Gardening


Crocus2016The poor little crocuses in my neighborhood may be starting to feel they have a stalker….me. Around mid-January, or whenever we have a nice warm spell early in the year, I start frequently visiting and closely observing the two sites where I usually see the first crocuses in bloom. Then I record the date! Not a terribly scientific process or record, it is fun.

This year I think I truly caught them on their first day or two since I visited four days earlier and there was no sign of them at all – not even leaves! From the photo, you can see it was early in the day before the sun had encouraged them to fully open.

 

So this year, it’s…..

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Crocus4

I’m amazed it has taken me a little while to post the first crocus bloom info this year (because I always get so excited when I see them!). I was pleased it was back to being a bit earlier than it was last year (Feb 25 – sheesh!). And as I explain each year,  the “first bloom” site has moved back and forth between two locations recently (ruining any scientific merit for using my observations for anything beyond fun). For many years, it was always a few blocks near my house in what we’ll call Location #1. Then a few years ago, my husband discovered Location #2, several blocks further away. This year, for the first time, I saw the first blooming crocuses in BOTH locations on the same day! And…I suspect they may have actually started a few days before, but I can only report the date I saw them.

 

So this year, it’s…..

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Hail2

Agave, Mirabilis, and Sphaeralcea After Hail Storm

I usually write an annual hail post for another blog I contribute to (Pikes Peak Area Garden Help) offering tips and sympathy from those hit by the current year’s big storm. Well this year, on May 21, that storm finally hit my neighborhood, along with a big swath of the Colorado Springs area from the Broadmoor area through downtown.

Around noon, a friend-of-a-friend mentioned he’d seen something about a possible severe storm hitting our area in a few hours. My weather source hadn’t made a peep about anything like that. So…I rolled my eyes and headed home. But….I put the car in the garage, and then grabbed a few spare empty one gallon pots and put them out by the newly planted veggies and mentioned to my husband that the pots were out there if he happened to hear any hail starting. (more…)

Squirreltomato2

I laughed when doing a search on “squirrel” on this blog and finding several posts that began with “Sigh….”. Over the years, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the little buggers. Most of the time, we get along fine, and I enjoy having them as part of the community that lives around my house. They provide quite a bit of entertainment. But there are two times when our relationship becomes a bit strained (when you just might overhear me calling them….well…uncomplimentary names): (1) When attempting to plant a large number of bulbs in the fall, and (2) when the tomato plants have a decent number of sizable fruit on them. 

As for the bulb issue (see Bulb Battle with the Squirrels – Part 2 and Part 3), I’ve given up on the idea of an early season bulb lawn in the buffalograss for a variety of reasons. So now I only plant smaller quantity of bulbs, and when I do, I paint them with a liquid repellent and dump cayenne in the holes for good measure. This seems to do the trick!

Now on to the tomatoes…I cannot imagine ever giving up on having tomatoes in my vegetable garden. I’ve worked hard over the years to hone my tomato growing skills. But when the squirrels decided they liked trying the tomatoes, I was in trouble. In the early years, they might just try a red one and leave it near the garden with a bite out of it. I hoped that meant they were learning they didn’t like tomatoes, but no. So I started picking the tomatoes as soon as they started to blush. This was good enough for a bit. But apparently the squirrels started really acquiring a taste for my tomatoes. By the time we got to last year’s garden, in addition to red ones, they were picking hard green small tomatoes and eating most of those too. 

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wallowater3.jpgYou all know about Wall o’Waters (which I will refer to as WOW’s from this point on), don’t you? They’re those nifty green teepees made of water tubes that protect plants from cold temperatures. I’ll never forget the first time I saw them. One early May, I was driving across town when I crested a hill, and on the way down I glanced over at the large community garden in a local park and saw hundreds of these aqua-green teepees. I had no idea what they were, but they sure grabbed my attention.

Once I started taking classes on vegetable gardening, I was quickly introduced to the WOW’s as well as other techniques and tools for helping warm season plants survive early in the growing season when temperatures can still drop unexpectedly. The water-filled tubes absorb daytime heat and then slowly release it at night, keeping the soil warm and protecting the plant inside. I picked up a set, and I’ve used them every year around my tomato plants. Supposedly you can add a full month to the beginning of the growing season, setting your plants out weeks before the last frost. I did this once or twice but I’ve now settled into the routine of planting around the last frost date (May 15ish here) and leaving the WOW’s on until mid-June.

This year I actually considered not setting up the WOW’s. Early May had been quite warm and night time temps were staying around 50 degrees (I strive to keep my tomatoes protected until night time temps are consistently above 50). But I used them anyway, and am I ever glad I did! Not only did temperatures fluctuate wildly in the next few weeks, but a week after planting, we had….dunh, dunh, DUNH…….. (more…)

A couple of weeks ago, I took care of one of my least favorite chores in the garden, shredding the leaves. I live in a neighborhood with a sizable large tree population. My own property has a mature green ash, a crabapple, and a few small amur and caddo maples. But I also end up with leaves from surrounding American and Siberian elms, silver maples, many other green ashes, etc. They spend the winter covering a few of my beds and then in April, I finally get out, rake them up, and shred them before adding them to my composter.

In the past, I used to just rake ’em and bag ’em, ending up with somewhere between twelve to twenty bags. I couldn’t add twenty bags of leaves to my compost at once (no room!), so I had to store most of the bags – which meant in a month or two, I had slightly soggy, torn bags of leaves that I would then add to the composter as room became available. Then I saw an electric leaf shredder in one of my favorite gardening supply catalogs that promised to reduce eleven bags of leaves to one. WOW. I really needed that. It was electric, took up little space when in use, and could be stored in an even smaller space. (more…)

crocus_dbg.jpgThis week, I finally saw the first little crocuses in bloom in our area. The “first bloom” site has moved back and forth between two locations recently (ruining any scientific merit for using my observations for anything beyond fun). For many years, it was always a few blocks near my house in what we’ll call Location #1. Then a few years ago, my husband discovered Location #2, several blocks further away. This year, the first crocuses bloomed in Location #2 (but I did see one blooming at Location #1 just two days later).

I visited Denver Botanic Gardens earlier this week and saw LOTS of crocuses, snow drops, and miniature irises already blooming there. Denver often is about a week ahead of us for blooms throughout the entire growing season. (The photo I used this year is actually from DBG – note the bonus bee!)

So this year, it’s….. (more…)

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