Water your lawn and garden. . .and plan!
Winter watering is important! Unless we have an unusually wet winter, trees, shrubs, perennials, ground covers, and lawn should be watered every four to six weeks. Check soil moisture levels during warm, windy, or dry periods. Wait for a day when the temperature is 40 degrees or more and the ground is not frozen. Water early in the day for about 20 to 30 minutes per setting. CSU Fact sheet 7.211
Planning ahead saves time and money. Find out about each plant you'd like to grow: Does it do best in full sun, part shade, or shade? How much water does it need? With that information, you can group plants with similar water and sun needs in the most appropriate locations. Plant and landscape information is readily available: Call the local Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, visit the library, or peruse the books and catalogues at Denver Botanic Gardens.
Plan the vegetable garden. Choose a site with at least six hours of sun a day. A level area or a gentle south-facing slope away from trees is ideal. Fruiting vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, melons, and squash need more sun than do leafy vegetables; root vegetables are in-between in sun needs.
Look for vegetable varieties that are early maturing and disease resistant.
CSU Fact sheet 7.600 lists varieties that do well in front-range gardens. Don't forget that because of our cool summer nights, days-to-harvest are often longer than indicated on seed packets. For a small garden, grow bush varieties of squash and cucumbers, or grow vine varieties up a trellis. Hybrid vegetable varieties are usually more vigorous and uniform than open-pollinated varieties and often mature earlier. Plant each type of crop in a different part of the garden each year to minimize insect and disease problems.
Starting seeds indoors. Seeds can be started in any recycled foam or plastic container with holes punched in the bottom for drainage. Wash the container and sterilize in one part chlorine bleach to nine parts water, then rinse. Fill containers with a commercial seed planting mix, then place them in a pan of warm water until the mix is wet. Sow seeds at the depth suggested on the package, and cover with plastic wrap, which will be removed when the seedlings start to show. After they are several inches tall, begin fertilizing the seedlings at one-half the strength listed on the fertilizer package. Although seedlings will grow in a sunny window, they grow best under fluorescent lights, suspended not more than two inches above the plants, for about 16 hours a day. Keep the seedlings evenly moist.
For more information:
© CSU/Denver County Extension Master Gardener 2010
888 E. Iliff Avenue, Denver, CO 80210
Date last revised: 01/05/2010