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Master Gardener: Gardening for novices

Vicky Barney
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Basil plants sprouting.
Vicky Barney

If you’ve never taken an interest in gardening, now is a great time to try your hand.  Chances are, given our stay-at-home situation, you have the time to learn the basics and see results.  And you will benefit from the experience, if only to share your adventure with others and make plans to try again.

Learning the basics has never been easier using Google, YouTube and Zoom.  Routt County Master Gardeners are using the Zoom platform to present Virtual Evenings with Master Gardeners. 

Last Tuesday’s program covered an overview of our climate, dealing with the challenges of gardening in Routt County, and seed selection.  If you missed it, the recorded sessions are available at routt.extension.colostate.edu/gardening-and-horticulture/the-4-week-lineup-virtual-evenings-with-the-master-gardeners.

The program that aired Tuesday covered three more topics: salad bowls, perennials and dividing and season extension. While the novice gardener may have little interest in dividing perennials or season extension, they may want to watch the segment on salad bowls. The process of growing greens is not hard. 

Ideally you will need fresh seeds, seed starting mix, and a sunny window, but if you don’t all these things, try using what you have on hand: seeds purchased in prior years or procured from a neighbor, potting soil or dirt sifted from your yard and some light. Experiment. You might want to take notes to keep track of dates and details.

Once your seeds are sprinkled and covered, you’ll need to keep your soil moist and warm to allow the seeds to germinate. In no time, tiny shoots will appear and grow into an edible feast. At least that is the way it should work.

I’ll admit I’ve had my share of garden failures, especially with vegetables.  As I wait for the outdoor gardening season to begin, though I’m willing to try again and will plant a salad bowl after Tuesday’s program.

If you go

What: Virtual Evenings with Master Gardeners
When: 6 p.m. April 28 and May 5.
Info: Each evening will be hosted by Routt County Master Gardeners using the Zoom platform.  The public is invited to join, with Q & A following each topic. Kid friendly ideas will also be included.
Details: steamboatlibrary.org/events/virtual-evenings-master-gardeners-week-1/2020-04-14

I’ve already started some herbs using old seeds and leftover seed starting mix and (miraculously) I’m seeing a few green shoots pushing out of the soil.  Casually monitoring moisture and heat has been easy; being patient is harder. It may be a while before my herbs are ready for the cookpot but they promise to be delicious.

Growing fresh herbs and greens can be quite an adventure during these strange times.  Gardening novices, I hope you join me in starting your own small projects. All it takes is a bit of effort and a bit of luck. 

For more about indoor herb gardens, see Colorado State University Extension Planttalk 1056: https://planttalk.colostate.edu/topics/annuals-perennials/1056-indoor-herb-garden.

For detailed information about starting seeds indoors, see CSU Extension Fact Sheet No. 7.409: https://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/garden/07409.pdf.

Vicky Barney gardens for wildlife and is a member of the Master Gardener Class of 2011. 


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