May 2014

Dear Friends and Fellow Gardeners,P1050385

Right now we have our biggest selection of the year: the most tomatoes, the most peppers, the most roses, the most fruit trees and berries, perennials, etc etc. At least 85% of our stock is free of the neonicotinoid pesticides that have probable links to the decline of honey bees and other pollinators. All of our veggie starts, herbs, roses and annual flowers are neonic-free.

Compost Tea is Here.

The soil is finally warming to activate the soil life, so now is a good time to inoculate your gardens with beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizae and other beneficial fungi. These not only break down raw nutrients in the soil, making them into available forms for plants, they bring water and nutrients to the plants and help to outcompete disease organisms.


What is in our compost tea?:

dechlorinated water, a biodynamic compost, kelp, a mineral concentrate, molasses, calcium and a lot of oxygen. Mix with Age Old Liquid Grow for more nitrogen, or with Age Old Liquid Bloom for more phosphorus and potassium. Apply within 6 hours of purchase and spray or sprinkle over the foliage or as a soil drench. It is particularly effective applied to the roots of the plants as you are planting.

The Rose Cane Girdler 

is the insect that causes the swellings on the rose canes where they often break or die. Now is the time to remove the dead and damaged canes to prevent further damage. This bronze beetle emerges in late May and lays its eggs on the rose canes. When the eggs hatch, the larvae penetrate the bark and girdle the cane, causing the swelling. To discourage egg-laying, Mikl suggests spraying the canes with non-toxic Neem or garlic (with chili pepper). Spray end of May and 10 days later. Some girdling is considered acceptable since roses grow back so rapidly. P1050383


There is a sawfly that eats the leaves of gooseberries and can defoliate to plant in a hurry if you ignore them. When you see damage, spray the leaves, top and bottom with Pure Spray Horticultural Oil, Veggie Pharm, Oil Pharm, Garlic Pharm or other non-toxic spray. Spray again a week later.

As with all organic pest management, annihilation is the wrong idea. Keeping insect damage to minor levels is the goal, so that we humans still have beauty and food, the beneficial insects have pests to eat so they live in our gardens, and so we have a safe environment and a healthy planet.

CLASSES for the rest of May

Sat. May 17, 10am AND 1pm: BEES, BEES, BEES with Miles McGaughey, President of Boulder Co. Beekeepers Assn. Miles has 20 years experience keeping bees. He will talk bees then demonstrate how to work with them using our live Top Bar hive. Wear light colored clothing and avoid scented body products.   $15    Sun. May 18, 1pm:

SUCCESSION PLANTING with Tracey Parrish. Learn to maximize the use of your garden space & keep your vegetable garden in continual production.Tracey is expert in culinary gardening $15 Sat. May 24, 10 am:

DO-IT-YOURSELF DRIP IRRIGATION with Alison Peck. Drip irrigation can be easy! It is a key part of most water conserving landscapes, but it can be intimidating.  Come learn a simple, easy to design and install system which Alison has been using for years, plus new efficient sprinklers. Save money, save water, reduce weeds and have healthier plants.  Alison Peck owns Matrix Gardens, which has been designing and installing sustainable landscapes in Boulder Valley for 25 years.  $15

Sat. May 24, 1pm: TIPS AND TRICKS OF XERISCAPE with Mikl Brawner. Gardening with less water is not that hard if you know how. There are tricks that will improve your success. Mikl’s xeriscape experience of over 25 years has taught him tricks that will cost you a lot less than it cost him.  $15

Sat. May 31, 10 am: RAINWATER ‘HARVESTING’ with Jason Gerhardt. Jason will cover the legal issues of water harvesting in Colorado and focus on what we can do to benefit from the free rain. Harvesting water in the soil, instead of in cisterns, helps us make the best possible use of our precious rainwater. Jason currently teaches a permaculture program for Naropa University and has a service: Real Earth Design $15   

Sat. May 31, 1pm: BEST FRUIT TREES FOR COLORADO with Mikl Brawner Learn which varieties are successful here, which are not, and which are good flavored: Apples, Cherries, Plums, Pears, Peaches, and learn how to care for them. Mikl’s 1st orchard was in 1976.  $15

EVE is mending and the Sun is Shining at Harlequin’s Gardens

Do come out. Together we can do it yourself.


Mikl, Eve and the Great Staff at Harlequin’s Gardens


April 2014 Blog

Greetings Friends and Fellow Gardeners,
April is here so we are open 7 days a week, 9-5 and until 6pm on Thursdays.

