Editor's Letter: Summer 2016
The winter and spring moisture has really greened up the plains. By mid May I’m usually resenting the fact that I spend more time at the computer putting this magazine together than I do in the garden, but stormy weather has made it easier to be inside, plus there’s no need to water anything.
It has been difficult to complete some stories though. I waited three weeks to visit Growing Colorado Kids at LB Farms in rural Commerce City because we kept getting rained out so I scrambled to finish the piece. But it was worth it - I’ll be visiting the farm again. I learned a few things about what it’s like to be a refugee in Denver and came away in awe of Denise Lines who saw a pressing need and stepped right up to address it.
I usually run stories about gardeners in different parts of Colorado, but this spring the focus has been on Denver, in part because of logistics and the weather, but also because there’s a lot going on in the city. Here’s the rundown for this issue.
James Wieser wrote, “Mushrooms are Nature’s Farmers” in our Harvest 2015 issue. Here he tells you about some fascinating, practical mycology projects. Wieser works with various groups and individuals on harnessing the power of fungi to break down waste material using edible, harvestable mushrooms. He has the largest native culture library (97 species of mushrooms) at the Center for Experimental and Integrated Mycology-Denver.
Dave Ingram and some other Denver Rose Society members collaborated on a piece about climbing roses and fragrance. The photos show you what’s gloriously possible here with the right varieties.
We continue to profile native plants that are good in gardens with a piece on Serviceberries, written by Irene Shonle, knowledgeable Gilpin County Extension agent. Jan Turner, co-president of the Colorado Native Plant Society, tells you about two edible native shrubs: golden currant and Oregon grape. Many non-native were selected for gardens because they are “pest-free.” While they can attract some beneficial insects, field research clearly shows that native plants attract & support far more – in some cases 100’s of different species of bees, butterflies & other insects. Plant more natives! David Salman from High Country Gardens treats you to “Gardening with Hummingbirds: Growing Natural Nectar Plants.” These plants are great in western gardens and a lot healthier for hummers than sugar water.
The astonishingly diverse beauty of another winged creature, the humble moth, will amaze you. As “Bug Eric” Eaton explains, some are more important pollinators than butterflies, but they have an image problem to overcome. National Moth Week seeks to address this.
If you’re a regular reader of CG you know that Penn and Cord Parmenter grow a huge amount of food at a very high altitude near Westcliffe. Penn explains that Cord is the more measured, efficient, unflappable gardener and reveals his secrets in “A Little Every Day.”
Kelly Grummons’ Gardening Q & A offers food-growing tips this month too, specifically for raspberries, eggplant, and sweet corn. And Mary Lou Abercrombie explains why growing tomatoes, the most popular garden vegetable, isn’t always easy.
As an arborist and nursery owner for decades, Mikl Brawner wants you to know why he disagrees with some currently popular recommendations for planting trees, including the one to use no compost or amendment at all in the hole. About 18 years ago I was chewed-out for running an article by an experienced plantsman and Permaculture practitioner who gave the same recommendation - to backfill the tree hole without any amendment. Opinions change. Read what Mikl has to say.
Summer is garden tour season. Check our Calendar and Marketplace Pages for these and other Summer events, as well as garden products and services you probably won’t find elsewhere.
We publish our Harvest issue toward the end of August. As the spring of our 20 th publishing year winds down, I’m starting to think about finding a successor in the not too distant future. I thought I’d plant the seed here and see if anyone out there has the desire and skills to run a successful and fun gardening magazine. If this sounds appealing, please get in touch.
