Here is some information on the organization which is providing their auditorium for our sessions. They welcome your
What is the Chico Grange?
Our mission is to promote local agriculture,
and a vibrant community.
• Currently the Grange is working to re-establish
the important role of family farms for the American economy and for a secure local food supply.
• Sustainable agriculture
and a sustainable society are Grange priorities, including issues related to preservation of farm lands.
Chico Grange supports sustainable, healthy local food, with a special interest in organic food production
and its availability in local stores, restaurants and farmers markets.
• We’re repairing and modernizing our
19th century historic hall in northwest Chico as a new community center for Slow Food and music events, classes, weddings,
meetings, fundraisers, and other activities.
• We invite you to join our Chico Grange to help us support
an expanding, healthy local food supply, restore our roots in the land, and restore our hall to its full vitality and potential
as a community center.
To find out more go to: http://chicogrange.org
Please come to a meeting to learn more.
We meet the 3d Monday of each month for sometimes a 6:00 potluck and program with the meeting following, or just the meeting
starting at 6:30, at 2775 old Nord Avenue (just east of Hwy 32, north of East Avenue in NW Chico).
Or apply and join us today if you’d like to
be part of the statewide modernization of the old Grange movement. Dues are $30-$75, letting you select your level of support,
plus a $5 application fee.
It takes a
community effort to bring a building and a tradition like ours back to life, with a modern vision to meet the Chico community’s
needs today and tomorrow.
Nancy Pyle, Secretary
Chico Grange #486
2775 Nord Avenue
Chico, CA 95973
cell phone: (530)591-0530
4. Marc Kessler's talk gave us a very nice
overview of organic gardening. The value of diverse plantings for beneficial insect habitat was particularly enlightening.
He is happy to see some aphids to provide food for ladybugs and their ilk. One question raised by Robert was whether
the (trans) notation on the handout was for planting in the greenhouse or transplanting into the garden. Marc replied
that these are the dates for planting in the greenhouse or coldframe, and that transplanting is later when the plants are
the right size and the field conditions are right.
5. Carl Rosato's talk: as
a former farmer, I found Carl's presentation to be really helpful. I may get back into farming soon, and this information
is vital to organic producers. For those who are less sophisticated than farmers, Carl's material
was pretty advanced. So here is my attempt to simplify some of the information.
Healthy soils make for healthy plants with more disease and pest resistance, better flavor and more nutritional
value. Soils in general can be described as sandy, clayey or loamy. Loam is ideal, and is a mix of sand, silt,
and clay. The soils in this area are mostly Vina loams, which are among the best in the world. Sandy soils drain
fast. They need organic matter (from compost and green manures) to help retain water and nutrients. Clay
soils drain slowly. They need organic matter to improve drainage, increase aeration, and make more nutrients available. So
you need to compost your kitchen scraps, leaves, lawn clippings, etc. and spread the finished compost on your soil.
N, P and K (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) are the major nutrients. N is leachable,
so need replenishing. Good compost contains N and releases it slowly. Soil pH affects nutrient availability. You
want a neutral to slightly acid pH in your soil. Chico soils tend to be a little alkaline. Gypsum is often recommended
for this (it also reduces blossom end rot in tomatoes). Limestone isn't usually recommended in this region. In
the foothills, you may want to add limestone, depending on your pH.
A soil test will help you plan for any amending. If your soil needs phosphorus, a good form is
rock phosphate, which must be mixed in the top 6" of soil, since it doesn't move in the soil like N or K.
If your soil has areas that stay wet after heavy rains, you may need to put in drainage
pipe. Have an expert advise how to do this if you have poor drainage. This is rarely a problem in Chico's better
soils, so most of you don't need to do anything about this.
take a soil sample, you use a clean trowel (no fertilizer or dirt residue) to slice off samples into a plastic bucket. Mix
the sample thoroughly. The sample should be moist but not saturated. Send the bag (provided) to the lab. A
soil sample taken later in the spring will show more, but it is worth doing now for spring vegetables. If you send your
sample soon, you will have the results for Carl to interpret at the end of the field trip on February 15.
In my opinion, a couple of inches of well rotted compost is fine on a garden. When
I farmed, we had 2 tons of chicken manure spread per acre, which looked like powered sugar on a cake. Manure should
be composted before applying to the soil. At our next session, I will ask class members to suggest local composts they
Carl chops his prunings and lets them
rot between the rows of peach trees. They break down quickly because his soil has high biological activity and frequent
summer wetting. Wood chips, sawdust, rice hulls, and similar high carbon low nitrogen materials should not be mixed
into your soil. The microorganisms that break them down tie up N and your plants could suffer a N deficiency. These
materials are fine in mulch. By the way, don't mulch with hay that has wheat, barley or oat seeds. The grains sprout
into big tough weeds.
I will answer a few soils or other
questions at the beginning of the next session.
6. Hands on opportunity: On
Sunday February 1 (weather permitting), I am offering a half day workshop for a smaller group - a "garden raising." The
fee for this is $10, with a limit of 10 participants. We will bring shovels, hoes and rakes and clear the weeds and
dig up and amend one person's garden. The person who gets their garden done will need to send in a soil sample and there
will be a reasonable fee for my three visits (workshop day plus planting session and germination check). I will take
the sample with you when I come to see if your garden will be suitable for a raising. We can discuss this briefly on
If you are interested in having your garden "raised",
please e-mail me ASAP. I will visit and give you a free consult and pick one garden to start the "raisings." If
this works well, we can definitely schedule more of them. The workshop will include instructions and tips about tool
use and maintenance, and whatever knowledge I can impart in that afternoon. It should be fun.
Soil testing: Carl gave me 10 bags and papers for taking soil samples. If you want to
get your soil analyzed, this is the opportunity. The test costs $32.00. If you have your results back, Carl will
interpret them for free right after the field trip to his farm on February 15. Bring a notebook to jot down recommended
amendments. You can go to A & L Labs website and order the sample bag for free. Please email me if you want
one of the 10 sampling kits. I can order more next week after we see how many gardeners want to send in a sample.
Valley Oak Tool Company