Learn to grow with the Colorado Master Gardener Program

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By Robin Young
SUN Columnist

Gardening is a popular hobby and leisure activity that provides outdoor physical activity, contact with nature and sharing with others. For many gardeners, digging in the soil, pulling weeds and harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables is comforting to the soul and make the taste buds happy. Nurturing the plants can help you unwind and turn a stressful day into one that can be quite rewarding. Spending quality time in the garden allows the gardener a chance to slow down, be creative and enjoy simple pleasures.

If you have a love of gardening and would enjoy sharing your passion with others, perhaps you should begin thinking about becoming a Colorado Master Gardener. Those that have transplanted to the San Juan Mountains from the Front Range or other states might find gardening at 7,000 feet a challenge. It tests our gardening skills and sometimes tests our patience. Do not despair; the Master Gardener Program will help you gain the knowledge, skills and ideas necessary to turn your yard into a fantastic home garden. 

To become a Master Gardener, your only prerequisite is to have a passion for gardening. The term “Master Gardener” does not mean that you have expertise in all subject matters related to gardening. The hands-on expertise comes from the 50-plus-hour apprenticeship. The apprentice program furthers your knowledge with on-going continuing education opportunities, information provided by Colorado State University (CSU) Extension and from the knowledge shared by other Master Gardeners. If you are interested in learning without the volunteer commitment, you can complete the program with a Colorado Gardener Certificate. 

The Colorado Master Gardener program is specifically designed to use the services of trained volunteers who have horticultural knowledge gained through the program and a willingness to share that knowledge with other county residents. Many newcomers and inexperienced gardeners in Colorado are in great need of gardening advice. The Master Gardener training will give you the skills needed to diagnose and solve gardening problems and give you the confidence to share your expertise with others. 

Master Gardeners provide the following types of services to Archuleta County:

• Answer gardening questions that come into the Extension Office.

• Design programs related to gardening.

• Participate at the Archuleta County Fair and plant clinics.

• Demonstrate new gardening techniques.

• Help educate children about gardening.

• Participate in many other exciting community gardening projects. 

There are plenty of opportunities to develop public speaking skills, interact with the public and develop areas of expertise. All of these activities are very rewarding and the feeling of accomplishment Master Gardener volunteers receive through the service they are providing is very gratifying.

The Master Gardener program and training is conducted by CSU Extension via distance technology and face to face. The Master Gardener training courses are taught by CSU Extension professionals and local experts. The program covers the challenges specific to gardening in southwestern Colorado. A sample of topics covered includes:

• Soils, fertilizers and soil amendments.

• How plants grow.

• Mountain gardening.

• Vegetables.

• The science of planting trees.

• Lawn care.

• Weed management.

If you would like to learn more about successful gardening in Archuleta, be sure to call the CSU Extension office in Archuleta County today at (970) 264-5931. To register for the 2022 Colorado Master Gardener Program, which tentatively begins mid-January, please go to www.cmg.extension.colostate.edu. Applications will be accepted until Dec. 15.

The Master Gardener program is innovative and flexible in its outreach and works to match volunteer skills and schedules. Each year, Colorado Master Gardeners all over the state help people make the right choices for their garden care. Anyone who would like to play an active role in the education of gardeners of all ages is invited to join our Colorado Master Gardener team. Apply today.

Visit online

Visit us on the Web at https://archuleta.extension.colostate.edu/ or like us on Facebook and get more information: https://www.facebook.com/CSUARCHCTY.

CPR and first aid classes

CPR and first aid certification classes are offered monthly by the CSU Extension office, generally on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. The cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for CPR, first aid or recertification. Call the Extension office at 246-5931 to register.