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It’s not too late to plant a summer ‘Immunity Garden’

Roy Odom • May 26, 2020 at 6:00 PM

The weather has stabilized and the number of COVID cases in our area are down. Hopefully, spring is here to stay.

Those spring gardens with lettuce, onions, cabbage, broccoli and kale should be in full swing. I have harvested two messes of lettuce out of my meager garden and it probably needs to be picked again. Keeping the lettuce picked is the key to ensuring future production. We must keep those new leaves producing.

I was listening to NPR and heard the term “Immunity Garden.” I was a wee bit interested and looked up the real definition. Evidently, this is the equivalent of the old “Victory Gardens” from World War II. My family just called it the GARDEN. We grew nearly everything that we ate. My Mom even made ketchup. It was DELICIOUS. I have had several people ask me what my mom and grandparents would have done if they were alive during this. They would have changed their lives very little. They always had a fully stocked pantry and planted a large garden for fresh eating and canning and freezing. We even dried a few things like beans, apples and certain peas and beans. The shortages would have affected them very little. People were a little more self sufficient in our not so distant past. Now there is a call for a back to the land movement. I don’t know if many people could do it. Farming isn’t easy and there aren’t any vacations. I guess that is why my Grandma Bea and Grandpa John Paul enjoyed family get togethers so much. It was a time to just sit and visit.

Several of these “Immunity Garden” plans include both herbs and vegetables that are supposed to help our immune systems. They are also designed to help with food shortages. My advice would be to grow what your family will eat and enjoys. Not much use in planting a bunch of vegetables no one will eat.

It is not too late to plant a summer garden. Tomatoes, peppers, beans corn, okra, cucumbers, squash and corn can still be planted and have a chance to mature. I usually plant a fall planting of beans, squash and cucumbers around July 4th. They usually make it and it is nice to have those fresh veggies in the fall. So if you have waffled on planting this spring, it isn’t too late. Go for it.

We have begun to plant the terrace pots. So many of the hydrangeas came back from last year and even some of the perennials. We are in the process of filling in the blanks and making the terrace as beautiful as it was last season. The Keep Kingsport Garden Tour has been canceled but the gardeners are doing virtual tours with pictures and videos. I think this will be just as good. Don’t forget to keep those containers on a constant feeding program with a slow release, organic or liquid feed.

The Kingsport Farmer’s Market is opening Saturday, May 23. However, there are some changes this year. I would urge everyone to go to their Facebook page. There will be a change in the flow pattern, no animals unless Service Animals, and of course, the social distancing. I would urge everyone to look over all the new rules just to avoid confusion when you get there. I hope to see everyone out but at a safe distance.

I try to mention a notable native each week. This week I would love to talk about the wonderful Hydrangea arborescens. The most notable cultivar of this hydrangea is the ‘Annabelle’. This plant loves moist semi shady conditions and plenty of mulch and organic matter. The best thing is this is THE hydrangea for those gardeners who feel the need to whack everything to the ground each fall. This plant blooms on new wood and actually likes the removal of all the old dead wood. Breeders have been working with this species and have created the ‘Incrediball’ hydrangea. The blooms on this thing are just nothing short of magical. The great thing about these hydrangeas is they also make great cut and dried flowers. They ask for very little and give so much.

My hopes are that everyone is out getting some sun and exercise in their gardens. Even if you just have a pot of herbs, that is a garden. Enjoy!

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