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From the Hort Desk – Looking Forward to 2020

By Lisa Mason, CSU Extension Horticulture Agent

The start of a new year is traditionally a time to not only reflect on the past year but also to start planning for the upcoming year. As I reflect on all that the Arapahoe County Master Gardener and Horticulture program has accomplished, I’m reminded that none of it would be possible without our clients. Throughout the past year, we have assisted clients through phone calls, office walk-ins, emails and Ask an Expert, diagnostic services, landscape site visits (aka turf and tree checks), speaker requests, staffing booths at garden centers, public programs and other events.

And, of course, these services would be much more limited or impossible without our amazing Master Gardener volunteers! Through their efforts, we can expand our capacity so much further.

The year 2020 is going to be a great year. We have big plans for this upcoming season including new programming and projects. Some of these new initiatives include:

  • Providing educational opportunities at our new Lima Plaza Pollinator Demonstration Garden
  • Hosting the CSU Garden at the Colorado Garden and Home Show (Have you seen the paper-mâché insects in the office yet?)
  • Assisting with a new vegetable demonstration garden at the Plains Conservation Center
  • Teaching Lunch & Learn classes targeted for Master Gardeners and Arapahoe County staff
  • Advancing the Arapahoe County diagnostic clinic and help desk by offering continuing education to the Master Gardeners, including advanced diagnostic classes and monthly webinars
  • Beginning offering programs to schools using the new Arapahoe County CMG Youth Education Curriculum kits
  • Increasing visibility within the county to our constituents through the newsletter, social media and other communication avenues.
Master Gardener Dawn educates a family about the importance of insects and shows off a Madagascar hissing cockroach. Photo: Lisa Mason

Thank you to our clients, volunteers and partners. We’re looking forward to a new year with new possibilities.

Have You Tried Vermicomposting?

The start of a new year also means it is time to plan the 2020 gardening season. If you are ready to get started now in the cold winter months, consider starting a vermicomposting bin!

Vermicomposting is a method of composting using worms that offers a variety of benefits, including reducing landfill waste and having nutrient and microbe-rich compost to add to our gardens and houseplants.

Red wigglers are the most common worm used in
vermicomposting bins. Photo: Lisa Mason

According to North Carolina State University Extension, “in 2006, the U.S. EPA estimated that 55-65% of the waste generated in the United States is residential. Most of what we throw away is organic materials that could be vermicomposted, composted, or recycled. Paper and paperboard products account for 34%, and food scraps and yard trimmings make up 25% (by weight).”

Vermicomposting is a fun way to reduce waste in your home. Since the worms need to stay between 59° and 77°F, most people who live in cold winter climates choose to have their worm bin in their kitchen or basement. Having the bin in the house provides easy access to feed the worms. If the bin is functioning correctly, it will be low maintenance and not emit any negative odors.

My husband and I started our first worm bin about a month ago. So far, the process has been a little trial and error to get the right conditions in the bin. We have thoroughly enjoyed watching the worms in their ecosystem. Interested to learn more? I will be writing about our experience, worm biology, and some tips and tricks on starting your own vermicomposting bin in 2020.

In the meantime, if you are interested in a fun, fascinating winter project, I recommend the following resources:

Worms Eat by Garbage by Mary Appelhof

University of Nebraska Extension

North Carolina State University Extension

2 Responses on “From the Hort Desk – Looking Forward to 2020

  1. Betty Foley says:

    Please let me know when you have the lunch and learn.

  2. Dala Giffin says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed my worm livestock some years ago. At the time, I teased county lawmakers that my attempts at vermicomposting qualifed me, through loopholes in county law, as agriculture property for tax purposes. If only my commissioner would purchase some compost from me. Didn’t happen, but I liked having the worms in my downstairs shower, garage, or laundry room. At times it was a sad learning experience as I learned what happens when they are overfed, underfed, overwatered, and underwatered. I did have good years and enjoyed the bounty of the compost.

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Keeping ahead of COVID-19

This rapidly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) has imposed an unsettling, fluid situation upon our community and its businesses. While the team here still aims to maintain a “business as usual” approach, we are making a number of significant changes to our operations to account for a situation that is far from normal.