Nursery News

Nursery Pot Recycling to End at Fort Collins Nursery

We are sad to announce that beginning January 1st, 2019, we will no longer be offering a recycling program for nursery pots. While this program has been extremely popular, we have faced skyrocketing costs as non-recyclable items and heavily contaminated plastics are frequently left in our recycle bin. If a load of recyclable material is too contaminated, it is diverted to the landfill, which is costly and contrary to our goal of reducing the flow of plastics into the landfill.

In addition to our challenges of keeping recycling loads clean, changes in the world of plastics recycling have also played a roll. Recently, China stopped accepting American recyclable products due to high levels of trash contamination mixed in with recyclables. This means it is much more difficult and costly for the recycling industry to meet the demand, as China was one of the largest global processors of recycled plastics.

Our current pot recycling program will remain through the end of 2018. While we do not currently have plans to replace the pot recycling program, we are exploring the possibility of hosting buy-back days for certain pot sizes and types. In the meantime, here are some steps you can take to help make sure plastics end up getting recycled and not tossed in the landfill:

  • You can recycle nursery pots through the curbside recycling offered by your local trash hauler! #5 sized pots (aka 5 gallon pots) and smaller may be included with curbside recycling.
  • Pots larger than the #5 / 5 gallon size may still be recycled at the Timberline Recycling Center, located at 1903 S. Timberline Rd. This center offers a wide range of recycling for all kinds of “hard-to-recycle” items and is open Tuesday – Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Currently the Larimer County Landfill only accepts plastic labeled #1, #2, #4, and #5. Plastics labeled #3, #6, or #7 are NOT currently recyclable. 
  • Keep contaminants out of the recycling bin: As it relates to nursery pots, this means they need to be emptied of soil and other debris.
  • Remember to place recyclables loose in the bin – recyclables bundled in plastic bags won’t be processed.
  • For more information on recycling in Fort Collins, click here.
  • For more information on recycling in Loveland, click here.
  • For more information on recycling in Greeley, click here.
  • For more information on recycling in Cheyenne, click here.
  • For more information on recycling in Laramie, click here.

In Praise of Pumpkins!

by Beverly Henke

What does the word pumpkin bring to your mind? I think of holidays, and pie, and of my own somewhat pitiful, but very sincere and prolific pumpkin patch. I think of all the pumpkins I’ve carved, both as a child, and with my own children and the memories that were created from those fun pumpkin moments. I saw a PBS special once on people who can best be described as obsessed with growing the biggest pumpkin in the history of the world. They cover their monstrous pumpkins with blankets and sleep with them at night, to make sure nothing bad happens, and I can’t leave out; “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!”

I discovered years ago, much to my delight, that cucurbits, (pumpkins, other squash and melons) actually love our alkaline soil here in Fort Collins. I don’t believe everything I read or am told, I have to test things out for myself. So naturally I had to plant some New England pie pumpkins, to see if it was true. It is! My first attempt yielded more than two dozen from a total of two plantings with 2 vines in each planting. I ended up with more than sixteen quarts of delicious pumpkin puree. That created a problem with how to use it. I had basically only thought of pumpkin as something to make pies or pumpkin bread from. I now know you can make; scones, pancakes, granola, cookies, and even curry with it. Oh, and my dog LOVES it! He had a near death experience and spoonfuls of pumpkin were how I got him to take his pills.

To grow pumpkins you need to have some compost amended soil, pumpkins don’t like cool ground, so I start them indoors in big peat pots. I also put a big square of black landscape fabric down where they will be planted for a couple weeks before I plant them. This helps warm up the soil. I don’t bother planting them in hills; that is only necessary where there is a lot of rain. They need regular watering and I step up the watering when the squash start to form. You can make “compost tea” by soaking a shovelful of compost in a 5 gallon bucket for a week. Use it to water and feed your pumpkins every now and then. In late summer you will get powdery mildew on the leaves of the vines (it makes them look silvery white), don’t worry about it. This is just a sign that summer is near an end. Start removing any new pumpkins that are trying to form, this will send the plants energy into making the ones that are already growing, bigger. When it starts to cool off water less and let the vines die. Do not remove the pumpkins until the vines are looking pretty bad and the shell is too hard to dent with a fingernail. Cut them off the vine with pruners, leave the stem on to prevent rotting. Take them in the house and let them “ripen” for a couple weeks.

Originally published October 1, 2012

There’s No “Right” Way to Garden

By Jesse Eastman

I’m often a bit surprised when people come to the nursery looking for a definitive answer to a question. They can get frustrated and sometimes outright angry when they get different answers to the same question depending on which employee they speak with. While this is an understandable response, it’s important to recognize there are many reasons for this. The science of horticulture is constantly progressing and many issues which we’d like to believe are settled are often still highly debatable. Other times, what may seem like a hard fact to some may depend a lot more on personal taste than on right vs. wrong. Most often, though, it’s simply a matter of there being more than one way to do things while still ending up with a desired result.

Scientific Gray Area

When it comes to the progress of science, there are several factors that hinder our ability to be in lockstep on a particular issue. One factor is simply incomplete information. When it comes to whether or not to remove the wire cage from a ball & burlapped tree’s root ball before planting, there are convincing studies done by exceptionally smart people that come down on both sides of the argument. On the one hand, there is a risk that the wires, left in the ground, may eventually interfere with root growth. On the other hand, the risk of wires damaging roots is very small, and the wire is often the only thing holding the root ball together. The process of completely removing the wire from a ball of soil that could weigh between 500-1000 lbs runs a high risk of damaging that root ball.

Another challenge is the self-correcting nature of scientific discovery. As our scientific understanding of a given topic grows, our practices must change. What you learned as a kid may no longer be valid in the face of new information. A great example of this can be found when you look at the history of soil amendment recommendations for new trees and shrubs. As recently as 10 years ago, we recommended that the soil used to backfill around a root ball when planting be comprised of 30-50% compost or other soil amendment. Since then, studies showed a much higher long-term success rate with only 15-20% amendment. The most current science supports eliminating soil amendment altogether in most cases, in spite of the short-term benefits of adding organic matter to the soil when planting. For a more in-depth explanation, read this article by Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott of Washington State University and The Garden Professors.

Fact vs. Opinion

People generally like things to be black and white, right or wrong. In horticulture, however, the line between right and wrong is not always so clear, and many times not that important. Rose pruning is a perfect example. Here in Colorado, most roses will suffer some degree of winter die-back, leaving us with some branches in the spring that do not leaf out and must be pruned. While some gardeners prefer to preemptively prune their roses in the fall, others prefer to wait until spring. Experience shows that it does not make a significant difference in the overall longevity of the rose whether you prune in fall or spring, but the outcomes for each approach can have noticeable differences.

Fall pruning allows you to dispose of rose branches at the same time as all your other fall yard debris (and if you’re busy working in the spring like we are, you get as much done in fall as you can!) This can leave a much tidier looking landscape through the winter. However, because the plants may not have died back as far as they were pruned, they may be shorter next season than they would have if left to their own devices, albeit a little bushier and fuller.

If you choose to wait until spring, you can selectively prune only those branches that died back over winter. This requires a second round of debris disposal, but ensures you haven’t removed any wood that was sturdy enough to survive the winter. The plants may get a little taller, but may be leggier as well. As you can see, the trade-off is based on your personal taste – the rose will thrive either way.

Many Paths, One Goal

Finally, we often give conflicting information because there is more than one way to accomplish the same thing.

You can grow delicious vegetables in raised garden beds, in containers, or directly in the ground. In-ground gardens require less materials to build, but drainage can be challenging and you’ve got a bit more work to do to make the soil nice and rich for vegetables. Raised beds and containers drain well and bring the garden up to you, so you don’t have to bend over as far to work the soil. You choose what soil to fill them with, so you can get good soil much more quickly. However, you’ve also got to build and/or buy the materials to build the raised beds or containers, so the initial cost may be higher. In spite of the sometimes dramatically different procedures involved in these various methods, the end result is still a big red juicy tomato!

Plant selection is another arena where the end result may be the same, but the choices that got you there varied significantly. If you want to plant a pollinator garden, you can plant tons of annuals like dianthus, snapdragons, lantana, and more, or you can plant all perennials such as hyssop, bee balm, coneflower, and honeysuckle. If your goal is to feed pollinators, either option will be wonderful, but the process is very different. Your annual flowers can easily be swapped for something different next year if you’re not pleased with the results, because you’ll be replacing everything anyhow. Your perennial flowers may take a year or two to fill in and thrive, so there is more long-term commitment, but less work in subsequent years since those plants will survive the winter and pop up again next spring.

In this modern era of instant information, it is easy to get stuck in analysis paralysis. Too much information makes it hard to decide what to pay attention to and what to ignore, and that doesn’t even account for the flat out wrong information that seems so popular. Successful gardening depends a lot on recognizing and adjusting for regional differences, a fact which is all too often overlooked when researching gardening online. It also depends on being able to distinguish between two apparently opposing pieces of advice to determine what will be best for you and your particular project. A phrase I repeat often is “The best gardeners in the world have killed more plants than anyone else.” There is a lot of trial and error in learning to garden, and through that process we learn and grow. If you find yourself confused or lost in a sea of advice, don’t panic! Just remember, there’s probably a reason for every piece of advice. If you can find out the reason behind the information, you can decide what’s best for you, and find your own “right way.”

5 Tips for Peach Success

By Jesse Eastman

Nothing defines these hot lazy days of late summer better than a sweet juicy peach. Did you that the only thing better than a Colorado-grown peach bought at a farmer’s market is a peach grown in your own yard? Peaches make excellent landscape trees, are easy to care for, and you get the freshest peaches imaginable! Here are 5 tips to help you successfully grow your own juicy delights.

  1. Fall Planting
    While peach trees can be planted successfully nearly any time of year, the highest success rate is found in fall-planted trees. The soil temperature stays elevated long after our daytime temps have dropped, encouraging root growth. The trees are going dormant, so they don’t need to spend energy supporting fruit and foliage, and can instead divert all their energy to getting a healthy root system established. This allows them to overcome transplant shock while they’re dormant and sets them up to grow like mad the following spring!
  2. Trunk Wrap and Winter Watering
    This advice is true for all trees, and peaches are no exception. Colorado winters are dry (even our snow has a very low moisture content), but the sun can still be intense. Use a trunk wrap to protect the bark from drying and splitting from November to March. Make sure to use products designed for this purpose, as improper wrapping may cause more damage than no wrap at all. Water your peach trees 1-2 times per month throughout the winter to prevent the roots from freeze-drying in the ground. This is especially critical for new trees that have been planted within the last 3 years.
  3. Watch for Pests
    Peaches and other stone fruits are prone to a number of pests in this region. With prompt treatment, none of these pests are particularly problematic, but left unchecked, they can ruin your dreams of homegrown peaches. Some of the most common pests include aphids, cytospora canker, and peach-tree borer. For more information on managing these pests, click here: http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/backyard-orchard-stone-fruits-2-804/
  4. Structural Pruning
    Fully ripe peaches are full of juice, and consequently can be quite heavy. Periodic pruning of trees helps ensure a stable structure that won’t break under the load of all its fruit and can prevent a litany of problems that can result from ugly limb breakage. Maintenance pruning can also help more sunlight penetrate the canopy of the tree, which encourages better fruiting. For tips on pruning fruit trees, click here: http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/training-and-pruning-fruit-trees-7-003/
  5. Fertilizer
    It takes a tremendous amount of energy to produce a good crop of fruit, so feeding your trees is an important step in guaranteeing an abundant crop. We discourage the use of any fertilizer other than a root stimulator in the first two years after planting (we don’t want to encourage limb growth that the roots are unable to support). The third year a peach tree is in your yard, it’s time to start feeding it. We generally recommend low-nitrogen fertilizers for trees and shrubs, our favorite is Jirdon Tree & Shrub Fertilizer (4-10-10). It is always a good idea to get a soil test done prior to major fertilizer applications in order to pick the best fertilizer for your specific soil environment. Here’s a great article from the CSU Extension on fruit tree fertilizing: http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/fertilizing-fruit-trees-7-612/. If you’re having trouble figuring out what’s best for your peach tree, just call us or stop in, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have!

Oh Hail!

We garden in Colorado! We know the heartbreak of the 5 or 10 minute storm that can undo 500 hours of hard work.

When hail strikes—what’s a gardener to do?

