What’s new in gardening this year? Here are some interesting ideas I saw at the ProGreen Expo last week. ProGreen is the premier Rocky Mountain regional green industry conference held annually in Denver.
Expanded shale is the new way to amend clay soil. When incorporated into soil, the expanded shale improves soil drainage, but it can also hold water during drought. The light-weight shale doesn’t break down like organic soil amendments so it should last for many years in the landscape or even in containers. Gardeners should be able to buy either in bulk or 40 pound bags from local nurseries or soil suppliers.
The dreaded Emerald Ash Borer has found its way into Colorado, and any gardener who has an ash tree should be concerned. The Expo had quite a few booths dedicated to either new tools for detecting EAB, treatments for trees, or general information about this destructive insect. One of the main concerns from gardeners is how to treat trees without harming beneficial insects and the environment. Some products, like TreeAzin from Canada, claim to be safer than other treatments. Gardeners should wait until EAB is found within 15 miles of their ash trees before taking action.
Plant Select has a fresh new look this season, and a new tagline, too: Plant Smarter. The new approach helps gardeners see the benefits of the program’s plants that are “designed to thrive in high plains and intermountain regions.” I’m a big fan of Plant Select plants, and I especially like this new, feisty approach to gardening in a tough climate with wind, hail, snow and sun…”Bring it On.”
Despite its name, Nutri-Mulch is an organic soil conditioner made from used turkey bedding. The wood shavings and turkey manure are processed into an all-purpose compost that works for vegetable and flower beds, trees and shrubs, and as a top dressing for lawns. The product is popular among gardeners and landscapers in other areas of the country and is just making in-roads into being distributed in our region. Asking for it by name at your favorite nursery or garden center may help spread the compost more quickly.
Gardeners may be seeing more containers planted with ornamental and edible mixtures at their favorite garden center this season. Seed companies make planting containers easier with multi-species pellets, like those from Simply Salad. The Wonder Wok mixture of Asian greens like mustards, kale and bok choy.