Friday, October 26, 2012

Outdoor Vermicomposting at 8000' - Part 1, The Worm Bin by Tina Ligon

Figure 1 - Repurposed refrigerator - it is now a worm bin
Yes, you can do vermicomposting outdoors, year round at 8000' and yes, it does take a little effort. I started my outdoor bin in August 2009. I successfully kept worms in the bin in 2009 and 2011. I moved all of the worms indoors in 2010 due to a work assignment out of state so wasn’t around to give them the attention needed. This article is about the bin, I plan to blog more about the other aspects of outdoor vermicomposting at altitude in the future.

I originally saw the example of using a discarded refrigerator as a bin at the Sustainability Fair in Fort Collins.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Be conscious of your manure compost – by Tulsi French

Tomato with Herbicide Damage

After adding manure to our soil last year, our tomatoes have not had a chance.  We received slightly aged horse manure from a friend of ours in Gilpin County.  We were unaware the manure had small traces of Milestone herbicide (Aminopyralid). The herbicide was used in the horses’ grazing fields to treat noxious weeds. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Yep, that was a “Hard Freeze” by Tina Ligon

Dill covered with Ice

I think it is a safe assumption that all of us mountain gardeners have had a “hard freeze” by now. I was curious about the terms frost, soft vs. hard freeze and a few other terms that describe those temperatures and conditions that occur around the freezing point of water, 32 F/ 0 C. With a background in science, I am familiar with the behavior of water as it approaches the freezing point but what about these other terms.

Late blooming Daylily

After a little research, it looks like these terms mostly come from meteorologists and the agricultural community. Plus the terms only seemed to be thrown around in the Spring and Fall, we don’t hear much about a frost warning when there is a foot of snow on the ground. Although I learned, it is that frost on snow that leads to higher avalanche danger in certain conditions. Here are some general terms and definitions that I found in the Farmer’s Almanac that seem to be in alignment with National Weather Service guidelines:
FROST: Damage depends upon length of frost duration.
LIGHT FREEZE: 29 degrees F to 32 degrees F / -2 degrees C to 0 degrees C. Tender plants killed with little destructive effect on other vegetation.
MODERATE FREEZE: 25 degrees F to 28 degrees F / -4 degrees C to -2 degrees C. Wide destruction on most vegetation with heavy damage to fruit blossoms and tender semi-hardy plants.
SEVERE FREEZE: 24 degrees F / -4 degrees C and colder. Heavy damage to most plants.
It is all interesting information but seems to be a moot point when we experience a >50 F drop in one day (78 to mid-20s at my house) here in Colorado. Within the next 24-48 hours I saw lows around 18. So needless to say I wasn’t out there trying to cover and protect tender vegetation, the game was over for this year.

Ice crytals on Cotoneaster

Below are a few CSU Extension links to some great reminders about some items to take care of in the Fall to put our gardens and landscape to bed for the winter. Plus enjoy the pictures of the beauty associated with those icy mornings.