Week 3 – Waffle Gardening


LOVE THE WAFFLE GARDEN idea.  This is one of my favorite things I’ve learned as an apprentice.  You can grow your own waffles in the garden.

HAHA – in all seriousness, this is one of the favorite things I’ve learned as an apprentice.

Waffle gardening is great for semi-arid climates.  Southwestern natives used waffle gardening to help keep water where it should be, on your crops.  Walls of soil surround your area and when you water or it rains, the water goes down around the plants instead of running off in all directions.

You can make your waffle whatever size you want.  If you want to be able to reach in from all sides maybe no more than 4′ X 4′.

To make the waffle you will dig down and push the soil to the sides of the area to make your walls.  Pat the walls to make them firm.  To help keep the walls in place you can plant some creeping thyme or other ground cover.  Over time this will create a nice kneeling pad as well as help keep the walls from eroding.   Once you do this you will only have to maintain it once every Spring.  Mix in some organic matter of your choosing.  I like a nice compost for vegetable gardens.  If you use manure, make sure it is not fresh and has composted for at least 180 days.  Years ago Eco-li was not a big deal, but these days you need to be careful how, when and where you use manure and where you get it.  The best time to put down manure is in the fall for a Spring planting.  Plant your plants, water and fertilize.  Easy, peasy.

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To water, give them a nice soak instead of sprinkling them each day.  If you’re seeding instead of planting plants you shouldn’t flood the waffle until the seeds have sprouted or they’ll get washed out of place.  Once your plants have roots established you can flood the waffle for a nice soak.  Watch the weather and temperature and water accordingly.

If you need to animal proof your garden you can do it like in the picture here.  Sticks have been placed in a fence around the edge to make a grid animals shouldn’t like stepping in (not guaranteed to keep out rabbits who love to munch them some greens).

Allison and Matt and Jerid planted up some geraniums.  Next week more plants will be added to fill out the containers.  It’s not too early to put out geraniums.  You just have to watch them and make sure they if it gets to cold you cover them.  YOU DON’T NEED TO WAIT UNTIL MOTHER’S DAY!!

One of the apprentices also learned that Rob HATES the plastic tags in the garden or in pots.  We are not a botanical garden or arboretum so we don’t need to display the names of our plants.  It also looks like a graveyard with little plastic plant tag headstones.  NEVER, NEVER, NEVER leave the plastic plant tag in the pot or the garden.  Spend a couple of bucks and get some decorative nice tags if you must tag them so you remember what they are.  Really, the plastic ones are tacky.  (See Rob’s Facebook page for how he feels about the tags!!)

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In other parts of the garden everyone did a little bit of cleanup and Lisa planted some Swiss Chard into a pot as a centerpiece for the waffle garden.

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Get out there and get gardening!!

To catch this week’s segment, check out:  http://www.9news.com/story/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/2014/04/17/waffle-gardens-water/7790369/







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Week 2 – Container Gardening


Today the apprentices talked about container gardening.  What type of pots you need, what type of soil is best, how to drill a hole in a ceramic pot and fertilizer.

Kathy talks about pots

Kathy talks about pots

Kathy talked about pots today.  In Colorado it is so dry about the only time you can get away with a small pot is right about now.  The rest of the year you need a larger pot so the soil doesn’t dry out so quickly.  Also, plastic and ceramic pots hold water longer than terra-cotta pots.  If you tend to over water then use a terra-cotta pot.  For container gardening I like at least a 12″ pot.  Some 8″ would be ok but a 12″ you can stuff a lot of plants in it and it looks gorgeous right away.  Now is the time to get a larger pot and sink a small pot of tulips, daffodils, or hyacinths in it and put pansies around the edges.  When the Spring flowers are finished you can just pull the pot out and insert something different in the hole with the pansies for a whole new look.  Take the spent Spring flowers and plant them somewhere in your garden for next year.

Lisa talks about soil

Lisa talks about soil

Lisa talked about soil.  If your soil has wood in it take it back to the store and ask for real soil.  Soil should not have chunks of wood in it.  It does nothing for the plants.  It takes a long time for wood to decay and be beneficial to the soil and does nothing for container gardens.  My favorite soil is Roots Greenfield.  It’s awesome and wonderful.  Another good one is Happy Frog.  Whatever you find at your local store, just make sure it is not full of wood.  Top soil is also not good soil.  It does not have any nutrients in it.  It’s just soil scraped off of the top of the ground so make sure you get a good container mix or potting soil.

