Horticulture enthusiasts, rejoice! It’s time to start planting the seeds of this summer’s garden. Tempted to start your own? Don’t worry: being a beginner doesn’t mean that you can’t do excellent work. Here are ten tips to help any gardening novice grow like a pro.

  • Got the time and the desire to learn something new? There are several people in the community offering their time and knowledge to teach fellow Spencer Countians on subjects ranging from art and crafts to cooking to lawn care.

    The Spencer County Cooperative Extension Service is once again offering classes through their S.O.S. Program. S.O.S. stands for Sharing Our Selves, with the understanding that virtually everyone has a skill, interest or hobby to share.


    When Tom Scanlan and Debra Green met, Tom had 30 acres of farmland off of the Salt River, and Debra thought he should do something with it.

    Tom agreed. The pair discussed several options. They wanted to grow a unique crop that they and others would love.

    Finally, they settled on growing organic heirloom garlic.

    Five years ago, Salt River Garlic started with thirteen pounds of garlic. Now, they grow between three and five hundred pounds, around 25,000 plants. Each year, they grow roughly thirty different varieties.


    Nathan Lawson of Big Springs Beef and Lawson Farms considers himself blessed to be a farmer and to share it with past and future generations.

    Lawson Farms started twelve years ago with thirty-two beef cattle that the family raised for their own consumption. They also grew corn, soybeans, alfalfa, wheat, and tobacco on their 800-acre farm. Then they started selling beef to friends, and Big Springs Beef grew from there.

    Now they have 140 cattle. This year, they decided to stop growing tobacco and to focus on raising beef.



  • Mulch has become a landscape staple, almost to a fault when it is over applied, smothering roots and girdling trunks.  When done properly is can help to suppress weeds, retain moisture and moderate temperature.  These things can be achieved using a variety of materials but which type of mulch suits your needs best?

  • I do not worry about perfection in our lawn around the house.  It largely blends in to the pastures where we graze sheep and poultry.  However, we do need to spot seed from time to time to recover heavy use areas and around bale feeders.

  • Wildfires recently consumed about 1 million acres across the plains of Kansas, Okla­homa, Texas and portions of Col­or­ado.

    At least seven lives have been lost, several firefighters injured, thousands of head of livestock destroyed and as many ranchers have lost homes and livelihood.



  • Spring break from teaching at U of L falls conveniently during the week of St. Patrick’s Day; which is also my target date for planting onions and potatoes.  I typically manage a mid-March planting, but the condition of the soil is my primary concern.  I will not start digging until the soil dries out and is considered workable.

  • Don’t let the maintenance of your tractor go by the wayside when you get busy. There’s a tendency to put maintenance on the back burner as spring and summer field activities get into full swing. Often when we do think about maintenance, it is the implement we think about, and we ignore the tractor.

  • It is the time of year when 4-H’ers across Kentucky prepare their speeches and demonstrations for upcoming local communications contests. These programs offer so much more to youth than just ribbons. They give young people the opportunity to develop important life skills and receive a sense of accomplishment in a job well done.

  • I have my orders placed for onion sets and seed potatoes along with some of my favorite summer crops that will be directly seeded in the garden once the temperatures really warm. I can barely stand the wait! I have just seeded out several trays of early season vegetables that like a cool start to the season.  Kale, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are just beginning to push through the light potting mix.

  • Absolutely nothing says spring more than the distant chorus of spring peepers.  There is a wooded stream just off Conner Station that is home to a cacophonous band of peepers all competing for as many females as they can.  On a warm March evening, especially after a shower, spring peepers remind me of how glorious rural life can be.  Just by listening, a whole other world can be imagined.

  • Kentucky 4-H is one of the most important and influential youth programs in our state and our county. Across Kentucky over 279,000 youth ages 9 to 19 learn about leadership, citizenship and life skills in “learn-by-doing” experiences such as communications and public speaking, through agriculture projects like livestock judging, science projects with robotics, 4-H camp, Teen Conference, and many other 4-H programs and activities.

  • Tall fescue, specifically Kentucky 31, is a cool-season grass that is widely grown throughout Kentucky and the eastern United States, because it is resistant to many unfavorable conditions including drought tolerance and insect resistance. However, the very reason for its resiliency is also its Achilles heel. It contains a harmful fungal endophyte that causes fescue toxicosis in cattle and horses. Affected animals get sick, have reduced weight gains, reproductive problems and other issues.

  • A healthy fruit crop from your favorite fruit tree can dramatically increase with some late winter attention.  Pruning is key to healthy fruit trees and fruit production.  You can prune any time after the threat of harsh winter weather is over until just before the tree is in full bloom.  Prune out any winter damage, branches that grow inward and crowded limbs.

  • In a fit of gratitude, I made a list of the things I loved about my life the other day.  I managed eight solid things. None were frivolous and one prompted the whole exercise:  I love warm February days.  This beautiful February day set into motion a very productive weekend.  It felt fantastic to get some good old fashioned garden clean up done with my husband by my side and the sheep grazing freely about.  It makes you feel optimistic about the rest of your life.