Hopflower Oregano (flower of the month)

Hopflower Oregano (Origanum libanoticum) is an ornamental herb. It's flowers are pale green and look like little paper lanterns hanging on their stem strings. A very unique look indeed. They are pretty trailing over the edges of flower beds, hanging in baskets, cut in bouquets, and even dried!

They are perennial plants that do a terrific job of attracting pollinators such as hummingbirds and butterflies. They bloom mid summer and last all the way until fall. Once established they are drought tolerant and prosper in the Colorado native soil and heat. Sun is preferred, but they will do just fine in partial sun. 

Let us know if you want Hopflower Oregano planted in your yard!

Food Justice


 

 

Eight years ago, I watched the infamous food movement documentary Food Inc. (2009); a documentary film directed by Robert Kenner that shines a light on the corporate control of agriculture in the United States, and highlights the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of plants and animals in often disturbing ways. One of the experts featured in the film was author Michael Pollan. Over the years, I have often referred to Pollan's perspective and enchanting writing on agriculture, and have even seen him as an inspiration in my own study of the anthropology of food and it's movement. In the introduction of the Botany of Desire (2001) Pollan describes evolutionary biology in a way so poetic that I have re-read and re-read his words dozens of times over the years:

"[…] We're prone to overestimate our own agency in nature. Many of the activities humans like to thin they undertake for their own good purposes--inventing agriculture, outlawing certain plants, writing books in praise of others--are mere contingencies as far as nature is concerned...Our grammar might teach us to divide the world into active subjects and passive objects, but in a coevolutionary relationship every subject is also an object, every object a subject. That's why it makes just as much sense of think of agriculture as something the grasses did to people as a way to conquer the trees" (p. xxi).

 

In the introduction of Alison Alkon and Julian Agyeman's Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability (2011), Pollan's name and work is mentioned within the first two pages. The authors critique Pollan directly:

Feminist social scientists use the term positionality to refer to the understanding that our lived experiences, particularly those of race, class, and gender, shape our worldviews. The food movement narrative is largely created by, and resonates most deeply with, white and middle class individuals. For example, Michael Pollan's recently offered list of food rules (2007) is intended to guide consumers toward eating practices aligned with the food movement. However, when Pollan begins his first rule by telling us not to "eat anything your great-great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food," he ignores the fact that "our great-great grandmothers come from a wide variety of social and economic contexts that may have informed their perceptions of food quite differently. Some were enslaved, transported across the ocean, and forced to subsist on the overflow from the master's table (p. 3).

What sets Food Justice apart from the Food Movement is a consideration of the implications of systemic racism, class barrier, and biased corporate powers on our food system at large. To view Food Inc. through a Food Justice lens would be to ask not why diabetes is on the rise, but who is disproportionately affected by diabetes. We could become less concerned with the mere presence of the biological hazards of industrial animal agriculture and more concerned about who is disproportionately affected by these hazards. Within the whitened discourse of the Food Movement, there seems to be a prevalent concern over monocultures: corn, soybeans, wheat. But perhaps a more pertinent concern should be over who harvests the corn, who processes the corn, who offers the feed to the cattle, who performs their slaughter, and who cooks the meat. Within the context of industrial agriculture in the United States, this who tends to be the disenfranchised; a disproportionate population of people of color who thanklessly cater to the fundamental infrastructure of our civilization—the production of food.

These questions are relevant to defining Food Justice because they are asking the reader to consider the presence of varied, different, unique, and valid worldviews within the realm of food and culture. From this perspective, Food Justice can be seen as a methodology, in which we use a model of reflexive justice to approach these issues.  When we can intentionally and compassionately take into consideration disparate perspectives on justice, we can develop more robust and comprehensive approaches to addressing injustice in our food systems.

I believe that it is crucial for anyone in the justice movement to deeply consider different positionalities, different perspectives, and different values. Not only to consider them, but to receive them with full respect. When we speak of agriculture, we are speaking of a practice that has been employed for thousands of years, by thousands of cultures, in an incalculable amount of ways. There is great power in food; it keeps us alive. At the same time, memories of food can bring us great joy. Food brings our families and friends together. What more healing place to begin to atone for injustice than within the realm of food.

