Fall produce coming in at Comet community garden in Oak Grove
by Mark Ledbetter
Sep 25, 2012 | 2873 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Oak Grove resident A.C. Ware picks peas “on halves” early Monday morning at the Comet Community Garden in Oak Grove. Mark Ledbetter/Daily Home
Oak Grove resident A.C. Ware picks peas “on halves” early Monday morning at the Comet Community Garden in Oak Grove. Mark Ledbetter/Daily Home
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OAK GROVE — With the summer growing season near completion, fall crops are beginning to come in at the Oak Grove Comet Community Garden.

“We’re still cutting okra, egg plants, we still have some peppers and melons,” local resident and Town Council member Carl Armstrong said Monday morning. “The last stand of peas is still available and a few watermelons are still available.”

Oak Grove residents A.C. and Benjamin Ware came out early Monday to pick peas. “We came out about 20 till 7,” Ware said. “It’s the best time.”

The Ware brothers picked 10 buckets of peas “on halves.” Individuals can pick produce and a half of what they pick goes to the garden “giveaway” and the pickers keep the other half.

Ware said he will put his in the freezer.

“If you put the peas up in a pillow case they’ll keep just as good,” garden director Carolyn Zeigler said. “You shell them, don’t wash them or get them wet, and put them in a pillow case and if you need a cup of peas you just get them out.”

Ware said that’s the way his aunt has always put up her peas.

Zeigler said the Ware brothers have been a big help at the garden this summer.

Some summer crops are still available. Okra, egg plant, peas, beans, butter beans, some tomatoes and peppers are still growing. “Most will continue to bear until a frost,” Zeigler said.

Armstrong, who volunteers at the garden, said he grew up on a farm in Red Bay. He grinned when he said he had picked some turnip greens Monday morning and they were already cooking.

Fall crops include turnip greens, mixed greens, collards, rutabaga, mustard, beets, squash and radish. Armstrong said that unless there is a hard freeze most of the fall crops will continue to bear.

“We picked up to Thanksgiving last year,” Zeigler said.

The fall crops will be available on the same basis as the spring and summer produce. Individuals can obtain vouchers at The Care House in Sylacauga, bring the vouchers to the garden on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1-2:30 p.m., and they will receive freshly picked produce.

“The vouchers call for one bag but we give two or three bags when produce is available,” Zeigler said. “If there is a large group we only give two bags.”

“And they can come back both days if they have a voucher,” she said.

Produce that isn’t given away on Tuesdays and Thursdays is available for purchase on Fridays from 1-2:30 p.m., Armstrong said.

“If we have any left we carry it to the Senior Center and make it available to seniors that are there,” Zeigler said.

Vegetables aren’t the only things the garden gives away. Recipes are sometimes given away to show people different ways to prepare the produce. “Carolyn (Zeigler) will sometimes cook something so people can taste the recipes,” Armstrong said.

Zeigler said people passing the garden may not realize produce is available. A large area where corn and peas were grown has been cut and most crops are behind the shed at the garden spot. “They may not see we have things growing,” she said.

While Mayor Charles Merkel announced at the last council meeting that the Zeigler family said the land will be available for the next season, final plans for the garden have not been settled, Zeigler said.

The Comet Community Garden is located on Oden’s Mill Road in Oak Grove and the Care House is at 103 S. Broadway Ave. in Sylacauga. Care House is open Monday through Thursday from 9-11:45 a.m.

Contact Mark Ledbetter at mledbetter@dailyhome.com.