Ten Gardening Myths: Busted!

mason-bee-house-this-old-houseI generally prefer to write my own posts, but when someone does such a terrific job as Oregon State University Extension did recently, it only makes sense to send you there.

  • Should you top a tree to keep it within bounds?
  • Will a mulch of Ponderosa pine needles acidify the soil?
  • Should you always add compost to a planting hole?
  • What about encouraging native bees with a bee house?

A lot of what gets passed from gardener to gardener sounds like good advice, but has no benefit or can even be harmful. Which practices are supported by research? Which should we forget about?

OSU’s advice is aimed at Oregon gardeners, but most of the questions apply equally well to Colorado—and much of the rest of the country, too.

So, please click on over to The Oregonian’s “Oregon Live” website, and educate yourself!

Note: We don’t have Brown Recluse spiders here in Colorado, either. Phwew!

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Give Me Some Space!

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When it comes to wildlife, how close is too close?

We’ve all heard about the clueless tourists who want to snap a selfie with the bear or moose. All too often, someone ends up getting hurt. But you and I are sensible people who do not want to be spitted by a bull elk, or gored by a buffalo. So, how close should we approach these potentially dangerous animals?

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Microclimates Matter

nga-app-planting-guideThe link promised to tell me when I should start my vegetable garden—when to sow seeds indoors, and when to sow or transplant outdoors. Just type in my zip code, and I’d have information customized for my area, courtesy of the National Gardening Association. I rarely click on ads, but I’ve found the NGA to be helpful in the past. Besides, I was curious. I have 24 years of records telling me when to plant in my area—how would their site measure up?

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Winter Water Solution: Heated Birdbaths

House Finch_LaVeta-CO_LAH_2316_filteredI’m gazing out my frosted window at the birds in our backyard. In the four hours since sunrise, the thermometer has only climbed from 13 to 15 degrees. Tiny snowflakes waft down onto the deck and bird feeders. The predawn fog has frozen onto every twig and blade of grass, turning the landscape into a fairyland of hoar frost.

The birds—House Finches, Dark-eyed Juncos, a few pigeon—are devouring my black-oil sunflower seeds as fast as their little beaks can crack the shells. A flicker has staked out the suet feeder. (I miss the nuthatches and chickadees from our old house, surrounded by pines.) But as popular as the feeders are, the birds are also flocking to my heated birdbath.

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February Bird Quiz: Uncropped Photo

If you were stymied on Monday, now can you name this bird? The photo was taken in Colorado in February. The answer will appear at the end of next Monday’s post.

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Stay Dry, See Tropical Plants

wwseymourconservatory-tacoma-wa_lah_0512I love to visit Washington. The state is a gardener’s paradise.  All those dreary days translate into brilliant azaleas and rhododendrons, ferny grottoes, and towering evergreens. The trick is enjoying those gorgeous gardens when it’s raining—and it rains a lot. Sure, you can visit in the summer, when days are sunny and the sky is a sapphire blue. But what about right now?

One way to get out of the February cold and wet is to visit a conservatory. (This applies to cold and snowy Colorado, as well.) And one of my favorites is the W. W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, located in the 27-acre Wright Park Arboretum, Tacoma. This glassed enclosure houses over 250 species of tropical and semi-tropical plant, including 200 different orchids—just the antidote for a gloomy winter day.

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February Bird Quiz

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Can you name this bird? The photo was taken in February in Colorado. (Due to the extreme cropping, some of these pictures are going to be smaller than has been typical.)

I will post the uncropped photo Saturday, giving you one more chance to identify this bird. The answer will be at the end of next Monday’s post.

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