June 2024


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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Master Gardeners get ready for winter

Gardening Tips

By: Mitzi Davis
Colorado State University Extension Master Gardener in Larimer County

  1. Fertilize your lawn if it is a cool season grass like bluegrass, fescue or ryegrass, and help it recover from the stress of summer drought and heat. Apply a high nitrogen, water soluble, fertilizer at a rate of 1lb. of nitrogen per 1000 square feet. The first number on the bag is nitrogen (N) and is the percentage of nitrogen in the fertilizer.  If the first number is 33, there is 33% nitrogen available.  Multiply that by the weight of the bag—for example 15 pounds and you’ll get five pounds of nitrogen which will cover 5000 square feet.
  2. Transplant parsley, chives, basil, oregano and thyme from your garden for an indoor herb garden this winter.  They will need five hours of direct sunlight or supplement with artificial light.  Let the soil dry out between watering and fertilize once a month with a diluted houseplant fertilizer.
  3. Not all the browning and dropping of evergreen needles is the result of the pine beetle.  Evergreens naturally drop their oldest needles—the ones closest to the trunk—every year.  The needles of Ponderosa pine last about three to four years and Austrian pine needles last about four to five years.  Twenty to thirty percent of needles on a tree can drop each fall. Two conifers that grow in our area, larch and bald cypress, are deciduous and drop all their needles every year.

Gardening Q&As

By: Patrick Miller
Colorado State University Extension Master Gardener in Larimer County

Q.  “Is fall a good time to prune trees and shrubs?”

A.  Summer is coming to an end, but we still have many weeks of fall weather remaining. However, it is too early for pruning. Here’s why:

Light pruning to remove a few small branches of trees can be done at any time of year. However, extensive pruning should be done in late winter to very early spring before budbreak. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1730f1a.htmlWound closure is most rapid if pruning is done just prior to when new shoots emerge. Secondly, there are few insects and disease spores to infest pruning cuts. Finally, deciduous trees have dropped their leaves, so it is easier to see what you are pruning.

Resist the urge to do major pruning right now, as you may encourage plant growth; fall is when the plants start storing food and nutrients in their root system for winter. Research has determined that deciduous shrubs and trees respond best to proper pruning timing. Pruning trees and shrubs is a science and should not be done indiscriminately.

Pruning has many positive effects, and is a way to encourage flowering in annual plants and perennial shrubs, a means of directing plant shape or growth, and a process that allows managing pests through better air-circulation and sun penetration.

Though the time for pruning is a few months away, remember that pruning cuts should always be smooth, without ragged edges, so sharp tools are essential. Consider having the following three tools, as they can handle most pruning jobs in the home landscape.

1)    Pruning shears use a scissors action to cut through stems less than 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick. Light thinning and heading back; including deadheading of flowers, can usually be done with pruning shears.

2)    Loppers are long-handled pruning shears that can cut through woody stems up to 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick.

3)    A pruning saw is needed to cut through woody tree limbs, or to prune shrub branches more than 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick.

Use the many resources available from CSU Extension to give you answers to your questions about why to prune, pruning methods, timing for flowering shrubs and thinning and rejuvenation pruning. These Fact Sheets can be found at www.ext.colostate.edu.

The authors have received training through Colorado State University Extension’s Master Gardener program and are Master Gardener volunteers for Larimer County.

Larimer County is a county-based outreach of Colorado State University Extension providing information you can trust to deal with current issues in agriculture, horticulture, nutrition and food safety, 4-H, small acreage, money management and parenting. For more information about CSU Extension, Larimer County, telephone (970) 498-6000 or visit www.larimer.org/ext

Visit PlantTalk Colorado ™ for fast answers to your gardening questions! www.planttalk.org PlantTalk is a cooperation between Colorado State University Extension, GreenCo and Denver Botanic Gardens.

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