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Organic Gardening Class Newsletter February 6, 2010

Thanks to Bruce Balgooyen for sharing his unique and humorous views on horticulture. He was able to answer a great many of our questions, yet of course more remain.

Tomorrow Lee Callendar and Francine Stuelpnagel of GRUB Cooperative Farm will be joining us. GRUB is doing amazing things on their farm, and Lee and Francine are very open to sharing their methods with their fellow organic gardeners. If you didn't know already, GRUB provides a wide variety of vegetables to their CSA members every week during a long harvest season. They will give us details on varieties, planting times, bed preparation, and whatever else you have questions about. I am looking forward to it.

Gardening Tips:   It looks like the February planting window may be delayed this year. But for the best of reasons. Isn't all this rain just lovely? It will be warm and dry soon. Place your seed orders NOW for spinach, lettuce, beets, peas, chard, carrots, kale, mesclun mix, arugula, and other cool season vegetables. Might as well go home after class tomorrow and order some warm season vegetable seeds as well. You can plant the cool season vegetables in cooler soil. Tomatoes, melons, squash and the like will not germinate in cold soil. But you could plant them in the greenhouse or cold frame. We can ask GRUB about transplanting also. 

Make a little drawing of your garden and have a plan in hand. Right now is not the time to even be weeding. The ground is too wet to be worked. Sandra is cutting off her vetch cover crop tops so that she can turn the soil as soon as it dries out. She can plant sooner than if she left the vetch growing tall and keeping the ground saturated longer. Better to cut off the cover at ground level and remove the tops to the compost pile, and not disturb the soil at all until it dries. The cover crop will not grow back much if it dries out enough to spade it in the next few weeks. Did I ask if you had your canoe ready? Always good to have a back-up plan.

Exciting new book: Gardening when it counts by Steve Solomon. I picked this one up yesterday (a gift from a dear friend) and discovered a man who has come to many of the same realizations about gardening that I have over the years. I will read a couple of paragraphs tomorrow to give you a taste of what I mean. He explains why the so-called bio-intensive method is not necessarily the best way to grow vegetables. Of course if you know me, you know that I am also finding ideas I do not agree with, like his dismissal of soil testing. But overall it is looking like a very clear read on practical economical methods of organic growing for vegetablearians (his new word, and it makes sense to me).

Is there someone who would be willing to bring a tape recorder to class? If so, please email me. If we can work out the logistics, it would be nice to have recordings of the sessions to share at a later time, like if you missed a class. Maybe there is even a computer genius who could help get them posted on Please email me if you might be able to help with this.

Seed potatoes are available at C Bar D Feeds, and probably elsewhere also. Jerry Bonds is visiting next week, and he knows potatoes like the back of his hand, so don't miss it. Jerry Bonds and Mary Berglund are coming on February 14. This will be a great one too.

Beekeeping will be the topic of the first of several single session classes over the coming months. Lee Edwards of Cherokee has kept bees for years, and has a well prepared slide show and talk to present on March 14 at 1:30 at the Chico Grange Hall. Fee is $10 in advance or at the door.

I figured by now the 80 promised Seeds of Change catalogs would have arrived. Hopefully next week. Sorry about that.

Happy Gardening,

David Grau

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