Garden Conference Report

By , February 25, 2018

The 2018 Southeast Gardening Conference did not disappoint (see Southeast Garden Conference 2018 ). About 120 people attended from Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka, Haines, Skagway and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada.

Speakers ranged from a Haines locavore, Rebecca Brewer, who chronicled her year of eating locally to the keynote, Jeff Lowenfels, with information about soil microbes and how to team up with them to grow a better garden.

Zeiger family homestead garden in winter

The homestead garden sleeps, awaiting Michelle’s inspiration (Photo: Michelle L. Zeiger).

The time allowed for networking and getting to know other gardeners (and pick their brains about nagging garden problems) was invaluable. And the food! The food was amazing! Caterer Sarah Bishop and her crew provided meals all weekend that were included in the conference price.

I left with a long to do list and mixed feelings about how long it would be before I could start planting in my garden. Too long before the soil is warm enough and not enough time to get ready.

The first and most obvious thing I needed to do was to re-read Jeff Lowenfels’ books: Teaming with Microbes and Teaming with Nutrients (paid links). I have read them at least twice, but needed to cement information in my brain about bacterially dominated soils versus fungal dominated soils.

Apparently most vegetables prefer bacterially dominated soils which are not natural to our area. Living in the forest the local microbes are a higher fungal content because they work with the woody debris and assist the trees in taking up nutrients.

So how do you get more of the right kind of microbes? Feed them right in your compost is the short answer. That and adding things like a diluted molasses “tea” to the compost, giving them more sugars to feed on. Then use your compost liberally and or make compost tea to water plants with.

Of course, I have oversimplified this I’m sure. But I will start with these adjustments to what I already do and see what happens.

Stay tuned, as I check items off my to-do list I will add more posts here.

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