Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Introduction to Seed Planting 101

Calypso Bean Seedlings
We all have planted seeds at some point in our lives. I’m talking about the ones you buy in little packets at the grocery or a local garden center… (not the abstract ones you hope the recipient will somehow pick up on as they walk away).  After years of thinking I should be able to do this in a flash of the reflected light in my living room, I came to learn I didn’t have a clue as to what I thought I was doing!  A friend on an organic farm in Oregon actually sent me a whole ‘how to’ package with seeds, on what to do a few years ago. Barb & I were talking basic lettuce then.  Within a month, I claimed first rights for the brown thumb club in seed starting.  Finally, I achieved success at it this year!  I’ve actually germinated some seedlings that will make their way into my garden in the weeks ahead.  Actually, I have seen the light, been to the Baker Seeds west coast store in Petaluma, gotten my shelves, lights, soil and containers all set and I’m now on my way to bigger things … like how to keep the dog away from sampling sugar pea seedlings.  She actually sampled 4-5, so I know even she was appreciating my successful efforts!

Here are the tips I’ve learned this past winter.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Beginner's Lesson in Water Wise Gardening by Ed Powers

My family and I moved from Detroit, Michigan to Evergreen, Colorado above 7500’ in 2012.  I was a certified Master Gardner in Michigan and had gardened for over 30 years there.  I planted and grew over 100 types of vegetables, flowers, bushes and trees. I grew African violets and orchids as well.  I brought them with me.  I was also involved in Bonsai trees of which I brought 35 indoor and outdoor trees.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bye-bye Juniper by Irene Shonle

Okay, confession time.  Despite knowing better, I had been harboring a common juniper less than ten feet from my house (in defensible space zone 1, the most important area to mitigate that is closest to your house --see this publication for more details: ).

Junipers are extremely flammable due to their high resin content, and should be removed from zone 1.   I knew this, but I liked the way it looked in its bed, and I just couldn't bring myself to remove it.

Garden bed after the Juniper was removed.  I forgot to take a before picture.

Nothing like teaching a class on fire preparedness followed by firewise landscaping to make you practice what you preach!  I finally ripped it a couple days ago when the snow all melted.  I'll have to review the bed once the remaining plants come in to see what I want to do with it.  On the bright side, I guess it gives me a new opportunity to buy plants -- I didn't have many open spaces left in my garden.

For more information on firewise landscaping, please see this fact sheet:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Hardening off plants -- By Irene Shonle

If you live in the mountains, you surely practice what I call the "hardening off" dance. 

You have houseplants like geraniums that want to spend the summer outside.
You have seeds that you started inside.

All of these plants need to be slowly acclimated from their nice pampered existence indoors to the harsh realities of the mountain climate.
Houseplants and seedlings hardening off in the shade

I recommend first putting them outside on a cloudy day or in the shade, in order to expose them to wind.
Then expose them to gradually increasing amounts of sunshine - dappled first (if you can find it), then full sun, then longer periods of full sun.

Of course, at this time of year, there's always the threat of frost, so even after the plants toughen up a bit, I watch the forecast, and bring them in if it threatens to drop below freezing.  Hence "the dance".

Friday, May 10, 2013

Chitting Potatoes -- by Irene Shonle

 Potatoes are good crops for mountain gardeners to try, since they prefer temperatures very similar to ours.

We are excited to try a new cultivar of potato, developed by our very own Agricultural Experiment Station in the San Luis Valley -- the "Masquerade" potato.