This year has been a banner year for tomatoes on the high plains and front range due much in part to the warm weather. If you are finding yourself with a surplus of tomatoes either from the garden, the store or farmers’ markets, you can consider a variety of methods for storing them. Among the options are canning, freezing and drying. By far the most simple is to dry your tomatoes. It is hard to believe that something so juicy can be dehydrated, but it can. (more…)
Because most of the commercial artichokes come from California, people assume that they won’t grow in our shorter season areas. Actually you can grow edible artichokes here. They are not heavy producers and take up a bit of space but they are still not hard to grow and a fresh artichoke is always tastier than store bought.
There is a vining honeysuckle (relative to the shrub) that is showy, hardy and blooms much of the summer. It needs a sunny spot, rich soil, regular water and a trellis or even a chain-link fence. It produces red, yellow or cream colored blooms. “Halls” is the hardiest variety.
Kintzley’s ghost vining honeysuckle isn’t much for flowers but it produces showy, large saucer-shaped silvery bracts that look like silver dollars. Avoid the fragrant Japanese honeysuckle at altitudes above 5,500′ as it is the least hardy.
If you are like many gardeners, you have some flowering plants on your porch, deck or entryway. These pots usually have colorful annual flowers that bloom every day. Unfortunately, when night comes, they too go dark. Light your pots up with a low-cost solar light. Solar lights can cost as little as $3.00 each, and all you have to do is simply place one in the center of your pot or hanging basket. Voila! Now you have easy, instant, cheap, colorful night lighting!
The best time to take photos of your garden is in the early morning or the late afternoon (including right after sunset). It is important to avoid the harsh light that is especially impactful during the middle of the day. Overcast days tend to be better than sunny days. Your garden will shine a bit more if you lightly spray your plants, soil and walkways with water before you start shooting pictures.
Don’t forget to fertilize your houseplants in the summer months. In addition, houseplants need slightly more water when it gets warm outside. This is a great time to take your larger plants outside where you can hose off the accumulated dust from the past year. Of course, only use a nozzle with a gentle spray. This will maintain your plants’ health and keep the bugs down.
Turf experts all agree, if you regularly mow your lawn, you should let your clippings drop back to the ground. Because clippings are 90% water they readily break down into organic matter that feeds the soil and improves soil texture. (more…)
It is cantaloupe season in the markets, and the price is wonderfully low, while the quality is high. To get a ripe one, only select those with a healthy golden or orange color under the netting (not green).
Also look for a nice, rounded, smooth crater where the vine was once attached. If you see any trace of the vine remaining in the crater, don’t buy it as it was harvested before its prime.
Always thoroughly wash the fruit before you slice into it to prevent the growth of bad bugs in the flesh of the fruit.
Basil is a popular herb and easy to grow in the garden. One of the main tricks to getting abundant harvests is to regularly pinch the tips of the plants to both encourage branching and to prevent it from going to flower. Once basil plants initiate flowering, it is difficult to stop the process and when it flowers, the leaves of the basil plants are smaller and less flavorful.
Basil plants, if left to their own desires, grow one main stem. When they reach around 6 inches tall, pinch the stem back by half and leaving ¼ inch above a set of healthy leaves (see illustration). This causes branching and encourages the plant to grow more leaves. As they send out new branching stems, continue to pinch the tips of these stems back. During the heat of summer, basil should be pinched about once a week to encourage a long abundant harvest. Along with pruning, it is also important to provide regular fertilization. Basil grows best in a sunny, warm spot in well-drained, fertile soil.