken wire
     Recently many of our Grow Appalachia participants have expressed interest in raising chickens, so this past Saturday we held a Chicken Tractor workshop at Pine Mountain for 9 of our Grow Appalachia families. At the workshop we helped each family construct a chicken tractor to take home with them and put to use right away. The day was hard work but it seemed that all our participants really enjoyed the opportunity to build the chicken pens with their families, and Maggie and I were grateful for the chance to do some hands on work with the participants. I think we all went home with a feeling of accomplishment after the workshop. Most of the participants also went home with fully constructed pens in the back of their trucks, with the exception of several families with roofing or chicken wire left to add onto the pens.
GA participants and their
 completed chicken tractor
     For those of you who are thinking “chicken tractors, what the heck is she talking about?” A chicken tractor is a floorless moveable chicken pen. The pens provide shelter, predator protection, and keep the chickens out of places you don’t want them to go (garden, flower bed, porch, etc.) while allowing the chickens to forage on a new area each day. The pens provide a healthy environment for laying hens or broilers to scratch and feed on fresh grass, seeds, insects, etc. Raising chickens on this type of green forage is also a great way to save money and can reduce feed bills by an average 30%.
     Chicken tractors also provide a great source of fertilizer. Simply move your chicken tractor through your yard or garden when you are not growing crops, such as after you have harvested a section or planted a cover crop that you are ready to turn under. You can move your chicken tractor to a different section of your garden each day and the chickens will eat insects left in the garden area and provide nitrogen for your garden plot.
      The chicken tractors that we constructed are made from a design courtesy of Maggie’s parents who raise chickens on their family farm and have come up with a sturdy, yet lightweight model that has proven very durable over the years. The pens are made out of 1 inch PVC pipe so they are lightweight, and just about anyone is capable of lifting up one end of the pen and pulling it to a new area each day without too much effort.
Chicken tractors stacked one on top of the other, ready to go home!
       Keeping chickens is a great way to provide yourself, your family and your friends with fresh eggs or meat at little cost. Eggs are a great way to whip up some quick and healthy meals and can also be sold for extra income, so, we encourage anyone interested to look into raising chickens and feel free to contact one of us for more information about building chicken tractors!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

BDVP Make It/ Take It... Part One: Jessica

Good times at BDVP this week! With the help of Grow Appalachia we began our series of Make It/ Take It classes.  These hand's on classes are intended to bring clients and staff together to share in creating a home-grown or handmade product for participants to take with them. Monthly classes will include  container gardening, working with herbs, jam-making and canning.  In our first Make It/Take It class of the season we made a homemade healing salve with fresh herbs from our garden.  The salve was made with the infusion of comfrey, lavender, rosemary, lemon balm and plantain.  This herbal ointment is a nourishing moisturizer that is excellent for bumps, bruises, scrapes, dry skin, and insect bites.
To make the salve, we harvested these herbs from the garden and roughly chopped them .  We added coconut oil and olive oil and brewed the mixture in a double boiler for an hour.  We then strained the infusion (twice) and put it back on the double boiler with beeswax.  Once all of the ingredients were melted and stirred, we poured it into jars and allowed it to cool…and Waaa…Laaa!  Salve is complete.

While the herbs were brewing we had a great group of women and kiddos making hand-rolled, beeswax candles.  Everyone got to keep one for themselves and we will be selling the rest on Sunday of Mayfest this year along with some other crafts and products from our farm.  We are hoping we can sell some of our home-made goods  to help fund our craft groups and farm projects.  We also hope that these projects can offer some small business ideas for our clients to work with as they move forward.


Chopping our Herbs

Freshly Chopped Comfrey, Lavender, Rosemary, Plantain and Lemon Balm  

Strain it Once...

Strain It Twice...

Melt the Wax

Pour into Jars, Let it Cool and It's Ready To Go!

Hello, from Rockcastle Co. and ASPI!  Lots of news this time around.  

We held a workshop on chemical free insect and disease control and on composting – why it’s a good thing, and how to do it - on April 17th.  We had over 25 participants present at the workshop to learn about these subjects. 
 Nancy Seaberg presented the insect and disease control part of the workshop and the composting part of the workshop was facilitated by one of our most active project participants, Mike Lewis.  This guy has also single-handedly taken on the coordination of our second community garden site.  Mike is a young disabled veteran who is a partner farmer in a local CSA and has become a huge benefit to the project.  He is one of our two new hires, the other being a Berea College student.  These two will handle most of the community garden organizing at the Richmond St. site, as well as being introduced to the home gardener end of things.   

 Rockcastle County High School FFA students came out and spread our first layer of compost and laid out the main pathways on the ASPI community garden and a group of 2nd and 3rd grade Girl Scouts came out to spread ‘poo’ (manure compost). 

We have confirmed the schedule (May 15th) for our Extension specialist to give a hand-on workshop on Home Food Preservation.  This workshop will be held at the Extension office here in Mt. Vernon.  Mike is making plans for a workday on the Richmond St. site that will include local businesses, the Mayor, hospital personnel, and the Girl Scouts – who will be painting rain barrels that day.  With luck we will be getting coverage by a couple of Newspapers for that one!  Nancy attended Earth Day events in Garrard Co. and in Somerset (by request) with Grow Appalachia displays to help spread the word about the project.

