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Water the Compost March 2, 2009

Posted by liajo in garden thoughts and ideas.
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compostbinopenMoisture is a key ingredient in composting.  Normally at this time of year my composting area would be covered by snow or at least very wet from melting snow.

But not this year.  Record high temperatures and on the driest February on record have dried the compost out.  Without the moisture the composting process almost stops.

My solution, water the compost.  I started doing just that week and I’ll keep it up every few days as long as it stays so dry.

Never Before In February February 25, 2009

Posted by liajo in garden thoughts and ideas.
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tree_photoMother Nature has given us a double blow this winter, not enough moisture and too much wind.

This week I started watering the gardens and raking and watering the back lawn.  I’ve never done that before in February and we’ve lived in our house for 13 years.

In a usual February we should still have snow on the ground in the shady areas of the yard and mud everywhere else.  Not this year.

I’ll keep watering a little until we get some moisture.  I’m afraid if I don’t do it now it will be to late in a couple of months and there will be no hope for the gardens and this grass this spring.

High and Dry February 8, 2009

Posted by liajo in garden thoughts and ideas.
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tempeture20conversionsWe should be dealing with snow drifts or at the very least mud puddles everywhere.  Instead we have been left high and dry.  Average snow fall for Denver at this time of year for the season is about 62 inches.  So far for this season we’ve had only 16 inches of snow.

It is true that March and April are two of our snowiest months, but I’m starting to get worried.  I rely on a wet winter to give the gardens the jump start they need in the spring. 

If we don’t get much snow or even rain during the next six weeks I’ll probably scale back my planting plans.  I’d rather down size the gardens now instead of going ahead with the plantings and hoping for the best later. 

I know from experience that it can be both expensive and time consuming to keep a garden going when there is not enough water. 

But for the next weeks I’ll appeal to Mother Nature for more moisture.

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.

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.

No Watering November 16, 2008

Posted by liajo in How to tips.
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green20livingThis post is in response to a comment I had from Jeannie at http://pinecottage.wordpress.com.  She asked about gardening with water restrictions which can be tricking.  Actually she said they are not supposed to water outside at all.  Now those are tough gardening conditions.  I have a few ideas that might help some.

First is mulching.  I mulch everything.  It really does help to hold in any water plants get.  I don’t use anything fancy, just grass clippings and leaves.  Jeannie lives in a mountain area and pine needles are supposed to be great for mulching also.  

Second, recycle water.  I do this in two ways.  I have tubs and barrels all over the yard that catch rain water.  I even use the wheel barrel.  After a good rain, you’ll have water for a week or so.  If you have rain gutters on the house place a large barrel (55 gallons) at the down spout.  You can buy a complete system on line or make your own.  Make sure there is a cover.  It will help to keep the mosquito from breeding in the water. 

For container and house plants I recycle the rinse water from doing the dishes.  I don’t have a dish washers, so all the dishes are done by hand anyway.  Many plants, like roses, love a little bit of soapy water.  I even have friend who recycled her sons bath water.  When I was growing up I had an aunt that lived on a farm.  All the “gray water” from the house went straight to the vegetable garden.  This actually upsets water companies, something about only paying for the once and using it twice.  Give me a break.

Third, use a greenhouse.  This was my first summer growing vegetables in a greenhouse.  The tomatoes loved it.  A very little bit of water made nice humidity.  Something we don’t have much of in Colorado.  Pick the right type of plants though.  The peppers hated it, it was too wet for them.

Forth, try and buy native plants, especially flowers.  I’ve done a lot a reading on native plants and plan to choose my flowers more carefully.  Bottom line, if it’s native to the area, it should survive with the water mother nature provides.

I’ve never tried this last one but it may work.  Jeannie lives in an area that probably gets a lot of snow.  If you can recycle rain water, you might be able to recycle snow.  Here’s what I’m thinking.  Some type of barrel that can with stand the frost/freeze cycles.  Fill it with snow during the winter and let it melt.  If anybody has tried this let us know.

I must admit, I’ve never gardened with no water, that has got to be a challenge.  I hope some of the above ideas help and good luck.

Late fall November 8, 2008

Posted by liajo in general.
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tree_photoLets face it, nature is not always a beautiful thing.  I’m thinking my little part earth isn’t so pretty now.

All of the summer greenery has turned brown and withered.  The trees look more like skeletons without their leaves and the grass is now an ugly color of brown.

Everything needs water, its been a dry fall.  Even on cold mornings there is no frost, there’s not enough humidity.

It should snow soon.  The first of the season.  It’s kind of late this year.  The snow will clear the dust out of the air and make everything look bright and crisp.

Never thought I’d look forward to snow but it will help nature be beautiful again.  It will make it more alive and not seem so brown and dead.

Rain water recycled September 15, 2008

Posted by liajo in good things.
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Here in northern Colorado rain water is something we don’t get enough of.  Because of that I have everyday items out on the patio and in the yard to catch the rain when it does come.  Last Friday we got a really good rain.  Today I used some of that water that I collected in the wheel barrow and tubs to water the tomatos and peppers in the greenhouse.

If you garden and don’t have some type of system to collect rain water I would suggest that you set one up.  It can be hi-tech and costly or simple and inexpensive.  I’ve seen everything from 55 gallon rain barrels with hoses placed under gutters to simple contains around the yard.  Pick what works best for you.