Monday, September 23, 2013

Broccoli flowering by Irene Shonle

This is the first year I have successfully grown broccoli.  Hard to believe, but before I did the garden makeover where I protected my beds from critters, the broccoli was always one of the first plants that they ate.
So, I didn't have a lot of experience in growing it.  I was pleased to see the heads developing and becoming good sized, and was looking forward to various broccoli dishes (unlike some former presidents, I LOVE broccoli!).   One day when I went out to the garden, though, I was startled to see that one of the heads was starting to flower.
Broccoli on the left is starting to flower
Of course, what we're eating when we eat broccoli is really the flower buds, so this shouldn't have been too surprising, but I hadn't expected to have to watch so carefully for the stage where the head stopped increasing in size and decided to flower instead.  But that is indeed what you have to do.  When the head goes from being very tightly packed to somewhat looser and elongated, that's the time to pick the main head -- before it gets to the stage in the picture on the left.  I still used the flowering broccoli in a soup, but it was starting to become quite fibrous.  It is a much better eating experience if you pick it at the stage on the right.

Picking the main head stimulates the production of smaller side heads, so maybe I can redeem myself by watching future heads more carefully.  Or, maybe an early winter will put an end to things before I get my second chance.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Garden of 2013 - A Success by Christy Hoyl

I had a very successful vegetable garden this summer.  I live at 8,550 feet and we had a mild frost the third week in August.  The garden survived several torrential rainstorms and hail.  I had flea beetles in June munching on the arugula and other salad greens but that was it for any bug problem.  I have six raised beds lined with hard cloth to protect from the voles.  I plant the garden memorial day weekend and use seeds except I buy broccoli starts.  My garden is in full sun but the location is in a valley and close to a wetland.  Thus my temperatures are cooler and I have found I cannot grow potatoes or green beans.  The season is too short.  I certainly enjoy all the salad greens which are romaine, bibb, black seeded simpson and arugula.  I plant tyee spinach, kale, bright lights chard, shallots, carrots, peas, radishes and beets.  I do succession planting with romaine, carrots, radishes and chard.  Our friends are helping us enjoy this abundant garden bounty and it's makes me very happy to be able to have had such luck this summer. 

An excellent CSU fact sheet, Colorado Mountain Gardening Basics

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Where is your water coming from and where is it going? by Jana Powell

Here is an example of how slopes are stabilized in nature.

This was my first lesson, as a new intern landscape designer in Evergreen, CO. This simple observation can mean the difference between a healthy and stable slope, or a mudslide. 

The heavy rains this past month have proven to be quite a challenge for mountain landscapes and gardeners. I have a friend that posted a video on Facebook of her 1/8 acre rock garden in Evergreen, that quickly became a running water feature and small creek, within minutes. 

Even very steep hillsides can be productive. Utilize boulders and rocks to make swales and dams. Create trenches where water can move productively, through the landscape. Concrete blocks with holes, and permeable pavers, allow water to percolate into the soil, while providing walking, standing or sitting areas. 

Plants and trees also slow water runoff. They help stabilize slopes and prevent erosion control. 

Mulches such as small bark, grass clippings, straw, and gravel are all good choices for erosion control. Mulch is a great choice for areas with less than 33 percent slope. Vegetation works well on areas with up to a 50 percent slope.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Bee Balm by Trudy Hodges

Bee balm, Monarda didyma, also known by other names such as: Horsemint, and Wild Bergamot is a member of the mint family - Lamiaceae.

Monarda species include annual and perennial herbaceous plants, and occurs in the wild (Mondarda fistulosa around here) as well as a cultivar. Bee balm is a natural source of the antiseptic compound thymol, the primary active ingredient in some commercial mouthwash formulas. Several species, have a long history of use as medicinal plants by Native Americans.

The plant has a flavor described as a spicy oregano, both the flower and the leaves are edible. The leaves can be picked and used fresh or dried in place of oregano, adding spice