Early Spring Gardening Fun!

I have been really behind on blogging about gardening - I fully intended to do a review of my class each week...and forgot. And now it's been awhile, the class is over, and I have to move on.....but I'll just say that the Comprehensive Organic Gardening class I took was AMAZING!! If you have a local tilth society, check them out-they have all kinds of classes to help you.
And now that I took my COG class, I am a certified organic gardener (or at least I received a certificate).

I'm hoping that the skills I learned in this class will help me grow food and save a few bucks on fresh veggies, but also to have food on our table that is free of chemicals, genetic modifications and as safe as possible. AND gardening is such great exercise. I'm actually surprised how much I am loving being out in my garden. I think it helps that I actually feel like I have a clue what I'm doing, whereas last year I was more like-let me throw some random seeds out in the dirt and maybe water it when I'm outside for something else.

One class was spent on seedlings and they showed us how to make biodegradable planters from newspaper! I had no idea you could do this, but I will be repeating in the very near future - why pay for planters ever??
You can use a tuna can and a tomato paste can to make these - I'll demonstrate later this month.
One of the things I've always wanted to do was grow from seed. It's cheaper than buying starts, but it does take up some space. It's exciting to watch your plants grow, but even more so when you know that you created it from a tiny seed. One of the key things I learned about growing from seed is that you want to grow strong roots - so I have a heating pad under the tray to keep the soil temperature raised a few degrees, and a desk lamp with a fluorescent light to act as my sunshine, since new seedlings like 8 hours of sun a day and there's just no way they will get that through my glass window (and we don't get 8 hours of sun in the Pacific NW right now anyway).
Note the yogurt containers - and here I've been throwing these away all this time??
We toured the farm where people rent garden spaces and saw a TON of different ways to plant. This one was one of my favorites:
They had round sectioned off areas for their garden plot. They are easy to grow specific things in each rounder and you can easily reach all the way across each bed, and there is plenty of walkway. The burlap bag covers are a great way to keep your soil warm - I've got them on my beds now-you should too!

Another interesting way to garden, if you don't have a lot of space to devote and don't want to have to do a lot of work-is hay bale gardening. You just add a fat layer of compost material on the top of a hale bale - and plant your seeds! DONE! The hay bale breaks down and you can either add another layer of compost and replant or use the leftover hay as compost for other areas. It's really interesting - fun for kids and if you don't want to have to squat down to garden all the time, this is great.
We saw purple broccoli growing in the children's garden that they had planted last fall! It grew all winter long and then was just getting closer to harvesting time. I'm definitely going to try over-winter gardening this year!
One plot had potato sections set up - you have this plastic material (no chemicals though!) that you just wrap around a blocked off plot, fill it with dirt, plant a couple potatoes and then leave it all summer. At the end of the summer, you just pull back the plastic material, the dirt falls out....and so do a gazillion potatoes!!! And you keep them in a cool dark place and enjoy all winter. LOVE this idea. I'm not doing it this year...maybe next though.

If you haven't started yet - you should be getting your garden ready!

Here's one of my beds - I didn't know I was supposed to cover the soil all winter, so unfortunately it has been exposed to the elements. It was full of a bunch of randomness, so I spent about 2 hours cleaning out the two beds and getting them a bit more ready.
Once you get your dirt cleaned up and broken up a bit (tilling isn't really necessary!) - you can add your fresh and wonderful organic compost:
Add a good 3-6 inches for a good layer. I kept mine in a lump in the middle as I'm not planning on planting anywhere near the edge of the raised bed. It was already in place when I moved in and I'm not sure if the wood is untreated/safe.

And then once I got the compost down, mixed in some organic veggie fertilizer, I covered it all up so it wouldn't be exposed to the elements. I used a hoop frame (cost about $15 for materials) for one bed and burlap bags for the other (free from the local coffee grinder!). The covers will keep the soil warmer by at least two degrees, maybe up to four! Four degrees will make a big difference to your seedlings!

I'm only gardening for harvest in half of the bed on the left. There's a small section to the right of the hoop frame that also has a burlap bag cover and I excluded it from the frame for a few reasons.
The areas where I'm not planning on harvesting food, I am planting flowers-to attract the pollinators, and peas, which do a great job of breaking up the soil with their root system and are very low maintenance. They will help provide nutrients to the soil area I'm not "using" so that when I do want to plant there at the end of summer, the soil will be healthy.

K, there you have it .... go start gardening!


  1. EmptyNester said...:

    Sounds like you learned a lot! Good for you!

    Hub's dad was a gardener/landscaper nurseryman and Hubs learned so much from him. Now Hubs has taught me and our raised bed garden is going NUTS! All we have left is the fenced in section which will host squash, cucumbers and beans! Gardening is way more fun than I ever thought!

    Keep us posted! And share anything you learned about pest control--I am using flowers and some companion gardening with herbs. Anything else you might know please share!

  1. Brian Miller said...:

    way cool stuff thanks for passing it on to us...were just out working in the yard last week....any thoughts on how to keep deer out?

  1. Unknown Mami said...:

    My husband would love a class like that. I should look into it and give it to him as a gift.

  1. Brandy@YDK said...:

    wow you sound so knowlegdgable about this stuff now. i hope get lots of stuff to grow.

  1. Slyde said...:

    the first thing i thought of when you said Comprehensive Organic Gardening was that you could call it COG for short.

    then i thought that it would have been awkward is you went to a Comprehensive Organic Cooking class...

    you dont want to tell people you are taking a COC class.

  1. You are off to one fantastic start! I never heard of hay bale gardening...that sounds pretty awesome.
    I DID order mulch today. It's a slow go of things this spring in Wisconsin.


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