Plants are coming in every week, as they become ready and as we feel safe that they will not die if hit by cold weather or 12” of wet snow. We have lots of cold-season salad greens, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower etc right now. Grapes will be coming in about 3 weeks, Austin Roses in 4 weeks and tomatoes in 1 to 2 weeks. Why so early on tomatoes? Because we carry a clever improvement on the wall of water, we call the Solar Cap. It is a metal frame with a plastic bag with a water layer, that is bigger than a wall of water, can be left on all season to keep the soil warm during our cool nights, won’t blow over etc. Mikl always plants a tomato or two around April 15th, often with a snow storm blowing in over the mountains, and he begins picking tomatoes in July. More and more varieties of tomatoes, peppers etc will be coming out later in April and early May. All of these veggies are organic and free of bee-harming neonicotinoids.

Our fruit trees that overwintered outdoors can be planted now, and as the berry fruits start leafing, we will bring them out. Raspberries are vulnerable now, so we will be bringing them out in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, April 5, Janis Keift of Botanical Interests will be teaching a class on Seed Starting Success. Learn from an expert.

DON’T MISS for the first time: BABY GOAT DAY , Sunday April 6 at 12:30 for a couple of hours, until the 3 baby goats get tired of romping, frolicking, jumping around and creating hilarious entertainment for young and old alike. Margaret Hollander, who raises these goats near the reservoir will be minding them and perhaps bottle feeding them. Two are LaManche goats and one is a Nubian. Have you ever seen baby goats?

Mikl’s class on Successful Composting is scheduled at the same time. He’ll probably be lonely, but could do some successful composting Afterwards with what the goats leave.

Also we would like to bring to your attention a Boulder County Open Space program “Purge your Spurge”. You dig your Myrtle Spurge that is a noxious weed and bring a bag of it to one location in Longmont or one in Boulder and they will give you free native plants. This “Donkey Tail Spurge” has greenish yellow flowers early in spring and bluish succulent leaves that contain a toxic milky sap. I know children that were sent to the emergency room for playing with this plant and I also know of a tough grown man whose eyes were swollen shut the day after pulling it. PLEASE use gloves and long sleeves and wash with soap after digging. Take your Spurge on May 10, 9-12 noon to 6400 Arapahoe in Boulder or on April 26, to the Boulder Co. Fairgrounds in Longmont, 9-12noon. For more information: or 303-678-6294

P.S. Plants that have spent their spring in a greenhouse will need to be hardened off both to cold and to our intense sun. Get information about how to do this when you shop at Harlequin’s Gardens.

We look forward to seeing you and helping you with your gardening.

The Staff at Harlequin’s Gardens


Harlequin’s Endings & Beginnings Message



Greetings to our Friends & Fellow Gardeners!

First of all, we want to thank you for your support this season.  We received so much positive feedback from you on the success of our plants, advice and classes. It is very gratifying to receive confirmation that what we are doing is really working for you.

On the one hand, we have closed up the nursery, taken inventory, and are starting to pack the plants in their winter ‘beds’.  On the other hand, we are planting garlic, placing orders for next year, cleaning seeds, and preparing for our Holiday Gift Market, which you do not want to miss!

Holiday Open House & Gift Market

Last year we inaugurated our Holiday Gift Market, featuring unique and exceptional goods crafted by local artisans, delicious local artisan foods, and sustainable, innovative and practical goods for home and garden. Many of you told us that it was your best shopping experience of the holiday season, and that you found outstanding, affordable presents at Harlequin’s for everyone on your list.

This year most of the artisans and products will be back, and we have added more than twenty new products and at least eleven new artisans and producers, including Mikl!  

And every day of our Holiday Open House offers a chance to escape from the same old mass-market Christmas music, as we will again present exquisite live music from some of our very best local talent: Margot Krimmel (harp), Jonathan Sousa (guitar, banjo), Colin Lindsay (fiddle, concertina), Mason Brown (pardessus viol, guitar) and Paul Visvader (guitar).

If you are receiving our blog, you probably did not receive the postcard announcement of the Holiday Market and Open House but received a link to it in our Fall Newsletter.  If you have not yet done so, remember to print a copy of the postcard (click on ‘Holiday Market 2013’ on our homepage) and bring it with you so you can enter our drawings for three $100 Gift Certificates to Harlequin’s Gardens!  In addition, at the end of each day of the holiday market we will have a drawing for a $15 gift certificate (so shop our holiday market early and often!)

Please watch for our upcoming blogs(s) with details about this year’s gift items, and our Holiday Open House schedule.


Mikl’s autumn ramble:

Autumn in the garden: the planting is done, or almost. The flowers are gone, or almost, and the veggie garden is nearly done. You can continue to harvest kale, chard, arugula, carrots, cilantro, parsley, leeks and other cool-season greens, especially if they were planted in September. For winter, it helps to make a tunnel over the crop(s) and cover it with a heavier row-cover fabric and/or heavy clear plastic. A more casual approach is to line bags of leaves around these plants and pile leaves over them to keep harvesting even in the winter. Straw can also be used to insulate.

