My husband and I knew that we wanted to put a garden in our backyard from the moment we saw it, but neither of us have really had a garden. Both sets of parents have had successful gardens, but we’ve only ever had small herb gardens.
Thankfully when we went to the Pensacola Market we found out that East Hill Edible Gardening was having an organic no-till gardening class beginning shortly after we were to move into our house. It is a four week class that will cover a number of topics.
The first class covered why you should want to have a garden. One statistic he shared was that broccoli is best when consumed within 2 days of harvest. Then he described the process of it to get to the grocery store. A day for harvesting, a day for processing, a day to ship to the store, a day before being set out, a couple days on display in the store, and a couple of days in your refrigerator. It can be a week or more after harvesting before you eat it, no wonder they say frozen foods can be more nutritious than fresh!
Garden placement was a large part of the class. You want it to be a place you will see or be in often, not have standing water, and have full sunlight. They taught us how to see how much sunlight the area will have throughout the year and a neat trick on how to tell that the area has at least a half day of sun. Stand facing south, and then use your left arm to point to the location the sun will shine in that direction (likely the top of the tree or fence), do the same with your right arm. If the distance between your arms is at least 90 degrees, that spot will have half a day of sunlight. 90 degrees is the same as if one arm was straight up and the other was straight out.
They also recommended gardening straight in the ground and not in containers or raised beds. They showed us this picture of a carrot where the part you eat is only about six to 12 inches deep, but the root structure can be 5 feet wide and 6 feet deep. It's hard to get that in a container!
Finally they taught about the soil food web and all the beneficial bacteria, fungi and animals that live in the soil that help make your garden great. It was fascinating to learn that the plants will send out signals to recruit particular bacteria or fungi that will help produce the nutrients they need.
I highly recommend the class if you are in the Pensacola area.
Update: Check out the other things we learned about Mulch Madness and see Our Start.