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Rocky Mountain Gardening: Springtime in December!?

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Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

December 21, 2010
2:45 PM

Post #8271183

To all,

Merry Christmas!?

It has been raining for at least a week now on the western slope of Colorado due to the mammoth Pineapple Express streaming into the area. All the snow is gone at my place, (Glenwood Springs, CO 5800 feet) and I am worried that everything in my garden may start waking up.

I laid down a copious amont of Dr. Earth 4-4-4 and covered everything with about 2-3 inches of cotton boll mulch in late October. I am hoping the tulips don't wake up. Some of the early daffodills always come up in the Fall and then overwinter under the snow.

Has anyone experienced this before? The last time I remember a Pineapple Express like this, I was living in southern California and ended up having to weed the shingle roof! LOL :))

Sonny
dahlianut
Calgary, AB
(Zone 3a)

December 23, 2010
11:28 AM

Post #8273901

Merry Christmas and Happy First Day of Spring Solstice pewj ! I had a winter like that a few years ago. No rain but too mild. Mulch, mulch and more mulch worked for me. I also sang lullabyes.
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

December 23, 2010
2:51 PM

Post #8274148

Dahlianut,

Thanks for reminding me that the days are getting longer!

I knew their was a reason that I started looking at vegetable seeds to plant in the new garden bed I created over the Summer!

Which lullabyes did you sing? Errrr, never mind...But then again maybe I can kill some weeds! :)) LOL

It's supposed to be nice Christmas day so maybe I will pull some weeds in the parkway & then go see if friends want to go shoot some cans.

Sonny

PS: What are some of your favorite Dahlias?
dahlianut
Calgary, AB
(Zone 3a)

December 23, 2010
2:57 PM

Post #8274166

There are so many beautious dahlias but here are a couple that I will always have:

Evelyn
Tarahiti Ruby
Mango Sunset
Gay Princess

Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

December 23, 2010
3:27 PM

Post #8274201

Thanks Dahlia Dear!

I think I have a perfect place for them, but I have to work on the new orchard area next summer.

Will they do okay in the wine barrels I put cannas in last summer???

Sonny
dahlianut
Calgary, AB
(Zone 3a)

December 24, 2010
7:51 AM

Post #8274995

Dahlias do well in containers pewj but you're gonna need a step ladder to deadhead the taller ones (6-7 feet) tee, hee. Maybe try varieties that are between 3-4 feet.
skellogg
Sundance, WY
(Zone 3b)

December 30, 2010
10:18 AM

Post #8283587

Would love to try some! Do they over winter, or do you dig them? Do you bring in your container ones for the winter?
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

December 30, 2010
4:29 PM

Post #8284006

Skellog,

I have seen a few big dahlias around town that are year round residents, no digging needed in a zone- 4b/5a. BUT, I don't think a wine barrel is gonna be warm enough. I bet Dahlianut could tell us!

I wonder if deer like dahlias? I swear I am going to light up the whole herd with a full auto paint ball gun one of these days! LOL ;) You yell at the deer to get away from your flowers and they bar their fangs at you! LOL :0

Sonny
skellogg
Sundance, WY
(Zone 3b)

December 30, 2010
5:54 PM

Post #8284127

Sonny, that's what they do here too. And they know if the dogs are tied up, and how far they can reach. Matter of fact, they actually jumped into one of the fenced yards here and killed a dog in the yard. Very sad, as he was a sweet dog, belonged to an elderly lady, and was her best companion. We use the paint ball gun on occasion, but it doesn't seem to bother them much. Apparently, they like having hot pink fur!
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

December 30, 2010
8:46 PM

Post #8284375

Skellogg,

My boss and his sons used to do the paintball thing and they quit because it just got to hard. A paint ball at 1000+ per second is like the velocity of old west black powder guns. I hear they have much more powerful stuff. Not Funny! I am sure it would change the habits of my local deer.

Still, when I set up the orchard and veggie gardens it will have some serious 10 foot fencing with low voltage strands. The bears around here will destroy fruit trees.

Dahlinut! Where are you? We are planning for springtime and we need you to help fuel or fantasies. LOL ;) Speak to us mistress of the dinnerplate bloom!

Sonny
dahlianut
Calgary, AB
(Zone 3a)

January 10, 2011
10:57 AM

Post #8302661

Here I am! Here I am! Dahlias are hardy to zone 8 so have to be dug and brought in to overwinter unless you have a really hot spot in your garden. I dig mine every year and divide them. You could try to store them in a container but they don't like to get too dry.

Pewj deer are not particularly fond of dahlias (keeping in mind that deer will eat anything). They usually go for other stuff in the garden first although I know of one deer who is particularly fond of a yellow dahlia and came to eat a every flower when it opened. Maybe a critic?
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

January 10, 2011
6:48 PM

Post #8303550

A critic of deer, yes!

A critic of flowers and plants, never! Well maybe when it comes to noxious weeds. LOL

I am just a lazy gardener who does not want to pull up and store plants over the Winter. That is why I left all my cannas in the ground this year, (Oh the tragedy!). Most of my cannas were in half wine barrels with very rich and I hope acidic soil. The wine barrels will have the soil remixed this spring and I will plant half high blue berries. Yummy!

Sonny
dahlianut
Calgary, AB
(Zone 3a)

January 11, 2011
7:31 AM

Post #8304292

mmmmmmm blueberries mmmmmmmm
mraider3
Helena, MT

January 14, 2011
1:35 AM

Post #8309746

I am sick of winter and have been sitting around trying to figure out how to fight the winter blues. Blueberries!!!

I have debated now for two years as to where I should plant blueberries. Garden is too open and the north side of the house is sheltered, however porbably not enough sun. But, in a tub...now that's and idea. I have been brain storming lots of ways to plant in containers and using a heated hoop house come mid-March for these container plants until they can be moved to a different location. I can't think of any reason not to try some blueberry plants in containers and then move then around to more suitable locations as the season develops. I recall reading that it is best to have more than one variety of berry for some reason. Wonder if that holds true for container raised blueberries??? Any thoughts here on container raised blueberries?

morgan
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

January 14, 2011
5:56 AM

Post #8309906

I am going to try "half high" blueberries they only grow 3-4 feet. There are enough varieties so you can get an extended yield throughout the season. This seems to be a good site http://www.sln.potsdam.ny.us/blueberries.html for blueberry info.

I saw a video from Dave Wilson Nursery that showed three blueberries in a half wine barrel, although I don't think that would be movable.

The reason I am using half wine barrels is due to the pH requirements for blueberries is around 4.5-5.0

An odd thing I found out about blueberries is that you have to strip all the flowers of the plant the first year! :(

Sonny
mraider3
Helena, MT

January 15, 2011
12:18 AM

Post #8311336

Sonny, been doing some research as well and Murdocks has those half wine barrels but pricy. Had not seen any comments on removing flower buds the first season, but it makes sense. Getting the pH right in a barrel is a lot simpler than in the garden. I have been adjusting a couple of spots with peat moss and its a pain. I move my big pots, hay bails and peat bails around with a dolly. Big pots are a bit akward, but with a little help it can be done. Figured I would move the plants under my kitchen deck on the north side of the house during the hottest days of the summer. We seldom get over 90F in the day time for more than a week or two, but I've read that can be a blueberry killer if left if direct sunlight during hot spells.

Just finished down loading catalog and I am impressed.

Thanks Sonny for the info.

morgan
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

January 15, 2011
10:10 AM

Post #8311912

Morgan,

I left an email with Bill at St. Lawrence Nursery about heat stress in blueberries. The Garden Party Network, (radio KERN AM, Bakersfield, CA) mentioned that some of the newer strains, (I assume they mean southern blueberries) are heat tolerant.

I had never heard of heat being a problem with blueberries. I have read that acidic, (4.5-5.0) moist, well drained soil is a must. Blueberries have a mat of shallow roots and should be mulched with 2-3 inches of peatmoss that is pulled away from the trunk. Several articles recommend soaker hose that requires a reduction of water pressure to around 20 PSI.

