Demonstration Garden underway

Published 1:16 pm Friday, September 30, 2022

By Marie Oberwetter

Charlotte County Master Gardener

Extension Master Gardeners are trained volunteer educators. Our goals are to work within the local community to encourage and promote environmentally sound horticulture practice through sustainable landscape management education and training. We can utilize the resources of Virginia Tech and Virginia State Universities.

The Charlotte County Master Gardener unit determined that the community education aspect of our mission was lacking. We are a small unit with aging members, but the talent and energy are remarkable.

After discussion and guidance from the home office the Demonstration Garden was conceived and completed. Fortunately, the land was available at the site of the Extension Office. More work will follow in setting up educational events and lectures in the future. A major goal is to become more active participants in our community.

There was extensive discussion on how the garden was to evolve, how Master Gardeners would participate, future upkeep requirements, what would be planted, and then how produce would be shared with community. Another underlying responsibility was sharing information with the community on social media, in newsprint, and public lectures.

Early in the process members were tapped on what was available in their possession, the Extension Office materials, and the library for future information sharing. Prior to any physical layout the proper approval and utility permits were obtained. Throughout the entire process our Extension Agent was actively involved.

One sunny day the timbers were laid out in various designs until a three-bed layout was determined to work the best in the area allocated for the garden. The entire area was tilled, and landscape fabric laid by our faithful Agent. Each bed was 4 feet by 16 feet to optimally utilize the 8-foot timbers that were donated by Lowe’s in Farmville. This was also essential to minimize timbers that had to be cut. A portable table with vises was used with the Sawzall. For some of us helpers this was a totally new experience. Rebar was used to stabilize the corners. Ten tons of rock was spread around the beds and a truck load of soil was placed in the beds. This was done with WOMEN Power mostly (we did have two guys!) and a little mechanical help at the end of the process. I think we all slept well that night.

The next aspect of the project was probably the most challenging. Setting up an irrigation system to function as independently as possible with timers. Two of the Master Gardeners got an in-depth in-service from our vender. All the tubing and connections were attached and working. Then the exciting day arrived! Planting the beds! This took a full complement of senior and young gardeners. The main criteria for vegetables were a short season. We had seeds donated by White’s Hardware store and individuals. Spinach, Swiss chard, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, bush beans and snow peas were planted. A week later, after a rain and cooler temperatures the plants looked great and little seedlings were emerging.

Overall, it has been a learning process for all of us. Now, the ongoing rotation and soil cover will be done. Seed starting and saving for next year will have to be projected. The educational aspect to be shared with the community is still in the development stage