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Home / Articles / Boulderganic / Boulderganic /  Hands-on help for gardening, beekeeping
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Thursday, February 10,2011

Hands-on help for gardening, beekeeping

By Charmaine Ortega Getz

Didn´t you resolve that this would be the year you’d finally give vegetable gardening a try, maybe even do a little beekeeping? Or maybe it’s your kids who have been campaigning for one of these projects.

Either way, lack of experience or help with the labor doesn’t have to be a drag on your goals. If you could use some hands-on assistance to accomplish them, there are affordable and convenient options to use as your “training wheels.”

Nonprofit Growing Gardens of Boulder County has been “cultivating community” since 1998. Besides partnering with other organizations in the Boulder Community Food Project to teach needy families to grow their own organic produce, it sponsors nine community gardens and offers education and support for do-it-yourselfers.

The same folks also run one-off gardening workshops on all the how-to items, from figuring out where to grow a few rows of veggies in your yard to improving your soil. There’s even a workshop for gardening with kids.

In addition, there are two ongoing programs for the under-agers:

The Children’s Peace Garden for ages 4-10 has gardening activities, field trips, an after-school program and a summer camp. Cultiva! is a market garden operated by youthful participants ages 11-19 who learn to raise crops and run a small business.

A series of Saturday beekeeping classes covers everything from set-up to turning bees’ wax into craft products. Experienced beekeepers can drop in on the class of their choice. Bee wrangler Julie Finley Ridinger can even come to your home for an hourly fee to check out your hives and offer advice.

“There’s been a lot of demand for the kind of knowledge Growing Gardens offers,” says Ridinger. And she says the organization tends to see a rush “once those seed catalogs start coming in the mail.”

That is why Growing Gardens has opened registration earlier than usual, so if you’re interested, lose no time. Visit www.growinggardens.org or call 303-443-9952, ext. 2.

In addition, Lifelong Learning, through the Boulder Valley School District, has a vegetable gardening class on March 3 for the beginner to the tried-and-frustrated. Catherine Harley teaches the Square Foot Gardening Method — growing the maximum amount of veggies in the minimum amount of space, with no tilling, digging or weeding required. This is an evening class that fills up rapidly, so pounce while you can. Visit http://bit.ly/vegetablegardening, or call 720-561-3768.

Harley and partner Dale Zigelsky, owners of Personal Family Farmers, will even install the same type of low-maintenance garden in your yard. For about $313, they’ll put in a four-feet-by-four-feet raised vegetable section that includes frame, soil and plants or seeds, plus present you with a spreadsheet/map of your plot. Additional options such as a trellis, drip irrigation, critter deterrence and vacation “garden-sitting” are available.

Personal Family Farmers’ clientele also get ongoing support and tips via e-mail. Free consultations and pre-season discounts are available at www.personalfamilyfarmers.com, or by calling 720-495-7154.

You can also consider a multi-use landscape with the help of someone like Laura Ruby of Yummy Yards, who specializes in permaculture design, installation and maintenance. Permaculture is a holistic approach that utilizes edible plants as well as other elements — such as the chicken coops, aquaponic set-ups, goat pens and bee hives you might have seen on Boulder’s first Tour de Coops backyard safari organized by Ruby last year. Check out http://yummyyards. org or call 303-908-3054.

Know of something going on of environmental/sustainable/organic interest? E-mail us at editorial@boulderweekly.com.

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