Ohio State University Extension has a great article on growing blueberries, http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/pdf/1422.pdf

Sonny

Sonny
mraider3
Helena, MT

January 16, 2011
3:48 AM

Post #8312982

Sonny, given your comment on heat stress I may reconsider the original location I had planned for blueberries, a 60ft long x 4ft wide strip located between my grape and rasberry strips. I had planned to use a drip feed hose but a soaker hose would be easier. Hhowever I don't understand the 20 psi pressure requirement. I have a total of 20 risers comming off my well pump system and many of those are multiple headed for the 60 ft long soaker and drip feed hoses I use, so I don't think pressure should make much difference. Each hose has its own ball valve for adjustment and although I can use a timer if necessary I prefer to adjust my watering by hand as required for each individual crop. I'm only guessing that the pressure requirement is for a slow delivery of water which can be adjusted time wise to meet the requirements of the blueberry plants over the coarse of there development. Thanks again for the lead Sonny,

morgan
skellogg
Sundance, WY
(Zone 3b)

January 16, 2011
6:58 AM

Post #8313190

Wow, Morgan, I would love to have your watering system here! It sounds wonderful! I tried blueberries here about 3 years ago, in the ground, and didn't have any luck. So I really like the idea of potting them. I would love to hear what varieties do the best for you and how it works for you. That would definately help with keeping the soil at the right PH, which is what my problem was, I'm sure. I wonder, do your winters get as severe as ours? How do you plan on wintering them? Any extra protection?
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

January 16, 2011
8:55 PM

Post #8314441

Morgan,

Soaker hose is made of a porous vinyl. If it is functioning properly then the hose appears to form little droplets like sweat. The limited experience I have had with soaker hose was frustrating because I was runnig 75 pounds per square inch and the hose actually sprayed water. A drip irrigation system is a little different because it usually has separte emmitters that can be like small sprinklers. With all the attatchments you have on your system you very well may be dropping the pressure amongst enough outlets to make them all work just perfect!

I ran into a great sale on half wine barrels last year at City Market, they were $24.95 a piece so I got five of them and planted cannas in an acidified cotton boll compost, peat moss, bagged top soil mix. I will have to test the pH, but I think it could be pretty close. I could add some ammonium sulfate to help drop the pH. The problem that we face out in the west is our water, (In my area) has a pH of about 7.2. This will gradually raise the soil pH up out of the 4.5-5.0 pH so successful blueberries out west wil probably require annual testing with a pH test kit to keep them happy. Peat moss mulch or pine needles will probably do the trick. A more drastic measure of using aluminum sulfate, (alum) is readily available to me because we use it in water treatment. Probably the easiest course of fertilization and pH control is feeding blueberries with azaela/camelia fertilizer at the proper time.

If I were to plant blueberries in the ground I would probably dig a hole and line the hole with a 3-4 foot section of plastic culvert pipe that was two feet deep and fill it with an acid soil mix. Blueberries seem to have a mat of roots near the surface because they grow in areas that are naturally boggy, yet they like well drained soils. I guess it is an eastern phenomenah.

I like the idea that blueberries can be a three season, edible, landscape plant.

Sonny
mraider3
Helena, MT

January 17, 2011
12:45 AM

Post #8314565

Sonny, have spent the last couple of days researching blue berries and would agree with you on the drip feeder irrigation method. With as many outlets as I have in the garden, too much pressure is not a problem these days. True not all soaker hoses are the same. Some of the more expensive brands with very vine holes I have purchased did exactly as you mentioned. I finally after about ten tries came up with what I call the perfect soaker hose for my particular situation. I purchase this hose in 500 foot lengths and add my own fittings. Although my ball vales are Chinese made I purchase the most expensive plastic ones Ace has for sale. The rest are pure junk. And even at more than $6 a piece I still get leakers, but I separate those out and put them on hoses which I never shut off completely.

