How to make aerated compost tea for your garden

compost for teaIf you’re a gardener who’s been conscientiously composting your kitchen waste and using the rich, crumbly material as a soil conditioner in your garden, it’s time to take your composting to the next level.

By mixing that earthy concoction with water and allowing it to steep, you can create a beneficial tea loaded with the nutrients that plants love.

Digging compost into flower and vegetable beds is an important part of any gardening program, but why stop at adding millions of beneficial bacteria to the soil when you add billions of bacteria instead?

The process of brewing compost into tea not only makes the organic matter more effective, but it improves its usefulness, too.

Compost tea can be used as both a foliar spray and a soil drench.

  • As a foliar spray, the tea’s soluble nutrients give the plant a healthy boost and help control plant diseases like black spot and early blight.

Start the Gardening Season with the New Edition of The Colorado Gardener’s Companion

Colo Gardener's Comp 2nd Ed Final Cover 72ppi blog The second edition of my first book is ready in time for gardening season!

I worked over the winter months to fill this new edition with more of everything to help Colorado gardeners grow great gardens starting now.

The Denver Post newspaper calls the new edition of my gardening book an “an essential manual” for gardeners.

What’s new in edition two?

The new edition features a colorful cover image of one of my flowerbeds from last summer.

That image, taken by John Pendleton, shows off some of the annuals and perennials that grow in one of the hottest, driest parts of my backyard.

In addition to a new look, there’s more of everything else, too! Since the first edition was published in 2007, a lot has changed in the wonderful world of gardening.

So I updated all of the information, included new technologies, expanded plant lists, added new resources and included about nine more inspiring gardens to visit.

Gardening in a Drought

What if we had a drought and the lawn didn’t notice?

Green Lawn BlogIt’s time to rethink how to use water in the landscape.

Because of the continuing drought, gardeners in the Denver metro area will have twice-a-week lawn watering restrictions starting April 1–no fooling.

Along with these restrictions will be higher water bills for using more water on other parts of the landscape, too.

I remember the summer of 2002 and how difficult it was to keep the garden going with limited irrigation. It was fortunate I had already removed a good deal of lawn the summer before, replacing with low-water perennial flowers, shrubs and bulbs.

I’ve dusted off some of the water conservation tactics I used the last time we had Stage 2 drought restrictions and plan to rely on them again this summer. Here are some of my top tips for gardening in a drought:

Lawn Watering

Special Gardening Event August 10

Please join us on Friday, August 10, at the Denver County Fair for an organic vegetable gardening event featuring Jane Shellenberger. Jane will present her program starting at 4:00 p.m. on the Farm and Garden Pavilion Stage and at 5:00 p.m. sign copies of her new book “Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West” at the booth.

Jane is the publisher and editor of Colorado Gardener, a regional gardening magazine. Her book is an indispensable resource for anyone who wants to grow an organic vegetable garden in the West.

To get you in the mood for Jane’s presentation, here’s a glimpse into the pages of her book:

If you’ve tried to grow an organic vegetable garden in our region of the country, you know that gardening is difficult here. Lean soils, little precipitation, low humidity, harsh winds, and inopportune freezing weather make vegetable gardening an extreme undertaking.

Win the New Small-Space Gardening Book

Post a comment for your chance to win a big gardening book for small-space gardeners.

In my review of this big book on gardening in small spaces, I shared some of the book’s secrets for growing vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers in small spaces.

The publisher sent an extra copy so I could share all the information Chris compiled on how to “reap a bounty of beauty and edibles in every square inch.”

There are 20 illustrated chapters filled with creative ideas for living with a little landscape, planting in petite plots, planting small-space theme gardens, using good gardening practices, and finding plants perfect for small spaces. If you have a container garden, balcony garden, patio garden or other small-space garden, you will love this book.

To enter the contest to win a copy, simply post a comment on why you like to garden in small spaces by Monday, March 12 at 5:00 p.m. Mountain time. One winner will be selected at random.

A Great Guide to Vegetable Gardening

Dr. Bob Gough may have departed the gardening world last year, but he left gardeners with more than 17 books on horticulture including The Guide to Rocky Mountain Vegetable Growing.

I never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Bob Gough face-to-face, but I got to know him anyway. He was the author of the “Ask Dr. Bob” gardening column on the pages of Zone 4 magazine. One of his last books, written together with his wife Cheryl Moore-Gough, is one of my go-to resources for vegetable gardening in a tough climate.

Soon we’ll all be fretting over chilly days that delay planting, so now’s a good time to pick up a copy of this book and tap into some of Dr. Bob’s vegetable growing wisdom.

The book is a good guide for any gardener, but it was written especially for gardeners who grow in short-season climates like we have in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming,

Oh Give Me a Home Where the Buffalo Loam

BuffaLoam is a 100% organic, all-natural plant food and soil amendment known as “America’s First Fertilizer.”

The Diamond Tail Ranch in north-central Colorado has found a way into gardener’s hearts by recycling tons of manure from its herd of 700 American bison.

BuffaLoam is a 100% organic, all natural plant food and soil amendment for indoor and outdoor organic gardening.

I spotted a bag of BuffaLoam at an Aurora Vitamin Cottage and decided to give it a try with my houseplants. These plants suffer from neglect all summer because I spend my gardening time either in the vegetable garden or doting on the container garden.

The bison responsible for this product graze on native grasses, just like their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. The manure is collected and blended with locally-produced wood shavings and then composted long enough to create a fine, dark compost that has a pleasant earthy fragrance.

Complete Guide to Composting Book Review

Why buy bags of compost to help your gardening efforts when you can turn ordinary kitchen and yard waste into black gold?

I had the chance to talk with Chris McLaughlin for an article on compost tea I wrote for The Denver Post earlier this season.

Something Chris said during the interview stuck with me and I think about it every time I step into the garden:

“Compost is at the very heart of organic gardening. It’s literally the heartbeat.”

Taking kitchen and garden waste, watching it decompose and then returning it to the earth is a powerful gardening concept.

Compost is the answer to most gardening questions because it can be used to loosen clay soil or to add water-holding ability to sandy soil. Compost boosts soil fertility because it brings in the microorganisms that support all forms of plant and animal life, Chris said.

Vegetable Gardening Made Easy

Vegetable gardeners in the Rocky Mountain states will find gardening can be a little easier and a lot more enjoyable with a new book from Cool Springs Press.

If you garden anywhere in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah or Wyoming, you have to get your hands on a copy of Guide to Rocky Mountain Vegetable Growing by Robert Gough & Cheryl Moore-Gough.

But that’s only if you want to have a successful vegetable garden this season.

My brand-new review copy of the book is already marked up, dog-eared and broken in.

Whether you’re an experienced vegetable gardener or you’re just getting ready to take your first tentative steps toward the garden bed, the Goughs have some advice for you. They wrote this book because it’s the resource they wanted to have when they first started gardening in such a challenging region.

Gardening Season Ends with Fall Clean-up

Clearing out all vegetable garden debris is the first step toward next summer’s healthy plants.

Fall Garden Cleanup2 blogYou think I’d be glad to pull up the dead summer squash foliage after the ups and downs of growing it this year.

Early on I complained about the fruit not setting and having to pollinate the squash by hand.

Then I complained because I had so much yellow squash I had to find new ways to use it in the kitchen.

Now that it’s all gone, I’m a little wistful.

I loved looking out my office window and seeing a green and growing garden, that was alive with butterflies, bees and birds. Around here the time to enjoy it is so short compared to the amount of time the garden is empty of plants and pollinators.

But there’s still plenty to do in the garden now and it starts with raking up every bit of garden debris to put the vegetable garden to bed.

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