Cheyenne Botanic Gardens : Past Gardening Tips From our News Page

Preventing mice in the home

Mice in the home can cause big problems. They populate fast, often having a litter of up to 13 pups every 20 days! Mice can chew through electric wires, eat and pollute your food, and even carry the deadly hantavirus.

Mice can squeak through even the smallest openings. Inspect your home’s exterior perimeter looking for small openings and plug them with caulk, screen or steel wool. Use traps, cats, and baits as needed—but always keep baits away from children and pets.

Never pile firewood, debris, leaves or compost bins or piles adjacent to your home. This will quickly become habitat for mice who will soon find a way in. Sometimes mice walk right into the home through an open door. So, don’t leave your door open on the occasional warm day.

Yard chores before the cold is permanent

•     Before it gets really cold, do a yard-wide roundup of your tools, sprinklers and hoses.
•     Scrape the dirt off the tools and rub vegetable oil on the handles and blades to prevent rust and wood cracks.
•     Clean out your gutters to prevent basement flooding and to alleviate gutter damage and help the snow to dissipate faster.
•     Prepare your lawn mower for winter- remove gas and place the engine in a large trash bag
•     Safely store all fertilizers and pesticides in an area where there is no freezing – especially insecticides.
•     Disconnect your hoses, insulate your hose bibs or disconnect the water supply using an indoor valve (if you have one).
•     Store your pots (clay and plastic) in a place out of the weather
•     Remove all water timers and plastic nozzles– they crack when we get hard frosts.

Pruning and wound dressing

It used to be commonly believed that tree wound dressing should be applied to the cut area when pruning large diameter branches. However, research has shown that the practice of using wound dressings does not inhibit decay. They also do not prevent insect infestation or foster quicker healing. In fact, these wound dressings often slow the healing of the tree where the limb was cut. Sometimes it is simply better to do nothing to the tree wound.

Time to clean out the gutters

gutterIn fall, if your gutters become full of leaf debris, it can cause water to back up against the house and damage roofing, siding and wood trim. Gutter cleaning can be hired out for around $60 to $200 to clean gutters depending your home’s size.

You can also do it yourself with a ladder. If leaves are really dry, you can try using an electric blower to blow the leaves out of the gutter. While you are eye to eye with your gutters, check for for holes or damaged gutters and repair them. Plan another raking job after you blow out your gutters.

There are also gutter covers available at hardware stores that you can instal (or hire out installation). These covers prevent leaves from accumulating in gutters, while letting water through. Thus saving you time from having to do this yearly chore.

Perennial fall asters

Perennial fall asters make showy fall blooms and are a must for every perennial garden. IMG_2063They come in a variety of colors including shades of white, blue, red and pink. They also come in varying heights from 1 to 3 feet. They are virtually pest free and tolerate drought. Perennial asters do not require much in the way of special care except for the fact that they do best in a sunny location.

Experts advise against using weed fabric

The thinking of using “weed fabric,” also known as “weed barrier,IMG_5345” has changed. Experts no longer recommend using weed fabric as it only works for a year at best. Weed seeds soon blow in and the stone or bark chips over top provide perfect conditions for germination. The germinated weeds above have roots penetrate into the fabric, making them all the harder to pull. Once the fabric is down it is extremely difficult to remove.

In addition the use of weed fabric combined with a rock or pebble ground cover creates stressful conditions for existing trees, has been shown to lower the value of homes and is difficult to keep the area free of debris. After a few years the end result can be unsightly.

Tips for Farmers Market shopping

farmers market2The Cheyenne Botanic Garden brought the first Farmers’ Market to Cheyenne in 1980. It was the first such market in the state of Wyoming. We have since helped many other communities get their markets off the ground. In 1987, we spun the downtown market off to Community Action of Laramie County who runs it today.

Farmers’ Markets provide your best chance at fresh produce. If you are lucky you may be paying a lower price but that is not always true. So, really it is about the quality and freshness of the produce.
Here are some tips for shopping at a Farmers Market.

Growing cucumbers


Cucumbers are native to India and were introduced to North America by Spanish explorers. They require regular watering especially when setting fruit. They are also heavy feeders, loving rich soil and regular fertilization. There are two types of cucumbers: pickling types that have thicker skin and remain crisp when pickled; and slicers that are for fresh eating.

To maintain high yields be sure to keep the vines well-picked. If you miss picking even one fruit the plant will have greatly reduced flowers and thus reduced yields. Because most cucumbers have tendrils, they grow very well up a trellis or tomato cage. This is helpful if you want more yields in less space.

Your lawn is not a putting green

Avoid the short mown, putting green look, as it will cause the grass to succumb to drought, disease, increase your weeds, and cause it to die back.

If you think that cutting the lawn short will prevent frequent mowing, think again. Short mowing actually stimulates the grass to grow faster and thus more frequent mowing. Mow higher and the lawn will grow slower and healthier. Set the mower to 2 to 3 inches in height and mow regularly.

The importance of sharp mower blades

A lawn mower with dull blades may be causing your grass to have brown tips. Dull bladed lawn mowers also use 20% more gasoline, spewing out more pollution. Full blades also make your mower harder to push. Small engine shops often specialize in blade sharpening or if you are handy, you can try to sharpen the blades yourself. Learn how to sharpen your own blades here.

If your mower blades are really dinged up, then it is time to replace them.

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