I haven't come across the article which mentioned shadding blueberries in the extreem heat of summer but I have not completely gone through my files. I did however come across an interesting comment about using covered tomato cages as protection for blue berry plants in the winter. I use three foot tall, two foot diameter, welded wire cages for my tomatoes, with a 14ml opaque (semi-clear) painters drop cloth covering for the outside of the cage. For the cage tops I have what looks like a large shower cap which is actually a cover for a 55-gal barrel. Using paracord I attach these covers to the cages in the early spring and again in the late fall for an extended tomato growing season. I have considered transferring these cages with there covers to the newly planted blue berry bushes in October. What is your take on this Sonny?

The two foot deep section of 3-4 foot diameter section of plastic culvert pipe sounds like a fantastic idea Sonny. Black sewer piping would also be another resource. Really glad you came up with that one. Makes pH soil adjustment much easier in the garden.

I have been thinking about that part of using my well water for watering blue berries. I have been kicking an idea around about collecting rain water and using it for just such a purpose. A large plastic storage drum, possibly up to 500 gallons could be hooked up with the irrigation system to gravity feed rain water to specific plants as needed. Rain water generally has a pH less than 7. Well water could also be pumped into this tank in the event rain water is unavailable and treated with a mesh bag of peat moss to adjust the pH downward. I basically do this with peat moss for my vermiculture purposes anyway.

We rarely have sales on garden supplies here in Helena. In fact two of my kids who live near you in Colorado Springs keep an eye out for me on various garden needs. When we make our fall run to Colorado and Texas to deliver garden goodies to the kids and grandkids we stock up on all kinds of things. I purchased over 200 canning jars at three estate sales on one day in the Springs two falls ago. They were the old fassion, heavy glass ones. Some were even antiques which are worth more than I paid for all the jars put together. I am putting out the word for those wine barrel planters as we speak.

Appreciate all the great ideas Sonny.

morgan



mraider3
Helena, MT

January 17, 2011
1:14 AM

Post #8314572

skellogg, I think Sonny and I may have answered several of you questions, but as to varieties I have not come to a conclusion. I'm leaning towards the following:

HARDIEST CULTIVATORS
Northblue
North Country
Patriot (early season)
Blue Crop (mid-season)
Blue Ray (mid-season)

The Patriot may be a little to large to cage in the late fall if I plan on using them, but the smaller Blue Crop and Blue Ray are top on my list so far.
My location in the center of the vallery here is probably a lot like yours in Wyoming. High winds, not much moisture in the summer, and it can get pretty hot for periods of several weeks or longer.

I am kicking the idea of using the 3 to 4 foot diameter piping for my replacement grape plantings as well. I purchased some plants from a local nursery and half of them died the first winter. I am thining about purchasing both grapes and blue berries from the St Lawrence Nurseries which were recommended by Sonny in this thread. They are less than half the price of what I paid here and the local nursery would not honor their warranty. After reading how the St. Lawrence Nursery handles their plants I can see why my original purchase of potted grape plants failed.

morgan

Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

January 18, 2011
3:51 PM

Post #8317744

Morgan,

I know how it can be when it comes to finding things for the garden and that is why I buy most of my stuff on the internet.

Your idea of putting a covered cage is a pretty good idea but I would leave the top off. The plastic opaque painters drop cloth would stop the cold wind from drying out your plants, it would also probably discourage rodents from snuggling up under the 3-4 inches of mulch that you should put around your blueberrys to help protect the shallow root mat. I would not put the top on because it might cause your plants to break dormancy prematurly. The little cages would also trap snow in them during the winter and provide a little moisture while also insulating your plants further. I think that would be great! I am going to do this myself!

When putting on your thick layer of mulch don't forget to pull it away from the trunk. I would probably put quarter inch wire mesh around the base in order to keep all the wee beasties out of the mulch. :)

Sonny
mraider3
Helena, MT

January 19, 2011
4:25 AM

Post #8318482

Good thinking on the covers Sonny. I had not thougth that one through. I was going to check on some pine saw dust for mulching at a mill down the road a bit, but I read somewhere that it should be aged for a couple of years. Ground up corn cobs was another idea I read about and I have a stack of those which I had planned to burn in the spring. Pine needles should be easy to come by as well.

