I moved from Maggie Valley to Waynesville last fall. My house in Maggie was on the side of Soco Road where there is little to no sun. While that was great for the summertime utility bill, it wasn’t conducive to gardening. I tried hard to make things grow in my shady yard, but photosynthesis is an important part of the growing process. Unfortunately, I had zero control over this life-sustaining force.
Spring is in the air these days, but so is uncertainty as the COVID-19 crisis continues and millions of Americans are unemployed, working reduced hours or simply adjusting to life under a quarantine with no clear end in sight.
It’s a cocktail that even has folks who have always considered themselves to be brown thumbs thinking about starting a vegetable garden. A lot of people have a lot of extra time on their hands these days, and given that every trip to the grocery store now feels like a journey to the last frontier, the idea of being able to walk outside and pick as many tomatoes as you want is certainly attractive.
Editor’s note: This column first appeared in a January 2006 edition of The Smoky Mountain News. | Have you started making your gardening plans yet? It’s time. The garden catalogs started arriving in the mail several weeks ago: Johnny’s, Burpee’s, Pine Tree, Park’s, Shumway’s, Seeds of Change, etc. Folks have been studying these sorts of publications with pleasure for decades.
When people praise the Smokies, it’s often the area’s status as a four-season bonanza of beauty that spurs the discussion. From snow-blanketed winters to vibrant-leafed autumns, these mountains dress to impress year-round.
Two short years ago, the backyard of Waynesville’s Grace Church in the Mountains was basically just grass, save for a single container bed at the top of the hill.
These days, the view is quite different. Six long container beds stretch out along the slope from the road to the church’s back door. A scaffolding that held a tent of beans during the warmer months stands to the side, and at the bottom of the hill is yet another group of raised beds, built high at the end of a flat walkway so that people with mobility issues can still access and enjoy them. There’s a toolshed, a gaggle of scarecrows and two in-ground beds dug directly into the land.
A summer of hard work is paying tasty dividends for some kids in Swain County 4-H — dividends paid in the form of tomatoes, corn, peppers, beans and zucchini.
This year was the first for a 4-H learning garden located at Southwestern Community College’s Swain Center, and according to Jennifer Hill — a 4-H extension agent with Swain County Cooperative Extension — it was a success.
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