Leaves are a valuable source of carbon, minerals and organic matter. Shredding them with the lawn mower makes them speeds them on their transformation into plant and worm food. They can be piled on the veggie garden and turned in with composted manure or an organic fertilizer in the spring to enrich and aerate the soil. They can be stored in bags to be added to kitchen scraps in the compost bin (approx. half and half). If they have been shredded, they make a wonderful mulch for roses, larger perennials, shrubs and trees, once the ground warms in the spring. Don’t haul away this valuable resource.

It does seem like the earth is flat, except for hills and mountains, of course. But we’ve learned that the earth is a globe that is moving through space, fast, around a very hot sun. As the earth tips toward the sun, we have summer. As the earth tips on its axis away from the sun, we have winter. We are now between the September 22 Fall Equinox, when day and night are of equal length, and the shortest day of the year, December 21, the Winter Solstice.

Now some days feel like autumn, some days feel like winter. When we were an agricultural society, the community changed with the seasons. Now as a culture, we are less in touch with natural rhythms. We gardeners are more in harmony with the seasons because we have to time our soil preparation, planting, harvesting and clean-up with the weather and with the seasons. But even we get caught up in the cultural bias for continual action and production.

As an older person who has spent most of my life outdoors, I would like to offer a few suggestions. Appreciate fall and winter as a winding down and resting period. Of course there are things that must be done, but allow yourself to be less ambitious, especially physically. Recharge your batteries and heal the body: reduce, relax, detox and unstress. Life is good; take the time to appreciate and enjoy.

Acknowledge the adjustments your body needs to make with each change of season and help the body prepare by taking immune-supporting herbs like Echinacea and Elderberry. The recommended way to use Echinacea is to take one or two capsules a day for 10 days, then pause 10 days, and perhaps do another round. If you feel you are starting to get a cold or flu, take a teaspoon of Elderberry syrup daily between Echinacea doses. I have found this approach to be very effective in preventing colds and flu. It is easier to prevent an illness than to cure one.

Winter is a good time to dream and imagine. Planning is also good, but there is no more fertile ground than open space. Take a break from accumulation and compulsive-doing. Things will come; they always do; no hurry.

Enjoy the glorious colors! We look forward to seeing you again in a few weeks.

All the best,

Mikl & Eve Brawner


Hi Again!

We forgot to say in yesterday’s blog that Garlic and Flower Bulbs are ON SALE!

Here’s the deal:

GARLIC:  25% OFF !



Our last day will be October 30 (until we re-open on 11/29 for our Holiday Gift Market), so don’t miss out!

Harlequin’s Mid-Fall Announcements

Greetings to our Friends & Fellow Gardeners!

Autumn seems to be here in earnest now, and I’ve been cutting the remaining tender flowers that dotted the protected spots in my garden, making little bouquets of the last Zinnias, Cosmos, Nasturtium, Marigolds, Cup & Saucer Vine, Globe Amaranth, etc.  I’ve also been enjoying the sudden appearance of those autumn upstarts – violet-blue Autumn Crocus (Crocus speciosus) and rosy Colchicum blossoms popping up to accent the dark red foliage and late blue flowers of Plumbago and decorating the rock garden.  And, now that the soil is cool, I’m starting to

Plant Bulbs Now for Spring Flowers, & Plant Garlic!

Let’s start with Garlic: we offer 3 heirloom varieties this year – German Red hard-neck, Spanish Roja hard-neck, andInchelium Red soft-neck.  Garlic is easy to grow here, and very rewarding (and growing your own garlic and shallots can save you LOTS of money at the grocery store!).

Flower Bulbs

At Harlequin’s Gardens, we have been experimenting for years with bulbs in our display gardens. Since our gardens are xeriscapes (by default even where not by design), we have had the pleasure of discovering that a great many delightful bulbs can thrive and naturalize in our conditions and enliven the scene in spring and fall. No surprise, really, since most of these hardy spring and autumn-blooming bulbs originated in parts of the world with conditions much like ours, such as Central Asia. Visitors to our gardens have been wowed by enormous Star of Persia Alliums and brilliant sapphire miniature iris, and charmed by perky miniature daffodils and starry species tulips and crocus. They (you) kept asking us “where can I get these?”, so four years ago, we carefully selected our first-ever offering of bulbs for sale at Harlequin’s Gardens.

This fall, we have added 12 beautiful new varieties, and ‘archived’ a few to make room for them. Planting in the cooler weather of late October and November is perfect (except Crocus speciosus, which should be planted as soon as possible).  Planting depths are to the bottom of the planting hole where the base of the bulb rests.  Planting depth can vary depending on how light or heavy your soil is – plant deeper in light soils, shallower in heavier soils.  Tulipa viridiflora ‘Artist’ should be planted 8″ deep to perform as a perennial.