Rodents don't seem to be a problem. We have a ferril cat, T-Gray, that resides in our shed and PK our indoor/outdoor cat which is the best mouser I have ever seen. Before PK we had mice in the kitchen and pantry as well as the garage and now we only see the dead ones PK leaves for praise before she eats them. Rabbits and moles are occasional victoms to these two cats, but its rare to see evidence of either. Birds and grasshoppers had better beware as well. Once the corn is up, it's PK's jungle. She lies in wait to attack anything that moves including me.

Just to be on the safe side it still may be a good idea to put up a rodent barrier. I have some four inch diameter corrigated plastic sewer pipe which I used for the fruit trees when they were younger. This would probably work as well as the screen and provide a bit more protection for the stems in the winter months.

Good thinking Sonny,

morgan
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

January 19, 2011
2:20 PM

Post #8319345

Morgan & Skellog,

If you are looking for plants that are hardier you might Jung's Nursery, http://www.jungseed.com/

Not knowing anything about your climate & topography I can just tell you about the things I have thought about concerning my choices in planting.

Winter hardiness: The University of Vermont had an interesting article on winter hardiness & chilling requirements. We all know about how devastating late spring frosts are to flowers & buds. But, why? The article talked about how plants get their juices flowing so speak with the warmer temperatures and the coming of Spring. What I did not realize was how much bud survival, (In apples) depends on having a nice even temperature transition. One 65 F day followed by teens can mean losing a whole year's crop. :(

I look at the difference between the front range of Colorado, (Denver & Colorado Springs) and where I live in Glenwood Springs and I can see the difference! The front range temperatures can be very eratic. 55 F one day and 25 F the next day. That kind of temperature swing can be very hard on even the "hardiest" of plants.

Dessication: When the ground freezes solid and the wind is blowing your plants lose moisture. If the ground stays frozen and the wind keeps blowing you may end up with dead, brittle twigs. That is why I like Morgan's snow cages, they block the wind and insulate not only the plants, but also the ground which allows the ground to stay warmer, (Lucid?) so the roots can absorb water.

I hadn't considered planting wine grapes, but after Morgan's idea about cages, I am going to give a few of the varieties from Jung's Nursery a try. We have a lot of old Itallian families in the valley who make their own wine, cello & grapa and they would be very interested to see how this all works out. After looking at my location very closely, I think I can do it. Too bad we can't grow Shiraz & Malbec grapes here. (Sniff)

Hmmmm, old Leo's lemon cello, watch out! So tasty, so smooth, soooo high in alcohal! Ouch! ;)

Sonny

skellogg
Sundance, WY
(Zone 3b)

January 19, 2011
5:33 PM

Post #8319671

Well, Sonny, thanks, I think, lol! Went to Jung Seed's website, like you recommended, and they have so many things that I want that will grow here! Wow! I'm gonna hafta get another job now, lol! Don't really mind more work so's I can order more, but, geez, I want to have time to spend in the yard and garden too, teeheehee!
mraider3
Helena, MT

January 22, 2011
4:36 AM

Post #8323690

Sonny, your comment on chilling made me think of a comment I read in a pdf document I down loaded on seed starting from the net. It is actually a book of about 300 pages which I have been reading now for a couple of days. One of the sections commented on chilling of new seedlings being an effective way to plant tomatoes and even pepper plants in cool climates. Although I don't do this intentionally, my house is kept rather cool and the area in which I start my seeds is the coolest area of the house. Once seedlings are removed from the heat mat they are subjected to temperatures of 55 to 60 degrees F, which is the recommended range for 'chilling' of new seedlings as suggested in this 'book'.

The timing factor in transplanting tomatoes and peppers is always of concern for me. I have in the past gone from my three inch peat pots to the garden cages. As long as I don't exceed the last frost free dates by more than 30 days it has been successful. Now I am considering potting up these plants and using a heated hoop house prior to transplanting to the garden in hopes of getting an additional 30 days. This may or may not work so I plan to have back up plants as always in the event this plan fails. The concern for either of these plants is 'plant vigor'. I'm not sure a whole lot will be gained by this procedure so I will have to do some plants as before to be certain.

