By Suzan Ringer
Gardening in Southwest Colorado is always tricky, especially if you are trying to be successful at high elevation. This year made it even more challenging.
To help me start this endeavor in Durango, I signed up for the Colorado State University master gardener classes. I looked forward to the classes and the opportunities to meet other plant-lovers through volunteering.
COVID-19 changed the entire experience. CSU quickly shifted to online classes and offered alternate ways to achieve volunteer hours. The guidelines for protection from COVID-19 were taken very seriously, but this was at the sacrifice of having opportunities to interact with other volunteers and like-minded gardeners.
I was excited to sign up for the Grow and Give project, a victory garden model CSU developed to help new gardeners with questions and to facilitate sharing the bounty with friends and the community. My husband built some raised beds and we began planting.
Although I used the many webinars available through CSU, and other sources, my garden did not turn out as envisioned. But I learned a lot through the process of troubleshooting my garden woes (you learn more from your failures than your successes, so they say).
We were able to grow some produce in small quantities for our table and a small amount to share with a neighbor. I am certain that the biggest benefit for me was the physical exercise of gardening, and the focus on caring for it helped me not think about the effects of COVID-19 as much.
The support CSU offered was very helpful, and I enjoyed the continuing education webinars. I am looking forward, again, to a vegetable garden next spring and hopefully a calmer 2021.
If you are interested in becoming a Colorado master gardener, applications are being accepted for 2021 through Dec. 10. For more information about the program and to fill out an online application, visit www.laplataextension.org.
Suzan Ringer is a Colorado master gardener and La Plata County resident. Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Office’s Master Gardener Program, provides timely tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape.