Garden Talk: September 8, 2011

From NGA Editors

Lemons for Limes

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If your garden produced a bounty of vegetables this summer, you may have had more than you and your family could eat at certain times. What to do with all that extra produce? Many of us share with friends and neighbors or donate surplus to local food pantries. Now a California gardener has come up with another innovative way for gardeners to share their gardening wealth.

Lemons for Limes is a new website that allows gardeners within a community to share and trade the bounty of their home gardens and fruit trees, improving the availability of fresh, locally grown food and helping people move toward more sustainable living. The website is the brainchild of Lori Barudoni, a small-space gardener in Folsom, California. Last year her potted lime tree set a bumper crop and it occurred to her that there might be another gardener out there eager to trade a different type of produce for her surplus fruits. Thus Lemons for Limes was born.

Gardeners can list the produce they have to trade and search for produce being offered by zip code. They can also enter a produce item not currently on offer on a "wish list" and get notification when it becomes available. Produce is traded on a points system. Points don't have to be redeemed right away, so a gardener with extra tomatoes in summer, for example, can use his or her points to get some fresh fruit in the fall.

Barudoni sees her website as benefiting not only individuals who will have greater access to a variety of local produce and lower grocery bills, but to the planet as a whole as fewer resources go toward the transport of food from outside the community. "My hope is that lemonsforlimes.com will change the way people think about gardening and edible landscaping in relation to how it can be used to support sustainable living," she says.

For more information, go to: Lemons for Limes.

Hot Enough for You?

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Lots of gardeners across the country would probably answer with a resounding "Yes!" given the extreme heat in many areas this past summer. And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has the figures to back them up. According to their National Climatic Data Center, July temperatures in the central and eastern sections of the country broke long-standing daily and monthly records. The hot weather only exacerbated the effects of drought conditions that are as dry as or drier than those of historic droughts of the 1930's and 1950's.

July was the warmest month ever on record in Texas and Oklahoma. In fact, Oklahoma's 88.9 degree F average temperature for the month was the warmest monthly statewide average temperature on record for any state during any month! Overall, this was the fourth warmest July on record in the United States.

Was this summer an indication of what climate change might have in store for the future? While all this heat may be due to normal, if unpleasant, fluctuations in the weather, the statistics are sobering. Forty-one of the Lower 48 states had July temperatures that were above normal, even record setting. One aspect of the heat wave was unusually warm low temperatures at night and in early morning. This pattern has become more typical of heat waves in the last decade and mirrors the increasingly warm night temperatures that have been noted since the last part of the 20th century.

To read more about this summer's heat wave, go to: NOAA. To get the answers to some frequently asked questions about global climate change from the National Climatic Data Center, go to: NCDC.

Back to Eden

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Back to Eden is a new feature documentary that follows one man's revolutionary approach to organic gardening. "It's all about the covering!" is how Paul Gautschi enthusiastically describes his gardening method that mimics the self-sustaining design of nature. The film exemplifies how gardeners and farmers worldwide can easily transform their agricultural practice into a simple and productive process of growing food. Gautschi approaches gardening from a deeply spiritual perspective, so while the film addresses critical issues such as soil preparation, fertilization, irrigation, weed and pest control, crop rotation, and pH issues, it also touches on experiencing faith, seeking relationships, and the power of forming community. Highlighted interviews include diverse families and specialists in human ecology, nutrition, horticulture, and agriculture. Released this past August 2011 in select locations, the film is also available in its full content for free online viewing.

To find out more about the film and view it online, go to Back to Eden.

Fall Frost Dates

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Gardeners are becoming more and more interested in keeping their gardens as productive as possible into the fall and winter months. Whether growing in the open garden or using season extenders like traditional cold frames or the newer technology of row covers, low tunnels, and hoop houses, the first step in late season gardening success is knowing when the first fall frost is likely to strike.

This information is easily available in graphic or tabular form from the National Climatic Data Center. Check out a nation-wide map of showing when you can expect temperatures of either 28 degrees F or 32 degrees F to help you figure out when plants need to be started in order to harvest a fall or winter crop. Also included are maps of the spring frost dates and frost-free season length. The tabular data lists three probabilities for the fall dates of 36, 32, and 28 degree temperatures for many locations within each state.

To see the frost date maps, go to Frost Maps. To see the freeze/frost tables, go to Freeze/Frost.

 
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