First of all, know that there are three types of garlic: softneck, hardneck and elephant. As the name suggests, hardneck varieties do better in harsh, northern climates like Colorado. Softnecks have a longer shelf life and are what you're used to seeing in chain grocery stores. They have a longer shelf life, but grow better in mild climates. Elephant garlic is the biggest, yet has the most mild flavor.
Plant garlic before the first hard freeze. Amend the soil with organic compost so the soil remains uncompacted throughout the winter and following summer. Break the bulb into cloves, and plant 6 inches apart in rows 8 inches apart.
Photo from nocolifestyle.com
Thanks to everyone who attended the annual Dog Wash this past Saturday! Animal House volunteers washed more than 90 dogs and raised money for their no-kill shelter. Visit animalhousehelp.org to learn more about their rescue and grooming.
Take the time to preserve your herbs so you can enjoy the freshness well into winter. Freezing herbs is a very simple, quick way to store them and you'll be glad you have homegrown herbs for savory winter soups, potato dishes or any
Ice cube trays
Knife and cutting board
Oil, vegetable broth and/or water
Just chop herbs finely, then pack into ice cube trays. Cover with oil/broth/water and freeze overnight. Transfer the cubes to a ziplock bag to avoid freezer burn, and take up less space in the freezer. It's hard to identify herbs when they're chopped and frozen, so make sure to label each bag.
Preserving Herbs as a Simple Syrup
If you enjoy herb-infused cocktails or lemonade, try making a simple syrup. 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup chopped herbs. Heat over medium, stirring often until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let it steep and cool for 15 minutes. Strain out the herbs and store in an airtight container.
Soften a stick of butter and chop herbs finely. You can mash the two together in a bowl or use a food processor. Shape the butter into a log and wrap in plastic, or fill a small tupperware and freeze.
Today's weather put on quite a show! It's always a great experience to have customers "rained in," and stuck with us watching the rain. It's a brief moment when every single person in the room is connected: everyone is captivated by nature, and everyone feels humbled by the powerful force of weather. We all smile at one another and encourage those who are making a break for it, dashing to their vehicle! A little bit of hail battered our beloved plants, but what a great day!
Gardeners geek out about soil, and for good reason! If you've been gardening in the same place for a couple years, you know the importance of building rich, healthy soil and you see it happen. You're absolutely estastic when you realize your soil is just the bomb.
First of all, what is soil? It's a mashup of broken down rocks, nutrients, minerals, dead and decaying organic stuff, water, air and other gases. It can take 500 years of erosion, rain and storms to create just an inch of topsoil. If your backyard has poor soil, it's not going to fix itself.
The big deal with amending soil is the soil structure. The structure is very important to the health of your plants and affects how a plant takes up water and what nutrients are available. Soil is composed of varying amounts of sand, clay and silt. Clay soil is nutrient rich, but drains too slowly and doesn't breath. Sand is quick-draining, but has trouble holding nutrients. When you get the right combination of the three, it's called loam.
If you have clay soil, common sense will tell you. When you grab a handful and squeeze, it forms a ball and falls back to the ground with a thud. Sandy soil will slip through your fingers. Loamy soil will make you smile. It's the stuff that dreams are made of. It's rich, dark and crumbles in your hand.
So loam is the goal, and the only way to get there is to give the soil what it's missing. In the case of clay, it needs organic matter to attract soil biology, and something to help it drain and breath. Amending the soil means amending all of the soil, not just amending a little hole to set a plant in. Put some muscles into it! Use a shovel and amend the soil 6-8 inches down. Plant roots need to be able to travel far and wide to get established.
There are a lot of composts, manures and soil amendments available, each boasting its own benefits. That's why we're here! Come talk to us about your soil. We'll help you find the right amendments so you can start building fertile, beautiful soil!
It's on the tip of everyone's tongue: water. The past years have been hot and dry, and this year looks to be no different.
The City of Fort Collins has imposed water restrictions beginning April 1, but you can still have a lush green lawn, beautiful flowers and a vegetable garden. It's an opportunity to learn how to conserve and water correctly. Overwatering is a common problem anyway, causing roots to be weak and shallow. Visit fcgov.com to learn more about restrictions.
Evaluate your hoses, faucets, sprinklers and hose-end sprayers. If they leak, it's time to upgrade or make repairs.
If you water with a hose, turn the water pressure down to a trickle, set it on the plant and let the water soak into the soil, rather than puddling on the surface.
Spend the money to amend your soil with compost and start making your own compost! Compost is not a marketing gimick. It's the only way to improve soil, and healthy soil holds more water.
Always check the soil for moisture before you water. Make a small hole and get your hands dirty.
Perfect your rain dance. Whether it helps or not, it's fun!
The first tomato I ever grew from seed.
We're lucky to live in a world full of grocery stores, farmers' markets and restaurants around every corner. Why go to the hassle of growing your own food?
Saving money. Sure, this one is always debatable. Starting a huge garden isn't cheap and investing money in soil feels...strange. Paying for dirt? Weird. Building good soil isn't free, but it's worth it. Commit to your garden for a couple of years, and you'll start to notice that you already have the tools, seeds, great soil and most importantly the knowledge you need to successfully grow your own food. If money is an issue, start small. If you're a beginner, start small. A few containers of leafy greens, carrots and your favorite vegetables will make you incredibly happy, and you'll be more successful than trying to tend to 20 different crops.
Better health. Whether you go completely organic, or simply don't use synthetic pesticides, you're keeping chemicals off your plate. Many pesticides have a link to cancer or other diseases. For the home gardener, spending a little extra to buy the organic pest control won't break the bank. You're not growing hundreds of acres of vegetables, so don't freak out about an extra dollar.
Better taste. If you've never had a homegrown tomato, or thick, meaty Bloomsdale spinach right from the garden, you're missing out on the finer things in life. Homegrown vegetables are ripened on the vine, like nature intended. Those strawberries from the store, that are white in the middle? That's not the strawberry Mother Nature wanted to give you. The pink-greenish tomatoes? They were picked green and gassed on the way to market so they wouldn't get smushed in transport.
It's a worthwhile activity. You should know where your food comes from. I mean where it really comes from: What the seed looks like, what the plant looks like, how long it actually takes to grow an amazing, juicy tomato. The more you learn about your food the more you appreciate it, and the better you eat. It's a skill you can pass on to children and friends.
- Carly Risley, Bath Garden Center
Do you remember this story from July 2012:
"Minnesota Man Kills 40,000 sq. ft. Lawn"
We can imagine how terrible he felt, and how mad he must have been at the garden center employee who recommended the product used. We do our best to recommend the right products for you, but mistakes and miscommunication do happen. Please, please read all product labels carefully before use, even when an employee recommends a product. Two heads are always better than one!
Two of our favorite weed killers, that WILL NOT kill your lawn:
Thanks to everyone who came out for the Bird Festival! We've lost track over the years, but this might have been the 19th annual festival. Thank you to Derek for sharing your fantastic photographs with us!