Helen Rhymer, 17, of Brooks, Georgia, is learning that as far as gardening goes, “it’s different here.” Her older brother, Jared, was the first Katie’s Krops grower in the family when he started his garden at the family’s home in Colorado eight years ago. He donated his produce to a local food pantry in Monument. Helen helped him and then took over when he aged out. This was also just in time for the family’s move to the land of red clay and a different climate.
The 2021 garden was not “that big,” but it still produced 100 pounds of vegetables, primarily tomatoes, and green beans. She has a much bigger garden in 2022, and it shows. Seeds were started in February, and as of Labor Day weekend, she’s produced about 220 pounds of a large variety of vegetables, including zucchini, squash, tomatoes, green beans, honeydew, and silver wave melons and cucumbers. It’s important to note that this is “so far” in the year because, as a southern gardener in zone 8a, she is able to have spring, summer, and fall gardens. This year’s fall garden crops are peas, radishes, beets, onions, and lettuce, and planting them has now started.
Helen has a couple of big helpers in growing her garden. One is her brother Colin who loves gardening as much as she does. Another is the compost produced by the family’s ducks and goats, which they raise on their 10-acre hobby farm and provide eggs and milk to the family. They need that compost to augment the soil in the eight one-foot tall raised garden beds and the additional beds comprising dirt dumped over weed block.
Moving to a new area can be difficult, and Helen misses the mountains and snow. She’s found she no longer has to battle the squirrels that plagued the Colorado garden but have had to confront squash bugs for the first time. However, she started working at a garden center over a year ago and can ask for advice. She now picks her squash when they are smaller.
Helen loves being outside when she is not home-schooled by her mother or attending her in-person class at the local community college on her path to earning an associate’s degree in biology. Gardening provides her that outdoor time and the bonus of helping her local community when she donates her produce to the Southwest Georgia Food Bank.