Master Gardener: 2018 — A big year for the Master Gardeners | SteamboatToday.com

Master Gardener: 2018 — A big year for the Master Gardeners

Todd Hagenbuch/For Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Routt County CSU Master Gardeners always have busy growing seasons, but this was amongst the busiest. As the trees turn, and our many gardens are put to bed, our volunteers reflect on the growing season and the lessons we learned from it and one another. After answering many gardening questions through emails, during office hours and on site visits, we've confirmed the following.

Native plants are better at surviving tough times than introduced species — almost always. Once a native gets established, it can continue to thrive in tough conditions and remain beautiful when other plants are suffering. After all, Mother Nature intended for it to be here.

Grasshoppers are cyclical and even if they are late coming, they are still around our area. Paying attention to localized events one year can be an indication of where they will be even worse next year.

Aspen in landscape situations have issues — always. In wet years, it's marsonina blight. In dry years, it's overall decline and drought stress. We love them as our fast-growing native and hate them when they die, which they always will.

Plants can have issues whatever the weather. Insects come and go, and while they might differ depending on the amount of moisture we get, they're still around. Fungal issues can be an issue on dry years, too, because how you water and when you water make an impact regardless of what the weather is doing.

Lawns are OK without water. Just don't expect it to be green. Managing expectations for your lawn is just as important as managing your lawn. If you're willing to have some patience, cool-season lawns, especially Kentucky Bluegrass, have an amazing ability to go dormant in the hot, dry days of summer and can come back quickly with cooler temps and some water.

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Aside from garden issues, we also learned the following this year.

The gardening public is still hungry for more education. Our Evening with the Master Gardeners at the Bud Werner Memorial Library continues to pack Library Hall with people who want to know about gardening. From soil to weed control, the public loves to grow. And we love to help them do it.

We live in a spectacular place filled with amazing people and unbelievable gardens. We hosted nearly 200 Colorado Master Gardeners at the 2018 State CMG Conference held in Steamboat Springs in July, and they are all impressed. Local gardeners, farms and nonprofits, including the Yampa River Botanic Park, opened their doors to show folks that while we average only 59 consecutive frost-free days here, we can grow amazing things in that time. And we have the most beautiful backdrop to grow against.

The Routt County Master Gardeners are second to none. Through the many activities the group did this year, they kept volunteering for more.  Whether it was grilling hot dogs at Ace Hardware, identifying insects on plants, registering conference attendees or replanting donated plants at new homes, our Colorado Master Cargeners kept their humor, grace and style.  Moreover, they'll do it again next year.

If you think you'd like to become a Colorado Master Gardener volunteer educator, contact the Colorado State University Extension Office at 970-879-0825 and learn about our Colorado Master Gardener class beginning in January. We're changing up our offerings to enable people who work a better opportunity to join us.

As always, thanks to the Steamboat Pilot & Today for continuing to partner with us on this weekly article series. We hope you've enjoyed our articles this year and look forward to seeing you next spring.

Todd Hagenbuch is the director and agriculture agent for the Colorado State University Extension Office.

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