Q: Do I really have to pinch off my tomato flowers at this point?

A: Although it can be hard to do (mentally, not physically), pinching off any flowers on your tomato plants is a good idea in August. At this point, the fruit that might develop from those flowers will never have enough time to grow and ripen before our average first frost (it’s coming sooner than you think! Usually it’s around Oct 10…). Using your thumb and index finger nails, you can pinch off the flowers right where they attach to the plant. This is also a good idea on any other nightshade plants you have in your garden, such as peppers and eggplants. Doing this encourages the plant to direct its energy into growing and ripening the fruit it already has. (more…)

This is the perfect time of the season to take care of mulching your vegetable garden. Often gardeners take time to mulch their perennial, shrub, and other beds, but they don’t think about mulch in their veggie beds. Given that your vegetable beds likely use the most water of any areas in your garden, mulching can go a long way in helping conserve water, keeping weeds under control, and in keeping your veggies happy with more consistent moisture. Here is a quick primer on different mulch materials you might consider:


Black Plastic Mulch

Black Plastic Mulch

Black plastic
This type of mulch is used very early in the season (typically being put down in April) to warm up the soil for plants that will be planted later, such as tomatoes, peppers, and squash. If you are going to use plastic to warm the soil, be sure to use a thick plastic (5 mil or so). Don’t use plastic garbage bags since they aren’t thick enough, will tear easily, and will soon be blowing around in your garden in the spring winds. Instead, check in the painting supplies section of your hardware store for drop-cloth quality black plastic. Usually holes are then cut in the plastic in mid-to-late May to accommodate transplants. If the plants haven’t grown large enough to shade the plastic once temperatures are routinely in the 80’s and 90’s, remove the plastic mulch and replace it with one of the following organic mulches. (more…)

rosss_tomatoes2Q: How much sun do I need for my new veggie garden? Does it matter what time of day the sun hits it?

A: Due to our current economic downturn, more families are starting a new garden within their back yard this year. There are certain prevailing rules that govern gardening success. Good soil is of primary importance. Another key fundamental is, simply said, right plant – right place.

The orientation of your home should guide where to site a new garden. Tall trees, perimeter walls and fences can play an equal role. Plants need to capture enough sunlight to produce well. Veggies need to bask in 6 to 8 hours of direct sun each day.

There is something about Colorado Springs weather in the morning here that needs emphasis. The morning is often the calmer time of the day. Cloudless skies and slow breezes offer the purer experience of sunlight and warmth for your vegetable garden. (more…)

The Colorado Master Gardeners of El Paso County are excited to have two new ongoing features to offer in our blog for the 2009 growing and blooming season. Visit often or add us to your RSS feed so you don’t miss a single post!

Native Plant Fanatics – A group of, you guessed it, native plant fanatics will be posting interesting plant profiles in addition to other information on native plants in our area. Watch for tips on choosing and growing natives in your landscape, beautiful photos, occasional alerts of interesting plants blooming in a specific area in or near town, etc.
Click on the “Native Plant Fanatics” category link at the right for all of their posts.

The Veggie Gang – A team of vegetable enthusiasts will post ongoing tips, thoughts, and observations on vegetable gardening in the 2009 season (our season is different every year!). This team gardens in a variety of conditions and situations, from the gopher and vole populated areas in the north part of the county to the sunnier climes of Security. Click on the “The Veggie Gang” category link at the right for all of their posts.