Matt drills a hole in a pot

Matt drills a hole in a pot

Matt showed us how to drill a hole in a ceramic pot.  Make sure when you try this that you have the right bit to drill through ceramics otherwise you may break or crack the pot.  It’s important for the pot to drain so your plants don’t get root rot.  If plant roots are sitting in water it will drown the plants.  A pot that drains ensures that the roots are not saturated and can get the oxygen they need.  Roots need to breathe just like humans so make sure your pot drains well.  Another easy way to do this is to buy a pot with a hole in it already.  Pots that don’t have holes are not intended to be planted in, so if you have to buy a new one just get one with a hole.  If you see a great deal on pots without holes it might be worth it to buy them and drill them, otherwise……


Jerid talked about fertilizer.  When you first plant your containers and want your plants to put on some growth and get bigger then you need to feed them a fertilizer that has a higher number of nitrogen.  Nitrogen gets the green stuff to grow.  When your plants are the size to bloom or have started blooming then start feeding them a fertilizer higher in phosphorus.  I love Age Old products.  I like Age Old Grow and Bloom.  Grow has more nitrogen and Bloom has more phosphorus.  Nitrogen is the first number of the three you’ll see on the bottle.  Phosphorus is the second number of the three.  There are other products on the market like Daniels and some others but I have had wonderful success with the Age Old products.  I also have bees and the Age Old products are organic and safe for my bees.  My personal preference is to try to stay away from fertilizers or soil that are time release.  There’s no way for the fertilizer to know what your plant needs right now.  It might cause it to grow when you’re trying to get it to bloom or vice versa.  Also, they may have chemicals and I want to know my bees aren’t sucking up any chemicals.  You should fertilize about every 7-10 days.  If you pick a day during the week and always do it the same day you won’t forget.

Now, sit back and enjoy your containers.  Before you know it you’ll be taking out the cool weather plants and replacing them with summer plants.  Before you know it you’ll also need to start deadheading.  That’s a subject we’ll get to soon in the next couple of weeks I’m sure.

Get out there and get gardening!!

To see this week’s segment please visit:  http://www.9news.com/story/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/2014/04/10/container-gardening-proctor/7544995/






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A new crop of apprentices


Today we introduced the new apprentices on Rob’s 9News Proctor’s Garden segment.

To see the new apprentices introduce themselves, please watch the segment from this morning.

Here are the new apprentices:  We were only nissing one today – Jerid.  We hope to meet him this coming week.

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It’s a new year!!

Get out there and get gardening!!



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So you want to be an apprentice?


David grabbed a shot of all the apprentices in the corn stalks.It’s time to apply to be an apprentice for 2014.

To apply write two paragraphs on why you would like to be an apprentice.  Look for Rob Proctor’s facebook page and MESSAGE him your two paragraphs or watch this week’s segment and follow the instructions to apply through 9News.

Being an apprentice is such a great experience. You will learn so much about annual, perennials, container gardening, vegetable gardening as well as houseplant that can go indoors and outdoors.

You must be available on Wednesday for tapings or Thursday for live shows.  There is not always a camera person available so sometimes we tape on Wednesday and if there is a camera person available we go live on Thursday.

Check out the segment by clicking the link below and apply today!!


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It’s time to plant peas and….

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It’s finally here!!  It’s time to plant cool weather crops.

Hopefully you have started your spring gardening cleanup.  It’s time to get those beds ready.  It’s time to make those waffle gardens.  (If you’re unfamiliar with the waffle garden, check last’s years blogs @ March).  They are great for gardening in semi-arid places like Colorado.  The gardens have walls and resemble waffles where the garden can be watered and the waffle helps keep it in.


It’s time to plant cool weather vegetables and seeds like peas, carrots, lettuce, kale and other greens, and beans.  Bak choi, parsley, cilantro, arugula, mustard greens, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and brussel sprouts (I could do some brussel sprouts jokes but will spare all of you who love brussel sprouts).  Root crops you can plant now are carrots, radishes, beets, parsnips, onions, potatoes, and leeks.  Make sure you keep your seed beds moist while the seeds are germinating.  If you plant some plants make sure during the cold nights that you cover them with a frost blanket.  If you are starting things in pots you can bring the pot indoors when it is too cold.

You can also start some patio pots with cool weather plants like pansies, ornamental kale and if you potted some tulips or daffodils you can start watering them and they will be ready to sink into a pot and surrounds with pansies.  Later you can take the tulips and daffodil pots out and replace some summer plants in the holes.

It’s time to start!!

Get crackin’

To see Rob’s Thursday and Sunday segment’s this week go to:  http://www.9news.com/story/life/home-garden/proctors-tips/2014/03/13/peas-st-patricks-day-gardening/6365607/



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Signs of Spring

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The signs of Spring are starting to pop up.  The crocus are out and it won’t be long until the tulips and daffodils start to join them.

It’s time to buy your seeds for cool weather crops and plants.  Things like radish, peas, spinach, lettuce, kale and other greens can be planted in another couple of weeks.  Buy them now so you have them in time and to make sure there is a good selection of what you want.

