This year, grow your own tomatoes—organically

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Remember last tomato season, when you resolved that next year, you’d grow your own? If 2012 is your personal Year of the Garden, now is the time to start planning.

Duane Marcus, owner of the Funny Farm in Stone Mountain, can help you keep that promise to yourself. His annual organic gardening class covers all the essentials of growing nutritious food without man-made chemicals.

It’s not as easy as you might think. “Most of the people we’ve worked with have literally no experience,” says Marcus (right), who is also the manager of the Decatur Farmers Market. “They really do think you can just stick things in the ground and have success.”

But the key to organic gardening, he says, is to build soil that has not only all the nutrients that plants need to thrive, but also all the nutrients that humans need to thrive. If nutrients aren’t in the soil, they won’t be in the plants that are raised there, either.

The first three-hour session in the five-week program, held every other Sunday beginning Feb. 5, covers soil nutrition in detail, as well as composting and nutrient cycling. Subsequent sessions cover garden planning, seed starting, pest control and permaculture—strategies for creating self-sustaining cycles in your garden. Each session includes classroom time and hands-on time in the garden.

“They’re going to walk away with a basic knowledge of the basic interaction between plants and the soil,” Marcus says. “They’ll learn the skills and have the confidence to start plants from seeds. They’ll understand the sequence of the seasons so they can grow plants all year round. And they’ll grow plants that are the most productive and highly nutritious.”

The entire workshop is $300 per person, and enrollment is limited to 10 people. For more information, contact Marcus at duanemarcus@mac.com. Sign up for the workshop here.

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