By the time this article hits the Thursday edition, the first fall frost probably hit the Durango area. It is close to that typical time when temperatures usually dip below 32 degrees - near the last week of September.
As a gardener, I am never quite prepared for the ominous day, with my tomatoes still green, squash still flowering and peppers just now turning red. But it seems to happen every year, so I need to better appreciate the pounds of food already harvested and just learn to accept the fact that every year, every fall, it will freeze.
Unless I move back to Florida, and that isn't going to happen.
In addition to trying to get all the fruit and veggies packed away in jars, freezers and vacuum-packed bags, the next couple of months will also be busy in our local Extension Office.
We are excited about a new course called "Backyard Food Production," that will address the local interest in growing one's own food. Taught by extension agents and specialists, as well as experts from the La Boca Center for Sustainability, the course will meet two evenings a week for six weeks and will begin Monday. As I write this, we may have reached our maximum number of students (sorry, I am in Portland and the signup is in Durango), but if you are interested, call the Extension Office to check availability.
Next week, we will also be constructing two greenhouses, both of which are designed for our harsh climate and are expected to be kept up year-round. The irony is that one of greenhouses is to be built at the San Juan Basin Research Center in Hesperus, which is scheduled to end its lease with Colorado State University in June. But we are optimistic Fort Lewis College and its renewed interest in agriculture will adopt the greenhouse and use it for student learning and demonstration research. If you are interested in participating in the free workshops, there will be one Tuesday and one Wednesday. The instructor promises you will have the information and confidence to build one of your own when you are done. Contact me if you are interested and I will put you on the list.
We are now taking applications for the 2010 Colorado Master Gardener course, which will start in late January. Our application process is open until Nov. 20 and will most likely fill up. At its root the course is a volunteer program, with the majority of students expected to donate hours of their time every year. Yet the program has grown to much more. Our volunteers are everywhere - organizing events, in school and community gardens, at small farms - and we even have a secret handshake and optional tattoo (but that's just for the recruits).
Just kidding. But the volunteers are a tight group and love to share stories, plants and food. And they do a lot of good in our community.
So check out CSU Extension - we are doing some really cool stuff - and I'm not kidding.
co.us or 382-6464.
Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.