When Glenn and Jane Amsbaugh moved from York, PA back to Jane’s hometown along the South River, there was one thing they knew they wanted to continue: gardening. Mr. Amsbaugh knew he would have some work ahead of him since the South River does not have the rich fertile soils like York, PA which is in the heart of Amish County. With a low-lying property along the South River, he had to battle higher salinity levels and poorer soil.
Having composted for over 15 years, the Amsbaughs knew this eco-friendly practice would help to improve the soil quality in the garden. Every year, they get nearly five wheel barrels full of compost to enrich the soil in their garden. According to Mrs. Amsbaugh, making composting easy is the key to making this a continued practice. She keeps an attractive, small, stainless steel odor reducing composting pail next to her sink. When that becomes full, she simply takes it to a larger bucket outside. When the weather is nice, they take the compost down to the compost pile near the edge of their property.
Why compost? Well, why not? Like the Amsbaughs said, there is no sense in wasting left-over food – especially when it benefits the garden so much. If you create a simple routine and make composting easy, you will be more likely to stick with it in the long run.
Mr. Amsbaugh has gone beyond only composting to improve his garden. Originally, Mr. Amsbaugh used old dock boards to create a series of raised bed gardens. When he noticed that his crops seemed to be doing better, he decided to raise the beds even higher to give the vegetables a greater depth of richer soil and to further separate them from the higher salinity soil. On the beautiful warm January day when I went to interview him, he and a friend were already out laying the boards preparing for spring! In addition to composting and creating raised beds, Mr. Amsbaugh waters his garden via irrigation piping connected to a large 1,200 gallon cistern that collects rain water from his roof.
Gardening is a wonderful way to connect with nature and get delicious vegetables right from your own back yard. The Amsbaughs get almost 20 different vegetables from their garden from April through November and definitely encourage others to considering both gardening and composting. Mr. Amsbaugh does have advice for others wanting to do the same. His first words of advice? Simply, “do it!” Carefully select the most appropriate site on your property for a garden. Make sure you have convenient access to water or an easy way to water the garden. Begin your soil preparation early and start composting today!
Curious to know what the Amsbaughs grow in their garden? They have been able to grow: asparagus, spinach, pumpkin, corn, tomatoes, onion, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, radish, swiss chard, beans, red beets, lettuce, eggplant, herbs, and cantaloupe.
A special thank you to Glenn and Jane Amsbaugh for inviting us to their home and sharing their yard with us! Go green at your home? Tell us about it and you could be the next South River Federation’s “Go Green Project of the Month!”