Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
BI 163
Course Title:
Organic Gardening
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduces the structure and function of soils including the soil food web, composting and compost tea, and the basics of biogeochemical cycling. Explores basic plant anatomy and the growing of flowers, vegetables and fruits in the Pacific Northwest. Includes discussion of organic pest control, beneficial insects, and pruning and grafting and exploration of these concepts in laboratory. An interest in plants and a basic high school biology course are recommended. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

1. Fieldwork Statement

Fieldwork is a professional competence in many areas of Biology. Standard field practices include measurements of abiotic and biotic components. Fieldwork includes use of all the senses to make observations in natural and built environments. Field training may include developing skills in site characterization, measurement and data collection, application of key terms and concepts, species identification, and observation. Certain protocols may require use of equipment, chemicals, and expensive gear. Field training is experiential often leading to unique sets of observations/data in particular locations. Fieldwork may include inherent risks (uneven terrain, off-trail work with map & compass, variable weather, insects, environmental irritants, travel, stress, etc.). Fieldwork can be physically challenging and may require overland travel on foot or unusual means to field points, carrying field equipment (as well as food, water, and safety equipment), taking measurements under duress (learning new protocols, requiring remaining in an unusual posture or position for a length of time, timing pressures for certain procedures, holding organisms, variable weather, etc.), survival skills, orienteering, and so on.

2. Evolution Statement

To clarify the teaching of evolution and its place in the classroom, the Portland Community College Biology Departments stand by the following statements about what is science and how the theory of evolution is the major organizing theory in the discipline of the biological sciences.

  1. Science is a fundamentally non-dogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. In science, a theory is neither a guess, dogma, nor myth. The theories developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance, but can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation.
  2. The theory of evolution meets the criteria of a scientific theory. In contrast, creation "science" is neither self-examining nor investigatory. Creation "science" is not considered a legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy. This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F. 2d 1004).

Biology instructors of Portland Community College will teach the theory of evolution not as absolute truth but as the most widely accepted scientific theory on the diversity of life. We, the Biology Subject Area Curriculum Committee at Portland Community College, therefore stand with such organizations as the National Association of Biology Teachers in opposing the inclusion of pseudo-sciences in our science curricula.

Intended Outcomes for the course

A student will be able to collaboratively and independently:
Communicate effectively the basic concepts and techniques used in organic gardening
Identify and express the basic concepts in organic gardening
Utilize current practices in organic gardening
Demonstrate an understanding of ecosystem functioning as it relates to gardening

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment Tasks may include any or all of the following:

Essay and multiple choice exams

Research paper on an organic gardening topic

Field trip

Response journals

Laboratory quizzes and practicals

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


Concepts and Themes:

Soil composition and parameters such as NPK and pH

Compost and compost tea production and techniques

Climate, heat units and microclimates

Basic plant anatomy and physiology

Knowledge of cool and warm season plants, annuals, biennials and perennials and the appropriate culture for each category.

Process Skills (Competency skills):

Read and process scientific literature

Write using the scientific format

Apply the scientific method

Utilize techniques and equipment used in organic gardening

Apply knowledge of plant anatomy to pruning €“ differentiate between thinning and heading back

Perform basic grafts €“ including cleft, whip, bark or T-bud

Develop skill in plant propagation €“ division, cuttings and ground and air layering

Understand biotechnology issues as they relate to organic farming

Apply organic controls to common pest diseases €“ differentiate between fungal and bacterial disease, as well as identify cultural practices that prevent disease

Identify some basic insect pests and also some beneficial organisms in the garden

Locate and access appropriate information

Think critically

Collaborate with peers -- Work effectively in groups

Present conclusions logically