- [Narrator] Annette Shrader visits with a couple who enjoy living on the bank of the Red River. Their goal was to create a landscape to compliment the river view, and they did just that. Whether it's a tender perennial, an herbaceous one, or a subtropical like dahlias, April Moore explains how to protect plants over winter, so they'll be good to go next growing season. And Tammy Algood, visits Red Thread Farm in Franklin to discuss the steps involved in achieving good soil health. Join us. - [Narrator] A good harvest begins with the soil. - [Tammy] Good gardening is grounded in the soil. And we are here today in Franklin at Red Thread Farm, which is actually a micro farm. And the owner, Jeremy Tolley, is a professional at soil. - I try. Certainly a lot of the practices that we have here could be applied to any garden anywhere. - Absolutely. And let's talk about that because we tend to overlook it, but it's the foundation of a good garden. - [Jeremy] Right? I think we wanna come out and till ground, put seeds in and hope and pray things go well. - [Tammy] It feels good to till sometimes. - [Jeremy] It does, it does feel that, feel that way. In fact, when I was a kid, I can remember being in my grandparents' garden and seeing that freshly tilled soil. And so in my mind, I've always had always equated that with this is good, healthy soil, but in fact that tillage breaks down the microorganisms and the structure of the soil. So you go back to that same garden bed, what was once nice and fluffy after a heavy rain, it's compacted right? - [Tammy] Right. - [Jeremy] Because you're destroying all the, the fungal network and all those beautiful things that are in the soil. So here on our farm, we do not till, we practice low soil disturbance as little as we can get away with, we use a broad fork sometimes to reduce compacted soil, which is just like a large pitchfork. So one of the ways to help reduce compaction, like carrots or some type of root vegetable you wanna make sure has plenty of soil depth to go into, is to simply take a fork and go into your soil a little bit and just lift it up slightly without having to turn the soil over. - Okay. So let's look at this, Jeremy. - Okay. - Because I've never stumbled on perfect soil. - Neither have I. - Except maybe in a forest floor. - Correct. Correct. And we don't usually garden there. - Correct. - So what do we need to do to start with, if we're a beginner gardener, what do we need to do to start with, to ensure that we've got a good foundation for our garden? - Sure. So most people are gonna have a garden plot that's already established. And depending on the, where you're at in the state of Tennessee, you're gonna have very different soil types. It might be sandy, it might be clay, it might be rocky. The key for any of those soil types is really the addition of compost. So this is a bed that we had planted with a cover crop of buckwheat in the summer. And we've come back as we always do, and we've added a layer of compost. You see this dark compost? - [Tammy] Yes. - [Jeremy] This is a very low nitrogen plant-based compost from our city. So this is leaves that have been collected at people's homes and they've been composted in a professional facility. We bring that on the farm and it just creates a really nice soil structure. You can overdo compost if you're using manure based compost with this, you really can't overdo it. We apply it on the top, we don't till it into the soil. We allow it to work its way into the soil. - [Tammy] Got it. - [Jeremy] So if I stick my hand in here, I could go all the way up to my elbow in beautiful soil because we've continued to do that after every single crop. - [Tammy] So the homeowner could easily do that as well, just by clippings. And even this from their fall displays. - [Jeremy] Absolutely. - [Tammy] That they can bust up and use it to help kind of cushion their and amend their soil all winter long. - [Jeremy] That's right. Another practice that we use is to always keep the soil covered. So if we don't have a crop growing on the soil, we might put a cover crop on that. And that's just a crop like buckwheat or fescue or something that is gonna be short-lived that we're then going to till then or turn that under. Or more than likely we're gonna smother that right back into the ground. Another quick way to do that is just by using a mulch, not only does it help to improve the structure of the soil, but it also suppresses weeds and it conserves moisture. And then this hay over the winter will, the bottom layer of it will decompose into the soil and add more structure to the soil. - [Tammy] So honestly, who doesn't improve with nutrients? - [Jeremy] Correct. - [Tammy] We improve, the soil improves. It's just getting the right balance there to make sure that it's fed properly. - [Jeremy] That's right. - [Tammy] So I love using plant materials versus manure based compost for that very reason, because we do tend to think more is better. - We do and we want to fertilize the soil, we wanna put something on it that's really strong to give it a dose of medicine when what we need to do is to feed the soil and continue to do that throughout the growing season, throughout the year. - So after we've established our garden, we tend to get into habits. And you know, the corn always goes