Community education classes on gardening

Did you know that your local water utility may offer classes about yard care, gardening and/or water conservation? Bring the kids along for a fun educational experience.

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Over the last several years, we’ve taken a real interest in gardening. The kids have too which is great — more reasons to head outside. Our local water utility offers free classes on yard care, gardening and water conservation. One of their classes “Top 10 Eco Garden Tips” was led by local author and ecological designer Jessi Bloom and hosted by Saving Water Partnership.

Some of my garden tip takeaways from her great class included:

  • When just getting started with gardening, start small. If you’re starting from scratch, it takes at least six inches of compost, mulch, (aka sheet mulch) etc. to kill grass.
  • Know your soils.
    • Get soil tested by a conservation district.
    • Fun fact: introduce fungi into soil to help improve conditions.
  • Find your plants purpose — right plant, right place.
    • Factors include: exposure, mature size, water and soil needs, pest/disease resistance, hardiness, wildlife habitat, invasiveness and ecological function.
    • Fun fact: daikon radishes can act as a compost plug and improve soil drainage.
  • Learn to love your weeds.
    • Dandelions have multiple medicinal uses. Dandelion root tea, for example.
    • During the dry season, smother buttercup with clear plastic and morning glory with black plastic.
  • Work with nature, not against it.
    • Clover is a great plant for introducing nitrogen into the soil.
    • Cattail is used to help remove contaminants from water.
    • Willow trees love water.
  • Enlist and nurture all of nature’s allies.
    • Encourage pollinators to live in your space.
  • Honor our sacred waters.
    • Water is very precious resource.
    • Learn how to build rain gardens.
    • Catch rainwater. Cisterns and water systems at
    • Use drip tape to save water when watering annuals.
  • Let animals be animals.
    • Hardware cloth in lieu of chicken wire for bunnies.
    • Plant cat mint and lemon balm to discourage rats.
  • Mulch and when planting, leave no gaps.
    • Squash makes a great ground cover.
    • Use compost for annuals (no wood chips).
  • Plant a food forest garden.
    • Layers include: tall trees, low trees, vines, shrubs, herbaceous, ground cover, root layers.

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