What to do in your garden in March

March has finally arrived and that can only mean Spring is right around the corner.  So far the weather has been cooperative, allowing me to get out into the garden and get some tidying up done.  Hopefully, the old folklore saying “When March comes in like a lamb, it goes out like a lion” doesn’t hold true this year.

March is a temperamental month, with all kinds of weather swings.  If you are a veteran Colorado gardener you know this and will be prepared to deal with extreme weather one day and nice warm weather the next.  For you newcomers to Colorado gardening, find yourself a veteran Colorado gardener, some good books, and continue to read my blog and between us all we will get through each month. Continue reading

What to do in your Garden in February

The weather here and across the nation has been rather strange and erratic this winter.  When Alabama gets 5 inches of snow and Washington, D.C. gets the most snow in decades, the idea of doing things in your garden seem so far away.  But here in Colorado there are some things you can do while the winds blow and the snow falls.  Performing these few tasks will give you a head start once Spring arrives, plus it will help with that cabin fever brewing inside of you.

I know those seed catalogs have arrived since the beginning of the year making you more anxious to get your hands in the dirt.  Take time and think about what you want to plant this year.  While you are all snuggled up in your blanket with your hot chocolate, decide what you are going to plant, by browsing through your seed catalogs and order the variety you have chosen. Continue reading

Gardening Jobs for April

th_100_6246-112So far April has been a roller-coaster of a month.  We have had warm and freezing temperatures, rain and very wet snow.  Now the weatherman is telling us we could get rain, thunderstorms, hail and more snow. 

If you are a seasoned Colorado gardener you just take it in stride.  For those of you who are new to Colorado or new to gardening it can be mayhem. 

No matter what the weather is doing we cannot neglect chores or forget to prepare for this year’s growing season.  So here are some gardening jobs for April:

  • If your vegetable beds are ready for planting, you can go ahead and plant your lettuce, onions, peas, spinach, and turnips  seeds now. 
  • If you haven’t started your warm season crops such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant now is the time.
  • Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and celery transplants can also be planted.
  • Fertilize spring flowering bulbs.
  • Aerate your lawn to help with compaction.
  • Spray your fruit trees as soon as the flowers fade to control insects early.
  • Now is the time to spray your spruce trees to prevent Cooley Spruce Gall. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05534.html
  • Apply a good pre-emergent to kill those early weeds. 
  • Keep those bird feeders full and cleaned.  The birds not only eat the seeds you put out, but also the insects that attack your plants.
  • Continue your cleaning around and pruning your perennials.
  • Many perennials can be planted in the garden now, such as Shasta Daisies, Lupines and Columbines.

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Gardening Jobs for March

 

100_6077Spring is right around the corner, but still too early to do any planting.  There are some things you can do in the garden in preparation of the planting season.

  • Cut back your ornamental grasses now in preparation for their new  growth.  If you have a compost pile put the cuttings in there.
  • Once again check to see if your shrubs, trees or lawn needs watering.  So far we have had a dry winter and a little watering now will prevent problems down the road.
  • If you haven’t amended your vegetable garden yet now is the time to do so.  Use good organic material like, compost and  peat moss.  Do not put any fresh manure in the vegetable garden now, that should be done in the fall.
  • Now is also the time to clean out those perennial beds if you did not do it in the fall.  Additionally, cut back the old foliage before new growth starts.
  • Keep those bird feeders full and that bird bath clean and full.  Spring may be right around the corner, but our friendly birds still need our help with food, water and shelter.
  • Now is the time to think about what seeds you are going to germinate yourself instead of buying transplants.  Need some help with starting your seeds?  Checkout http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1034.html for detailed instructions.

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I Have Been Lazy

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I know I have been lazy about writing my next blog, but I have been consumed drooling over all my new gardening magazines.  Now you can’t blame me for that can you?  I am sure a lot of you other gardeners are doing the  same thing.  Those magazines give you fantasies of your new and spectacular garden you have planned for this year.    I don’t know how many times I have walked around my garden, freezing my tail off, and said to myself what I am going to grow in each bed.

