Gardening makes sense

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By Steve Moore

Gardening makes sense! Growing your own vegetables makes you feel self-sufficient and provides fresh, healthful food for you and your family.
Your surplus crop can be frozen, canned, or stored in cool, dry locations for enjoyment and nourishment throughout the year. Your good labors in the garden can reward you with lower grocery bills, plus you’ll have the peace of mind knowing exactly what care has been taken of the food.

You may be completely satisfied with growing only for yourself, or you may find that you enjoy growing extra vegetables for marketing directly to other folks. Some of our Henry County Farmers Market members have done just that, and have made some extra money for the family.

Direct marketing such as through the Farmers Market usually garners the highest prices for vegetables, but the time and effort it takes to market may be a limiting factor to higher revenues.

Instead of direct marketing, some folks may choose commercial vegetable production, growing on a larger scale, spending more time with production and less with marketing, accepting a price lower than direct marketing since someone else (a middleman) is involved in moving the product to the end market.

The end market for vegetables can be a big one. Henry County is located within easy driving distance of 20 percent of Kentucky’s population in Louisville alone.

Enhancing and developing marketing streams for local produce could lead to a local food economy which benefits both the urban center and our rural farming community. One such effort is the Capstone Produce Auction Market. After one year in operation, it is poised to move locally grown produce into expanded markets.

Next week, we have two opportunities to learn about growing vegetables for food, fun, and/or profit. One meeting will focus on commercial vegetable production and marketing, and the other on home vegetable gardening. We hope you can attend the one of your choice.

“Profit with Produce” is the title and theme of the commercial production meeting at 9 a.m., on Tuesday, Feb. 15, at the Capstone Produce Market in Campbellsburg. Dr. Tim Coolong, UK Vegetable Production Specialist, will be on hand all day to discuss various aspects of growing and marketing your produce. He’ll be joined by other specialists and marketers at the meeting which should end by mid afternoon after a sponsored lunch.

To register for the Profit with Produce meeting, please contact the Henry County Extension Office at 845-2811.

Not interested in growing vegetables for sale? Then, you may wish to attend the Home Vegetable Gardening workshop at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 16, at the Henry County Extension Office. We’ll discuss basic management, fertilization, planting, watering, weed control, pests and diseases, and varieties for 2011. Please call us at 845-2811 to register.

Alfalfa conference
The Kentucky Alfalfa Conference will be held Feb. 24, at the Fayette County Extension Office in Lexington. The program will feature leading alfalfa experts covering important, practical topics. Nationally recognized alfalfa specialist Dr. Dan Undersander, Forage Specialist at the University of Wisconsin will be the keynote speaker. A large exhibit area and a silent auction will be part of the program that begins at 8 a.m. and concludes at 3 p.m.

Topics will include: Alfalfa Varieties for Today and Tomorrow; Keys to Getting a Good Stand of Alfalfa; Making your Fertilizer Dollar go Further; Hay Drying, Preservatives, Conditioning; Alfalfa Hay for Horses: Myth vs. Reality; Dollars & Cents of Alfalfa Production; What’s New in Hay Harvesting Equipment; and the Forage Spokesman contest.

Please contact the Henry County Extension Office at 845-2811 to register.