 

References

Agyeman J., Bullard R. and Evans B. (2003). Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World. Earthscan/MIT Press, London 

Alkon, A. H., and Agyeman, J. (2011). Introduction: The Food Movement as Polyculture. 

Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability. (pp. 1-20).  Boston, MA: MIT Press.

Code, J. (2014). Muck and Mind: Encountering Biodynamic Agriculture. Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne Books

DePuis, E. M., Harrison, J. L., & Goodman, D. (2011). Just Food? Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class, and Sustainability. (p. 283-307). Boston, MA: MIT Press.  

Environmental Protection Agency. (2017, November 16th). Environmental Justice. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice

Smith, L. T. (2012) Decolonizing Methodologies. New York, NY: Zed Books.

Omi, M., and Winant, H. (1994). Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s. London: Routledge.

Peña, D. (2017) Lecture given at Naropa University on October 23rd, 2017.  

Pollan, M. (2001). The Botany of Desire. New York, NY: Random House Publishing.

Ramazanoglu, C., & Holland, J. (2002). Feminist Methodology : Challenges and Choices. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.


 

Stop what you are doing! And listen...

Our podcast is on iTunes! Subscribe and leave a review!

 

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It's up!

Ok back to winter planting!

If you do not have a greenhouse and still want to grow here are a few things to try....

1. Sprouts

2. Microgreens

3. Herbs

 

Sprouts:

  • First, soak your sprouts in water overnight.
  • Rinse
  • Store in a mason jar with a wire-mesh lid (so the sprouts can drain)
  • Rinse and drain everyday, until voila! That easy.

Seeds to buy: alfalfa, amaranth, adzuki beans, broccoli

Microgreens

Herbs:

Chives, mint, parsley, thyme (our favorite), oregano, and rosemary can all be transferred from your outdoor garden to a nice sunny spot indoors. 

Oops, you already let them die outside? You can check your local nursery to see if they might have some starts already. 

Other considerations:

  • Grow lights can really help with salad greens, kale, and spinach! Also with other herbs such as Basil.
  • Tower Gardens can grow a great variety of plants all winter long, while using minimal water!

Contact us with any questions!

Space & Thyme Podcast Ep. 3

In this episode, we continue exploring how people working with natural landscapes connect to place. This time however, we focus on the craft of stonemasonry. We interviewed members of a local Boulder stonemasonry business called Z Stone, and asked them about what attracts them to stone work and why it is important. We trace some of the history of stone masonry from Medieval Japan to modern Colorado in order to explore both the historical significance of this work as well as the notion of a trade that masters teach to apprentices. Lastly, we take a look at how these kinds of trades survive in our modern communities.

From the left: Zach Johnson, Dave Powers, and John Engelland

From the left: Zach Johnson, Dave Powers, and John Engelland

Space & Thyme Podcast Ep. 2

Lou is a man who has dedicated his life to the practice of farming. It’s more than his job. He doesn’t just clock-in to a day of farming in the morning and then clock-out at night. His work, his passion, and his home are all bound to each other. It’s easy to assume that farming consists almost entirely of mindless manual labor, but listening to Lou helps clue us in to the dedication, discipline, and understanding that farming requires.

Lou and Charla

Lou and Charla

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Our First Full Podcast Episode!

For our first episode, we want to connect farming and gardening to the larger world and explore how we interact with other natural forces. In other words, we want to underline the space in Space & Thyme. We interviewed Brook Levan, biodynamic farmer, certified permaculture designer, and owner and operator of Sustainable Settings Farm and Ranch in Carbondale, Colorado. Brook sees his work as a means of interacting with the immense forces and networks that make up the cosmos. While some might be skeptical of Brook’s more philosophical viewpoint on agriculture, his dedication and overall approach yield products of truly exceptional quality.

