In Feb. 7 IssueBy Derek AaronRussell County News Editor
Twenty Russell County food producers ventured out into the cold this past Wednesday and down to the county extension office for the fourth meeting of a series of lectures entitled “Growing Fruits & Vegetables at Home.”
The meetings, which are sponsored by the Russell County Farmer’s Market, are overseen by E. Raymond Thompson, the county’s agriculture extension agent from the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture.
Russell County Farmer’s Market President Anna Robins said the meetings, which are free to attendees, are meant to teach local vegetable gardeners some of the finer points of vegetable and small fruit production and she said the turnout for the four meetings, so far, had been impressive.
“It is a great opportunity to learn how to grow,” Robins said.
“Not only does it teach and explain soil conditions and how to prep your soil it also teaches you how to plant the plants and when to do so.”
Robins said the lessons will let attendees know what plants survive better in a warmer climate and which do so in a cooler climate.
“If you’re going to plant something in February, it better be a cold weather plant,” she said.
Robins said the two-hour meetings on Wednesday afternoons are how-to discussions on how to grow successful gardens in the coming spring and summer months.
She said there is a nationwide push for food production to be grown closer to the consumer and that the demand is growing for locally grown foods.
Robins also said vegetable gardening has become popular again in the past few years as food prices have increased and more consumers are conscious of the health value of adding fresh produce to their diets.
“The booklets and free information that they provide tell you what do do if you’re having problems with your plants, what to look for and what kind of pesticide or fungicide would take care of it,” she said.
“They also will tell you the organic way to treat your plants.”
Robins called the meetings a “win-win situation” for all parties involved as those who attend the meetings at the extension office also have the choice of joining the local farmer’s market as well.
Also, Robins said gardeners are encouraged to try some crops that are not commonly available in Russell County as “farm fresh.”
Thompson has already had four lessons, soils, planting and planning, soil ecology and basic botany and giving your garden a jump start through tunnels, transplants, raised beds and slopes.
This past week’s lesson included discussions about soil types, greenhouses, overcoming soil limitations, soil drainage, when to plant and overcoming plant limitations.
The upcoming lesson on Feb. 11 will be on early vegetables such as onions, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, herbs and lettuce. Following next week’s lesson, there will be six more presented on Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. through March 25.
The upcoming lessons, after next week, are scheduled to be fruits, varieties, insect control, weed control, irrigation and, lastly, harvesting.
She said people can register for individual classes by calling 270-866-4477 and that you don’t have to attend every meeting.
So if there is a certain subject you’d like to hear about, you can, and not be out any money for the service.
Some of the classes may be canceled if enrollment does not warrant holding the class, but by the numbers this week, that option may not become reality.
Robins also said if anyone is interested in learning more about the Farmer’s Market to contact her at 507-6292.