Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Rose Ready

Late April to early May is the best time to prune roses along the Front Range.  Mountain gardeners should wait a few more weeks. Pruning stimulates growth and removes dead canes, so if done too early and we get frosty nights, sensitive new growth may be damaged. The goal is to open up the plant so the sun can get in and help the plant bloom. Prune into live growth on stems that are part green, part dead. Yes, there is a right and wrong way to prune for best results (in a nut shell - close to an inch above a live outward facing bud at a 45 degree angle). Excellent photos and explanation of all the fine points to pruning can be found on this link -

I just pruned a couple of roses, one is a one year-old 'Julia Child' floribunda with a few dead canes. The other is a 'Ruby Voodoo' shrub rose (relocated last year, so it's still pretty small). On the 'Julia' you can see all the nice growth at the base, so all I had to do was prune down close to the crown and remove dead canes. Sharp tools are important. I use by-pass pruners, loppers or a saw for large canes on large roses. Do not use non-by pass pruners, they crush stems, photo below. 

'Julia Child' Floribunda

Sharp tools are key - by-pass pruners, loppers, hand saw

This type of pruner will only crush the rose stems

'Ruby Voodoo' Shrub Rose

Later today I'll water the freshly pruned roses, then carefully work in some dry fertilizer at the base, removing the mulch first then watering again after replacing the mulch. I use Mile-Hi Rose Feed, simply the best organic fertilizer out there, I use it on edibles too.

'Julia Child' all pruned, ready to grow and bloom!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

April Aeration, All Done

Early spring is a great time to aerate the lawn to breathe new life into the turf roots, literally.  Those pulled out plugs leave behind opportunities for air, moisture and fertilizer to move right in and get things growing for the outdoor season. There's always the question as to the best time to aerate, spring or fall if you can just do it once a year. Fall is a good time after the long, hot summer when the lawn has been used extensively for activities that compact the soil and grass. But spring works too to get the grass off on the right foot so it can handle all the summer fun. Whatever season you prefer, just get 'er done soon. Kindly ask the operator to pass over the lawn several times in many directions to pull plugs that are close together. My area needed a few more passes.

Water the lawn well a day or two in advance to promote better plug pulls.  You can over-seed your lawn right after aeration, then fertilizer over the seeds. This is the BEST way to improve your turf thickness and to fill in bare spots.  Purchase grass seed from a local garden center, that way you'll know the seed will grow well in your lawn (not a generic brand sold in a box store that is sold all over the country).  If you want to add a fourth dress over the entire lawn after aerating, seeding, and fertilizing. Use the back side of a metal rack to smooth over the compost. Some people rake the plugs after aerating, especially if top dressing. For top dressing use a well-composted soil amendment or top soil.  If seeding, be sure to water at least twice a day when temperatures are getting in the 70s. 

Feeling the air already, once the fertilizer kicks in the dog spots should disappear!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Garlic gets Snowy

The quick snow storm on Monday (April 14) did nothing to the garlic except make it look extra hardy and happy to be growing.  In another week or two I'll spray all the green leaves with fish emulsion, they'll like the extra boost of nutrients after the long winter. 
"Bring on the snow" says the Garlic!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Emerald Ash Borer Lures Pesticide Pitches

My editor at The Denver Post, Susan Clotfelter has written a must read update on Emerald Ash Borer in Boulder County.  Bottom line, don't be lured by landscape or tree care companies to do any preventative spraying or treatments unless and until this dreaded pest is within a five mile radius of your area.  "Don't Panic....Do Plan," is Susan's advice. Take that to heart, and your pocket book! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cools Are Up

Most of the cool-season seeds I planted a couple of weeks ago are up and growing well, for some reason my lettuce didn't emerge, so I'll toss out some more seeds later today. The cute little heart-shaped arugula and radish leaves are happy and need to be thinned.  I purchased broccoli plants from the garden center since I didn't start them from seeds indoors. It was such a deal for this 6-pak since there are 4 plants per cell, I'll split them carefully and share with friends. I have hardened them off, meaning I have increased their time and sun exposure outside over the past five days. If they had gone from being in a nice, wind-free indoor garden center directly to the outside garden, they wouldn't be happy nor able to withstand the elements very well.

I see that the weather will be warm for the next several days so I may not have to cover at night, I've been using the heavy row cover, which keeps plants warm down to 28 degrees.  After I plant more lettuce seeds I'll use the lighter row cover to help keep the seed bed moist. AND, it's time to seed additional cool season plants in another bed so there will be a continuous supply of vegetables all spring long.  This is called successive planting. It's not to late for you to plant cool-season seeds, get out there!

Arugula planted in scatter formation and radish in the row

Broccoli transplants from the garden center, they are hardened off and will go in later today

Friday, April 4, 2014

Snow, No Problem

The snow storm this week brought needed moisture to the landscape and vegetable beds. The tunnel system for the recently planted cool-season seeds performed well in keeping out the heavy snow and cold temperatures.  Later in the day I was able to remove the cover and let in some sunshine.  Many seeds have sprouted, check back for new photos soon.

Tunnels kept out the cold and snow!

Very bright photo of the cool-season bed later in the day (should have used the snow setting on the camera)