“Designing our farms and gardens with ecology as an ally is easier and more productive than bending the ecology to our demands,” says Wyatt Bottorff, owner of Healing Tao Herbals here in Patrick County, and one of three speakers for the Patrick County Master Gardeners’ Spring Gardening Symposium on March 12.
The Symposium will be held in Stuart at the campus of Patrick & Henry Community College, located at 212 Wood Brothers Drive. Doors open at 8:30 a.m.
The $30 registration fee includes boxed lunch, light mid-morning and afternoon refreshments, and a vendor area. Checks, made payable to PCMG, should be mailed to Master Your Garden, in care of Glenda Cobbler, 932 Palmetto School Road, Stuart VA 24171. Please specify your lunch preference: club sandwich, chicken salad sandwich or vegetarian salad.
As originally planned for the covid-canceled 2020 symposium, Bottorff’s presentation will cover bioregional niches, letting insect life work for us, enhancing living soils, designing for water harvesting, and methods to help livestock and vegetable gardens support each other.
Those attributes are exemplified in his own garden beds, built in a method called “hugelkulture” (German for hill culture). The hills are mounds that can be as high as 6 feet, explains Bottorff. They are able to collect their own water, grow most of their own mulch and attract beneficial insects. Paths between the hugelkulture beds are populated by plants like plantain and yarrow, tough enough to withstand foot traffic.
“We’re beginning to clear the beds now and dig new ones in preparation for spring planting,” says Bottorff. Some winter propagation is also underway. “I prefer early winter,” he said, “but hardy cuttings like elderberry can handle being planted this late.”
In keeping with the Healing Tao Herbals name, Bottorff’s presentation will also look at weeds’ redeeming qualities. That interest dates back to childhood times spent among a handful of First Nations tribes. Ultimately that led to St. Petersburg, Florida, where he studied clinical western herbalism for two years. “Six years, 1,000 clinical hours and a dozen professional conferences later, I find myself eternally impressed with how much we can do to steer ourselves towards good health … Most of these beneficial changes are deceptively simple,” he said.
Persons with a disability and desiring any assistive devises, services or accommodations to participate in this activity, contact Patrick County Extension at (276) 694-3341 during business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days prior to the event. Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer.