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Beautiful Gardens Through Great Soil (3 part course)
21 Acres Center
Woodinville, WA
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Basic overview of the course:  Great soil is the foundation of any beautiful and successful landscape. It needs less fertilizer and chemical treatment, has better water retention and is part of a dynamic and functional ecosystem. This course will teach you the key concepts of healthy soil and show you how to improve your soil to make it produce fantastic vegetables, vibrant flowers and vigorous plants.  You will learn about:

  • Soil organisms and soil structure
  • Analyzing soil conditions
  • Water retention
  • Amending soil
  • Weed control
  • Pesticide reduction
  • Prepping soil for winter

The course will focus on practical application of concepts to help you develop a plan to make your soil work for you.   This course includes a free soil test kit and a voucher for a free cubic yard of compost from Cedar Grove Compost.  A portion of each of the three classes will be taught outside, so dress appropriately.   Come prepared to learn, dig and have fun!

IMPORTANT NOTE!! For the first class, you will need to bring approximately one-quart of relatively dry soil from your lawn and garden. From that quart you will remove 1 cup during class to be used as a soil test sample. The remainder will be used for the jar test. To collect your sample, follow these directions:

Soil composition can vary from one spot to another, even in areas that look uniform. This may be due to uneven application of fertilizer in previous years, or simply due to natural variations. To ensure that your samples are representative of your yard, garden or field, take at least 5 samples from the area to be tested and mix them to form a composite. If your garden or field has areas with different soil texture, color or fertilization history, they should be sampled separately.

  1. Scrape off surface residue/litter.

  2. Sample from the soil surface to the depth of tillage, usually 6-8 inches for cultivated crops and 3 inches for turf.

  3. Collect a minimum of 5 samples and combine them in a clean container. One common sampling method is to sample in a "W" pattern, with a sample at each point. Mix the soil thoroughly with a trowel.

  4. Place about 1 quart (4 cups) in a clear, glass one-quart jar.  Mark it with your name.

This is a 3 part course. All classes will be held at 21 Acres from 6:30 pm to 8 pm.

Class #1:  Soil Basics, September 18
This class will examine soil organisms and their functions.  We will discuss soil structure and texture and what this means for your soil's water holding capacity, which is the key for proper irrigation and storm water retention.  You will learn what makes "great soil" so great.  Outside, you will establish test plots to learn the benefits of various types of soils and mulches, such as leaves, compost, arborist chips and composted bark.    You will discuss the soil sample from your property and it will be packaged for analysis.  You will perform a jar test on part of your soil sample to learn about its structure.

Class #2:  Beginning Your Soil Improvement Action Plan, September 25
You will discuss the jar test results from the previous week and chart each result on the soil triangle. These results will be compared to the soil test results that will be discussed in the last class.  Outside you will examine and discuss different methods and techniques to amend soil with compost and you will consider whether some methods better than others.  You will learn about building berms on soils that are too difficult to amend.  From this class you will have the understanding to begin creating your soil improvement plan.

Class #3:  Finalizing Your Action Plan, October 2
You will review the results of the analysis of your soil sample.   You will pinpoint areas for different soil building techniques, learn winter soil preparation and begin creating the garden of your dreams. The test plots will be examined for soil building progression. You will receive instructions on finalizing your action plan.

Student Take-Aways from the Course:

  • Familiarity with soil composition and how it affects plant growth.
  • Ability to assess the quality of your garden soil.
  • Understand soil amendments that create invigorated plant beds.
  • Strategies to eliminate or sensibly limit the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Soil building techniques.
  • Winter soil preparation principles.    

Relevance to features, services at 21 Acres:

  • Sustainable gardening and resilient ecosystems.
  • Water efficiency.
  • Building soil quality using local biotic resources and without the use of chemical fertilizers.
  • Managing storm water runoff.

Faculty bio:  In 1994, Ladd Smith co-founded In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes out of his lifelong passion for protecting the environment.  In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes is a provider of organic-based landscape services in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. Ladd has been a regular presenter for King County's highly successful Natural Yard Care Neighborhoods program for the past ten years as well as the Cascade Water Alliance Savvy Gardener program.

Graham Haroldson is currently service supervisor, landscape diagnostician, and much more with In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes where he has worked for close to eight years.  He is a conscious and passionate I.S.A. Certified Arborist with a love of plant pathology and tree biology.  Graham also spent seven months at the Bullock's Permaculture Homestead on Orcas Island where he learned a vast amount of skills and earned a permaculture design certificate.  He has a growing resume of public speaking and an infectious enthusiasm for plants, which he loves to share with anyone.

In Harmony has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Washington State Governor's Award for Pollution Prevention, the Northwest Environmental Guide's Environmental Achiever of the Year Award, and WSNLA Environmental Excellence Award.  In Harmony is a King County 5-Star EnviroStar, and its work has been featured in many publications including Sunset Magazine, Northwest Home and Garden Magazine and The American Gardener Magazine.

Register early to prevent class cancellation due to low enrollment. Full payment for fee-based classes is required for registration. Please contact deb@21acres.org to inquire if spaces may be held for later payment. Enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis. Unless otherwise requested, enrollment constitutes agreement to hold harmless 21 Acres officers, staff, and volunteers, except in cases where such injury or damage shall have been occasioned by the sole negligence of 21 Acres.  Your registration also acknowledges that we may photograph the class and your picture may be used for advertising.

Class Cancellation and Refund Policy
Cancellation of Class By 21 Acres: If a class is cancelled due to low enrollment, students will be notified and a full refund will be mailed or a credit issued on the credit card used.

Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy as to Students
21 Acres admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

Provided by
Cascade Water Alliance
Wednesday Sep 18, 2013 6:30 PM - Wednesday Sep 18, 2013 8:00 PM | $44.00 - $49.00


21 Acres Center (View)
13701 NE 171st St
Woodinville, WA 98072
United States


Education > Classes

Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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