Thursday, August 4, 2016

Colorado passes controversial legalization bill by Irene Shonle, CSU Extension in Gilpin County



Colorado passed a controversial legalization bill.  No, not THAT kind of legalization—we did that a couple of years ago.  No, this bill finally made it legal for us to do what every other state is allowed – or even encouraged—to do: collect rainwater off the roof! 
This is a game changer for Colorado, and especially for people who are on household-use only wells (who previously had NO outdoor water rights).  Rainwater is free and collecting rain could reduce storm water run-off issues.
The bill has not yet been signed by Governor Hickenlooper, but he is expected to do so shortly, as he has been a supporter.  Once signed into law, the bill will take effect August 10th.
Here is the legalese of House Bill 16-1005:
PRECIPITATION FROM A ROOFTOP MAY BE COLLECTED IF: a)  NO MORE THAN TWO RAIN BARRELS WITH A COMBINED STORAGE CAPACITY OF ONE HUNDRED TEN GALLONS OR LESS ARE UTILIZED; (b)  PRECIPITATION IS COLLECTED FROM THE ROOFTOP OF A BUILDING THAT IS USED PRIMARILY AS A SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE OR A MULTI-FAMILY RESIDENCE WITH FOUR OR FEWER UNITS (c)  THE COLLECTED PRECIPITATION IS USED FOR OUTDOOR PURPOSES INCLUDING IRRIGATION OF LAWNS AND GARDENS; AND d)  THE COLLECTED PRECIPITATION IS USED ON THE RESIDENTIALPROPERTY ON WHICH THE PRECIPITATION IS COLLECTED.
2)  A PERSON SHALL NOT USE PRECIPITATION COLLECTED UNDER THIS ARTICLE FOR DRINKING WATER OR INDOOR HOUSEHOLD PURPOSES.
3)  THE STATE ENGINEER MAY CURTAIL RAIN BARREL USAGE PURSUANT TO SECTION 37-92-502 (2) (a).


WSU Extension
I’m sure we will be seeing a plethora of rain barrels in our garden centers in August – or even sooner.  These have been conspicuously absent until now.
It is surprising how little rain it takes to fill those barrels – a half inch of rain collected from just a 200 sq. ft. section of roof will more than fill a rain barrel – and if your roof is bigger than that (most roof sections are), even less rain will do the job!
Some things to consider for your new rain barrel:
·         Place your barrel on a hard or compacted surface, near a garden area you intend to water.  Raise the barrel so you can get a watering can underneath the spigot at the bottom.    Because residents can collect up to 110 gallons, and most barrels are 55 gallons, you may want to look into connectors for the barrels, unless you will be collecting from two separate downspouts.
·         Make sure it has a lid to keep out critters, mosquitoes and children. Opaque barrels will reduce algae growth.
·         Use of rainwater on edible gardens can be tricky.   Everything from bird droppings to pollution to leachate from shingles can potentially cause problems.  These can be minimized by not collecting the first gallons of water after a dry spell (using a first-flush diverter), and only collecting off asphalt shingle or metal roofs (wood shake shingles can cause problems).  Only use food-grade quality rain barrels.  Look for future programming from CSU Extension on water quality issues with collecting rain water.

Plants Need Companions Too Andy Kennedy, master gardener


Linda Lewis shows off one of her companion-focused permaculture gardens on the
2012 YVSC Garden Tour

I learned about Companion Planting a lifetime ago when studying permaculture and urban gardening in Oregon.  I still remember when hearing the term, my vision of a little old couple sitting in their rocking chairs side by side, comforted by their similarities and complimented by their differences. That vision has stuck with me, helping me tap into the age old wisdom of gardening when it comes time again to plant. Whether I’m working on extending our beautiful perennial garden or just planting seasonal vegetables in raised beds, all plants needs companions, just like we do. And just as with humans, some plants thrive with the right companions and some plants simply don’t like each other. Over the years, I’ve found it’s better to know in advance than to find out afterwards that my plants just didn’t like each other!

The topic of companion planting has spawned much debate, and many experts reject the idea entirely. However, much practical application, research, and experience is written on the subject and reasons to be on your game with companion planting are extensive.  Successful plant pairings can aid in pest control, growth, pollination, habitat, and maximizing space and resources. So here are a few companions that I use, and I urge you to start your own list based on the plants you grow, and see what comes of it.

Leafy greens interspersed with edible flowers help ward of pests and make gardens beautiful.
For starters, most people know that planting marigolds, nasturtiums, and tansy are good for the garden. They make tasty flowers you can eat as well, so we sprinkle them throughout our gardens. Often it’s their fragrance that repels the pests that like to eat your vegetables, and most of these claims have been tested. Garlic, onion and chive help ward off pests as well, so we like to plant them throughout our gardens too. That said, beans do not like onions, so we give the beans and peas their own space with the squash, and they usually thrive. A common pest that often plagues our brassicas is the white cabbage moth.  It can be deterred by thyme, hyssop, rosemary and wormwood.  Dill also can improve the growth and health of the cabbage family, but keep in mind, it hinders carrots. (But, according to Louise Riott, carrots love tomatoes.)

Author Andy Kennedy showing off tall fall sunflowers, planted next to the potatoes in their Priest Creek Ranch garden share plot.
After pests, we consider yield.  Cucumbers have a shorter season and can do well in our climate if we pay attention. It’s good to know they don’t like potatoes and some herbs; they love beans, sunflowers and radishes.  As radishes are easy to grow here - we always grow at least two yields a year - reseeding them next to your cucumbers makes them both happy.
All around town I see strawberries growing in rows or out of cinder block on their own. This is another potential high-yielding crop in this region (think “Strawberry Park”) and is one of the most companion-loving plants I know. Strawberries play nice with just about anyone, except cabbage.  

They thrive in a dense community atmosphere: think about their wild counterparts growing in the forests. I learned long ago to plant strawberries with borage, which deters pests and draws massive numbers of pollinators.
Borage- attracts pollinators and wards of pests
Some plants like to be moved each season, and “rotating” your crops is good for the soil, but some plants, tomatoes in particular, like to be in the same spot each year. So we keep notes on where our plants have been, year to year, in our gardening journal.
Every year I go back to that gardening notebook, compare it with the expert blogs and websites (most seed companies have great companion lists), and start anew. Some plants still thrive, and some still fail. It’s the nature of gardening. Knowledge is only half the battle, and it takes a lifetime to gather. Hopefully my husband and I will be rocking on our porch in our elder years, still watching our plants grow.


Andy Kennedy has called the Yampa Valley home since 1998 and “graduated” from the CSU Extension Master Gardener program in 2015. She calls herself the “absent gardener” because she frequently travels with her husband, Craig; they rely on an automated watering system and harvest “whatever comes up.” It takes the stress out of gardening.