Kids Gardening Tips

Garden Tips from Madi

Madi has been one of our most successful Katie's Krops Growers. Her accomplishments in and out of the garden have been numerous. We asked Madi to share her tips for being a successful grower and we are thrilled to share those tips with you.

My name is Madi and I was the 2015 Katie’s Krops Grower of the Year and the 2016 Katie’s Krops Top Grower. This is my fifth year growing with Katie’s Krops and it has been an amazing experience. I donate my crops to family friends going through rough times, MANNA Foodbank at my Grandma’s church, and I sell some crops for donations. All of the donations I receive go to Broyhill Baptist Children’s Home in Clyde, North Carolina. Since I started Katie’s Krops in 2013, I have grown a total of 12,344.15 pounds of produce. Here are my four main tips for growing a successful Katie’s Krops Garden

  1. Prayer-- Especially if you’re a Christian, pray about your garden. God can help you through anything if it is in His will. He has definitely blessed my garden beyond what I had ever imagined. Even my first year of growing: I grew 510 pounds! I was astounded and that number just kept on going up and up. My faith has been my main asset through the good and the rough times in my garden. I am so happy to be able to help so many people through my garden.
  2. Experimenting-- Try new things! See what works for you in your climate and what doesn’t. For example, I don’t have much luck with watermelon and pumpkins. The humid summers we get here in Western North Carolina rot the bottoms before they are ready to harvest. Cabbage and beans grow really well here though! The new things you try don’t just have to be the crops you are growing, it can also be techniques. I like to have raised beds in my garden for some small things like carrots, radishes, and romaine lettuce. The ones my Grandpa built for me lasted about three years before rotting, so this year we tried the hay bale raised beds we saw online. There was a lot of rain and the hay held that in almost too well. It got kind of soggy and flopped over. Who knows, it could work for one of you though!
  3. Crop Rotation-- Don’t plant things like tomatoes in the same place consecutive years in a row. The plants will use up all the nutrients in the soil. You can use cover crops like soybeans in the winter to replenish the nutrients or you can trade out what plants go where every year. Or you can do a little bit of both like me! It doesn’t mean you can’t plant the same thing there ever again, just change it up every once in a while. It will be good for the soil and your plants.
  4. Gain Understanding-- Research the plants you have. See how to grow them best, if they typically work well in your area etc. Know about what you are planting. Know the benefits and the risks. You will probably have problems with weeds, bugs, and maybe even some animals like groundhogs and deer. Understanding how to deal with those in a healthy and harmless way is one of the best things you can do for your garden. Lastly, look in the almanac if you have access to one. My Grandparents share part of my garden and they help me in mine. They use an almanac and it is very helpful. We know the best times to plant everything each season. Knowing about what you’re growing can really help. 

Raising Sweet Potatoes from Slips

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You can follow these instructions to successfully start your own sweet potatoes at home.  There are two ways to start them.  Here is the first and the only method I have tried.

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1) Poke three toothpicks into the sweet potato to hold it in a container.  We used sweet potatoes we had stored over the winter.

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2) Place the sweet potato into a jar or container of water with a narrow top and place it near a sunny window.  It should look like the picture on the left.

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3) After the roots form, you will probably need to add some more water, and then the slips will start to form.

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4) Remove the slips off the sweet potato and plant them in wet potting soil.   Keep them watered very well.  Over a period of time, they will root out.

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5) You are now able to transplant them out doors after the danger of frost is over and watch them grow!

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6) Just before the first frost is the best time to harvest sweet potatoes.


Method 2, which I have never personally tried, is to take the sweet potato and bury half of it in dirt. If left in an area with sun, it will sprout and you would follow the same procedure described above.


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Josiah’s Tips:

• I would use black plastic versus fabric just from my experience with the fabric.

• If you use any plastic or fabric, it will attract mice.

• I recommend using the sweet potato variety Beauregard.

