Category Archives: People and Places

2017 Harvest Sale at Rosedale Community Garden, Denver, CO — September 23, 2017

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2017 Harvest Sale at Rosedale Community Garden, Denver, CO — September 23, 2017

The Rosedale Community Garden Harvest Sale is on Saturday, September 23, 2017 from 9 am to 1 pm.   Featured at the sale will be organic vegetables, heirloom garlic and herbs grown in the community garden.   Fresh cut flowers, homemade jams and jellies, bakery, roasted kale chips and gently used garden books and supplies will also be for sale.

Rosedale Community Garden is one of the largest and oldest community gardens in Denver with over 100 plots.   It is located on Logan Street just south of Iliff Street and across from Harvard Gulch Recreation Center.

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Late Summer Produce and Planting in The Donation Garden — August 6

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Late Summer Produce and Planting in The Donation Garden — August 6

 

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In 2015, I helped start a donation garden at our family church in Littleton, CO and three summers later, the garden is still growing strong.   We donated over 400 pounds of organic vegetables in years one and two and hope to again this year.  The primary benefactor of the produce we grow is Sheridan Food Pantry.  Each Wednesday, we harvest, weigh and record the harvest before volunteers pick it up for delivery to the food pantry.

20664554_10212084087290872_4994398325057015282_nWith eight raised beds, several community plots and 30 X 30 square feet of plot space to plant, the garden is fairly large.  This year, my key partner in the project moved on to another area of ministry so I’ve been managing this project  practically on my own.  But despite her loss, I remain committed to the project and am excited for another banner year of harvests.   Stepping Stones, a center for adults with special needs has reached out to volunteer in the garden — and their help has been great.    My husband, boys and several friends have also chipped in to water and plant.  Next season, I hope to recruit more volunteers and increase the engagement of the church community as a whole.

20638649_10212084080730708_7954302197931968392_nAs with many gardens, some of the seeds planted did not come up and now that the spring crops have been harvested, there is abundant space for fall crops.   This week, I worked to prep the available space and devoted several hours to planting carrots, beets, cabbage, broccoli, beans, peas, and more.    The summer crops are producing well now and I’ve been harvesting summer squash, zucchini, squash, peppers, cucumbers, herbs and more.  Green tomatoes are growing on the vine, little green pumpkins are hiding beneath large leaves, miniature beans are appearing and the beets and carrots are almost ready to pick.

When the seeds come up weeks after planting in the smooth turned soil, it always seems miraculous to me.   Its always a joy when a thicket of green leafy vegetables emerges.   The hard work has paid off and our garden is thriving!

 

 

Garden Envy

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Garden Envy

In my travels, I visit gardens of all shapes and sizes and take tons of photos.  Always excited to visit my friends’ gardens, attend garden tours and visit local botanical gardens,  I just love to pick up new ideas and think about how I might apply new designs or planting combinations in my own gardens.   I am often as envious as I am inspired.  Here is a collection of some of the gardening ideas I admire:

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Teri’s tomatoes were protected from early season hail under the hoops. They are so tall and healthy.

 

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Dale’s potted tomatoes and trellised vegetables. Its a marvel what he accomplishes in a side yard.

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My neighbors at Rosedale in 2014, Diane and Johanna Montague, had such a perfectly orderly spring garden. Beautiful!

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Christine’s garden was already chock full of produce in late May – garlic, kale, berries, onions, greens, herbs. I loved how she used every square inch and had seedlings growing in egg cartons ready for hot season crops. Easthampton, MA

 

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At Nate and Ashley’s 2013 wedding in New Richmond, WI, the reception was held at a local farm. The little garden next to the house was surrounded by flowers and very organic in it design.

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My friend Mary’s squashes were trellised on these cool wooden structures. Hartland, WI. July 2017

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Centennial Gardens, University of Wisconsin, Madison. I love the order of this planter although I am realistic enough to know that my plants won’t conform to such order.

 

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I love the idea of a garden right outside the front door. The log Adirondack chairs, prayer flags and hollyhocks in the background all create a lovely vignette. Steamboat Springs Garden Tour, 2013.

