My brain is tired from two days of immersion at the Organic Growers School. We in Western North Carolina are very, very lucky to have this amazing event happening here every year. Somewhere around 1,300 people gathered yesterday and today for the OGS at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and it was fabulous as always.
I always learn so much, and love communing with other growers, plant lovers, garden geeks, and lovers of organic foods and farms. It's always so inspiring to be there, and I find myself scribbling notes to myself the whole time with brainstorms about things we could do in the garden, new plants to grow, little known facts, and resources to check out later. There is also always an excellent seed swap, and I got to meet some of my "internet friends" from the seed and garden world online and swap seeds in person - delightful!
All in all, the OGS contained way too much information and to try to summarize here, so I'll settle for a couple of greatest hits lists.
Top 5 Quotes from the 2010 Organic Growers School:
- "Plants' mission is to cover the earth. Plants are the skin of the earth." ~Joe Hollis
- "To me it is an ecological crime to heat greenhouses to grow food." ~Patryk Battle
- "Clear communication is a learned skill." ~Elizabeth Gibbs
- "Future farmers are one of the main products of our farm." ~Tom Elmore
- "To me, plants are innocent until proven guilty. Just like every other living organism, they want to be fruitful and multiply. No need to demonize them for it. Outbreaks of exotics are nature's efforts to clean up our mess --plants trying to heal a wound that we created" ~Joe Hollis
Top 13 Things I Learned at the OGS:
- How to make a germination chamber out of a bakers' proof box.
- To find out if legumes are fixing nitrogen well, you can pull one up, cut open one of the root nodules, and if it is RED inside, nitrogen is being accumulated (the red substance is a form of hemoglobin!)
- To cure sweet potatoes for optimal storage life, close them in an 80 degree room at 80% humidity for 10 days.
- All grapes in Europe, even in the Frenchest of French vineyards, are grafted onto native American grape root stock.
- Rufus Mayhaw is both a productive, hearty, edible variety of hawthorne and a good name for a hound dog.
- There are two kinds of creasy greens, and one tastes a whole lot better than the other. The one that tastes good has 6-8 small lobes and one big terminal lobe. When you find the good one (there is some in one of our production beds) you can just let it go to seed and "anoint the soil" with a stalk with a seed pod on top.
- Lambsquarter seeds are edible and comparable to quinoa (though smaller).
- A single muscadine grape vine can produce up to 100 pounds of grapes in a year.
- To get all or most of the nitrogen benefit from a cover crop, the plant has to decompose into the soil.
- One piece of science that supports the traditional use of hawthorne for heart medicine is that hawthorne leaves, flowers, and fruits contain high levels of antioxidants, specifically the flavonoid procyanidin.
- There is an excellent organic wine made from Baco Noir grapes produced at a vineyard near Boone, available for $18.
- How to make a DIY greenhouse heat table with gravel and plywood and heat tape.
- Even though there are over 15,000 known varieties of grapes in the world , 99.5% of the world's grape production is from only 100 varieties.
And here's a little photojournal of our DIY greenhouse and germination equipment class building a gothic arch hoophouse on the quad at UNCA: