The last of Moab Community Garden’s fall season garden workshop series will be held on October 9 with local gardener Gabe Woytek.

Woytek, who serves on the Grand County Commission, has been farming and gardening for most of his adult life and served as the farm director at Moab’s Youth Garden Project for four seasons.

During the workshop, Woytek will talk about the importance of soil building at a conceptual level, he said—he wants to discuss the science of soil building, to give attendees an overview of soil biology.

“I think it’s important to go over some of the basics of the science,” he said. “Then people can apply those concepts to whatever their situation is here in the valley.”

One of his main points, he said, is that soils are a living thing, and should be treated as such.

Moab Community Gardens, nicknamed MoCom Gardens, runs a handful of community gardens to provide plots for local gardeners of every skill level.

MoCom is a project of the Resiliency Hub, a Moab nonprofit with goals that include modeling healthy stewardship. Resiliency Hub received funding from the City of Moab 2021 Grant Program to support the gardens project and to host a series of free, outdoor gardening workshops in 2021.

The soil building workshop will be held at the Center Street Community Garden (349 East Center St, Moab) at 9 a.m. Light snacks will be provided by Moonflower Community Co-op.

As the growing season closes out, gardeners have to focus on how to overwinter their gardens. Soil-building is one of the best ways for a gardener to set themselves up for success in the spring, Woytek said, and build a healthy foundation for their garden.

Woytek will discuss the carbon cycle and decomposition during the workshop. A common mistake beginner gardeners make with their garden is getting rid of entire plants, roots and all, when resetting their plots. But plant roots provide important nutrients for soil health, Woytek said.

“Organic matter is the name of the game in building healthy soil,” he said. “In building soil health, you have to play the long game. It’s really, really valuable to incorporate organic matter to contribute to your garden soil health at the end of the season, before the winter.”

Starting to build soil health now, right at the end of the growing season, will pay off in the spring, Woytek said. The winter allows ample time for organic matter to decompose and incorporate itself into the soil.

“I think it’s a really important time to give some energy and some focus to the garden,” he said.

As gardeners clean up their gardens for the winter, they should leave crop residue in the soil, in addition to root matter, Woytek said. It’s important to “give back what you took out,” he said.

Woytek will also go over the challenges of soil building in Moab, where much of the soil is mixed with sand.

The soil building workshop is free to attend.

Planning for next year’s community gardens, and possible workshops, begins this winter. Becky Mann, the MoCom gardens manager, said that she’d like to host another series of workshops next year, but it depends on the MoCom budget.

Plots for the 2022 growing season will become available in February.

Event Info

What: Soil Building Workshop

When: Saturday, October 9 at 9 a.m.

Where: Center Street Community Garden (349 East Center St., Moab)