Cheyenne Botanic Gardens : Past Gardening Tips From our News Page

Save money, plant flower seed instead of plants

Bedding plants can be expensive. Instead, try sowing the seed directly into your garden bed or flower pot. They take just a little longer to come into flower, but it is well worth the effort.

These annual flower seeds can sown between May 10th and June 1st: bachelor’s button, calendula, cosmos, marigolds, larkspur, morning glory, nasturtium, poppies, sweet alyssum and zinnias. Always sow seeds twice as deep as they are wide and keep the area moist until they germinate. Be sure and provide a trellis for most morning glories as they grow as a vine. Mark the location where you plant seeds with plant tags to help you discern weeds from the new flowering plants. Unlike perennial flowers these annual flowers, once they start blooming, they will continue to bloom until frost.

Great Shrub for High Plains

In 1962, an accomplished gardener from New Jersey, Carol Mackie, noticed a shrub with one unique mutated branch having dark green leaves with an unusual white border. She sent cuttings of it to a local nursery who propagated it and made it available to the garden center trade. It is now prized for its pale rose, fragrant blooms and striking leaf color. This Daphne was been named after Carol Mackie who discovered it and it is a perfect hardy, small shrub for the irrigated High Plains. Check out the “Carol Mackie Daphne.”

Alfalfa as fertilizer

A great organic based fertilizer can be found at your local feed store. Both alfalfa pellets or meal make a great fertilizer. Alfalfa is high in nitrogen as well as other needed nutrients. (more…)

Scheduling the garden based on nature

“Phenology,” is a word describing a connection between climate triggered biological phenomena. It can be used to help you time plantings in the garden. Although it is not perfect, you can use around here with generally good results.
Here are some examples: (more…)

Never add lime to soil

Garden writers often instruct people to “add lime” to soil in order to attain a neutral soil pH (acid/​alkaline balance). Unfortunately, this advice comes from writers who live east of the Mississippi where their soil is acidic. They assume everyone has the same soil as they do. This is not good advice in much of the West. (more…)

Break out the tools for spring

As we venture out into the garden, it is time to also grab the old tools. If you need to purchase some tools or replace some old ones what should you look for?

Price, quality, feel, and guarantee are all important. The fiberglass handles  are heavier but last well. Look for cushioned hand tools with softer larger handles. Avoid buying cheap tools as they are more apt to break in just a year or two. If you are using old tools consider a lubricating the handles with vegetable oil or linseed oil. Also be sure you start the season with a good pair of gloves.

Garage sales can also be a great source for quality garden tools at a low price.

Time to start seedlings

Now is the perfect time of year to turn your sunny window into a seedling factory. Start with either new small pots or recycled pots that have been cleaned with soap and hot water. Also use brand new potting soil for seeds to prevent disease.

Botanic Garden volunteers transplanting and sowing spring seedlings

Plant seeds twice as deep as the seeds are wide and maintain moisture until you see germination. Allow for one plant per 1 – 2 square inches. You may need to move them to a larger pot if seedlings start to shade each other.

If your seedlings are stretching or leaning towards the light, then you should be increasing the light by moving the plants to a sunnier spot or placing the plants within a couple of inches of a regular cool white fluorescent light (no need for a grow light for seedlings).

By growing your own seedlings you can save a lot of money over purchasing plants later in spring. Also, you can select to grow seeds from a larger diversity of choices (i.e. early tomatoes, unusual varieties or heirlooms).

Say goodbye to grey concrete

Nothing can be more boring than grey concrete.
Are you planning for a new landscape walk, patio or any other new concrete? Try colorizing it.

Concrete can be dyed a variety of tones from terracotta to brown, black and even blue. Dying is best done during the mixing of the concrete. It can be ordered dyed or you can mix dyed concrete in small batches using Quickcrete® in a wheelbarrow. Concrete dyes are available at many hardware stores.

Commercial concrete companies also offer many dyes and specialized finishes that makes the concrete resemble slate, flagstone or even brick. These are best applied by a professional concrete finisher.

Existing concrete can also be dyed to create different effects.

White dust on pots?

What causes the white dust that forms on the outside surface of potted plants?

Many people don’t realize that clay pots are porous. As a result salts that naturally occur in our water or in our fertilizer often end up getting deposited in the interior and exterior of clay pots. Over time they can accumulate and may even burn the roots.

To get rid of these salt deposits on the pot, soak it in some vinegar water (1÷3 vinegar to 23 water) for at least an hour or more, then rinse the pot thoroughly. Also try using a steel brush to scrub off the salts. Then you can re-​​use the pot with no worries of burning the roots.

Wyoming’s first vegetable garden

Originally established as a private fur trading fort in 1834, Fort Laramie evolved into the largest and best known military post on the Northern Plains, before its abandonment in 1890. There the U.S. Army planted the very first vegetable garden in Wyoming there in 1880.  In fact, the War Department in 1818 specified that soldiers “will annually cultivate a garden equal to supplying hospital and garrisons with the necessary kitchen vegetables throughout the year.”

The War Department stated that every commanding officer “will be held accountable for any deficiencies in the cultivation.” That would have been a tall order for the tough climate at Fort Laramie.

The Fort Laramie Strawberry, is named for Fort Laramie and is still available today for High Plains gardeners. It is one of the hardiest strawberries available for regional gardeners. It was developed in Cheyenne at the former High Plains Horticultural Research Station.

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