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Trial Run: Gardening Class

Dirt nerd alert: gardening is science. Grow a green thumb with help from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Soils! at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

WHAT: Soils! at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

GUINEA PIG: Stephanie Wilbur Ash

WHY: My first crack at gardening yielded exactly one green bean, which a toddler ate before I could even snap a photo.

OUR TAKE: Dirt nerd alert: gardening is science. Horticulturist Dr. James Calkins from the University of Minnesota ground that into our class of green-ish thumbs. Soil is an “ecosystem,” only one of many possible “growing media,” as well as a solid, a liquid, and a gas. He moved us through such disasters as compaction from machinery, pH balance errors, and phosphorus runoff from improperly applied fertilizer. Then things got dirty—we experimented with “media” and containers to gauge drainage rates. Big takeaways: no matter what you’re digging in, you probably need to add organic matter, and there’s more to gardening than waiting to pluck a bean.

SMALL PRINT: Classes are held Saturday mornings. $40–$50, 3675 Arboretum Dr., Chaska, 952-443-1400, www.arboretum.umn.edu/gardening.aspx

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