Here are some ideas for ways and places to use bulbs that you may not have thought of. One idea is to plant small early-blooming bulbs, such as many of the species tulips, where the ground is exposed in spring but will be covered in summer by spreading herbaceous perennials like Desert Four-O’Clock (Mirabilis multiflora), ‘Orange Carpet’ California Fuschia (Zauschneria garrettii), or Wine Cups (Callirhoe involucrata). Also, meadows and drifts of ornamental grasses are usually dormant until mid to late spring, and present a perfect stage for a brilliant display of many types of early spring bulbs. Also, deciduous groundcovers that emerge in mid-spring, like Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides), can partner nicely with the early miniature Iris (I. reticulata, I. histrioides, I. danfordeai), small species tulips and, later in the season with Autumn Crocus and Colchicum.

Last fall, we planted groupings of ‘Heart’s Desire’ Waterlily Tulip and ‘Red Riding Hood’ Greigii Tulip in our newest display garden, the Dry Slope garden along N. 26th Street.  They took beautifully – the species tulips are such jewels of the spring garden, and they are so tough!

Complete descriptions and photos of our Garlic and Flowering Bulb varieties are available at our store, and on our website at 

Only 2 weeks left before we close the nursery! 

Last chance and excellent time to apply organic fertilizers and pre-emergent weed suppressant: 

Fall is our primary time for fertilizing because it is when plants take nutrients down into their roots to store for winter and for making fruit buds. This is important for strengthening a plant in preparation for winter and spring nutrient needs.

Corn Gluten Meal: non-toxic pre-emergent weed suppressant and 9% nitrogen, organic fertilizer. It inhibits seed germinationbut harmless to plants with root systems, people, worms and microorganisms. The effect can last up to 6 months and is especially useful in lawns. Apply again in March for significant weed-reduction.

Alpha One: a locally made organic fertilizer: 7-2-2. It is an alfalfa-based product with a high organic matter content, very high humic acid value, low pH for Colorado alkaline soils, and is non-burning. It also contains blood meal, cottonseed meal and bone meal. Excellent for vegetable gardens and lawns.Slow releasing over a long time. Feeds soil microbes.

Nature Cycle Lawn Fertilizer: locally made from composted chicken manure and wood chips. 6% Nitrogen. Excellent for normal fall lawn fertilizing and recommended forrejuvenating flooded lawns. Also a favorite for boostingraspberry production. An economical and general organic fertilizer for shrubs and perennials.

ROOT RALLY WITH MYCORRHIZAE (0-3-0) from Age Old Organics: Excellent for putting in the hole when planting bulbs, as well as any other late plantings. A complete blend of Endo-and Ecto-mycorrhizae spores with fossil rock minerals and nutrients. Provides mycorrhizae life support for trees, shrubs, flowers, fruits and vegetables. Applied to the plant’s root system this premium organic blend will reduce transplant shock, encourage root growth, increase water and nutrient uptake.

Only 6 weeks before our Holiday Gift Market opens!
Stay tuned for upcoming blogs with details of our Holiday Gift Market products and our Holiday Open House schedule!
Thank you for your continued support! We look forward to seeing you soon!

Mikl & Eve Brawner and the awesome staff at Harlequin’s Gardens

Harlequin’s Post-Flood Garden Advice

Greetings to our Friends and Fellow Gardeners!

We know that many of you face enormous and unexpected challenges in the wake of our devastating historic flood, and we would like to be of assistance. So now that we better understand some of the effects of the flood, we would like to make some observations and suggestions that might be helpful:

