Todd Cislo – Extremes of Growing in Flagstaff
Todd Cislo has been gardening in Flagstaff for more than 20 years, dealing with extreme cold, high intensity sun, poor soil, lack of moisture, hail, and wind. Because our soils lack organic matter, he emphasized that you should not be afraid to amend your soil – add a lot of organic matter and keep adding it. Also, because our soils are very alkaline do not be afraid to add pine needles. They take a long time to decompose so they are best used as mulch to shade the soil but do not worry if you mix some into your soil.
Todd gardens all year in Flagstaff. He does have a greenhouse, but he mainly uses home-built hoop houses to garden. His beds are raised beds - either native rock or cinder block. The rock and cinder block hold heat. For the hoop houses, he uses ½ inch PVC pipe set about 12 inches into the ground for the frame and heavier frost cloth for the covering. He uses sandbags or rocks at most of the corners to secure the cloth. His beds are generally about 20 feet long and about 3 feet wide so that they are easy to reach into from either side. To vent the hoop houses, he attaches a length of PVC pipe to the frost cloth, rolls the pipe up the side of the hoops and fastens it to a hoop. When it gets really cold, he places a second layer of frost cloth on small hoops inside the larger hoops. The small hoops are closer to the plants and the two layers keep the plants warm enough. The hoop houses are very flexible so they survive high winds by leaning over and springing back up. When it snows, he just brushes the snow off.
He generally grows cold hardy greens, onions and garlic in the winter. One advantage of gardening during the winter is that there are no bugs, and you only have to water once every two weeks or so.
Todd also showed us the hail damage to the garden from a storm in July. His garden was heavily damaged. If he had been home at the time of the storm, he could have put the covers over the hoops and could have prevented at least part of the damage.
A few more gardening tips he gave included the strategic use of bird feeders to lure the birds away from his garden and using Neem oil to kill bugs on the plants and to cure powdery mildew.
He based his winter gardening on Eliot Coleman’s “Winter Harvest Handbook”. A garden tour of Todd’s garden is planned for sometime in the not too distant future.
Thanks to Andrea and Galen Guerrette for the refreshments!
Business Meeting – Debi Stalvey
Financial report – Linda Guarino/Crys Wells
There are now 87 members – two more joined at the meeting.
MG Program Happenings (class) – Hattie Braun
Hattie reported that 11 people had already signed up for the class. The class will begin on September 4. She can take up to 35 people in the class.
Hattie will send out invitations for the Recognition Picnic, September 8, 4-6 p.m., Ft. Tuthill.
Continuing Education – Jim Mast
Programs are set through November. Loni Shapiro will talk about planting fall bulbs in October. Deb Noel will talk about historic gardens and gardeners of the United States in November.
Community Markets – Sherline Alexander
The August Community Markets are covered.
Volunteer Support – Crys Wells
July volunteer hours: 603.5 education hours: 102.25. Volunteer hours for 2013 to date: 2803, education hours: 601
Epiphany Episcopal Church on Beaver Street has an approved master gardener project. They will be creating a garden based on biblical plants and will have plaques containing biblical quotes. The garden will be open to the public and volunteers are welcome.
Q. I have tons of lacewings in my garden – how do I keep them?
A. Provide food for the adults. Adults feed only on nectar, pollen, and aphid honeydew. The larvae are the predators.
Q. Aphids – can you put them in your compost?
A. If your compost is working well at a temperature of at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit, it should kill them.
Q. If your basil blooms, can you still harvest?
A. Yes, pick off the blossoms and continue harvesting.
Q. What are all those seedlings coming up?
A. Mostly pine seedlings. The seeds sprouting now are from 2-3 years ago. See the article in the August 9, 2013 Arizona Daily Sun (http://azdailysun.com/news/local/too-many-pine-seedlings-in-northern-arizona/article_cfdd26f0-00b5-11e3-81c6-001a4bcf887a.html). A lot of the other seedlings are elms.