Converted Pantry Garden Getting Ready for Summer

Feed Fannin volunteer Sue Blakeman became the caretaker for the Barbara Ferer Research and Demonstration Garden located at Fannin County Family Connection in the Spring of 2023. It is commonly referred to as “the pantry garden” because of its location.

What began as a Mittleider process of sand and sawdust has evolved into an organic method of several raised beds with soil and amendments, and research has continued with different plantings and techniques being used. Last year’s conversion to soil produced a bountiful crop of vegetables and flowering herbs and flowers for pollinators.

Over the winter and early spring this year, Sue has been busy getting the pantry garden ready for planting. First, the old mulch on the pathways had deteriorated into 80% worm castings, so it was troweled and shoveled out, then sifted to separate the remaining chips from the ‘soil’ and added to the beds. Also added were some decomposing leaves, compost (made from kitchen scraps, chicken house debris, and more leaves), and a locally made organic fertilizer containing mycorrhiza. All the worms that were in the mulch were also added.

The plan is to add small gravel to the pathway to deter weeds. Some of the unsifted soil/mulch was mounded around the perimeter inside the fence, and many marigolds from last year’s garden have self-seeded in these pollinator beds.

A grateful shout out to the Cashmans — to BZ, who built two flower boxes to contain the mounds, and another to Priscilla, who brought them to be painted. They will be installed as soon as the rain pauses long enough! Food Pantry volunteer Jack kindly sawed some pallet boards to build more boxes, and then helped purchase some plants to get a jump start on spring — cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower; and he helped plant them! Thanks, Jack!

Additional plants have been donated and will be added for the summer when the cool season plants are harvested and more space becomes available.


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