Deb Babcock: New Master Gardener class starts Jan. 31 |

Deb Babcock: New Master Gardener class starts Jan. 31

Deb Babcock

Want to learn about gardening in the high country? Or brush up on your knowledge of plants that grow at our altitude? Sign up for the 2013 Master Gardener class that starts Jan. 31 and runs through April 11.

You'll receive 78 hours of classes covering topics such as soils, fertilizers, insects, mountain weed management, irrigation, pruning, mountain perennials, lawn care, woody plants and plant diseases. The program is being brought to Steamboat Springs through Breeze technology — an Internet connection projected on a large screen that links six mountain communities with the horticultural professors and agents who will be teaching the classes from Colorado State University. We also will have some local experts come into the classroom to teach. Local participants will meet in the Trout Creek Conference Room in the Routt County Courthouse annex at Oak and Sixth streets from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays. Staff from the CSU Extension Office and local Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions and direct participants' questions to the instructors via the Breeze technology equipment.

The cost to participate in the program is $325 to cover costs for a fact sheet notebook, class handouts and other costs to provide the program. After completion of the course, participants are required to continue the learning experience by volunteering a minimum of 50 hours of service in Routt County's Master Gardener program. After the training year, you must volunteer 24 hours annually and get 12 hours of continuing education in order to maintain your Master Gardener status.

Past Master Gardener projects have included beautification at senior centers, planting a demonstration garden at the Community Garden project on Oak Street, teaching gardening in the classroom at local elementary and middle schools, helping local gardeners with plant identification and plant disease diagnostics and working with groups to create enabling gardens. Some Master Gardeners research and write articles for the local newspaper while others help out at the Yampa River Botanic Park, Doak Walker Care Center, local cemeteries and other sites.

If you do not wish to complete the volunteer service, you still can take the classes and receive a Colorado Gardener Certificate. The cost for the program and materials is $575 with no further requirement for volunteer service.

Colorado Master Gardeners work in partnership with the Green Industries of Colorado, which include such associations as the American Society of Landscape Architects, Colorado Nursery Association, Garden Centers of Colorado, Rocky Mountain Regional Turfgrass Association and Wholesale Florists of Colorado, among others. Our charge is to provide research-based information that is noncommercial and geared to the home garden audience.

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If you're interested in home gardening, consider joining the Master Gardeners in this current round of classes. To obtain an application, contact the Routt County Extension Office at 970-879-0825, 136 Sixth St., Courthouse annex or go online for an application at

Deb Babcock is a Master Gardener through the CSU Extension Routt County. Call 970-879-0825 with questions.