Monday, October 10, 2011

Belmar Farmers Market: the Last Hurrah by Grace Olson

    Sunday, September 25th, marked the final day of the Belmar Farmers Market. Families came out (many in the Broncos orange and blue), seeking one last chance to purchase fresh baked breads, organic clothing, or a bouquet of flowers for that evening’s dinner party. Amid the aromatic stalls and colorful displays, the Colorado Master Gardeners (CMGs) flew their flag, making themselves available for any last-minute questions about Jefferson County gardening.

    There were many. September and October may be the gardening season’s last hurrah, but it also poses unique challenges to those not quite daunted by the cooling weather. Some elect to transport potted herbs inside, harvesting mint and thyme all winter long. Others choose to erect hoop houses and cold frames, seeking an extended season—if only until Thanksgiving. With flyers and fact sheets, CMG volunteers stepped up to the plate.

    Powdery mildew or black spot on those luscious tomatoes? Get as much as you can out of this season’s harvest, and then get those vines out of there—not into the compost, but into the trash where the disease cannot spread into next year’s soil. Crab weed or grubs taking over the lawn? Now is the perfect time to aerate—mid-September, in most areas of Jefferson County, so spring growth will make for a healthier grass. Too many peaches or tomatillos? Take a CSU Extension class on food preservation, and spend your autumn evenings canning, freezing or drying the fall’s harvest. Additional fall tasks for JeffCo gardeners include:

Divide perennials/plant new perennials to allow time for root growth
Aerate lawn
Cut back perennials & wrap newly planted tree trunks
Prepare new beds by adding compost, digging it in 4” to 6”
Lift tender bulbs like Dahlias, Cannas, Gladiolas & store in peat moss or soil medium in bag or box during winter
Plant fall bulbs like crocus, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips
Get rid of old/diseased plant matter after harvest
Clean up your container gardens
Clean and oil garden tools
Add 2” to 3” of mulch after cleaning up plant materials in garden

 Belmar Farmers Market visitors concluded the season with more food for thought than what weighed down their shopping bags. Whether returning to their loft, farmhouse, apartment or dorm, all had ideas for planning, maintaining or continuing to enjoy their gardens. Gather ideas for your own fall gardening at