When you’re in the garden this week, be sure to thank a bee. That’s what Pollinator Week is all about.
The third week in June is designated as National Pollinator Week and there are celebrations planned from coast to coast to raise awareness of the valuable contribution provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and beetles.
Pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food that we eat.
In the U.S. bees alone undertake the astounding task of pollinating over $15 billion in added crop value, particularly for specialty crops such as almonds and other nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables.
In northern Colorado, the Colorado State Beekeepers Association, Northern Colorado Beekeepers Association, Boulder County Beekeepers Association and BBB Seed Company are partnering with 16 nurseries, garden centers, and stores for a special event on Saturday, June 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
It’s been another busy gardening and writing season around here. Because my vegetable garden is finally planted, it’s time for a breather. I thought it might be fun to look back at some of my favorite subjects I’ve written about this season.
On the Lowe’s Creative Ideas website, I’ve been blogging about all kinds of gardening projects for Mountain Region gardeners. One of the recent posts, planting an herb garden in a strawberry pot, was also featured in the June issue of the Corona Tools newsletter.
Of course, this is the time of year when my writing for VegetableGardener.com is at the peak of the season.
You may have wondered how the first settlers were able to grow enough food to feed their families.
Now you have the chance to see it first hand.
“Making Hay: A Field Hand’s Supper” is a special event at the Plains Conservation Center in Aurora, Colo., on Sunday, June 10, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
This is your chance to experience life as an 1887 homesteader, then view prairie wildlife as you enjoy a one-of-a-kind heirloom, organic supper cooked on a wood stove and served outdoors.
This unique program will help you appreciate the challenges of plains farmers as they struggled to bring in a harvest plentiful enough to feed their families and take a cash crop to market.
You’ll also be able to discover how the heirloom crops of yesteryear evolved into the high production crops of today.
It’s time to take the safe lawns pledge.
That lush green lawn that looks so natural is kept that way unnaturally because of a diet of synthetic chemical fertilizers and toxic herbicides.
This year, instead of taking care of the lawn in the conventional way, gardeners should challenge themselves to use fewer chemicals in their landscapes and take an organic approach to lawn care. Instead of feeding the grass, ask “What can I do to feed the soil?”
Building healthy soil is the goal of an organic lawn. Synthetic chemical fertilizers may make the lawn look green and healthy, but chemicals don’t help the soil or feed the beneficial organisms that live there.
Here are six ways to get started on an organic lawn care program:
1. Loosen the soil. Core aerate your lawn at least once a year. Aeration is the mechanical process of pulling small cores of soil out of the ground. Opening up the soil surface allows water and important nutrients to move into the root zone. Core aerate with equipment that pulls plugs three or four inches deep on four-inch centers.
Celebrate Earth Day 2012 by entering to win Jane Shellenberger’s new book, Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West.
Jane is the publisher and editor of Colorado Gardener, a regional gardening magazine that just celebrated its 15th anniversary. As a long-time organic gardener, she shares her gardening experience in this beautiful new book (Fulcrum Publishing, $24.95).
This hands-on resource is sure to help you grow a successful organic vegetable garden.
To win a copy of Organic Gardener’s Companion, just post the top reason you need this book by Friday, April 20 at 5:00 p.m. Mountain time. One name will be selected at random from all comments.
There was such a good response to my post about how to grow round baby carrots, I thought I’d share another garden baby for small-space gardening.
I couldn’t resist the idea of growing “Garden Babies” on the patio.
Garden Babies are a fairly new butterhead lettuce first developed for a sophisticated luxury market for flavor and quality, according to the seed packet information.
After growing one container of them, I have to agree. These babies are fun to grow–and to eat. The leaves are smooth with a nice, buttery texture. I used them in salads and slipped them into sandwiches. I also ate a few right out of the container.
If you’d like to grow these miniature butterheads, follow these steps:
Now’s the time to plant cool-season vegetables and round baby carrots are a top crop.
All I did was sprinkled the seeds on top of the soil of a large container, covered them with a thin layer of soil and kept a close eye on soil moisture until they sprouted. Then over the next several weeks, I thinned the seedlings conscientiously so they’d have plenty of room to grow.
My heart soared every time I pulled a round Romeo carrot from the soil. Each one of those baby carrots was so small, so round and so full of flavor that I couldn’t believe I grew them in a patio container.
I was so happy with those sweet results, I also sowed a late-season crop and enjoyed those little round carrots into the fall.
Thornton, Colo., is all a-buzz because the city council just passed an ordinance allowing backyard beekeeping in the city limits.
That’s the sentiment of Thornton residents interested in keeping backyard bee hives.
A group called Thornton Loves Bees worked hard to convince the city council to adopt a backyard beekeeping ordinance.
Dan Finerty sent an email in January asking for help in the effort to get a responsible beekeeping ordinance passed by contacting members of the city council.
I was happy to send messages to all the council members, thanking those who supported the ordinance and asking the other council members to reconsider their opposition.
Beth Humenik, council member for Ward 3, replied to my message. She had a list of questions about beekeeping that included how many hives are allowed in Denver, what kind of restrictions are in place, timing of bee swarms, amount of honey produced, concerns about super honeybees, and educating neighbors about sprays and pesticides that are harmful to bees.
Another of my “Best Of” selections at the 2012 ProGreen tradeshow is a new idea for container gardening called Smart Pots.
If you’ve followed my blog, you know that every year I have a big container garden of vegetables. I’ve grown all kinds of vegetables and herbs and I’ve grown them in all kinds of containers.
But this year I get to try something new: a Smart Pot aeration container I picked up at ProGreen.
The Smart Pot is a foldable fabric container that’s said to be better than plastic containers because it releases heat from the pot, aerates the root zone and stops roots from circling inside the container. That’s because the container air prunes the plant’s root structure.
There are 4 different container sizes from 7 to 20 gallons. Gardeners can grow garlic, leeks, greens, herbs, beans and small annuals in the 7-gallon size; a 20-gallon Smart Pot is made to grow tomatoes, melons, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and winter squash.
BBB Seed is a big supporter of Colorado’s Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign.
For the last two years, BBB Seed has donated thousands of vegetable and herb seeds to metro Denver’s Plant a Row for the Hungry gardening campaign.
But the company has much more to offer gardeners than its complete line of heirloom vegetable seeds.
In addition to Aunt Ruby’s German green tomatoes, Orange Sun and Sweet Chocolate peppers, and Black Beauty eggplant, BBB seed carries a line of native wildflower seed, cool and warm season grasses, and grass and wildflower mixes.
One special mix gardeners will be interested in this year is the Honey Source Wildflower mix.
The Honey Source combination of seeds was specially created as help for honey bees. It contains a long-blooming mix of nectar and pollen-rich annuals and perennials that attract bees to the garden and that are beautiful, too.