Denver Green Channel

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Garden Journal, August 1. Recovery.

by Robbie - July 31st, 2011

It’s starting to look respectable…a little after I had despaired the garden.  Lots of hot weather and rain helped.

Garden looks pretty respectable now, although I think polyculture is not for me.  It’s too chaotic in a world of weeds and pests.  But it kind of looks cool to see forests of green all tangled up, with flowers in there.

Starting again with herbs on the deck, which made a good show…lovage, lemon verbena, citronella, and a dead marigold that wanted to be potted up.

Rosemary made a great comeback.

Now to the cold frames next to the deck…this one cleared of everything but two rogue tomato plants and some chard.  The space between will get refreshed and fed and sowed with carrots and beets as soon as the moon is in an earth sign.

Cold frame 2 from the side, a forest of tomatoes…

Cold frame 2 from the east end, peppers in pots and tomatoes…

Tomatoes in containers by raised beds, south side.  There’s a LOT of fruit on all my tomatoes, and so far they’ve all had blossom end rot.  I’ve fed regularly with Tomato Tone and Calcium suppliment:

Tomato containers between beds, which I mulched heavily when we mulched the whole property…cut down on weeds and bugs INSTANTLY.

Raised bed 1:  Onions, catnip bush, herbs like chamomile and flat-leaf parsley and curly parsley and marigolds and feverfew, MORE tomatoes, Brussels’s sprouts, kholrabi and chard.

Bed 2:  catnip, lots of tomatoes, broccoli, parsley, sage.  AND another pot of peppers.

Now for the garden, cole crops row.  My broccoli and brussels sprouts will probably be tough and bitter from the heat.  My beets are tiny and have not grown at all.  Potato tops dying off, signaling they are near harvest.  Why the bird waterer?  I gotta keep my grasshopper mercenaries hydrated!  Since I’ve put the Ladies in the garden in the mornings, no “hoppers”!:

Friendly fire, I call it.  The chickens stomped on this nasturtium, but the poor thing was chomped to death by grasshoppers anyway…

The other end of the nasturtium row, with amaranth and pumpkins.

South end of the tomato row, sunflowers, carrots, onions:

The rest of the tomato row:

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Corn patch:

More of the corn patch, with the amaranth and pumpkins:

Squash and beans under the trrellis:

Spaghetti squash mug shot:

Greens patch, about to be tilled under and sown with peas for fall:

North side of the shed, where I want my rabbit shed.  I’ve asked my friend Vince to help me build it.  I need a shed for my rabbits so I can bring them home…

And now for the tomatoes in containers.  They WERE on the west deck, but the plum trees are making a comeback:

NOW they live by the west fence in full sun all day…

Happy story:  my roses are making a comeback!  I thought they drowned in the clay.  But it looks like they may make it…

There’s also one lonely gourd that managed to get a foothold on the west fence:

And here’s the buckwheat bed, which will be another raised bed:

Now for the sunflower and gourds by the coop, which made it hard to watch bock-bock TV.  Also, the sunflowers crowd out the gourds…a bit…

But INSIDE the coop, squash and gourd vines are doing great.  And the girls don’t eat them!

Speaking of volunteers, I was happy to see these guys and worked around them.  It’s free food.  And it also relieved my worries about the quality of the compost I was making…

More compost pile volunteers:

The south fence sunflower patch only did so-so.  It’s too shady….

But it’s wonderful when they start opening…

Note to self:  gourds are delicate and do not thrive in competition…

Out front again, my mint bed is gaining:

Here’s the front walk with the sunflowers:

And now a look toward the fall, with cool weather crops sown indoors to keep them from cooking in the heat or being eaten by pests.  Cole crops:  broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussles sprouts.  Also Asian greens, 2 kinds of kale, arugula, 3 kinds of chard, and other winter greens…

Garden Journal July 7

by Robbie - July 8th, 2011

Weeds. Weedsweedsweedsweeds.

Pests. Grasshoppersvolescabbagemoths. And did I mention grasshoppersgrasshoppersgrasshoppersgrasshoppers????

And some growth.

I feel very inadequate this year. The weeds are just more than I can handle. I’m in a constant state of overwhelm. But here goes:

The worst light ever!  Lemon balm coming back, lemon verbena struggling, borage flowers JUST opening, rosemary doing better, citronella needs to be potted up.  Marigold in despair.