I plan to try some similar experiments as well with cucumbers and mellons. I have yet to have any success with mellons and cucumbers are always a late season crop here.
skellogg
Sundance, WY
(Zone 3b)

January 22, 2011
6:46 AM

Post #8323903

I will be interested to hear how it turns out for you mraider! I have no luck with melons either, but have managed to do OK with cukes, as long as I get them started soon enough inside. I just need a greenhouse, especially since we have such a short growing season, lol!
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

January 31, 2011
5:47 AM

Post #8340161

I have heard from two different reliable sources that blueberries will do well in wine barrels, BUT you have to keep the roots from freezing solid. :(

I guess that shoots down that idea because I can's really move these wine barrels. I guess I will just put some two foot deep sections of 36 inch culvert pipe in the ground and fill them with an appropriate acid soil mix.

Sonny
mraider3
Helena, MT

February 1, 2011
4:43 AM

Post #8342199

Sonny, checked the price of culvert pipe...over $400 for one lenght of pipe and I figured on using two lenghts. Dropped that idea. Will simply just dig a large hole and fill it with the right stuff and go with the tomato cages w/o top covers for the winter time.

m
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 1, 2011
5:10 AM

Post #8342232

Morgan,

The culvert pipe was a good idea, but like you said it is very expensive! $52 a linear foot with a twenty foot minimum. Looks like a hole in the ground with the right soil mix is the way to go.

This Spring I will be doing other work in the lower garden with a mini-trackhoe so digging the holes will take about fifteen minutes.

Sonny
skellogg
Sundance, WY
(Zone 3b)

February 1, 2011
6:10 AM

Post #8342327

I wonder, could you wrap the wine barrels with insulation in the fall for overwintering? Would it protect them enough?
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 1, 2011
5:30 PM

Post #8343927

Skellog,

It may be good for some folks in milder areas, but I know that it just isn't enough for us. It is going to be about -15F here tonight which is about 30 degrees colder than normal for this date. What's worse is that a lot of our snow cover melted over the past week. :( I know I am going to lose something(s) tonight or tommorow.

The ground can hold a lot of warmth, especially with snow cover. If you try to insulate a wine barrel it will eventually will just freeze up like a rock.

Sonny
skellogg
Sundance, WY
(Zone 3b)

February 1, 2011
7:38 PM

Post #8344135

Sonny, I'm sorry that you lost most of your snow! That isn't good, especially with the bitter cold coming. So far we still have 2-3 feet in most spots of my yard, so not much danger of losing it in a hurry. But we are at 20 below now, and got down to about 28 below last night, so will probably get that tonight too. I just hope that my trees do okay, and hopefully my bushes too. Haven't seen some of my new bushes for a couple of months, as they have been totally buried under the snow. Can't even tell where they are, lol! I know that the insulation won't work for me, but then very little will work for 20-30 below, and we get that frequently in the winter. Come on spring! Getting really tired of the bitter cold!
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 2, 2011
5:40 PM

Post #8345837

Skellogg,

I know what you mean about the bitter cold, it was -9F this morning and they were predicting -22F for Wedensday night which would have made it the coldest I have seen it in the last 13+ years. Fortunately the weather gurus have revised our low to -10F. Craig, Colorado recorded -38F this morning! If it got that cold I would take a vacation day and wait for the phone calls to come to me.

Can't wait for Spring, or at least baseball's spring training. LOL :)

I know why blueberries are suseptible to cold now. They have a mass of surface roots because they like to grow in bogs. This is why mulch is essential over the winter, drip irrigation is recommended & I would assume light almost constant fertilization would be commonplace.

Sonny
skellogg
Sundance, WY
(Zone 3b)

February 2, 2011
5:53 PM

Post #8345861

Wow, no wonder I didn't have any luck with them, lol! That does NOT sound like anywhere in my yard, or even anywhere in town, lol! But that does make sense, especially when you consider the locations where they do so extremely well.

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