There is a good chance that while you are reading this column, the last of this years harvest is making its way through the dehydration process.
I still have a fair amount of food in the garden carrots, radishes, spinach, chard and lettuce so the season isnt technically over. But that will all be eaten fresh (sometimes I think the kids wished that their dad was a mail carrier, or a fireman, or a candy maker), as only the most dedicated food preservers care to freeze Swiss chard.
My pantry and freezer, at least for a couple of months, looks well-stocked: 60 pints of applesauce; 16 pints of peach sauce; 6 quarts of canned peaches; 3 bushels of frozen green chiles; 10 loaves of zucchini bread (and way, way too much frozen, shredded zukes); quarts of frozen green beans, tomato sauce and salsa; 8 apple pies in the freezer; 20 jars of jams, jellies and marmalades (if my relatives are reading this, Merry Christmas!); and enough dried tomatoes, peaches, watermelon, apples and pears to keep the family happy for the entire ski season.
Phew. ... All this work and there is a supermarket within one block of my house. But who knows, if we have a winter like last years, then there is a chance that I will be snowed-in and unable to get over there for at least six hours.
In addition to stocking the shelves, I am also busy getting ready for the 2011 Colorado Master Gardener course. The Master Gardener program is statewide with more than 1,000 volunteers. Locally, we have about 75 active volunteers who work toward making horticulture, gardening and local food projects more visible in our community.
Many of the community, school and display gardens are assisted by Master Gardeners, as are many of the local events that Colorado State University Extension coordinates Local Food Connection, Iron Horse Chef, Tour de Farms, Small Acreage Management symposiums and the ever-popular Apple Fest.
To be honest, there is no way I could take on as much as I do if it werent for the Master Gardeners. Their energy and ideas make the program what it is, and guarantee its future success.
Master Gardeners are expected to complete 50 hours of volunteer time before the end of the year, with the only stipulation that the time spent is horticultural and educational in nature. If you want to join and continue with the program, 24 volunteer hours and 12 hours of continuing education are required every year.
Beginning Jan. 27, the class will meet every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. That is a long day of learning, so a mixture of presentations, group and class discussions, hands-on activities and labs are provided. You will be learning from local experts as well as CSU experts from across the state.
The cost of the 10-week course is $190, but the knowledge, resources and friendships you acquire make this one of the best deals of the year.
The deadline is Dec. 3. If you want more information, give me a call or check out our website at www.laplataextension.org.
firstname.lastname@example.org. co.us or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.