Here’s a chance to do a little dirty work |

Here’s a chance to do a little dirty work

Susan Cunningham

Gardening has been a part of Barbara Sanders’ life from the time she was a little girl. Her parents gardened, and she learned to love planting seedlings, tending to them and watching them grow.

“I’ve always had my hands in the dirt,” Sanders said. “I absolutely adore it.”

The house in Steamboat Springs that Sanders and her husband own is surrounded by aspen forests and native plants. Sanders keeps the area natural, tending to the trees, collecting and planting seeds of native plants and growing vegetables all summer.

Many of the gardening techniques she uses now are ones she picked up during the master gardener program in 2000.

The program is offered every few years and is coming to Steamboat Springs again in February.

The program, which is sponsored by the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension program, aims to train beginning and longtime gardeners in various aspects of horticulture.

The topics covered include soils, fertilizers, insects, lawn care, woody plants and plant diseases, said Routt County Extension Agent C.J. Mucklow.

Upon completion of the program, which requires more than 50 hours of training, participants become master gardeners and have the responsibility of donating 50 hours back to the community to assist others in horticultural areas.

Sanders called the program “fabulous” and encouraged all interested gardeners to consider signing up for it.

“It reinforced things I already knew; it dispelled some myths I had,” Sanders said.

One technique she learned not to use was putting stones in the bottom of a flower pot to help water drain through the soil. That method, she said, ends up creating a barrier so water will not drain. The correct thing to do is to use a blend of soils.

“That was such a valuable thing because I do a lot of potted plants,” she said.

For her own public service, Sanders has fielded calls at the extension office about gardening and has served as part of a group that finds and digs up weeds such as tamarisk.

Past master gardener projects have included beautification at senior centers, gardening in the classroom and plant health diagnostics.

The master gardener program starts Feb. 5 and holds class every Thursday until April 8. Classes last an entire day and will be held in Bogue Hall at the Colorado Mountain College campus in Steamboat Springs.

The cost to participate is $100, and space is limited. To get an application, call the Routt County Extension Office at 879-0825. The deadline to apply is Jan. 15.

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail

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