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Gardening Carol O'Meara

9/17/2006

Preserve the fall garden, savor the taste of itís bounty

 I guess Iím an old fashioned girl. I prefer to savor each season, one by one, instead of leaping over one in anticipation of another. Fall is sadly overlooked in anticipation of the winter feast days, sad because of all that is missed by ignoring the seasonís bounty. It is maligned as a time of dieback, a quieting of the season. Yes, OK, there is a certain amount of plant death, but quieting? Not in my kitchen.

Fall is when I scuttle back and forth between garden and kitchen, preserving the food I spent time growing. My spouse complains of an odd double vision when looking at me, seeing both a human and a squirrel. How can this be avoided when squashes, chiles, tomatoes, seeds and herbs are all ready to join the pantry? The kitchen is filled with bubbling pots, shussing dehydrators and cooling canning jars. This frenzy of preservation reoccurs each weekend until all freezers and shelves are stocked for the winter.

Learn to preserve

Thank goodness I work with a Family and Consumer Science Agent, who is loaded with information on food preservation. Gently referring to herself as a Home-Ecky Becky, this agent is a popular person in the fall, and rightly so with her canning tips and food safety warnings. It pays to listen to her sage advice. Once youíve heard about the perils of eating fresh fruit while at the grocery store, with the hands that fondle it or the sneezes that coat it, youíll wash your grapes like a fiend once you get them home.

Still, thereís no reason to be frightened of preserving food for the winter. In fact, itís a lot of fun, especially if it comes straight from your own garden. Anyone interested in storing the bounty of fall is encouraged to contact her for information (in Boulder County the number is 303-678-6238). Who could afford not to call her, after that last example?

Support local youth project

Humans, too, have seasons of growth or fallow. While many complain of too good a season of growth and go on a diet, there are other ways that seasons can make us more than we were. Summer is often the time when programs for youth introduce them to new skills, new friends or new experiences. One such program is °Cultiva! Youth Project, part of Growing Gardens of Boulder County. This outstanding program teaches at-risk youth leadership and business skills while they tend a market garden. Their booth at the farmerís market is a great place to stop to buy fresh local produce.

During the summer, °Cultiva! youth work daily to cultivate their organic garden in north Boulder. These children are dedicated: their battles with flea beetles and weeds often reach heroic proportions, and their commitment to sustainable growing is a lesson for life. Sometimes gardening isnít always about the plants.

Gardeners who are interested in their community often look for ways to improve it, and many programs benefit from financial help as well as volunteer time. Support for °Cultiva! can be given in a fun, as well as filling, way by attending their 7th Annual Harvest Dinner, Oct. 11, at the St. Julien Hotel, 900 Walnut St., in Boulder. Five prominent chefs of our area are combining their skills to offer a harvest meal that truly lives up to the glory that is fall.

Tickets for this event are $100 per person for an evening filled with savory dishes made from local organic produce. Reserve your tickets today by calling Growing Gardens at 303-413-7248, ext. 1. Youíll head into fall with the happy knowledge that you helped preserve a program that brings youth and the natural world together.

For more information on a variety of horticulture topics, visit www.planttalk.org or call (888) 666-3063. Planttalk Colorado is a free service of Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Denver Botanic Gardens and the Green Industries of Colorado.

Carol OíMeara is with the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension office at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont. Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, together with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, provides unbiased, research-based information, about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information contact Cooperative Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Box B, Longmont, 303-678-6238, or visit www.coopext.colostate.edu/boulder.

See more Gardening columns by Carol O'Meara
 


 
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