Learn to Garden!

Romaine Calm and Garden On 

Do you want to learn more about gardening but have a limited budget? This course is for you. 

Are you new to gardening and not sure where to begin? This course is for you. 

Are you an experienced gardener looking for evidence-based information including disease and pest management? This course is for you. 

Romaine Calm and Garden On is a 12-session gardening series, designed to give beginning gardeners on a budget the skills they need to successfully grow fresh vegetables. Experienced gardeners will also gain new perspectives to add to their toolkit of knowledge. 

Participants will learn how to: 

  • Choose appropriate garden crops and cultivated varieties
  • Plan a garden
  • Improve soil health including composting and fertilizing
  • Planting techniques
  • Insect, disease, weed, and wildlife management techniques 
  • Find and use university research-based resources

It is recommended to register and attend all sessions, as the program builds on itself over time, but participants are also welcome to attend sessions as they are able.  Classes are free but registration is required. Classes will be held online via Zoom. Romaine Calm and Garden On is offered through collaboration with Marathon County Public Library. Classes will be held the first and third Wednesday of every month, March 2 – Sept. 21. Each session will be offered at 10 a.m. and again at 6 p.m.

Questions? Email Janell Wehr at janell.wehr@wisc.edu


March 2

Session 1: Choosing the right site and varieties

In this interactive web class, participants will learn the required site considerations for gardens, as well as steps needed to create a planting plan. We will cover which crops and cultivars are best suited for Wisconsin gardens, choosing crops that are cost effective, and how to determine the best time to plant. We’ll also discover 4 techniques for building planting beds.

Watch the recorded program

Handouts for the Session 1:


March 16

Session 2: Map it out! Making planting maps

In this interactive web class, participants will learn how crop rotation can reduce diseases and pests while improving soil health. They will also learn how to apply their garden plan to their garden map, keeping mind spacing, heights, and successive, sequential, and crop rotation techniques. 

Watch the recorded program

Handouts for the Session 2:


April 6

Session 3: From the ground up! Soil, compost, and fertilizer

In this interactive web-based class, we’ll learn the basics of soil texture and how pH affects nutrient availability in the soil. We’ll cover the benefits of adding compost to sandy and clay soils, and how to get started with composting this spring. We’ll also learn about fertilizers and how primary nutrients (NPK) affect plant growth. Recorded program coming soon!

Recorded program coming soon!

Handouts for the Session 3:


April 20

Session 4: Dig in! Planting the garden

In this interactive web-based class, we’ll take the mystery out of deciding which seeds to start indoors, when to plant seeds indoors, and techniques to sowing seeds outdoors. We’ll also cover key factors you need to consider when adding transplants to your garden.

Recorded program coming soon!

Handouts for the Session 4:


May 4

Session 5: Small garden, big harvest!

This session’s topic is gardening in small spaces. We’ll cover choosing the most appropriate varieties, containers, and growing media, as well as proper watering and fertilizing. We’ll also learn specific techniques for intensive planting, container, square foot, straw bale, and vertical gardening. 

Recorded program coming soon!

Handouts for the Session 5:


May 18

Session 6: Intro to pest management

In this session, we will cover the concepts and components of integrated pest management. Participants will learn a variety of pest management methods and when to use chemical management techniques. Participants will compare synthetic and organic chemical products, understand signal words on pesticide labels, and learn the importance of reading pesticide labels.

Register here for the 10am class.

Register here for the 6pm class.


June 1

Session 7: Bug off! Insect management

In this session, we apply our pest management skills to insects. Participants will learn why knowing an insect’s life cycle is important to pest management, connect types of insect damage to different insect mouthparts, and distinguish between beneficial and harmful insects. Participants will also learn how to connect to UW-Madison Extension resources for insect identification. 

Register here for the 10am class. 

Register here for the 6pm class. 


June 15

Session 8: Break the cycle! Effective disease management

In this session, we apply our pest management skills to diseases. Participants will learn about the five major causes of plant diseases, the three factors required for disease and how to use this knowledge in disease management. Learn how to differentiate a disease sign and a disease symptom. We’ll make the connection between improper watering techniques and diseases. Participants will also learn how to connect with UW-Madison Extension resources for disease diagnosis. 

Register here for the 10am class. 

Register here for the 6pm class. 


July 20

Session 9: Managing weeds in the garden

In this session, we apply our pest management skills to weeds. Participants will learn characteristics of weeds, and weed management methods. They will then learn how to apply these methods to different types of weeds based on their lifecycle or classification. Participants will learn how to effectively use herbicides when appropriate.

Register here for the 10am class.

Register here for the 6pm class. 


August 3

Session 10: Protecting plants from wildlife and weather

In this session, we learn how to protect our gardens from wildlife and weather. Participants will learn how to apply wildlife management concepts of randomness and diversity, as well as specific management techniques to protect plants from wildlife and extend the growing season.

Register here for the 10am class. 

Register here for the 6pm class. 


September 7

Session 11: Fall primer: Harvest, clean-up, and your wellbeing

In this session, we cover safe harvest and storage of garden vegetables and how to prepare their garden beds for winter. We’ll also learn how gardening can improve our health.

Register here for the 10am class. 

Register here for the 6pm class. 


September 21

Session 12: Your UW-Madison Resources

In this session, we discover UW-Madison resources available to support your gardening success. We will also have an opportunity to answer questions on gardening topics covered in this series.

Register here for the 10am class. 

Register here for the 6pm class. 

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