This bed is spent.  The last crops I planted didn’t even come up.  Time for new dirt.  I’ve been feeding the bolted greens to the chickens…tomorrow or day after this bed gets a makeover.  Something (the DOG) overturned and stomped a couple of my struggling tiny pepper plants…they may recover.

These tomatoes in bed 2 are coming into their own.  One heirloom at least.  Got fruit coming in!  Also lots of herbs:  parsley, calendula, cilantro.  Also lettuce and chard…which are being overshadowed by the tomatoes.

My strip of sunflowers and gourds to the south by the burned-up house struggles a little in the shade and is infested with bindweed, which I regularly have to unwind from my sunflower stalks.

The other one, by the coop, is faring better.  Less shade. But I’m hoping for more shade for my birds.

I had big plans to plant rugosa roses by the west fence to form a wind-blocking hedge.  I proceeded despite finding the clay layer about 2 1/2 feet down when I was planting them.  They died.  My fault.  Poor things.  They were lovely, too.

Raised bed 1 has already given me lots of radishes and some kohlrabi…this is taken from the angle where the giant catnip won’t block the shot.  Pests don’t like the catnip, it’s true.  But they like everything else in the bed.  Cabbage, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, herbs, onions.  Parsley and marigolds in the end cavities grow slowly.

The bird netting over both of these beds is to keep raccoons from digging up my strawberries. Broccoli, herbs, onions, tomatoes, strawberries, onions.

The tomatoes, basil and marigolds are really filling out the containers!  I’d like to see fruit soon…

I mulched the area around the beds with pine needles to try to cut down the grasshopper population…also used NOBO…*sigh*…

Garden shot, directly into the sun:

The greens bed is bolting here and there and the greens are getting harder and more bitter.  It’s hot for greens.  Soon to be ripped out and planted with peas, peas and peas!

Here are my ailing and failing peas now.  I should have planted LOTS more and inoculated them.  That’s the plan in a couple weeks!

The rest of the area south of the peas is struggling pumpkins, stomped onions and some herbs…as well as very munched-on kohlrabi and radish seedlings.  I feed grasshoppers.  I HATE grasshoppers.

Here’s my corn patch, with strawberries that get eaten completely before they’re ripe and bolting spinach.  It’s hot for spinach, too.  That amaranth seeded itself and LOVES it here.  It’s easier than corn so I gotta figure out how to harvest it.  Got squash and pumpkins, too.  Plum’s outdoor pen is in there too as a barrier for the occasional chicken (AKA, Grasshopper Mercenary) visit.  I discovered that Pom is just fine and calm in the garden.  But she’s not going after grasshoppers so much.  She likes my SEEDLINGS…

 

Now, under the big trellis:  my beans and squash.  The melons gave up on themselves.

My tomato row is struggling, too.  Tomatoes are doing MUCH better in containers and beds.

Among the weeds you’ll notice sunflowers, which seeded themselves and I strategically left to shade sensitive crops…but then they also suck water and nutrients.  A few nasturtiums don’t hate it here.

Here’s the cole crop row.  More struggling, munched-up, slow-growing crops.  I wish I’d planted many more potato bags, but it’s late now.

 

SO…I got a bunch of containers and dirt for the deck.  I’ll sow more peas in the garden but after this year it’s gonna be BEDS.  This fall my beautiful homemade compost and chicken coop ground cover are going on the garden along with green manure cover crops for winter and I’ll either make beds in the fall or next spring.  If I make them in the fall then I can plant earlier in the spring…but I simply cannot keep up with all the weeds and pests.  It’s a tough year for both.

The Unfair Advantage: A Guide For The Wanna-Be Locavore

by Robbie - July 3rd, 2011

Dig in. Right here.

In Colorado it’s prime territory-and prime time of the season-for eating locally.

If you’ve ever toyed with buying some, most or even all of your food locally (for one meal or for a week) you are in the right state. Let’s start with a list of the most dependable places you can look for the freshest local foods.

Local CSAs – Community-supported agriculture, in which you buy shares and receive boxes of food regularly through the season. http://coloradocsas.info/

Here’s an even bigger source for all local products-it’s a site called “Local Harvest”. Type in your zip code and the food you seek, from meats to honey and everything else.

