Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Workshops in Williston

I went to a gardening workshop at the Old Brick Church in Williston village last night. It was hosted by a gardening group that wants to teach gardening neophytes how to plant seeds -- in the spirit of spreading the green.

I was familiar with most of the material covered, but I did learn a few things:

**Eggplant is difficult to grow in Vermont. It likes warmer weather than we can provide. It's also prone to pests, so if you're going to give it a go, potting it is the recommended approach. The soil in a pot will stay warmer too. I think eggplant might like living in my greenhouse for an extended period. On the other hand, nobody in my family really likes eggplant, so why bother? If I carry my seeds through to the end, I'm going to needs some creative recipes.

**The general consensus among the workshop leaders is that my seeds are unlikely to germinate in my half warm/half cold greenhouse. So today, I'm leaning toward an investment in heating mats.

**Don't till a garden -- it breaks down the soil structure. This discussion rears its head every spring when my husband wants to till the spring weeds under, and I want to pull them. My argument is that if you till a weed under, it has the potential of sprouting again. His argument is that I have a lot of weeds to pull. So this year, no deep tilling. I have a small electric hand tiller that I'll use to work up the top couple of inches, but that's it.

**Peppers like to be warm while sprouting then a little cooler for awhile before going into the ground. Curious.

**Self-watering pots are the pot of choice for patio gardening. They don't dry out like a traditional clay pot, so the plant isn't subject to the stress of being wet then dry over and over.

One of the impressive things about the workshop is that the organizers brought peat pots and cowpots, soil, and seeds for everyone to take a few planted seeds home with them. I didn't take anything because I already have seeds in progress. But I thought that was a generous offer.

Next month's workshop will tackle potatoes, broccoli, and kale. I plan to attend because my broccoli always bolts quickly and I'd like to find out why, and I'd like to try some potatoes for the first time this year.

Happy day before the first official day of spring!


  1. There's a Zone 4 magazine written on this side of the Mississippi (originating out of Bozeman, MT). I dunno if it'll be helpful at all in Vermont, but I think their pictures are always pretty.

  2. OMG -- Kitchen Sister is my dear eldest daughter!
    I sure know what you mean by "why bother with growing difficult plants like eggplant, when nobody except me likes them" -- I'm in the same boat:)
    Potatoes -- go for them. EASY peezy lemon squeezy (to borrow a term I learned from YOU!) and so rewarding -- kids esp. love to help plant & harvest root crops in the fall.
    I still remember my own first garden, and proudly serving short crooked carrots to the family!

    Also, are you familiar with Michael Pollan's books? I recommend reading "Second Nature" and "Botany of Desire".

  3. That is a great connection! Thank you both for visiting and sharing your tips! I have "In Defense of Food" in my queue, but that will be my first Pollan book. Will also check out the mag, Sister.