Fresh spring salads are on my plate for dinner.
This spring, I am harvesting mini-kales, mini-mustards, spinach and green-leaf and red-leaf lettuces. These tasty greens from my garden get me excited for the summer and fall. I was quick to cover my plants during the last two frosts, and I hope we are in the clear for the remainder of our outdoor growing season.
As happy as I am about our home garden, I am even more excited about what has been going on at the 4-H Giving Back Garden at the Old Fort Lewis incubator plots in Hesperus. In mid-May, members of the Mountain Shadows 4-H Club got dirty and planted lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, potatoes and a whole bunch of red, white and yellow onions. Big thanks to volunteer leaders Julia Anderson, Penny Crawford and Becca Whitehead for organizing their members.
Recently, we had great fun planting more 1,000 pumpkin, gourd and squash seeds. The pumpkin varieties we planted were: rouge vif d’Etampes, big moose and hooligan. We wanted a variety of pie, baking and ornamental pumpkins to show off during the harvest season. I already have a few jack-o’-lantern ideas in mind.
The seed planting also was a part of the “D2D” in-state exchange program. This program was a collaboration of the Denver and La Plata County (Durango) 4-H youth development programs. We matched nine 10- to 13-year-olds from both counties to give participants a unique experience. Inner-city Denver kids worked in the garden, visited Mesa Verde National Park and Semler’s Farm in Bayfield and camped out along the Pine River.
Our rural kids had great fun in Denver. We enjoyed rides at Lakeside Amusement Park, took the light-rail train and went on a scavenger hunt using GPS units to sites such as Union Station, 16th Street Mall and the Capitol. We also did community service at Children’s Hospital of Denver.
However, the most important part of the exchange was allowing kids from a diversity of backgrounds to work together on team-building projects.
These youths established great bonds through journaling and video-making and life-skills activities. This was our first “D2D” exchange, and we are looking forward to many more to come.
Back at the garden project, two youth groups are planting carrots, beets and green beans, and, already, it’s time for the fun task of weeding. I hope early and consistent weeding will bring less stress come harvest time.
Finally, 4-H volunteer leader Scott Perez and Americorps Vista’s Krysta Best have been a great help organizing this project.
Scott and I are experimenting with growing some white Sonoran wheat in our plot. It is a heritage grain and can be milled to produce flour for tortillas and breads. Scott also is growing a research plot of the three sisters guild of corn, beans and pumpkins.
Until next time, happy growing out there.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6463. Greg Felsen is La Plata County 4-H youth development agent.