Brook Levan - Owner and Operator of Sustainable Settings

Brook Levan - Owner and Operator of Sustainable Settings

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Introducing Space & Thyme - The Podcast!!!

 

Welcome to Space & Thyme – the podcast! A podcast that looks behind the scenes at the visible and invisible players involved in farming and gardening and why this matters. Your hosts Miriam Schaffer and Hanna Williams interview gardeners, farmers, and people who work with the natural world in general. You’ll hear from those who work behind the scenes creating the structures and those selling the resources we use for the production of plants, food, and natural landscapes. This podcast delves into the specifics of their work and passion for the natural world in order express the value of and inspire appreciation for our farms, gardens, and our other natural resources.

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Sheet Mulching 101

What is "sheet mulching"?

It is a way of mulching that suppresses weeds while building fertile soil. 

If you are looking to transform your lawn, overgrown garden, or just start over with a new look than consider getting started sheet mulching now!

It can take 3-6 months for the process to work, so do not wait!

There are so many variations on this process so don't stress too much if you feel overwhelmed by all of the materials you may be reading about that are encouraged for use. Let's keep things simple. 3 MAIN INGREDIENTS. 

1) Cardboard

2) Compost

3) Mulch

Step 1: Decide on the area you wish to sheet mulch. We recommend starting small if this is your first time. This may be an area overgrown with weeds, a piece of lawn you wish to transform into a productive garden, or just a makeover of a new spot.

Step 2: Cut down any taller weeds in the area (Anything that might be tough to smoosh under cardboard). You can "chop and drop", as things will decompose under the mulch (as long as the seed heads of weeds are removed!)

Step 3: Water the area well.

Step 4: Place the cardboard around the area. Make sure to cover everything you wish to kill. Hold cardboard down with landscape staples and heavy rocks. Keep in mind that the wind is intense in Colorado!

Step 5: Spread compost. A nice thin layer (at least an inch thick) to cover the cardboard is sufficient. This may also be the time to spread any soil amendments (gypsum is good for clay soil) you might want to use, as well as manure if you can get some!

Step 6: Spread a thick layer of bark mulch. If you have collected fallen leaves feel free to layer these on as well (probably under the bark so they don't blow away so easily). 

We recommend at least 3 inches thick with the bark mulch!

Step 7: Water, water, water again!

Also keep in mind that the more layers you add and the thicker the layers the more bang you will get! So go big if you have the time and materials-- it is worth it! This is just a very basic outline for the most simple of sheet mulching. 

Feel free to contact us with any questions or assistance you may need.

Remember to #layerup for the cold! 

The End of One Season and the Start of a New Age of Farming

  I know of several individuals who work in fields at least related to things like gardening and agriculture, but there is no denying that the vast majority of people nowadays work in industries that most consider to be more modern. I find it so strange that less than a hundred years ago citizens and elected officials considered the United States to be an agrarian society. Today, if I ask someone what they think of when they consider future industry and society, I feel confident that agriculture is not on their mind. I began to wonder how and when this country’s perception of agriculture changed from being most people’s reality to a more inauspicious career choice.

  One of the key changes that I think signaled this change came in 1933 when Congress passed Agriculture Adjustment Act (AAA). Updating this legislation is now a requirement for Congress, so every 5 years they pass a new farm bill. Many people today however, including those working in industries related to gardening and agriculture, are unaware of how significant this legislation is and how the government’s role in agriculture affects so much more than just farmers.

 Simply put, The Agriculture Adjustment Act began the tradition of farm subsidies. There is a ton of good information available on the history of the AAA, subsequent farm bills, and subsidies, so I won’t list their specific purposes and effects here. I’ll just say that our tradition in this country is to provide financial safeguards to farmers responsible for, what have historically been, our most profitable agricultural exports. These financial supports usually focus on covering farmers’ losses in years when prices drop, and as I said, apply primarily to farmers who grow specific crops. These crops include grains such as wheat, corn, rice, barley, oats, and many other products that are ingredients in feed for livestock or at least classified by the USDA as “bulk commodities.”

