Greetings Friends and Fellow Gardeners,
We have been requested to write a blog and so we are going to give it a try. I apologize for beginning with an apology but I must say up front that we cannot return emails. Sorry. So many questions, so little time. However if I write one blog a month, I could answer some questions I’ve received at that time.
I grew up in Iowa and my first gardening experience was growing vegetables. If I were writing a blog about gardening in Iowa, it could be short: “put seeds in deep, rich earth; never watered; spread a little cow manure; weeded a lot; the neighbors finally stopped us from bringing them our surplus.”
Of course gardening in Colorado isn’t that easy so I will have plenty to say. And since it is not cliché for gardeners to talk about the weather, I will begin that way.
We were having a nice fall when on October 15 the temperature dropped to 15 degrees with 3” of snow. Many plants and trees still had their leaves. Ouch! Then a week later a high of 83, then 30” of snow the last 4 days in October. (really? That’s what records say) Then a “normal” November and then the first two weeks in December brought near zero temps with 12 below zero on Dec 9, and zero again the day before Christmas. See how we suffered this winter. But the plants had it worse; they are outdoors being jerked around by these extremes.
Cold tolerance of plants is not only their hardiness to an absolute temperature, but is affected by when the cold comes. If the plants had not hardened off when the real cold arrived, there could be some die back this spring or even some dead plants. And if woody plants had not sealed the openings where the leaves connect to the stems, then we may see serious fungus problems this year. In addition, young plants with small root systems are not as strong as adults, nor have they built up their starch reserves to get them through til spring.
Those that made it through the coldest weather may need water. This has not been a very dry winter, but I would recommend hand watering your evergreens and any plants that were planted in late summer or fall. It is best to winter water in late morning to give the water a chance to sink in before freezing night temperatures descend.
In Iowa when spring begins, it doesn’t go back to being winter for two weeks, then spring for a week, then winter, then summer, then spring. And it rains. So you don’t have to be such a good gardener.
Here we have to try harder, be smarter, experiment, replant and keep building our soils. I’ve never met so many very knowledgeable amateur gardeners as I have in Colorado. It is one of the reasons why I love running a plant nursery with my wonderful wife, Eve. I get to constantly learn from you smart and observant gardeners and from Eve and from the plants. And I spend most of my time outside in Colorado’s mostly wonderful climate, breathing the fresh air and working 7 days a week trying to keep up with the constant changes and frequent surprises. What could be more fun than that?