This month’s article on Bay Laurel has taken me down memory lane to my visit with Ray Bennett, a long-ago Herb Society member and mentor to many, in Arkansas to purchase a small start of such.  That was over 25 years ago, and that laurel is still productive and brings me joy!

Update on the onion experiment!  A simple grow light and seed warming mat helped with germination and growth, yet the seedlings are not as vigorous as I would hope for.  The grow lights made another trial possible with the cut off root ends of purchased green onions.  It seems to be working and I like the idea of getting some additional production. All onions are heavy feeders, and a balanced liquid fertilizer will help their growth.

Winter sowing may be the answer to speed up some things in the spring garden.  A friend brought a Farmer’s Almanac and calendar indicating the phases of the moon that many old timers went by.  This week Feb. 9th, I will start with some root crops that were a success last year. Bok choy and carrots have arrived, along with a nice selection of salads from Baker Seeds. All will go into the ground.

Jumping ahead to summer!  Sweet potatoes have always been of interest to me, and I did spend several years at the Shelby Farms Community Garden to see what I could accomplish with a hoe.  Finally, I decided to plant them in raised beds at home and was not disappointed with a 90 lb. harvest. I learned to stir fry the nutritious young leaves and to also use them as chicken fodder.  Having heard of a very successful sweet potato patch in Bartlett, The People’s Community Garden, sponsored by the USDA and overseen by Jeff Carnahan, I went for a visit and a most informative tour.  This garden is so very well done, the 900 lb. harvest is accomplished in a 400 sq. ft. area using minimal amounts of fertilizer, steady watering, and a great deal of friable garden soil!! I can till the mounded dirt with my hands. This huge poundage of sweet potatoes is donated to MIFA every year!  What a great service to our community by the USDA! Amazing what can be accomplished if everyone would garden!  Will keep you updated and explore how to start sweet potato slips.

~~ Reni Erskine

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