  1. Where mud was deposited under trees: Tree roots need oxygen as much as water, and raising the soil level more than 2” can suffocate most trees. Even if they don’t die, reducing their oxygen can stress them so they are more vulnerable to insects, diseases and (still likely) drought. It is best to remove mud at least down to 2” as soon as possible before winter.
  2. Where mud was deposited over turfgrass: see CSU turfgrass expert, Toni Koski’s advice at He says where mud is less than 1” deep, aerate, fertilize and reseed if necessary. Where mud is more than 2”, the lawn may be heavily damaged. Where mud is 3” or more deep “…the majority of the lawn has already been severely damaged or killed and it will be necessary to establish a “new” lawn.”
    Mikl has heard of a lawn being buried under 5” of flood mud and the grass grew right up through it and recovered, but this may not be common.
  3. Regarding vegetable and berry gardens, Carol O’Meara from the CSU Cooperative Extension office wrote: “Soil contamination may be as dangerous as that of uncomposted manure. Tilling in the soil and a minimum of 90 days between the recession of waters and harvest are needed to reduce this risk from pathogens, but recovering soil from chemical pollutants may take longer.”Mikl’s personal experience has shown that beneficial fungi and bacteria can break down pesticide residues (in one year) and digest organic debris, and out-compete disease organisms. Therefore we recommend using a sprayer or sprinkling can to apply compost tea and/or Pfeiffer Field Spray over the entire vegetable garden and surrounding area. This is not very expensive, as a little goes quite a long way: one gallon can cover 500 square feet when sprayed. Top-dressing with a lively compost should also help.
  4. For interior cleanup:  There is a biological alternative to bleach and boric acid. It is called Concrobium Mold Cleaner. The manufacturer states it is “…an environmentally friendly formula which eliminates, cleans up, inhibits, and prevents mold growth…cleaning and prevention all in one… odorless… eliminates, musty odors and leaves surfaces with an invisible shield that prevents new mold growth…no rinsing required.” Available at McGuckin Hardware and Lowe’s.
  5. Where plants were not drowned or washed away, they received a thorough, deep watering. This is good. On the other hand, the weeds are also prospering. We’ve never seen such an explosion of weed seedlings! This reminds us to recommend Kyle and Michele ( for your garden maintenance. Kyle has been maintaining the display gardens at Harlequin’s for the past two years and Michele has worked at Harlequin’s for three years. Both are knowledgable, hard-working and detail conscious, following organic and environmental principles.
  6. The photo below was taken after flood waters pushed back the weed barrier fabric (you can see the fabric toward the back of the picture), revealing tree roots growing immediately under the fabric.  Because it impedes the flow of air and water to the soil, weed barrier fabric often forces trees to grow roots above the soil in their search for air and water. This makes the roots very vulnerable to damage from heat, cold and drying.  If this has happened to your trees and shrubs, we suggest that you cover the exposed roots with one to two inches of soil immediately, so that the fine root hairs (responsible for uptake of water, nutrients and air) don’t dry up. And skip the weed barrier.


Our Fall Sale is now at 40% off, the lowest it will go. With good soil moisture and warm weather holding, this is an ideal time to take advantage of near wholesale prices for high quality plants. Many of our fertilizers, composts and mulches are also on sale at their lowest prices. Our October hours are every day 9-5, closing on October 31 until our Holiday Gift Market opens on November 29.

 FALL VEGGIE STARTS now 75 cents each!

Thank you so much for your continued support!   


Mikl & Eve Brawner and the wonderful staff at Harlequin’s Gardens

Harlequin’s Greetings 9-18

Greetings to our Friends & Fellow Gardeners

We are in shock from the stories of destruction and trauma caused by the flooding. Our hearts go out to all those affected, especially those who are bereaved, left homeless or unable to work. We are grateful that Harlequin’s Gardens is on high ground and was not directly impacted.  We always try to respond to all of Nature’s actions in a positive and constructive way, but this time we are at a loss for words.  Maybe in a few days we will be able to offer more than our condolences.

In the meantime, we are open every day and our Fall Sale is continuing (see below for details of this week’s offers) – even though our phone isn’t working (we do have voicemail, however, so you can leave messages and we will return them from other phone lines).  Our gravel road is a little bumpy, but is easily navigable in any vehicle if you take it a little slow. If any of you have suggestions or requests, feel free to communicate them to us.

Anyone needing assistance or able to offer assistance should visit for instructions and information.  If you are able to offer short-term housing to flood victims, contact the Red Cross at or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) and designate “Colorado Floods.”

Our FALL SALE continues:

This week, 9/16 through 9/22, we offer the following discounts:

30% OFF Perennials, Shrubs, Trees 

20% OFF Soil Products in big bags (compost, fertilizer, mulch)

10% OFF Books

THIS WEEK ONLY: Boulder Compost (composted local food and landscape wastes) $3/big bag – you bag it in recycled burlap bags.

Thank you so much for your support in these difficult times, and always!

Mikl & Eve Brawner and our wonderful staff


Tomato Tasting Results & Other News

Greetings from the Tomato Patch

We had a wonderful turnout of tomatoes and tomato-lovers at the 3rd Annual Taste of Tomato last Saturday.  Thanks to all of you who participated for making this event so successful and enjoyable.  We have compiled the ‘People’s Choice’ voting results and posted them on our website at 


Glory Hallelujah! Our fall bulbs arrived at last, after the shipper sent them to Ohio by mistake.  We have added some lovely new selections.  Now is the best time to purchase bulbs, but hold off on planting them until October.  There is an exception – fall-blooming bulbs like our Autumn Crocus (Crocus speciosus) should be planted as soon as possible so that you will have blooms this fall, in October or November.


