Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Perennial" Markers for a Square-Foot Garden by Caroline Reardon

Square-Foot gardens appeal to many of us who love some organization in our plantings. Marked off in square-foot sections, the garden is a visual grid for growing a variety of crops, one in each section. 

In 2006, my husband and I built four wood raised-bed square-foot gardens, and I came up with this system for marking the grids. The twines, stretched for spring planting and loosened for the winter, are still in good shape after five years.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Steamin' Compost by Elaine Lockey

A tumbler-style compost bin
 While visiting the Rooney Road Recycling Center this winter I happened to see a rather prehistoric-looking vision.  The huge piles of brush in their organic waste area looked like primordial vents as they emitted steam on a day that wasn’t warmer than 20F. 

For gardeners, the knowledge that in the middle of a compost pile, temperatures can be over 140F - well that’s just exciting! If you haven’t already started composting, there are many resources out there to help you get started including classes and internet information.  CSU Extension has a great Fact Sheet on composting yard waste.  

The statistics are rather shocking: grass clippings, leaves and yard waste make up 20% of Denver’s household trash.  Composting yard waste combined with kitchen waste can reduce by 300lbs per person how much we send to the landfill annually. (Source: Denver Recycles) Plants lose between 50-75% of their volume in composting so it is an effective way to cleanup your yard. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Project BudBurst by Elaine Lockey

Prunus x cistena, Purple-leaf Sand Cherry

One of the neatest studies I’ve recently learned about is called Project BudBurst.  This project began in 2007 in an effort to monitor seasonal plant change by involving the public. Ultimately the goal is to see what effect climate change might be having on plants in different regions of the US. Project BudBurst is co-managed by the National Ecological Observatory Network, Inc. (NEON) and the Chicago Botanical Garden.

Citizen scientists carefully observe plants in their backyards or even while out in parks and other places and report data, such as, when there is a first leaf, first flower, first fruit, end of flowering or when 50% of leaves have fallen off a plant.  Anyone can participate and it is a great fun to go out and examine your plants and see what they’re up to for your own knowledge and also to share your information with others for research. The goal is to get as much diverse plant information as possible. There are reports in already for 2011 from around the US on their website and they are fun to read.  One is from Erie, Colorado, for a first leaf on an apple tree- dated March 1!   

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bloggers' Dreams and Nightmares. Plant Hopes and Desires!

Taking our cue from a Denver Post article about their garden writers' desires for the garden season, here are some of our bloggers' dreams and nightmares! 


Plants I'll always plant:  Tomatoes because I enjoy making fresh salsa and blts with them; penstemons because there is such a variety, I find them easy to grow and they "go" with everything.

Plants I'm itching to try: Blueberries…in Colorado? 'nuff said.

Forget about it!  Chocolate flower.  My soil is builder's clay, poorly drained and poorly oxygenated.   I can meet the sun requirements, but it needs better drained soil than I can provide.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Value of a Vegetable: Starting Your Garden From Seed by Patti O'Neal

Photo by Duane Davidson
When Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, gardeners everywhere sprung into action, no longer just pouring over seed catalogues and wishing, but whipping out the credit cards and typing madly on computers, getting orders placed lest we not get the latest, newest or most prized seed from our favorite sources.

Yes, it is time to start planning the 2011 vegetable garden and begin gathering the supplies we will need. Why do I get so excited about my vegetable garden? You can’t get away from all the information and encouragement to get more vegetables and fruits into your diet that is available these days.  Neither can you argue with the tight budgets that our current economy has handed many, if not most, of us.  So growing your own vegetables is a way to address the nutritive needs of our bodies, while being respectful of our pocket books.  In addition, I find the exercise and connection to the land very satisfying. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

“Non compost mentis” by Gardener Dave

I don’t abhor most garden chores,
not even the raking of leaves
But there’s one thing I do not do
It’s one of my favorite peeves

Organic gardeners, throw your darts
and tell me I’m not being Green
But I just can’t save up everything
for a turning-barrel and screen

Some compost everything they have
including their table food scraps
But I will buy my compost “done”
from a nearby Nursery, perhaps

I won’t have to remember to turn it
and keep it’s temperature high…
not even remember to keep out things
which have pesticides that I apply

I’ll shun the “delight” of making my own
I’ll just buy some, and plant me a tree
I like to do many things that are Green
but composting is not one for me

Gardener Dave

Note: The title of my poem is not original with me (shame, shame!). One of those who beat me to it is the author Darrell Schweitzer, who wrote: Non compost mentis: “An affrontery of limericks and other eldritch metrical terrors” (sound interesting?). There are no doubt other aberrations of non compos mentis, but I’m too lazy to look them all up, and your interest is probably flagging anyway. :o)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Upside-Down Tomato Planters by Duane Davidson

My upside-down tomato vine in early October.
As I start plans for the coming gardening season it's time to evaluate several experiments from last year. Among them was a trial of one of the upside-down tomato planter.  Let me share my results. I'll begin with some overall findings and then fill in the details.

• I harvested several dozen small-medium size tomatoes from a tomato plant that grew hanging from the bottom of an "upside-down tomato planter." I picked them into late fall.

• There were no insect or disease problems except for a single instance of blossom-end rot.

• It was difficult to monitor moisture levels inside the container, but I made a daily check part of my morning chores.

• To avoid frost at the end of the season I moved the container to a sunny spot indoors where tomatoes continued to ripen on the living tomato vine.