Clayson ~ Nebraska
One thing you can say about the Katie’s Krops garden that Clayson Thayer, 9, of Champion, Nebraska, grew in 2021 is that it’s big – really big – 817 square feet big! The other thing you can say is that he grows a wide variety of vegetables and grows a lot of them, such as 25 pounds of squash.
After his dad learned about Katie’s Krops through the city of Imperial’s Facebook page, Clayson applied for and was selected as a 2021 Katie’s Krops Grower. Using knowledge and guidance from his father and grandfather and with help from the entire family (parents Chance and Chandra, seven-year-old brother Cryder and four-year-old sister Cayven, and even Grandpa on occasion), the garden was planted with acorn, spaghetti, and butternut squash, carrots, green beans, radishes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, spinach, and lettuce. The spring lettuce did exceptionally well, as did the tomatoes, although the latter were grown a bit too close together, making harvest a challenge.
Clayson had problems familiar to all gardeners. The cabbage did not do well at all due to bugs. A summer drought became another issue. Even though there was finally a downpour of 5 inches of rain, it was too late for the spinach at the end of the garden that unfortunately wasn’t getting watered.
Even as a fourth-grader in the Chase County school system with school work to do, Clayson has shown a lot of dedication to his garden and maintaining it throughout the growing season. A 43 by 19-foot garden takes a lot of time, even when it’s located in your yard. However, he likes helping people and making them happy, and the abundant produce he’s grown does just that. In addition to giving food to family and friends, especially the elderly, both the Imperial Community Center and the Crossroads Wesleyan Church pantry have benefited. Most donations have gone to the community center, where they use the produce for daily meals. Any produce not used is set out for people to take as needed.
When his parents recently asked Clayson for thoughts on his garden, he responded with several lessons learned. The tomatoes need to be spread out more, so they are easier to pick. The corn needed to be planted at the same time for better pollination. The sunflowers were a big success, and he’s hoping to save some seeds for next year. The pumpkin pie pumpkins, and squash did great. He also experienced that feeling familiar to all gardeners: It’s so hard waiting for the plants to produce vegetables ready to pick!