a bit greener

I want to have a garden. I don’t know what extra time I will be able to put towards my dream of growing my own veggies… but I have to start somewhere.

And that starting point was an Organic Gardening class I took with Sara! The class was part of a four-part series through the Washington State University Kitsap County extension program. We took the second class in the series (because you don’t have to take the whole series) that covered garden planning, small fruits and berries, and bee pollinators.

We learned so much I am still have trouble digesting it all! Thankfully they gave us a pile of resources that we can refer to along with seed catalogs that will help us plan our dream gardens.

The class was an all-day thing but the time went by really fast! We were mentally exhausted by the time it was over.

(An extra bonus was that we saw a high school friend’s parents at the class and got to say hello to them!)

The class helped my thumb be a bit greener, but I am still very, very far from calling myself any kind of gardener. Here are just a small handful of things that stuck out to me that you might find interesting or beneficial for your own garden dreams:

  • Always Be Covered (A-B-C). The soil in your garden should always be working or have some sort of cover on it. When you have finished harvesting your crops you should plant a cover crop or spread some sort of mulch to keep out unwanted plants. Cover crops help to keep out weeds but they also add nutrients to the soil and can be worked into the soil for added organic matter when they have finished their growing cycle.
  • When you pick the site of your garden pay close attention to the slope of the area (you want it level), the amount of sun it gets during the day at different times throughout the year (more is better), drainage (no puddles), and soil quality (you might need to bring in gardening soil or add compost to the existing soil to get it ready).
  • Companion planting is a great way to make the most use of your gardening space. Some plants pair really well with each other just based on their structure or needs (like planting spinach, which doesn’t like a lot of sun, under tall pole beans that can give it shade) but there are others that don’t do well together (like peas and onions) because of something chemical.
  • Honey bees aren’t the only ones pollinating your produce–in fact, they’re not even the most efficient pollinators! The reason why they are such a major pollinator is that there are so many of them in a single colony. Mason bees and bumblebees are also important pollinators. Mason bees are actually very efficient–going from flower to flower to flower, and so on. You can put put mason bee houses to encourage them to buzz around your garden and leave “dirty” areas in your yard to attract the bumblebees.
  • Keep a garden log to document what you planted where and how it did, as well as how well you liked it. This helps to keep track of your crop rotations (you shouldn’t plant the same thing in the same place year after year) and helps to remind you what you want to plant again (or not)!

If you’re interested in learning more about gardening I would highly recommend the classes offered through the WSU Master Gardener program linked above.

Seattle Tilth also offers gardening classes that are probably very good as well, although I haven’t taken one from them (yet!) so I can’t speak from experience. However, we did get Seattle Tilth’s Maritime Northwest Garden Guide from the class and it is amazing. It is a “month-by-month manual tailored to our climate and growing season and useful for beginning to advanced gardeners” plus it has lots of other useful gardening information throughout.

The only problem is that now I can’t stop thinking about where and how to start my garden and what I want to plant first!