clematis.pngQ: My neighbor told me I need to prune my jackmanii clematis now. Is he right? How much do I cut back? This is a new plant for me and I don’t want to lose all those gorgeous flowers.

A: Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ belongs to the group of clematis cultivars that bloom on new wood (stems that start growing on the plant each spring). If left alone, the plant will become thin at the base, and over time it will be riddled with dead stems instead of the lush flowers we associate with healthy clematis. (more…)

pruning1.pngQ: Recently I noticed some crossed branches that are rubbing together in my green ash tree. I know this isn’t good for the health of my tree. I couldn’t see it last year when the tree was in leaf. Can I trim back these branches now?

A: Late winter pruning may be the best time to prune many deciduous trees. Dead, diseased and damaged wood can be removed anytime of the year as it’s needed. Pruning during the dormant period minimizes sap loss and subsequent stress to the tree. Also, by pruning now you’ll reduce the risk of fungul infection or insect infestation. And, as you noticed when the branches are bare it’s much easier to see where pruning is needed. The key is to prune the unwanted branch while protecting the trunk wood. (more…)

Does the long cold days of winter have you down and praying for Spring to come soon?  Here is an easy project you can do during the winter months and also year-round.  Growing herbs indoors during the winter can help you survive the yearning to go outside and do some gardening.  There are various methods and herbs that are grown successfully indoors, the limit is just your imagination.

Prior to the planting process think about what herbs you use on a regular basis.  This will help you decide which herbs to select to grow indoors.  There are many herbs that grow very successfully indoors like; chives, basil, dill, thyme, oregano and many more.  Some herbs like horehound and fennel do not do well indoors. (more…)

lettuce.jpgA great indoor project for gardening in winter is growing lettuce. Yes, you can grow and enjoy homegrown lettuce even when it is below freezing outside. In fact, some gardeners keep lettuce growing year round! Other gardeners enjoy just a bit of a break from the gardening season, but most gardeners I know are once again eager to be growing something by mid-winter.

If you’d like to grow your own lettuce inside, here is what you will need:
– potting soil
– a small container, such as the plastic containers much produce now comes in at the grocery store (anywhere from 5 inches by 8 inches or larger)
– lettuce seeds (see tips below)
– a warm spot to germinate the seeds
– a fluorescent light fixture with two 40-watt cool bulbs hung over a shelf
– a tray for placing underneath your container
– a timer for the light fixture (more…)

When the seed catalogs on my desk are stacked as deeply as the fresh fallen snow on my driveway, my green thumb starts to itch.

It is too early to start seedlings for the vegetable garden but not too early to grow edible sprouts. In fact, edible sprouts can be grown year round, anytime, anywhere, and a crop may be harvested in 3-to-5 days.

Sprouting is the practice of soaking, draining, and rinsing seeds at regular intervals until they germinate or sprout. About all that is needed is a quart jar, cheesecloth, and a rubber band to secure the cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar. More glamorous sprouting kits, and organic seed, may be purchased at local garden stores or from assorted sellers on (more…)

winterrose.jpgRoses need special care to survive winter in Colorado. Insulating roses from temperature fluctuations helps their natural defense system operate properly. It’s not cold weather that damages roses; it’s the see-saw slide between warm and cold days and nights.

Proper winter rose protection should actually begin at the end of August. Stop fertilizing at this time and gradually reduce water. Roses will begin the hardening off process which prepares them for dormancy. In November, once night temperatures have consistently dipped to 20 degrees, prepare roses for winter. Cut down any high canes that could break in high winds or heavy snow. But don’t do any serious pruning until mid- April. (more…)

Q: I have seen people watering their lawns even though it is November! Aren’t we supposed to stop watering once temperatures go below freezing?

A: When it comes to gardening Colorado has a lot of challenges – especially in winter. Dry air, low precipitation, desiccating winds, little soil moisture, and fluctuating temperatures are the norm. Our driest months occur during winter, and many woody plants have shallow root systems which cannot tap into the underground water supply.

Landscaping is a major investment and in order to protect that investment, watering in winter is a must. Trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials can be damaged if they do not receive supplemental water. Newly established lawns are especially susceptible. Plants that receive reflected heat from buildings, walls and fences are also vulnerable to damage. And, windy sites require additional watering. (more…)

lettuce.jpgQ: I had a great time growing my own vegetables and lettuce this summer and want some advice on expanding my garden next year. Where do I begin?

A: Whether you were a first time vegetable gardener or an experienced Front Range gardener, this is a great time to review your current gardening season and make some notes for next year! Evaluate your garden using the criteria listed below.

Performance: Many types of vegetables perform superbly in the Pikes Peak area. Cold weather crops such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower excel. Peas and potatoes may be planted before last frost and thrive. Spinach and lettuce planted successively provide salad greens all season and root crops such as carrots, beets and turnips are always dependable. Zucchini and beans produce more than we can eat or give away. Tomatoes, peppers, chilies are a bit more difficult to grow in the area; but not impossible. Learn from your garden this season and apply that wisdom to your garden next season. (more…)