If you’re in doubt what to plant when your local garden center should have a list of what you can plant and the dates you can start them indoors and out.

There are annual plant seeds you can plant as well including bachelor buttons, pansies, and larkspur  Sprinkle them on the ground or put them in a pot.  Gently press them into the soil (not too deep).  If you put them in a pot remember to bring them into the garage if it’s going to freeze.

Still want to do thing indoors?  Think about doing a terrarium or a dish garden like we discussed a couple of weeks ago.  The local garden center should also be getting in their daffodils and tulips in the pots so you could have some color indoors for a few days and then you’ll have some bulbs to plant for next year as well.

Spring is coming.  Get crackin’.

Happy Gardening and Happy Spring!!

To check out what Rob is doing right now please visit the 9News Proctor’s Garden list to see all of his recent segments:  http://search.9news.com/default.aspx?ct=r&q=proctor’s garden

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Some like it hot

Succulent cuttings ready to be stuck in soil

Last week we talked about plants that like cool houses.  This week is for those who crank up the heat in their house during the winter.

There are so many beautiful cactus and succulents.  They are gorgeous when they’re in bloom.  There are also medicinal succulents like aloe vera.

Plant them in very loose soil.  A little soil and lots of small gravel (crump) is perfect for them.  They like it very dry and can take a lot of sun and heat.  Some can take less light so check your conditions and buy the right plant for the right place.

They don’t need much water either.  If totally neglected over time they will shrivel up but it takes a long time.  It’s much easier to kill them by overwatering.  If you’re neglectful then these are the plants for you.

These can go outside on the patio during the summer and then back inside for the winter.  If you put them out for the summer, make sure you harden them off. They can get sunburned just like we do if we go out and sit in the hot sun without any protection.  After they have been out in the shade for a couple of days gradually give them hot sun and after a few days they’ll be able to take it.

To see some cool succulents and cacti in bloom check out Rob’s segment:  http://www.9news.com/rss/story.aspx?storyid=375010

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Some like it hot – some don’t

Photo by Rob Proctor

Cyclamen, Poinsettia and Paperwhites

Cyclamen in basket

This week’s segment is about a winter plant for your windowsill.  This plant likes it cool, blooms in the winter, can be put outside in the shade in summer and you can bring it back in for the winter.

Cyclamens!!  They come in all bright vibrant colors to give your windowsill some color and it will perk up those drab days.  Pink, purple, coral, white and red.  They have beautiful foliage.  Dark green and some variegated.  A color to complement any windowsill.

Cyclamens like it around 55 to 60 degrees so if you’re the type to have the temperature turned down and wear sweaters around the house this is the plant for you.  A winter window will be cool enough for them.

They will drown, so water when dry and don’t let them sit in water.  In the summer you can put them in the garden in the shade.  They won’t bloom much but they don’t go dormant and this will keep them going until you can bring them back inside for the next winter.

These are good tips.  Now I know why Cyclamen always died on me.  I didn’t realize they needed it cool and won’t bloom if too warm.  I probably drowned it as well.

Good Luck and Happy Gardening!!

To see Rob’s segment for Cyclamen please visit:  http://www.9news.com/rss/story.aspx?storyid=374545


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Winter Water!

It’s been warm and windy here lately and winter watering is critical right now.   Trees and shrubs are in danger of not making it through the winter or may get so stressed they won’t leaf out or flower as well as they should.  Some evergreens have not gone dormant because it’s been warm and they need to be watered.  The little bit of snow we have had lately is not enough.

It’s very dry here in Colorado even in times when we have moisture.  If you have trees that are three or four years old it’s very important to winter water.  Trees and shrubs that are young and don’t have fully established root systems need a good soak at least once a month during this time.  If you have young trees, right now they are in danger of not making it through this dry winter.

We’ve learned that even trees that make it through a drought can have lasting effects from not enough water.  Aspen trees in the mountains are dying four or five years after a drought even though it appears they get enough water in later years.  It’s very stressful for the tree.

If you have a deep root watering feeder, go out as far as the limbs extend and stick it in the ground and move it around the tree every couple of feet to make sure it gets a good soak.   Don’t stick the tool in near the base of the tree.  The roots extend as far out as the limbs go and that’s where you need the water.

If you don’t have a deep root tool and don’t want to drag the hose around just fill a watering can or bucket to water the trees and shrubs.  If you have a dam of earth or mulch around the tree fill it with water and let it soak in.  If you can use the hose then turn it on slow and let it fill the dam.  When you’re walking by give your perennials give them a little too.  They will thank you.


