Smart — Snow still lingers in some sections of Southwest Virginia, but Mike Shell would like community folks to commence thinking about a spring vegetable backyard garden.

To that conclude, Shell — owner of Pug’s Orchard and Old Place Keep — is featuring cost-free yard plots to anyone willing to put in the perform to raise beans, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, peas and other greens to can or fill up their tables.

“If you prepare it proper, a 50-by-25-foot plot can expand sufficient meals to feed a relatives of three or 4 for a yr,” said Shell as he looked out the window about what was as soon as aspect of a large apple orchard a long time in the past.

Shell claimed the thought of presenting plots started off a number of several years back when he began a community backyard garden near his keep. He plowed and tilled the site, and households and folks picked out rocks, planted, weeded and ended up with plenty of vegetables to can and provide fresh by means of that developing season.

The only factor Shell asks is for growers to offer a little section of their produce to offer in his retail outlet.

“This is a great way to teach kids about increasing their have food stuff,” Shell said. “A ton of older individuals know what it is like, and youthful individuals can put in the hard perform and see the reward for their do the job.”

When shopping for refreshing foods at the supermarket might be easy, Shell stated the pandemic has afflicted food selling prices in the earlier two a long time with much more improves in sight.

“I was observing on the news a although back again exactly where matters like seed potatoes are finding more challenging to acquire,” Shell claimed. “A family members in Colorado that lifted potatoes had to dump about 700 tons of potatoes due to the fact the need wasn’t there right after folks experienced stopped likely out to retailers. As the need dropped throughout the state, seed potato growers have been reducing back on their shares, and that is been almost 3 several years now.”

While contemplating about a back garden may well look distant with the the latest snow and cold temperatures, Shell reported it is a ideal time.

Seeds, seedlings and even canning materials could be in restricted provide shortly, and organizing what you want to expand and placing in orders for these materials now can support avoid shortages in the vicinity of planting time.

Finding signed up for a plot is free, Shell claimed, and he’ll do the plowing and tilling.

Aspiring gardeners can put in orders for seeds and seedlings at Pug’s, and Shell stated he will help with assistance on planting times, staying away from the spring frosts and canning people beans and tomatoes.

Shell credits his curiosity in gardening and increasing apples to his late wife, Pam, who was the farm supervisor at the state Section of Corrections Camp 18 in the vicinity of Coeburn. Her father, Pug Robertson, acquired the orchard and land where by the retail store stands from Dr. N.F. Hicks’ family members in the 1960s.

Shell stated he determined to get into the farm shop business enterprise after functioning his have coal small business.

“Pam dragged me to all the farm and yard suppliers,” he said with a smile.

These times, Shell and helper Sheila Dingus offer a good deal of neighborhood make and crafts alongside with things from suppliers in Southwest Virginia and Kentucky, but nearby growers and gardeners assist meet that demand from customers each and every season.

“We bought a several bushels of greasy beans from a neighborhood gardener,” Shell mentioned, “and a few of guys commenced bidding on the final bushel.”

“It’s a large amount of do the job, but it’s a ton of pleasurable,” Shell reported of growing your personal yard, “and when you are done you know what you have got.”

For extra info on reserving a backyard plot, contact Pug’s Orchard at (276) 533-3939.