To Everything There Is A Season

“To Everything There Is A Season” is not exactly an original line, but so true, especially in a garden.  At this point in September however, we see both summer and fall crops co-mingling in the beds and that is something I certainly have occasion to enjoy. 

While I’m not yet tired of tomatoes, I surely am happy to see lettuces and other greens that prefer the cooler nights and days coming into their own.  Last night we enjoyed fresh young turnip greens with our field peas, sliced tomatoes and grilled sweet peppers.  The best of both worlds!

While the favorites of both seasons have their brief moments of co-existing, it is clear the days are coming when heat loving summer vegetables will be finished.  In the meantime, it is nice to see the bright green of the turnips and lettuces next to the struggling okra stalks.

Suzy

Looking out from the second floor of the house, this is a sight that greets me in the morning.  I love seeing the bright light green of the young turnips in the farther bed.   

Looking out from the second floor of the house, this is a sight that greets me in the morning.  I love seeing the bright light green of the young turnips in the farther bed. 

 

Swiss Chard never looked prettier than it did in the afternoon sunlight.   

Swiss Chard never looked prettier than it did in the afternoon sunlight. 

 

And August's zinnias still bloom brightly in the afternoon sun too.  

And August's zinnias still bloom brightly in the afternoon sun too.

 

And here is summer personified!  This is the last of our day lilies still bravely blooming in September.  Looks as if we have only one more bloom to go.   

And here is summer personified!  This is the last of our day lilies still bravely blooming in September.  Looks as if we have only one more bloom to go. 

 

Kale, kale, kale.  Glorious kale has grown really fast and well in just a short time. 

Kale, kale, kale.  Glorious kale has grown really fast and well in just a short time. 

A true harbinger of fall:  Goldenrod.  I have read it is not really the allergen most people fear it to be and butterflies feast on it.  

A true harbinger of fall:  Goldenrod.  I have read it is not really the allergen most people fear it to be and butterflies feast on it.

 

One of the sentinels of summer:  The okra struggles on although the cooler nights slow it down. 

One of the sentinels of summer:  The okra struggles on although the cooler nights slow it down. 

New Friends. Old Cars

Sparta had the pleasure of hosting about 25 old Model A Fords and their proud owners this past weekend.  A number of historic houses were open for touring on Saturday, including 15 Elm Street, the home of Elm Street Gardens.  This house tour, sponsored by the Sparta Historical Society, was open to any who were interested as well as the Model A group who enhanced the Sparta streets with their old cars.

Robert and I enjoyed our various guests during the house tour that day and talking about the house we love as well as showing off the gardens. We also had the pleasure of being the location for dinner for the Model A touring group. 

As dinner time approached however, so did the afternoon thunderstorms and the rain made it impossible to set up on the lawn as originally planned for dinner.  We moved the rented tables and chairs to the dining room and the connecting front parlor and everyone fit in just fine.  We now know there is a way to seat 54 people for dinner in our house. 

We had a grand day.  And hope we get to do it again!

Suzy

 

The Model A Ford tour group begins to arrive in Sparta.

The Model A Ford tour group begins to arrive in Sparta.

On a wet evening Elm Street becomes lined with the old cars.

On a wet evening Elm Street becomes lined with the old cars.

Part of the line-up in front of our house.

Part of the line-up in front of our house.

There were a few of the cars parked by the side of the house and by the old cotton warehouse building where Sparta Mushrooms are raised. 

There were a few of the cars parked by the side of the house and by the old cotton warehouse building where Sparta Mushrooms are raised. 

  



Hot Times, Cool Picnic

We had our 5th annual Hancock Community Labor Day Picnic here on Elm Street on the appropriate day.  The temperatures were right up there to make it one of the hottest days we have had this summer (I chose not to look and find out just how hot it was).  It has been very dry here and we have spent a lot of time wishing the rain would pour down, but instead we got the sun pouring down on us.

Despite the hydrangeas looking a bit crispy, it all worked out very well with lots of good potluck dishes and pork and chicken barbeque as well as a whole lot of very nice people sharing in the work and visiting with old friends and new.  And that is what it is all about:  The community coming together. 

Suzy

Welcome to all!

Welcome to all!

4 H Club members.  4-H'ers put together a history panel display for Hancock County as well as a lovely presentation of memories of the recently burned Hancock Courthouse.   

4 H Club members.  4-H'ers put together a history panel display for Hancock County as well as a lovely presentation of memories of the recently burned Hancock Courthouse. 

 

Barbeque! And working hard to pull it off the bones and chop it for serving.  

Barbeque! And working hard to pull it off the bones and chop it for serving.

 

Flowers from Elm Street Gardens decorated all the tables.     