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Spring Garden with lots of space to grow up. Spinach in the foreground with tomatoes in wall of water. Ute Trails Garden, May 2017

 

A Tour and a Taste at Tabal Chocolate

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A Tour and a Taste at Tabal Chocolate

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During my recent visit home to Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to visit Tabal Chocolate, a business owned by my high school friend, Dan Bieser.  For nearly five years, I’ve followed Dan’s journey of sourcing cacao beans from Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Peru and Nicaragua for use in making his own custom chocolate all the way to the opening his first shop in our hometown of Wauwatosa earlier this year.   All through the miracle of our Facebook friendship!   He told me that when searching for a name for his business, he discovered the Mayan word “tabal” meaning relationship.  He thought it perfectly expressed what he was trying to do with his business.  Eager to check out the new store, I googled the shop and called to see if I could sign up for one of the classes.   Making Truffles was top of the list!  As it turned out, the classes were full but Dan offered to give me a private tour!

The moment I walked in the door of Tabal Chocolate, my senses where overwhelmed by the aroma of rich chocolate.   Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath and remembered the days of my youth when we were treated to the same rich aroma driving past the Ambrosia Chocolate Factory in downtown Milwaukee.   If one could taste chocolate from merely inhaling it, Tabal Chocolate is the place.   Located in the charmingly intimate and walkable village of Wauwatosa Wisconsin, this new shop is a great place to buy locally made chocolate bars, chocolate nibs — the new superfood, gelato, cocoa shell mulch for the garden and delicious desserts created with chocolate made on the premises.

Dan greeted me at the door and introduced me to several of his friendly employees.   I was impressed with the warm inviting decor of the shop.   The space was framed by a marble counter displaying a selection of gelato, pocket candies, warm chocolate churning in a circular dispenser, wooden shelves displaying a variety of chocolate bars, bags of nibs, samples, and comfortable tables both inside and out.   The aromatic space was complemented by the warm employees and awash in sunlight from two floor to ceiling windows looking out on Harwood Avenue.    I was particularly interested in the operation going on behind the glass window at the back of the store.   Dan invited me into this production room, showed me how the cacao beans were ground and spooned out a sample of chocolate from each machine.   Sweet!

We then headed down to the basement where Dave showed me how the chocolate was  tempered and later, poured into molds.   At a counter nearby, a young employee was busy wrapping finished bars in gold foil and then, affixing an outer layer of paper labels.   It was a thrill to peek into the storage room which smelled more heavenly than the threshold above.   Imagine being accidentally locked in this room?   A sweet debacle!!   Stacks of large chocolate bars lined the shelves and Dan let me select a few discounted seconds to buy.

affrogatoBack upstairs, I selected a few more items to buy and accepted Dan’s invitation to sample their signature dessert — the Affrogato.   He told me that the parents of a friend from Italy created this dessert for their business years ago and it was very popular.   Their daughter now makes the gelato featured in the shop.   I selected hazelnut gelato which Dan topped with fresh brewed espresso, warm melted dark chocolate and fresh whipped cream.   Heavenly doesn’t even begin to touch how uniquely delicious the affrogato was.   What could be better than a mix a cold, warm, chocolate, and cool whipped cream?!   A dessert for a celebration, made to impress a date or revive difficult day?

During my visit, I visited Tabal Chocolate twice and told everyone I encountered to put it on their list.   From my mother’s hospital bed, she asked if I could bring her some cards for her to share with her friends.   Once she’s better, I am sure she will be visiting as I will be when I return to Wisconsin.   Next time, I’ll be sure to sign up for a class in advance so I don’t miss out.   Great job Dan — Tabal Chocolate is the best!

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Savoring my salted dark chocolate Bolivian bar one square at a time.

http://tabalchocolate.com/

 

 

 

 

Tom Watson Trail and Maruca Sale — Running and Fun Shopping!

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After so many years of trying to stay in shape while juggling a family and many other demands, I finally figured out what really motivates me to get out the door.   Its not an inviting sunny day, a directive on my workout plan or the threat of a race.   Its most definitely getting together with friends and doing something fun after the workout — coffee, breakfast, beer or in today’s case, shopping at a popular biannual factory sale of fabulous, incredibly discounted handbags.   Dangle something fun in front of my nose and I’ll hit the trail for an hour in anticipation of my reward!!!

https://bouldercolorado.gov/parks-rec/tom-watson-park

Today’s carrot was shopping at Maruca’s biannual factory sale following our workout.   Our eager group of runners assembled at a home in Littleton to carpool up to Boulder for an hour run on the Tom Watson Trail.   The views of the Flatirons and Boulder reservoir were spectacular and we enjoyed lovely cool weather.   After a little bagel picnic in the park, we headed over to the Maruca headquarters to take our place in line.   Twice a year, this manufacturer of really cute handbags, totes and zipper cases holds a factory sale.   The rock bottom prices attract a long line of customers.   This was the first time I was able to go and was so excited to see all the goodies!

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Being a resourceful shopper, I dipped into the box of remnants and came home with a bag full of scraps and cording   So far, I’ve sown together some coordinating pieces and drafted some patterns to make my own pocketed zipper bags.   Tune in later for some photos of my creations!

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http://marucadesign.com/

 

Seasonal, Succession and Companion Planting – Workshop at Ute Trails Garden, 5/7/17

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Seasonal, Succession and Companion Planting – Workshop at Ute Trails Garden, 5/7/17

13177550_1116499921748060_2580476015789243526_nSince becoming a master gardener in 2013, I frequently give workshops at local community gardens.   Today, I had the opportunity to give a workshop at Ute Trail Garden in Lakewood where several of my friends garden.   I am sharing the outline of my program for those who could not attend or would also like to learn about seasonal, companion and succession gardening.

The following are methods used by successful gardeners to maximize their harvest, minimize pests and promote healthy soil.

Companion Planting

  • Some plants grow well together, others do not
  • Some plants, especially herbs, act as repellents, confusing insects with their strong odors that mask the scent of the intended host plants.
  • Dill and basil planted among tomatoes protect the tomatoes from hornworms, and sage scattered about the cabbage patch reduces injury from cabbage moths.
  • Marigolds are as good as gold when grown with just about any garden plant, repelling beetles, nematodes, and even animal pests.
  • Carrots, dill, parsley, and parsnip attract garden heroes — praying mantises, ladybugs, and spiders — that dine on insect pests.
  • Much of companion planting is common sense: Lettuce, radishes, and other quick-growing plants sown between hills of melons or winter squash will mature and be harvested long before these vines need more leg room.
  • Leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard grown in the shadow of corn
  • Sunflowers appreciate the dapple shade that corn casts and, since their roots occupy different levels in the soil, don’t compete for water and nutrients.

Seasonal Planting

  • Cold season vs. warm season crops
  • Last frost date – keep track – generally mid-to –late May in Colorado
  • Cold season crops can be planted before the last frost and some can overwinter under mulch examples: lettuce, kale, carrots, spinach, radishes, onions, sweet peas
  • Warm season crops are planted after the last frost and some need the soil to be warmer examples include pumpkins, squashes, many flowers, beans, basil, corn, sunflowers, tomatoes, peppers, melons

Succession Planting

  • Benefits of succession plantings: maximize space,  extend  harvest window, maintain a continuous supply
  • Make the most efficient use of space and timing to increase productivity
  • Two or more crops in sequence.After one crop is harvested, plant another in the same space.      Plant lettuce every 3 weeks; two crops of carrots
  • Interval succession planting.  Make repeated plantings of the same crop, planting the same variety at timed intervals.     Succession Planting Interval Charts.
  • Two or more crops concurrently.  Plant several different varieties, typically with different maturity dates    Sometimes referred to as “intercropping” and “companion planting.”
  • Same crop, different maturity dates. Plant several varieties, with different maturity dates — early, mid season, and late — at the same time. As they mature over the season, you harvest them one after the other.

Handout on Companion Planting:

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4 X 4 Plot Planting Plan with Cold and Warm Season Crops:

4 X 4 Garden Plan

Vegetable Companion Planting Chart:

http://www.ufseeds.com/Vegetable-Companion-Planting-Chart.html

Pictures of Ute Garden:

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My friend Laura Stevens is one of the leaders at Ute Trail and gave me a tour of the community garden. Here she is in front of her plot. I love how she used thyme for her paths!

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Can I Show You My Jugs and My Rack?

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Can I Show You My Jugs and My Rack?

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Honestly, it’s not as bad as it sounds.   I am referring to the milk jugs and the new light rack I am using to grow seedlings for my garden.  When I found myself asking my garden pals this weekend if they wanted to see my jugs and my rack, I got a few laughs but I didn’t realize how totally funny it sounded until a male garden pal laughed and said, “Yes, I want to see your jugs and your rack!”   Oh, geez, this is a  slightly dirty spin on my garden projects — which are dirty to begin with!

The exciting news is that my experiment of using milk jugs as little greenhouses has sprouted success.   Thank you to hometown Wisconsin friend Maggie Strunk Leyes for inspiring me.   Here are two jugs with little sprouts inside:

I am also stoked about my new grow lights which arrived via Amazon last week and have been shining on my happy crop of tomatoes, eggplant and peppers.   The green glow of the lights has prompted some to ask if I’m growing marijuana plants.   But, although it is legal to grow 6 pot plants per adult in Colorado, I am not growing weed.

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Pilates and The Balanced Life Sisterhood

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Pilates and The Balanced Life Sisterhood

17952978_865590493209_5858890779627771490_nAnyone who knows my workout routine knows that I love my Pilates.  I’ve tried yoga and even have a daughter who teaches it but prefer Pilates for two reasons:  you can talk to your neighbors during class and it focuses on core strength in plain English (no fancy names).   I started going to Lisa’s class at Ken Caryl Community Center about ten years ago and soon became a regular.   Most of my working out tends to be very active — running, swimming, biking, skiing, boot camp, weight lifting, etc. but surprisingly, I found that Pilates offers a great balance to all the pushing I do in very active sports and actually, helps me feel better and takes away a lot of the aches and pains.   After a few years of regular Pilates, I actually measured three quarters of an inch taller!

There are two types of Pilates:   on the reformer and on the mat.   I do Mat Pilates which is done on the floor using an exercise or yoga mat and employs controlled breathing during body weight resisted movement to build core strength.   A typical class lasts about 45-60 minutes.

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After going back to work last year, I was unable to attend my regular class and could only manage to squeeze in a few evening classes a month.   I was excited to hear about an online option from a gal in my running group.  For a low monthly fee, Robin Long, a Pilates instructor based in Boulder (now Santa Barbara) teaches classes five days a week.    After hearing about her program, I immediately checked it out and signed up for a mere $9/month.    I love the flexibility of Robin’s program as well as her encouraging upbeat personality, shorter workouts designed for busy moms and women and well as the support offered by her online community known at the Balanced Life Sisterhood.

14199258_10100593985355466_8713261057227829023_nhttps://thebalancedlifeonline.com/#

In addition to the daily workouts, Robin offers lots other cool things like:

  • Special live streamed workouts on Periscope
  • A monthly mission like getting organized, being mindful, setting goals, etc.
  • A weekly digest email
  • A new spa retreat in Santa Barbara
  • Facebook posts with personal updates
  • Special free programs like the 21 days challenge in February 2017
  • A blog
  • New healthy recipes each month.  Here’s a family favorite:  https://thebalancedlifeonline.com/slow-cooker-chicken-tacos/

slow-cooker-chicken-tacos.pngSlow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, preferably organic
  • 15 ounces low-sodium black beans, drained
  • 14 ounces frozen corn, preferably organic, straight from freezer
  • 16 ounces mild store-bought salsa, preferably organic
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • Whole wheat tortillas (optional/we used corn to keep it gluten free)

Directions:

Add all ingredients except the cilantro and tortillas to the slow cooker. Mix well.

Cook on low for approximately 8 hours undisturbed. Prior to serving, shred chicken, add cilantro and mix well.

Here’s another link to one of Robin’s YouTube workouts:

If you’re interested in trying Pilates, I encourage you to check out Robin’s free workouts available on her website or on YouTube.   I think registration for the Balanced Life Sisterhood will open up again in September 2017.   It so awesome to feel stronger with her 10-35 minute home workouts.  Let me know what you think!

