Spring has arrived to the inner banks and you know what that means. Days are longer, temps are warmer, pine pollen is covering everything, afternoon storms are brewing, birds are chirping… life is returning all around us from a brief winter slumber.

Spring time storms rolling over grain bins in farm fields in Arapahoe, NC.
Afternoon thunderstorms rolling in over grain bins in Arapahoe, NC. A sure sign that spring has arrived.

Spring has been one of my favorite seasons primarily because it’s when the Spring Classics of cycling begin in Northern Europe. Paris-Roubaix, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Amstel Gold and Liege-Bastogne-Liege are my favorites and if you think Duke has wild fans you should see the Dutchies lining the Belgium street of the famously steep climb the Mur De Huy (English: Wall of Huy).

Watching the spring classics inside the 35 North Cottage at Arlington Place.
Paris-Roubaix streaming live into our kitchen at the 35 North Cottage.

I’ll still be glued to the TV this year, tapping into my Danish roots and sharing my love of bike racing with Bishop, but we’ll also be embracing a relatively newfound family passion, gardening. And with our long growing season and bountiful sunshine there’s no better place than to turn that brown thumb green than Pamlico County!

Growing up there were few things I detested more than tomatoes. That sentiment stuck with me through college and early adulthood. Just the thought of eating a tomato would make me queasy.

But as a got older and became more interested in being self sufficient I recognized I needed to revisit some foods I’d previously shunned. I figured if I could embrace eating a tomato then anything was possible.

Many people had told me about the wonders of fresh veggies, that they barely resemble their store bought relatives, and boy were they right. One slice of a fresh Cherokee Purple plucked straight from the garden and I was converted. Bring on the maters!

Cherokee Purple tomato fresh from a local garden.
This is the tomato that forever changed how I look at vegetables. Delicious on its own but I prefer a dash of salt & pepper with a light drizzle of Olive Oil.

(Side note: Gary Hardison, namesake, founder and former owner of Gary’s Downeast Seafood, bought locally sourced tomatoes in season and gave me an excellent tip. Never refrigerate your tomatoes. The cold temps kill the natural flavor.) 

Growth opportunities

Working the soil in a garden in Pamlico COunty, NC.
Gardens provide more than food. They’re an opportunity to share knowledge, teach patience, respect for the land, and the joys of sharing with others.

I cherish spending time in our garden, working with the soil, getting dirt under my nails, and watching our daughter learn more about where food comes from.

There’s also a deep sense of satisfaction sharing the fruits of our labor with family and friends.

Couple a garden with a crab pot and some fishing and hunting skills and we could feed ourselves throughout even the worst supply chain disruptions.

Pamlico County has deep roots in farming. Even though most farms you see are large scale commercial operations there are plenty of people maintaining small food producing plots.

Several farmers sell their produce locally too so if you’re not quite ready or able to commit to your own garden you can purchase theirs from the Inland Waterway Provision Company in Oriental or from Paul’s Produce stand on Highway 55 between Oriental and Bayboro.

Fresh tomatoes at Paul's Produce Stand.
The flavor of store bought tomatoes can’t compete with fresh ones from the garden or from ones like you see here at Paul’s Produce Stand.

Not all the produce at Paul’s in grown in the county but most (if not all) is grown in NC. If you haven’t yet discovered Paul’s Produce please do so this year. You won’t be disappointed.

When you are ready to start tending your own plot be sure to stop in and see Rachel at Harbourside Garden Company. They’re located along Highway 55 in Stonewall just outside of Bayboro. In addition to being a wealth of knowledge about what grows best in the local soil they offer a great selection of plants and landscaping supplies.

Plants that grow in Pamlico County

Need some inspiration to get outside and start growing? Take a look through the slideshow below or click here to view them in an image gallery. Not all of these plants were grown inside AP but they were all grown in Pamlico County.

  • Peach <em>Prunus persica</em>
  • Highbush blueberry <em>Vaccinium corymbosum</em>
  • Carolina Jasmine <em>Gelsemium sempervirens</em>
  • Cabbage <em>Brassica oleracea</em>
  • Spearmint <em>Mentha spicata</em>
  • Coriander <em>Coriandrum sativum</em>
  • Oregano <em>Origanum vulgare</em>
  • Parsley <em>Petroselinum crispum</em>
  • Wildflowers blooming in landscaped beds and containers inside AP.
  • Vegetable garden at Arlington Place
  • Tulips blooming in a yard at AP
  • Japanese maple <em>Acer palmatum</em>
  • Aphrodite's phalaenopsis <em>Phalaenopsis aphrodite</em>
  • ap-garden-blog-19
  • Bitter orange <em>Citrus aurantium</em>
  • Dog rose <em>Rosa canina</em>
  • Orchid canna <em>Canna orchioides</em>
  • Southern Indian azalea <em>Rhododendron indicum</em>
  • Callerypear <em>Pyrus calleryana</em>
  • Fresh Tomatoes at Paul's Produce Stand
  • Fresh peaches at Paul's Produce Stand

Helpful gardening links

There’s so much information about growing stuff online it can be overwhelming at times. Here are some resources we’ve found particularly useful and entertaining.

Self Sufficient Me: This YouTube channel is produced by an Aussie gent named Mark. His love of gardening is totally infectious and guaranteed to make you smile. Highly recommend checking this one out.

The Gardening Channel with James Prigioni: Another one of our favorite gardening YouTubers. James is entertaining and a wealth of practical information.

NC planting zones from gardeningknowhow.com

NC Coastal Landscaping Guide: A Native Plant Guide from the Coastal Landscapes Initiative)

Coastal landscape resources from North Carolina State University & NC Sea Grant.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Arlington Place blog author William Conkwright. Story by William Conkwright

Two simple principles guide my personal and professional life. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication and if you can't measure it, then you can't manage it. I'm half analyst and half artist. Founding Circle Squared Publishing has allowed me to nurture and grow both sides of my personality. All the while creating something beautiful each day.