Living here in a small town of Northern Idaho, I am regularly amazed with the great information made available through the churches, stores and cities. This Sunday, I attended what I thought would be a 'little' seminar on gardening by Dawn Trammell, a local gardener and herbalist. I had missed her presentation last year and when the announcement landed in my mail box this year I circled the calendar in red to be sure I checked this out. As I pulled up into the parking lot, it became clear this was a popular and much sought after event. There were easily over 160 people were in attendance, and when the main meeting room overflowed, they opened another room nearby to see the presentation on a monitor. This was a well organized talk that created a flow of constant questions, which she fielded easily. Dawn had no difficulty in stating she was not an expert in all areas, only presenting what she had found to work in our challenging Zone 5, 90 day growing period. What she did encourage was " look it up yourself." Something I regularly encourage everyone to do. Books, you.tube, internet search..., there is a fountain of knowledge for gardeners of all experience to be had, and no one has all the answers. Gardening is a joy and challenge. We cannot control weather, heat, bugs and seeds as much as we think we can. And if you are an organic, no yucky poisons or spray kind of gardener, like me, you really need to reach back into time for options that still provide safe and nutritious harvests.
So, Dawn presented some great tips on keeping it simple, not overthinking, and in fact, pushed the theme to just do something to get some home gardening done! She shared her trials and tribulations in the Northern Idaho short growing season, which compared to where she had moved from 9 years before, needing extensive problem solving to achieve the ultimate harvest before the days shortened and cooled.
For myself, the best part was her discussion on how to garden through the Winter.
Starting in July, you start a garden to be harvested in November, with sequential plantings to take you through the coldest months with healthy food. All this using an unheated hoop house, strategic planting and agricultural fabric to work with the inevitable frost. The results were fresh vegetables and greens managed with low maintenance.
By taking the time to complete a proper set up with mostly low cost materials and some research, you can provide a full-year of growing to feed your family,...something to consider as the grocery stores become challenged in receiving produce in a timely manner. And what if those challenges extend to where the stores are unable to get anything to sell, due to any number of barriers?
Personally, I want to be self-sustaining in as many ways possible, and food is pretty darn important!
So, to help your own gardening success all year long, I have attached below the link to the you.tube of Dawn's seminar, plus another link to a resource she recommended for more ideas in Winter Gardening. Also, I've added a few reference books of my own that have helped in my continual learning, trials and errors....which may be assist to you in basic raised bed gardening and options for staying organic. I live essentially on a cobblestone pile left over by ancient floods. I wasn't going to haul in tons of top soil that the heavy snows would wash away in few years, so I encourage you to be creative in containers and containment of your precious soil as needed. Do be mindful and avoid possible toxic leaching from items such as tires, treated wood and plastic not designated safe to garden (should be labeled food-safe).
Always enjoy the experience and be flexible with Mother Nature's constant changing moods.
But, you better get started in the next few weeks to get those seeds started indoors,...this snow will melt and the soil will call to you sooner than you think, as it does to so many of us!
Best Wishes in Health!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3fJ_yV6Jtg- Dawn Trammell Gardening Seminar
www.NorthwestHomesteader.wordpress.com -Eliot Coleman, Year Round Winter Gardening
Books for Gardening Reference:
1. Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew - Great tips and guidance in getting the most out of your gardening space.
2. The Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control, issued by Rodale, rodalestore.com, (800)848-4735
3. Self Sufficiency for the 21st Century, by Dick and James Strawbridge - Wonderful reference for DIY and preppers alike, covering all manners of living off-grid with multiple options.