(For the TLA Journal August 2011)
Now that our first growing season is nearly past, Farmers have learned a bushel of things about growing vegetables and fruit on Skidaway Island. For example:
Number 1 – it’s NOT like gardening in the north!
Number 2 – it’s NOT as easy as it looks!
Number 3 – compost and mulch are the keys to the Farmer’s kingdom!
Nearly 40 Farmers gathered one Saturday morning in Valley Crest Square at the Farm to listen to Tina and Cleve Zipperer share their professional advice on tackling the Georgia coastal environment. The Zipperers own and operate Zipperer Land Management and their vast knowledge of fleur and fauna in Savannah was a great boost to their eager students.
The event was organized by the Farms’ Education Coordinator, Donna Shea, whose intent is to have the Farmers begin to share what they have learned with each other while picking up valuable professional advice along the way. One Farmer announced his attraction to the “Free Mulch” sign along the Truman Parkway but Cleve quickly cautioned him away from such wood-filled dirt. “Those woody chips drain all the nutrients from your soil so they can decompose, leaving your soil depleted and of no value to your plants”, Cleve instructed. “Pine straw, wheat straw, grass clippings and peat moss are much better choices”, he said. Note takers quickly wrote that down along with lots of other tips that inspired even the newbie-Farmers that there is a light at the end of the tunnel!
Skidaway Farms Chair, Blake Caldwell, announced that the soil in the Farm is “your typical coastal island silt, with too much phosphorus and potassium”. The Zipperers suggested that getting the soil tested by a professional agency is the way to go when the vegetables just aren’t thriving. “Most of the time, it’s the soil that gets your plants really producing and mulch and compost are the keys to great soil”, Cleve told the gathering. Again, pencils worked quickly to get it all down. You can view all the topics that were covered by visiting the Farms Education webpage at www.skidawayfarms.net
All in all, the event taught the Farmers that they needed to do this more often! A suggestion taken to heart by Donna and the rest of the Farm Governance Committee. Many thanks to the Zipperers for their continued support of Skidaway Farm – and to Tina for those blueberry muffins!
Come on down and visit the Farm! The gates are open sunrise to sunset everyday. Skidaway Farms is on McWhorter Road going to Modena — bear left at the fork and then turn left onto the gravel drive next to the Skidaway Farms sign.