Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hügelkultur – Who knew? Composting Process Using Raised Beds! By Audrey Stokes

Raised bed gardening using hugelkultur photo Open Hand Foundation
Used for centuries in Eastern Europe and Germany, (in German it translates roughly as “mound or hill culture”) hügelkultur (pronounced ‘hoo-gul-culture’) is a gardening and farming technique where woody debris (branches and/or logs) are used as a resource (
Often employed in permaculture systems, hügelkultur allows gardeners and farmers to mimic the nutrient cycling found in natural woodlands to realize several benefits. Woody debris (and other matter) that falls to the forest floor can readily become sponge like, soaking up rainfall and releasing it slowly into the surrounding soil, thus making this moisture available to nearby plants.
Hügelkultur is a composting process that uses no-dig raised planting beds constructed on top of decaying wood debris and other compostable biomass plant materials.  Hügelkultur farmers believe this process helps to improve soil fertility, water retention and soil warming, benefiting plants grown on or near the mounds. providing great spaces for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs.
The hügelkultur process is bleived to work well anywhere.  On a sod lawn Sepp Holzer, ( hugelkultur expert, recommends cutting out the sod, digging a one foot deep trench and filling the trench with logs and branches. Then cover the logs with the upside down turf. On top of the turf add grass clippings, seaweed, compost, aged manure, straw, green leaves, mulch, etc... In most situations, the bed may only have to be watered the first year.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why Fresh Flowers on Valentine's Day? by Carol King

Legends and lore abound on why we celebrate Valentine’s day by giving flowers to our loved ones.  Here’s one of my favorites. This one involves the lore of forbidden love and has been favored over other stories by hopeless romantics.

Emperor Claudius II issued an edict forbidding marriage because he felt that married men did not make good, loyal soldiers to fight in his army. They were weak because of the attachment to their wives and family. St. Valentine was a priest who defied Claudius and married couples secretly because he believed so deeply in love. Valentine was found out, put in prison, and later executed.

The law of irony then came into play, as St. Valentine fell in love with the daughter of the Emperor. Prior to his beheading, St. Valentine handed the lady a written note and a single red rose - the very first valentine and the very first fresh flower.  From this, the gifting of flowers for Valentine's day began.

If you receive a gift of fresh flowers from your valentine, here are some tips to make the sentiment last longer.

Cut flowers
Cut the stems of boxed flowers, such as roses or carnations, under water.  Remove leaves and foliage that would be under water. Place the flowers in warm water with a floral preservative added.  Keep flowers in a cool spot away from the sun. Add water every day and every fourth day, change the water completely.

Spring bulbs
Colorful containers of tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and crocus are popular Valentine's Day gifts.  Keep them as cool as practical to prolong bloom. Water when soil dries out.

Red, pink and white flowers make azaleas a natural Valentine's Day gift. Under diffused sunlight and with frequent waterings, the showy blooms can remain in good condition for several weeks if they are kept at 55 to 60 degrees. Never let your gift azalea totally dry out. Because they are woody plants, azaleas can be kept growing from year to year, but getting them to bloom again can be tricky.


Calceolarias and cinerarias
These are popular gift plants because of their vibrant colors. The former also is known as pocketbook plant, because it has pouch-like blooms resembling a purse. Blooms will last longer if you keep the plants at 50 to 60 degrees and if you water frequently.  Water when the soil surface just begins to feel dry.
Here is complete information on keeping Valentine flowers fresh.

Valentine lore Article Source:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Legos and Scarecrows in the Garden By Joyce D’Agostino

Last fall, we went to San Antonio and as part of our trip, we went to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.  The highlight of this visit was not only viewing the beautiful plants throughout this site, but a fun display of plant, animal and insect sculptures made from nearly 500,000 Lego bricks. There are 14 displays placed throughout the Garden, the displays range in size from 6 inches to nearly 8 feet. The largest sculpture is a mother bison, made from 45,143 bricks.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Winter Identification of Deciduous Trees by Audrey Stokes

For most of us, tree identification begins with leaves. Typically, it is the only characteristic of the tree that we ‘dabbling foresters’ examine. Identification of deciduous trees in the winter can be more of a challenge but not impossible when other characteristics are considered.

To make matters easier keep in mind that in one forest location in Colorado you will generally find only five or ten types of trees. There are only some fifty kinds of trees native to all of Colorado, or even less if you do not count those which often grow as large shrubs - low diversity for such a large forested region, some 25,000 square miles, with many habitats.