Spring gardening workshops a bloomin’ deal

Dr. Curtis Swift of the CSU Extension office thins tomato seedlings that he is growing for an upcoming presentation at Dos Rios Elementary School.

The everyday habits of a backyard gardener can have detrimental effects to the commercial orchards and gardens in the Grand Valley.

That’s why it’s important to know how to prune, plant and spray insecticide properly, according to Dr. Curtis Swift, extension agent at the Colorado State University Extension Office.

The office is offering many classes starting this spring to teach backyard gardeners everything from pruning techniques to proper vegetable planting.

Swift said the number of people enrolled in gardening classes has increased significantly in recent years. “We have a lot of people that have been coming in for vegetable production—more because of the recession and food safety issues,” he said from his office located near the Mesa County Fairgrounds.

Swift said he thinks the increase in gardening interest is due to the fact that people are spending more time in their own backyards. “That’s the number one reason for all these workshops,” Swift said.

This weekend, Swift will teach residents about the proper pruning of ornamental crabapple trees in the Arboretum outside the office. The workshop will take place at from 9 a.m. to noon and only costs $5. 

It is important to get the spring pruning technique right because crabapples are susceptible to mildew and the larvae of the codling moth which live in improperly pruned trees. “If you don’t do it right then those will move into our local orchards,” said Swift who continued to say that these problems could drive up the cost of apples in the fall.

“Neighboring ornamental trees can have big effects on the industry,” Swift said.

Another popular workshop will take place at 11 a.m Saturday, March 13 at the Fruita Coop. The Farm and Ranch workshop will talk about the essentials of soil preparation and vegetable gardening. An information booth will also be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

“Our purpose here is education and to show the public how to do things properly,” Swift said.

Many other workshops are scheduled to take place this spring. A complete list of upcoming events is available at http://www.westernslopegardening.org.


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