How to enjoy last season’s harvest and prepare for the frost
By Alicia Durkin
With winter nearing, locals are preparing their gardens to be put to bed.
This sustainable hobby is an interest in people young and old all throughout Durango, and as frost in nearing it’s important to prep gardens for the cold season.
Though gardens are sustainable and resourceful, they require time and money.
To avoid starting from scratch and to preserve your garden over winter, there are a few steps that should be done before the frost hits.
First, garden owners should start harvesting all of their plants, said Jeff Polak, a Fort Lewis College senior majoring in environmental studies.
“Use resources like re’ma* or frost blankets, because if you cover your plants, that can boost the air temperature around them,” Polak said.
Polak plans to put his garden to bed using a lasagna technique.
Alex Pullen, who has worked with the Environmental Center for five years, explained that the EC will also be using a lasagna technique to prepare the campus garden
The term lasagna refers to laying down cardboard on top of your garden in order to retain moisture and prevent weeds from getting sunlight. Next, you can lay downfertilizer, which can be manure, garden scraps or kitchen scraps, which will bring back matter to the soil.
“It is an easy way to boost nutrient content in the soil as well as the organic matter,” Pullen said.
After harvesting a garden, you can preserve vegetables using canning or picklingmethods, Polak said.
Another easy method use harvest is to exchange or share vegetables.
“There is a community level of keeping things local, and the more gardens and the more people having chickens and stuff, the more healthy our community is, says Root Routeledge, a local organic farmer who has been living in the Bayfield and Durango area for 17 years. “There’s a community health kind of nature to it.”
Harvest parties, farmers markets, and community gardens are all good ways to enjoy local and organic vegetables while socializing with fellow farmers.
“There are always opportunities to get involved in community gardens if you don’t have the space to do it,” Polak said.
It may be a surprise to some that renters are willing to invest their time and money into a garden they may not end up owning.
Routledge, Polak, and Pullen all agree that investing in a garden provides more of a personal payback than just the end product.
Gardening improves personal and spiritual wellness and mental health, promotes growth within the community, and creates a sustainable way to eat, said Routeledge.
“And then there’s just a global level, it’s like, how are we going to feed ourselves as a civilization, and getting away from industrial agriculture and all the negative impacts of that,” said Routeledge.
Gardens are a key component of living a sustainable life, he said.
Like Routledge, Pullen and his roommates also live very sustainable lives.
They fill their compost pile with left over food scraps, which they also feed to their chickens, which are a key part in the cycle, Pullen said.
The chickens eat their food scraps, and then compost all their straw boosting organic matter within the soil. They also work the soil as they graze the yard, and help eliminate grasshoppers, he said.
Pullen is able to collect four eggs a day, while also eating all the fresh veggies his garden produces, he said.
“Gardening is an important life skill to know,” Polak said.