High altitude high desert leads to high-stakes gardening | Arts & Events

The Wood River Valley is famous for its dense greenery and sprawling nature. However, as with many high desert locations, it poses obstacles for gardeners.

While there is a generous cool season to grow leafy greens, peas and cabbage, the dry summer days sometimes top 100 degrees Fahrenheit with chilly night-time leaving frost temperatures in the morning. During the same brief warm season, there can be hail and high winds. Even snow can make an unwelcome return when it is least expected.

The Hailey Public Library will host the last of the three-part series “High Altitude Gardening” with 5B Resilience Gardens’ Manon Gaudreau and Amy Mattias at Town Center West on Thursday, May 12, at 5:30 pm

“If you can garden here, you can garden anywhere,” Mattias said.

“Sunny Season Gardening” will be an introduction talk to those beloved, but often hard to grow, warm season crops.

“Amy and Manon are seasoned local gardeners and fill their talks with helpful tips and tricks,” said Kristen Fletcher, programs and engagement manager at the Hailey Public Library.

Attendees of the garden class will learn how to address the challenges of warm season gardening in our valley: when to plant what, how to grow, protect and care for vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, corn, squash beans, cucumbers, eggplant; herbs like basil and lemon balm; And flowers like sunflowers, chamomile, nasturtiums, marigolds, calendula borage. They will also discuss micro-climates and protective techniques.

Gaudreau started gardening in 2005 when her daughter asked a question about food to which she did not know the answer. Ever since, she’s been looking for the answers and sharing them with her community.

“I get great joy from teaching and sharing my passion for growing my own fresh food, saving my own seeds, contributing to biodiversity and to the fertility of the soil, taking care of Mother Earth who feeds us healthy food in return,” Gaudreau said. .

She is the director of the Wood River Seed Library (WRSL).

“Seeds are free, abundant, precious and remain viable for a much longer time than the industrially published standards,” Gaudreau said.

Seeds adapt to the climate in which they are grown and have a wide range of genetic expression. Saving seeds prevents seed varieties from going extinct, Gaudreau said.

The WRSL’s next Seed and Plant Exchange is on Saturday, May 28, 10 am to 12 pm, at The Grange, 609 S. 3rd Ave. in Hailey.

Amy Mattias’s three favorite crops to grow are strawberries, mint and cherry tomatoes.

She began gardening in Hailey in 2015 when her backyard in Hailey was mostly bare dirt with some weeds.

“I wanted to turn it into a beautiful yard but didn’t have the money, know-how, or desire to put in a traditional, ornamental landscaped yard,” Mattias said.

She decided to start small and grow food for her household and flowers to help the local pollinators.

“Gardening offers a multitude of benefits like a reason to get in to a natural environment and be present with the world around you,” Mattias said. “It can be a very rewarding experience, it can boost your mood, and it can help you learn about caring for plants, growing, eating and preserving produce.”

She follows regenerative practices, rooted in traditional ecological knowledge, in her own garden and has studied permaculture design courses. She is the program director for the Sun Valley Institute for Resilience.

Mattias and Gaudreau both helped establish the 5B Resilience Gardens, bringing education to people. Providing a framework for gardening in the Wood River Valley, they focus on three core principles of food production: soil health, and pollinator habitat.

Over the past decade, they have seen new farmers come into the area.

“I’ve noticed more people of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds get interested in how their food is grown, where it comes from, and the implications it has on their health, their community, and the world around them,” Mattias said.

Farmers markets have popped up in Hailey, Carey, Fairfield and Shoshone.

Kray’s Market & Garden delivers local food year-round from farmers and ranchers throughout the region.

“We see more interest in the shifting of habits like mitigating food waste by being thoughtful with preparing and composting material, eating seasonally, and growing your own food,” Mattias said. and I’m excited to see how we continue to cultivate a thriving, nourishing food shed.”


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