Master Gardener: Junior Master Gardener news
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
The Junior Master Gardening program, under the direction of Routt County Master Gardeners, has taken on a new look this season. The program will be overseeing two gardens. Laura Stout has graciously donated her garden on North Park for students to learn about horticulture and Yampa River Botanic Park will provide the other plot.
Emerald Mountain School students have embraced gardening as part of their curriculum. Last fall, students and parents prepared grounds at the Stout property with sights set on planting in the spring. Teams of students arrived early May to dig out weeds, turn soil and prepare terraced mini plots for seeds. Cold weather crops, such as spinach, lettuce, radishes, kale and potatoes, were then planted the following week, hoping for some germination before school ends for summer. Emerald Mountain primary students planted a fairy/herb garden in a raised bed at the Stout property on Thursday, May 30.
Northwest Colorado Boys & Girls club will oversee the Stout gardens during the summer as well as plant and maintain the Junior Master Gardening plot at the botanic park with fast growing vegetables. Warm weather plants, such as zucchini, cucumbers and pumpkins, will be added to the Stout property as soon as the threat of frost has passed. The Boys & Girls club also hopes to find time for several fun gardening activities including planting fairy gardens, drying flowers and preparing worm composting habitats.
The Emerald Mountain students are hoping that when school starts up again in August, there will be crops to harvest. Their curriculum at that time will cover food preparation and preservation as well as putting the gardens to bed for another season.
Whether it is the spring, summer or fall crew, the young gardeners will learn first hand the challenges of gardening in Routt County. Wildlife mitigation, weed eradication, watering and limited growing season are issues the kids will need to deal with.
Routt County Master Gardeners are excited to see the collaboration between Emerald Mountain School and the Boys & Girls Club. They are also pleased at the number of kids involved in the gardening experience.
In past years, the Junior Master Gardening program had workshops on Saturdays at the botanic park with a limited number of kids participating. The hope is that more kids will get an exposure to gardening with this new approach.
Jo Smith is a member of the 2013 class of Routt County Master Gardeners. She is a retired biology teacher and enjoys the kid and gardening connections in the Junior Master Gardening program.
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