Indy DIY: Backyard Gardening Classes

Discover your roots with these urban farming sessions.

Editor’s Note: From raising chickens and goats to knitting a masterpiece to pickling and preserving, we present your ultimate guide to mastering the homespun, do-it-yourself life in Indy. So slip on your gardening gloves, and let’s get dirty. (See all Indy DIY stories here.)


Throw Something Into the Pot

For the yard-challenged, Fall Creek Gardens’ CONTAINER GARDENING CLASS makes growing zucchinis in a tiny plot or strawberries on a patio easier to manage. The session covers potting in a variety of vessels—including gutters and wheelbarrows—along with soil, water, and drainage requirements. (Vertical gardening, an au courant method for growing plants up walls or fences, also gets some love.) Then students move outdoors to plant carrots, radishes, and the like in a take-home container of their own. Free. June 7. 3045 N. Central Ave., 317-759-3045,

Give Dishes More Flavor

While getting basil and mint to thrive may not be the most difficult trick in the toolshed, Master Gardener Julie Iverson’s three-hour GROWING AND USING CULINARY HERBS takes the art a few steps further. Pointers on obvious topics—fertilizing, pruning, where to plant certain herbs (bronze fennel, for instance, needs to be in the ground because it can reach seven feet tall)—are followed by hands-on cooking and instruction on when to use thyme, oregano, lavender, and other seasonings in dishes like corn muffins and chive-blossom vinaigrette. You even get to keep the recipe cards. $10 for materials. June 28. (An advanced course for $25 will also be taught Aug. 9). 3005 N. Central Ave., 317-759-3045,

Turn Your Green Thumb to Gold

Most counties offer a version of Purdue’s MASTER GARDENER PROGRAM; Bill Rice, a 25-year extension educator, coordinates Hamilton County’s, and he and his experts lead hands-on lessons in subjects like produce gardening, pest control, soil prep, and timing (plant leaf lettuce this month, for instance; it likes cool weather). You also get a textbook and a flash drive with Purdue’s gardening publications, including how-tos on growing onions and green beans. To be certified as a Master Gardener post-exam, students perform 35 hours of community service. $175.
Aug. 14–Nov. 20. 317-776-0854,
Find Your Inner Farmer

You may have to wait until next year to sign up, but wannabe agri-masters will find the Growing Places Indy SUMMER APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM worth the advance planning. The intensive (approximately 25 hours a week, for 10 weeks) agenda means plenty of knees-in-the-mud time at downtown urban gardens, learning to grow, pluck up, and clean produce like kale, eggplant, and peppers. Executive director Laura Henderson also plans “holistic” activities like yoga classes, trips to culinary schools and farms, and chats with food experts, from a Butler urban-ecology professor to restaurateur Martha Hoover. Free. Applications due annually on April 1. 727 N. Oriental St.,

This article appeared in the April 2014 issue.