Happy Growing! Josiah

Our Top Tomato Tips

Our Top Tomato Tips

For our Spring and Summer crops, tomatoes are always favorite to grow in our Katie’s Krops’ gardens. Below, you will find great tips that will help you have a sucessful growing season in your garden.

Tomato Basics

  • Soil should be well drained, high in organic matter, and have an optimum soil pH of 6.2 to 6.5.
  • Planting times for Spring are March 25 – April 10 and for Fall are July 25 – 30. Optimum temperatures for planting are 70-80° F during the day and 60-70° F during the night.
  • Tomato plants need 1-1.5 gallons per day, which is the equivalent of 1-1.5 inches of rain per week. Adequate moisture aids in the nutrient uptake of the plant. Soils rich in organic matter hold more water than soils that have not been amended.
  • When fertilizing, apply Nitrogen monthly, because the plant uses it to make new foliage and fruit. When selecting a tomato plant, choose disease resistant varieties and purchase healthy transplants. If starting tomato plants from seed, use the recommended practices to avoid spindly growth and diseased seedlings.

There are two types of tomato plants – determinate and indeterminate.

  • Determinate tomato plants grow, flower, set fruit, and die early in the season.
  • Indeterminate tomato plants grow, flower, and produce fruit over a longer period. Most heirlooms are indeterminate. Indeterminate tomatoes must be staked and pruned.

Four amazing reasons to prune and stake your tomato plants.

  • It will maximize the photosynthesis efficiency of the plant.
  • It reduces disease.
  • It redirects carbohydrates to the fruit and away from the foliage of the plant.
  • Staking leads to earlier and larger fruiting. On indeterminate plants, staking will yield fruit 2-3 weeks earlier.

All of the above information is provided by the South Carolina Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. For additional information on tomatoes, please visit the HGIC 1323 Tomato fact sheet at the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service Home and Garden Information Center website at:

Embrace the Fall Season

The mission at Katie’s Krops is to feed as many people as necessary, but that mission cannot end when the summer tomatoes stop producing fruits. The families we help still need healthy meals after the summer harvest is over. Many people overlook the possibility of fall gardening but at Katie’s Krops we embrace the fall season!

When planning a fall garden there are several things to remember.

- Broccoli, Cabbage, lettuce, and other leafy greens are staples for every fall garden!
- Plant carrot seeds in mid-summer for a fall crop.
- Determining your growing season is very important.  12-14 weeks before your average first fall frost, start your seeds indoors in seed trays 8-10 weeks before the first frost, transplant your seeds to your garden!
- Just like a summer garden, fall gardens will need lot of sunlight. Because the temperature is cooler, direct sunlight is very important, make sure you choose your garden location carefully!
- To protect young plants, mulch them with hay or straw immediately after planting, and shade them - especially in the afternoon - with a shade cloth. The mulch keeps the soil cool and keeps weeds from taking over your garden.
- Cold weather plants love fertile soil, so work some compost into your soil before you plant your seedlings.
- Water is essential, and these crops like cool, moist soil. One inch of water per week is the suggested amount.

Grow What You Love!

Every gardener wants to grow the best crops, but sometimes that means growing things you don’t always love. It is good to try new things, and trust me; gardening has made me do that! I have tried so many new things with gardening! And now, I grow those veggies in my gardens! But it is really important to have fun in gardening.  Sometimes if you spend a lot of time caring for veggies you don’t like the taste of it takes away the fun. That’s why you should grow what YOU love!

If you have a favorite fruit or veggie then plant some of that in your garden too! That way you have something to look forward to. My little brother loves watermelon. Sometimes that is almost all he eats. And every time he finishes a piece he will take out the seeds and plant them outside. It is so cute.

Do you love strawberry shortcakes? Spaghetti with marinara sauce? Eggplant Parmesan? Why not grow some of the ingredients! Food always tastes better when you use fresh produce, especially when you have grown it!

As you watch your veggie grow, you get even more excited about eating it!  Grow what you love and love what you grow!!   

My brother planting the seeds from the watermelon he just ate!

And like every good gardener he makes sure his seeds are well watered!