Colorado Farmer’s Markets: http://www.coloradofarmers.org/marketfind.htm

Local growers – There are more and more people in your neighborhood looking to sell their homegrown produce and eggs on a small scale, but you may have to hunt around for them. Keep your eyes peeled. Next to all those Yard Sale signs you may spot a hand-written sign boasting cucumbers and zucchini. Be adventurous and neighborly, and check it out.

Other MarketsDenver Urban Homesteading is a year-round Farmer’s Market with more extensive hours than many seasonal markets http://www.denverurbanhomesteading.com/market.htm

Now let’s look at food groups.

This is an amazing time of year in Colorado for fresh fruits and vegetables. If you’re looking for produce the entire list above can apply. If you sign up for a CSA and find yourself with boxes of tasty-looking but mysterious vegetables, a copy of Amy Cotler’s “The Locavore Way” is a gentle guide to making the most of fresh produce that you may have never seen before.

What about grains? There are local resources for this. You can find Colorado Easy Eats at Denver Urban Homesteading Market. Here’s her link:   http://www.coloradoeasyeats.com

Colorado is home turf for bison. They are naturally from here, they eat what grows here and they need no antibiotics or hormones to produce. The buffalo you find in the grocery store may not be local. Start here: Local Harvest You can also find locally grown grass-fed beef and other meats, poultry and even local fish grown with hydroponics.

With the surge in backyard goat popularity it will be easier and easier to find locally produced chevre and other cheeses, as well as milk. You can even find raw milk in some places, although it’s a bit of a ballet due to FDA standards and limitations. Find out more here: RawMilkColorado.org

Locally roasted coffee is around as well.

And tea? Celestial Seasonings is right up the road in Boulder and at your grocery store. You can tour Celestial Seasonings, too. Nice thing to do when the folks some out for a visit.

For sweeteners, Colorado Honey is a wonderful product. These days you can even find this treat at most local grocery stores.

Colorado Wine, an amazing array of brews including beer and mead and even booze are produced locally as well. Just Google “Colorado Wineries” and stand back. The listings will knock you over.

Are you more for a brew? We are pampered here in Colorado when it comes to local beer, but remember – it’s not just about a cold one. It’s about tours, tastings and festivals, too! Check out Colorado Brewers.

If you’re looking to experiment a bit, try a locavore dinner or even just a breakfast with a local peach or melon, a local egg and a muffin made from locally grown and milled grains, topped off with a little Celestial Seasonings “Morning Thunder” and Colorado honey. You could spend more doing this than you would on highly preserved and processed food, but the freshness and flavor of a local peach is more satisfying than contrived, “peach flavored” anything.

To put a little variety and real freshness on your summer table, try a bit of the local. You don’t have to tell anybody you’re a locavore. Just give ‘em a taste.

Hip & Yucky – Farmers Markets

by admin - July 2nd, 2011

Summer is now in full-swing, and so are farmers markets.

Hip & Yucky logo


 

Hip & Yucky talk Farmers Markets MP3 HERE

 

July Denver Green Streets TV interviews are up –

by Robbie - June 30th, 2011

Robbie has two new interviews about great local resources:

- Maggie Thompson, Advocacy Director from Denver Bike can be seen here

- Katie Blackett, CEO of the Colorado Mountain Club can be seen here

I Miss My Plum

by Robbie - June 27th, 2011

Around 3 weeks ago we got hit with the first real heat of the year.  I thought I was ready for this.  You have to be ready for it if you keep Angora rabbits, because their fur is SEVEN times warmer than wool and they overheat very easily.  It’s not hard to kill an Angora-just expose her to temperatures above 72 degrees for long enough and you’ll either execute her or stress her out so badly that she dies of something minor.   This is NOT what I want.

