Tips for growing mouthwatering veggies from quality organic nutrients and techniques highlighted a recent gardening class at the Bear Creek Nature Center.

The March 7 “Organic Vegetable Gardening: Tips for Success” showed veteran and beginner gardeners how growing vegetable plants indoors using organic pest control, fertilizers and square foot gardening can make a positive difference in plants’ growth.

Karen Flitton Stith, Sharline Arellano and Larry Booth from the Bear Creek Garden Association, and Lorri Voss, representing Rick’s Garden Center, conducted the two-hour class attended by about 30 residents.

Stith encouraged gardeners to begin seedlings at home under a simple shop light this month or next. This way, seedlings will be ready to be buried in outdoor soil around Memorial Day.

Stith explained that starting plants is cheaper than buying them in a garden shop, and that seed catalogs contain interesting varieties.

“Run a fan in the room occasionally, or brush the plants with your hand to make them more sturdy before they’re planted outdoors,” Stith said.

Arellano discussed protecting plants and encouraged using reemay cloth to keep soil surface moist and coax seedlings to sprout in the garden. Reemay cloth is a non-woven polyester fabric sporting continuous filament designed to minimize fiber migration and add strength.

Arellano also encouraged using Walls of Water and plastic milk bottles as mini-greenhouses to shelter new seedling transplants from wind, sun and chilly spring nights.

Booth shared square-foot gardening tips so gardeners can produce more vegetables in one area instead of planting rows.

Voss talked about organic fertilizers and pest control.

Seeing those who attended get enthusiastic about growing vegetables was the most rewarding aspect of teaching the class, which has been provided for the public each spring for over 20 years, Stith said.

“The media are filled with articles about community gardens and vegetable gardening these days. It’s amazing that the surge of interest that we saw 10 years ago continues to accelerate,” Stith said.

Rick’s Garden Center carries annuals, fruit trees, perennials, seasonal flowers, shrubs and trees. The company provides indoor gardening products ranging from fertilizers and pesticides to tools and hydroponic supplies.

The BCGA operates The Charmaine Nymann Community Garden in Bear Creek Park. The garden in 2013 earned its name in honor of Nymann who served as the board’s president for nearly three decades. Nymann believed the BCGA that teaching these gardening classes is a good way to give back to the community, Stith said.

The nonprofit BCGA operates the garden under a land-use agreement with El Paso County. Plots are available at the garden and gardeners who rent a plot become BCGA members. To rent a plot, call the BCGA at 719-375-5224 or 719-634-4433. Learn more at bearcreekgardens.org.

A 30-minute documentary film about the garden, “A Garden Experience,” produced by local gardening enthusiasts and filmmakers Nancy Bently and John Atkinson and narrated by Stith and can be purchased at amazon.com.

“We are the biggest community garden in southern Colorado, so let us help you get your garden started,” Stith said.

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