here and the okra always goes here and the tomatoes. What do you say about that as far as moving things around in the garden? - Yeah, that's a great point. You really wanna practice crop rotation where, and there's books that you can get on this. You can get very scientific about it or you could just be simple and which is more the way we do it. We just don't plant the same thing year after year. There are some crops, like tomatoes that you wanna skip a couple of years if you haven't planted in a certain part of your garden, don't plant them again in that same part for the next couple of years. And even in a very small space that's not measured and laid out like all of these beds, you can do that in a small raised bed just by putting some markings on the edging of your bed and then creating some little quadrants. So if I grew in quadrant one, if I grew tomatoes there, I'll grow lettuce there the next time. Or I grew carrots in that spot to constantly rotate what crop you're growing at what place in your garden. - [Tammy] And that's kind of like a booster shot for the soil, don't you think? It just kind of, I mean, we all get bored with the same stuff. - [Jeremy] We do. - [Tammy] Even soil gets bored. So it's at some point it gives it something new to interact with and to help feed. - [Jeremy] It does that, it also helps to reduce pest pressure, - [Tammy] Right. - [Jeremy] So if you have a, there are diseases and there are insects that feed off of particular plants. And if they know to expect that plant's gonna be there year after year, you'll find that the disease pressure and the pest pressure will build up over time because you're not rotating those crops. - You've gone to all this trouble with your soil and you've started growing. What do you use as spray, if anything? - Pests can be really discouraging when you've gone to all that trouble. You've worked the soil, you've planted things, and you come back and you see things like these aphids on this rutabaga leaf. What we think is the easy thing to do is to go to the hardware store and get some sort of chemical and spray on that to kill these bugs. And it will do that. But it actually, there's a lot of nasty stuff in those chemicals and we avoid those chemicals if at all possible. So having good soil health will help to reduce pest and disease pressure, good crop sanitation, rotation, all those things we've talked about. But then simple things like a soap, a diluted soap solution, even just a dishwashing detergent diluted with a tablespoon and a gallon of water sprayed on these aphids would kill those aphids. And then you come back after a week and spray them again. It's a non-toxic, completely safe and harmless substance that will then break the cycle of the aphids. That's an example. And then sometimes if we have a large pest pressure, we'll just eliminate that crop. We'll decide not to grow it again, or we'll pull that crop out or we're harvested early. And then instead of composting that diseased or pest filled plant, we'll move it far off the farm so that we can try to eliminate that. - Because all those chemicals do leach down into the soil. And so it's not just the moment you're spraying, it's an everlasting thing that permeates the soil. - Absolutely. And not only are you killing the bad bugs like the aphids, but the ladybug is, and lace wings are known predators for these type of things. And you're killing them as well. So what happens, you might get an instant gratification. It's like eating a chocolate bar. You feel really good in the moment and you're taking care. You're getting that fix. In the same way the plant is not gonna feel very good after that if you've sprayed it with chemicals. And then you get those bugs that come back even heavier after that. It creates a cycle of spray and then spray more and then spray more. And then eventually those sprays become ineffective. - [Tammy] Right. It's a never ending circle that keeps, you've created your own problem. - [Jeremy] That's right. - Thank you so much for your knowledge base and for reminding us that this is, this is where it starts and this can make it great. - [Jeremy] My pleasure. - [Annette] Isn't it wonderful In July when you can find a garden nestled in the shade. And I'm anxious to speak to Joan and Ernie DeWald in Clarksville. Tell us how you started this Ernie. - This was back, we found this house back in 1993, '94, and just loved to put it situated on the Red River. - Oh, wonderful. - [Ernie] And the other side of the Red River was a golf course, so there was no homes on the other side. - [Annette] Right. - [Ernie] So was really a expansive green. It was just a lovely, lovely area. - [Annette] Yes. And you expounded on the number of trees that were here naturally and brought things in, didn't you? - [Ernie] We brought things in, we brought things from our other house here. We brought the lilies. This was all star gazing lilies here. We had thinned them out. We put in hydrangea. There's a peach, a patio peach. It was only a foot tall when we started. - [Annette] Tell us about how the special plants that you brought here from a previous home. - From the other home. Ernie dug up all the azaleas and they're up in the nursery. And I got some plants from a friend in Cookville. The elephant ears came from Cookville. - [Annette] So