Cheyenne Botanic Gardens : Past Gardening Tips From our News Page

Best place for a tree?

IMG_4703Q.     What should people look for in a good planting site for trees?

•      Don’t plant evergreens to the south side of the home as they will block the winter sun.

•      Look up! Don’t plant under house eaves or under a power line.

•      Imagine a big tree– trees grow– don’t block a window or a good view. Don’t plant too close to your house.

•      Block out negatives in the landscape such as wind, noise, neighbors, busy roadways.

•      Select hardy trees for your area– beware of big box stores selling non-​​hardy trees. Check with this list.

•      Save your money– you don’t have to buy the largest trees. Smaller, cheaper trees suffer less transplant shock and often catch up to the more expensive trees in a few years.

•      Don’t plant all the same tree variety – diversity is good and protects you from tree pests.

•      Mix it up – plant the fast growing trees with the longer-​​lived, slower growing trees

•      Plant at least one tree once a year– either in your yard or plant one for friends and family. Leave a legacy!

Growing calendula

The annual flower calendula likes the cool night temps of the High Plains. With hues of calendulaorange to yellow, it resembles a daisy or marigold, depending upon the type grown. It can be sown directly from seed right now, or occasionally found as a bedding plant. Don’t be surprised if it reseeds each year. It likes full to part sun and reaches 18″ in height.

Calendula does best in full to partial sun. The flower is edible and often added to salads. Skin creams often contain extracts of calendula flowers, as it has anti-​​inflammatory properties.

Garden trends

The Garden Media Group recently released their analysis of rising trends in the home garden. Here are some of the trends:
Pots are getting larger, succulent plants like hen and chicks along with cacti, suitable for both outside and inside as houseplants are big with gardeners.
Small fruit trees and berries are gaining in popularity. And finally, unstyled outdoor spaces that look wild and natural are becoming preferred over highly manicured landscapes.
Many of our local and regional garden centers are reporting that for those with little kids, fairy gardens are popular and supplies for creating such a garden are growing with this new interest.

Looking for some unique hen and chicks? Check out this catalog:

Summer weather predictions

The Old Farmers’ Almanac was spot on with their winter forecast. Click here to see what is in store for Summer.

Daily Hail Forecast

This is a great site for a quick glance at our chance for hail each day. Spring and Summer is when hail is frequent and devastating.

Click here to view a short video of one of two devastating hail storms in 2011

Hail Forecaster

This is a great site for a quick glance at our chance for hail each day. Spring and Summer is when hail is frequent and devastating.

Click here to view short video of one of two devastating hail storms in 2011.

What is our garden zone?

A lot of plants are sold by USDA “Plant Hardiness Zones,” so that we can more easily choose the appropriate plants for our climate. The USDA has long published a map that lays out zones across the United States and the lower the number the colder the zone.

In a new map, updated a few years ago, Cheyenne was moved from Zone 4 to a warmer Zone 5. However, we recommend that people stick to Zone 4, as the USDA mainly looks at winter temperatures and the map does not take into account other factors like wind, altitude, and precipitation. Many Zone 5 plants still have a difficult time surviving here.

Organic fertilizers

Q. Why use organic fertilizers?

A. Organic fertilizers are slower to release their nutrients so less ends up in the ground water and more fertilizer ends up helping your plants. They also are great at helping to promote beneficial soil microbes which in-​​turn helps you plants to thrive.

Q. Organic fertilizers are more expensive in than the traditional chemical based fertilizers. Is there any way to economize on using organic fertilizers?alfalfapellets

A. 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. Vegetables and flower beds need 2 to 5 pounds of alfalfa to every 100 square feet dug into the top 6 inches before planting. Add 34 cup of either alfalfa meal or pellets to each rose plant in April and early May.

You can also use pre-​​bagged or found well-​​decomposed chicken, sheep or cow manure, but don’t add more than an inch of this as it burns readily. We don’t recommend using horse manure as it has the potential of having a lot of weed seeds that will then germinate in your garden.

Growing Spinach

Spinach is easy to grow as long as you don’t grow it in the heat of summer. Started in early May, it matures in five weeks but only produces for a month and then goes to seed. You can start it from seed indoors in April, then set it out in early May and have an even earlier crop. The varieties that give you the longest harvest are those that are listed as being “heat tolerant.” Some heat tolerant varieties include: Bloomsdale Longstanding, Tyee, and Galilee. What is new in spinach varieties? Try Red Kitten Hybrid which sports red-​​veined glossy leaves.

Always save some seed for a late summer planting. If you sow more spinach in late August it will sprout and grow, but don’t harvest it. Rather as winter sets in do a light mulch around the plant and it will likely survive the winter. Come next spring it will start regrowing next April and you will be picking a number of harvests in early May.

To avoid a prairie seasoning crunch (dirt in the leaves), grow the smooth leaved varieties like “Tyee,” “Nordic” and “Space.” “Savoy-​​leafed” spinach has a bubbly looking leaf that is prone to holding on to grit. While it is showy, you really need to do a good job of cleaning it before consuming.

The best way to lay out a veggie garden


Wide bed gardening is the absolute best way to lay out a vegetable garden. This is because you will see increased yields in less space, less weeds, and your garden will need less water.

Wide bed gardening is a simple technique and it is all explained in this handout.

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