Can you dig it?
Where to get help plotting your own organic veggie garden
THE ECONOMIC outlook may look grim, yet your grocery bills show no sign of slacking off. In fact, they loom larger every week. Hey, maybe it's all those organic veggies you've become addicted to. They taste great and are more healthful and nutritious than their pesticide-doused counterparts, but they do cost more. Ever dreamed of raising your own veggie garden, filled with seasonal crops that can go from earth to kitchen with one tug or clip of the garden shears? Sure, but maybe you have a deadly black thumb instead of a green one, or maybe you simply have no clue where to begin. How many hours of direct sunlight do the veggies need each day? Where would be the best location? Is an eastern or western exposure best? Do you need a raised bed? What should you grow, and how? Fret not. Several North Bay organizations are on hand to nurture.--P.H.
The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center
The OAEC is a nonprofit educational center and biodiversity farm. You may request a tour, or have a consultant work with you. In addition, a residential course titled "Planting Your Winter Garden: An Organic Gardening Intensive" will be offered Aug. 17-19. It will cover garden design and planning, crop selection, harvesting, cooking, and more. The $325 fee includes instruction, accommodations, and meals. Also, the OAEC offers a five-day residential training program for local schoolteachers and parents (of kids from preschool to high school) who are interested in creating and maintaining a school garden. 15290 Coleman Valley Road, Occidental. 707/874-1557.
Sonoma Master Gardeners
It's kind of like the turkey help-line for harried cooks at Thanksgiving. Knowledgeable gardeners open up their help-line and are available to answer your cultivation questions between 9 a.m. and noon, Monday-Friday. For free tips, catch up to their members at local farmers' markets, or call 707/565-2608.
Master Gardeners of Marin
If you have a diseased tomato plant or other sickly specimen in Marin County, take it into the Master Gardeners of Marin's county office, which is part of the UC Coop Extension. Volunteers will check it out and give you advice. 1682 Novato Blvd., Novato. 415/499-4204.
Planting Earth Activation
Craig Litwin and his band of volunteer gardeners run PEA, a local group dedicated to local food production and seed saving to prevent heirloom varieties from becoming extinct. In the past, PEA has planted organic gardens, free of charge, for those wanting to set an environmental example. The only two stipulations are that the gardens must be grown without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides, and that the owners agree to give back 25 percent of the harvest for seed saving. PEA has already planted more than 50 gardens, most of them in Sebastopol and a few in Santa Rosa. The plantings take place once a month, but have proved so popular that the organization now offers more in the way of consultations instead. 707/829-7069.
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From the July 19-25, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.