Sunday, May 15, 2011

Organic Gardening Workshop

I spent this weekend getting inspired and informed with a great group of gardeners at Camp Stevens in Julian, CA. We had great food, great resources (print and a very knowledgeable trainer), and great beauty. It was a chilly weekend in the mountains. We started Friday night with a lovely dinner and then settled into our lodge. We were a small group so we each got our own room. Our lodge overlooked the orchard and there were tree covered mountains covered in fog and green meadows teeming with life in the distance. We saw deer, turkey, owls, and a myriad of song birds. It was the perfect place to unwind from a stressful normal existence.

On Friday we talked plant positive gardening and some basic assumptions that Ryan (the gardener and trainer) has about plants and ecological gardening. Ned taught us about using sketch-up to design garden plans and linking it to google earth. Joyce gave us kernals of wisdom from her garden guru. It was a fun night.

Saturday morning came early. We "hosted" breakfast so we got to help set the tables and serve the food. Ryan led grace with a quote from Tecumseh about being thankful. Then Ryan gave us lots of information about different kinds of crops in our lodge while we waited for the day to warm up. The we went out into the gardens where we learned about double digging and increasing soil fertility through compost and cover crops. We learned how to prepare a garden for planting and using a karate chop when planing to increase capillary action. Ryan also showed us how to prune tomatoes. I learned that last year I pruned my tomatoes completely wrong. That may be why I had huge plants and few tomatoes. After a yummy lunch we had a break where I got to relax and read and breathe the healing mountain air.
Legumes fix nitrogen in the soil

In the evening we learned how to set gopher traps (useful since the gophers at my new community garden have eaten 2 cauliflowers, 3 potato plants, and some garlic) and got to see the cobb greenhouse (I helped with the cobb more than a year ago) and learn about starting seeds and hardening them off. In the evening we went back to the lodge, drank some wine, and talked about our gardening dreams!

Today we woke up to mists and rain and cool weather. After a filling breakfast of pancakes and veggie sausage, we went out to the farm that Camp Stevens rents to grow the majority of their food. They have chickens!! I am so jealous! I got to learn about their coop and run.
Their nifty-moveable chicken coop

Happy-healthy chickens

We also harvested some salad greens, spinach, and onions for lunch. After learning about irrigation, we made a yummy lunch of beans, garlic scapes, eggs, tortillas, and salad, along with some organic wine. It was tough to leave and go home. Thanks to Camp Stevens for renewing me spiritually and giving me inspiration and knowledge for my garden.