Home & Garden Expo will offer expert tips and advice Saturday | SteamboatToday.com

Home & Garden Expo will offer expert tips and advice Saturday

Tulips stand tall under the Routt County sun. Rain or shine, the third annual Home & Garden Expo will kickoff the spring season from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

— Green thumbs and budding green thumbs, get ready for planting season.

Despite the dreary remains of winter, it will soon be time to dig into a new year of fresh soil, and Saturday's Home & Garden Expo will help kick off the season.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Steamboat Springs Community Center, more than 20 vendors from the local home and garden industry will showcase the newest products and techniques, along with lawn and garden advice from CSU Master Gardeners.

Rain or shine, there will be something for the whole family, with kids activities that include a bubble machine, lawn games, a seed planting station and an appearance by the Steamboat Springs Fire Department.

Explore Steamboat sought out advice from five local experts who know what does and doesn’t work in Routt County's short, often chilly, growing season.

Susan Allen

CSU Master Gardener for about 10 years

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What are a few tips you would give someone who is just starting a garden?

Don't be afraid to try. Everything you do, you will learn from. If you succeed, you will know more, and if you fail, you can research and figure out what you did wrong.

Don't be impatient. It's not about instant gratification. People want that right off the bat, but gardening teaches you patience and that you're not in control, and you just have to let it be.

Find like-minded people you can draw knowledge from who have the same passion, because maybe they've done something different that you haven't tried yet.

Go bigger than what you think you are able to do, and you will be surprised at the outcome. If you have an idea to build a 2-foot flower bed, I would make a 60-foot flower bed, if there's enough room for it. I've never been sorry for going for something bigger than what I intended.

What do you love about gardening?

Some people meditate or go to their happy place. I used to work eight- to 12-hour days inside and would come home, walk through my front gate through my honeysuckle and arbor trees surrounded by all of the flowers, and it creates this warmth that really calms you. It's a de-stresser for me. Yeah, it's a lot of work, but like many thing in life, it's worth it in the end.

Brad Kindred

CSU Master Gardener, former Master Gardener at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York and volunteer with the Yampa Valley Autism Program's Community Cultivation program

What is something that people may not know about gardening in Routt County?

Routt County has a long tradition of growing food. I think we've forgotten that Strawberry Park was given that name for a reason; it was one of the biggest strawberry production areas in the country. Plants like broccoli, cabbages, lettuces and leafy greens can actually benefit from the cold, because it turns those carbohydrates into sugars inside those plants and makes them sweet and crisper. The same happens with strawberries; they get sweeter in the cold.

What is something new you are going to try during this year's planting season?

I'm growing oyster mushroom for the first time and working with another local gardener. We have put together a mycelium fungus root system. We seeded it in straw and five-gallon buckets, then drilled holes in those and put in the Community Cultivation Greenhouse that has a temperature and humidity that is perfect for growing those. Just three days ago, we had mushroom sprouting out of the bucket.

What is it you love about gardening?

I keep learning something new every year. There's a lot of different experimentation that goes on and trying to figure out what works and planting the right plant in the right place. It takes a lot of trial and error.

Karen Vail

Local botanist with more than 50 years of experience

What is something people may not know about gardening in Routt County?

The most important thing to remember is that Colorado soil is different than if you are coming from New York or Nebraska. You need to know your soil before you start adding things to it, because it can affect the plant. Soil is really, really vital. Another thing is to plant the right plant in the right place. I always encourage people to plant what works here in this region and encourage people to plant for pollinators and to have a good diversity of plants.

What are a few tips you would give someone who is just starting a garden?

The most important thing when starting out in the spring is to not work in soil while it's wet. It will damage and compact, which is not good to work in. Let it dry out before you work and walk on it.

One of the things I've done in my garden this year is add rocks. Rock absorbs and retains heat within the soil. Those will heat up quick in the spring and stay warmer throughout the season. You can add any kind of rock, but I have mostly sandstone in my yard.

What is something new you are going to try during this year's planting season?

I've been trying more container gardening by putting pots throughout my garden beds. It's been kind of fun, because those tend to warm up a lot faster, and you can plant those in cute containers throughout the garden with things like herbs and edible flowers.

Something I want to try this year is vertical gardening. I have a few pallets here that I have been waiting to use, and it's just a neat way to use your space in your yard.

Jo Smith

CSU Master Gardener for four years

What is something people may not know about gardening in Routt County?

I personally haven't been gardening in Steamboat as long as some of the others, but I know that squash, lettuces and spinach grow well here. I also know people have had great luck with raspberries. Root crops are also popular here, like carrots and radishes. Tomatoes are iffy, though, because they need warmth, and it gets pretty cold here, so those take a little more care.

What are a few tips you would give someone who is just starting a garden?

Be patient. The weather will give you some ups and downs.


Enjoy what does grow, and celebrate your successes.

What do you love about gardening?

Every year, you get to try again, and it's a new beginning.

Estella Heitman

CSU Master Gardener for eight years

What is something people may not know about gardening in Routt County?

Pick your plants carefully. I spent 35 years in the Midwest learning how to grow things and then moved here, which is part of the reason why I took the Master Gardener course. Also, I think people underestimate how much protection from wildlife we have to make for our gardens. Successful vegetable gardens are fenced in to keep wildlife out. It's definitely a challenge, but I think those of us who stick to gardening are willing to face some of those challenges.

What are a few tips you would give someone who is just starting a garden?

Got to the Yampa River Botanic Park to see what grows there. See what plants grow together to give you ideas. Everything is labeled there, and people who work in the gardens will answer questions about it.

If you have a problem or have questions about your garden, call a Master Gardener. If we don't know the answer, we will always check with others and research to give you the best answer we can about the plants that thrive here.

You have to work at it; you can't just plant it and leave it. But, when it does grow, enjoy it.

What do you love about gardening?

I like the results and seeing what works. It's a beautiful sight to see, with the flowers and attractive plants. I really enjoy sitting outside and having it looking good.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@ExploreSteamboat.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

If You Go…

What: Home & Garden Expo

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 30

Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave.