Sunday, January 29, 2012

Getting ready for gardening

With seed catalog in one hand, you can't imagine my delight when I read through the newest Willy Street co-op monthly newspaper that they are offering two classes to get ready for spring planting. I particularly like the title of both, “The urban gardener part 1 and part 2," so I thought I'd share the details. If you live in Madison, these would be great classes to attend, and I would love your company: I already signed up for both! To register for one or both, call Willy East at 251-6776. For more information about classes, see

The urban gardener part 1: laying the groundwork for a productive year
Monday, Feb. 27, 6 PM to 8 PM, at Willy Street Coop, East.

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 planning for maximum production, and the top tips for productive garden from Troy community farm. Each participant will take home far works newly revised vegetable planting calendar. The cost is $20 for owners, and $30 for all others.

The urban gardener part 2: seed starting at home
Saturday, March 10, 10 AM to 12 PM at the Troy Gardens greenhouse, 502 Troy Drive.

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, seating and planting techniques, growing conditions, hardening off, and an introduction to our favorite varieties. All participants will take home several plant starts. Class takes place in the greenhouse of Troy Gardens, 502 Troy Dr. The cost for owners is $18 and $28 for all others.

I bought plants at the annual Troy Gardens sale on a cool foggy morning last spring. Here are a few photos.

The greenhouse was wonderfully damp and warm on an otherwise gray and cold May day (you may recall what a cool spring we had last year!)

Functional and beautiful, the greenhouse is made with traditional and "naturally" sourced materials giving it a wonderful earthy crunchy feel. Or was the gravel underfoot?

Friends Britt and Abby. They are also gardeners at the American Family Insurance Community Garden.

Troy Gardens starts plants for their own community garden and CSA farm, and sells extras.

The Troy Gardens Community Garden was a magical place even on a cold spring morning.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Update to plant hardiness zones map

Browsing seed catalogs for spring planting? The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a Plant Hardiness Zone Map that shows zones, which are usually indicated on plant or seed packet labels.

The zone map has been updated, here's the Wisconsin map, the US map and a link to it online.
Link to USDA's site where you can get state-specific maps.