Daffodils hold a special place in my heart. Not only are they beautiful, but to me they represent the beginning of better days. Whenever they begin to bloom, I know that the cold, dreary days of Winter are almost over, and Spring is just around the corner. I love to go back through the pictures on my phone that have accumulated through the years. Every year, after being stuck in the house all Winter, there are photos of my family and I out for a walk on the Settlement School campus on a warm, sunny day, picking from the myriad of daffodils that grow around campus.
After several weeks of Winter Storms and flooding, the daffodils were a little bit later than usual to bloom, but they have been delighting us with their glory for several weeks now. Spring has officially sprung, the grass is getting greener, and gardens are being plowed. After the past year that we have had, nature’s resurrection is bringing much needed life and healing to the soul. While Spring is just getting started, here at the Settlement School we have the luxury of being able to get a little taste of Spring earlier with the help of our greenhouse. We have been growing tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers since January. These plants were tenderly cared for under the ambience of LED grow lights for the first six weeks of their life. In early March they were transplanted into our heated high tunnel where they have grown dramatically in the past month. The tomatoes and peppers should be ready to harvest by mid-May, and I just happened to snag a gherkin sized cucumber for a little taste test today! Once they start coming in strong we will be picking cucumbers daily to get that perfect size pickler to produce our Tadpole Hollow Pickles.
In the past month we have also re-established the campus garden that once graced the grounds with its abundance next to the Mike Mullins Cultural Heritage Center. After an initial plowing with the BCS Rotary Plow, this garden was shaped with permanent raised beds that will be maintained using minimum-tillage practices that promotes the health and structure of the soil and the living organisms that call it home while also growing high-quality crops. The primary means of preparing the soil will be the use of a broadfork to loosen and aerate the soil, and a power harrow, which is a tool equipped with vertical tines that only works the top two inches of soil, rather than overturning the subsoil underneath, and creates a level, firm seedbed. Once the garden was plowed and the beds shaped, we covered the soil with a black silage tarp. This is a process called occultation, in which the tarp creates a warm, damp environment that speeds the germination of latent weed seeds and subsequently kills the weeds off with the exclusion of light. It takes some time, but can yield great results that will drastically cut down on weeding. As an extra measure in the fight against weeds, we also employee the help of landscape fabric once the crops are in the ground.
So far, we have kale, green onions, and salanova lettuce planted in the garden, with carrots, turnips, and radish to be direct seeded this week. With our limited space on campus that is safe from floods, we are focusing on high rotation crops in this garden to get the most output as possible. Crops with short days to harvest like radish (30), turnips (45), and lettuce (55), help us to maximize the limited space. Kale, while it is a crop that will stay in the ground for an extended period, is a crop that keeps giving, providing continual fresh greens. All of these fresh veggies will be sold at the Knott County Farmer’s Market, North Fork Fresh Stop Market, or used for our Forks of Troublesome Food canned products that will allow us to send a taste of Hindman straight to your door from our online store!