 1933 marked the year that the United States changed its approach to agriculture in order to adjust to economies that were expanding across the world, and these policies were successful in saving farmer financially. However, there are still many more lenses apart from just economics through which we can look at farming that yield different questions and concerns. In 2018 Congress will be responsible for a new farm bill, and this legislation will shape our agricultural priorities in the coming years.

I’ll put it another way

This legislation dictates what we plan to do with our land. It reviews how we choose to support farmers, what we want them to grow, whether or not they should explore new techniques or take certain precautions. In 1933 the biggest threats to farmers was a failing economy, and an economic solution helped protect them. Financial support for farmers remains crucial. However, it has also become increasingly clear that mineral deficiencies in soil and erosion are also very real threats not only to farmers, but also to everyone that relies on farmers for their products and their stewardship of this country’s land, which is literally everyone.

 If you understand the need to adapt to a changing environment, if you understand that the priorities of farmers’ and their land are the priorities of everyone, look up the farm bill.  Educate yourself on policy that tangibly affects you in a way that few others do.

 

Some farm bill history

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2011/09/26/140802243/the-farm-bill-from-charitable-start-to-prime-budget-target

Description of types of loans/subsidies for farmers

https://farm.ewg.org/subsidyprimer.php

Details of post 2014 farm bill subsidy and loan changes

http://www.thefarmbill.com/title-1-payments-loans

https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/arc-plc/pdf/2016_arc_co.pdf

https://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSA-Public/usdafiles/arc-plc/pdf/2016_plc.pdf

https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/arcplc_program/index

https://www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/business/farm-bill/plc-and-arc/docs/um-ext-plc-and-arc.pdf

Upcoming 2018 farm bill

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/01/farm-subsidies-trump-budget-cuts-has-agriculture-industry-worried.html

http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/conservation-consensus/

Bindweed: The pursuit of growth

          A broad, squat rocky mountain juniper sits on its patch of dirt. It survived the winter. It’s survived every winter. Countless people have walked by and paused to enjoy its relaxing scent. Some have come to harvest its needles, bark, and berries to make various medicines and drinks. Its waxy, tightly bundled needles trap every spec of moisture it can grab, and doing so lets it survive. Eventually winter ends, moisture becomes more available, the sun shines brighter, and the blue grama, the cheat grass, the columbines, monarda, and all the other grasses and perennials come back to find that rocky mountain juniper waiting for them.

            “Sunshine, snow, whatever,” the juniper thinks to itself. “ It’s just about efficiency. Find moisture, trap it, use just enough. Keep producing chlorophyll, absorb light when you see it, hold on to moisture. Moisture and chlorophyll, moisture and chlorophyll, grab a little sunlight, moisture and chlorophyll, moisture and chlorophyll.”

            The juniper repeats its mantra every hour of every day. Grasses come and go, flowers bloom and die, while the juniper repeats – “light and moisture and chlorophyll, moisture and chlorophyll, moisture and chlorophyll, light and moisture and chlorophyll. This is how I stay efficient. This is how I survive year after year after year after year. Just keep going”

 

            “Excuse me,” a sprout pipes up one day from beneath the juniper’s lower branches. “I’m just a little sprout trying to get started. I see there is a lot of moisture and some spare nutrients here that you’re not using, and so I will be appropriating this surplus in order to better stimulate my growth, and in doing so, increase flower and seed production. This will stimulate the growth of our ecosystem.”

            “What?” The Juniper has trouble understanding. “I absorb moisture, a little light, and some nutrients from the soil. I hold moisture and make chlorophyll, I hold moisture and make chlorophyll. I am efficient, and I survive. That’s how it works”

            “Great! Then you won’t mind if I take what you’re not using,” the sprout responds.

 

            As summer wears on however, the juniper doesn’t feel like things are great.

            “Light and moisture and chlorophyll, light . . . and moisture and chlorophyll, moisture and chlorophyll, moisture and . . . I feel slow. I am . . . not efficient. My needles are . . . yellow?”