  • Wait a day or two. Let the sun shine and the anger subside. The damage will be easier to evaluate after some time has passed. This is a good time to work on a new margarita recipe!
  • Remove debris that could encourage the onset of disease.
  • Prune selectively. Remove broken stems and leaf parts. Even parts of leaves can be removed. Make angled cuts for a more natural look.
  • Feed your plants with a gentle nitrogen fertilizer. We recommend Age Old Grow or Age Old Kelp liquid fertilizer.
  • Watch for insect infestations. Bad bugs tend to pick on weakened plants.
  • Try Fertilome Triple Action, a blend of naturally occurring pesticides for your garden, or OMRI approved Safer Insect Killing Soap.
  • Re-evaluate plant choice and positioning. Fine-leafed plants generally tolerate hail better than those with large leaves. Many natives are well-adapted to hail. Position plants prone to hail damage under trees or on an east facing wall or fence.
  • Have a plentiful array of patio pots. Those that are spared can be moved into place while others recover.
  • This is why God invented ANNUALS. They can be purchased in full-bloom-and put in areas that need instant color and give INSTANT gratification!
  • Conclusion….Keep a hail-thy attitude, and say “What the hail-where are those margaritas?”

 

2018 Rock Garden Concert Series

Tickets are now on sale for our 2018 Rock Garden Concert Series at Fort Collins Nursery!  We have an amazing lineup this year with lots of great bands and community partners.  We’ve even added an opening act to each of our shows this year!  Please check out our complete schedule below and follow the links for more information and tickets.

Thanks and we look forward to seeing you at the shows!

Rob Drabkin 
with Brian David Collins
June, 14th
Benefits Project Self-Sufficiency
 
Whippoorwill
with Mike Clark
June, 28th
Benefits The Matthews House
 
Sean Kelly of The Samples
with Shaley Scott
July, 12th
Benefits The Vegetable Connection
 
HONEYHONEY
with Special Guests
Aug, 4th
Benefits The Growing Project

 

Press

2018

2017

2016

 

Here are some of our favorite memories from past concerts to give you a taste of what’s to come.  

Photo Gallery

 

Sponsors & Community Partners:

Two local specialty growers and their amazing plants

By Pat Hayward

Spring is here and that means we’re receiving deliveries from two of the region’s most talented local, independent growers: Kelly Grummons (The Cactus Man), and Kirk Fieseler (the “Conifer Guy,” Laporte Avenue Nursery). We thought you’d enjoy getting to know these two nursery folks and the unique plants they’re producing for local gardeners.

Kelly Grummons has been on the greenhouse scene in Colorado for over 30 years – as a grower at Paulino Gardens, head honcho at Timberline Gardens (now closed) and as the “Answer Man” in Colorado Gardener newsmagazine. Over the years, however, he’s spent much of his “free time” collecting and developing many incredibly beautiful and unique cacti and succulent selections.

If you’re like me, I don’t first think about prickly pears (Opuntias) when dreaming about adding cacti to my gardens, but I think that once you get to know some of Kelly’s hybrids, you’re sure to change your mind and will want to have them all. Starting with native species (mostly yellow- and pink-flowering), his goal is to develop new varieties with larger, more vibrant, long-lasting blooms that cover nearly spineless pads and with reblooming benefits.

Some of the new varieties in his Walk in Beauty™ series you’ll want to try (these have never been offered here before) include:

  • Al Parker: A beavertail cactus with deep purple-black pads and rich violet flowers late May through June.
  • Apricot Glory: A vigorous plant with large, nearly spineless pads and producing hundreds of warm apricot flowers with golden centers May-June. One of the most reliable rebloomers!
  • Blushing Maiden: Rose-pink flowers on a compact variety.
  • Chocolate Princess: Fuchsia pink flowers in May and June atop deep maroon/burgundy, nearly spineless pads. This variety often reblooms several times over the summer.
  • Colorado Sunset: Spineless, smooth green pads are topped with multicolored (orange, purple and yellow) flowers in May and June.
  • Garnet Glow: With its petite, spineless pads and smaller stature (only 6” tall), this garnet-red flowering variety is perfect for the smaller garden or large pot.
  • Hawaiian Punch: Hot pink flowers with glowing orange centers.
  • Mandarin Sunrise: Hundreds of mandarin orange blossoms cover the smooth, green pads May through June.
  • Ruffled Papaya:  A rare color in winter hardy cacti, the papaya-red, ruffled flowers appear in May and June, and often reappear later in the season. Light green, spineless pads.

