Hello Fellow Gardeners,
July and early August are usually the most intensely hot and dry time of the year in our region. Not only do gardeners need to be sure to stay hydrated, but our plants are also very vulnerable and need more support from us. Even though we only water the Xeriscape Rock Garden at Harlequin’s once in May and once in June, we water twice in July. Many of our plants are expending a lot of energy now in producing flowers or seeds and can exhaust themselves trying to do all that while under extreme stress from heat and drought. Deadheading is a good idea now, unless you are counting on collecting seeds, allowing the plant to self-sow, or leaving the seed pods on the plant for their decorative qualities in the fall and winter garden. You can also compromise – we often deadhead about half to 2/3 of a plant and leave the rest to make seed.
With the exception of vegetable gardens, containers and bedding plants, it’s best to hold off on fertilizers now, although mild organic fertilizers can be used safely. Fertilizers that are high in nitrogen, especially chemical fertilizers, can burn plants that are not receiving ample water. Most summer vegetables (tomato, cucumber, squash, pepper, etc.) are heavy feeders, and their fruit production can be supported with a light side-dressing of an organic fertilizer such as Alpha One, Bradfield’s Tomato & Veggie, Age Old Fruit (dry formula) or Age Old Bloom (liquid). After scratching the dry fertilizer into the top 1-2” of the soil, be sure to water it in with ample H2O.
We are experimenting a lot this year with our own Compost Tea, which we are brewing on-site. It is non-burning, and by increasing the soil life (beneficial micro-organisms), it can bring more nutrients and water to the plants and make them stronger and better able to cope with stress. It can be used full-strength as a mild organic fertilizer, or it can be diluted in water up to 3 times as a soil inoculant. It can also be used to inoculate compost piles to make materials break down faster. We have observed some very good results and received positive reports from customers who have tried it. But we would also love to get your feedback on this new product, so for now, we are offering our compost tea for only $4 per gallon ($3.50 for HG members). Our regular price is $5. Bring your own jugs, or use ours for a $1 deposit (refundable upon return).
Because plants are more vulnerable in this hot, dry season, it is an excellent time to reduce weeds. This can be accomplished through hand-tool weeding (if you don’t have one already, come check out our hori knives, weeding trowels and ‘Garden Bandit’ weeders); this is also the most effective time to apply non-toxic herbicides, such as ‘Clean & Green Naturally’, made with 20% vinegar, and ‘Perfectly Natural’ weed and grass killer, made with clove oil. Both are in stock now at Harlequin’s Gardens. Spray them in the heat of the day for the greatest effectiveness. To prepare larger weed-filled areas for new plantings, consider ‘solarizing’ the area under clear or black plastic or pond-liner for 4 to 8 weeks. This technique is most effective in the hottest months. Ask us for detailed instructions on solarizing.
We also want to let you know that we have re-stocked our seed racks with seeds from both Abbondanza and Botanical Interests, for summer and fall planting of fall and winter crops. Sow seeds now for carrots, beets, swiss chard, kohlrabi and kale. In August, kale, kohlrabi, chard, cilantro, scallions and lettuce can be sown, and in September you can sow lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, cilantro, arugula, parsley and scallions. We have already started broccoli and cauliflower plants for you to transplant out next month, and will also offer starts of kale, chard and more. We have row-cover fabric to help you keep seed-beds protected and to protect crops from frost in the fall.
We are planning to launch a Vegetable Variety Review feature on our website where our customers will be able to report on their experiences with the vegetable varieties they’ve purchased from Harlequin’s Gardens. This way, you can let us know what worked for you, what didn’t, what was delicious, productive, healthy, or not. We will let you know as soon as this feature is ready.
In response to customers’ requests, we are excited to be offering for sale, for the first time, a limited number of the same kinds of cheerful, colorful and unusual spring bulbs that visitors to our display gardens were admiring in our gardens earlier this year. These include choice selections of wild species of tulips, miniature daffodils, irises, crocus and alliums, along with several lesser-known types of bulbs. We will publish a list and descriptions on our website and in our Fall Newsletter, and we expect to receive most of our bulb shipment in the first week of September. A few items will arrive a little later, after September 20th. Since this is the first time we are offering bulbs and we need to appraise the response, the supply will be limited, so shop early for the best selection but wait until October or November to plant them in the ground.
