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.

While I had traveled back and forth to the Denver area over the last 40 years I had not lived in the foothills or mountains.  We began moving in in April.  At that time my daughter who lived and gardened in Indian Hills asked me to plant and propagate seeds for her garden.  I did!  That is where my water wise gardening lessons began.

At the time I moved here I applied to be a master Gardner volunteer in Colorado.  I was accepted and would begin the program in January of 2013.  I wish I had read more of the material at the time I applied for the program. I would have learned about the 7 Principles of Water Wise Landscape which would have aided my transitioning the plants that I moved here with and the general planting and growth of the seeds that I had started.  Those 7 Principles are:

1. Planning and design for water conservation, beauty and utility
2. Hydrozoning
3. Water efficiently with appropriate irrigation method 
4. Crafting practical turf and non-turf areas 
5. Improving the soil 
6. Mulching to reduce evaporation 
7. Maintaining with good horticultural practices

Of these principles 1, 2, and 3 would have solved what challenges I encountered.  I needed to realize that some of the trees I brought with me would struggle and die here.  The reason being low humidity lack of proper hydrozoning.  I lost 20 of the 35 trees I brought by October.  I am waiting to see what the winter did to the rest.  I did some watering during the winter but I do not believe enough.

I lost over half of the the African violets due to lack of efficient watering.  However, all my orchids made it.  They are larger and bloomed more than they did in Michigan.

The seeds I planted developed well but were planted late.  The peppers and tomatoes struggled and died because of the shortness of our growing season but the squash did well and produced great fruit. All the flowers grew well and flowered.

I have started another set of seeds for 2013.  I started them in early March and they are doing well and are ready to plant.

All in all 2012 was a great learning experience for even an experienced gardener.    

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