By Denny Schrock, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension agent, horticulture
Colorado gardeners are at an advantage in making New Year's resolutions. As long as the winter winds howl, there's little chance you'll have to do anything about them.
Pity Arizona gardeners. They'll have to be out in a month or so making good on their intentions.
Here are a couple of resolutions, however, that you can make and do this winter.
Order garden seeds early and keep a copy of the order. This one sounds dangerous. We might have to work on it before the crocuses start blooming. The seed catalogs are piling up on the coffee table. Maybe the order can go together on one of these blizzardy January days.
Resolve to order just enough for this year's garden. When leftover seed is kept in the hall closet until next year, the germination and vigor of the seedlings are never quite as good as they were the first year.
Check with neighbors to see if they want to split an order of things you don't need much of -- zucchini, for example. On second thought, consider splitting any seed order with them except zucchini. Where else can you get rid of the excess next August?
By ordering early, you won't have to accept substitutes on the order. If you're new to the area or new to gardening, call the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension office in your county. You'll receive a list of suggested varieties and plants for this area.
Make a long-range home landscape plan and stick to it. Instead of picking up whatever is on sale at the nursery, dragging it home in the van and then trying to decide where it will fit, do some planning this winter. Designers at local nurseries have more time for individualized assistance in the off-season.
Ask: Do areas of the yard need a windbreak? January is a good time to check for snow drifting patterns. Do overgrown trees and shrubs block out the winter sun? Try replacing them with low-growing, compact versions. Did certain areas of the landscape trap heat last summer? Perhaps a shade tree will correct that problem.
Resolve to include at least one tree in the plan that no one else on the block has planted. Diversity is the key to urban forest disease control. With a variety of species planted, no single disease or insect can wipe out all of the neighborhood trees.
Resolve to cut down on the expense of watering by using xeriscape. Check with Cooperative Extension and knowledgeable nursery personnel about water needs of specific plants. Further resolve to improve soil by adding organic matter, use mulches for weed control and to cut down on evaporation, and to design an irrigation system that will apply only the amount of water needed.
Now, if only we could lose those ten extra pounds. . . .
Photo: Judy Sedbrook
© CSU/Denver County Extension Master Gardener 2010
888 E. Iliff Avenue, Denver, CO 80210
Date last revised: 01/05/2010