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What Do You REALLY Know About Seeds…?

The saying ‘good things come in small packages’ is best exemplified by one simple word: SEED.  seed-in-hand

Every spring, whether intentionally planted or by volunteer, the humble seed, bathed in water and nestled by soil, cracks in the sunlight to reveal the gift of life.  From that seed-burst into plant life, countless others are nourished.  For humans, the seed represents a 12,000 year food legacy, that sadly, most take for granted.   As one of the most critical issues of our time, the seed industry is NOT so simple, and the loss of seed diversity affects us all.  This tiny package has a story, a story that is critical to every being on the planet who eats food.

In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds, farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a harrowing and heartening story, these reluctant heroes rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource and revive a culture connected to seeds.

From the award winning Collective Eye Films, comes the movie SEED: The Untold Story.  The newly renovated Dairy Arts Center is hosting this environmental documentary, November 30 through December 3.  Boulder friends, please don’t miss this film featuring  Dr. Jane Goodall, Vandana Shiva, Winona LaDuke, and Andrew Kimbrell.  Order tickets here

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How to Love a Pollinator

Gratitude to the buzzy ones that make flowers and veggies thrive and multiply!  The City of Boulder has declared September Pollinator Appreciation month to encourage the community to celebrate pollinators and take action to protect them.  Check out ways you can learn about, witness, and celebrate pollinators, in and around Boulder…click on the bee and buzz over to the City of Boulder’s webpage for a list of events.  bee-in-squash-flower

Boulder Green Homes Tour – September 24, 2016

hometour-photo-2016

Green and Sustainable are two words that get tossed around the market place, abstractly and ad nauseam.  But what if you had the chance to see those words in action, fully manifested, with measurable metrics to prove it?  What better place to start, then right at home?  Take a peak into some of the most innovative green building homes around Boulder, by signing up for this self-guided tour happening on Saturday, Sept. 24th.  The tour is put on by the Colorado Green Building Guild, a non-profit trade organization representing a wide range of green building leaders, that strives to promote the collaborative exchange of ideas on green building in the community.

From modern to traditional, from remodels to multi-family projects, see how these Boulder area homes became more energy efficient with less impact on human health and the environment.   The family residence of Bill Melvin, Ecoscape’s founder and managing director, will be included on the tour as well.  Tickets are only $15 and CGBC is donating 10% of their proceeds to Flatirons Habitat for Humanity’s local projects.  The tour will happen rain or shine, 10am to 4pm (last tour starts at 3:30).  Be sure to attend the After Party & Vendor Fair from 3:30 -5:30, where you’ll have the chance to talk with the architects, contractors, and vendors who are out on the leading edge putting real-time green and sustainable solutions into the home and garden.

 

Name that Weed….Question of the Week

Often we get questions from our clients or people new to the area about plant ID. Here’s a recent one that came across my desk from a homeowner in the mountain foothills west of Boulder:

What is that weedy patch of plants on my septic leach field??   Mullien patch on septic field-Aug2016- Staats

Looks like you have a thick patch of common mullein growing. They can take over if they don’t have any competition from other plants, but they also have some medicinal qualities, so they are not entirely all bad either. The thing to remember with controlling this ‘weed’ is that it is an ONGOING process: one hit of poison or even one year of hand pulling will not be enough.

It has a shallow tap root, so you can easily pull the tall plants after a good rain. Since the flowers & seed are already set now in late summer, best to dispose of these pulled plants in bags and haul away. You could try covering the low-growing mullein (the ones that haven’t sent up tall flower/seed stocks) with plastic, and you might get some die off as we cruise into fall (they have a 2 year life cycle, so it would be worthwhile). You could also weed whack them instead. Then I would suggest you seed this area in the late fall or early spring with a more desirable wild flower, prairie grass, or ground cover, so that they will crowd out the mullein. I would NOT suggest applying more poison for reasons too numerous to discuss!

On my mountain property, I strategically weed whack back some grasses & other undesirables throughout the spring & summer to allow the wild flowers more space. I often leave a few tall mullein here and there for visual interest & to make a cough suppressant tea for the winter, but hand-pull the rest. I don’t worry so much about the low growing ones, as I’m always increasing my seed bank of wild flowers & cool looking grasses to out compete things I don’t want. In the end, I strive for increasing plant diversity and don’t fret about a few weeds that I can knock out with my trusty weed whacker.  Plant recommendations for a leach field area are basically a wild flower/grass mixes since they have a shallow root system and low water needs.  Nature’s toilet paper, aka mullein, is considered a noxious weed when it has little competition, but when you understand its’ life cycle and encourage plant diversity, it doesn’t have to take over!                                                             Written by:  Karina Zedalis (c)2016Mountain garden in BEM - KZ June20016Plant diversity power! Photo: Big Elk Meadow home of KZedalis

Plant diversity power!
Photo: Big Elk Meadow home of KZedalis

 

The Work of Working in LANDSCAPE

You hear a lot these days about how grounding and nourishing spending time in nature is. We sit in our cars, our cubicles, our conference rooms, tasking the day away to make ‘a living’. The flip side to this are the people who work on the land directly, far from the confines of computers and commerce.  Skilled labor work is honest work.  It’s either done correctly, or it’s not. It’s complex and simple at the same time.  It’s hot and sweaty.  It’s wind chill and shivers. It’s taxing to the body. It is integral work to the landscape design + build process. And beyond.

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Photo by Eliza Karlson

Work / Life balance is another common thread of our times, you’ve seen the memes, the blog posts, the talk shows.  We see (or hope to see!)  our homes and yards as a sanctuary from the harried world of getting it done, getting it done, getting it done.  Spending time in one’s back yard is the best vacation some say.  Others see their back yard as an assortment of work that needs to be done, again and again.  People call us all the time looking for low or maintenance-free landscaping. They are the same ones looking for a maintenance-free car or body. True enough we all could do with less chores and work, but there is something about the activity of caring for something you hold dear. There is a moth-to-a-flame draw of a beautiful hand-made creation.

You can’t mass produce a landscape. You can’t ignore a yard full of living things and expect it to be unchanging. But you can change your mind as to how you view the intersection of people working on the land, whether it is yourself doing the work or a hired hand (or crew!). Expect that it may be messy at times, with many elements needing to come together in perfect sequence. See machinery and man working skillfully together, to avoid buried utilities and important things that would cost a lot of money to replace. Think about the last time you cursed your lawn mower, and then appreciated the smell and look of a fresh cut lawn when you finally finished. Pick and choose. Savor those things you like to do. Hire out that which you do not. Appreciate that either way, the human touch was locally and intimately involved with that outdoor space we fondly call, landscape.