I stocked up on some devices that I thought would help keep her body temperature down when the heat hit:

Water bottles to freeze and keep in her cage, frozen fan inserts and a spray bottle to spray her ears when it got really bad…(rabbits use their ears for body cooling, so evaporative cooling this way helps)…also, sunshade material to drape over the cage when needed.  You can see her cage in this next pic full of my cooling hopes:  the digital thermometer to keep track of the temp in there, the frozen water bottles, 2 frozen fans going, big bowl of water, and her favorite toy, Timothy hay in a paper tube.  The poor thing barely had room to move…

Not that she had a ton of energy, either.  The heat was getting to her, and the temperature on the thermometer in the cage was too high.  It was just Too.  High.  And I couldn’t get it down.  I started thinking about how rabbits go underground to cool off in the wild, so I thought I might make a kind of cave she could go into, lined with cold water bottles, and I got all these materials out and was wrestling with them while I was spraying her ears every five minutes.  I was in a state of near-panic…

And then the reality hit me.  I was not prepared.  I was not taking proper care of this animal and she could be in danger if I kept her here.  So I called my breeder and asked her if I could board Plum with her for the summer.  She was wonderful about it.

So, Plum and Peaches, my two French Angoras, live at the breeders for the summer.  It’s great that I have that option and that my bunnies can be kept at about 60 degrees and they are comfortable through the summer.

And I MISS them.  Especially Plum.  She was a baby when I brought her here, and growing so fast.  And so pretty.

Plum was the opposite of affectionate.  She was a scratching’, scrappin’ little bottom-of-the-food chain animal who was just starting to get used to being handled all the time.  But I really got attached.  When I dropped her off at the breeder’s, I cried.

I need a shed to house my rabbits properly and to keep them cool enough.  I won’t be able to afford it for a few months.  But I learned a lesson.  Band-aid solutions are not enough for extreme conditions.  I’ll be much more careful about that next time.

Plum used to love it when first thing in the morning, after letting the dog out and then back into the house for breakfast, I’d put her in her outdoor pen in the shade on the cool grass.  It was her favorite thing.  She’d leap and whirl around in “bingies”, which is a term to describe the helicopter-like 180-degree mid-air turns rabbits do when they’re playing.  It was so cute I almost got high blood sugar from it.  Anyway, here are pics of Plum in her favorite space…and I can’t wait to have her back home with me…

 

 

First Harvests

by Robbie - June 19th, 2011

I’d been looking forward to donating surplus food as well as learning food storage.  So I started 2 weeks ago with my over-planting of radishes that were JUST at peak:

Easter Egg radishes, which are white, pink and purple, and regular cherry and icicle radishes.  Fresh and mild and crunchy…they’ll go to the Jeffco Action Center for the Ample Harvest program!  Psyched.

Some of them I kept for me.  The greens, of course, went to the girls.  They LOVE them.

Packed up in yogurt containers but with greens still on to keep them fresh, my haul filled a wine case.

This story has a sad ending…kind of.  I called the Jeffco Action Center to make sure they wanted my radishes.  I checked the hours of operation…but on this day it was closed for a meeting of some kind, and we were leaving for Iowa soon.  I was unprepared and without time to do anything else but leave them on the dock and hope people took them home.  There were several people there who needed food and didn’t know about the closing, either, and a couple gladly took my radishes.  Note to self:  Be Prepared To Preserve.  Always.

Two weeks later I harvested my turnips, gorgeous greens in the basket:

But even prettier out of it:

The roots for me, the greens for the girls.

Here’s the recipe, basically:  1 T of sea salt per cup of water.  Cover sliced veggies with this in a very clean jar.  Leave at room temp for a few days but vent occasionally during lacto-fermentation.

And here’s my very first jar of lacto-fermentation!  I like the idea of all the available nutrients, the beneficial pro-biotics, the fact that the process uses less energy and gives fewer burns than canning, in addition to preserving nutrition rather than killing it, and, having low blood pressure, I’m a very big fan of salt.

“The Complete Idiots Guide to Urban Homesteading”

by admin - June 2nd, 2011

Robbie interviews Denver author Sundari Kraft about her new book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Urban Homesteading”.

See the feature article, along with a short video interview HERE at Denver Green Streets.

More information on the book and how to get it is available on her site: EatWhereULive

“The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Urban Homesteading”

by admin - June 2nd, 2011

Robbie interviews Denver author Sundari Kraft about her new book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Urban Homesteading”.

See the feature article, along with a short video interview HERE at Denver Green Streets.

Ranch Journal, June 1st

by Robbie - June 1st, 2011

Here we go.

Herbs on the deck:  lemon verbena, lovage and lemon balm struggling to make a comeback…and my pride and joy, an actual healthy marigold from seed.  I would have had a dozen if I hadn’t set all but one of them out in a cold frame way too early.  Marigolds hate the cold.