Flowers from Elm Street Gardens decorated all the tables. 

 

 

Randie Gray (left) receives her " Community Hero" award for her work with 4-H with presenter Shawn Bell.

Randie Gray (left) receives her " Community Hero" award for her work with 4-H with presenter Shawn Bell.


SWAH Fitness Dance Group did some mighty fine line dancing.  

SWAH Fitness Dance Group did some mighty fine line dancing.

 

The picnic was enjoyed by all ages.

The picnic was enjoyed by all ages.

And especially the young!                

And especially the young!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Learning

For the second summer in a row, Elm Street Gardens and Sparta Imperial Mushrooms have had the experience of hosting students from Oglethorpe University and Agnes Scott College.  For the month of June five students spent their time with us in Hancock County.  They worked at farming, growing mushrooms, finding out what it takes to raise grass fed beef and sheep as well as experiencing what middle Georgia has to offer for its citizens.

 

We shared these good workers with Fort Creek Farm where Bob and Susan Woodall and Chris Jackson raise grass fed beef, goats, and chickens as well as diligently work on preserving the history of this old Hancock plantation.  The interns also spent some time with Lyle Lansdell at Forest Grove Farm, her old family farm in Sandersville, where in addition to fruits and vegetables, she raises sheep.  They spent a morning with Debbie Waugh of Salamander Springs Farm near Milledgeville and were awed by her practice of permaculture and ability to live off the grid.  Forester Jeff Lacksen gave them an afternoon’s view of the forestry industry in Hancock County. 

 

This was a terrific group of students who were articulate, interested in the world around them and agreeable to whatever task was assigned to them.  They had the opportunity of attending farmers markets, working at Helping Hands (a Hancock food bank) and cleaning up the grounds at the Hancock Library as well as exploring parts of middle Georgia that were new to them.

 

I’m going to take the liberty to share some of the comments made by the interns on their evaluations at the end of the experience:

 

“I really enjoyed getting to know the other interns and learning how to farm. I left the internship with a solid idea of how to maintain a farm. I also enjoyed the stars, the rock quarry and the slow pace of life.”

 

“ working on Forest Grove farm was interesting to see how one woman is able to do so much with what was given to her.”

 

“It is also important to experience the poverty in Hancock County.  It's one thing to intellectually understand poverty but it is another thing to experience it. That aspect of the internship cannot be replicated.”

 

“For the most part this experience met my expectations. I think there could have been more educational materials and hands on learning. Instead, we mostly did hands on work with little explanation. The level of work was as I expected.”

 

“The people. Hanging out with my peers. Working and learning with the Currey's, Jim, Liz, Brian, Jonathan, Chris, The Woodalls, Tom, Mr. Ned, Ms. Lyle, and Karina. This honestly was the best part, I made connections and relationship that will help me facilitate my endeavors and will be friends and support.”

 

“I feel like I got a bit of Hancock in my blood now.”

 

We were pleasantly surprised with the comments made by the interns on their evaluations, but they almost all nailed us on our greatest weakness:  Which was the fact that they would have liked more educational instruction on farming. I agree that we and the schools could have done more in that department. I am pretty sure that they learned that farming is a lot of work and we will try to throw in more “book learning” and explanation of the processes involved next time. 

 

I have invited them and hope they will be able to return to Elm Street Gardens and Hancock County whenever they wish, but most especially for our Community Labor Day Picnic.  I was so impressed with these students and their attitudes and insights.  They certainly made this old soul feel good about this generation that is coming along!

 

Below I am sharing some pictures Betty Longdergan (wife of Oglethorpe University President and skilled photographer among other accomplishments) took during a visit to Elm Street Gardens at the end of the interns’ third week here. 

Suzy

 

Shanice, Danielle, Malik and Mike  were the four interns who stayed for the entire four weeks of the program.  

Shanice, Danielle, Malik and Mike  were the four interns who stayed for the entire four weeks of the program.  

Sophia had already made plans for the last week of June, but she was a vital part of the group for the first three weeks.  She had been picking flowers for the next day's market when this photo was taken!

Sophia had already made plans for the last week of June, but she was a vital part of the group for the first three weeks.  She had been picking flowers for the next day's market when this photo was taken!

Picking beans on a hot sunny day.

Picking beans on a hot sunny day.

Hard working girls share a smile at the end of the day.

Hard working girls share a smile at the end of the day.

The results of all that hard work. The girls' flower bouquets, as well as garlic and onions, are ready for market.  

The results of all that hard work. The girls' flower bouquets, as well as garlic and onions, are ready for market.  

