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The Hamilton County Master Gardener Veggie Bed is an opportunity for local residents to learn what vegetables and fruits they can successfully grow in their own yards (depending on the weather!). It is located east of the Llama Barn and is surrounded by a white fence.
On the outside of the fence is the Master Gardener Herb Bed. Just south of the Veggie Bed is an addition. For a few years it was a Junior Master Gardener Bed, but now master gardeners who volunteer to work the veggie bed maintain both areas.
Beginning in 2016, our focus has been to transition the garden to a completely organic bed. We have almost completely achieved this goal. We strive to use all organic methods of gardening and organic or heirloom varieties of seeds. Volunteer master gardeners start the seeds at home late winter or early spring. This way they will do well when transplanted to the veggie bed at the appropriate time.
Our organic methods include (but are not limited to) –
1. Choosing varieties of plants that are appropriate for the zone, our soil and disease resistant
2. Improving the soil by making our own compost for the beds
3. Controlling methods naturally – primarily by hand pulling (in the aisles we use biodegradable paper topped with straw to smother weeds)
4. Treating pests using organic methods such as spraying with mild diluted soap solution, protecting seedlings by using paper cups to deter cutworms, planting vegetables at times when specific pests are less prevalent.
5. Using row covers to protect seedlings from pests and to extend the growing season
6. Rotation of beds to avoid a build-up of diseases in the soil
7.Using cover crops to improve the soil structure, increase fertility and prevent erosion
8. Companion planting
We are constantly trying to educate ourselves by attending seminars and reading. Any new organic methods we discover, we evaluate for safety to the environment. If we determine it is safe and appropriate for our garden, we try it and then evaluate its usefulness.
Once harvest time arrives, a volunteer master gardener collects fresh produce once a week and takes it to a local food bank where it is available for those less nourished.
We hope you will stop by and see the raised beds we have established and gain some insight to organic methods you can try in your own gardens.