He’s also brought us showy selections of tree chollas, with colorful blooms and iridescent spines. Later in June he’ll be bringing in some choice, hard-to-find southwestern species of agaves as well as additional varieties of cold-hardy cacti. Be sure to check in throughout the spring and summer for new deliveries.

 

Moving from cacti to conifers, we’re pleased to once again offer the largest selection in Colorado of locally-grown, hardy and adapted specialty conifers from Kirk Fieseler of Fort Collins. He’s been involved in landscape care, growing, and teaching horticulture at Front Range Community College for over 40 years. Passionate about native conifers, Kirk’s first challenge as a grower was trying to figure out how to propagate and grow our native bristlecone pines in containers, and a size easily handled by homeowners (something he’s still working on!) Though he enjoys all conifer-related activities, those involved with seed propagation (collecting, sowing, treating) and grafting are his favorites.

Kirk has written articles in Colorado Gardener and national journals on specialty conifers, which he defines as, “Any individual plant that’s noticeably different from the standard seedling population, or a genetic mutation that sets it apart. These can include dwarfness, foliage color variations, weeping habits, narrow growth habits, etc.”

Kirk’s specialty conifers are easy to find here at Fort Collins Nursery, just south of the rock garden plants, and include dwarf and miniature conifers, as well as larger-growing selections with interesting forms. Some of his favorites include:

  • Dwarf pinyon pines: These grow only an inch or two a year and are just as hardy and durable as the larger pinyon pines. They require very little care and will stay small for decades to come! Farmy, Tiny Pout and Tiny Rations, and Penasco are some of his favorites that we have in stock. (These are also part of the Plant Select Petites program.)
  • Swiss stone pine (Pinus cembra ‘Chalet’): Swiss stone pines are extremely cold-hardy and adapted to our climate but aren’t as well-known or used as often they should be. (Chalet has been growing in the CSU Arboretum for decades.) This selection was chosen for its dense growth and narrow, conical form – perfect for smaller gardens or landscapes. It’s also one of the softer-needled pines, having an almost “fluffy” appearance.
  • Single-needle pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla): Kirk grows several blue-leaved varieties, from dwarf forms (Blue Jazz) to larger-growing selections (City Park). Extremely drought-tolerant and cold-hardy, these stunning varieties will light up your garden year-round.
  • Dwarf Austrian and ponderosa pines: Two of the most dependable species for the area, these dwarf selections grow ½ to 1/3 the size of the standard species. Both are longer-needled and bulkier plants so are best used in mid-sized gardens and landscapes rather than smaller rock gardens.  

Kirk’s advice for planting and growing his specialty conifers:

  • Give them room to grow, and make sure they get adequate sunlight.
  • Dig an extra wide hole and backfill with broken up soil mixed with a just a few large handfuls of wet peat moss or compost.
  • Make sure they have good soil drainage.
  • If planting a small conifer in full, brutal sun place a small to medium rock or small boulder on the south side of the plant to provide shade for the crown of the plant.
  • Water every 7 to 14 days till established, usually after one or two growing seasons.

20 Tips to Prepare for Gardening Success

by Jesse Eastman

Last year’s canned tomatoes are nearly gone. The “fresh” produce at the grocery store is starting to look a little bit suspect. If you have to spend one more day dreaming about spring instead of actually doing something, you might just freak out. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Statistics show that in the month of March, 4 out of 5 gardeners are climbing up the walls, but only 1 out of 5 gardeners is actually prepared for the rapidly approaching gardening season (statistics may be completely made up).

When spring comes knocking, will you be ready to answer? Here are 20 tips to prepare you for success in your garden this spring:

