Hi Everyone,

We are the Lucas’ and this is our second year with the ARCD Build It Up gardening program. Over the course of our time in the program we have learned so much about gardening in general. However, the best part has been learning about gardening in our specific region.

Gardening is important to our family because it is large. We are a family of 7, and some days 8. Being able to grow and harvest some of the foods we eat most, not only saves us money, but also gives a sense of pride. Our children help in the garden quite a bit and it is great for them to really enjoys the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. This year, our focus is on growing not only for what we need immediately, but also preserving excess for the non-growing months.

We are already seeing some beautiful broccoli heads that are nearly ready for harvest. This is one plant we are going to plant several times, as it is one we eat regularly. Our next favorite is green beans, We have planted both pole beans and bush beans this year in hopes of having plenty to get us through the winter and spring. Through the program, we have been given opportunities through various classes to learn how to best preserve our stores of vegetables. I am hoping to learn how to best preserve potatoes this year.

Some of the struggles we encounter every year are, disease, PESTS, and weeds. The weeds have been easier to mitigate with vigilant weeding and mulching in the garden. We’ve been introduced to several “earth friendly” fungicides to help with disease control. Getting ahead of the diseases through taking preventative measures is tantamount to keeping disease at bay.

Our biggest nemesis is the Japanese beetle. These little bugs are like King Kong destroying our garden EVERY chance they get. We were hoping not to have to deal with them until mid-June, but spotted the first one today on one of our roses. And so, we start the counter-attack against the Japanese beetles tomorrow! – Jennifer Lucas