Photo by Zach Fridell
Cindie Anderson plants beet seeds in her garden plot at South Routt Nursery. The nursery is hosting a community garden this year as more residents begin to grow their own vegetables.
There are a few community garden plots still available at South Routt Nursery. For more information or to reserve a plot, call 970-736-0040.
Steamboat Springs It's not quite a victory garden like those created during World War II, and the irrigation and rich soil make it better than a Great Depression-era farm, but the community garden at South Routt Nursery is set to fulfill a renewed desire for homegrown vegetables as the economy dips.
Dan Atkins, the nursery's manager, said the signs were there for anyone who wanted to see them. As the stock market went down, the beans, cucumbers and squash were sure to go up in gardens across the county. To encourage gardeners, Atkins and nursery owner Chris Zuschlag established 11 plots of earth to rent out for $10 a month. Zuschlag said the nursery had the irrigation pipes already laid and that it was an easy decision to start a community garden.
"With the economy doing what it's doing, I didn't feel comfortable bringing in extra material, but we can do this," he said. "Irrigation is the hardest part of community gardens, and I've got that dialed in."
Atkins said beans, squash, cucumber, radishes and many other vegetables will grow well in Colorado's climate, and although the tomato plants may not grow to be huge, as long as the gardeners protect their plants from frost in September, they should be able to get a good crop.
In fact, Atkins said that according to an article he read recently, if gardeners spend about $60 on seeds, they can expect to reap more than $100 in vegetables. The nursery also may have a farmers market later in the season so the gardeners can sell their excess crop.
The gardeners coming to the nursery have varying levels of experience, Atkins said, including some who may have never gardened before.
"We're really kind of schooling them through it," he said.
Because the watering is provided, the gardeners must only come in occasionally to fertilize and harvest their crops. On Thursday morning, community gardener Cindie Anderson placed additional bricks in her plot to create a walkway and planted beet seeds.
She said she has gardening experience, but her current house doesn't offer the gardening space she needs.
"The hot button for me was the automatic watering," she said. "What private individual would do something like that and provide water and everything else?"
The group also will have sessions with master gardeners to help them improve their crops as the season progresses, Zuschlag said.
The community garden group has registered itself with Communitygarden.org and will abide by that organization's bylaws. The next closest registered community garden is in Granby.