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Garden Guru



Garden Guru
PHOTOGRAPHER: 
April 2019

Rita’s Roots helps backyard gardens flourish 

Meet Bachmann at Charleston Horticultural Society’s Plantasia sale at Old Towne Creek County Park on April 13.

Every amateur farmer knows the pain of losing a crop to a hungry, mysterious beetle or fuzzy white mildew. Although garden consultant Rita Bachmann can’t prevent pests, she does know how to maximize the chances of a bountiful harvest.

“We have a really tiny planting window before heat and bugs check in,” says Bachmann, highlighting the unique challenges of Lowcountry gardening. “Our goal is to save clients time and money by shortening the learning curve.”

In 2006, Bachmann founded a USDA Certified Organic farm and launched a Community Supported Agriculture program the next year. The frustrations of renting farm land led her to shift focus in 2011, when she founded Rita’s Roots to help clients start backyard gardens, as well as sunlight mapping, soil evaluation, and irrigation.

Today, Rita’s Roots has three employees and offers raised bed build-outs, edible landscape design, and even full-service garden tending. Education is a crucial component of the business, including regular classes at the company’s repurposed shipping container “Container Garten” on Meeting Street in partnership with Local Works and Lowcountry Local First.

Veg Out! - It’s not easy to garden; Rita Bachmann understands that. That’s why she created Rita’s Roots Backyard Harvest, her full-service, organic garden support business designed to help both the novice and the master green thumb.

This January, Rita’s Roots launched the Garden Growers Club, a twice-a-month subscription service with season-specific recommendations, as well as frost and heat alerts. “It’s the next step for people who have graduated from needing my hands on their garden, but still want some guidance,” Bachmann explains.

Although growing your own vegetables saves money, Bachmann admits that to be successful, a gardener’s motivation has to go beyond offsetting the cost of produce.

“Gardening is about getting outside and inspiring your children,” says Bachmann. “There are so many benefits. It’s about getting exercise, connecting with your neighbors and with your food, and just learning.”

Grow for It - Five warm season veggies for beginner gardeners

Eggplant: The slender Japanese variety is so sweet, it doesn’t need to be peeled. And it’s a prolific producer.
Hot Peppers: With six full hours of sun, you’ll have enough to make homemade hot sauce.
Sweet Peppers: Banana-style sweet peppers (tapered at the end) produce the best and make for great lunchbox snacks.
Okra: Make sure to give okra plenty of space (two square feet) to prevent it from getting too tall. Harvest the 2 to 4-inch pods every other day. dBasil: Pinch the main stem from the top down in between the V-shaped side shoots to create a bushier plant.

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Photographs (garden & Okra) courtesy of Bachman