In the Garden

Follow us In the Garden! Starting in the spring of 2021, we will be taking our existing raised garden plots for a journey. Back in 2012, the raised beds were built and garden soil was placed on top of the existing grass and soil. An amazing 80.5 pounds of produce was harvested from the plots over the course of that summer and early fall. Over the years, these little plots have seen a lot of use and are now ready for a make-over!

Here we are, January, 2021, ready for some TLC.
July, 2021, planted, weeded, mulched and growing!
December, 21 – Cover Crop well under way!
Mature cover crop ready to be terminated
3 methods of termination explored, cover, cut and flame.
Cover crop terminated (mostly) around perennials and ready to plant for summer 2022!
Summer 22, a mix of perennial, pollinator attractant plants and veggies. Very few weeds!

I have been wanting to give No-Till Gardening a try in a small, home-type garden. Here is my chance! Click HERE to visit our YouTube channel to view the virtual introduction to this project. As the seasons go by, drop in here or on Facebook to follow the process and progress In the Garden. We start with the latest practices and work backward to be beginning.

Cover Crop Termination

Once the cover crop has been in place for the winter, protecting the soil, it is time to terminate it prior to planting for the summer. The goal is to not have the cover crop become weeds, while keeping as much of the residue in the garden to provide nutrients to the soil while acting as mulch. I experimented with 3 different ways to terminate the crop: cutting it down and leaving the plants on the garden, flaming or burning the top portion of the plants, and covering the plants with black plastic. After 3 weeks, I checked back in on the success of the three methods prior to planting for the summer.

Fall and Winter in the Garden

After our first full growing season, it was time to get the garden ready for fall and winter. Before clearing out all the plants, we saved some seeds from our garden for next year and made a quick comparison between our garden produce versus grocery store produce. We did some garden maintenance where we filled up the raised beds and tucked the perennials in for the cooler weather. Drew Jeffers from Clemson Extension stopped by to give us some cover crop pointers before we started our own cover crop. We passed by the milestone of the 1-year garden anniversary by fertilizing the cover crop as it looked a little sad, but much better a few weeks later. Finally, in preparation for spring, we planted some of our saved seeds into pots indoors.

What We Planted and Why…Vegetables and Pollinator Attractant Plants

We wanted our little demonstrational garden to welcome pollinators, but al some produce as those areas of the garden would provide most of the demonstrational features of a low to no till home garden. We planted your typical selection of cucumbers, okra, beans, parsley and dill, and of course, tomatoes. We even had a run in with some hornworms. Then we also planted a selection of both perennial and annual pollinator attractant plants. Asters, Echinacea, Marigolds, Verbena, and Yarrow are all hardy and invite butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators to your garden.

Intro and Plans to turn existing Garden into Environmentally and Soil Friendly Garden

When I first started working with the Soil and Water Conservation District, I noticed a kind of neglected garden behind the office. It made me think of some folks who had started a garden over COVID, but come spring, weren’t sure how to move forward. That began this project. Our first step was to find out about the existing soil through collecting a soil sample, packaging it and sending it to Clemson for analysis. While waiting on the soil information, I went ahead, and frost seeded in a late cover crop and some peas. We also looked at some other garden projects like a rain barrel and citizen science opportunities. With our analysis from Clemson, we fertilized the soil and started looking into specifics of our existing garden. Then the planning began in earnest. As we planted, we had a visit from Drew Jeffers from Clemson with some hints on planting tomatoes. We suffered a bit from a late frost. Jonaca Dunlap, a master gardener, visited to tell us a little about the benefits of square foot gardening. We celebrated our first harvest…and worked through finding aphids and how to get rid of them. Our garden progressed very well, with a few mishaps. We ended by experimenting with some mulch options.