Our Fall Sale continues, with the following offers this week, through Sunday 9/15:

25% OFF Perennials, Shrubs, Trees

20% OFF Roses (this is the ONLY WEEK that Roses will be on sale at a discount)

20% OFF Compost Tea

10% OFF Soil Products in big bags (composts, mulches, fertilizers)

10% OFF Books

Deep Discount Tables – we have some incredible deals on beautiful plants, such as John Davis roses (one of the prettiest, toughest, long-blooming hardy roses ever bred), regularly $22, now $10.  Shrubs, Vines, Grasses and Perennials at below wholesale prices!

The following week, 9/16 through 9/22, we will offer the following discounts:

30% OFF Perennials, Shrubs, Trees 

20% OFF Soil Products in big bags

10% OFF Books

THIS WEEK ONLY: Boulder Compost (composted local food and landscape wastes) $3/big bag – you bag it in recycled burlap bags).

Sign up for our last CLASS for 2013:


with Mikl Brawner, owner/founder of Harlequin’s Gardens.  Milk has been researching, building and using simple greenhouses for over 20 years.  This class will focus on 5 designs on site at the nursery.  The first design, a “pit” greenhouse, is passive solar/passive geothermal, and has grown beautiful tomatoes using no supplemental heat with outdoor temperatures down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  $15

You can pre-register by phone (303-939-9403) or in person at the nursery.


All of our Botanical Interests Seeds are now on sale at HALF PRICE, including vegetable, flower and herb seeds.  These are fresh seeds that will still have strong germination next year. Many are certified organic, and all are good varieties for Colorado gardens.

Somebody did a really good rain dance!  Thank you!

If you are working on your xeriscape, come out and see our Dry Slope display garden for some ideas of what thrives, and what blooms in late summer.

Thank you for your support.  We look forward to seeing you soon.

Eve & Mikl Brawner and the great staff at Harlequin’s Gardens


Harlequin’s Harvest Greetings & September Events

Greetings to our Friends & Fellow Gardeners!

It’s Summer Harvest Time again, a time of abundance, sharing, and some of the most delectable flavors our Good Earth has to offer.  Whether you are growing your own, participating in a CSA, or shopping at your local Farmer’s Markets, we hope you have been enjoying the bounty, sharing it with friends and with those in need, and canning, freezing, fermenting, curing or drying the surplus so you can enjoy some of the treasures of summer later in the year.

Sometimes the right moment to harvest a particular variety is not that obvious. We have written up some Harvesting Guidelines for Summer Crops at the end of this blog, so don’t forget to scroll all the way down. And we always try to include some harvesting tips in the vegetable descriptions on our website at

Fall Vegetable Starts

You don’t have to say goodbye to fresh homegrown vegetables just because it’s almost Fall and frost is coming. We have LOTS of hardy vegetable starts for fall planting and fall/winter harvests, including many varieties of kale, lettuces, mescluns, mustards and other spicy greens, broccoli and broccoli raab, swiss chards, spinach, cilantro, arugula, green onions, beet greens, etc.

Bulbs, Garlic and Shallots

We have received notification that our Garlic, Shallots and Flowering Bulbs have shipped and we are expecting them to arrive some time this week. For a preview of what we’re offering this year, go to

Ornamental Grasses

This is the time of year when hardy ornamental grasses really shine. Grasses often make the perfect ‘shrub-substitute’ in narrow planting spaces, especially along walkways.  And they add grace, fine texture and movement to perennial and shrub plantings, as well as color and tremendous winter interest. Our grasses establish very successfully from fall plantings.


Fall really is a great time to plant, and our Fall Sale has begun, with the following discount offers on our healthy, well-adapted plants and garden products:

THIS WEEK – Monday 9/2 through Sunday 9/8

20% OFF MOST PLANTS (exceptions are roses, fruit trees and berries, fall vegetable starts)


10% OFF ALL SOIL PRODUCTS in LARGE BAGS (fertilizers, composts, mulches)

And our DEEP DISCOUNT AREA is open, with an amazing variety of excellent

perennials, herbs, roses, grasses, shrubs and trees at below-cost prices!  You will definitely find some treasures!

Tomato Lovers Unite!

