by Charlene Burgi
One can easily become overwhelmed when thinking about gardening and all it entails. Just looking out the window at a yard of weeds can be so overwhelming that we become discouraged before we even start. Improving poor soils can seem like a daunting task. Plant material is usually first on our minds, yet it is the “frosting on the cake” when converting a yard into a bit of paradise. Irrigation might cross our mind, but what type of irrigation? How can it be installed to work well and save water? Even the question of what to do with that never-used lawn between the house and fence may have you scratching your head.
The task can be overwhelming if we don’t have the knowledge to move forward. And while I paint a dismal picture, note that knowledge is the key to making this a rewarding project. Simple methods can turn “dirt” into rich soil teeming with nutrients in no time. Knowing the right plants to attract beneficial insects will help produce bountiful crops of fruit and vegetables. Transforming a weed patch into a garden is within reach with a little know-how.
Be comforted that there is no way anyone knows all there is about landscaping. There is always something new to learn, old methods re-emerge, plants materials come and go, and the garden is always in a state of flux. No matter how many books acquired or classes and workshops attended, there is always more to learn. This is exciting stuff! And that recognition brings out my passion and thirst for the knowledge behind gardening.
How, then, do we know where to begin? For starters, MMWD presents all types of workshops throughout the year. Many involve Bay-Friendly practices that focus on healthy methods of gardening. Irrigation, rainwater harvesting and laundry-to-landscape workshops can help you save water for your plants. Most of the classes are free of charge! In fact, we’re offering a FREE workshop tomorrow, March 10, on building healthy soils. “From the Ground Up” will be from 10:00 a.m. – noon at the Mill Valley Community Center. Call 945-1521 to reserve your spot.
The workshops don’t end there. The College of Marin Community Education program offers a plethora of classes on gardening taught by amazingly talented people. Just to name a few, for example:
“Creating a Wildlife Friendly Garden” (April 19 – May 5) is taught by Charlotte Torgovitsky. A visit to Charlotte’s beautiful garden is living testimony to her ability to draw in all types of beneficial insects and wildlife. This is a course to add to your bucket list!
And what a treat to have Norma Novy sharing her vast knowledge about creating “Victory Gardens” (March 31 – April 21). This course includes working with cover crops to improve your soil, sheet composting, and growing vegetables and tomatoes. She will even explain how to convert that tired old lawn into an edible producing space. It is the perfect time of the year to learn all Norma has to share.
I promise that you will find sheet mulching will eliminate weeds and enhance your soil; simple cover crop planting will add to the richness of your growing medium; and building a compost pile, finding the right crops for your area and understanding water needs of plants are worth a few classroom hours that will leave you yearning to learn even more. Let the knowledge flow!