Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sun's Out...What's Next?

From year to year there rarely seems to be a consistent spring weather pattern in the Denver area, and maybe anywhere in America. Nope, I take that back. I assume it's eighty pleasant degrees-give or take in Maui year round. But we don't garden in Maui. No complaints with me, we can always use the moisture...who coined that phrase?  Probably Willard Scott or Karen Carpenter...on a Monday.  Sound the rimshot

Here are some easy garden chores to get done while waiting for the landscape to dry.

  • If you're a vegetable garden and haven't planted cool-season crops in cold frames or under tunnels, warm up your beds by covering them with clear or black plastic.  Anchor the plastic with weight like bricks or wood, even fence posts will work.
  • Start cleaning and sterilizing containers and plant supports if not done last fall after use. I like to use a one to ten water/bleach solution or lysol in the can (can get expensive if you have several cages).  Plant diseases can stick around on surfaces, so take no chances and sterilize everything that has grown or touched vegetables, especially tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.  
  • Mix up a spray and coat the container or plant cage surface, wait at least five minutes, then rinse well.  I do this on my driveway so that there's no soil contact.  Obviously you can't sterilize in-ground garden soil, the next best thing is to pick up any left-over leaf, tissue or root litter from last year's crops.  Get it out of there and start with a clean bed this season. 
  • Put up your yellow jacket traps if they plague your yard (they love my yard for some reason, so I put up at least three traps every growing season). 
  • Clean your bird baths, water features and patio furniture, anything that sits outside or stored in the garage is probably dusty and dirty and needs attention. 
  • The regular outdoor grilling season will be here soon, so focus on cleaning the grill both outside and inside.  It's probably one of the least favorite chores to do so pay your and any teenager to tackle the job. Be sure to use the proper cleaning materials and techniques on your particular type of grill.  Click here for Weber cleaning tips. And if you would rather pay for this service there are places that will clean your grill, check around.
  • Sharpen your garden tools if needed or not done in awhile.  I'm often asked where to take them for quality sharpening. Try your local hardware store like an Ace.  My favorite place in Denver is Power at Hand on Colfax.  If you bring in several tools (ask your friends), they'll give you a discount. If you know of other places that do quality tool sharpening, please let me know.  
  • Shop for cool-season vegetables if you didn't grow them indoors under lights.  Harden off and plant as soon as your soil reaches at least forty degrees.  That should happen soon if covered in plastic. Temperatures are getting warm quickly so you may be able to plant next week. Just have cover materials on hand for frosty nights in the 30s or low 40s. 
  • Also shop for the basics if your current supplies are needing replacement - garden gloves, pruners, hoses, you know what you need.  
  • The fun begins when you check out the plants and warm-season vegetables arriving almost daily at garden centers.  It's okay to purchase as long as you can keep them growing and healthy at your house before they are ready for planting.  Cool-season pansies, and snap dragons can go in the ground or containers now.  

What are the odds we'll have more snow or severe weather before or on Mother's Day? You know the answer, we all know the answer. 


   

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