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Master organic horticulture with Canadian Organic Growers

Published on January 15, 2013

A community garden plot. Photo: Evergreen.Learn to grow herbs, plants and vegetables organically in your own garden (Photo: Evergreen)

Want to learn how you can bring organic, holisitic gardening practices to your backyard or balcony? Join Professional Organic Horticulturalist Astrid Muschalla, and Canadian Organic Growers at Evergreen Brick Works for the Organic Master Gardener course from February 5 to March 28.

By Astrid Muschalla, PHEc, Professional Organic Horticulturist

Our home gardens are permanent landscapes that require a variety of approaches in horticulture and agriculture—especially for those of us who want to practice sustainable gardening, and in cities like Toronto where many chemicals have been banned from domestic use. Unfortunately, the legislated standards in Canada and many other countries around the world, focus on defining organic practices or products for agriculture, leaving home gardeners with a lack of information and resources. To address this gap, the Society for Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL), has set the standards for organic horticulture practices in Canada, based on the minimum requirements set out by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, and similar associations around the world.

From February 5 to March 28, Canadian Organic Growers will present a comprehensive in-class course based on the SOUL standards, called the Organic Master Gardener, at Evergreen Brick Works. This course is designed to explore the soil food web in relation to organic horticulture best practices, for those wishing to practice sustainable home gardening.

The soil food web (Image:

Organic horticulture recognizes the difference between concepts of landscape health management as opposed to pest management, and emphasizes a holistic decision-making framework for creating and maintaining vibrantly healthy gardens and landscapes. For example, planting techniques such as shaking the pot soil off roots before planting corrects the circling of roots, which helps the plants better establish (including trees). Additionally, bone meal, a popular garden additive, has been found to decrease the ability of mycorrhizal fungi to colonize, making root systems work harder to extract nutrients and water.

For more information and to register for the course, visit the Canadian Organic Growers website.

Astrid teaches courses in the Sustainable Landscape Design and Gardening Expert Programs at Humber College. She also sits on the board of the Society of Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL), is a member of Landscape Ontario and is a Master Gardener.