 

 

Running on the East West Trail

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Sweeping Views of the Snow-capped Front Range and Pike’s Peak

I am always amazed when I have the opportunity to try a new running trail  and today was such a day.    Shari Zimmerman, a member of my running club, knew about the East West Trail in Highlands Ranch from her son who lives nearby.   And several weeks ago, when she described the beautiful mountain views and the lovely hilly trail, our group was eager to check it out.   And today was the day!

The East West Trail is tucked in the stunning Back Country neighborhood just past Mountain Vista High School on Wild Cat Reserve Parkway.   It is a soft surface trail approximately 19.5 miles long stretching from Red Stone Park to Ridgegate Parkway with future connections to Lone Tree and Parker.   We carpooled the 20-30 minutes from our homes in Littleton and Lakewood and parked at Red Tail Park just off  2674 Pemberly Avenue.   When we arrived, the park full of school children and the sun was shining.   A another warm blue-sky Spring Colorado day!    By 8:05 am, the 10 of us had hit the trail.

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http://www.douglas.co.us/documents/east-west-regional-trail-info-and-map.pdf

We knew from Shari’s description that the trail was an uphill climb for almost a mile.   And she’s wasn’t kidding!   With a pounding heart, I jogged and walked up the steep grade in about 12 minutes and at the top, was greeted with a sweeping view of the snow capped Front Range and clear views of both Pike’s Peak to the south and Mount Evans to the West.   Wow!   Vistas like this just make me love Colorado and appreciate my good fortune to live here.   After catching my breath and reading some of the trail signs, my companions and I continued on the public trail for another 20 minutes and turned around.

Along the way, there were narrow dirt paths shooting off the main trail with signs warning nonresidents to stay off  the private property.   I wondered if my sister Pam’s ls.jpg residence in Highlands Ranch would qualify her (and her guests) to use these trails?   For today, we enjoyed the wide, well maintained public trail.    On the way back, most of us were able to run a bit faster. – a real treat!   After an hour on the trail, we met back at the parking lot and all headed to Pierre Michel French Bakery  for breakfast.   What a delight to enjoy French pastries, omelets, quiches and coffee at this lovely local restaurant!

http://www.pierremichelbakery.com/

After I got home and did a little more research, I was happy to find that there is a East-West Trail Half Marathon and 10k on June 10.   I will  have spend some more time training on that big hill before I register!

https://raceroster.com/events/2017/10512/east-west-trail-half-marathon-and-10k

 

 

Falling Head First Into The Garden — The Usual Early Season Psychosis

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April is a heady time of year for me.   Passionate discussions about all aspects of gardening (in-person, on the phone, via text message), frequent visits to local nurseries, intersecting projects and conversations, early morning inspirations and a parade of dirty shoes, gloves and digging clothes littering my floors are all signs that my brain and energy are focused on one subject – THE GARDEN.   Fortunately, the days are getting longer, I have time to work on a myriad of projects and garden geeks eager to talk and share surround me at every turn.

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  • Contacted John Swain, the horticulturalist for the Denver Golf Courses and designer/planter/co-manager of the donation garden at Harvard Gulch Golf Course and passionate home gardener.   A winter has come between our last fact filled gardener conversation so we had a lot to talk about.   As always, he is a fountain of enthusiasm and information and turned me on to two important sources as well as the benefit of using lacto bacillus serum in the garden (labs for short):
  • The Unconventional Farmer:   http://theunconventionalfarmer.com/
  • Build a Soil:  https://buildasoil.com/blogs/news/8634877-gil-carandang-lactobacillus-serum-recipe
  • Labs are a workhorse of beneficial bacteria (which is edible) and has multiple applications including — speeding decomposition in the compost pile, unclogging drains, treating powdery mildew on squash plants, eliminating odor in animal bedding and most importantly,  “Improves growth of plants when applied as foliar spray and soil drench. Improves their efficiency in uptaking nutrients so naturally, growth is enhanced. With the use of these microorganisms, the nutrients you spray or drench to feed your plants become more bio-available and easily absorbable by the plants. Technically, you can say that plants do not use organic nutrients directly. Microorganisms convert organic nutrients to their inorganic constituents which the plants utilize. Utilizing microbes, you will notice better plant growth and health.”   -The Unconvential Farmer.
  • Labs recipe:  I mixed myself up a batch and its still incubating.   Its easy to make and the recipe can be viewed on the link about from the Build a Soil website.   Basically, you wash rice and take the water and fill a Ball jar about 75% full and cover with a paper towel — make sure air can get in.   Store it on top of the refrigerator and after a few days, the liquid will separate.   Siphon off the center layer adding 1 part serum to 10 parts milk and put in another container, cover tightly and let sit for another few days.   Once curds appear, you can strain the liquid with a cheesecloth (the curds can be fried up and eaten).    You add 1 part serum to 20 parts water to spray in the garden.   Store in the frig or add molasses to store at room temperature.  Stable for about a year.

