Cheyenne Botanic Gardens : Past Gardening Tips From our News Page


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 3/4 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

WBED4

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.

Getting a head start with potatoes

Chitting potatoes (also called “greensprouting”) refers to a technique that can reduce the time to harvest by 10 to 14 days. This is important in short growing climates like Wyoming. It is simple and all you need to do is place your store bought seed potatoes in a warm indoor area for several weeks to induce sprouting. Plant when the soil has warmed up to 50 degrees.

Don’t use potatoes from the grocery as they may harbor diseases. Instead, only use “certified” seed potatoes which are available at most garden centers or the garden section of department stores. They are normally around the size of a chicken egg.

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