On the far side of the deck, cold frame 1 with the row of peppers in containers.  Pepper roulette, like tomato roulette this year.  My seedling labeling system was flawed.  But the peppers have matches buried under the root balls to acidify the soil slightly; they’ll also get sprayed with Epsom salt solution for magnesium to promote nice fruit.  Cold frame 1 had lots of salad greens; some I’ve let go to seed so I can save the seeds.  I ripped out some and replaced them with more peppers.  You can see a glimpse of my row cover tucked above the peppers as an emergency hail-guard.

Cold frame 2 has 3 healthy tomato plants, lots of herbs like opal basil and feverfew, lots of spinach and parsley planted. salad greens and cole crop greens, too.

On the south side we’re next to the burned-up house that will be a construction mess, but I had planned the wall of flowers and gourds on the fence to try to get privacy from the kids next door anyway.  Then one of the kids burned the house down.  I planted decorative gourds, a wildflower mix and sunflowers of various heights, tallest at the back.  It has to be triple-fenced to keep out dogs and birds.

The strip of ground on the west side of the coop was cleared by the chickens themselves.  Then I tilled it, amended and planted another strip of sunflowers and gourds, to give the birds more shade in the heat of the day.  Just planted, so nothing is up yet.

Another new strip is on the west side of the raised beds, in back of the driveway.  This is a wind tunnel and I wanted to plant a hedge of roses as a windbreak, but I couldn’t afford roses this year.  So, gourds, sunflowers and, for variety, quinoa in brilliant colors.  If it comes up it will be gorgeous in the fall.

Raised bed 1:  big ol’ catnip that came back this spring, bok and pok choi and other salad greens, radishes, tomatoes, strawberries, many herbs, onions.

Oh…and in the end cavities, thyme, parsley, chives and marigolds…

Bed 2:  tomatoes, herbs, strawberries, greens, broccoli and brussel’s sprouts (I think) and onions.

Next to bed 1, containers with tomato roulette, lemon or lime or opal basil, and marigolds.

Between beds, tomato containers with basils and marigolds and 1 container with a pepper.  I’m trying out some very low-budget “automatic waterers”

 

Here’s the overview shot of raised beds 1 & 2:

Now, for the Garden…starting with the overview shot:

Starting with the back row, south side, the greens bed ending with peas…my poor, struggling peas…in front of that you can see my just-planted row of lemon cucumbers.  Also, a couple of unhappy tomatoes.

On the north side, the back row is newly planted with rows of blue lake beans and cantaloupes.  Past that, the just-planted corn and squash/pumpkins pockets, amongst my struggling strawberries.

Second row from the back, south side, rows of radishes, beets, onions, and newly planted Armenian cucumbers.  Also, more pathetic peas.  And a couple of tomatoes.

On the north end of this row, spaghetti squash, bush beans, and more corn and pumpkins and strawberries.

The garden middle row is tomatoes, basil, carrots, other herbs, and blue pumpkins at the ends of the rows.

On the west side of the middle row, the newly planted nasturtium row to separate crops.

The final row, closest to the front (west) is cole crops (seeds have been in the ground for a while but I’m still eating up the row-marking radishes to look for them:  cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts.  The bags are potatoes.  Also, lotsa onions.

Now, for a livestock update.  Stewie, my Golden Laced Wyandot hen, was attacked by a fox.  I had the birds in a temporary fenced run with bird netting on top, but there was a gap in the netting.  Ran after the tangled-up fox with a rake.  Skinny, desperate fox, and a slightly mauled bird…

But things look good today.  I put an ointment on Stewie to keep the other ladies from pecking her, and it looks like she’s healing fine.  Otherwise the birds are sassy and healthy…

Plum, my Franch Angora kit, is about 9 weeks old.  I haven’t been handling her enough and she is not what I’d call docile.  But I’ll keep on it.  Also, Plum needs to stay cool…under 80 degrees.  I’m using frozen water bottles and a cooling fan to try to keep the temp down in the hutch.  We NEED to get the new hutch done so I can have both my rabbits and so they can be cool enough…anyway, here’s Plum.  She’s a blue French with darker ears, face and tail, and white feet.  I think she is exquisite…

Updates will be coming at least once a month.  Today is June 1st.