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Organic Gardening Class Newsletter March 9, 2010

This newsletter is morphing as you read this. We are going to have a local Chico area  organic gardening events section, and a separate gardening tips section, plus a few other sections yet to be created. For some of the handouts, you will be able to click on links to take you to the handout, or the class descriptions and sign-ups. Please email us any feedback you have to offer as we improve the newsletter.


First, let me thank Jeff Armstrong for his presentation on drip (and sprinkler) irrigation. Jeff's wealth of information and field experience made the talk very useful.

Upcoming Events in Chico:

We are offering four excellent single session classes in the next few weeks. 

March 14: Beekeeping with Lee Edwards,  
March 21: Raising chickens with Carol Chaffin Albrecht,  
March 28: Raising and preserving an abundance in your home garden with Mary Berglund, and  
April 18: Growing heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables With Nancy Heinzel and Brian Marshall.  

Each of these presenters is doing what they are presenting on a daily basis. To view descriptions and find out how to register for these classes, CLICK HERE.

Mary Berglund has provided a helpful handout with many of her favorite fruit and vegetable varieties and some further  gardening tips. To open it, CLICK HERE.

  In the next newsletter, we will list all the varieties of organic starts of heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables and herbs that Brian and Nancy will have available for sale at their talk on April 18. It is quite a list. If you got any of their plants last year, you know that these were strong plants that produced very well. Expect the same quality again this year. The link to register for this talk and the link to the variety list will be set up in a few days.

If you are interested in possibly purchasing a wheel hoe from Valley Oak Tool Company, you can call me to set up an appointment on Saturday March 20 at my house. These will be half hour appointments, starting at 10 AM.


Soil amendments: some organic amendments are available at feed stores and nurseries.

Books: You can order gardening and health books from Nelson Books online (Cecile's husband Dennis) or Lyon's Books downtown will have some of the titles in stock, and can order pretty much any book for you.

There really isn't a store in this area like Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply where you can get a full line of organic tools, seeds, books, and supplies. Perhaps someone will open such a business soon. The need is certainly there. All the stores locally carry a mix of organic and chemical gardening supplies, and they aren't very knowledgeable about organics. We need a  better alternative. I would be happy to brainstorm with you if you are seriously considering opening such a store. Email me.

GARDENING TIPS: (Chico area timing)

This is a great time to plant potatoes. Local feed stores have red Modoc and Yukon Gold seed potatoes. Loosen and amend your soil and plant in a furrow about 4" to 6" below grade. Cover with a couple of inches of soil. You will hill the plants when they are about 8" tall. Add some compost before planting. Don't add uncomposted manure. 

If you did a soil test, you know the nutrients to add to your garden. If you didn't do a soil test, you can go to the Peaceful Valley Farm Supply website or catalog (page 89) and order a soil test. The booklet should help interpret the results so that you know which organic ingredients to get, and how much to apply. The lab results make recommendations for chemical fertilizer. This is the same lab that Carl Rosato uses.

Cool season vegetables can be planted by seed (carrots, beets, radishes, spinach, lettuce, mesclun mix, peas kale, chard, etc.) and transplants (lettuce especially). Plan your beds so that you have new places to rotate nightshade family crops. If you have extra beds available, you could plant some fava bean seeds or pea seeds if you have extra, and use them as a cover crop for your late spring or summer plantings.

This is a good time to spread the compost you made last fall if it is ready. When the ground is moist but not too wet, you can dig your garden with a shovel or a spading fork. The shovel works best sharp and rust free.

Bareroot trees and container berry plants can be planted now. For blueberries, make sure you amend your soil with peat moss or some other acid-forming material if your soil is not already acidic. 

Unless your soil is already fully enriched, onions and garlic could use a side dressing of composted chicken manure or your choice of a balanced organic amendment (Mary likes feather meal).

Happy Gardening,

David Grau

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