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On the Trails

How Does A Master Gardener Grow? Container and Raised Bed Gardens By Tina Will

Versatile, Practical, and Productive Do you have visions of growing your own vegetables and fruits…but ‘oh the work’…and ‘oh that tough clay soil!’ There are solutions to these problems, and two of our Master Gardeners are reaping a harvest this summer. Both container and raised bed gardens have been successfully promoted in recent years because many people enjoy the rewards of vegetable gardening and find it easier to establish a good gardening soil without digging through heavy clay. Years of traditional gardening gave way to a different method when Master Gardener Waverly Brown saw an idea she hadn’t considered: growing vegetables in containers. She was intrigued and realized that perhaps she could continue to enjoy raising vegetables with less work. She made a careful evaluation of

what would be involved and r e c o m m e n d s starting with one or two containers in order to get to know what will work for the different things being grown. There are many factors to consider: What type of container, how to provide drainage, and what mix of soil components are all questions that need the right answer. Plain garden soil is too dense for container plantings. Purchase a commercial planting mix or make your own soil from equal parts compost, a fine textured mulch, and vermiculite or perlite to lighten the soil and retain moisture. She uses large containers and has conveniently located them on the wide brick ledge by the door.

Rescues on the Rappahannock By Kevin Brown

result is a rich harvest of vegetables and fruits. If you’ve never tasted a homegrown potato, you really are missing their authentic flavor. He enjoys all the effort and grows enough to share with others. Few of us find it easy to garden in this area’s mostly clay soil, but it’s no use complaining about the soil any longer. Ready-made gardening soils solve the clay soil challenge, and all types of boxes and containers are available and provide plenty of good choices. It’s not too late; start the cool weather crops in mid to late August. Spinach, kale, parsley, and several others can be grown in Autumn and root crops improve as temperatures get cooler. Planning your garden is important. Virginia Cooperative Extension has two publications ( with answers to all the important elements to consider: Vegetable Gardening in Containers (Pub 426-3 336) and Container and Raised Bed Gardening (Pub 426-0 020).

Tina Will has volunteered with MGACRA for 13 years and lives near Ferry Farm in Stafford County. Photos by Waverly Brown and Tina Will

Raised bed gardening is similar to container gardening, and to quote Master Gardener Glenn Valdez (above right), it is “a new old idea.” He has built both raised boxes and framed floorless boxes. He grows his vegetables, fruits, and flowers in a soil mix of leaf compost, vermiculite, prepared garden soil, and a small amount of regular fertilizer. Most of his boxes are not raised high off the ground, instead they are on the ground itself. He has loosened the soil below these boxes to improve drainage and allow roots to grow down as far as they need to. Tomatoes, green peppers, melon, Brussel sprouts, garlic, kale, spinach, and many varieties of flowers are growing with enthusiasm. The

I’ve been hearing a lot of stories this year about our experienced local kayakers rescuing stranded tubers/paddlers on the Rappahannock River. I asked one of those kayakers, USMC veteran Dave Shook, to share a few eye-opening episodes to enlighten the public and help promote river safety. “27 May 18: Multiples rescues today. First, I assisted two adults without life jackets make their way down along the river bank to First Drop (adjacent to Riverside Dr). That would have been bad enough, but they had a small raft with a young child wearing only swimmies. “As I paddled up towards the entrance to Back Side (of Hunter’s Island), I passed by four recreational boaters that looked like they were trouble in the making. I paddled straight through Back Side rather than stopping and playing, figuring that there might be a rescue needed when I came out. Sure enough, as I exited Back Side there was one guy with his boat sunk in the water,

and he was trying to manhandle it at the beginning of Second Ledge on river left. I watched him float down river for a little bit, but he was obviously getting tired and also trying to stand up any chance he got, so I paddled down and had him grab my stern and I ferried him over to the river left shore. “When I ferried back over to the river right channel, I came across another recreational boater standing on the rock that's just above Cowan's Wave (adjacent to Ficklen Island), looking warily at Cowan's Wave and the wave train just below it, and Washing Machine down below that. Again, no life jacket. And I could see that he was shivering. I caught the eddy below the rock, and after making sure that he had the strength to do so, got him to get in the water and hold my stern and I ferried him over to the beach on river right just below Cowan's wave. A productive afternoon.

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29 Jun 18: Russell Kosch, Bobby Hume, and I paddled yesterday and ended up rescuing Timothy and Zoe. Luckily we were hanging out downstream from BFR (Big Friggin’ Rock) and saw them hanging on their recreational kayaks that were full of water and just above the surface. We got them to shore on river left, back into their kayaks, and shepherded them down to Wendy Klinke’s favorite put-in for beginners, the grassy knoll on river right alongside Fall Hill Ave. “These are just a few episodes of too many to tell here. Our group of experienced local paddlers do what they can to help others who need assistance and/or rescue on the river. I personally have been involved in four or five rescues this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if the total isn’t over a hundred in a given year. Some of these are very simple where the person just needs to be coached a bit to give them the confidence to extract themselves from their predicament and make their way to shore. Other times it is more serious, and if I or another kayaker doesn’t come along when we do, the person(s) might attempt something that could have a tragic result. For instance, their situation might be stable but rather than wait for help, they decide to swim or walk through a section of swift moving water and get swept into a strainer, get their foot entrapped, or get carried downstream in cold water and succumb to hypothermia or drown. “Boaters and stand-up paddleboarders should always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) and helmet on rivers with rapids. Far more rocks are just beneath the surface than are exposed. A person can easily be knocked unconscious if their head strikes a rock. A PFD will keep them at the surface until they are rescued. An inner tube is not a PFD!

“Inexperienced boaters should never paddle the Rappahannock when its level is above 3.5 feet. This is the level that corresponds to where green meets yellow on the tri-color gauge that one can see on the left shore of the river when standing on the Heritage Trail alongside Fall Hill Avenue. Recreational sit-in kayaks are never appropriate for paddling in rapids. Once they fill with water, they become more hindrance than help. The river was at 4.2 feet on 27 May and 3.7 feet on 29 June. You can check the current level before leaving your residence by checking the USGS gauge at the following link: 68000” Great thanks to Dave and our experienced kayakers for selflessly rescuing others while out there on the Rappahannock river. Kayak training sessions are available at the Virginia Outdoor Center (540-371-5085), River Rock Outfitter (540-372-8708), and Team River Runners (for Veterans) (229-5078787).

Kevin Brown is the administrator of the "On the Fredericksburg Va Trails" & the "FXBG City Council Public Forum" Facebook Groups, a downtown resident & a Military Analyst More than 80 people have drowned in the Rappahannock River since 1972. Visitors to the river should be aware of strong currents, underwater debris such as trees and rocks and sharp changes in water level. Wear life preservers, shoes & helmets if kayaking, boating or tubing

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