Fall Fling

Donna Adrian

Now is a great time to get the vegetable and flower garden ready for next season.

Donna Adrian presents “Gardening Made Easier” for the Fall Fling, Tuesday, Sept. 24. The public talk will be held twice for your convenience: Yankton Community Library, 515 Walnut St. at 1-2:30 p.m. and the Pavilion Auditorium of the Avera Campus, 501 Summit St, Yankton, at 7- 8:30 p.m.

Adrian, of White River, is a master gardener and a South Dakota Extension garden coordinator for the Rosebud Extension of Mission. She will show how to garden with fewer weeds, less work, and less water. Adrian uses garden soil practices that help build organic matter and reduce erosion, decrease water loss and require little equipment. Colette Kessler, Natural Resources Conservation Service S.D. public affairs officer and Adrian’s daughter, will assist in some technical soil information.

Garden Soil Health Demonstrations will be held outdoors on the lawn at the Yankton Community Library and at the Avera Pavilion building entrance before each talk. Kent Vlieger, state soil health specialist for Natural Resources Conservation Service in Huron, will use soil plots and a rain simulator to show contrasts in soil health. Twenty-minute, come and go demos will occur within 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. at the library lawn, and 5:30-6:45 p.m. by the Pavilion entrance. See for yourself, the differences in soil infiltration and soil run off, using soil samples with contrasting garden practices. Bring a lawn chair if you wish.  

Meet Donna Adrian

When Donna Adrian and her husband first moved to their ranch in White River, the ground was so hard they couldn’t dig a ditch to put in the propane line. They have areas of clay soil and sandy soil as are found here, but with less rainfall. Gardening is a hobby and way of life for Adrian.

“I have flowerbeds and flowers in the vegetable garden,” she said. “I can a lot for us to eat and feed ranch hands. It’s handy to have your own jar of tomatoes instead of a can from the store.”

Where we live is 100 miles from any Wal-Mart or Runnings, so I usually can figure how to use something around the ranch instead of waiting for the landscaping materials,” Adrian said. Ingenuity is an asset she uses in practical and sustainable gardening.

“Our ranch cattle use liquid feed tubs that make excellent containers for gardening. I helped the White River Chamber of Commerce use 23 tubs of compost/soil and planted flowers for streets of White River this summer,” she said.

Adrian has been a South Dakota Master Gardener since 1997 in her South-Central Master Gardeners Club. She volunteered with a South Dakota Extension 4-H coordinator who influenced her to try better and easier gardening practices as Adrian assisted in elementary school gardens.

Now she works as a Rosebud Extension garden coordinator in Mission. There she shares techniques and encourages Rosebud Sioux Native Americans and others as they garden. She will share ways of gardening with little equipment in the talk.

“You may have a beautiful traditional garden. But when the hot wind comes one day in August and it’s 102 degrees F., it can wipe out a garden. That’s when mulching protects the garden in droughty years,” she said. Mulch and where to find it will be a talk topic.

Through the Rosebud Extension, Adrian started White River Community Garden last year. For many volunteer, community and work projects, she is being recognized in September as a leader in South Dakota State University’s “Eminent Leaders in Agriculture, Family and Community.”

“The community garden is on a corner of Main Street in White River,” she said. “I didn’t want to fence it. Anyone can weed or pick produce. I post on the White River Facebook page when produce comes in season. Then I post about growing, canning and recipes on how to use the product. We have farmers’ markets here on Friday. Area gardeners bring their extra produce from their gardens and lay it on the table also, for anyone wanting fresh produce can stop by to take,” she said.

“I’m not a soil scientist and I don’t have the terminology,” she said. “When I was a kid, I had to do a lot of hoeing. It was hard work. When I started gardening myself, I thought, it’s got to be easier than this! I look for techniques so it’s not such a big job.”

In her garden next year, when she decides to plant early season crops on a warm spring day, she knows her garden soil will be ready. No need to wait to till, “because the ecosystem under the mulch has been working since this fall to do that,” Adrian said.


The free events are sponsored by the Yankton area Missouri Valley Master Gardeners. Handouts and a door prize are provided. Donations to offset presentation costs are appreciated. Bring questions for the speakers, enjoy networking about gardening, and maybe find an idea you’d like to try.

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