that's a wonderful thing to have memories. - [Joan] Yes. - [Annette] Of gardener friends. - [Joan] Yes. Yes, most definitely. Some of the plants, the first wedding we had here, the girls colors were pink and orange. And so that's why you'll see a lot of pink flowers or orange flowers around, well the Lamb's-ear we brought from the other house also. - [Annette] Okay. I know that there's lots of richness in this area, but let's follow your path and go around and see that river? - [Joan] Okay, let's go. - [Annette] You know, I'm excited to see an example of living in the woods and seeing some natives that just came as a gift. And up on the hill you have lots of the wild ginger. - [Ernie And Joan] Yes, yes. - [Annette] And it's actually works as a ground cover, doesn't it? - [Ernie And Joan] Yeah, yeah. - [Annette] And do you ever get down and look for the little blooms underneath the... - [Joan] Sometimes. - [Ernie] Sometimes you can see... - [Joan] If I'm up pulling weeds. - [Annette] Yeah. Right. And you know, this area is very good for bringing plants to sort of bring them back to life and regrow some things. And this is a great example of having that good rich dirt and like azaleas that might be sick. - [Ernie And Joan] Yes. - [Annette] Okay. Now then I'm really impressed with your Lily the valley. - [Ernie] Yeah. - [Annette] And is that a family heirloom plant? - [Joan] Came from Tennessee Tech. - [Annette] Well that's part of our system of agriculture. - [Joan] Yes. Yes. - [Annette] Right. Yes. And I see nestled in there. You even have hellebores, don't you? - [Ernie] Yes. - [Joan] Yes. That came from here in across the river. - Well let's go spy and walk around the curvature of the river. - Okay. - [Annette] Well I'm excited to see this fig, but tell me this fig's story. - [Ernie] This was, before the freeze. This was almost 10 feet tall. - [Annette] Oh my goodness. - [Ernie] It was huge, it was very productive and we loved it. And then the freeze totally destroyed it. Had down to the ground, so we had to cut down to the ground - Coming out. - And it's rejuvenated. Yeah. - Yeah. - So we would get hundreds of figs. Ernie would make fig jam, fig bread, Beverly would take them and make all kinds of fig desserts for us. - [Ernie] We felt we had lost it because it was so bad. - [Annette] I know, but you know, you are an example of patience. Some things did do that, I'm happy to see that you're gonna be happy. - [Ernie And Joan] Yes. - [Annette] To have figs. - [Joan] Yes. - [Annette] I can't say, oh, I do see there might be the potential here of where they come out on the stems. - [Joan] We're gonna trim it back. Gerald's gonna trim it back so all the energy will go into the big plant for next year. That does happen. - [Annette] Okay. I know that nestled in and among all of these wonderful tall trees along this river, you have some special plants that you like and that you have planted yourself. So let's go see some of those. - [Ernie] Okay. - There's no finer place on earth than standing right here among these trees, the wind and the breeze is wonderful. But again, over into your taller trees, you are blessed to have another native plant. You have the eastern red cedars. - [Joan] Yes. - [Annette] And did they have damage from the winter? - [Ernie] No. - [Annette] Well that's not, that's a good thing. Alright. - [Joan] And then and they started only as little. - [Annette] I know. - [Joan] Yeah. - [Annette] And you've watched, they're your babies. - [Ernie And Joan] Yes. Yeah. - [Annette] You've watched them mature. And then right before us, this is a kousa dogwood. And you've planted that one? - [Ernie] We planted that one, yes. - [Joan] Yes. Yes. And I love to watch the squirrels harvest and people don't realize there is a fruit. - [Ernie And Joan] Yes. - [Annette] And it's also edible for us. - [Joan] Oh I didn't know that. - [Annette] Yes. Okay. And then I know that the sun only accentuates the limelight. - [Ernie And Joan] Yes. - [Annette] That's very pretty. And I love the limelight. 'Cause now some of the other hydrangea are fading going past but right now we have the limelight to light us up. - [Ernie And Joan] Yes. - [Annette] Okay. I know you do have the pawpaw and I think you have a very good example of one down the river. - [Joan] Yes. - [Annette] Alright. You know, I don't know why I'm surprised here you are with natives everywhere you have a colony of paw paw trees. - [Joan] Of which I had never heard of in Washington DC I don't know that we had any paw paws. - [Annette] Yeah. See they grow in a little cluster. - [Joan] Yes. - [Annette] And they are called and you know, I recently discovered some in my woods. It's so native here. And they are such an interesting plant. I know the deer love them. They do, but they're above the, you know, they call it a grazing line. They get to where they can't eat 'em and then they'll stand on their feet. - [Joan] Yes. - [Annette] And then it's done. - [Joan] Yes. - [Annette] And I was so happy when a lot of my landscape plants reach that. Well, and I think that in some other areas you have some very fascinating things that you've added to your landscape. Like a bottlebrush buckeyes. - [Ernie And Joan] Yes, yes. - You know, I'm looking over here and I see at least a 45 degree slope over