Henderson Settlement 2012

As the growing season leaps into action and the valley starts to bloom, the Grow Appalachia Gardeners are all asking, “How soon can I plant tomatoes?” My reply is, “Not Yet! Give it a few weeks before you plant Tomatoes.” The warm weather in March and April has everyone excited about their gardens. We have several new participants in the Clairfield area this year. One of the main things that I have heard repeatedly is, “Thank God for this program, without it I wouldn’t have been able to plant a garden.”  One woman said, “I didn’t get to plant a garden last year because I couldn’t afford the plants and seeds and I didn’t know about this program.” When I asked her how she had heard about the program she said, Henderson Settlement Community Outreach program had helped her get an eye exam and purchase a new pair of Eyeglasses. While filling out the application forms for the eyeglasses, Lisa (Community Outreach) had told her about the Grow Appalachia Project.
Shittake Mushroom Experiment
In March one of our volunteers provided us with the opportunity to grow Shittake Mushrooms. Elizabeth bought the spores and encouraged us to attempt to grow the mushrooms. Elizabeth visited for a week, ordering the Shittake Spores, volunteering in the greenhouse and seeing to it that we had logs to use for the Shittake Mushrooms. When the spores arrived, I asked for help from some of the gardeners. Three of the gardeners stepped-up and volunteered to help, Jennifer, Shonda and Jesse volunteered to help drill holes and inject the spores into the logs.  We are all eager to find out if our mushroom experiment will succeed or not.

Ruthann starting plants for the green house

Volunteer helping out in the green house potting plants

Green House

Our green houses are open and the gardeners are starting to select their plants and seeds.
We have started tilling the gardens and have used our new bush hog  to clean around the Food Pantry Garden.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

     Hello my name is Andrewiena Corathers but everyone calls me (Annie) and I am the new Project Coordinator Manager for the Appalachia Grow Project, at the Big Ugly Community Center In Harts West Virginia. I am very excited about what the program offers not only to myself but to the whole community.
     This is last weeks blog, please forgive me, it's my first time blogging.  On April 16, the program held a safety class on learning how to use the tiller safely.  Everyone met up at the community center from there proceeded to Marcelle St. Germain were the workshop was held. We practice using the tiller and it's functions in a safely manner.  And how to take care of it.  The tiller is now available to all those who attended the workshop. Also thanks to Jeremy Grant from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture Health and Safety for attending.

      On April 18 we also did a raised project.  We completed for Dale Kennedy a member of the Appalachia Grow Project.  With the help of a group of college student volunteers we were able to build 5 raised beds and start them with the soil needed.  Everyone had fun, with the project and learned things in the process. Even a 4yr. old Tecumseh lending a helping hand.

                                                   Are Youth Group is also doing there own grow project.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Here Jessi works with the after school kids to plan their raised beds.

The after school kids then put their seeds on a paper towel  which is glued so then  they can  proceed to place them in the raised beds they made to be buried.  All the kids were great!!!!

 Last but not least (We are still waiting on are test soil results.)  Hopefully we will get them soon.

       So everyone is now in the process of tilling up there garden and getting seeds and plants in the ground. And soon we will see our gardens grow.    YEA!!!!         

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cold Snaps - Red Bird Mission

Just when you are getting all excited about your gardens, WHAM! A FROST.  Then it warms up, you get all excited about how the little veggies are doing and.....BAM! another frost.  It's so easy to forget we just got into spring and most of this year was like an early summer.  Looking ahead to what to do for our plants, IN CASE we get caught flat footed, is simple unless you have a huge garden to protect.  Here are a few pointers from Gardening Know How.

How to Protect Plants From Frost Damage
Posted By Nikki Phipps In Pests & Problems |
By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden [1])

Frost on plantIt’s spring, and you have worked hard putting in all those precious garden plants only to learn that the threat of frost is on its way. What do you do?

Tips For Protecting Plants From Frost

First of all, do not panic. Do keep in mind that anytime there is a threat of frost, you need to take precautionary measures to protect tender plants from exposure to cold temperatures.
The most common way to guard against frost is with the use of some type of covering. Most anything will work, but old blankets, sheets, and even burlap sacks are best. When covering plants, drape them loosely and secure with stakes, rocks, or bricks. The lighter covers can simply be placed directly over the plants, but heavier covers may require some type of support, such as wire, to prevent the plants from becoming crushed under the weight. Covering tender garden plants in the evening will help retain heat and protect them from freezing. However, it is important that the covers be removed once the sun comes out the following morning; otherwise, the plants may fall victim to suffocation.

Another way to protect plants is by watering them a day or two before the frost is expected. Wet soil will hold more heat than soil that is dry. However, do not saturate the plants while the temperatures are extremely low, as this will result in frost heave and ultimately injure the plants.

Light watering in the evening hours, before temperatures drop, will help raise humidity levels and reduce frost damage.

