HARKER HEIGHTS — Organic gardening is a relatively simple process that pays off with a healthier, tastier harvest. That’s what gardeners of all skill levels learned at an organic gardening class Monday at the Harker Heights Activities Center.

The class, taught by Kathe Kitchens and Kim Berg of Bestemore Herb Farm in Belton, was part of the Gardeners Education Series sponsored by the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department.

Kitchens and Berg have practiced organic gardening for more than 20 years. Their presentation covered soil health, compost and composting methods, plant selection, pest management, watering and plant care.

Circle of life

Composting has sometimes been known as the “circle of life” because it’s nature’s way of recycling the nutrients from soil to plant and back to the soil again. Horticultural cornmeal encourages beneficial soil fungus and adds organic matter, Kitchens said.

“Who would have thought it, but molasses provides simple sugars to increase microbe populations and adds organic matter to the soil,” she said. “It also chases away fire ants.”

After planting, organic fertilizer, earthworm castings, and seaweed and fish emulsion should be added to the soil. They provide additional nutrient sources, allowing seeds and root systems to reach their potential growth, Kitchens said.

Freshly planted seeds and transplanted seedlings need to be watered every day the first week, then twice weekly for 30 minutes to an hour. The best watering times are before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m. in summer and after 6 p.m. in winter, Berg said.

“Do not water in sunshine … and collect rainwater whenever you can.”

Expert advice

George and Jenny Wankmuellor of Harker Heights have taken the organic approach to gardening for the past two years. They attended the class to fine-tune their knowledge.

“All kinds of information is available but it’s better to hear it from experts like these ladies,” George Wankmuellor said.

Nicole Legg of Harker Heights recently adopted the organic way of living and attended the class to learn what she could do to ensure a healthy lifestyle.

Kitchens and Berg announced that a national protest against Monsanto’s production of harmful chemicals will be at 1 p.m. May 25 at Confederate Park in Belton.

For more information about the Gardeners Education Series, call (254) 953-5466.

(1) comment

Dr Strangelove

Please don’t fall for the hype. Organic food is NOT healthier that regular food. If the United States totally went to organic growing we would not be able to feed ourselves. When you go to a store and see the regular vegetables and the more expensive organic vegetables buy the regular cheaper ones they are just as good.

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