Anyone who gardens can tell you how wonderful the quiet can be… that it is a balm for the soul to commune with nature on such a deep level. Gardening is also an activity that brings people together and creates community through sharing one’s knowledge. One of the best lessons gardening in a small town teaches us is that we are all connected to the land, and to each other.
Creating a community for the gardeners of Lyons is exactly what Lindsay Wolf did August 26 by forming a Facebook group: Lyons Area Gardeners. Here, locals can turn to each other for information and advice, as well as find new friends.
A few examples of information shared on the group page are: Lindsay shared that she could grow beautiful big beets and carrots in Lyons. Kerry Matre asked, “Does anyone here know what to do with pumpkins during the snow this week? Should I harvest them or are they OK with the cold?” Sara Harris Plavidal replied, “If they freeze, they will rot. I would pick them and let them ripen inside.” Kerry further asked if the same was true for melons. Sara replied, “I would assume so but do not have personal experience raising a melon.” This is typical of the replies, showing that people on the site probably do not randomly answer questions if they have not experienced the situation themselves.
Another gardener asked why the size of his potatoes was smaller than anticipated, and was answered that he could have potentially left them in the ground a bit longer. Larry Quinn needed advice on how to make his raspberry canes flower and bloom to their pre-flood bounty. Annie Mannering responded by saying, “I have had good results by adding estrogen pills to plants that won’t flower.” Members are likely to accept the answers based on it being local advice from people who have grown the same thing successfully. And, then they could share their resulting experience another time with Lyons folks. While all advice in this group is given with the best of intentions, it is advised to check the information yourself.
In addition to queries about growing and caring for plants, one can also find ideas on what to do with an abundance of zucchini, or when and where local seed-swaps are happening.
“Seed sharing was what initially sparked my idea for the Facebook group,” said Lindsay. “We grew tobacco from seed this year, as an experiment, using seeds I’d gotten at a seed swap in Denver many years ago. Between our two plants we ended up with about two pounds of seed pods, each of which contained a countless amount of very tiny seeds. I started thinking about what to do with them. I started noticing all the other flowers and plants that were going to seed around the garden as well, and became fascinated with all the ingenious ways each plant naturally presents their seeds for easy sowing.
“I made a post on Facebook Lyons Happenings asking if there was a garden group page for Lyons with the interest in sharing seeds. I got a few responses that there was a group for swapping plants, and many more responses asking for a gardening group to form,” Lindsay explained on choosing the gardening advice format. “Here in Lyons, we have such a wealth of knowledge and experience amongst us in the realms of gardening and farming. I wanted to invite folks to be resources for each other in these ways.”
Lindsay fulfilled her initial intention for the group, and put on a Seed Swap on September 27.
“The folks there were so excited to be sharing,” said Lindsay, “and expanding the scope of their knowledge pertaining to what they were drawn to grow and how. Some people who weren’t able to make it in person even sent seeds with others to add to what was available.”
Lindsay started gardening as a child in the Bay Area with her parents, but she didn’t really start to find the magic in it until she moved out to Colorado. She said that her favorite thing to grow in Lyons is spearmint.
“I, every single year, will plant a spearmint,” said Lindsay. “You can use it for so many things. It smells good. It’s a good pollinator for the bees. And, we love to eat it in everything and infuse my water with it”.
Lindsay feels that it is not the soil, or proximity to the river, or any natural feature of this area that makes it wonderful for growing, but that it is simply the “wealth of experience” shared in Lyons that makes it truly unique. There are so many opportunities to learn, and wonderful people to learn from. She feels the best piece of advice to gardeners who are just getting started here, is to get your soil amended.
See the Facebook page for her continuing advice and seed exchanges. Note the name of the page, as there are a few groups with similar names: Lyons Area Gardeners.