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How will your garden grow?



Article Published: Jan. 21, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

The Watauga County branch of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service is offering a variety of programs and workshops to help growers.

A Present Use Tax Valuation workshop, designed to help those involved in horticultural, agricultural, or forestry production, will be held Jan. 21 at the Agricultural Conference Center in Boone. The workshop, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., will cover the possible state and local tax benefits on land used for production.

The Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program offers 10 to 12 weeks of intensive training in plant propagation, biology, soils, fertility, pests, plant diseases and edible and ornamental plant care. Those completing the series commit to 40 hours of community volunteer service.
The application deadline is Feb. 12. Classes begin on March 2 and meet every Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. until noon. Cost is $105.

The Backyard Food Series features workshops from January through April, with presentations and filed work.

The workshop schedule is:

Jan. 28--Fruit and essential plants for your yard
Learn how to incorporate fruit (strawberries, brambles, apples, and blueberries) and native plants into your landscape. We will discuss site selection, soil needs, and basic planting instructions to maximize success for your new landscape additions. This program will include plant varieties that will be available for purchase through the 2010 Watauga County 4-H Plant Sale.

Feb. 16--Backyard poultry
Discover how a small flock of poultry can be raised just about anywhere and learn what it takes to start and maintain a backyard flock of birds. We'll cover coop design, feeding, protection from predators, and maintaining health.

Feb. 23-Composting
The compost pile is an essential part of home gardening, but can often turn into a lifeless heap. Learn what makes a compost pile work, the ideal materials to use and how to jump start your own source of nature's perfect fertilizer.

Mar. 23--Small-scale pork production
Home-raised pork was once a reality for households but has become a rare sight. Learn what's needed to raise a pig at the small-farm or backyard scale. We'll cover fencing, feeding, and how to keep your pig healthy.

Apr. 20--Growing vegetables: Part 1

April 27--Growing vegetables: Part 2

Site selection, soil preparation, transplanting, fertility and pest prevention for the home garden will be addressed.

The workshops are held 6:30 through 8:30 p.m. at the Agricultural Conference Center in Boone. These workshops are free though registration is recommended by calling (828) 264-3061. People can attend one or multiple workshops and resource materials will be made available to participants.

Field workshops on blueberry pruning will be held from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 4, with apple and stone fruit pruning from 2 to 5 p.m. on Feb. 23. The field workshops will be held at locations convenient to Watauga and Ashe county residents.

Organic production classes for commercial vegetable and fruit growers will be held Feb. 6 through Feb. 20.

The classes geared toward growers who are already set-up for commercial scale production (1 acre of ready-to-be-certified-organic field land or more), and wish to enter the expanding Certified Organic Market. Topics covered will include soils and fertility, disease identification and control, insect identification and control, weed management, post-harvest handling, certification and record-keeping, and marketing to wholesale buyers.

The class will meet on Saturdays, from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center. Participating growers will receive resource CD's and books on organic agriculture, weed management, disease identification, and organic pest control. Cost is $50 per person or $60 per couple willing to share books, and the class is limited to 25 growers.
The class schedule is:

Feb. 6 - Introduction to Organics & Certification, Planning Your Organic Crops & Rotations, Cover Crops, Soils & Fertility in Organic Systems

Feb. 13 - Weed Management in Organic Systems, Insect Management in Organic Systems, Disease Management in Organic Systems

Feb. 20 - Pest Management Wrap-up, Certification Process & Paperwork, Post-Harvest Handling for Selected Crops, Marketing Options

For more information on any of the programs, call (828) 264-3061 or email Meghan_Baker@ncsu.edu or richard_boylan@ncsu.edu.
-Staff reports

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