here. And this something happened over here and you had to do rebuild, didn't you? - [Ernie] Yeah. There was the flood in 2010 that took out the back retaining area of this, for the tennis court where it was built. And it just rotted the, it just took out the ties. - [Joan] Everything went to the river. - [Ernie] Everything went to the river. - [Annette] The water took it with them. - [Ernie] Yeah. - [Announcer] That's just blows my mind that we're standing where water was. - [Joan] Yes. Yeah. - [Announcer] Well, okay. So then you had someone professionally come in then and build this wall and capped it off. - [Ernie] Yes. - [Annette] So now that is put in with mortar. It's not dry stacked is it? - [Joan] It's dry stack. - [Annette] Oh, it is a dry stack. - [Ernie] Yeah. They're into locking. - [Annette] Oh, okay. Well it looks like it's taken care of. - [Ernie And Joan] Yeah. Yes. - [Annette] Of what you need there. And I do see that you do have a beautiful spring display over there with dogwood. - [Joan] Yes. - [Annette] And it's just amazing. To stand here with you because you had a drain learning. - [Ernie] Yeah. - [Annette] You wanted to be huckleberry fan and a river, didn't you? - [Ernie] No, I saw this, I said we can make this better. We can help it keep it from going into the river. - [Annette] Okay. Well you've accomplished your goal and I know that you are sharing a couple and people enjoy what you've built here and you brought memories with you and you have made new memories here. - [Ernie And Joan] Yes. - [Annette] I commend you. - [Joan] People enjoy coming to do family reunion pictures down on the wall and sitting in the gazebo. And then the fun thing had been weddings that we've had here. - [Annette] And you know, the most intriguing part and warming part is that you share, what good is it? It's not love until you give it away. - [Joan] That's right. - [Annette] And you've done that and I thank you so much. - [Joan] Oh I'm glad we got to meet you and thank you for coming. - [Ernie] Yes. - [Joan] Thank you. Hope you'll come back. - One of my favorite things in the summer is to keep my birds happy. I keep those bird baths nice and full. One of my unfavorite things is cleaning the bird bath and I found a little quick tip for you. Scrub your bird bath nice and clean. Go to your penny jar, find your copper pennies pre 1982 because the copper content's higher and all you do is take your pennies, put 'em in your bird bath. It helps keep the crud and the slime from growing as rapidly as it normally would. - As fall begins to arrive and our temperatures cool down, it's time to start thinking about how you're going to take care of and over winter those non hardy plants you have that you want to keep. So let's talk a little bit about some of the tropical plants first. For example, we have this plumeria. And plumeria is a very beautiful plant. It's native Hawaii, but believe it or not, it will be easy enough to take care of this winter. All you have to do is take it in its pot into a basement or shed or a garage somewhere where it's frost free and just leave it alone. Don't water it. Don't really give it any extra sunlight and it will go completely dormant and be just fine. One of the good things about plumeria is you might think it might get too big or too wide, it will want to grow, but if you just keep it in a small pot, that will minimize its size so you can take better care of it. Another good one is mandevilla, but you have to treat this one completely different. Mandevilla needs sunlight and water all year long. And so this I would put in my greenhouse or if I didn't have a greenhouse, I would put it in a very sunny window and water it and take care of it just as I do outside. One thing to note too though is before you bring a plant like this indoors, you wanna make sure there aren't any pests riding along. So what I recommend is you spray it off with soapy water and then leave it out to dry and then bring it in. Or even better dump the whole plant into a big bucket of soapy water and that will ensure that all the pests drift away in the water and you can bring your plant inside safely for the winter. Now let's talk a little bit about sub tropicals and one of the ones that has become particularly popular are bananas. And bananas are a lot of their care depends sort of on their variety. For example, musas, which this is not, are actually very cold, hearty up to zone four they say, of course that's more than adequate for us here in Tennessee. This however, is a more tropical variety and if it's one of the more tropical varieties, it probably won't be able to survive above zone eight B. So what I do with this is I just keep it in the pot, I put it in the basement in the winter, I don't water it, I don't give it any real light and it just goes dormant similar to the plumeria. And then I'll bring it back out when the temperatures start getting warmer. It doesn't like anything really below the mid forties. I'll let it start coming out in May, April, May, and then I'll just start watering again and it'll leaf right back out. Another thing that you can do, if you have yours in the ground and you're worried about them and you wanna make sure they're protected is you can just dig 'em up. The root balls of these are very small, believe it or not. And