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Crops on three acres

Anthony Asked

I have no experience in gardening or farming. We just moved to eastern Ky and would like to grow something in the three acre field we have. We don’t need to profit off the crop, but are interested in something that is aesthetically appealing and will had a nice fragrance to the air. Mind you, we have no farming experience. Any ideas? Thanks!

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The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Anthony: I apologize for the delayed response. Congratulations on your new purchase. Three acres is not a small space and you have a lot of planting options to consider. Since this land is not being farmed for profit, you’ll have flexibility in terms of design. I would suggest to start small and create individual gardens that will eventually all connect and be part of one garden. Hopefully this will make it less overwhelming and will give you time consider your options. Watching the garden grow and evolve is part of the adventure. Since you mentioned something fragrant and aesthetically pleasing, you could start with an herb garden. It would be fragrant and provide flavor to your food. Not all herbs are hardy in Kentucky but thyme, oregano, sage and mint are perennials. Eastern Kentucky is considered 6a/6b on the USDA hardiness map. Each plant has specific zones and growing conditions that it prefers. Each herb if different in terms of hardiness and in some cases it differs between specific variety or cultivar. For example: all lavender can be grown in Kentucky during the warmer months but not all lavender will survive our winters. ‘Hidcote’, ‘Munstead’ and ‘Provence’ are all reliably hardy for us given proper growing conditions. The same is true for ‘Arp’ rosemary. I have lavender and rosemary planted around a sitting area in my garden and it is lovely. For a detailed  list of herbs for Kentucky gardeners visit: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/ho/ho74/ho74.pdf

Apples, pears, and pawpaw trees would be a wonderful addition. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and grapes are just a few other suggestions. Nut trees such as hickory, black walnut and hazelnuts could also be included. A native wildflower meadow would be a wonderful pollinator habitat and a source for cut flowers. These are just a few thoughts that come to mind and I should not leave out a vegetable garden. It really depends on how much time and maintenance you are wanting to invest. Diversity is important in all gardens as well as choosing disease-resistant plants that are suited for Kentucky’s climate. You may consider hiring a landscape designer to give you suggestions and a visual plan. When starting a new garden, it is always a good idea to have your soil tested and amended if necessary. This can be done through the extension office for a small fee and the results will give specifics in terms of pH and nutrient improvement.

The horticulture/agriculture agent(s) at the Morgan County Cooperative Extension Service will be a great local resource for you. The offices are located at 1002 Prestonburg Street in West Liberty. Agents are currently working remotely but they are still available for questions and publications are always available online. They have provided a drop box for soil samples. Call (606) 743-3292 for specific collection and drop-off  instructions. I hope this gives you some ideas to think about and sets you in the right direction. Please let me know if you have further questions. Happy gardening!

 

Angie Oakley

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