Thursday, April 16, 2009

How do you learn how to garden?

Joe and Leola in their garden
For many of us, learning how to garden is a mix of grandparent-parent experience and practical know-how. Throw in a lot of passion and interest combined with a voracious read through the library and magazines, and you have it.

But if you have neither, or if you really want some expert hands-on experience combined with education, there’s a new program from a well-respected organization, Oregon Tilth, offering classes on organic vegetable gardening.

Now I’m a gardener of both ornamentals (hello, flowers!) and veggies, but I know a lot of you are hardcore into the vegetable growing this year, and there’s a ton of information out there telling you to do this and not to do this. I know that whatever Oregon Tilth is going to teach you is going to be valuable and practical. For a few Thursdays and Saturdays now through mid May, it should be a really great course to learn a lot, meet some other folks just like you, and set a great foundation for growing your food.

Check out the class info and site here. Bonus: You get the NW Maritime Garden Guide as part of your materials. This guide is super helpful in understanding our freeze dates, planting dates, all specific to the Pacific Northwest. Which, by the way, I can't stress enough about knowing: if you're reading guides that are general or are written from a Texas perspective and you live in Oregon, you're going to run into problems. Seriously, I can't say enough about Oregon Tilth. This is the organization that actually set the structure for the National Organic Program: good peeps.

As for that photo above? Those were my grandparents. Joe, the farmer, and Leola the spitfire. They grew zinnias the way Joe grew his wheat crops: massive. I love and miss them. Pass on your gardening knowledge!


A Lewis said...

My gardening was taught by both my mother and father....we had a vast array of fruits and veggies in the garden and used them on our table every single day growing up. I have wonderfully fond memories of our family gardening times together.

Have you heard of "Growing Gardens"? Google it. My buddy is very active in the organization ....they plant gardens in the yards of those who need it and teach them how to harvest the food for their table.

Elizabeth said...

I grew up around gardens, my dad farmed, my mom gardened, as did my aunties and grandmas. I come to gardening naturally - but in Minnesota.

Now I've moved to Texas and while a few bits of my gardening knowledge were universal, mostly I had to learn a whole new set of gardening do's and don'ts.

I am now planning a move to Oregon, and will face a third new gardening environment. I've just bookmarked Oregon Tilth.

Your advise to learn to grow locally is sound advise indeed. Thanks for the great resource.

Heather said...

Joe looks so much like my Great Uncle Arnold! What a wonderful picture that brings back memories for me too.

Flower gyrl said...

Although I come from generations of small farmers I never wanted to learn from my dad until I bought my home and had a piece of land to garden.

I've been learning so much from books and most of all from generous friends who are expert gardeners willing to share their knowledge.

I love teaching my 9 year-old step-daughter the joys of gardening (the best way to learn something is to teach!). She's gone from recoiling from the worms in our compost to gently picking them and moving them when we are planting in the span of a couple of years!

I will definitely check out this organization.

Bren Haas said...

This is a wonderful blog entry. What a wonderful way to THANK those who taught us to garden but by recognizing them and teaching OTHERS!

I found you on Twitter this morning. Can't wait to see what you post next. Happy Spring!

Rozanne said...

I know you've posted that photo before, but I will never get tired of seeing it--your gardening heritage. I think you're absolutely right that the gardening bug bites early on. It may lie dormant for years, but out. My mom and dad were both pretty into gardening (mostly veggies: corn, tomatoes, green beans, and one million zucchinis and crookneck squash; but also some cast-iron annual ornamentals: zinnias, coleus, balsam, four o'clocks) and I remember having a sort of love-hate relationship with the garden as a kid. I loved watching things grow, but I wanted us to grow watermelons and blueberries (unsuitable for the climate and growing season where we lived), not all those ding-dong zucchinis. Also, I always complained whenever my mom tried to get me to help weed or water. Ungrateful wretch that I was. Still, I think I absorbed a lot of knowledge along the way.