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How fast can your garden grow?

gardening_0310Imagine grabbing your gardening tools instead of your grocery bags as you head out the door to gather food for dinner tonight.

“Gardening gives people satisfaction of seeing something grow rather than see something canned or boxed or fruit that never ripens,” said Phil Taylor, landscape architect with Sunshine Nursery. “If you buy fruit that is in cold storage, it never ripens. Grocery store tomatoes might sit for two weeks and mold and rot before they ever ripens.”

Amy Spadafora, general manager of the retail department at The Greenery, said she’s seen an increase in “victory gardens,” vegetable, fruit and herb gardens that were commonplace in parks and private residences during World War I and World War II.

“In the past, it was created out of necessity. It was part of daily living, like breathing,” Spadafora said.
Whether it’s a large section of a yard or a container, growing vegetables, fruit and herbs doesn’t have to be a daunting task if you plan ahead.

The Clemson Extension Master Gardener Program suggests planning year-round gardens by season — spring, summer and fall — on paper first. Draw a map showing arrangement and spacing of crops.
Almost all of the primary herbs — such as basil, oregano, thyme, parley and cilantro — can thrive in the local climate.

“Generally, all herbs do well here,” said Taylor.

Taylor recommended planting beans and squash in mid-spring and having another crop started in late August and early September. Gardens should receive at least six hours of direct sun each day. Leafy vegetables can tolerate partial shade and vegetables that produce fruit — such as peppers and tomatoes — must be grown in full sun.

“If you’re container gardening, when you need to do is to use a loose soil,” he said. “It’s better to have ground-up bark in it. You need something that drains well.”

Spadafora said since Lowcountry soil tends to be acidic, it’s a good idea to have your soil tested before you begin your garden by purchasing a do-it-yourself kit or contacting the Clemson Extension Master Gardeners Program. Mailing off a soil sample to Clemson means you will receive a complete break-down of what you need to add to create a thriving soil.

Spadafora suggested swapping your leftover vegetables, fruits and herbs with neighbors and other gardeners.

“Gardening is nourishing to the soul,” Spadafora said. “There’s nothing like digging in the dirt for calmness, mediation or being a part of nature to connect you in a way that you don’t have to think a whole lot. You’re just being.

“When you’re finished with a project, you get to see these beautiful shrubs or flowers. It takes time, but you get to see what you have created.”

For more information on growing a garden, visit the Clemson Extension Home & Garden Information Center’s website at www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic or contact the state coordinator, Dr. Karen Hall, at 864-656-4859.