The More, The Merrier

One thing for sure is that we can’t complain about being lonely here on Elm Street these days:  We have had so many folks come by to see the gardens in the past couple of months!  Some are folks we know, some are strangers, but all turn out to be friends. 

 

We are lucky to have all this attention, but I know it will slow down considerably as the weather reaches increased summer levels of heat.  Some days are already there.  (But often we still have our “fall line” wind to help cool us a bit on many days.) 

 

We have enjoyed visits from the Good Earth Garden Club from Swainsboro/Metter with middle Georgia fruit expert and good friend, Jerry Larson, in attendance. There was a great group of ladies from the Holiday Shores Garden Club here in Hancock County, the dream team Bragg riders from Dublin, Georgia, friends of our Sparta/Athens friend Dale Couch who are accomplished restoration experts and so many others, I know I am forgetting some.  Lots of folks who came in ones or twos to check things out at Elm Street Gardens and Sparta Imperial Mushrooms were here on impromptu visits or scheduled tours.  Love them all! 

 

Very near and dear to my heart are the groups who came from a summer gardening course at the Hancock public schools.  These middle school students showed encouraging interest in growing their food, eating well and organic principles. 

 

Unfortunately, I have not been too good at taking pictures of these events.  Too busy talking, I guess.  I do have a few to show you here and I won’t try to substitute a thousand words for the lack of pictures.  Hope we can interest more folks to visit and see what can be done and grown here in Sparta, Georgia!

 

Suzy

Robert and the "Dream Team" from Dublin. Georgia.  They were on a practice ride for a week long ride across Georgia .  Sparta was their lunch stop on this day and this group toured Sparta Imperial Mushrooms and paid a visit to Elm Street Gardens too.  They all chomped down on some of our cucumbers!  

Robert and the "Dream Team" from Dublin. Georgia.  They were on a practice ride for a week long ride across Georgia .  Sparta was their lunch stop on this day and this group toured Sparta Imperial Mushrooms and paid a visit to Elm Street Gardens too.  They all chomped down on some of our cucumbers!

 

Family visit from cousin, Tom Voglesonger and wife Carol.  Like many they were especially interested in how we grow the mushrooms.  

Family visit from cousin, Tom Voglesonger and wife Carol.  Like many they were especially interested in how we grow the mushrooms.  

7th graders who are taking a two week gardening course at Hancock Central were a good lively group finding out about how we grow food.  

7th graders who are taking a two week gardening course at Hancock Central were a good lively group finding out about how we grow food.

 

Terrific group of 8th grade boys from Hancock Central who asked all the right questions.

Terrific group of 8th grade boys from Hancock Central who asked all the right questions.

Our Old Friends: The Day Lilies

I have had a number of small shocks of surprise and pleasure during late May and early June as our numerous day lilies begin to bloom.  Every time I see one that has just opened, I have the shock of remembrance and say to myself, “Oh yeah, I had forgotten you were here.”  Then I am just happy to see this particular old friend and admire it along with the more recently planted ones.


Due to Robert’s love and fascination with the hardy day lily plant, we have quite a collection (for amateurs) of different varieties.  Down the center path that leads from the house down the garden steps to the dovecote, we have some wonderful specimens in shades of yellow.  Robert’s idea was to choose and plant them so that these yellows started with soft shades at the top of the walk and graduated to stronger shades of the hue as you look down the walk. 


He was not totally successful in this attempt, mostly because it turns out that not all of them bloom at the same time, but it works pretty well.  And the two of us, at least, enjoy greeting our old friends each year as we actually wrote down the names of the plants along this path so we can pull the list out and recite their names.  Being able to give the names of most of the day lilies we have seems to be an impossible feat of memory for both of us. 


You can eat day lilies (hemerocallis fulva, but not true lilies such as the Easter lily which is poisonous). The blossoms, the tubers, the stalks of the common day lily are all edible.  But while I throw a blossom or two in a salad when I want to be fancy, I can rarely bring myself to pick enough to consume on a large scale.  Maybe someday as the collection grows, but could there be such a thing as having too many daylilies?

Suzy

Love the soft colors of this large blossom.

Love the soft colors of this large blossom.

Striking colors on this frilly blossom.    

Striking colors on this frilly blossom.

 

 

Here you see how many flowers one plant cluster can produce.

Here you see how many flowers one plant cluster can produce.

Here is an old shot of the main path through the garden with its varying shades of yellow day lilies.  

Here is an old shot of the main path through the garden with its varying shades of yellow day lilies.  

Here is a cluster of the common tiger day lilies, or ditch lilies, as some call them.  These might be the ones to eat!

Here is a cluster of the common tiger day lilies, or ditch lilies, as some call them.  These might be the ones to eat!