Every year Rebecca and I go to a special educational event called Get Ready…Get Set…Garden! In fact, I reported on it in my Ongoing Education post last year. We both feel that ongoing education is a gardener’s best friend. Otherwise, you don’t learn new ways of doing things that could save time or effort. For that matter, new techniques often help you produce food that is more nutritious or lasts longer in storage. Sometimes, the education is just fun (as it was for the hosta course we took last year), but this year was all business.
This year was supposed to start with a session entitled Growing Small Fruits. We’re having a few problems with our blueberries and I had hoped to ask the instructor some questions about them. It turned out that the instructor never showed up. Instead, we received a master gardener short course called, “Vegetables A to Z.” A lot of the information was already familiar to us, but we picked up some tidbits of information. I especially appreciated some bug management tips for our zucchini and confirmation that the technique we use to plant asparagus is still correct (see Planting Asparagus – Part 1 and Planting Asparagus – Part 2). It turns out that we may not actually be planting our peas early enough and the winter planting of spinach should work better than it did for us (more on that later). The poor woman was roped into giving the impromptu speech, so I could hardly fault her for any flaws in presentation. Still, it’s wasn’t the usual smooth presentation and her persistent cough made things less enjoyable for everyone. Overall, we did get our money’s worth, but didn’t receive the information we really wanted.
The next session was phenomenal. It was a short course entitled, “Native Prairie Flowers and Grasses.” As a result of that course, I plan to obtain some native plant seeds and redo our septic mound. In fact, I have several really good reasons for undertaking the project now:
The mound will be less inclined to get wet because the native plants will use up the excess water more efficiently.
The flowers will attract helpful insects such as bees to pollinate our vegetables and fruits and parasitic wasps to deal with some of the bugs on our plants.
Our mound is impossible to mow in some areas due to the incline and ruggedness of the terrain—using the native plants makes mowing unnecessary.
- Using native plants will reduce the eyesore factor of the septic system as it currently exists.
The only problem with this particular session is that the instructor had way too much information to give us in a single session. He should have requested a double session. I certainly would have paid extra for the valuable information I received. As it was, the instructor was most definitely rushed and I’ll have to refer to the handout he provided for some information regarding my septic system upgrade.
The third session, Dehydrating Fruits and Vegetables was more pertinent to Rebecca since she does all of the dehydrating in our house (I help, but she’s the one doing most of the work). I do know that she received some valuable information, such as how to preserve the color of her herbs a bit better. I may eventually write a post about the things she has learned after she has had a chance to actually try them to see whether they work. I was able to brag on my wife a bit—Rebecca always makes me wonderful dehydrated snacks for the winter and spring months and I was able to share her approach with the rest of the class.
We had a wonderful time. No, I really shouldn’t have taken the day off, but it’s the only day of the year when we get this kind of educational opportunity and I really couldn’t pass it up either. It’s essential that you do take time to educate yourself. Feeding your mind is a critical part of the human experience and you’ll be a better person if you do it. Let me know if you have any insights into any of the topics covered by our latest educational experience at [email protected].