Ask an Expert: I have heard of using cover crops to naturally enrich soil. Should I be using them in my home garden?
“Yes, and you are spot-on about the soil enrichment. Regular use of fast-growing cover crops (including cereal rye, at right) in your home garden increases overall soil fertility while controlling weeds naturally. They will combat erosion, improve soil tilth, and boost soil’s ability to retain water and nutrients by adding organic matter as they are broken down. Select a crop based on your garden’s specific needs. Do you want to increase nitrogen? Plant legumes and peas. Combat soil compaction? Try some crimson clover. If your garden is anything like mine, a combination of varieties will do the trick—look for premixed seeds at local garden centers. Work cover-cropping into your crop-rotation plans, or plant low-growing varieties that will not smother between rows.” —Joan McDonald, garden editor
Dig It - What’s happening this month?
Charleston Horticultural Society and Magnolia Plantation team up for this day-long event featuring demos and lectures from both culinary and horticultural experts (such as “The Grumpy Gardener,” Steve Bender). Can’t attend the fest? It’s free to shop the array of plants, produce, and crafts available from area vendors. Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, 3550 Ashley River Rd. Saturday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Regular Magnolia admission: $20; $10 ages six-12; free for child under six. www.magnoliaplantation.com/horticulture
Mark Weathington, director of the JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University, discusses “Gardening in the South” at Charleston Horticultural Society’s monthly lecture. The Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting St. Monday, 6:30 p.m. $10; free for member. www.chashortsoc.org