March 11, 2012 by csukach
By Chris Sukach
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—More than 50 people attended gardening classes hosted by the Bear Creek Garden Association at the Cheyenne Mountain Library here, Mar. 3 and 10.
Class topics ranged from organic weed and pest control to soil improvements and starting plants from seed.
“Friendly bacteria is the life of the soil,” said Mike Estes, class presenter and owner of Rick’s Garden Center in Old Colorado City, Colo. “That bacteria is the digestive system of the soil. That digestive system is what helps to break down the fertilizer and nutrients you put in the ground,” he explained.
Estes discussed the importance of understanding the pH of soil and amendments that could be added in order to make the soil more hospitable for friendly bacteria.
“I think it’s so important people have a garden and teach their children more about where their food really comes from,” said Linda Scott, garden class attendee.
Scott said she believes in organic gardening and that’s why she chose to attend the classes.
Members of the non-profit Bear Creek Garden Association stressed the importance of organic gardening in the community gardens they oversee and emphasized no pesticides are used even in the area surrounding the gardens. Instead, the Association uses a means of organic weed control in the outlying garden area.
Thanks to an agreement with El Paso County Parks Department, the Bear Creek Garden Association is able to bring goats into the area surrounding the community gardens to eat weeds that would otherwise propagate uncontrollably.
Meg Evans, weed mitigation specialist for the Bear Creek Garden Association, explained goats’ mouths and stomachs are specially adapted to crunching and digesting weeds and the corresponding seed while excreting nutrients beneficial to the surrounding soil.
“The enzymes (in the digestive tracts) break down just about everything that goes into a goat and what you get is a nice little dry pellet of fertilizer,” said Evans.
Evans also said the action of the goats walking around helps till the soil to a small extent.
“I love the fact that Bear Creek Community Gardens is using the goats,” said Scott. “And they help in so many ways other than just weed control—they fertilize, they tamp the soil down,” she said.