Harlequin’s Gardens is happy to be partnering again with Boulder County CSU Extension Service to present the 3rd Annual Taste of Tomato: a Tasting & Celebration of Home-Grown Tomatoes on Saturday September 7th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. under the big tent at the Gateway Park Fun Center, 4800 North 28th St. in Boulder.  The event is FREE to those who bring tomatoes to share and only $3 otherwise. Click on the link here for complete entry information:

If you have never attended one of our tomato tastings before, you are in for a great treat! We invite you to a rare opportunity for tomato-lovers of all ages, an event that’s the most fun you can have with food, especially for such a low entry fee! At last year’s Taste of Tomato, close to 200 people got to sample more than 100 different varieties of tomato! Some were new to us, and many were awesome. Each participant gets to taste, evaluate, and then vote for their 5 favorites. Some of the varieties we thought were ‘winners’ were ‘Matt’s Wild Cherry’ and several similarly tiny and intensely flavored ‘currant’ tomatoes, a fabulous sweet cherry tomato called ‘Isis Candy’, a huge, meaty, golden-orange heirloom called ‘Amana Orange’, and ‘Black Sea Man’, a dark, complex heirloom that produces very large, delicious fruits on a bush that’s compact enough to grow in a container. We thought you would really like them too, so we added all four to our offering of starts this past spring! Please bring your home-grown favorites for us all to taste!

This year we will again conduct a drawing every half hour for valuable door-prizes, and Harlequin’s Gardens staff and Boulder County Master Gardeners will be on hand to offer expert tomato-growing advice and help with tomato problems, We will also conduct seed-saving demonstrations, demonstrating how easy it is to save seeds from your own tomatoes. And we have invited the Farmer Cultivation Center to bring their tomatoes and other delicious, fresh, local organic produce for you to buy and enjoy at home. The Farmer Cultivation Center is a local non-profit farm that trains new young farmers in the skills they need to start their own small organic farms on the Front Range, with the aim of securing our local food supply.

For event and entry details, go to

To whet your appetite, here are some photos from the 2012 Taste of Tomato.

Here are a few harvest guidelines for summer crops: 


Eggplants should be picked while they are still firm and glossy.  Once their skins have become dull, they will be softer and have dark seeds, which can spoil the flavor. Eggplants don’t keep long, so use them soon after harvest.

Bell peppers and sweet frying peppers are sweetest when allowed to ripen fully to their mature color, yellow, orange, red, purple or mahogany.  Bell peppers are often picked green, but their flavor will be a lot more pungent and they may be more challenging to digest.

Some of the hot peppers are traditionally enjoyed green – poblano, mulatto, jalapeno, Anaheim-type, while most of the rest are allowed to ripen to red (cherry, habanero, cayenne, lanterna, any chile dried for a ristra, etc.) orange (Bulgarian Carrot), or dark brown (Pasilla).

Many ‘black’ or ‘purple’ tomatoes have green ‘shoulders’ and should be picked when the fruit is plump and firm, and the bottom ½ to 2/3 of the fruit attains its rich mature color and the shoulders are still green. There are a few varieties I have found attain their most perfect flavor when plucked from the vine a day or two before eating, and allowed to ripen further on the kitchen counter (most notably ‘Purple Calabash’).

Green tomato varieties like ‘Green Doctors’, ‘Aunt Ruby’s German Green’ and ‘Green Zebra’ are ripe when you can detect a gentle blush of yellow infusing the green. Tomatoes should not be refrigerated, as it ruins their texture.

Tomatillos are ready to harvest when the fruit completely fills its papery husk and the berry is revealed.The color may still be green, or it may have begun to turn yellowish.

Summer Squash are quite varied (zucchini, crookneck, scallop, tromboncino, Lebanese, etc.), but most are best for sauté, steaming or salad when quite small. In Italy we found that zucchini was always sold when only 4” long and with the big orange blossom still attached. But of course there are good uses for the ones that got away, too.

Winter squash should generally be left on the vine or bush as long as possible for the flavors and sugars to develop, but should be harvested when its skin resists puncture by a fingernail and before the first hard frost. Many varieties of winter squash can be stored for months in the house and attain their best flavor after such ‘curing’ (kabocha-types, butternut, hubbard, and more).

Pumpkins can be harvested after their rinds are hard and skins have turned their ultimate orange, scarlet or white, depending on the variety. Be sure to leave 3 to 4” of stem attached so they will store well.

Melons are tricky, as there are so many types.  Whenever possible, we have included tips in our descriptions of individual varieties on our website. Most canteloupes will ‘slip’ easily from the stem when ripe. For other types of melons, check the leaf closest to the fruit, and when it begins to yellow, the fruit is probably ripe. Some melon varieties give fruit color or texture clues. Watermelons are usually deemed ripe when the tendril closest to the fruit is dry and brown, or when the bottom side of the fruit is yellow.

Cucumbers vary enormously, too, so you may have to research the varieties you are growing.  Generally speaking, cukes for pickling need to be small and very firm.  We are growing Poona Kheera cucumber this year, and although we have read that it is still tasty when the skin has turned brown, we find it most delicious when still ivory-colored.  Cauliflower should be harvested while the head of ‘curds’ is firm, the florets are tightly bunched and you cannot see any space between them, and the surface has not browned. Cucumber plants are most productive when kept picked. Oversized cukes can be fed to the chickens.

