What's bugging you? December 23, 2015

By Jim Leser

You're late! You're late for a very important date. I'm referring to the upcoming 2016 Colorado Master Gardener Training Program. This program is an 11-week course starting Jan. 13, held in Grand Junction.

With the passing of the winter solstice, the fewest sunlight hours of the year, you must realize that those delayed fall gardening chores will have to wait until spring. It is awfully hard to rake leaves and pull weeds with snow covering the ground.

But as a dedicated gardener (you are one, aren't you?), an opportunity to grow your knowledge is fast approaching. This master gardener course is one of the best, if not the best, in the state. Each weekly session consists of six hours of hands-on instruction by experts in their fields. Topics range from vegetables, irrigation management, soils, entomology, plant pathology to turf management, growing small fruit and tree fruit to name a few. There are lots of opportunities to ask questions that may pertain to situations or knowledge gaps that pertain to your situation. And the course is very user friendly.

While this program is not inexpensive, its cost is very reasonable. And if you are willing to put in some volunteer time as a master gardener apprentice, course cost can be reduced by up to 70 percent. And if you live in the Cedaredge area, the Plant & Dig Garden Club is offering a partial scholarship for someone in financial need who is willing to give back to the community the knowledge they have gained.

As you know, I come from a career as an extension entomologist in Texas. When I retired to Colorado, I wanted to become more involved in gardening and in the community. I knew very little about growing plants in western Colorado. My only courses in college pertaining to plants were botany, plant physiology and taxonomy of flowering plants. And these courses were taken over three decades ago.

This program will fill in your knowledge gaps, make you a better gardener and hopefully encourage you to give back to the community the knowledge gained. And by the way, your education has only begun after completing this course. You will continue to grow with the help of mentors, joining with a diagnostic team and continuing your education through many workshops and courses offered by Colorado State University Extension.

If you decide not to do volunteer work following the completion of the course, you will still earn a Colorado Gardening Certificate. If you do the community volunteer hours, then at the end of the year you will officially become a Colorado Master Gardener. Hooray!

If you are interested, time is slipping by. Call or email Susan Honea, horticultural coordinator, for more information and an application, susan.honea@mesacounty.us or 244-1841. Class starts in three weeks.

Jim Leser retired to Cedaredge in 2007 after a career with Texas A&M University Extension in entomology. He is a member of the Cedaredge Tree Board and a Colorado Master Garden.