UI Extension tour to highlight creativity of Pocatello area gardeners
By John O’Connell
University of Idaho
Cheryl Lyda can’t wait to share her secrets about budget gardening using reclaimed materials with likeminded souls in her southeast Idaho community.
The 76-year-old is one of many avid Pocatello and Chubbuck area gardeners who will participate Aug. 12 in the inaugural Edible Garden Tour, organized by University of Idaho Extension educator Kathryn Hickok, Bannock County.
Lyda can already see the much-anticipated event in her mind’s eye: She shows her guests the raised beds she made from salvaged fence lumber. The main attraction is the small greenhouse she personally constructed from scrapped wood-framed windows.
Meanwhile, her great-granddaughter, who, as luck would have it, will be visiting that day, serves a platter of muffins made with garden zucchini.
The admission-free UI Extension self-guided tour promises to provide a platform for local gardeners of all skill levels to shine while tour participants glean ideas to hone their own green thumbs.
Participants will receive a map of garden locations, along with descriptions of unique features at each one — such as raising produce in buckets, capturing rainwater for irrigation, creative approaches to composting, co-planting for pest control and pollinator patches to boost production.
Lyda will highlight her talent for minimizing gardening costs.
“Everything in this garden I did not purchase. It’s all salvaged. On the cheap, I’ve been able to provide myself with exercise, getting out in the sun, doing something productive, feeding myself and cutting down on my grocery bill,” Lyda said. “As far as building a greenhouse, if that’s not proof that an old lady can do something, I don’t know what is.”
The tour, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. will also provide a venue for UI Extension to highlight many of its popular, related programs.
Participants will be invited to bring sack lunches to the grounds of Marshall Public Library, 113 S. Garfield Ave., Pocatello, during a lunch break.
Outside of the library, they’ll also get to taste a variety of heirloom tomatoes.
Area Extension educator Ariel Agenbroad will demonstrate how to make a miniature garden inside of a salad bowl. Salad bowl gardens were a hit when Hickok led a recent lesson in building them at the Pocatello-Chubbuck Senior Activity Center.
UI Extension's Idaho Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer technical horticulture questions. Extension canning classes will be promoted, and youth with the Boys and Girls Club of Portneuf Valley who participated in a recent Extension gardening program will present four portable gardens they built.
The portable gardens and the produce they contain will be donated to residents of a local low-income housing complex.
The Idaho State University Botany Club has agreed to host a table during lunch in the park, and the Pocatello Garden Club, which disbanded amid the COVID-19 pandemic, plans to relaunch in conjunction with the tour.
The garden tour also builds upon a residential gleaning project Hickok started last fall, when she invited Bannock County residents to donate excess fruit from trees in their yards.
Area residents donated more than 200 pounds of fruit to the local food pantry. Hickok has received a grant to expand upon the gleaning project this fall and plans to use volunteers to help harvest the excess fruit.
She also plans to invite Master Gardeners to offer pruning tips to help fruit donors improve the productivity and health of their trees.
“We have all of these interests and projects going and the beautiful thing is it’s all linking together,” Hickok said. “It raises awareness about all the programs Extension has. We’re extending our reach in Pocatello by introducing this.”
Hickok has already booked about 15 home produce gardens for the tour and is still accepting applications.
Having moved to Idaho from California a little more than a year ago, Hickok leaned on neighbors for ideas on starting her own garden in a growing zone in which hail, late-season frost and strong winds can emerge from out of the blue to deal plants a blow.
“I want to promote people who may not be experts, but they are figuring it out as they go in this type of an environment,” Hickok said. “Anyone can do it, and this tour will demonstrate that.”
Anyone interested in participating in the tour or signing up to include a garden may contact Hickok at email@example.com or (208) 236-7310.
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