Garden Hacks

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  • Strawberries and asparagus grow happily together; plan to add strawberries to my new planted asparagus patch
  • Used my mole cages to sift compost into my cold frames
  • Sprinkle carrot and beet seeds together every few weeks to have a continuous crop
  • Marijuana growers have to dispose of growing mix are harvesting the plants; the vermiculate and soil less mix is great mixed into raised beds and helps lighten the soil
  • Dryer lint can be put in the compost pile
  • I used paint stirrers for marking seeds and plants.   Pick them up for free every time I stop at Home Depot or Lowe’s.

Progress at Rosedale Garden – my 19th year in this community garden!IMG_9438

  • Planted purple and green asparagus in two 8 inch deep trenches this week; once sprouted will cover with 3 inches of dirt
  • Peas planted on March 15 finally sprouted, planted a third row on April 7
  • Prepped more beds and mapped out where everything is going
  • Seeded pumpkin bed with winter wheat; won’t be planting there for two months
  • Garlic planted in frozen soil in late December is up and growing; looks like its going to make it!
  • Susan has been making videos of me at the garden and I am learning how to edit them!

Opening up the St. Philip Donation Garden

  • Scheduled a work day for this Sunday to get started prepping the beds at St. Philip.
  • One volunteer came and we cleaned up two beds, added fresh compost and planted peas, onions and a variety of cold crops.   Watered and talked about plans.
  • Three plots are spoken for with another two gals potentially interested in volunteering in the donation beds.
  • This is our third year and I’m sorry that I’ve lost my partner of the first two years, Lerae Schnickel to another church ministry.   She was great to work with and its hard to move forward without her support.

Helping at a Jovial Gardens Neighborhood ProjectIMG_9480

  • Jovial Gardens is a really cool Denver-based organization that helps build gardens in neighborhoods.   One of their goals is to decrease food scarcity in the urban environment and  grow food for local food banks.  The group originally started in Edgewater, a suburb on Denver, and organized gardens in more than 40 yards in the neighborhood.   https://jovialconcepts.org/about-us/
  • My friend and master gardener, Teri Connelly is working with Jovial to install gardens in the yards of a number of her neighbors in Arvada.   Today, I had the chance to visit on a work day and saw work in progress in at least 6 yards.   The enthusiasm and excitement of the neighbors and volunteers was awesome.   Teri shared that in one front yard garden they harvested almost a 1000 pounds of organic produce last year.   I would love to start such a program in my neighborhood (Trailmark)  in Littleton.

Seedling Update on the Home Front

  • My experiment of seeding tomatoes and peppers for the first time has had mixed results.   All but one of the 12 varieties of tomatoes I planted has sprouted.   It took less than a week.   I learned that they need a heat mat and lights!IMG_9484.JPG
  • 8 of 11 peppers sprouted this week.   More time needed?
  • The tomatoes are very leggy but John Swain told me that they need grow lights and that its not too late for them to stabilize.
  • I only have one grow light so I’ve set it up for 14 hours alternatively above the trays of peppers, then the tomatoes.   Ordered a 4 foot rack with light from Amazon yesterday so hope it arrives this week.
  • Nothing has sprouted in the milk jugs I planted last week.  Time will tell