Garden Gnome: Soil, water key to successful garden

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If the weather isn’t ramping up the need to hit the garden, Thursday’s speech by Joe Lamp’l inspired even those with the sorest back to pull on the work gloves.

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Joe Lamp'l, nationally renowned horticulture expert, speaks to a crowd at the Augusta Country Club as part of an early kick-off to the Sacred Heart Garden Festival on Thursday.  JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
Joe Lamp'l, nationally renowned horticulture expert, speaks to a crowd at the Augusta Country Club as part of an early kick-off to the Sacred Heart Garden Festival on Thursday.

Thanks to Sacred Heart Garden Festival and the Nola M. Falcone Speaker series, Joe was in Augusta to share how to create a garden to weather any storm.

He is definitely one to learn from. A lifetime of gardening has lead to such television shows as Fresh from the Garden on DIY and GardenSMART on PBS. His current show – available on South Carolina’s PBS and, if everyone nags, soon on Georgia’s PBS – is Growing A Greener World, which was named the Best New Digital Product in 2011 by the Garden Writers Association.

So how can you have a garden that produces healthy plants through endless rain, warm winters, freezing springs, drought and temperatures in the 100s for days on end?

Joe says:

Start with the soil. If you use raised beds you can create your own environment by amending the native soil with 10 percent compost and worm castings.

The most simple rule is also essential: right place in the right place. In the wrong light, a plant will become stressed, which brings on the pests and diseases.

How you water is critical. The sprinkler system is great for grass but it’s a disease and virus delivery system for plants. The only time for overhead watering is early in the morning so that plants have time to dry.

Mulch provides beauty and retains moisture, cuts down on weeds and helps moderate soil temperature.

Someone as passionate about being a steward of the planet as Joe begs gardeners to stop reaching for commercial products to deal with insects. Plant a diverse range of plants to attract the bugs that eat pests, such as lady bugs.

Go out early and knock Japanese beetles into a pot of soapy water. Keep the garden clean by removing dead plant material to prevent pests from over-wintering and proliferating.

Fellow master gardener classmate Dr. Kenneth Roper asked Joe: What do you do about those giant grasshoppers?

Chickens, he said.

Save the date for the Sacred Heath Garden Festival: April 27- 29.

IF YOU GO

The Edgefield Camellia Club Tea will be 3-5:30 p.m. Feb. 16 at Magnolia Dale in downtown Edgefield. The event is free. Teas, snacks, camellia experts and blooms await.


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