As we start a new year wearing shorts and a T-shirt, mind you we here at Extension are looking forward to another exciting year. After a well-deserved holiday break, we have all returned with fresh ideas for educational programs, youth activities and new community partnerships.
Before I elaborate further, in the spirit of coffee conversation, I have to at least mention this crazy weather. This week, the temperatures in northern Florida are expected to be colder than those in southern Colorado. Todays forecast is for a high in the low 50s and a low hovering around 20 degrees.
Thats for Durango and for Jacksonville, Fla. While this may be devastating news for agriculture and home landscapes throughout the Sunshine State, it makes one wonder what is happening here at home. As I walk the neighborhood, I have seen garlic shooting up its first dark green leaves, confused grape vines breaking buds, and even a couple of crocuses on warm southern slopes waking up about three months too early. For the last couple of weeks, the highs have hovered about 10 to 15 degrees above normal, and with little or no snow on the ground, its easy to understand the confusion. I realize it is hard to complain about wearing those above-mentioned shorts and T-shirts on New Years Day, but this weather plays havoc on some of our plants.
The vast majority of our plants go into dormancy in early winter and plan on staying there until spring. However, the shallow-planted plants, like bulbs, feel the heat just like you and I and get stoked about spring. You can help mitigate the surprising temperature effects by mulching the base of tender plants and garlic beds. This will moderate the soil temperatures and help keep them cooler.
Then do a little dance for the snow gods because just like the county Extension agent, plants like a nice thick layer of powder.
Hopefully, Extension will be just as exciting as I begin the educational season with workshops, symposiums and program series scattered throughout the next three months. In January, we will begin our Colorado Master Gardener program as well as the third year of our Colorado Building Farmer program. This eight-week program is aimed at beginning farmers and ranchers looking to develop business and marketing plans. This course has shown to be invaluable to those unsure about the economics behind agriculture. Some students have used the class to springboard their operation to the next level while others have used it as a reality check (and have come to the realization that they may not be quite ready for digging in the dirt).
You may also expect a local food workshop and keynote speaker sponsored by The Growing Partners of Southwest Colorado on Feb. 24 and 25; the 29th annual Beef Cow Symposium to be held at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds on Feb. 15; and the always informative Integrated Land Management workshop here in Durango on April 3. Lastly, keep an eye open for even more additions to the demonstration garden at the Durango Public Library and lots of educational opportunities through the Durango Botanical Society.
Now, do the snow dance!
email@example.com or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.