News From The Ag Dept.

by Marilyn Friedman

The BIG news is that we have a new full time faculty /director of the Ag program! We are very excited to welcome Jim Xerogenes (don't bother with figuring out how to pronounce his last name...just go for Jim X) into the group of excellent instructors here at our department. Jim is presently working at the County Department of Agriculture as an Ag Biologist, and has been there for the past 12 years working with the local nurseries and growers. Working with people and plants are just a few of his favorite experiences, and he'll really get a chance to excercise those skills here.

Did you get over to the Greenhouse for our Plant was the best ever in my somewhat biased opinion. The place was gorgeous with all the blooming flowers and the incredible displays the students made in the Greenhouse Projects Class. Everyone showed the pride and dedication that makes this department so outstanding. To make an event like this work took help from many areas and to all those that knocked themselves out....We Thank You! A special thanks to the wonderful women in the Business Office for their help all year long. Another special thanks to Gwen in duplicating, for her help getting out the flyers and plant lists, even when I didn't give her much time. One more special thanks to Ed Madson for helping in so many ways all year and for dealing with the signs. Ed does the most amazing job of keeping this campus beautiful, we all owe him big time for his efforts. All these thank yous are beginning to sound like the Academy Awards, but I can't forget Susan Bell, the Dean for our department. She has courage and vision and encourages us to strive for the brass ring. The proceeds from the sale are part of the income producing projects that I've talked about before. These various projects help us toward our goals, one of which is the demonstration botanical gardens we hope to install over the next several years.

Next fall we hope to start working on the new area we are calling "California Garden, Part 1". It will encompass a variety of plants, with an emphasis on California natives. If this appeals to you, join the Landscape Construction Class in August and help with the creation of some of the garden structures. Or join the Soils & Fertility Management Class and help work on making the soil wonderful for planting this garden area. In fact, if you haven't taken any classes in our area and want to start somewhere, the Introduction to Horticulture Class & Lab are a great way to jump in. Well, as long as we're talking about fall classes, we've got a great one for those of you who thought it might be nice to have some kind of a greenhouse of your own and don't know what size, shape, money, etc. is involved in choosing one, can take Greenhouse Structures and Equipment and get all that info and more. If you have always wanted to know the names of plants and how to identify them, then Plant Identification-Fall is the class for you. Those of you who grow beautiful flowers might want to enroll in Floral Design1 and learn how to arrange them artfully. If you just want to get out and work hard around our facility, remember that you can get unit credit for doing just that by enrolling in Cooperative Work Experience. If you have fruit trees, roses, grapes or ornamental shrubs that need pruning, you'd do them a favor if you enrolled in our class on Pruning. It's only two Saturdays in December and you'll get actual experience so you can go home and tend to your own pruning.

So much for next fall, let's talk about this summer. At last we have a Summer Vegetable Gardening Class! What a concept, teach vegie gardening at the time vegies are actually growing. Did you know that a huge slice of our demonstration garden is devoted to growing Organic Vegies? 6000 square feet to be exact. This summer class which starts on June 17 and goes until August 12, will be developing much of this area. The classes are on Monday and Thursday from 8-12. We like to grow out various varieties to test how they do in our climate, soil, etc. and then we can decide if these varieties are the best to offer at our next Spring Plant Sale. Of course, taste testing is imperative! Those of you who live in Lake County will be pleased to know they offer a Summer Veg. Class also, slightly different dates and times.


Now is the time for all good gardeners to hit their back yards with Calcium and Compost. Dig, dig, and some may even Double Dig your way into Vegie and Flower heaven. This year, try mulching. It saves on your watering and it keeps your tomatoes more evenly moist so they don't develop those brown spots on the bottoms. Whatever you do, don't feed those beautiful tomato plants with Nitrogen, or you'll never see tomatoes, the plant will just keep on making lovely green leaves and not set much fruit. Also slow down the watering when they do start to set fruit...don't stop, but do slow down.

Back to mulching. It also keeps down your weeds. What to use, we like rice straw, because it doesn't have so many hay seeds, but lots of things will work, like wood shavings, or even old newspapers, and earthworms like the newspapers, mostly the comics.

Feed your bulbs (like Daffodils &Tulips) when they stop blooming, because they are making more bulbs for next years bloom. A little bone meal would be nice.

Cut off the dead flower heads to keep plants producing longer. Be sure to keep picking and eating your herbs or they'll go to seed sooner.

Let's talk pest control. If the tomato hornworms are getting more fruit than you, it's time for an early morning hunt. Look for little black droppings and follow them up to the newest growth, there you're likely to see the biggest green caterpillar ever. I use a glove for the task of picking them off, as they exude a nasty substance as part of their species protection, and dispose in any manner your sensibilities allow.

That's it for this year, have a colorful, delicious summer in your gardens. And if you don't get enough weeding elsewhere, you can always come join us pulling up a few.

Copyright Mendocino College Eagle 1995
Permission granted to excerpt or use this article if source is cited

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Author:The Eagle Staff
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Last Update: 5/21/96