Working in the Field as a Master Gardener: Jefferson High School Community Garden

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Master gardener, Penny working on making seed tapes.

Master gardener, Penny working on making seed tapes.

One of the key components of being a master gardener is sharing what we’ve learned with other community gardens in  Denver.    On a cool, gray Saturday morning in early April, I headed out to Jefferson High School in Lakewood, the site of a newly constructed community garden, to work with a group of my classmates.   When I arrived, the group was huddled around the picnic table preparing to make seed tapes under the direction of Penny, one of the most seasoned master gardeners in our group.    She showed the fledgling gardeners how to cut newspaper into strips, mix a paste of flour and water and proceed to place evenly spaced dots of flour on the strips and adhere seeds to these areas.   Once dried, these strips can be stored and planted in rows, covered with soil and watered when the time is right.   This method of creating seed tapes helps made the work of handling very tiny seeds much easier and is an excellent project to do at the kitchen table during the winter months.

With half a dozen of us there to help, we soon left the students to their project and divided up the work of shoveling the freshly delivered compost into the wheelbarrows and spreading it on the grid of plots situated within the fenced area.    Afterwards, we spent several hours turning the compost into the virgin soil.    With only the use of spades and shovels, our small group was able to till approximately 12 plots which will provide a great start for the students and community members gardening here this year.

After 12 weeks of classroom instruction and several hands on work days, we newly minted master gardeners will be ready to take the show on the road.    I am nervous but excited to share my expertise with other community gardeners eager to learn.    I never thought I’d be a bonified expert in water conservation, succession planting, soil amendment, organic pest management, basic organic gardening and much much more.   Its abundantly clear to me  that I will leave this master gardener program with so much more than I can give back.    What a wonderful opportunity it has been.   Thank you to Denver Urban Gardens for an amazing program!!

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