            “Excuse me.”

            The juniper halts its line of thought to respond to the sprout. Except the juniper does not see a sprout. Instead it sees a spiraling, sprawling network of thin stems with dull, arrowhead-shaped leaves. The stems are tightly wrapped around the juniper’s branches, squeezing them. The occasional white flower peeks from between the clutching stems.

            “You’re covering me,” The juniper says

            “As I have said, it is in our ecosystem’s best interest that I continue my growth. After all, on of my plants produces up to 500 seeds, which remain viable for up to 20 years. My efficiency and continuous growth will ensure that our ecosystem will continue to grow and prosper, and so it is in our ecosystem’s interest that I deposit my excess alkaloids into the soil.”

            “You’re dumping your -” The juniper begins to say, before the sprawling sprout interrupts.

Local juniper covered in bindweed that served as the inspiration for this post.

Local juniper covered in bindweed that served as the inspiration for this post.

            “I am depositing excess alkaloids to allow for the faster and more continuous growth of our ecosystem.”

 

            The juniper doesn’t respond. The summer continues. More of the juniper’s needles are yellowing. It still survives though. After all, it is very efficient. “Just a little light, hold moisture, make chlorophyll. This sprout is still growing. It’s okay. I’m efficient. I can survive this, the next winter, this again, and the next winter. One day however, the juniper is feeling even slower and less efficient. It looks out to the rest of its patch of dirt. Instead of seeing patches of blue, red, pink, and purple flowers strewn throughout the pale, silvery grasses, the juniper discovers a continuous blanket of dull arrowhead-shaped leaves and small, white flowers.

            “What do you do?” The juniper asks.

            “One of my plants produces up to 500 seeds that are viable for up to 20 years. We can ensure the continuous growth and prosperity of this ecosystem.”

            “Okay, but, I smell nice. People harvest my bark, needles, and berries. What do you do?”

            “I am ensuring the growth and prosperity of our ecosystem.”

Talking to a Rose

            A rose was very mean to me today. You might say that roses can’t be mean because they are plants, but that is ridiculous.  Roses can be very mean.

            They call out for care. Their stalks can grow in the wrong directions and get tangled in their neighbors. They sit there helpless and waiting for me like a small child sticking out their unlaced shoe and silently imploring me to tie it. Their flowers fade and die. They hang there until I trim them, and yet the rose is still mean and ungrateful.

            “Ow,” I call out when a rose thorn sticks deep into my thumb.

            “I thought I told not to touch me,” the rose responds indignantly.

            “I’m trying to help dammit.”

            “Help? You see these gross dead flowers? If you want to help, then get them off of me.”

            “Ow, you pricked me again!”

            “I told you not to touch me! Now come on. These dead stalks are taking up too much space. I need my good sides to be visible. I need people seeing how beautiful I am.”

            “There are so many thorns on those stalks, and they’re all so sharp,” I mutter to myself.

            “Ugh, such a whiner. Just reach in there and clean me up.”

            “Ow, you pricked me again!”

            “I keep telling you not to touch me!”

            “Fine. It’s done. You look fine.”

The roses are beautiful, but a gardener has to be willing to struggle through a little discomfort in order to keep them that way.

The roses are beautiful, but a gardener has to be willing to struggle through a little discomfort in order to keep them that way.

            “Fine?! Look at these.”

             When I try to stand, my face bumps into particularly pink flower. The pedals tickle my nose and cause me to kneel again.

            “I do not look fine. I am beautiful," the rose says to me. "I’m the most beautiful flower there is. You see this pink? I’m like a sunrise you can touch. Seriously, think for a minute about how many ladies are named after me. I don’t quit either. These flowers are dead, but when you come back next week I’ll have more. Whine all you want. I’ll keep blooming, and you’ll love taking care of me.”

            “No I won’t. I don’t. You are such a pain.”

