CCOG for BI 163 Summer 2024

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

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. Recommended: Introductory high school biology course or equivalent experience. Audit available. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores.

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

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Communicate effectively about organic gardening.

  2. Independently and collaboratively utilize techniques and practices of organic gardening.

  3. Demonstrate an understanding of chemical, biological and ecological processes related to organic gardening.

  4. Collect and analyze data that apply to environmental or physical requirements for successful plant growth. 

Quantitative Reasoning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to analyze questions or problems that impact the community and/or environment using quantitative information.

General education philosophy statement

Organic Gardening BI 163 engages students directly in the study and current practices used in the growth of plants. Students will gain the ability to qualitatively and quantitatively identify and express the basic concepts of organic gardening. Consideration of community and environmental impacts are integral to this course and will be included in analysis of readings and in communication practice.

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

Response journals

Laboratory quizzes 

Practical exams

Small projects and assignments

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Concepts and Themes: 

Soil composition and parameters such as NPK and pH

Composting and compost tea production

Climate, heat units and microclimates

Basic plant anatomy and physiology

Culture of cool and warm season plants, annuals, biennials, and perennials.


Access relevant and valid information from the scientific literature.

Apply knowledge obtained from reading scientific literature. 

Apply the scientific method

Utilize techniques and equipment used in organic gardening

Apply knowledge of plant physiology and soil chemistry to environmental issues

Describe current  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 common insect pests and beneficial organisms in the garden 

Access accurate technical information regarding current organic gardening practices

Solve problems in the context of organic gardening, independently and in collaboration with peers

Communicate using effective modes of presentation that are appropriate for peers and general readers or audiences

Explain and demonstrate common plant propagation techniques