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Organic Gardening Class Newsletter #20

Surprises come in many shapes and sizes. Here's one: There will be a small group one day workshop focusing on planting your winter garden next Sunday August 9 from 9 AM to noon at my house.


Enrollment limited to the first 20 people who register.


We will be planting my fall garden. The ground is already worked up and compost has been spread. Participants will go home prepared to plant cabbage, beets, carrots, spinach, kale, arugula, onions, broccoli, radishes, and much more.


You will see everything you need to know to successfully plant your fall garden. This has to be done in August for best results.


We will also see and discuss irrigation for summer and fall crops (I have 3 different methods in use for my tomatoes), citrus and other fruit tree cultivation techniques, 2 different composting systems, and you can see how I have kept beets, chard and kale going in this scorching heat. 


There will be plenty of time for individual questions, and for sharing your own experiences. A variety of seed catalogs will be available to peruse during lunch.


We will have a potluck lunch at noon, and continue the conversation in my cool house. Bring a sun hat, and a lawn chair (sorry, no lawn, but lots of shady spots to sit on wood chips or dirt). Tap water provided. I don't filter my water, so bring our own if you don't drink from the tap. A kleen kanteen might be a good idea too. Your contribution to the potluck can be simple. Email me and I can offer a suggestion if you don't have anything in mind.


A variety of Fall Vegetable Seeds will be available at the workshop at cost. 


Fee: $30 per person  May be paid at the door. Fee refundable if you notify me by Friday at 5PM so that someone else can take your place. When you register you are committing to pay even if you don't attend unless you notify cancellation via email prior to Friday at 5 PM.


To register, send an email to I will email confirmation and directions to the first 20 people, and for those who sign up later, your position on the wait list.


Gardening Tips:  Now is the time to order flower bulbs for fall planting. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and other bulbs do well in containers or in the ground. My mom orders hers from a place in Washington State, and they come in November. Now is NOT the time to plant peas or sweet peas. Plant them between Labor Day and Thanksgiving for spring harvest. When ordering seed, make sure the peas are not bush type, but instead. the climbing type(5' to 7' tall) if you want a longer harvest.


Keep watering your summer garden. Keep the oversized summer squash pruned off your plants. They will stop producing if you leave them on. If your squash looks tired, a side dressing of balanced NPK fertilizer (eg composted chicken manure) may perk them up. This may help with getting a larger second flush from tomatoes as well. Cucumbers are hard to bring back once they are worn out. This is an example of when second plantings are useful. The side dressing should not be fresh manure. You can get a one cubic foot bag at the feed store. And to have any effect, it must be irrigated in. The nitrogen and potassium are water soluble and will be washed down to the roots by the water. It helps to stir it into the soil an inch or two, but not so deep you are cutting roots. It is easier to side dress if you are furrow irrigating, or your drip line is placed 6 inches or so from the plant row.


Most of us are buried in tomatoes at the moment, but later in the year the second flush will be a lighter crop.  Keep tying your tomatoes so you can find the ripe ones. You might want to prune the top growth once the plants have grown to the top of the support system instead of them growing down over the sides and concealing the next crop. Pick up the rotten tomatoes and throw them in the compost to keep down the fruit fly population. Tomato flowers often fall off instead of setting fruit when the temperature exceeds 100 degrees F. So now that we are having some cooler weather, we should see more fruit set. Blossom end rot is a problem on some varieties more than others. Adequate calcium ( gypsum is a good source)  and avoiding low soil moisture help reduce blossom end rot.


Arugula will sprout and make a crop if you plant it now. If you want to grow your own onion starts for late fall transplanting, now is the time to plant them in a dense wide row. You can get 100 plants per foot of row. Garlic gets planted in September for harvest next summer. I hear you can plant potatoes now for a late crop. Peaceful Valley Farm Supply has seed potatoes, garlic, and shallots, and quite a few organic seeds.


Happy Gardening,



David Grau

 Valley Oak Tool Company

P.O. Box 301

Chico  CA   95927

telephone 530-342-6188