Harlequin’s Gardens Blog, February 2012

Greetings, Fellow Gardeners

Thank goodness we have been blessed with snow this winter on our plants; and if the snow pack increases, we will have water for our reservoirs. Water will always be an issue for us in Colorado, and the predictions are that in 20 years, demand will exceed supply by 30%. So we need to learn how to grow landscapes and food with less water. The right plants and soil development are essential. In addition we need to defend the quality of the water we have from agricultural chemicals, endocrine disruptors and from fracking chemicals.

Getting our hands in the soil, smelling the flowers, watching new life emerge and develop, seeing the bees and butterflies and birds in our gardens: these experiences give us such joy and peace. It would be nice if we didn’t have to think about all the dangers that threaten our modern lives. An aphid infestation is so minor compared to the new Monsanto sweet corn that is genetically modified and is not labeled. And we dare not ignore these issues.

However we are so bombarded with bad news that, for now, we would like to tell you some good news.

This year Harlequin’s Gardens will be celebrating our 20th Anniversary of being a sustainable garden center in Boulder County. We started from scratch without a prominent location and with an unproductive well. We had little money and a big vision to grow plants organically and supply plants that would thrive in Colorado conditions without copious amounts of water, and without chemical fertilizers and  toxic pesticides. We wanted to provide organic fertilizers and composts and we wanted to grow demonstration gardens and teach people how to garden sustainably.

Little by little we grew, while Mikl operated a tree care business to pay the mortgage. And you, our wonderful customers, saw what we were trying to do and supported us. You encouraged us and bought our plants and products. And we studied and learned and were helped by many knowledgeable people. And when we could no longer afford to maintain our extensive display gardens (we now have 8) we asked people to join our membership program, and through the generous support of our members we have enough money to pay for plants, water and maintenance.

A drought in 2002 helped promote one of our specialties: xeriscape. Native plants became popular, and we were already specializing in natives. Own-root hardy roses drew customers from great distances because they were so successful and beautiful. We predicted the increased interest in home-grown food and we had stepped up our production of organic vegetable starts by the time the big wave hit. And our classes have become so popular that we are going to have to build a bigger classroom.

So, thanks to our dedication to what is good for you and the planet, and thanks to your love and support for us and telling your friends, we are 20 years old and doing better every year.

We are planning some special events and will be bringing in some new and helpful products. Right now we are busy getting things ready.

One more piece of good news for now: Mikl indulged his passion for soil science by attending an Acres USA Ecological Agriculture Conference in December, and learned some great new information about growing food without chemicals. The overall idea is that the soil life (micro-organisms, etc.) function as the digestive system of the plants. When plants become so healthy that they start storing complex carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and essential oils, fungal and bacterial pathogens and pest insects cannot digest these complex foods and so they cease to be pests. So soil health becomes plant health and plant defense system. What is very interesting is that the nutrients in these healthy plants then become nutritious food for animals and humans and in turn protect us from diseases. So let’s build healthy soil.

We are also building our staff this year. Harlequin’s Gardens is looking for a couple of good people to join us. The positions available are part-time seasonal, requiring a commitment from late March through September or October. If you are knowledgeable and experienced with plants and gardening in this region, are eager to learn more about well-adapted plants for Colorado, like to work with people, are dedicated to the organic approach and would like to work hard in a pleasant, non-toxic environment, please let us know as soon as possible by calling Eve at 720-291-7826.