            As I inspect my work from a distance however, I can’t help but think that the rose is beautiful. It’s an ungrateful plant that leaves me with very irritating pricks and scratches, but at least it takes care of its flowers. The rose is right too. It won’t stop. It’ll keep caring for its flowers and blooming beautifully for anyone who can see. It will also keep being very mean to me when I actually have to touch it.

 

The Cosmos

           I need to rake a 10 by 2 foot bed. Then I have to pull the dandelions and thistle. Then I have deadhead and prune the flowers, plants, and trees that we want to keep. Then I have to spread mulch.

            I automatically associate this sort of to-do list format with busywork, which tends to cause twinges of resistance in my stomach. This format suggests that a task’s purpose is to get you to the next task. Step 1 exists in order to reach step 2. However, I know from my experience working at Space and Thyme that this never has to be true for gardening.

            I do not weed because then I can lay down mulch. I weed because plants need me. I need to check up on them and protect them from intruders siphoning off their nutrients, and when I am successful, the plants thrive, their flowers bloom, and their fruits ripen. Weeding does not only lead to planting and mulching, but is also evidence of the effort a gardener puts into making their garden beautiful and bountiful. These steps seem small by themselves, but they are the means by which we work with and connect to systems and forces that are much larger than us.

            Recently my bosses, Hanna and Miriam, spoke to an old employer and mentor of theirs named Brook Levan about his experiences and convictions regarding agriculture. Everything Brook says is fascinating, and if you are at all interested about the perspective of a caring and successful farmer, you should stay tuned for more about this interview. At the very beginning of this interview, Brook emphasizes the necessity of being aware of the “cosmos.”  He stresses how farmers have to understand how all of their work contributes to the nutritional and flavor value of their food. Farmers must grasp how their efforts fit into a larger system of healthy soil, plants, animals, and people. I am a nerd when it comes to literature and words, so I know that “cosmos” is an Ancient Greek word that means order. Ancient mathematicians used the term to convey the idea that everything in the universe interacts with each other, and that the universe itself is a single elaborate entity. This term sticks out to me because it reminds me of the pain that comes from thinking too small too much of the time.

Shown here is the cosmos bipinnatus flower, an icon that represents Space Thyme.

            Cosmos refers to an order that is inconceivably massive, so it makes sense that the apparent smallness of raking, weeding, pruning, and mulching causes me discomfort and frustration. The to-do list order that I make in my head does not connect to anything greater. However, Hanna occasionally reminds me that this is not true with her catchphrase, “Space and Thyme is forever!” The name itself indicates how much we want to emphasize that our work is not small and monotonous, but instead connects us to a larger purpose – to participate in the work of natural forces. I just have to remember the cosmos. Then I better sense the connection between weeding and the prosperity of fruits and flowers. I better understand how healthier soil benefits so much other life, and I realize that none of what I do is busywork. These thoughts make me want to garden, but perhaps not everyone feels the same way. What would make you want to garden? What thoughts and ideas would help this work seem more meaningful to you? After all, it is important work.

Earth Surgery: Working on Behalf of Spring

 

             It’s spring now! I used to take the transition from winter to spring for granted. Without thinking too much about it, I connected shorts, flip-flops, and a little rain with the flowers blooming and gardens coming to life. In my more recent adult years, however, I have come to better appreciate the work and the satisfaction of actually playing a role in this transition. At first glance, the initial steps of this process seem mundane and punishing. That being said, I register the second glance pretty quickly, and doing so makes me forget about all the negative parts of the first one.

            First, there are dead leaves and branches to clip, rake, and compost. There are weeds to pull. There are thick tufts of cheatgrass bindweed with sprawling and tangled roots deeply imbedded in the soil. This work is repetitive, time-consuming, strenuous, but someone has to do it. Deposits of leaves can seem endless, progress when pulling intruding grass is slow, and roots often break in my fingers leaving the majority of the weed I’m pulling stuck in the soil, ready to make its return. But most of the time, they don’t break, and I experience a visceral pleasure when I feel whole roots releasing their grip on the soil that is meant for the flowers and herbs we plant. This work makes me feel more like an earth surgeon going in to remove terrestrial infections so that the gardens who are my patients can look and feel better. This work makes me feel like I’m actually helping spring to arrive.