  1. Choose your seeds – If there are certain seed varieties you just have to have, get them soon. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in our store, just let us know, we’re happy to place special orders and save you the shipping cost charged by seed catalogs.
  2. Start some seeds indoors – Make the most of the growing season by starting certain seeds indoors this winter. Use seed starting trays, seedling heat mats, and plant lights to get your seeds going. Once they have germinated, you can place them near a south-facing window for the most amount of winter sunlight. Keep in mind that even in a bright window, providing additional full-spectrum artificial light will ensure they don’t get too leggy and stretched out. Peppers and tomatoes are two garden staples that can benefit from this indoor head start.
  3. Select a garden site – If you don’t already have a garden area established, tour your property for garden locations that get lots of sun exposure. Most vegetables prefer at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Be sure to pay attention to nearby trees – they may be bare now but will leaf out and create shade later this year. Other important characteristics include good soil drainage and access to water.
  4. Determine the size of your garden and the placement of your plants – Draw a plan. Research how much space each plant will need to ensure adequate space. If you crowd plants too close, they will underperform. Also consider whether taller plants like corn or climbing vines will cast shade. While some plants may suffer in shade, some plants such as lettuce will thrive in a cooler shaded location.
  5. Build raised beds – Don’t have raised beds yet? Now is the time to find out what it’s all about! Raised beds can help improve drainage, can keep your garden tidier, and raise the surface of your garden so you don’t have to bend over as far.
  6. Check your supplies – Take an inventory of your gardening tools and supplies. Make sure your tools are clean, dry, sharpened and in good working order. Repair or replace any equipment that is in poor shape. Proper tool care not only ensures your tools work when you need them, but can save you money and can help prevent the spread of disease in your garden (clean cuts heal better than cuts made with dull blades). Were there tools or supplies you wished you had last year? Stock up now so your projects don’t get stalled because you’re unprepared.
  7. Read a book – An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so spend some time researching gardening techniques, new varieties, and other topics related to your gardening goals. It’s always fun to get some new ideas to implement in your garden each year. Some great all-purpose primers include Secrets from my Grandma’s Garden by Don Eversoll, How to Buy the Right Plants, Tools, & Garden Supplies by Jim Fox, and The New Vegetable Grower’s Handbook by Frank Tozer.
  8. Research irrigation options – Research options a more efficient watering program. Replace leaky soaker hoses, convert to drip irrigation, and group plants by their water needs so you’re not wasting water on plants that want less. A well-maintained irrigation system can save you loads of time and can help reduce disease such as botrytis and powdery mildew.
  9. Plan for weed control – Weeds in a garden are a fact of life, but there are steps you can take now to minimize their impact on your garden and your time. Sterile straw mulch is a great weed suppressant and can be easily composted at the end of the year. It has the added benefit of keeping sunlight off the soil, which reduces water loss. Planting your plants close together (but not so close they get crowded) can also reduce sunlight on the soil and helps prevent weeds from getting established.
  10. Eliminate pest hidey holes – Don’t leave debris lying around near the garden such as large boards or stones where garden pests like to hide. Think about barriers you can install, including everything from adding new fencing to planting border plants, such as marigolds and nasturtiums, to keep pests at bay.
  11. Create and maintain a compost area – When done correctly, homemade compost can be quite a benefit in your garden. You can create rich compost from your grass clippings, vegetable waste, egg shells, coffee grounds, and chipped woody pruning while keeping load of materials out of the landfill. To keep the pile aerated, turn it with a garden fork each month. Compost is easy to make, adds important nutrients and microbes to the soil, and helps your soil hold moisture levels.
  12. Prune trees – Late winter or early spring – before buds begin to open — is the best time to prune most deciduous trees and shrubs. Cut out any dead, diseased or damaged branches. Also look for crossing branches where bark can rub together and create a wound. If you are doing significant pruning or removing a tree entirely, consider the shade it used to create and what impact this change will have on your nearby landscape and garden.
  13. Prepare garden beds – Remove any remaining winter mulch or leaves and work fresh amendment or compost into the soil. Get rid of other debris that may have found its way into your beds. If you have raised beds, inspect them for rot and repair as needed.
  14. Fix fences, gates, and trellises – Winter can be rough on wooden garden structures. Take a survey of your garden and landscape to determine whether any repairs or replacements are needed before the growing season hits.
  15. Remove any winter weeds – While many weeds are annuals and die in the winter, some, such as thistle, bindweed, and many grasses are perennial and may pop up with no warning. Take care of any interlopers that have sprung up since your fall clean-up.
  16. Clean your greenhouse – If you have a greenhouse that has been idle all winter, it’s time to get it back into shape. Sweep out debris on the floor and benches and disinfect the inside of the greenhouse, including the walls. Wash out and disinfect pots and seed trays. Ventilate your greenhouse when the weather permits and let everything dry out well.
  17. Get your soil tested – Pick up a free soil sample kit and take it to the CSU Soil Lab to find out if you need to add nutrients and/or adjust the pH level of your soil.
  18. Start (or continue) a journal – A garden journal can be a gardener’s best friend. Keep your plans, drawings, and purchase receipts all in one place. Make notes of what grows well and what struggles. Keep track of what to do when. The best way to learn from your past mistakes and capitalize on your past successes is to make sure you’ve got good records.
  19. Get in shape – There’s no way around it, gardening can be hard work. If you’re like me, you might benefit from a little bit of exercise before you start in on the demanding physicality of garden prep. Start going for longs vigorous walks, or better, yet, a jog or a bike ride. Start doing some stretches so it doesn’t hurt so much when you bend over to plant your garden. Do some core exercises like planks, bicycle crunches, and leg lifts to protect your back from injury.
  20. Enjoy the outdoors – As the days get longer and warmer, take some time to appreciate just being outside with nature. Growing a garden is satisfying work, and each season brings with it exciting new opportunities, challenges, and rewards!

