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 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).
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!
(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.)
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.
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.
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.