Their 6-year-old granddaughter, Evie, joins them in the garden every chance she gets. "She'll come over after school, and go straight into the house to change clothes so she can help me in the garden," Ronald said.
She likes to wear a cap just like her grandpa as they work side by side.
"She helps me to plant and pick, and she helps her grandmother with the canning as well."
Ronald usually spends two or more hours in the garden each day, but additionally he's kept busy helping contractors with an addition they are putting on the house. He's thankful for the rainy summer because he's only had to water twice.
The soil in the plot is rich with nutrients. In the fall, Ronald pulls out the plants, plows, adds manure, plows again and plants winter rye. He plows that under in the spring, and the process produces amazingly fertile soil.
There are five kinds of corn, bell peppers, potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, cucumbers, yellow and zucchini squash, Big Boy tomatoes and rocdor beans. The prolific plants produce beans that are long and yellow, with no strings, and turn green when canned. Nadine cans without salt, because the Fergusons generously provide beans for dinner once a month at their church, Elk Hills Presbyterian, and several members of the congregation can't eat salt.
The Fergusons are retired schoolteachers, Ronald from high school and Nadine from several Elkview-area grade schools. Their children, Matthew and his wife Andrea (Evie's parents), and Lewis, also benefit from the garden. Evie obviously loves her time with her grandparents. Lewis, who works at the Clay Center, regularly brings excess produce to his co-workers.
Sara Busse of Charleston is a Master Gardener. She may be e-mailed at sjbu...@gmail.com.