PHIPPSBURG – In case you missed it in the spring – or last fall – Carol Emerson of Edgewater Farm B&B is giving away plants again, with a couple of notable changes.

In October 2016, she opened her glorious gardens to anyone who wanted to dig up plants. She just gave them away in a generous effort to thin the two acres of the farm dedicated to things with roots, leaves and flowers.

Most people who came to dig didn’t show up empty handed. Carol received cookies, bread, books and paintings as thank-yous from grateful gardeners.

So in the spring, “I simply asked people to make a donation to the Bath Food Bank, if they wanted to thank me,” she says. “And everyone did!”

For the Big Dig 3, she’s formalized that request. In exchange for happily sharing her abundant phlox, lilies, and more, Carol asks that diggers make a cash donation to the food bank.

French marigolds surround a chair in one of Edgewater Farm’s many gardens. Raye Leonard - Coastal Journal

Her husband Bill is the treasurer and contributions will support much-needed food purchases and ongoing programs.

Other plants available for transplant include cushion spurge, asters, Black-eyed Susans (and baby Black-eyed Susans, spirea bushes, some white pine and spruce, and a few small hydrangeas.

Another caveat of the Big Dig 3 is that Carol will welcome gardeners only on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, because it got to be too unpredictable with folks coming and going throughout the week.

Carol’s gardening style is “English cottage,” which means perennials mingle with annuals and wildflowers, encircling vegetable gardens and fruit trees in an enchanting maze of color and surprises.

She’s shared plenty of plants in the 22 years she and Bill have farmed Edgewater.

Bath Garden Club and the Tom Settlemire Community Garden in Brunswick have benefited from her green thumb. She donated plants for their annual sales.

For years, Carol organized and ran the Phippsburg Elementary School Garden Club. And every summer, she hosts students as part of the Willing Workers on Organic Farms Program – she calls them her “WWOOF kids.”

Dahlias are one of Carol Emerson’s special flowers. Raye Leonard - Coastal Journal

She knows quite a bit about growing, and her best advice for late season gardening is to do “nothing.”

After some careful questioning, Carol admits that “nothing” for an experienced garden might sound like a lot of work to the novice.

“Sometimes what we do is put compost out on a bed for the winter and work it into the ground in the spring,” she elaborates.

Seed heads on certain plants also need attention, so they don’t blow and create more of a problem come April.

“Bad as(s)ters” that pop up among the intentional plants also need scrutiny. “I rip the whole plant out. They’ll take over the whole garden,” she says.

But she doesn’t worry too much about mulching, and “The annuals are going to die anyway. Why worry about them?”

Carol has some advice for gardeners who want to dig and transplant in the fall.

Sometimes Carol simply places compost on a garden bed, leaving it there for the whole winter to be worked into the soil in the spring. Raye Leonard - Coastal Journal

“Prepare the soil,” she says, especially for shrubs. Make sure the hole where the plants will go is big enough that the roots can spread out. Once transplanted, leave a saucer-like rim around the plant to capture and retain water.

Water is very important. “Plants will need a lot of water before they go dormant, so water, water, water. They can’t get too much water,” Carol says.

If you want to turn part of your lawn into a garden, Carol suggests going to any Big Box store and ask for cardboard that merchandise is shipped in.

“They’re just going to recycle it anyway. And there’s something in the glue that really does a fabulous job of breaking down grass.”

Lay the cardboard on your lawn in the shape you want the garden to be and secure it with rocks or wood. Leave it over the winter. “What you’re basically doing is killing the grass and turning it into compost,” she says.

By the time spring arrives, the new garden will be ready to turn into a healthy bed for plants.

You can dig plants through the end of October. Just call ahead – 389-1322 – so Carol knows you’re on your way.
Edgewater Farm is located at 71 Small Point Road (Route 216).