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Greetings from Abingdon VA! This is Michelle reporting for ASD’s Grow Your Own program:

Happy late summer to our Grow Appalachia family! It was, “hot as blazes” as my dad says, this past July in Abingdon, VA. Needless to say, I’ve been hitting my garden chores in the early mornings with an incredible sense of urgency. Nevertheless, we’ve had wonderful production in our demonstration garden. With the help of a trusty high school volunteer, we’ve managed to harvest some beautiful produce for the EFIA food pantry.

This season, Deni and I stumbled upon a wonderful product that we purchase, at cost, from a local construction retailer, A.H. Harris. It’s called silt fencing, but our students at Girls Inc. call it the “weed suffocate-or”. I’m sure you’ve seen it a long road construction and new home sites. It is black and semi-porous which makes it a great landscaping fabric, but it is much more durable than the stuff you could purchase at Lowe’s.

We use it around new fences, under new garden boxes, along with hard squash beds, and finally for its newest use around our hoop house.

For those of you who have hoop houses on your sites, it goes without saying weeding between the wooden boards of the base of the hoop is an ongoing and most frustrating chore especially if those weeds get away from you. It seems Johnson grass loves to bed down between those boards providing excellent habitat for large spiders. Spiders are very beneficial at controlling pest populations, but they aren’t always a welcome surprise when pulling weeds. So, this past week, I decided to try to use this silt fencing to smother the weeds and keep them from coming back. As you can see, the added benefit is now we can mow right up to the hoop, which means we have decreased the need to weed-eat. The materials are held in place with large staples that we drive in using a hammer. We purchase these pins at A.H. Harris at cost as well.

On an unrelated but necessary note, I personally had a hard month with the sudden loss of my father-in-law and now with a stage 4 lung and ovarian cancer diagnosis for my 81-year-old grandmother. I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation to all the kind emails, thoughts, and prayers that have been sent our way. It means everything to feel so much love from my Grow Appalachia family, thank you.

From all of us at Appalachian Sustainable Development, we wish you a wonderful harvest and prosperous summer.

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