Oh for the day when Spring arrives and the anticipation is over and we can all get our hands dirty in that wonderful dark, rich soil.  I am just tingling with excitement.  Ok, ok let’s come back down to earth now.  Right now we should be planning what we are going to plant and order those seeds.  Are there other things in the garden we should take care of now?  I know I continually have trash blown in my yard from Old Man Winter.  Do you have any dark and creepy insects harboring away in that pile of trash or leaves you didn’t clean up yet?  They are waiting for your lovely, juicy plants to come alive so they can start devouring them.

Getting your hands into your rich soil will come soon enough, but in the meantime look around your garden and see what you can do now in preparation of Spring.  Have you enriched your soil with amenities, dug up your failures from last year, added new mulch, or turned that compost pile? 

Spring will be here before you know and you don’t want to be lazy like me and put off chores that need to be done now.  If it wasn’t snowing outside I would be out there already (SURE).  Guess I will go back to my garden magazines and order those seeds and plants.  Happy garden dreams.

Gardening Jobs for January

January is all about looking through your new seed catalogs and deciding what you are going to grow this year.  I always try and grow something new each year.  This past year it was Okra.  I know some of you are wondering what Okra is and what to do with it.  It is a flowering plant in the mallow family (like cotton or hibiscus).  It is a very popular vegetable in the southern part of the U.S.  You can fry okra or put it in soups or gumbo.  Since Okra loves the heat make sure you try a variety that is tolerant of our cooler summers like “North & South” from Burpee

  • Check you houseplants for pests and ensure you water regularly.
  • Clear any annual plants out of your beds you might have forgotten to reduce overwintering pests.
  • Don’t forget about winter watering when the temperatures get above 50 degrees.  Watering now will prevent root damage and give your plants a better chance of making it through the winter.  Check out Fact Sheet 7.211 at the CSU Extension website.
  • Check the mulch levels in your planting beds making sure you have 3-4 inches to protect your bulbs, perennials and shrubs.  Our winter winds have a habit of displacing our mulch from the places we intended.

Cleaning those Garden Tools

I know by now all you gardeners no matter what part of the country you live in are itching to do something in your garden.  Those seed catalogs have started to show up in your mailboxes, I received three the other day was giddy with delight, and feel the urge to do something.  Now let’s not jump the gun yet.  One thing you can do if you already haven’t done it, and I am guilty myself, is to clean and get those garden tools ready for spring.

For all you gardeners who have done your tool cleaning, go back to your seed catalogs.  Now for the rest of us go out to your shed or wherever you store your tools and check them out.  Do some of them still have dirt on, dull edges or that nasty four letter word “RUST” ?  It is time we do something about that.

The first thing we should do is get all that dirt off.  You can scrape it off with a good stiff brush or wire brush.  For that really stuff dirt, the dirt that has been there since August, you will have to spray it a hose or let it soak in a bucket.

Once the dirt is cleaned off use an old rag or your wife’s hand towel and dry them off completely.

If any “RUST” has developed on your tools take some steel wool and scrape it off.  Make sure you wear some good gloves while doing this action.

Once the “RUST” is removed it is time to sharpen the tools.  This can be done a couple different ways.  You can use one of those new high speed sharpeners you can buy from garden magazines.  Or, you can you use elbow grease and a #10 bastard mill file.  If you use the file hold the tool tightly and file the tool at a 45 degree angle.  Make nice smooth single strokes on the beveled side until sharp and then flip the tool over to remove any burrs.

Now that our tools are clean and sharp we need to protect them from that nasty “RUST”.  Spray your tools with some type of penertrating oil or WD-40.  One thing I do during the growing season to keep them clean is after using them stick them in a bucket of sand combined with some motor oil a couple times, wipe them down and then  put them away.

We cleaned our tools, sharpened them and gave them a coat of oil, but one more thing we need to do.  That is to preserve the wood handles.  We do this by making sure they are clean and any splinters sanded and for the final touch a little paste wax to protect the wood.

By doing these few things now when we have time our tools will be ready to go when it is time to start digging, and that won’t be soon enough for me.