Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gardening classes through Willy Street Co-op

Jay and I are members of the Willy Street Co-op (for those not in Madison, that's a large natural food coop in town). I eagerly read the monthly newsletter, first for the letters to see who's complaining about what, and second, for the classes. The end of February and March are full of garden class options. Here are some to consider.

The Urban Gardener Part I: Laying the Groundwork for a Productive Year
Willy East - Monday, Feb. 27, 6 - 8 pm
Willy West, Wednesday, March 21, 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Willy East - Monday, April 2, 6 - 8 pm
Learn how to produce more organic vegetables in your garden! This class will focus on intermediate and advanced gardening skills such as garden planning and layout, crop rotation and cover cropping, planting schedules and succession planting for maximum production, and the top tips for a productive garden from Troy Community Farm. Each participant will take home FarmWorks' newly released Vegetable Planting Calendar.

The cost is $20 for Owners and $30 for all others. Payment is required at registration; please register by stopping at the Willy East Customer Service desk or by calling 251-6776.

The Urban Gardener Part II: Seed Starting at Home
Troy Gardens - Saturday, March 10, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Starting your own seeds isn’t as hard as you think! Come visit the new passive solar greenhouse at Troy Gardens and go home ready to start seeds. You will learn how to mix your own soil, build an inexpensive seed starting rack for your home, and learn the basics of starting seeds indoors in a small space. Topics covered include seed starting schedule, soil mix recipes, tray options, seeding and planting techniques, growing conditions, hardening off, and an introduction to our favorite varieties. All participants will take home several plant starts. Additional supplies will be available for purchase after class. Class takes place in the greenhouse at Troy Gardens, 502 Troy Drive.

Payment is required at registration; please register by stopping at the Willy East Customer Service desk or by calling 251-6776.

Seed Starting with Charles Dykman
Willy East
Sunday, March 25, 9:00am - 12:00pm
Thursday, March 29, 6 - 9 pm
Editorial note: I took this class several years ago. Charles is a font of tomato knowledge and shares it freely, and he welcomes gardening newbies.
Instructor Charles Dykman will share the proper techniques for starting tomato plants from seed through a hands-on experience in our Community Room. Charles has been raising vegetables on Madison's east side since 1967 and shares his wealth of knowledge with participants in this class. Additional information provided will include finding the seeds you want, seed saving, how to plant and water seeds, initial and garden transplantations, and artificial light. Class participants will go home with their own tomato plant starter. This class is limited to 12 students per session, and is a perennial favorite, so sign up early!

Cost is $10 for Owners and $20 for all others. Payment is required at registration; please register by stopping at the Willy East Customer Service desk or by calling 251-6776.

Introduction to Forest Gardening
Willy West - Monday, March 19, 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Learn ways to transition the blank slate of your backyard into an edible ecotopia by co-creating the design of a backyard forest garden. We will cover a variety of topics with an emphasis on site preparation and design for spring plantings. Other topics we will cover based on the interests of the group include: understanding plant guilds and plant community functions, plant species and site selection criteria, understanding plant needs and yields, and troubleshooting management strategies using participant case studies. We will help you look at your garden design with a systems perspective from the ground up and see how we can design our backyards and gardens in the image of an ecosystem. Cost is $15 for Owners and $25 for all others. Please register by stopping at the Willy West Customer Service desk or by calling 284-7800.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Classes, classes and more classes

I'm sure my dad had great educational resources in from the local extension office, magazines and the Old Farmer's Almanac. Last year except for asking my mom for a bit of mulch advice, I didn't actively seek information about gardening. And then the emails and class postings started to come my way and I'm finding so many cool things to learn about, and so many cool people to teach the stuff. 

So I'm going to start a series of what look like great educational resources. Most of these have fees, but they are small, and often you get to take something home - I mean, check out the hoop house class, you get a hoop house to take home! If you know of others, send 'em my way and I'll add them to the list.

3 and 4 Season Hoophouse Construction - March 17 (I'm totally going to this one)
With the growing season fast approaching, Fitchburg Fields aims togive local gardeners the self-reliance skills necessary to reduce our
impact on the earth. Here are some details about our upcoming

Extend Wisconsin's growing season by building your own 3 or 4 season mini-hoophouse. Expert gardener Nox Seehafer will show you how, and tell you the secret of harvesting root crops all winter long. The hoophouse can be used to protect early spring crops, grow seedlings, or let you overwinter hardy greens.

All supplie and tools are provided, and handouts too! You will need to supply boards or stones to weigh down the plastic cover and blanket. Delivery of your hoophouse in the Madison area may be available for a small fee - please email if you would like to register but need
assistance to get your hoophouse home.

For more details and registration visit -

Crop Family Specifics: Brassicas and Solanaceae (no surprise, going to this too)
Two specialized classes will be scheduled this summer. Troy Gardens  Farm Manager, Claire Strader, and Educator/Manager, Megan Cain, of  Farmworks will be giving two 2-hour demonstration/talks on culture of  specific families in my yard in rural Middleton. Claire and Megan will  reveal how to get the most out of your cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, then your tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

My backyard is a functional suburban food production plot. With  chickens, bees, orchard, berry bushes and extensive garden, it's a tour in itself.

June 19 (brassicas) and July 17 (solanaceae) 6-8 pm
In my backyard, rural-suburban Middleton

These two classes will cost $26/person (total for both). Class will be limited to 20 participants. Your check, made out to Betsy True, will hold your spot. Email for address.