A campaign was launched in December 2018 by Oregon farmers working with Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The Soil Your Undies Challenge was now a thing. It's a simple way to measure the microbial activity in the soil. Julie Berbiglia visits the campus of Vanderbilt University in Nashville to see the results from their participation in the challenge.
Annette Shrader visits with an experienced gardener who adheres to the methods of permaculture. All of the plants in his vast backyard are part of a food forest, and each plant contributes in some way to the good of the whole. Food guilds, trap plants, green manure, and chop+drop plants are discussed, along with how they make edible plants thrive.
Jeff Poppen is on the campus of Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville to learn both the challenges and rewards of having a school garden. Here, organic is the way this garden grows. The composting process is well supported here. This school not only uses the garden in the curriculum for students, there's also a garden club.
Native plants have evolved in a region with adaptations to the geology, climate, soil, wildlife, and the other plants. Therefore, a key to successful ornamental gardening would be to include a high percentage of native trees, shrubs and perennials. Tammy Algood discusses the attributes of natives with Margie Hunter, author of 'Gardening with Native Plants of Tennessee: The Spirit of Place'.
There are parks full of Chinese privet and bush honeysuckle. But not so long ago, gardeners bought these plants at garden centers assuming they would be good for the home landscape. Now they are deemed invasive, and harmful to the ecology. As gardeners, we want to be good stewards of the land, but what does that entail? How much should it limit plant choices? Must we only plant natives?
Marty DeHart tours Rally Farms, the first Nashville-based urban hydroponic farm utilizing a recycled insulated shipping container to grow produce hydroponically. Their specialties are culinary herbs and leafy greens. That includes lettuce in both mini and full-head varieties, arugula, mustard greens, and kale.
Environmentally conscientious gardeners should strive to grow a range of late-flowering nectar plants to provide insects with energy to migrate, or build them up for winter hibernation. Rita Venable, author of Butterflies of Tennessee, joins Marty DeHart to discuss top-performers such as goldenrod and New England aster.