Caveat emptor

Black Petunias_DBG_LAH_0511Today’s post is a simple reminder to gardeners hoping to grow something new and exciting. As gardeners, we’re always tempted by a special cultivar that is unusual, a bit out of the ordinary. Why else the hunt for black flowers—roses, or petunias—especially when the colors they do come in are so much prettier? I have a friend who paid a considerable sum for a yellow peony—just because most peonies are white, pink, or red.

There are plenty of unusual plants to keep us happy. We can grow purple carrots or potatoes, orange cauliflower, and corn with hues to rival a box of crayons. Apparently that’s not good enough. There are scurrilous people just waiting to take advantage of gardeners who desire something truly unique.

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Anticipating Spring

Seed catalogs_LAH_2733Sometimes I think January is my favorite month of the gardening calendar. Temperatures plummet and the ground is frozen solid. Anything at all frost-tender succumbed to the cold months ago. My raised beds look suspiciously like burial vaults covered in mulch. Yet, in my mind’s eye, my 2018 veggie garden is flourishing.

You see, I’ve been reading seed catalogs.

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My Favorite Seed Catalogs – Part 2

More of my favorite seed catalogs. Don’t miss Part 1!

Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Another Maine company, Johnny’s is responsible for the development of over a dozen familiar varieties such as Diva cucumbers (I love these), Lipstick and Carmen peppers, and AAS winter Bright Lights chard. Maybe it’s due to their breeding program, but somehow their catalog seems more scientific than those from other companies. I like to keep it on hand just as a reference, although I’ve purchased seeds from them as well. They include a germination chart for each crop, showing the optimal soil temperatures for sowing. Since I time my spring planting by a combination of calendar and soil thermometer, this is very useful information. They also carry a big selection of organic seeds.

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Mountain Plover Photography

Instead of an interesting and informative article on gardening or birding, today I have a shameless advertisement for my photography business, Mountain Plover.

I usually sell my prints and blank cards in person, either at a speaking engagement or at a one of the craft boutiques so prevalent this time of year. However, I’m also happy to ship greeting cards and matted prints anywhere in the United States. (Overseas? Contact me.)

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My Favorite Seed Catalog

The mailbox is full of catalogs these days. Harry and David, Sierra Trading Post, Pottery Barn—I may glance at them before tossing them into the recycling bin. But there are a few catalogs I can’t wait to get. As the cold weather sets in and the landscape is dreary and dead, seed catalogs arrive with their reminder that spring will come, eventually. They are the perfect cure for the winter blahs.

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Spinach

spinach_dbg_20100417_lah_2909True confessions… I am allergic to spinach. Very sad, I know. So, I don’t grow it. Everything I’m about to tell you about spinach cultivation I learned from such wise gardeners as David Whiting, Colorado State University professor and State Coordinator for the Colorado Master Gardener Program, and Diane E. Bilderback, one of my favorite garden writers (and, along with Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, author of my favorite veggie gardening book, Garden Secrets).

The first tricky thing about spinach is when to plant it. Being extremely day-length sensitive, it is sure to bolt when it receives 14 or more hour of daylight per day. You can squeeze in a crop as soon as the weather is warm enough (and thankfully, spinach is relatively hardy), or wait until days are getting shorter again and plant for a fall harvest.

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A Garden Catalog for Colorado

high-country-gardens-catalogLast week I was complaining about catalogs full of tempting, desirable plants that simply will not grow here in Colorado. Today I want to introduce you to a catalog full of tempting, desirable plants that love it here.

Most experienced local gardeners already know about High Country Gardens, but if you don’t, you should. Based in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico, this company specializes in perennials suited for the high, dry gardens of the western U.S. In fact, a lot of their stock won’t do well in “average garden conditions” (a phrase that means “conditions in gardens that are not in Colorado”).

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My Favorite Lettuce Varieties: Loose-leaf Lettuce

misting lettuce @home LAH 001Red, green, plain or fancy, tall, squat, and very delicious, lettuce is my favorite crop. Because I plant so much of it, I’ve experimented with dozens of varieties. And since there are hundreds to choose from, I’ve only scratched the surface. I’m always open to your suggestions.

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Give a Harvest of Hope

harvest-of-hope-catalogHave you finished your Christmas shopping yet? Christmas is only two days away! Well, if you’re still scratching your head searching for ideas, I have just the thing for that hard-to-shop-for person on your list. And if you are done with your shopping, may I add one more person for you to shop for—someone you don’t know and will probably never meet?

All during the holidays, garden catalogs have been piling up on my desk. I usually promise myself that I won’t open a single one until I have written all my Christmas thank you notes, cleaned the house, and packed up all the decorations. I know once I start reading about beans and lettuce, I’ll be distracted for weeks.

Except… there is one catalog that I open right away.

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