Some people prefer to mulch their garden plants. This is fine for some; however, not all tender plants will tolerate heavy mulching; therefore, these may require covering instead. Popular mulching materials that can be used include straw, pine needles, bark, and loosely piled leaves. Mulch helps to lock in moisture and during cold weather, holds in heat. When using mulch, try to keep the depth at about two to three inches.

Some tender plants actually require over-wintering in a cold frame or indoors. Cold frames can be purchased at most garden centers or built easily at home. Wood, cinder blocks, or bricks can be used for the sides and old storm windows can be implemented as the top. For those needing a quick, temporary frame, simply incorporate the use of baled hay or straw. Stack these around your tender plants and apply an old window to the top.

Designing a garden with raised beds will also help guard plants against frost during cold temperatures. Cold air tends to collect in sunken areas rather than higher mounds. Raised beds also make covering of plants easier.

The best way to know what type of precautionary measure you should take for tender garden plants is knowing their individual needs. The more you know the better off your garden and tender plants will be.

Article printed from Gardening Know How:

God Bless and Happy Planting! - Karen Dial

Monday, April 23, 2012

Planting has begun in Abingdon, Virginia

We are excited to report that we had our Spring Planting workshop. After a lot of time organizing tilling, with a lot of setbacks (machinery problems, underestimating-how-hard-the-land-was problems), it was great to meet with all the participants in one place and work together planting.

We potted on starts of the more tender species, such as tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, and will be letting them get bigger in a greenhouse first. We labeled all our brassica starts and passed them out, demonstrated cutting potatoes for planting, and weighed out seed potatoes and separated our onion sets into bags for people. We built a compost pile, too. We also passed out seeds and a planting handout on depth, spacing, watering, mulch, and compost. It was great working together with everyone at our template garden on the food bank's grounds--Ecumenical Faith in Action in Abingdon,VA. We passed out tools, answered questions, and all got to know one another a little better.

Our tiller--it turned out we needed a tractor tiller to really dig in to a lot of the tough sod.

Baby brassicas in neat rows

With the help of participants we planted peas, carrots, radishes, beets, lettuce, spinach, onions, brassicas, and potatoes

Everyone worked really hard labeling and individually potting our starts. Teamwork!

Seeds Galore

Magnificent compost pile. The van is where the magic happens--we use it so schlep everything. It can fit many trays of seedlings!

One of the volunteers brings grass clippings and leaves for mulch, and compost. We mulched our baby onions!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Springtime Inspiration -- Kathleen Powers, Pine Mountain

Kathleen and broken Berta (the rotary plow attachment)
     Today I mowed the grass in the community garden. I know, it doesn’t sound that great does it? But having that one task done left me feeling the most accomplished that I have at all in the past 2 weeks. As I wrote in my last blog post our gardening equipment has chosen the most inopportune time to stop cooperating with us, the ground has been dry for well over 9 days now, yet the majority of our participants gardens still lie fallow.  Last week broken bolts on the tiller put us out of the game on Tuesday morning (after a dead truck battery incident on Monday). So we began this week with renewed spirit….  until about 10:30 am Monday morning when the clutch line on our tiller broke halfway through a garden.  Then the Mantis stopped working. Now, I would like to say that we were able to fix these things and be on our way, but unfortunately Maggie and I do not have vast amounts of mechanical knowledge, and lately we have not had vast amounts of patience either, so we have begrudgingly waited for parts in the mail and then been extremely grateful that the maintenance staff is willing to help us fix things day after day (luckily our repairs have been easy and inexpensive). So, while things have been accomplished I’ve been feeling like I’m not getting anything done because everyone wants their gardens plowed and we just can’t make that happen yet. Anyways the point of my blog is not to whine and complain but rather to try to provide some early season gardening motivation to those like us who may already be frustrated by certain happenings outside of our control.

 Random things to Remember when Frustrated 

1.) At the end of the day pulling weeds and watering vegetables is a whole lot more peaceful and gratifying than sitting at a desk.

2.) The month of May means fresh radishes, peas, lettuces, onions, and strawberries on your dinner table!

3.) There are now about 13.5 daylight hours each day compared to less than 10 in early January.

4.) Earth Day is April 22nd, dirt grows food, need I say more?

5.) Grow Appalachia is an amazing project that is creating community focused on local food.

6.) Turning over garden beds by hand (because all your equipment is broken) is a great way to de-stress.

7.) Other people’s Grillos break too….

8.) Though it may not seem like much we are seeing positive changes in the agricultural and farming industry:

9.) Wendell Berry is all knowing and his quotes will never let you down:
“So, friends, every day do something that won't compute...Give your approval to all you cannot understand...Ask the questions that have no answers. Put your faith in two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years...Laugh. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts....Practice resurrection.” 

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” 

 10.) Garden fresh herbs are just about the easiest way to make a tasty meal (yesterday Maggie picked all our bolted cilantro and made pasta sauce!

 11.) When all else fails you can bake yourself a pie with frozen squash from last fall’s bounty and eat the whole thing, the garden just keeps givin’!

     Hopefully in the next few weeks we will have time for some more informational blog posts, but for the time being I hope you all get a little bit of inspiration from this post and best of luck to all the GA sites in these busy spring weeks!