To see this week’s segment, visit:  http://www.9news.com/rss/story.aspx?storyid=373639

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It’s time to garden indoors

Christmas and holidays are over, the tree is gone and there’s empty space all around you.  What to do?  What to do?  It’s time to garden indoors!!

Fun things to do indoors right now for adults and kids are indoor plants, dish and fairy gardens, and terrariums.  Dish and fairy gardens are great activities for kids indoors right now when it’s cold and blustery outside.


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Right now you may still have some Paperwhites or Amaryllis or Poinsettias still blooming from the holiday season.  Add some indoor plants.  There are many plants for every type of condition in your home.  Low light, lots of lights, low moisture, high moisture, high heat, low heat.  There’s no excuse for not being able to grow plants indoors.  Just pick the right plant for the right spot and pay a little attention to it and you’ll be successful.

Some plants I like for those who think they can’t grow anything and are fairly indestructible are Spider Plants and Philodendron or Pothos.  Check your conditions for where you would like to put a plant and go to the local garden center and get some help picking the right plants for the conditions.  If you start with a couple of the plants listed here you should be off to a good start.  They are really not too picky about where you put them.  It’s really quite easy when you select the right plant for the right spot.  When you purchase your plant ask about watering and food instructions.

If you are the type that worries about when to water, these plants can usually be neglected a little and when they start to droop you can water them and they will be ok.  It’s better to under water than over water.  These plants could be watered once every two weeks and they will be fine.  They should be fed once in a while but they’re pretty tolerant about that too.  There is a handy gadget called a moisture meter that has a list of plants and how moist they should be that you can get that are very inexpensive that will help you with watering.  Just stick the wand in the soil and it will show you whether you need to water.  Or stick your finger in it. If it’s dry about two-thirds down then water it.

Everyone complains about those little pesky black bugs that fly around. They are fungus gnats.   If you have them, you are watering too much!!  No exceptions, if you have them you are watering too much.  Can’t say this enough.  They didn’t come from the garden center with the plant!!  To get rid of them let the plant dry out and don’t let the pot sit in water in the saucer.  If you have a really bad case then sometimes you need to change out the soil but just don’t water too much to begin with and you’ll be ok.

All indoor plants should be in pots that drain otherwise you will get root rot (and fungus gnats!!) from the roots staying too wet.  I like to take a decorative pot and I put a plastic saucer that will hold the drained water and I sit the potted plant down into the decorative container.  When the plant drains it goes into the plastic saucer and the roots don’t sit in the water.  Or, there are many fun pots with saucers included to put your plants in.  Just don’t water too much and have the saucer constantly full of water.    One thing that is good to know is you don’t have to repot a plant right away.  Indoors plants can usually live at least a year in the pot they come in.  Whether I use the decorative pot with the saucer method or use a pot with its own saucer I don’t repot the plant until the roots start coming out of the bottom of the original container it came in.  Remember not to put anything over a heat vent or have extreme hot air aimed at them.


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The local garden has dozens of small miniature plants you can use for dish and fairy gardens.  They come in most indoor plant varieties and the blooming ones are so cute (if I can call plants cute).  They are so fun and the blooming ones add some color to your home right now.

Fairy and dish gardens are very fun to make and you can put little decorations in them.  Also fun to make are terrariums.  The fun part is finding a container to put them in.  You can use a pretty dish, a pot saucer, or find something fun at the local thrift or antique shop.  Just make sure if it’s a dish garden that it can drain properly or you will get root rot.  You may have to drill a hole in the bottom of the container so it will drain.  Clear plastic saucers to put underneath them are available at your garden center.   Fairy Gardens are a really fun and creative thing to do with your kids.  There are fairies for girls and woodsmen and sprites and dragons, and unicorns and all sorts of fun things for both boys and girls.  Fun for everyone!!

Terrariums are fun to do as well.  I like finding interesting jars at antique stores to make terrariums or old mason jars or bottles.  Finding the container is part of the fun.  Since terrariums can’t drain and use the moisture from watering to make their own little eco-system you need several layers in your terrarium. First put some medium in the bottom, like clay balls or some pea gravel, take a coffee filter and cut it to fit over the bottom medium (so your soil doesn’t leak into the bottom), cover the filter with a very thin layer of charcoal (this is so the very moist environment doesn’t stink), add soil on top of that and plant your plants.  The miniature plants are excellent for terrariums.  It’s fun to put a little decoration like a bird or mushroom or other little figurine inside as well.  Stop watering when the water starts to drain into the medium in the bottom of the jar.  You don’t want the soil to be soggy.  Close the top and it will water itself.  Every couple of days you can open it and air it out a little.  Water when it starts to get dry.

Fun projects for all indoors when it’s cold and snowy outside!

Happy Gardening!!

To see Rob’s segment about indoor plants visit:  http://www.9news.com/rss/story.aspx?storyid=371511

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