            I also don’t have to worry too much about the slow progress because I’m not alone. I am often working with Space & Thyme founders Hanna and Miriam. At times, I feel demoralized when I compare my progress with how much more of the garden remains. However, I often feel the opposite as soon as I notice someone else’s progress on another area. Becoming aware of others and their headway inspires a mixture of competition and camaraderie in me. I want to keep up. I want to prove that I can weed and clean just as much, if not more space. I also want to contribute. I want to be a part of the shared experience of helping spring to arrive to the plot of land on which we are working.

            The best part is that everyone can help clear the way for spring, and no one has to do it alone. On top of that, this is Colorado, and competitive camaraderie in the outdoors is a given. The opportunity is everywhere, waiting for more people to take advantage of it. So go out and recruit your fellow earth surgeons, make some t-shirts, and find out how you can heal your soil.

Take a risk and plant when it's brisk.

The first week of April is the perfect time to get your early season crops in the ground. Recommended are peas, asian greens, spinach, radishes and hakurei turnips. Our favorite pea this year is 'Tom Thumb'--an heirloom cultivar that made it's way to the United States from England in the mid 19th century. Exceptionally frost tolerant, it's most remarkable characteristic is it's "dwarf" form of growth--it only reaches 10 inches in height! It has been bred traditionally for container culture but is also suitable for direct seeding in the garden. We can't wait for them to start popping up in May and June. 

Sowing seeds when the danger of frost still looms can seem kind of scary, but in fact the young seedlings of these hardy vegetable crops can take a little nip of frost on a cold, clear night. Most cultivars of spinach, for instance, will not reliably germinate without a period of vernalization--colder soil and air temperatures--and will in fact suffer at warmer temperatures as the season rolls on. Some asian greens even taste sweeter after there has been a frost. Peas are very light sensitive and thrive during slightly shorter days. Take a risk and plant when it's still brisk. 

So, what do you say, will you give peas a chance this spring? Please contact us if you have any questions about starting a new vegetable garden this year, we'd love to hear from you.

Spring Fever 2016!

 

It’s not too early to begin the planning stages for the edible landscape, herb garden, or xeriscape you’ve been envisioning all winter.

Need help designing a garden?

Looking for assistance to get your vegetables started indoors?

We are here to help!

For a limited time we are offering FREE site evaluations!
Shoot us an email for more information: info@spaceandthymegardens.com

 

True Life: I used to be a Pollinator

Last spring I took on a role that most people associate with honey bees: the pollinator.

I have built up a large collection of glass light-fixtures that I up-cycle into terrariums. One of my earlier terrarium experiments involved a small strawberry plant. The little transplant was a runner that I cut from an already established strawberry plant in my home garden. On March 31st, I nestled the wee little strawberry into a fresh bed of potting soil, surrounded by a ring of 'volunteer' (seeded from the year before) baby lettuces that were also salvaged from the garden.  

By April 11th--less than two weeks later--the strawberry transplant began to bloom! I remember thinking to myself how great it was going to be to eat delicious fresh berries from the comfort of my own home. But then it dawned on me: The flowers could not be fertilized without the help of a pollinator.

My first thought was to catch a honey bee and let it loose within the confines of the fixture. Upon further deliberation, I decided that catching a bee and trapping it in the terrarium would most likely leave me with a searing bee stinger on my face. Avoiding the inevitability of an attack, my second thought was to learn how to pollinate the strawberry myself! 

Using a very small paint brush, I gently brushed away. The goal was to transfer the pollen from the flower's male stamens to the female pistils. Strawberry flowers are botanically considered "perfect" because they carry both male and female parts. Watch the short video below to see me in full pollinating action !! 

A couple of weeks later, the berry began to develop. However, half-way through the process I uprooted the whole plant and replaced it with one of my favorite decorative plants, Oxalis vulcanicola. Since then, my Oxalis has been thriving, almost a year later! 

-Hanna

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