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Plant & Dig Garden Club learn composting

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The May meeting of the Plant & Dig Garden Club was held at the home of this writer. So for this segment only I will be writing in first-person.

I had the privilege of presenting a program entitled, "Composting and Plant Propagation."

As every gardener knows, a good garden starts with good soil. I took samples from my three compost piles to show the members how nature decomposes the materials over time, making compost out of leaves (brown), grass clippings and home waste materials such as potato peels, coffee grounds, tea bags and lettuce leaves, etc. (green), water and air. Not being content with just seeing the small samples, the members wanted to trek down to the lower part of the garden and see the three areas "in person." So through the pulled-out grass and weeds cluttering the walkways, and careful not to trip over the hoses, we took a little "field trip." It is actually pretty amazing to see what happens to all these individual materials over a period of about 18 months. One cannot only see, but can smell and feel the differences, marveling at the rich compost that appears at the end of the process which then can be added to top soil along with perlite, to create a wonderfully rich planting soil. There is a fourth hole in the ground in this area where I mix these ingredients to create my own planting soil. Now satisfied, our members and I meandered back up through the garden levels to the house to peek at the seedlings under the grow light (started mid-April), the plantings that were put out in mid-February on the north side of the house in plastic Styrofoam containers with holes punched in the top and bottom, and filled with potting soil. These were mainly perennials such as rudbeckia, gaillardia, cone flowers, daisies and monarda. I had also started larkspur in this manner. I learned this propagation method from master gardener Karen Schuler many years ago. This was a new technique to some members of our club who plan to try it next winter, and a great way to start seeds that should be cold-stratified.

I have to report a failure, as well. For the first time in my life, I tried to start roses from cuttings. I researched online about how to go about something my mother had done in her garden many years ago. I took my cuttings, soaked them in root stimulant as directed, planted them in a long planter with good soil, and covered each cutting with a wide-mouthed pint jar and placed the container in a north window of the garage. Four weeks later, all looked green and healthy. Then two days before my presentation I found that all but a couple of the cuttings were covered in mildew. I shared this experience with my fellow gardeners, stating that I would do more research, do some things differently, and try again. Next time I will use quart jars instead of pints, will start the cuttings outside when the weather is right, in a semi-shaded spot in the garden, and hope for a better outcome. As always, we learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. I have definitely learned from mine.

Club members were busy during May with chores at Pioneer Town and Horizons Care Center. Two separate work sessions were needed to ready the flower bed at Pioneer Town for the upcoming summer and for planting seeds. The two beds (the new xeric area is looking lovely this spring, as well), will greet guests again this year as they start their journey through this facility. And again this year our club has planted four of the large pots in the courtyard at Horizons for the enjoyment of residents, staff and visitors. This is a lovely, restful area for all who wish to take advantage of it. We are happy that we, along with the members of the three other garden clubs, can provide this setting for all who visit it. Our thanks once again to Mile High Greenhouse and to Phillip Espinoza, the owner, for the generous discounts given to us to help make our Horizons project a success.

The Trail Walk Project that our club has committed to doing for the month of either August or September, is nearing fruition. Club member (and secretary) Lisa Joss has taken our ideas, edited and refined them, and has come up with great story panels for our project which is entitled "Tracking Treasures of the Trail." It encourages youngsters and oldsters alike to: Look up; Look Down; Look Around; Listen; Touch; and discover all of the wonders of this beautiful trail along Surface Creek. The Trail W walk Project is sponsored by the Cedaredge Library and we are honored to be a part of it.

Our upcoming June meeting is, "All About Herbs." Club members will discuss how we use, grow and enjoy herbs in our gardens and every-day lives. We are hoping that Judy MacKendrick will be joining us, sharing her knowledge of this subject.

Our garden club is thriving. Members, new and old alike, share combined knowledge to the benefit of everyone. And it is amazing to realize the amount of knowledge our members have gained through years of the gardening experience that we represent. We enjoy sharing that knowledge with each other, enjoy the friendship that is an integral part of our gardening experience. We invite you to join us. Our meetings are held the third Friday of each month. If you would like more information, please call 856-7077 or 856 3897.

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Surface Creek
Cedaredge, Plant & Dig Garden Club
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