Excerpts from Issue:
A Little Each Day, “Poco a poco, se va lejos” by Penn Parmenter
There is always way too much to do and no way to get it all done. I feel like I must complete a chore all at once so I can mark it off the list and not think about it again. But that rarely works and I usually blow out my elbow or hands after a long work session like that. But when it comes to gardening Cord has it figured out. He is a big fan of the “do a little each day” concept. He has great success and now that he is building greenhouses full time, it allows him to do both. I’m talking about 30-60 minutes a day; he handles huge gardens this way. Growing Colorado Kids by Jane Shellenberger Lines saw that hunger was the place to start. After hosting informal monthly gatherings in her home for a group of Somali Bantu youth, she organized a neighborhood CSA using a few donated yards in Park Hill to grow vegetables. Refugee youth from several African cultures tended the gardens, shared produce with residents, and took home fresh food for their families. They learned to prepare and cook food, plus they gained job and leadership skills, confidence, and a vision of other possibilities. Serviceberry: A Four-Season Native Shrub by Irene Shonle The flavor varies widely, even within individual plants, from mild to tart and full-flavored. Overall, the blue berries are sweet and are often compared to blueberries (but with a slight nutty nuance that comes from the seeds). As a bonus to Colorado gardeners, the plants actually are happy in our growing conditions, unlike blueberries, which require acidic, organic-rich soils. The fruit is also high in fiber, protein, and antioxidants. Fragrant Edible Natives: Golden Currant & Oregon Grape by Jan Turner As the Native Americans and early settlers of Colorado knew, many of the native plants of the Rocky Mountains, foothills, and plains are good sources of food and medicine. The early inhabitants depended on area natives to satisfy many of their needs. Two early-spring bloomers that are fragrant and edible, Golden currant and Oregon-grape, make great additions to the garden. How to Plant A Tree by Mikl Brawner The hole should be the same depth as it is in the pot and a minimum of twice the diameter of the pot - three times is better. A tree in a 5-gallon pot will require approximately a 12” deep hole, and a few inches deeper for a 7- or 10-gallon tree. Most tree roots live in the top 8”-12” with some bracing roots that go deeper. That is because tree roots need the oxygen and nourishment that is more available in the top of the soil. Gardening with Hummingbirds: Planting Natural Nectar by David Salman A diversity of flowering plants helps support hummingbird populations as plants provide a source of small insects and seasonal flowers for them to feed on during their spring and fall migrations and summer nesting season. There is also an additional benefit. Feeding hummingbirds natural nectar provides natural, mineral -rich simple sugars that cane sugar and water can't duplicate. It's like the difference between a Coke or an organic fruit smoothie. Flowers and feeders can co-exist in the garden, but you find that feeders will be much less frequently visited when there are plenty of flowers upon which to sip. Celebrate National Moth Week by Eric R. Eaton Moths suffer from an image problem. They eat clothing and infest grains. They are dull and drab. Their caterpillars are garden and crop pests. In reality, only a handful of moths fit any of those categories, but we persist in breaking out the pesticides and deploying the bug-zappers just the same. We can thank National Moth Week, July 23-31, 2016, for setting us straight and offering opportunities to get to know these misunderstood creatures. Git On Up! Climbing Roses & Fragrance by Dave Ingram & enthusiasts of the Denver Rose Society Climbing roses appreciate uncompacted organic soil that drains well. They need six hours of sun to do their best, and prefer eastern morning sun. Younger plants should only be pruned to remove dead or damaged growth. If the Queen doesn’t flower much the first two years, well, she’s busy settling in. Give them organic fertilizers (we love Mile-Hi Rose Feed® and their other products - alfalfa meal and kelp meal), which produce healthier plants and better flowers. Oh - and water, enough early on to get them established. Keep your soil moist but not flooded. Older roses may need less than you think. Mulch helps to stabilize soil conditions and reduce water loss. Be patient with your babies. Build roots, then height. Colorado Mycology Projects: Harnessing the Power of the Mushroom by James Wieser Almost any environment that you’re dealing with on the Front Range has had some disruption and damage in the past. Most land has been ranched, farmed, logged, mined, used commercially/industrially, or has been resided on in some way, and much of it has had multiple uses. The native mycelial networks have been damaged and currently exist in a crippled state if they exist at all. If the fungi/mushrooms are nonexistent or damaged, then the spores that we assume will “blow in on the wind” are limited or nonexistent. Tomatoes Aren’t So Easy by Mary Lou Abercrombie Besides heirlooms and hybrids, there are two other tomato categories: determinant and indeterminant. Determinant varieties (or bush tomatoes) have a more compact growth habit, are shorter, and usually produce a large crop all at once then quit. Indeterminant (vining) varieties are the sprawlers. They grow taller, fuller, and need more staking/support. Once they get going they produce fruit all season long but fewer all at once.
This issue is brought to you by Brady’s Garden Centers • Burrell’s Seed Co. • CO Native Plant Society Garden Tour • Denver Botanic Gardens • DogTuff • Echter’s Garden Center • Ecoscape Environmental Design • Elliott Gardens • Fairmount Heritage Rose Sale • Flower Bin • Fort Collins Nursery • Four Corners Horticulture Conference • Gardens on Spring Creek • Graff’s Turf • Big Yellow Bag • Groundcovers Nursery • Growing Gardens • Gwynne’s Greenhouse • Harding Nursery • Harlequin’s Gardens • High Country Gardens • Humalfa • Jared’s Nursery & Garden Center • Lafayette Florist • Long’s Iris Gardens • Loveland Garden Center • McGuckin Hardware • Metro Denver Farmers Market • Nick’s Garden Center • Northern Water Conservation Gardens • Old Santa Fe Pottery • Paulino Gardens • Steven Pfeifer Arborist • PlantSelect • Rick’s Garden Center • Southwest Gardens • Sturtz & Copeland • Tagawa Garden Center • Welby’s Hardy Boy • Windsor Gardener
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