Those of you who read the Boulder Daily Camera are probably familiar with their ‘Boulder Gold’ awards. The Camera is currently conducting voting for the categories in which we can be nominated (they call this group of categories ‘Shopper’s Paradise’), and we would really appreciate your vote for us for Best Plant Nursery and Best Garden Center. Voters can nominate a business for a maximum of 3 categories, and must enter votes for at least ten categories altogether. Some other categories for which you might want to give us a third nomination might be Best Green Products/Services Store, Best Locally Owned Store, Best Shopping Destination, or Best Company/Store that Gives Back to the Community. We feel that winning, especially as Best Plant Nursery, can go a long way to increasing our exposure to gardeners in Boulder County and beyond, many of whom still aren’t aware of our existence. And that way, we will have a chance to introduce many more gardeners to sustainable plants and sustainable, non-toxic gardening practices and products. Yes, we are trying to change the world! And you can help us, one vote at a time. You can cast your ballot on paper and mail it in or hand-deliver it, using the ballots printed in the Camera through July 30th, or vote online at WWW.DAILYCAMERA.COM/VOTE. If you can, ask your family, friends and neighbors to participate as well.
If you have some time to relax in the shade of a tree or in the relatively cool comfort of your house, you may want to read some of the excellent books we have stocked this year. Joel Salatin’s ‘Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal’ entertains and educates, bringing to life “with humor and verve, the everyday conflict between the entrenched industrial food system and the local, neighbor-friendly farmer-entrepreneur”. Get inspiration for planning and improving your gardens with ‘Planting Design: Gardens in Time and Space’ by renowned garden designer Piet Oudolf. A newly arrived addition to our bookshelf is the long-awaited revised edition of ‘Native Plants for High Elevation Western Gardens’ by Jan Busco and Nancy Morin. This is a highly useful text that describes and illustrates a large palette of native plants, covering not only their native habitats but their garden needs as well. Anyone interested in extending the season to grow vegetables almost year-round will find a wealth of information in Eliot Coleman’s wonderful books, ‘The Four Season Harvest’ and ‘Winter Harvest Handbook’. ‘Seed to ‘Seed’ by Susan Ashworth is an indispensable resource for anyone growing open-pollinated vegetable varieties and intending to save their seeds for planting next year. On this subject, also check out our upcoming classes below. And Harlequin’s Gardens Members receive a 25% discount on books all through the season. See ‘Membership’ on our website, www.harlequinsgardens.com, and in our Spring 2010 Newsletter to learn more about our membership program.
We are still taking registration for the following classes at Harlequin’s Gardens (call 303-939-9403 or come in to register):
Saturday July 24, 1:30 pm: SAVING YOUR SEED with Janice Kieft. Learn from an expert which kinds of vegetables and flowers will ‘come true’ from seed, how to ‘isolate’, and how to select, harvest, clean, store and test seeds. Janice is a professional in the seed industry with 30 years experience. $10
Saturday August 14th, 1:30 pm: PRUNING FOR STRENGTH, HEALTH and BEAUTY with Mikl Brawner. In this talk and demonstration you will learn to train young trees, to restructure shrubs and trees damaged by storms, to prune roses, and more. Mikl has over 35 years experience in pruning. $15
Saturday August 21, 1:30 pm: COMPOSTING with Eric Johnson. Eric has been composting for more than 20 years and will teach the basics of easy, successful composting in our climate. Learn how to troubleshoot problems and what to do about them. $10
Sunday August 22, 1:30 pm: PRUNING FOR STRENGTH, HEALTH and BEAUTY repeated – see description above.
Saturday September 11, 1:00 to 2:30 pm: LOW-TECH GREENHOUSE DESIGN & OPERATION with Mikl Brawner. Mikl has been researching, building and using simple greenhouses for 18 years. This class will focus on designs on site at the nursery. $15
Thank you for your patronage and friendship, and for your stewardship of the Earth!
Wishing you delight in your gardens,
Mikl Brawner & Eve Reshetnik Brawner
And the staff at Harlequin’s Gardens