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Organic Gardening Class Newsletter November 1, 2009

People have been asking about what is next with the organic gardening classes. We will have the class series from January to April at the Grange, with some new topics and a little different format for some of the sessions. We will keep you posted in December.

FIELD TRIP:   In the mean time, there is a field trip scheduled for next Sunday November 8 at the GRUB Farm. This is a great opportunity to see what GRUB is growing, and to ask questions. Lee tells me that they will have a lot to say about planting Alliums, including onions, garlic and leeks. We will visit their greenhouse and get ideas for what you can plant at this time of year. Their cover crops are up, and we can learn about that too. They have some pigs and chickens and sheep to see as well.  

Cost: $10 per person. Pay at the event. No need to register in advance. Time: Sunday November 8 from 1:30 to about 3.    GRUB will have garlic for planting available for purchase, since they bought more than they needed.

Directions:  coming from Chico take Dayton Road south from the junction of Walnut Street and 9th Street. Go just past the first orchard on the left and turn left on Macintosh. Just after the Hmong produce stand, turn right down the dirt drive that has a sign saying "GRUB COOPERATIVE." There are orange cones marking off the parking area. It is an easy bike ride for most of us, but there is plenty of parking if you drive. To find GRUB on a map, the address is 1525 Dayton Road, but please come down Macintosh, and not where their mailbox is on Dayton Road.

Check out the GRUB website at  They have lots of great things happening. I hope to see you there.

GARDENING TIPS:  If you got a fall garden planted in August or September, keep it watered in this dry weather. Yes the weather is cool, but vegetables need plenty of moisture for optimum growth. This is particularly true for well drained soils, like much of the Vina Loam around Chico. I say much of the Vina Loam because there is such a thing as Vina Clay Loam, which holds water and consequently needs less frequent irrigation. But you need to dig in your dirt and see what is going on. I am watering every couple of days. Half an hour to an hour of sprinkling with a Rainbird, and 4 or more hours of drip irrigation. My Rainbird is set to go back and forth on a quarter circle. You would need 4 times as long if your Rainbird is set on a full circle.

Composting pays off in vigorous growth and tasty vegetables. Now is the time to gather leaves into a large pile for composting, or to deep mulch idle beds. Valley Oak Tool Company is developing a leaf cart to scoop up piles neighbors have left in the street (thus reducing diesel burning by City trucks and loaders). Let me know if you would like to try one out. You can't have too many leaves. This is a great time of year to bury your lawn in anticipation of planting fruits and vegetables instead. The Permaculture folks say to put down a layer of corrugated cardboard to block the more pesky weeds, and pile 6" to 12" of leaves or straw on top. Next spring you can rake the mulch back and plant.

It is time to plant garlic and onion plants. Jerry Bonds has onion plants at the Farmer's Market, and C Bar D Feeds on Hwy 32 has them. Come to the field trip this Sunday to learn how to plant Garlic, Onions, Leeks and much more.

If your fall planting got wiped out by slugs, you might look at the slug and snail habitat in and around your garden. The best preventative in this climate is to let the ground get very dry in most of your yard during part of the year. And of course things like lawns and ivy that are sprinkled are going to harbor large populations of slugs who are happy if you provide some tender sprouts for them.

I noticed that Matt Martin of Pyramid Farms, our carrot expert already has broccoli, broccoli romanesco, and cauliflower for sale. He must have planted transplants in August, not seed.  Maybe even July. Is anyone in the class harvesting broccoli already? My lettuce has done very well, but is starting to bolt. For lettuce over the winter, I should have followed my August planting with one in September, and maybe even early October.

You may be getting a few tomatoes off your vines still. I stopped watering the tomatoes to minimize cracking and rotting of the fruit.

If you have ideas for topics or speakers for the next classes, please email us. We are looking for an organic citrus expert in particular. Also, someone told me he could do a workshop on beekeeping. Please email to remind me if you are still available for that topic.

Please broadcast this email to your friends and local organizations. It would be great to have a large turnout to the field trip at GRUB. We organic gardeners are the quiet revolution that is healing humanity's relationship with all Nature. Thank you for treating all life with the respect that our sacred living planet deserves. Let's spread the word and share the work and share the fun.

David Grau

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