Gorgeous Ginger

dbg_lah_2899

I love Asian cooking, or at least the American version of it. (I didn’t recognize anything on the buffet at the hotel in Bangkok!). Anything with plenty of onions, garlic, and ginger makes my mouth water. I’ve grown onions and garlic before, when I had more room for such things. But living in the cold part of Zone 5, any ginger I planted would have to be in a pot so I could bring it in for the winter. And at the rate I use ginger, it just didn’t seem to be worth the trouble.

Continue reading “Gorgeous Ginger”

More Better Tomatoes

tomatoes-greenhouse-2008sept08-lah-296Summer is just around the corner and the weather is (hopefully) settled. You’ve finally planted your tomato seedlings and you’re dreaming of luscious, red, ripe tomatoes—the sooner the better.

However, this is Colorado, and there’s no guarantee when it comes to growing tomatoes. Now that your plants are in the ground, what’s the best way to care for them to ensure the biggest, fastest harvest?

Continue reading “More Better Tomatoes”

Moth Orchids

Orchid_2943_filt_rel

With the holidays behind us, winter seems to stretch out as far as we can see. I don’t know about you, but I’m more than ready for a tropical vacation! We can’t afford tickets to a balmy beach or verdant rainforest, but I can manage to plunk down a mere $19.95—or less—for a blooming orchid. My imagination will have to supply the rest.

Continue reading “Moth Orchids”

Keen on Kale

Colorado State Univ. Field DayIt used to be relegated to garnish status, if you could find it at all. Kale’s strong flavor placed it in last place when compared to its more appealing relatives such as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. Even the oft-hated Brussels sprouts were more popular. But now, kale is finally getting the accolades it deserves. From kale smoothies to the seared kale I enjoyed at a restaurant recently, its showing up everywhere. With its abundant nutrients and new, milder flavor, kale might be the “trendy veggie” of the decade.

Continue reading “Keen on Kale”

More Basil, Please

Basil in food processor_LAH_2355The summer is winding down and my harvest (well, except for the still-green tomatoes) is in full swing. Last month I made my first basil cuttings. Now it’s time for another one. And with any luck (and a late frost), I’ll reap one more before the plants freeze.

How do I get so much basil from just a few plants? It’s not hard—I just have to plan ahead. First, I start the plants early indoors. Second, when I pick the leaves, I make very intentional cuts in specific places. And finally, I don’t let the plants go to seed. Let’s look at each of these points more closely.

Continue reading “More Basil, Please”

Beyond Spring

Malus 'Branzam' Brandywine_Crabapple_DBG_LAH_5147Most landscapes look terrific in May and June. The leaves are fresh and new. From pink crabapples to purple lilacs, it seems as if everything is in bloom. The contrast with the lifeless browns and grays of winter is enough to send you cavorting across the  glowing, emerald green lawn.

It’s tempting—irresistible, really—to rush to the local garden center and buy everything with flowers on it. I’ve been subjected to Facebook photos of flowers since March (I have a lot of friends in California), and finally it’s our turn!

Continue reading “Beyond Spring”

Colorado’s Iconic Blue Spruce

Bowman's Root and Blue Spruce_DBG_LAH_4163Colorado has a love affair with the blue spruce (Picea pungens). Perhaps we’re enamored with the striking, steel-blue tint to the needles, and the way the color causes fall’s orange leaves to glow. Perhaps we appreciate the towering, pyramidal shape of a mature tree, or the short and squat dimensions of a dwarf cultivar.

A number of gardeners I’ve talked to added a blue spruce to their yard because it’s Colorado’s state tree. Blue spruces may not be the easiest species for Front Range landscapes, but they’re definitely worth the effort.

Continue reading “Colorado’s Iconic Blue Spruce”

Botany for Gardeners: Photosynthesis (part 2)

Food begins with photosynthesis
All food begins with photosynthesis

(If you missed last week’s post about how photosynthesis works, you might want to read it now. I’ll refer to it below.)

As gardeners, we all want to grow healthy plants. Knowing what they need is helpful, but knowing why they need it is even better. Today I’m going to go over what plants need in order to feed themselves—and us. That’s what photosynthesis is for.

Continue reading “Botany for Gardeners: Photosynthesis (part 2)”

Winter Squash at High Altitude

Cranberry Squash diffuseAs I pulled up the driveway and into the garage, I noticed a large object in a plastic grocery bag, nestled against the front door. Upon inspection, I realized it was a Kabocha squash. What was it doing on my doorstep? My first guess proved correct—our elderly neighbor, a former master gardener, had grown it and was showing off his gardening prowess by sharing his harvest with us.

I was quite impressed. We live at an altitude of about 7,000 feet and long-season veggies don’t have time to mature during our short growing season. Still, the evidence was right in front of me. Somehow, Oscar had managed to grow a (very delicious) Kabocha squash. I was determined to do likewise.

Continue reading “Winter Squash at High Altitude”

Annual Sunflowers

helianthus-annuus-sunflower-csu-23jul04-lah-029Sunflowers may resemble a huge yellow sun towering overhead, but their name comes from their ability to keep their “face” turned toward the sun. Everyone recognizes a conventional sunflower with its huge dark disk surrounded by yellow petals, set atop a sturdy stalk that may reach over eight feet in height. A quick tour of a seed catalog shows that this is just the beginning. Breeders have developed shorter plants (as low as two feet) and an expanded palette of hues ranging from mahogany through orange to lemon yellow, white, and even soft rose to wine-red. Many types sport more than one color.

Continue reading “Annual Sunflowers”