Plants don’t talk back, but other gardeners will

Editorís note: Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Officeís Master Gardener Program, appears every other week during the growing season. It features timely tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape.

By Darrin Parmenter

Ah, spring. Time to develop callouses on the hands, trim the fingernails short, and stretch out those creaky backs and knees. With the longer days and warmer nights, itís already time to get the garden growing. Unfortunately, many of us forget (or donít know) why we do this weekend ritual.

Here are my reasons:

I like the fresh air. After a stressful day dealing with overwhelming numbers of phone calls and emails (kidding!) I find that the garden is where I can relax. You can talk to the plants or weeds, and they donít talk back.

There isnít anything like fresh fruits and vegetables Ė for both taste and quality. Most are composed of 70 to 90 percent water, so when they are harvested from their source of nutrients their respiration rates increase. This can result in quality and nutrient degradation.

Conversation. Get a room full of gardeners and watch out. The story swapping of successes, failures, techniques, complaints and favorites can last for days. If this happens in the winter prepare for squirmy thumbs for multiple weeks.

Continuing traditions. Personally, this is one of the main reasons why I garden, and why I love to garden. Growing up I watched both my grandfathers tend to amazing gardens. Just like us, they had stressors, families to help provide for and children to raise. But the garden was their solace, their escape. And I have found the same pleasure in my garden. No screens, no phones. It is also a place where we can teach our kids about everything from why we grow our food and how we grow our own food to how we can use that food in the garden. Itís always amazing to watch a child devour a salad they had a hand in growing. Now if Dad could only invent that bacon or hot dog plant ...

Enjoy your garden. The season should be nothing short of fantastic.

parmenterdm@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.