Sunday, October 30, 2011

World's Largest Pumpkin Becomes a Zombie!

Photo by Lorna King
Here's the world's largest pumpkin now a zombie sculpture!  The New York Botanical Gardens commissioned Ray Villafane  to create this work of art from it. 

Here's a link to more pictures of the actual carving:

Ray Villafane Carves the World’s Largest Pumpkin into an Intricate Spine-Tingling Sculpture

Enjoy and Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sustainable Pets by Amanda Dowdy

Labbit the Rabbit!
There are many joys involved with pet ownership, but I was overjoyed this summer when I realized one of my pets can pull his own weight (and more) around here. Pictured above is Labbit, a one and a half pound black otter mini rex, and my family's newest addition. Rabbit leavings are a great addition to any compost pile, as it is very high in nitrogen. Also most natural shavings used in litter pans can also be composted, it complements the droppings with a carbon source. I use recycled newspaper in ours. Rabbits are herbivoures, their diets consist mainly of field grasses like timothy hay or orchard grass.  Dandylions are his favorite treat, that were grown in a pot for him on my deck. These little guys have great personalities, and now he has been recognized for his "contributions" around the house too! So next time you clean out the that hamster, chinchilla or mouse cage, chuck it in the compost bin!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Recipe for Christmas Compost by Mari Hackbarth

Think you can’t compost in winter?  Think again.  Vermicomposting (worm composting) can be done year ‘round, even at the North Pole.  Worm composting can be used to convert kitchen waste (and garden waste in summer) into a nutritious amendment for the garden and house plants, known by gardeners as “black gold”.  All that’s needed is a non-transparent plastic storage bin with lid, room temperature between 55 – 77 degrees F.; air, bedding, water and food.

According to Brenda Sherman, of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, using worms to decompose food waste offers several advantages:
It reduces household garbage disposal costs;
It produces less odor and attracts fewer pests than putting food wastes into a garbage container, or than traditional compost piles;
It saves the water and electricity that kitchen sink garbage disposal units consume;
It produces a free, high-quality soil amendment (compost);
It requires little space, labor, or maintenance;
It spawns free worms for fishing.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Moving Houseplants Indoors by Sharon Routa

What to do now!  No more daily watering or constant deadheading.

One of the projects I’ll be doing this fall is moving house plants indoors.  Before I move them back indoors, I put them in a shadier part of the yard.   This helps them make an easier adjustment to the change in light and environment they are going to undergo.

I cut them back, getting rid of damaged growth; this also helps to control the size of plant, and encourages new growth.  Fertilize one last time before you bring plants into the house.  Do all of this before the weather turns cool or they may go into shock.  One symptom of shock is leaf drop.  Plants will usually survive this with regular watering.   It’s difficult for plants to deal with changes in light and temperature.  Check the foliage and soil thoroughly for pests before you bring them indoors.  If an insecticide is needed, read the label carefully before applying.  Be certain you check the drainage holes on containers for slugs or bugs, which you can manually remove. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A 2011 “Summery” of My Garden and Other Random Observations by Gardener Dave

Sometimes a summary report is useful only to the one who writes it. I hope this one is a bit more informative and even somewhat entertaining. I have used common plant names in most cases. Here goes…

Annuals:  I like bright color all summer. It’s not that I look for more work to do – I let the perennials show their stuff, each in their own short season. But when it comes to providing color and consistent bloom, annuals still are the way to go. In addition to choosing bright colors, I go for the ones that require less maintenance.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Simple Food for the Good Life; Book Review by Grace Olson

Nearing, Helen. Simple Food for the Good Life. White River Junction, VT. : Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1990.

    When the air turns crisp and evening walks begin smelling like wood smoke and fallen leaves, gardeners reap the harvest of their season-long labors. Tomatoes travel from vine to kitchen. Onions are braided and hung. Potatoes and carrots are transformed into breads and soups. It is a part of gardening that is cherished and looked forward to throughout the sun-soaked days of summer spent weeding, watering and whining about rabbits and deer.

    In Simple Food for the Good Life, Helen Nearing captures the joy of cooking with one’s own, bountiful harvest. Her extremely simple recipes focus on the wholesome nourishment of the fruit or vegetable itself. She takes her “random acts of cooking and pithy quotations” and boils them down into a quick, easy celebration of the land’s offerings that many a JeffCo gardener will be able to relate to.

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.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cover Crops by Amanda Dowdy

Its a safe bet that those veggie plots and annual beds have worked hard this year, and even if they haven't, it may be a good idea to give them some TLC! The Autumn harvest brings many chores, but this one may prove to be so beneficial, you'll be happy to add it to your clean up routine. Cover crops, or green manure, are grasses or legumes like winter rye, crimson clover and hairy vetch, that can be planted in early spring or fall. 
Winter Rye in Raised Bed
Higher altitudes should plant sooner as some varieties will winter kill faster than others, yet others like winter rye may show growth throughout the winter season. These crops protect the soil from erosion and suppress weed growth. Also tilling the crop into the earth in spring improves the soil structure and may fix extra nitrogen.  Its a small step that has a great payoff, so start thinking about next year's bounty and give your garden a boost! Check out Plant Talk 1607 and 1616 as well as some great literature out there. Good luck and happy harvesting!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Scan Away by Patricia Barry Levy

Many of us enjoy taking pictures of our flowers and gardens. But have you ever considered recording the beauty of your plants using something besides a camera?

Your typical flatbed scanner can show off botanicals in a really interesting way. When selecting pieces to scan bear in mind the coverage area of your scanner. Letter size, or 8.5 x 11 is common and plenty large enough for many leaves, flowers, grasses, etc. Use a high enough resolution to allow you to print onto some nice paper, and voila, you’ve made art. Leaving the top of the scanner open in a dark room will give you a dramatic black background. Or try propping a white or colored sheet above your plant material – I’ve even seen fabric prints used to add pattern to the background.

In this example, I scanned peonies at different stages, using a small box to surround and support the flower head. Now’s the time to visually preserve that last perfect tomato, seedpods, leaves as they turn colors – you get the idea.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Precocious Pre-Schoolers put Classroom Concepts to the Test by Amy Bubar

Remember the first time you felt the joy of digging in the dirt, making a home for a tiny plant and nurturing it into a full-grown leafy donor of juicy, delicious veggies?  A group of children at the Mount Saint Vincent Home is doing just that.  Though they range from only 3 to 5 years old, as pre-schoolers they’ve already been taught the basics.