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Saving Energy January 28, 2009

Posted by liajo in garden thoughts and ideas.
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There is more than one type of energy.  When you plant vegetation that is native to your region you can conserve your own energy.

Gardening can be strenuous exercise, but you can make it a little bit easier just by the type of plants you pick.  Native perennials and self seeders are my favorite type of plants.  Once they are established they require very little of my effort, water or time to look good.

Few vegetables are perennials but picking the ones that are suited for your region will save you lots of personal energy not to mention heart ache if the plant dies.  Some vegetables can be self seeders if you allow them to be.  I almost always have some type of beans or peas growing where I didn’t plant them.  I probably planted there the year or two before and new plants sprout from old pods left on the ground. 

Building gardening beds and fences, moving compost and rocks and laying stone paths all take a lot of personal energy in the gardens.  Tending to the actual plants doesn’t have to take much energy all if you pick your plants well.

Time Saving Native Plants January 26, 2009

Posted by liajo in garden thoughts and ideas.
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clock_screen01I could stay in the gardens forever.  But there are a few other things that I do need do sometimes.  Planting a lot of native plants helps me get out of the gardens quicker when I need to.

Once native plants are established, a season or two at most, they can pretty much take care of them selves.  Even vegetables that are suited for your region take less time than those that are not.

A little weed pulling, mulching and composting a couple of times a season and you should be good to go. 

Native plants will certainly cut down on the amount of time you spend watering.  Unless it gets very dry, most natives are okay with what mother nature gives them.   If it does get drier and hotter than normal watering once or twice a week should get them through.

So if time spent in the garden is an issue, then go native.

Native Benefits January 25, 2009

Posted by liajo in garden thoughts and ideas.
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vegetablegardens_1There are definite benefits to growing native and it doesn’t matter if you prefer to grow flowers, vegetables, shrubs or trees.

While the benefits are numerous they fall into three general categories, water, time and energy.

I’ll look at water today.  If the plant is native to the region then more than likely it has had time to adjust to the water conditions.  That’s why mesquite bushes grow in the Southwest and not the Southeast, they need very little water.

You could always water the heck out of plants that come from a wetter region than yours and they might live.  But is it worth it, watering can be costly and time consuming.  It’s much harder if you plant something from the desert in a more tropical area.  The plant will surely die.

There will always be drought and rainy years when even the native plants struggle a little.  You can also use containers for small plants that are not from your region and make an environment that they can survive in.

But your best bet is to go native.

Most Unusual January 22, 2009

Posted by liajo in garden thoughts and ideas.
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Most people think of native plants as being kind of plain jane’s.  And let’s face it, we all like the shock effect every now and then.  Who wouldn’t want to have the most unusual plants on the block.

But think before you order and plant.  One of my seed catalogs has a most unusual flower called the Bat flower and it is different.  It’s almost black which is different and has bracts that look like whiskers on a cat that almost reach the ground.  Most unusual.

There are a few problems though, the plant is native of China, which is a long way from Colorado.  It’s zones are 10-11 and prefers high humidity, so about the only place it would do well is my bathroom.  The cost isn’t unreasonable at about $10, but that’s still a lot when it’s a pretty sure bet the plant won’t live 6 months.

So as much as I would like to be the first on my block to have a Bat flower, I’ll take a pass and look for some of the plain jane plants that will not only do well in Colorado but thrive for years to come.

Go Native January 22, 2009

Posted by liajo in garden thoughts and ideas.
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barrow__garden_decoration_I look at amazement at all of the exotic plants pictured in the seed catalogs.  Beautiful things I have never seen before.  And it is so tempting to order some of them.

But, no matter how beautiful and exotic they are I’ll leave them off the final order list. 

Why, because when ordering seed and plants it’s best to go native and stick with something that will actually grow and thrive in your area. 

I’ll continue later posts with benefits of native and negatives of exotics.

Way to Hot January 20, 2009

Posted by liajo in weather.
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tempeture20conversionsIt has been way to hot here this winter.  It was reading almost 65 degrees this afternoon.  In the middle of January in Colorado that is just to warm.  And this isn’t an isolated event this winter. 

While my heating bill may be loving, I’m really starting to worry about my gardens.  The gardens should be covered in snow or at least getting a heavy frost each morning and that just isn’t happening.

Besides the really warm weather we’ve been having high winds which just dry things out that much more.

I’m hoping it gets a lot wetter soon.  If it doesn’t I may have to get out the water hose.

Herbal Help January 19, 2009

Posted by liajo in garden thoughts and ideas.
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herbsI’ve had pretty good luck growing most vegetables and flowers.  I usually just sprinkle a few seeds or transplant a few seedlings and watch them grow.

Not so with herbs.  I’ve tried seeds and transplants inside and outside.  I’ve tried giving them almost no water and watering almost daily.  It doesn’t matter, they almost always die.

I’ve heard and read that herbs are basically weeds and easy to grow.  Supposedly they are so easy to grow if you’re not careful they will take over the entire yard.  I wish.

I’m not giving though.  For Christmas I got a Chia gourmet herb garden.  I’ll plant it sometime this week.  I’m also planning a special spot for a herb garden when we dig up the front lawn this year.

I’m counting on the law of averages, sooner or later some of these herbs have actually got to grow.

Seed Catalogs Keep Coming January 13, 2009

Posted by liajo in garden thoughts and ideas.
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amazing_flowers_smallThe seed, plant and bulb catalogs just keep coming.  I look through every page of each one of them.

There really are some great deals and some really different plants.  I’d love to have one of everything.

But instead I’ll stick to what I need and can use.  Mostly this year I’ll be buying vegetable seed and berry bushes. 

I don’t really need anymore flowers, even if I would like to have more.    Over the last five years or so I have gotten a good base of bulbs, perennials and self seeders.  

I’ll be making my final picks in the next month or so and in the mean time I’ll take another look at all the catalogs.

Winter Composting January 5, 2009

Posted by liajo in garden thoughts and ideas, How to tips.
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I practice composting all year.  During the winter months I continue to collect kitchen waste for the compost pile.  And it doesn’t even get smelly.

I have a good sized galvanized pale that sits on the cabinet.  I keep it lined with several pages of newspaper.  It’s large enough to hold 5 to 7 days worth of waste for me and my husband. 

I always recommend a galvanized pale, it doesn’t hold odors the way plastic does and it’s way cheaper than a ceramic container.  Adding coffee grounds daily also helps to keep odors at bay.

If the weather is warm I may empty the pale on the regular compost pile.  If it’s really cold then I just dump it right on the vegetable beds, which are about 5 feet from my back door.  The garden is fenced so I don’t have to worry about the dogs digging around in the waste (Bubba would eat almost anything he found.)  And by spring, most of the waste has decayed right into the beds, so I’ve got nice rich soil when I’m ready to plant.

Don’t forget the bread January 4, 2009

Posted by liajo in garden thoughts and ideas, good things.
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wormsI’ve been spending a lot of time doing what most gardeners do this time of year, reading about gardening. 

One of my favorite subjects is composting.  I love that by composting I can make great dirt for the gardens and reduce our over all waste.

However, almost all the articles I have been reading have left bread off the list of ingredients that are okay to compost, especially whole grain breads.  Most worms, a key part of any good compost pile, like the grains.

So along with fruit and vegetable scrapes, coffee grounds, tea bags and egg shells don’t forget the stale bread.  The worms will thank you.