By England Avis, Phase I Fellow
If you’ve ever tended a garden, you’re probably familiar with the feeling of excitement you get from watching plants develop through different stages throughout the growing season. As the seasons in the garden shift from spring to summer and then to fall, you’ll see lots of different shapes, colors, and sizes of various plants. In early spring, you may be elated to see that your spinach has sprouted into seedlings. In midsummer, you’ll be thrilled to find the shape of a zucchini taking form behind a bright squash blossom, and in the late days of summer or early fall, you’ll be delighted to stumble upon tomatoes that are finally ripening to a bright red.
Chances are, if you’ve experienced the joy of growing a garden before, you’ve also likely felt the pull of wanting to continue tending to the soil the following year to see what else you can grow! Caring for plants has always been my thing, too. I love watching seedlings pop up from the soil, seeing new leaves form as the stem inches up closer to the sunlight, watching green buds turn into flowers, and those same flowers changing shape into fruits (and veggies) that are so fun to admire as their colors change and ripen. As the seasons continue to shift here on the mountain, it has been so rewarding to watch the numerous plants evolve in our garden.
Before joining the AMI Fellowship, I was familiar with many common vegetable plants; crops like cucumbers, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and onions were in my repertoire of veggie growing skills. Over these past four months on the mountain, I can’t help but to marvel over the colors and shapes of the wonderful new plants that I’ve been lucky to encounter. When I arrived at AMI, I made a practice of spending a few moments each day to observe unfamiliar plants in the garden. Studying the components of these plants, from the twisted tendrils of young peas to the delicate husk enclosing a sweet ground cherry, left me awestruck at each new discovery. Paying close attention to the details of plants over their lifespan is a lesson in mindfulness, a challenge of patience, a practice of dedication, and a reward of a delicious harvest.
If you’re in search of fun, unique, or new-to-you plants to grow in your garden next season, read on for inspiration! (And, don’t forget to research varieties best suited to your climate and growing zone so that success will be easily in reach.)
Enjoy the following garden highlights from the Allegheny Farm 2019 growing season!
The Greenhouse is where most seeds were transformed into seedlings before hardening off and being transplanted directly into the soil.
Students from the Highland County Elementary School came to our mountain farm in June to help plant potatoes!
Did you know that removing the scape from growing garlic helps the plant focus on sending its energy to develop a large bulb? Garlic scapes themselves are great for cooking and share the same crisp, spicy garlic taste as the cloves!
These funky Kohlrabi are always a hit due to their unique shape and colors! The purple variety is Kolibri and the white is Terek.
C’mon, have you ever seen a more beautiful cabbage? This Red Express variety has been great to ferment in Kimchi.
These twisted tendrils help the pea plant trellis up vertically so it has space and sunlight to produce pea pods!
Sugar snap peas are the best fresh garden treat in the hot sun of early summer.
One of our favorite companion plants in the garden is this Alaska Mix Nasturtium!
Companion planting at work in our three sisters plot of corn, beans, and squash. The corn provides a supportive structure for pole beans to climb up, the beans fix nitrogen into the soil, and the squash shades the ground to protect the soil.
Phase II Fellow Julia picking apples to make apple butter.