Monday, October 31, 2011

Forcing Bulbs - Part 1 - Cold Treatment

While at a local discount store the other day, I bought some spring bulbs with the intent of forcing them inside.

After finishing my speech on lasagna gardening at the monthly meeting of my garden club, I ask for their suggestions and observations on forcing bulbs.  Everyone agreed that I needed to refrigerate them - however, there was no agreement on how long.

When I googled forcing bulbs, the University of Minnesota Extension Service suggested refrigerating them October 1st for 12-13 weeks.  Click here for their website.  Hit the left arrow to return.

As I didn't get them into cold storage until several weeks late (October 24), I hope they are forgiving.  I chose the refrigerator rather than the garage as the bulbs will not survive if they freeze, and I couldn't guarantee that.

Since I have multiple bulbs, I will mark my calendar for the day after Christmas to start rotating them out of cold storage.  We will see how the experiment goes...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Zone4 Magazine and Website

A year or so ago, I subscribed to Zone4, a gardening magazine about "LIVING in the high country WEST."  Their subscription advertisement said "ZONE4's expert contributors offer advice on everything you need to know to be a successful gardener in the short, dry growing seasons of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Idaho."  It should have mentioned "high altitude," too.

"Plus," they continue, "Q & A with Montana State University's top horticulturist Dr. Bob Gough, sustainable sources of local foods, recipes, farmers markets, flowers on MainStreet, outdoor art, and more."

The price is $24 a/year or $40 for 2 years.  It is published four times a year.   It is expensive to publish a beautiful, slick magazine like this, and I knew I needed to put my money where my mouth was.

When I first saw this magazine, I was low-water ideas deprived:  not only did I order up a two-year subscription, but I sprung for back issues as well.

The 2011 Fall Edition is out, and I am awaiting their 2011Winter Edition.

Meanwhile I watch them online.  Click here to view their website. Click the back arrow to return.  Highlights of their website include their issue back-issues index, videos, store (everyone has a gardener on their Christmas gift) and a recipe corner.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tomato Guy - Part IV - Tomato Plants

More from Tomato Guy.

After the last frost next spring, it will be time to populate the tubs.

The Tomato Guy buys his stock from nine different retailers hoping to find a variety of different growers.  He reasons that if one plant is diseased his whole crop is not ruined and the summer's growing season is not lost.

It will be interesting to see when I check back with him in the spring the answers to the following questions about the planting and care of his tomato transplants:
  • how deep; vertical or horizontal 
  • how close to the last-frost date
  • how to protect tender plants 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tomato Guy - Part III - Soil and Mulch

More from Tomato Guy.

When he fills his orange tubs, he puts five or six inches of mulch in the bottom.  Then he puts a weed barrier.  Then he puts Miracle Grow garden soil.  From the looks of his containers, he puts enough Miracle Grow so that the soil line comes within a couple of inches of the rim.


potting soil

When he disassembles his tubs in the fall, he doesn't reuse his mulch for tomatoes.  He puts it around other plants in his yard.

The Miracle grow is another story.  He screens it using chicken wire to get rid of any tomato roots.  These roots can cause diseases harmful to his next tomato crop, he says.   When he empties the soil, he puts it in a pile in the backyard awaiting spring.

Before next spring he will buy a couple of bags of small to medium mulch for the bottom layer, put a new layer of weed barrier, add his recycled Miracle Grow and top off his tubs with new Miracle Grow garden soil.

Each fall, the Tomato Guy does as many gardening chores as possible as he is very busy in the spring.

To be continued...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Tomato Guy - Part II - Containers

More from the Tomato Guy.

He uses orange dunking-apple tubs with handles that he got in an after-Halloween sale at Wal-Mart last year.  Below is a photo of the label from this year's stock.  He chose orange rather than black or another dark color as he thought the lighter color would absorb the less heat and be gentler on the tomato plant's sensitive root system.

The Tomato Guy pokes a couple holes in the bottom of each tub for drainage.

He likes the rope handles as he easily hauls them into the garage when hail or other bad weather threatens.  They are not heavy as he uses a layer of soil and mulch mixture.

To be continued...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Giant Sunflowers near Superior

No water, fertilizer required.
giant sunflowers

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Snake in the Sidewalk

Can you see the snake along the crack in the sidewalk?  It is in the center of the photo horizontally, and its head almost touches the shadow in the lower left of the photo.

Coming home from errands, I stepped right over it as it was peacefully sunbathing and camouflaged by the crack where the driveway meets the front patio.

The nights are chillier now, and I am sure it's enjoying the warmth of the fall sun before hibernation.  The photo doesn't show the tail end, but there are no rattles.  We have always called these garden snakes, and a quick check of the internet confirms it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Tomato Guy - Part I - Heat and Sunshine

First report from the Tomato Guy.

Recently while visiting an estate sale, I noticed nine tubs of tomato plants across the street.  The vines were huge, and there were lots of tomatoes on each.  I knew I had to interview this Colorado gardener.

I stopped by, and luckily he was home.  He gave me an earful - he has been doing this awhile and was very eager to share.  Not realizing I was going to get so much information, I had brought only a scrap of paper with me.  As we sat on his front porch, I scribbled frantically on that scrap poised on my knee.  I wanted to get it all.

I asked him if I could come back towards spring to document his process, and he agreed.  Today is the first installment of the preliminaries, and I will continue until I run out of notes.

Physical layout: As shown in the picture below, his gardening tubs run down the property line of his shared driveway and on the westside of his house.  There are no shade trees blocking the hot-afternoon Colorado sun.  Although he has a few tomato plants in the back yard, the vast majority are here as heat and sunshine are very important.

Between the Sunday estate sale and my interview, the Tomato Guy harvested the last of his crop and tore out the vines.  He thought his crop could have lasted longer into the fall; but for three weeks during the heat of August, he was on vacation and a substitute watered them.  Watering tomato plants in bloom and in fruit is tricky, and they were never the same again.

Someone in his neighborhood bothers his plants, so he installed a surveillance system.  Hence the sign.

To be continued...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gathering Tender Plant near Back Door

It is that time of year.  Jack Frost came last week when meteorologists forecasted snow for the mountains.

Luckily a week ago Saturday, I gathered plants needing protection near the back door so they could be covered at a moment's notice.  I wanted to be ready.  No doubt, we will have more bright, warm and sunny days to enjoy these plants and the garden.

Some of these plants are destined to overwinter in a small greenhouse in near a window in our garage.  Some will go back to being seasonal house plants.  Some will go to the compost pile.

Below is an aster we saw when we stopped to look at an old car on Guy Hill recently.  I have cousin to this plant in the yard - it is pink and passed its prime.  Got the yard one from the garden club plant sale this past spring, and it settled in nicely.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Look what I found in a Lakewood yard - 1930 Chevy Planter

For more pictures of the 1930 Chevy planter, check our Sister Blog Colorado Classic Cars for more 1930 Chevy pictures.
table out of wooden spoked wheels

girl friend's gift - old car planter

more old car shell

old car shell as planter

mail person's eye candy

more eye candy