Grand County libraries: Gardening and community gardening helped at local libraries
May 16, 2008
Your Grand County library helps mountain minds grow.
But did you know that your Grand County library can also help mountain gardens grow?
The Grand County libraries are excellent sources of information for gardeners who are hoping to enjoy the budding local fascination with community gardening both for edible foods and decoration.
Granby resident Carol Morales, who works with her husband on their farm in Granby, is spreading the word about the joys and benefits of gardening through a community garden program across the county.
Morales and Lynn Cassidy of Kremmling, along with other interested growers, are in the process of establishing a community garden program. Their goal is to plant a seed to inspire future farmers and growers about the joys of farming and growing.
Called Grand Community Gardens, the effort provides a chance for everyone and anyone to grow a garden that produces vegetables, herbs and flowers, and in the meantime, share in the unison of community.
According to community garden organizers, many varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowers can grow in Grand County’s high country. Through Grand Community Gardens participants can learn how to garden and what grows most successfully.
People who want to grow in Grand County also have excellent resources in their local libraries. In the Granby Library alone, there are 26 titles on the shelves that discuss growing both for pleasure and nourishment. Other libraries in Grand County have equally impressive resources for aspiring gardeners.
Many of the titles zero in on growing in the high country, which creates circumstances that are vastly different from those encountered in lower elevations.
One title, “Organic Gardening in Cold Climates,” by Sandra Perrin, reveals that planting and growing in Montana creates some rules that also apply to the high elevations of Colorado.
“High Altitude Planting” by Ann Barret offers a wealth of good advice. Barret, who operated a nursery in Park City, Utah for 26 years, offers what she calls “A Practical Guide to Landscaping, Gardening and Planting Above 6,000 Feet.” One glance at her book reveals that there’s more to growing in the mountains than simply placing a seed in the ground.
In an effort to convey the joys and challenges of high altitude gardening, her book begins with the following quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Life is an experiment.
The more experiments you make, the better.”
For many newcomers to Grand County, growing a garden at high altitude is indeed an experiment. The books at your library can help take some of the guesswork out of this experimentation.
A particularly helpful book is “Rocky Mountain Garden Survival Guide” by Susan J. Tweit. Tweit lives in Salida and she knows what it’s like in the Rockies, too. Her book is full of easy-to-follow charts and tables that simplify issues relating to gardening in the mountains.
Here’s what she writes about “Edible Landscaping,” a concept that merges decorative gardening with gardening for sustenance: “Food gardens have traditionally been segregated from ornamental landscaping, but they don’t need to be. Many food plants are decorative and make delicious additions to landscaping. If you’re replanting a lawn, why not replant it with vegetables and fruits? Rhubarb, for instance, makes a striking (and also pest resistant) accent plant in a perennial bed, with its large leaves and red stalks. The foliage of lettuce, chard and spinach makes a beautiful and edible display.”
Gardeners with a hankering for herbs might want to consider the book “Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners.” This book, written by Ernest Small and Grace Pentsch, asks, and answers, this question: “But how do you grow basil, rosemary and sweet cicely in regions with short summers and cold winters?” The answers to this question provide volumes of helpful advice for high-altitude growers of all types.
At the Kremmling Library some favorite items related to gardening include “The Future of Food” on DVD, Organic Gardening Magazine and “How to Build Your Own Greenhouse” by Roger Marshall.
Other titles in the Granby Library that are particularly helpful for those of us who live high in the mountains include “Rocky Mountain Gardening” by Rob Proctor. While this book was focused mostly on flowers and decorative plants it had lots of practical advice for high-mountain planting that also would apply toward edible species. The author lives and works in Denver, so he’s no stranger to the weather extremes of the Colorado Rockies.
Then there is “Rocky Mountain Gardener’s Guide” by John Gretti. Once again, this book isn’t about edibles. However, its practical advice about the issues and concerns of planting and growing in the high country apply to all types of plants.
For even more information about gardening at your library go to gcld.org and click to the helpful websites link. Under gardening, several resourceful website are listed that cover information from the National Gardening Association, the Sierra Home site and gardening and planting in general.
Whether it be through books or on the web, community gardeners and backyard growers can all benefit from the wealth of information about gardening that’s available at your library.