From The Blog

Growing Our Own

Some may think that “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” KICA, however, thinks that nothing is greener than its own backyard.

As winter settles in around the island, association members may notice that KICA staff has been installing its semi-annual change out of plantings at major intersections throughout the island. This season, however, there is one big difference. Eighty-six percent of these new plants have been grown in the KICA’s own greenhouse.

The KICA greenhouse project, led by association Land Management Supervisor Leila Gable, is just one of many results of a staff effort to make the association more efficient and cost effective. For example, if KICA had purchased plants for the seasonal planting, the cost would have been over $4,500 for nearly 3,400 plants. Growing them in house is not only green for the environment, but saves some green as well.

In addition to KICA staff, the greenhouse is also a partnership with the Kiawah Island Garden Club, their current president Joan Collar, and their Greenhouse Committee who volunteer their time when needed. If all goes well and the cost savings are proven this winter, the program could continue to expand.

According to Leila, their goals and future plans include:
• Growing their own sustainable seasonal color display annuals.
• Educating the community and initiating involvement with the KICA membership.
• Propagating native species and promoting their use on the island through two Kiawah Island plant sales in 2013; one in the spring and another in the fall.
• Being a sustainable and perhaps profitable project that helps to reduce operation expenses and off-set our bottom line.
• Demonstrating the need of a new greenhouse for more successful and diverse plantings.

Many of the plants grown in the greenhouse were recently installed at annual bed display areas such as the Main Gate, V-Gate, Surfwatch and Sea Marsh (aka the four corners), Oyster Rake, Glossy Ibis and Falcon Point, second Flyway at Ocean Course Drive, East Beach median, Green Dolphin Way median, Rhett’s Bluff boat launch entrance, etc. Plants grown for the fall annual display beds are Sweet Allyssum, Icelandic Poppies, Foxglove, Snapdragons, Ornamental Kale, Dianthus and Dusty Miller. Plants grown for the KICA plant sale are Broomsedge, Heuchera, Baccharis, Coral Bean, Beauty Berry, Echinacea, Carolina Yellow Jessamine, Helenium, Lantana, Rosemary and others.

Some were grown from seed, some are transplanted plugs. Both require careful care.

The greenhouse is an outstanding example of cooperation between the dedicated staff and KICA member volunteers, and truly adds to the overall beauty and sustainability of our island.

For more information on KICA Land Management, visit www.kica.us (Inside KICA/Departments/Land Management).