Church’s vegetable garden continues to grow

Published 9:16 am Friday, September 25, 2015

After a bountiful spring garden harvest, volunteers with ESM United Methodist Church are doubling down on a fall garden, also located near the church on Avenue B.

The fall garden on the south side of the church is a smaller plot, approximately 6,000 square feet. The first plot on the north side is approximately two acres.

“This spring, we had very successful Irish potatoes and sweet corn. Like many folks in the area, the frequent heavy rains caused a lot of damage to our tomatoes, squash cucumbers and okra. None of that early stuff did well at all,” said church pastor, the Rev. Bill Moon.

However, Moon said there was a positive come out of the bad news.

“Sometimes there is a silver lining. Because we didn’t have as much planted, it gave us time to clear that industrial site,” Moon said. “We’re still not through, but we’ve gotten a lot of debris out, which includes railroad ties, pieces of concrete and all matter of debris. We’re in the progress of leveling that part of the property and adding organic material.”

Moon said the fall garden has been productive.

“We’ve had good success with late-planted squash and okra, and we have winter squash coming on,” Moon said. “In addition, we have recently planted mustard greens, turnips and rutabagas. Later this fall, we’ll bottom plow these sites in preparation for spring planting.”

Moon said plans for next year call for increased planting of Irish potatoes and sweet corn.

“There are other crops we’ve thought about planting, but didn’t this year,” Moon said. “Sweet potatoes is a crop we think we can do well with. We would also like to plant snap beans and purple hull peas if we can keep the deer away. Next fall, we’d like to have pumpkins.”

Moon said both gardens are available to people around town to pick through.

“One of the things we want people to know is they can call the church at 985-732-2568 and find out what is available from the garden to get,” Moon said. “This is intended to be a community garden. We’re hoping to get the community involved. We don’t have the time or manpower to pick everything for everybody.”

Moon said planting fruit trees, including blueberry, fig, pear and lemon, is a possibility in the near future.

Moon said not only does he work in the gardens, but there are several volunteers as well. Volunteers include Dr. White Gallaspy, John Gallaspy, Jim Yarborough, Kyle Knight, Pops Brazos, and Greg and Javier Castorena.

It’s estimated the original garden produced more than 800 pounds of squash and 500 pounds of potatoes last summer.

“We want to expand the new site and plow it north to south instead of east to west to help us with water control,” Moon said.

Moon said the garden on the north side of the church proved to be popular.

“Last winter, we had a lot of people pick mustard and turnip greens, probably in excess of 200 people,” Moon said. “We’re trying to keep the public informed of what is available there.”