Thursday, February 23, 2017

Planning and Getting Ready for Garden 2017 by Ed Powers

I live between Conifer and Evergreen at 7600 feet.  I have lived here for more than 5 years with gardening challenges galore.  Last year I built 2- 4 feet by 4 feet raised gardens.  Quite frankly, even at that size I had the best garden I have had up here.  I also grew some tomatoes indoor over the winter that produced the largest best fruit I have ever had gardening.  So moving forward this year, I decided to start my tomatoes, squash and peppers along with several flowers in December/ January in 2017.  I will also start a second crop in February.  My hope is that they will survive to be larger plants in June.  My belief and experience from last year is that this l will produce a better garden.  I also intend on building another raised garden 8x3 feet.
I have started the process by planting seeds I saved from last year since they are all heirlooms.  This will include Russian Black Crim tomatoes (this is the 3rd season for these seeds so they should adapted somewhat to our climate), Mortgage Makers, Nebraska Wedding, an unknown store bought cherry tomato and a black cherry tomato. These last tomatoes where saved from seeds of last year.  I am also growing heirloom banana peppers, hot peppers, spaghetti squash and butternut squash indoors early in hopes to be able to transplant successfully outdoors in June.  Again, these last items are seeds from last year.  I realize that it is not a good idea to transplant a plant that is too large, but I had so much success last year I am going to try it again.

I am now in the process of buying or ordering heirloom seeds from reliable seed dealers.  I want to add zucchini and yellow squash, Casper and a small purple squash, beets, turnips, rutabagas, carrots and spinach.  I plan to plant the beets, carrots, turnips, rutabagas and spinach in late March to mid-April.

Of course, I will be working and adding mulch my raised gardens as this is as important to my growing as getting the right seeds.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Selecting Houseplants by Kurt M. Jones, Chaffee County Extension Director

            Houseplants add to the d├ęcor of any room or office.  Look at any magazine photograph of a room, and plants will be visible.  In today’s lifestyle of high technology and fast pace, many people are re-discovering the joy of raising houseplants.
            Houseplants play a dramatic role in the design of a room.  Office lobbies have utilized plants to help the visitor feel more comfortable and to give the impression that this space is lived in.  Plants offer a unique contrast in many homes and offices.  Adding plants to a high-tech work environment offers a contrast or highlight to these areas.
            Plants can vary in looks, size, and shape.  It is important to consider not only the size of the plants you wish to decorate with, but also the growing conditions for the plant.  Plants requiring full sunlight will not be as productive in hallways.  Some houseplants are also adversely affected by cold drafts, thereby limiting where they can be placed in the home.  Give some thought about where you would like plants in the home. Choose plants that will be able to grow within the space while considering the available light, presence of heat registers or drafts in hallways, and what the mature size of the plant will be in confined spaces.
            Houseplants only offer a feeling of comfortable living if they are healthy and flourishing.  Houseplants in poor health will suffer browning leaves and stems and become eyesores.  Careful plant selection and some common-sense plant care can aid in the success of home horticultural projects.
            First of all, start with the healthiest plants possible.  Purchasing plants from reputable retailers can help the novice gardener have success.  Knowledgeable horticulturists can also assist with plant selection for your home.  Closely examine the plants that are displayed to choose the healthiest ones.  Look for the plant with small spaces between the leaves.  Large spaces between leaves can be in indication of over-fertilization, overcrowding in the greenhouse, or inadequate light for long periods of time.  Plants should have few brown-edged leaves and few trimmed leaves (particularly on new growth).
            Buying a small plant and hoping it will grow into a large plant to fill a particular space can be a lengthy and frustrating process.  It is difficult to achieve greenhouse growing conditions in a home or office.  Mature plants also tend to be better at adapting to new growing conditions.
            Houseplants can also be a neat activity for children to get involved in.  Learning about how to care for plants will help to develop important life skills such as responsibility and life-long learning.  Parents can encourage these skills by allowing the children to care for household plants or through establishing small home gardens where the youth are involved in the planting and care of the young plants.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Have you ever tried the method of planting by the moon? by Sandy Hollingsworth

Have you ever tried the method of planting by the moon? Although most scientists have much skepticism since scientific evidence of the moon’s influence on plant growth is lacking, it is intriguing and has been practiced by believers for centuries. A class at the past Timberline Gardens in Arvada inspired further pondering of the anecdotal evidence. The teacher had practiced these methods for decades and was a true believer reporting measurable differences in seed sprouting successes by their growers.

Planting by the moon is a theory by which gardeners plant on dates based on the phases of the moon and its purported influence on water in the soil and plants. The theory is coupled with the moon traveling through each of the twelve zodiac signs staying in each for two or three days, then these dates are used for planning. Water and earth signs are considered “fruitful” days to sow, while air and fire signs are considered “barren” days. You can decide what you think as you read references such as  and which has detailed explanations of lunar cycles and some research of the influence of the moon on the moisture in the soil and test plantings of root and leafy vegetables during lunar planting phases. While you are reading, you can compare Scientists’ findings such as NASA’s Goddard Institute which concludes that the moon phases effect on soil temperature and moisture content is not documentable and the gravitational pull is at a smaller level than would affect any biochemical processes. Is it our gardeners’ hopeful optimism? At the very least it is fun winter reading.
In general, the first quarter of the moon is the believed by Practitioners to be the best time for planting vegetables that produce above ground edible parts and its seed outside the fruit such as broccoli, kale, chard, spinach, parsley, lettuce, and salad greens.
In the second quarter until the full moon, gravitational pull is less, but the moonlight is strong, thought to create strong leaf growth. You’d plant vegetables bearing seed inside the edible fruit and fast germinators such as beans, peas, and if you have the right growing environment tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, eggplant, peppers and squashes.
In the third quarter following the full moon, gravitational pull is high but the moonlight is decreasing, putting energy into plant roots so plant root crops such as beets, turnips, carrots, potatoes, radishes, garlic, and onions are best. It is also believed to be good for planting perennials, biennials, flowering bulbs and transplanting because of the active root growth.
In the fourth quarter and the new moon, Practitioners believe that the lunar gravity creates balanced root and leaf growth so it best to let plants be and do other garden tasks like tilling, pruning and amending. Seeds planted on poor lunar planting days are said to rot and not germinate.
Even the Farmers’ Almanac website states that you should talk with your local greenhouse or agricultural extension office for the optimal window of time within which to use these gardening by the moon dates since, while consistent across all growing zones, the recommended dates are still "weather permitting. We mountain gardeners are primarily in zone 3 and our season is considered “short”. You might try starting seeds indoors using the moon phases then plant outside when our weather and soil warms. Whatever you decide, happy gardening!