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Good Dirt Don’t Hurt

by Yvette Cain
March 7, 2019

You’d think a person talking about dirt wouldn’t attract more than a couple of friends giving advice on the best detergent to use, but Tuesday night’s Holliston Garden Club meeting at the Senior Center proved otherwise.

You’d think a person talking about dirt wouldn’t attract more than a couple of friends giving advice on the best detergent to use, but Tuesday night’s Holliston Garden Club meeting at the Senior Center proved otherwise. 

Susan Russo, on behalf of the club, welcomed the large audience and introduced Britanny Overshiner.

The Holliston Garden Club opened this meeting to the public.  A crowd gathered, mingling for a few minutes before the evening’s presentation, eating lovely treats prepared by the members.  The admired raffle prize of the evening was a ticket to a “flower share” for a week this summer from Upswing Farm. 

Brittany Overshiner treated the talented and knowledgeable audience to an evening of useful and timely information with her presentation “Building Healthy Soil.” Brittany and her husband Kevin run Upswing Farm, a small diversified vegetable farm on the border of Ashland and Holliston.

Overshiner communicated her goals in farming: great, healthy food, affordability, a reduced carbon footprint, an opportunity to teach kids, enjoyment of the process, and a chance to learn something.  The goal of an increased yield, you may have noticed, is not among those goals, although Overshiner admits it would be great!

The 1½-hour presentation, recorded for HCAT as well, began with the composition of soil, with a focus on the microscopic organisms that live within and form the base of the food web.  Working the soil includes maintaining the moisture, feeding the microorganisms, avoiding harmful chemicals, and being sure not “to disturb the soil.”  Overshiner advised adding mulch to maintain moisture, including straw or grass clippings, leaves or wood chips, paper and cardboard, compost and plastics.  Each of these mulches was discussed individually, with pros and cons. 

UMASS will, for a $25. fee, test and provide the grower with a detailed printout of the chemical composition of the soil sample.  Overshiner said New England soil is lucky to have many necessary minerals, but sometimes nutrients are needed to create a mineral balance.  Information on composting and fertilizing followed.  “Foliar feeding [feeding plants by application of fertilizer directly to their leaves] is a fast way to address nutrient deficiencies,” said Overshiner.  Plants can absorb nutrients through their stomata. 

With more information than would fit the time, Overshiner ended by discussing seeds.  “Look for seed packets that say great flavor, not good or improved.  Also, look for a long harvest window.  You want the best food you can grow!“  Surely some of Overshiner’s tips on soil will help out these avid gardeners anticipating large, lush, and lovely plants this coming season.

 

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Comments (1)

Watch for HCATs "How Does You Garden Grow" it is the second seasons opening show! Lots of great information!

- Deb Moore | 3/7/19 8:48 AM

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