Make your own free website on

Valley Oak Tool Company logo

Home | Wheel Hoe | Broadfork | Accessories | Order | Testimonials | Contact

Organic Gardening Newsletter February 28, 2010

Thanks to Carl Rosato for his talk on fruit trees and soil management. Carl's enthusiasm and extensive knowledge are wonderful assets to the organic gardening community. We hope to have Carl back next year to continue teaching us about how to make our gardens produce healthy crops which in turn nurture our own health. If you ever get a chance to buy  Carl's peaches, you will be able to taste the difference that the use of expert organic methods can deliver.

Those who stayed the extra hour got a lot of individual interpretation of their soil tests. It was the last time we will be offering soil tests and interpretations at such a bargain rate. The same applies to the superb fruit trees that we passed along at a very low price. If the gardening class is to help create the new society based on the best of American principles and the best of ecological principles, we have to stay in business. In this case, it means charging more than break-even prices. I know many of you understand this, but many others think that the services offered through the class should be cheap or free. If we did that, we would burn out, and that is just not sustainable. Thanks for reflecting on this if you haven't already.

Today, Jeff Armstrong will be discussing irrigation. I know this newsletter is so late that you are reading this after the presentation, but for those not in attendance today, you will have missed an opportunity to find out from a seasoned landscape professional how to set up and operate irrigation systems for your garden areas. Jeff's business, Nutrilawn of Chico emphasizes using natural amendments to maximize lawn and garden health. Jeff and Cheryl also grow a wonderful vegetable garden. He is always learning, and loves to share what he is doing. You should have been there.

Gardening Tips: If you planted your bareroot trees, and they got a lot of rain, you might do what I did this morning, which was to take a 3 pronged cultivator (long or short handle) and loosening the top 2" of soil around the roots. The rain sealed the soil, and reduced oxygen to the roots. This is why Carl suggests delaying planting bareroot trees if heavy rain is forecasted.

Here are some of Carl's favorite varieties of peaches and nectarines:

Queen Crest (May ripening)
Spring Crest (June)
June Pride (June)
Sun Crest (mid July)
O'Henry (August)
Elegant Lady (August)

Red Gold Nectarine
Fantasia Nectarine
Snow Queen Nectarine

My understanding is that these are generally all freestone varieties. It is not too late to plant bareroot trees. Dig a hole about the size of the roots when spread out. Orient the graft scar to face north. The line where the soil was in the nursery should be placed 2" above grade, since the soil will settle, and you want to keep the tree at the same level as it was growing in the nursery. Put back the soil, making sure the roots are spread out. Don't add compost to the hole. You can top-dress amendments as needed. Pour a couple of gallons of compost on top of the soil right around the tree to keep down weeds and provide some nutrients as the season unfold. If the soil is damp, don't water the tree the day you plant it. To prune the tree, cut it back quite a bit, making each cut to define an open structure with a central leader. I know this is not an adequate explanation of pruning. You had to be there to hear Carl, and even then it is not easy to understand. One of these days, Carl will have a video out, and planting a bareroot tree will be featured on that video. We will keep you posted on this.

Today's class is the last of this series. We do have some individual sessions planned, and you will be getting an email announcement about how to sign up for them soon, probably in less than a week. On March 14, Lee Edwards will be presenting a slide show and talk about how to raise bees on a small scale. More to come about upcoming classes soon. 

happy gardening,

David Grau

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