Itching to get your hands in the (snow-covered) dirt? Take an online gardening course!
Want to learn new gardening skills from your couch? We talked to Denver-based Master Gardener and author Jodi Torpey of WesternGardeners.com about her online class Vegetable Gardening: Innovative Small Space Solutions. Seven lessons cover container planting, sun- and shade-loving options, indoor gardening and more. Plus, you’ll get planting charts, garden theme ideas and a virtual classroom where you can chat with Jodi and other students.
What does your online course offer that a gardening book doesn’t?
A book is will show you the steps, but you can’t capture the entire process of someone explaining what they’re doing and why while you’re watching them. That’s what’s good about an online class – you can take it at your own pace, and can watch it over and over. You can also post your projects on the site and interact with other gardeners, or send me a question and I’ll answer it.
Where are your gardening students from?
All over the world! I’ve gotten questions and comments from the U.S., Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Saudi Arabia. People are growing in small spaces everywhere – balconies or tiny patios or little sections of rooftop that aren’t considered conventional gardening space – and they’re looking for ideas. That’s the key part of my class – I’ve crammed so many ideas for making the most of every single inch of gardening space to grow vegetables.
Do you need a certain level of expertise to take the class?
No! Just about every gardener I know is always looking for one more idea that will make gardening easier or save money or achieve better results, so the classes appeal to gardeners of all skill levels. I also get many people that move to different areas and don’t know how to garden there.
What are some space-saving strategies that you share with your students?
I’ve been gardening in a small space for many, many years. I started with a postage-stamp sized condo patio that didn’t get much sun. I had to be creative: I hung baskets on the fence, where I grew peppers, tomatoes and herbs. When I moved to a place with more room to garden, I still liked to garden in containers, because it’s so much easier to plant, maintain and control the environment.
Is there anything you can’t grow in a small space?
Root vegetables. Vertical gardening works best with any vining vegetables. Last summer, I did an experiment growing cucumbers on vines along my fence on trellises and that worked great.
Courtesy of Jodi Torpey, WesternGardeners.com