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.
Forgetting to bring a harvest bin into the high tunnel calls for improvisation! Flipping your shirt up can work well for quick harvests of Sungold cherry tomatoes. :)
Our Farm Manager’s cat, Walter, can usually be found around the farm peeking his head out from between plants.
Fellows working on a Permaculture design assignment to brainstorm ways to transform part of our garden from an Permaculture zone 5 to a zone 1.
I had never heard of Jerusalem Artichoke before coming to AMI. They grow around 10 feet or higher, and the edible root is ready to harvest after the yellow flowers bloom and begin to die back.
Have you ever tasted a Ground Cherry before? These are small, tropical tasting, tomato-like fruit enclosed in a papery husk that is ready to harvest right off the ground when it falls from the plant!
I think I can speak for all of the Fellows in that WE MISS FRUIT. You can imagine how happy I was to stumble upon this tiny watermelon growing. :)
The tiniest mushroom clinging on to a freshly harvested carrot shows us that our soil biology is thriving with a mycorrhizal network that benefits the living organisms in our soil.
AMI Fellows took 1st, 2nd, and even 3rd place at the Highland County Fair for largest onions! This one here is a Yellow Cortland storage onion. Once dried and cured, this onion will be stored over winter for next year’s Fellows to enjoy when they arrive in the spring.
Is this corn or pink truffula trees? Not quite sure.
These Carminat Pole Beans have been my biggest source of inspiration in the garden because of their long shape and fun color. They grow deep purple, but turn back to bright green as they cook!
Yes, we even grow hops in the garden! A few Fellows formed Bear Mountain Brew Crew and have been harvesting these hops to make very local beer.
The most beautiful sunflower I might ever lay eyes on. Do you agree?
This view of the farm, with the cows saying hello, welcomes us Fellows as we walk down the long quiet road to the farm each morning.