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Master Gardener: Gardening help during COVID times

Todd Hagenbuch
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Spring has sprung, and with it has come our need to be outside. This year, however, that need is being felt even more strongly given our being stuck inside with the COVID-19 pandemic. While campgrounds, parks and other public areas may still be off-limits, there is one place it is OK to be out and about: your own yard. 

Fresh air, physical activity and having a sense of accomplishment after gardening are just a few of the reasons many people see mental and physical health benefits from gardening. 

For over 20 years, the Routt County Colorado Master Gardeners have worked to help you learn how to garden in our high-mountain valley.

As gardening and growing our own food has become one of the most popular pastimes of the COVID-19 era, how do our Colorado Master Gardeners continue to educate our gardening public given social distancing guidelines?

First, we moved our largest educational program of the year from an in-person format to online. The Evenings with the Master Gardeners series, hosted in conjunction with the Bud Werner Memorial Library, wrapped up last Tuesday after a four-week run.

Covering a wide swath of topics, including vegetable gardening, how to choose and divide perennials and season extension, the series engaged participants from all over Northwest Colorado and the state. The classes are memorialized on our website, routt.extension.colostate.edu. Click on the Gardening and Horticulture tab to find your way to the recorded programs, video contributions from our Master Gardeners, and a list of the many resources they used to teach the classes. 

Secondly, the Routt County Master Gardeners are taking your gardening questions via email and telephone all week since they can’t staff the Help Desk they normally operate on Thursdays throughout the growing season.

Do you have a plant question? An insect that needs identified? Trying to figure out what vegetables to grow in your new victory garden? Send an email to csumgprogram@co.routt.co.us and ask the Master Gardeners for assistance.

If you need to visit via telephone, call the Colorado State University Extension Office at 970-879-0825 and ask to leave a message for the Master Gardener on duty. Be patient for a reply as they will be getting back to you as soon as they can, but they would love to help answer your pressing gardening questions. 

While our volunteers can’t do site visits for a while and hope to staff the office again soon, know that they are still eager to share their knowledge and love of gardening with you. They look forward to hearing your gardening trials, tribulations, and successes, too.

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


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