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Organic Gardening Newsletter #13 - 4/22/2009


Organic Gardening Class Newsletter #13

Thank you Brian Marshall and Nancy Heinzel for sharing your experiences of tomato culture.

For those who missed their talk, or want to review their recommendations, we will have DVDs available soon. There will be some copies to loan to class members, and they will be for sale at class and online at in a week or so. 

Thanks also to Dr. Lee Altier and Katie Fugnetti for the March 29 tour of the CSU Chico organic vegetable project. We are working on setting up another visit soon.

Our next class this Sunday April 26 at 1:30 at the Grange will feature a presentation on drip irrigation systems by Leslie Corsbie.

Class details:  The class schedule and registration forms are available online at  The class card you picked up at the first session is transferrable if you can't make it and want to let a friend use your card. If someone wants to attend a single class, the fee for lectures at the Grange is $8, and the fee for field trips is $10.  Please register and pay in advance for the field trips.

If you haven't noticed, we are not keeping retail hours at the Valley Oak Tool warehouse.  The following items will be available at the class meetings:

T-Tape drip tube  8 mil, holes 8" apart, 40 gallons per hour per 100 feet.
10-99 ft. @ $.08/ft. 100-499 ft. @ $.06/ft. 500+ ft. @ $.05/ft.
(we are selling this particular tubing because it is a good one for home gardens and Chico Sprinkler only sells this one in 7500 ft. rolls. Chico Sprinkler carries a full line of drip accessories. We are still looking for where to get a versatile reliable battery-powered timer.  Let us know if you found one you are happy with.)

Agribon row cover AG-19   83" wide
10-49 ft. @ $.40/ft. 50+ ft. @ $.30/ft.

Earthway seeder with 6 seed plates $110.00

7 foot tall 1.5"x1.5" white fir wooden tomato/cucumber/ bean stakes $1.50 each or for 10 or more $1.25 each

Stake Pounder for wooden stakes $45.00

By arrangement, you can rent a wheel hoe for $20 for a week (refundable deposit = retail price)

CA sales tax of 8.25% on any purchases except seeds

If you prefer to have professional install your drip irrigation system, landscape contractor Leslie Corsbie is available.  Call 879-0999.

This week's vegetable gardening tips:

Watering: If you got your early spring garden planted in February, you may be harvesting spinach, radishes, and lettuce by now.  When the weather turns hot like the past few days, you need to pour the water on to keep rapid growth happening.  Most lettuce turns bitter, and starts to bolt if it gets water stressed in the heat. One of the main secrets of extending the season for snap peas, lettuce and spinach is plenty of water, at least every other day.

Thinning: I planted my spring vegetables about an inch apart, and have been eating lettuce and spinach thinnings. Now that the plants are 4" to 6" tall, it is important to thin them. Spacing in the row: lettuce, beets, chard and kale and spinach: 4" to 12" apart.  Radishes and carrots: 1" to 3" apart. When you thin plants, the remaining plants respond to the decreased competition for sunlight, water and nutrients.  Firm the soil around the plant if you have pulled plants right next to it.  Now there will be a growth spurt and with better air circulation, there will be less leaf rot.

Summer Planting: Now is the time to transplant tomatoes, peppers, basil and eggplant, and to plant seeds of summer squash, cucumbers, beans, and corn. Your first planting of melons can go in now also. From now to the end of May, you can plant summer crops and still get a good yield.  There is not much point in planting winter squash and pumpkins before late May, since you want them to mature in the fall, not the heat of summer.

When I grew tomatoes to sell, I started seed in flats from January to late May, and transplanted to the garden from March 20 to June 30.  That way, we had main crops constantly until sometime in October.  If you are planting tomatoes to can or freeze, a late May planting could be better than earlier, since your main crop will come in mid September when the kitchen is a little cooler.

Brian Marshall of Sawmill Creek Farm says that they generally transplant their tomatoes in mid to late April.  His top recommendations for the beginning tomato grower are New Girl (hybrid), Beefmaster (hybrid), and Black Prince (heirloom).  For a harder to raise but more exquisitely flavored heirloom, he says try Brandywine, Kellogs's Breakfast, or Cherokee Purple.  For canning, he says the standard Roma paste (hybrid) is reliable. San Marzano (heirloom) is a wonderfully flavored paste variety, but tricky to grow due to the tendency to blossom end rot.

You can view a wonderful website about locavore lifestyle at

GRUB Education Benefit Coming up:

Friday, May 1

1525 Dayton Road at the GRUB cooperative

Two parts: 

 5:00pm- 8:30pm outside Dinner and farm tour 

($20 get your pre-sale tickets, includes the show too) 

8:30 pm Live music and celebration


          We are hosting our second annual Education benefit on Friday May 1st and we want all the people to be able come and see what we do.

**It will be a dinner outside on the farm, next to the our new outdoor kitchen under the gigantic walnut tree.


The money will go to support our education facets from our 12 preschool gardens to volunteer food, rice and beans for the year, to tools for people to learn about compost.
Bring your family and dine with us out on the beautiful  spring time farm scape, you may learn a little more about other GRUB programs.

Tickets : $20 & kids free.

You can get them at from us here at 1525 dayton road on Wednesday evenings, 

or at boho boutique on 116 West 2nd street next to the Naked lounge Cafe
Or at Bustalinis cafe on the corner of 8th and main.

Out look for the night 
* 5pm: farm tour, croquet & lizard bike ride
* 6:30: pm Dinner served to you accompanied with live music by:
                             Good Luck Tom Waters
                              Fools Rush in
* 8:30pm More music inside our big room:  

                             Ha'penny bridge 
                             Dick & Jane
                             Barbara Manning
                             Luke Byron and the Delivery boys
Hope to see you there.. we only have 75 seats for dinner, so get your tickets now!

with love and hope for full, healthy bellies everywhere.... 
all of us at GRUB

                  GRUB is doing so many good things. I hope to see you at this event.

Happy Gardening,

David Grau

Valley Oak Tool Company
P.O. Box 301
Chico  CA   95927
telephone 530-342-6188

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