you can trim them down to the size of a two gallon pot very easily. You don't even have to put 'em back in a pot. You can literally just roll them into some cloth or a blanket or some newspaper and leave them in your basement and then take 'em out, re-pot 'em, put 'em in the ground and they'll be just fine. You take care of bug manias and dahlias a little differently. Dahlias are originally from Mexico and they won't typically survive a winter here in metro. Now in zone eight they're fine. And in seven B, if we have a mild winter, they may be just fine. But if you wanna make sure and you don't wanna lose your precious dahlias or brugs, one thing you can do is dig them up and you will do that after it's been hit by frost and it'll turn brown, leave it in the ground about a week and then take, dig up the tubers, cut off the dead foliage and stuff. And then what you do is you just hose 'em off with a sprayer to get off pests and get the extra dirt off 'cause you don't want any moisture on the tubers. Then once you've done that, let 'em dry a day or so and then what you'll do is you'll just put 'em in a milk crate lined with newspaper and top and cover the tubers completely with a little potting soil or top soil. Store them until May or April whenever we're past our frosts and they'll be just fine. This method of digging up and storing over winter also works for things like palladium's and any non hardy varieties of elephant ears. When it comes to tender perennials, there's one thing you definitely need to do and that's take cuttings. Things like Amistad salvia, which this is root very easily and can be stored in your greenhouse or a sunny window over the winter, then you'll just pot them on as they grow. But sometimes if the winter's very mild, these will actually survive the winter here in Nashville. This one actually came back over the winter, but you want that double insurance policy because all we need is one real bad cold snap and this guy won't come back. This also applies to a lot of other types of tender perennials. Let's talk a little bit about perennials in general, even hardy ones. So when you have things like these asters or these golden rods, it's great idea not to bother cutting them back until February, maybe early March. And the reason is because you want to be able to provide habitat for wildlife. So they will feed on these seed heads. They'll have shelter in these, in these woody stems over the winter months and also in January when we have a frost. You'll be able to enjoy the frost on these beautiful stems and bloom heads. But there are other types of perennials such as our hostas, which are more herbaceous. And for those you don't want to leave the leaves over the winter. In fact, what you wanna do is cut back any dead mushy growth after we have a frost so that it will keep moisture away from the crown of the plants and they'll have a better chance of surviving and being healthy next spring. I'm am very fortunate to have a small greenhouse, but it fills up really quickly with geraniums and begonias and all the things I want to save over the winter that I don't wanna bring in the house. And so I also make use of cold frames and this is one I have that I bought and as you can see, I've already got some things in it. This will keep my plants completely warm and protected during the winter. It's especially good if they're almost tardy, like tender perennials. And so this is really a very useful thing. It gets quite hot though, so I'll lift the lids on warm winter days. But I will say that it's also important to have it facing south so that it gets maximum sunshine during the winter. In the summer months, we mulch to conserve moisture around our plant and reduce the need to water them. But in the winter, a lot of perennials actually appreciate a good layer of mulch as well. One of those for sure is cannas and cannas are hardy here, but they need the little extra protection, especially if we have a very cold winter. And so you mulch them no deeper than three inches and use a nice loose material. Straw works, pine needles, bark chips, compost works well as well. And then you can make sure that they have adequate moisture. They don't suffer freezing and thawing constantly in the winter and it just puts 'em in better shape for next year's blooms. Here's another trick for keeping your plants warm in the winter. Stone and brick absorb the solar energy and release it slowly over the coldest hours. And so if you have a brick fence or a brick walk, your plants are going to get a little bit of extra warmth just because of that. We spend a lot of time and money on our plants and so we hope that these tips help you keep your plants safe during the cold winter months. - [Announcer] For inspiring garden tours, growing tips and garden projects, visit our website at volunteergardner.org and find us on these platforms.
September 28, 2023
Season 32 | Episode 11
We meet a couple whose landscape goal was to incorporate plants from their past, and accentuate the backyard view of the Red River. We visit Red Thread Farm in Franklin TN to discuss the practices they employ for optimum soil health. Protecting your plant investment over the winter months is important, so we look at a variety of plant types and give advice about steps to keeping them long term.