Celery Root (Celeriac) is usually best picked at about 3” diameter. It keeps in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator for months. You can freeze puree of celeriac for future use in a potato soup or as a side dish.

Most Green Beans require daily inspection to catch them at their peak, when they are nearly full size, firm and crisp, and seeds are still small. Romano beans are more forgiving, and the long flat pods are still delicious and tender even when they are fairly large. To prevent the  possible spread of diseases, don’t harvest beans when the vines are wet.

If you sowed Rutabaga in July, it should be harvested in October-November, when it will be tasty and tender. Small roots are the tastiest and sweetest. They keep for a long time at 33 degrees F. (in the refrigerator bin).

Kohlrabi from spring sowings should be harvested when small – less than 2”. Sowings made between July 10 and August 10 are less likely to become woody, and can remain in the ground well into fall, as they are hardy to about 10 degrees F. They can be allowed to reach 4-5” diameter.

Swiss Chard should be harvested continuously throughout the season.  Once the plant is fully developed, harvest the outer leaves on a regular basis, always leaving at least 3 leaves around the core. Harvested this way, Swiss Chard is an incredibly productive crop, and many varieties continue to grow, with protection, through most winters.

Bulbing Onions are cured in the field before being harvested (unless you are going to use them immediately). When the tops begin to dry out and are falling over, withhold water, if possible, so the bulbs can mature in dry soil. After about half of the tops have fallen, push over the remainder, wait about a week and harvest the bulbs. Cure them for about a week to toughen the skins. This allows them to last much longer in storage. To cure them, spread the bulbs out on the ground in the sun, covering them at night with a tarp to prevent dew from wetting them.  If the weather at this time is cloudy and wet, cure them on the floor of the garage, barn, shed or house. They are ready for storage when the necks are completely dry and shriveled.

Leeks are ready whenever they have reached ½” diameter or larger.  Winter varieties like Bleu de Solaize are very cold-tolerant and can be left in the ground and packed in straw to prevent the ground freezing around them so you can pull them out as needed through the winter.

Parsnips taste best when left in the ground through a couple of frosts. Begin harvesting in October, and mulch heavily with straw or hay to keep the ground from freezing. You can continue harvesting as needed through the winter.

We appreciate your support and we hope to see you soon!
Eve & Mikl Brawner and the wonderful staff at Harlequin’s Gardens

Harlequin’s Fall Veggie Starts

Greetings to our Friends & Fellow Gardeners,

Just a quick note to let you know that Fall Vegetable Starts are here. Most are ready now, and the ones that require cooler weather will be here soon. It’s time to plant those ‘cool-season’ crops, like kale, lettuce, chard, mustards, etc. so you will have lovely home-grown greens to harvest this fall and (with some protection) winter.  We have vegetable starts in 2 ½” pots, and some in 10” fiber pots as well. Our selection includes:

Kale (Red Russian, White Russian, Tuscan/Lacinato, Winterbor, Dwf. Blue Curled)Broccoli Raab
Piracicaba ‘Calabrese-type’ Broccoli
Lettuce (Romaine, Butterhead, Leaf, Mesclun, Heirloom, etc.)
Swiss Chard (Ruby Red, Seafoam, Fordhook Giant, Bright Lights)
Collards (Georgia, Variegated)
Spinach (super-hardy Serbian Heirloom)
Bull’s Blood Beet Greens
Pak Choy
Mustard Greens (Senposai, Mizspoona, Giant Indian Red)
Winter/Upland Cress
whatever else I have forgotten…..

 We also have LOTS of cool-season veggie seeds, as well as lots of discounted summer vegetable and flower seeds (25% off) that will give you a head-start next year.

 Be sure to ask about getting some of our Row Cover Fabric to help keep your seedbeds from drying out and to provide some frost protection and insect protection for fall & winter crops.  We carry two weights: lightweight ‘Seed Guard’ (1/2 oz.), and medium-heavy ‘Ensulate’ (1 ½ oz.). 

Garlic and Shallots should arrive in the first week of September.  We will have certified organic Inchelium Red soft-neck garlic, and 2 varieties of hard-neck garlic: Spanish Roja and German Red.

Look for our August 20/20 Sale Announcement in a few days (the sale will take place on Tuesday, 8/20) featuring an assortment of great plants and products at 20% discount for one day only), and our Fall Newsletter/Fall Sale Announcement in about a week

The weather has been very kind lately, with reasonable temperatures and some moisture – perfect planting weather!  So we look forward to seeing you soon.

All the best,
Eve & Mikl Brawner & the wonderful staff at Harlequin’s Gardens