Soil Health Hero: Growing Veggies & Growing Damar
“It’s simple, when youth grow vegetables, they tend to eat them!” – Kathy Tierney, Registered Dietitian, Damar Services
In the fall, after a tough season, Kathy, partnered with Marion County Soil & Water Conservation District to plant cover crops in order to regenerate the soil. In the spring, she cut and laid them on top of the Damar garden beds. She added compost and fertilizer with guidance from a soil test, sowed and transplanted crops, then fortified the no-till mulch garden with clean alfalfa hay.
Cover crops are planted in the fall. Some cover crops live throughout the winter, providing living, beneficial roots in the soil in spring. Once cut, cover crops can be applied as a mulch to help retain water, improve water quality and add nutrients back into the soil.
Cover crop use was so successful that Kathy continued its use with another planting. Damar enjoyed a significant increase in vegetable production and dramatically fewer weeds, attributed to the use the beneficial practices of planting cover crops, mulching and minimal soil disturbance.
Damar’s school garden has 14 wood-framed raised beds that use cover crop, mulch and no-till practices resulting in enhanced soil health, moisture retention and weed control.
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