These cold rainstorms aren't pleasant, but they are just what we need to increase the snowpack for next summer. You can't
do much work outdoors, but it is a great time to order seed catalogs and plan your spring and summer gardens.Class
starts this Sunday, January 24. You can register by going to valleyoaktool.com and clicking on the link there. It will save time
if you pre-register, even if you pay at the
door. We can have your class card ready and speed the line along so folks don't miss the beginning of the class.
When you get
to class, we have about 100 Baker Creek Seed Company catalogs to distribute. It is a beautiful catalog, filled with rare and unusual heirloom varieties. Baker Creek has
just recently opened a store in Petaluma, so if you are in that area, it is definitely worth a visit. It is in an old bank
building right in the center of town, on the corner of Petaluma Blvd and Washington Street. There is parking within a couple
of blocks. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and besides rows upon rows of seeds, they have some first rate garden tools,
including the Valley Oak wheel hoe. Just a few miles north, Harmony Farm Supply in Sebastopol has a large selection of tools, supplies, nursery stock, bareroot fruit
trees, irrigation supplies and so much more. Harmony publishes a catalog, but if you are in the neighborhood, I recommend
you go and get your hands on great gardening supplies, and you avoid shipping charges if you buy it in the store. Both these
companies sell online also.
Recommended Reading: For a strong introduction to raised bed vegetable
gardening, The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by
Ed Smith is hard to beat. It is well organized with an easy reading style and lots of quality color photos of the methods
and tools and plants he is discussing. Even though Ed Smith is writing from his home in Vermont, his methods are easily generalized
to other areas, even here in northern California. I am not a fan of raised beds unless your soil is terribly rocky. We may
have a chance to discuss this tomorrow in class. When you come to class, bring a pen. We will be handing out 3x5 cards for
you to write questions for the speakers, and on the back side please write one or two favorite books and/or catalogs. We will
publish a list of 10 or 15 of the most popular in the next newsletter.
Seed Catalogs to order: You
can go online or telephone Territorial Seeds in Oregon. Hazel has found their seeds to be excellent. Many of you know about
FEDCO. Great people in Maine. Slow to send orders, but mostly organic, and very inexpensive. Johnny's Seeds in Maine is pricey,
but has high quality seeds and fast service. Seed Savers Exchange is a well liked catalog for heirlooms saved by members.
for the class this time is that in the first hour I will interview the speaker(s), and in the second hour I will
read questions from the 3x5 cards. After that, we will take questions from the audience. The goal is for you to get your questions
answered. I am open to suggestions for improvements. We won't be doing announcements, as this took up a lot of
time during last year's classes. We will have tables available for class members to put announcements and brochures on, and
at the ten minute break (about halfway through the 2 hours), class members can sit at the table and be available to discuss
their announcements with any of us who wander by.
If you want to email announcements of upcoming
events, I will include relevant announcements in the newsletter.
Carl Rosato will be bringing some
bareroot peach trees to class, maybe tomorrow. He is picking
3 varieties that will do well in home gardens, and they will be available at wholesale cost to class members. This may not
happen tomorrow. Carl is getting back from the EcoFarm Conference late tonight, so it may be that the trees will come later.
Gardening Tips: A month
from now, we may have perfect weather for spring planting here in the north valley. We often have a "planting window" of a
week or two in February. If you have your seeds, and your tools and your amendments ready, you can slap that garden in, and
enjoy beets, lettuce, spinach, chard, peas and more. Order your seeds in the next couple of days. Bruce Balgooyen will have
recommendations of varieties next Sunday if you don't know which ones to order.
See you in class,
Oak Tool Company
P.O. Box 301
Chico CA 95927