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At this year’s Spring Conference, we at OGS decided to set up a handful of volunteers with pen, paper, and the directive to go home after the event and write a post on each class they attended for us to share on the OGS Blog in a series we’re calling the Conference Blog!

In this series, we bring together the diverse perspectives of our audience and hear experiences from dozens of different voices–commercial farmers, backyard growers, conscientious consumers, and everything in between!

In this class Jeff Ashton, local gardener and OGS veteran, attempted to answer the question , “How can I effectively garden the whole year round?”

“Whatever you do, don’t use glass for a cold weather frame!” Jeff Ashton starts out his presentation with a warning. “It’s not a matter of matter of if a child, or a pet, or a slightly inebriated adult will sit or stand on a cold frame in the is simply a matter of when.” The large photograph on the power point presentation that I’d been staring at suddenly took on a whole new meaning. The two cute children playing in the snow were laying on the lid of a cold frame, duh! I bet it’s a really warm place that dogs, cats, free ranging chickens and inquisitive children would gravitate towards. I’m so glad I attended this workshop before I mimicked the gorgeous Pinterest glass cold frames I’ve been oohing and aahing over. Jeff followed the warning with clear instructions on how to convert the sturdy glass window frames we’d been hoarding in our basement into reliable cold sashes.

included in Jeff’s handout (and soon to be hanging on my fridge)—
the Basic Tenants of the Doctrine of the Year Round Continual Cultivation of Home Gardens

  1. You should never labor so hard in the garden that you are unwilling to at least walk through your garden the next day.
  2. Each day, regardless of the weather, you must at least walk through the garden and pick five weeds, if you can find them, as you are passing through.
  3. You must consciously develop a ruthless attitude about pulling out plants which aren’t producing well, which you have too many of, or which have passed their prime for eating. Don’t squander nutrients on plants that are wasted….pull them out and have something else ready to replace them.
  4. Nothing must be done today (except for tenant #2). There is always tomorrow.
  5. Repeat the mantra “March and July until I die” one hundred times. At the end of this you will always remember to start your seeds in March and July for spring and fall crops. Focus on developing a seed starting system that you can use year after year with the least amount of effort.
  6. Develop an aggressive composting program. Keep trash bags in your vehicle for spontaneous compost material gathering.
  7. If you don’t lose plants occasionally to freezing temperatures, you aren’t pushing the temperature boundaries enough.
  8. Your loved ones are more important than your garden.

Jeff gave us many inventive ideas to create growing environments and at all skill levels. I’m confident I can pull off the floating row covers next fall without adding to my dear husband’s epic Honey Do list. The hour and a half class flew by and I learned so much! Thanks Jeff!


Author: OGS

Organic Growers School is a non-profit organization providing organic education since 1993. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and support people in our region to farm, garden, and live organically.

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