Sunday, June 10, 2012
It can't be stressed enough to dig down and check soil moisture in the root zone before watering anytime but particularly following heavy rains.
Photo credit: Plant four days after hailstorm - Carl Wilson
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
For what seems to be everybodys' favorite vegetable, tomatoes, it may be tempting to plant outdoors in a year like this when the apparent last frost was April 16. Stunted growth and susceptibility to pests such as flea beetle results. Plants can normally outgrow this pest when they are established quickly and get up and growing but are severely set back when stunted by cold nights and eaten by pests.
Waiting to transplant can often result in better growth and a harvest that arrives just as early as plants transplanted before the arrival of warm nights.
Photo Credit: Tomato that was transplanted when night temperatures were warm easily outgrows early flea beetle injury (see pin holes on lower leaves) Carl Wilson
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Strawberries are a productive and rewarding fruit crop for our area. They will come into production in a year or less and can be used as an attractive groundcover as well as in pots. Locate them in an area with full sun protected from wind and amend soil before planting.
One of the most rewarding types of strawberries to grow are Junebearers because berries have the fragrance and intense flavor often missing from store bought fruit. The downside of these types is that if spring frost damages blossoms little or no crop will be produced until the following year. Recommended varieties are Honeyoye, Guardian, Kent, Cabot, Mesabi and Jewel. These are generally grown as matted rows.
Everbearing types produce two main spring and fall crops per season with a few berries in between. They are hardy and reliable. Recommended varieties are Quinault, Ogallala (for clay) and Fort Larimie (best on sandy soil).
Day Neutral types flower and fruit on six week cycles over the summer but generally yield less than other types. They can be grown as annuals and removed as you would annual flowers. They are sensitive to drying out and heat. Varieties include Tristar, Tribute and Fern.
Both Everbearers and Day Neutral types are generally grown in individual "hills" even though they may end up being more on the level. Raised mounds are helpful as strawberries are very subject to root diseases and require good drainage. Remove runners to preserve separate plants.
Why not plant some of each type to hedge your bets and gain some of the advantages of each?
Photo credit: All Carl Wilson
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
2. Plant small seed such as lettuce by just barely covering with soil. Burying small seed too deep will prevent germination. Lay down row cover fabric over planted seed.
3. Secure row cover fabric by pushing wire U pins through the fabric and into the soil. Bury sides of fabric with soil for further protection from blowing in winds.
4. Water through the row cover fabric. Fabric slows evaporation from soil surface helping seed germination. It also prevents birds from eating seed.
5. Germinated lettuce seedlings visible through wet row cover fabric. Time to remove the fabric that has served its purpose as a temporary mulch for the seed germination period.
6. Fabric removed, Seed germination success!
7. Proceed to grow a successful crop watering more frequently when seedlings are small and cutting back as plants grow more roots. Good eating!
Photo credit: All photos - Carl Wilson
Friday, March 16, 2012
Winter rye (not Italian ryegrass which is different) is one of the hardiest cereals and is also drought tolerant. It can be planted early or late in fall, either by itself or with a legume such as hairy vetch or Austrian winter pea for adding nitrogen.
By itself it will scavenge soil nitrogen from last season and keep it from leaching over the winter. It grows well on sandy soils and is good for preventing wind erosion. Rye produces a lot of biomass adding to soil organic matter.
You can also leave a row of rye to shield early planted vegetables from spring winds. Peas, lettuce and other cold soil tolerant crops can now be seeded as soils should be well over 40 degrees F along most of the Front Range.
Photo credit: Winter rye closeup and in bed - Carl Wilson
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Okay, so most vegetables don't overwinter (asparagus, rhubarb, Jerusalem artichoke and a few others being the exceptions). However, vegetable gardeners are concerned about climate and length of growing season. They are also interested in flowers and herbs for attracting pollinators to the vegetable garden whose persistence may be determined by hardiness zones. Fruit growers certainly have plant hardiness concerns.
What's exciting about the new, online 2012 USDA Hardiness Zone Map announced today? It's been updated to the Internet age with cool, online features. In addition to being able to put in your zip code and automatically get your zone, you can also enter your state name and see how climate works locally.
The coolest feature though is the Interactive Map that shows the streets in your area with the hardiness zones detailed. This is a vast improvement from previous maps where you had to guess your location on an all-to-generalized map. Be sure to click right on the map and use the +/- slide bar to zoom in to your neighborhood.
That said, what has changed with this revision? First, know that plant hardiness zones detail the average annual extreme minimum temperatures at a location for a given time period. In this revision that is the 30-year period from 1976-2005. These zones don't reflect historic lows that occurred before then or might occur in the future.
Compared to the previous 1990 map, the update shows most areas are a half-zone warmer (5 degrees F). In fact two new zones have been added to the U.S., 12 and 13. Each zone is a 10 degree F band that is subdivided into a and b. Most of the Front Range is now 5b with some 6a.