Fort Collins Nursery employees receive awards!

The Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association (CNGA) is pleased to announce the 2017 Horizon Award were presented to Shannon Eversley, CCNP & Alex Tisthammer, of Fort Collins Nursery, in February. The Horizon Award is given to individuals who, have been in the industry less than five years, exhibit the qualities and high standards exemplifying CNGA, and during that time have made a significant contribution to a CNGA firm. The CNGA Board of Directors voted to recognize Eversley & Tisthammer for their contributions and success as two members of a three-person outdoor management team. Their creativity and energy are part of what keeps local businesses moving forward. These two are continuously looking to learn and for more responsibility which is imperative to the growth of an organization. They helped to restructure outdoor management team to increase department functionality and they have an outstanding knowledge of plant material. They both have a great attitude and energy and are able and willing to work in many different departments.

Eversley & Tisthammer were presented with the award at the CNGA Industry Celebration
held during the ProGreen Expo trade show in Denver, Colorado.

Winter dreams of springtime bounty

By Jesse Eastman

GardenSketch3_WEBAccording to Greek mythology, Persephone, bride of Hades, returns to the underworld every year for a three month reign as Queen of the Underworld. When she goes, her mother, Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, despairs at her daughter’s absence, plunging us into a cold barren winter when no food can grow. Perhaps it is pompous of me to aim for something greater than god-like behavior, but I say that rather than despair, we should use these short dark days to plan for an ever more bountiful spring.

There is a wealth of knowledge that can be gleaned from a thoughtful and thorough reflection on the previous season’s garden. Better yet, take a careful read through your garden journal (if you keep one – if not, maybe this is the year to start). Take a walk down memory lane and think about what you want to change in the New Year.

Often overlooked is the right balance of which vegetables to grow. I never seem to plant enough carrots, and I can never resist planting more tomatoes and peppers than I know what to do with. Even a small patch of potatoes can have massive yields, especially in well-cultivated soil that allows for good root penetration. Corn, on the other hand, needs ample space and many plants to ensure proper pollination.

Perhaps this year will open your eyes to cut flowers. Gladiolas, cosmos, dahlias, and sunflowers all make great arrangements that can easily brighten any room, and they serve multiple benefits in the garden. Not only do they bring a veritable painter’s palate of color to the garden, but they attract a wide variety of important pollinators whose busy work in the garden is essential for a good harvest. You could even mix in a few well-placed perennials with your vegetables and herbs – coneflower, iris, and salvia all make potent additions to any garden. Maybe daylilies with their subtly sweet edible blossoms could find a place between the tarragon and basil.

Planning next year’s garden doesn’t just need to be a process of fine-tuning. My father loves to tell me “the best gardeners in the world have killed more plants than anyone else.” The only way to improve as a gardener is to take risks. Choose something you have never considered growing before and give it a shot. Okra was my flying leap last year. It is a gorgeous plant – deeply split maple-like leaves and showy cream-colored flowers – and it loves our long hot sunny days. Turns out you have to pick the pods when they are very small, or else they get exceptionally tough and borderline inedible. I’ll try again this year, and I’ll be a little quicker to harvest.

These types of reflections will make us better gardeners, and by reliving our horticultural exploits, we are reminded of the pleasures we derive from our labors. So while Persephone is hanging out with Hades and Demeter’s distress gives us a moment of respite from the toils of the soil, let us pour a cup of hot cocoa, pull out a pen and paper, and indulge in a daydream.

Originally published in January 2014