Rolly pollies look like a miniature armadillo that rolls up into a ball when disturbed. The scientific name of their family is “Armadillidiidae,” for obvious reasons. While often thought of as pests, they are actually rarely harmful to plants. They mainly feed on decaying matter on the soil surface. However on occasion, they feed on young, seedlings. Discourage them by sprinkling washed and crushed eggshells, corn meal or diatomaceous earth around the base of your seedlings.
People are surprised to learn that rolly pollies are not insects, rather they are crustaceans. They are related to shrimp and crayfish, breathe with gills, and need humidity or moisture to survive.
Vegetable gardens can be utilitarian or they can be an attractive feature in your back yard. One way to dress up your garden is with a stylish homemade gate and/or trellis. You can construct a gate using recycled and/or upcycled materials. See more ideas for garden gates here.
Peat pots (pots made out of peat moss) are a product that people like because they are told to simply plant the pot with the plant.
In theory, peat pots and other biodegradable pots are a great idea and there are many options similar biodegradable peat pots (pots made out of coconut fiber and even processed cow manure). However, we find that it is a bad idea to simply plop these pots into your garden. The problem is that if the edges of the pot stick up above the soil level and the wind hits the edge above ground, then it has the potential to wick all the moisture out from the whole pot and can kill or stresses the plant.
So, if you want to use a peat pot or other biodegradable pot, be sure that just before you set the plant in the soil you rip off the exposed upper edge above the pots soil line so that the edge is even with the soil line in the pot. This will prevent the moisture from wicking out of the pot. Also be sure that none of the pot is exposed to the air after planting.
Often our alkaline soils slows down the ability of the roots to escape through the pot so it helps to poke some holes in the bottom of the pot to insure the roots can escape from the pot into the surrounding soil.
Rock spirea (Holodiscus dumosus) is a very drought tolerant native shrub reaching 6’ in height and width. It has fragrant leaves (when brushed against) and it produces sprays of small, white flowers at the ends of arching branches. After the flowers fade, the seeds are also ornamental, producing pinkish seed heads. Rock Spirea does best in full sun to half shade and may decline if watered too much.
You can often find it growing in its native habitat in the mountains west of Cheyenne.
There are many different types of basil you can grow. There are varieties with smooth, crinkled or ruffled leaves and some with purple foliage. There is a little leaf, dwarf basil and varieties that smell like cinnamon, clove, lemon, lime and licorice. The most widely grown basil for culinary use is Italian basil such as “Genovese.”
Basil likes it warm so wait to set plants out in early June. Regularly pinch the tips to get a bushy plant and always prune flower stalks. Basil is best used fresh as dried basil loses most of its flavor. It can also be frozen for storage.
Now is the perfect time to do some important maintenance to your clumps of ornamental grasses. Because these grasses are about to start growing again, it is a good practice to prune each clump down to a height of 10” so that the new growth is not interspersed with the dead brown grass blades from last season.
A fast, easy way to cut the ornamental grass is with a small folding pruning saw . Use the cut grass as a mulch on your perennial bed or add to the compost pile. The most dependable ornamental grasses you can grow on the High Plains include Karl Forester (all types), blue oat grass and blue fescue.
Click here for a great handout on ornamental grasses for our harsh climate.
Starting as of April 1, the Summer City Yard Waste Program will resume for the season. Those residents enrolled in the program will have their yard waste containers picked up the week starting on Monday, March 31. Billing will start on April 1. The program ends mid-November. Program users are reminded only grass, leaves and garden waste are allowed in the yard waste container.
Customers are reminded not to bag the material, and to not place large branches, limbs or brush in the yard waste container because bulky items prevent the container from being emptied. The Yard Waste Program is currently not accepting new customers because staff and equipment limitations.
For more information on the program, call the Sanitation Division at 307-637-6440.
Check out this handout on how to use indicator plants to schedule your outside plantings. Click here for our phenology planting schedule
These dwarf irises come every year with little care and they each year they come back more plentiful than before. They bloom through the unpredictable weather of spring and do fine in the snow and cold of early to late March. They can be planted in a lawn (even dandelion killer won’t hurt them) or a in bed. These dwarf iris go by the fancy name of “Iris reticulata,” for the bluish/purple ones and “Iris danfordiae,” for the yellow ones. They’re among the first to bring color to the garden at the beginning of spring.
They come from small bulbs planted in late summer or early fall and you can often find them sold as a mixture of yellow, blue, dark purple and light blue. Look closely at the bluish shades and you’ll see an intricate little pattern that attracts bees like a lit airplane runway.
If you had planted the bulb, ‘snow drop,’ in a sunny spot in your yard. You would have blooms today.
The snowdrop flower that comes from a small bulb is always the first flower to bloom in High Plains gardens (usually you see the first flower in mid-February through early March), even under a blanket of snow. While it is quite small, looking like three drops of milk hanging from a stem, it does wonders for the spirit when it blooms in the snow. It’s Latin name is appropriately “Galanthus” which means “milk-white flowers.”
These are not common bulbs to find but most good garden centers will carry snowdrops. They are also readily available via mail order. They are commonly sold in the Fall and should be planted prior to winter setting in. Make a note on your calendar now for to purchase them in late September. They bloom best and earliest in a sunny location.
The next flower to bloom in Cheyenne will be the early dwarf Iris reticulata (blue) and Iris danfordiae (yellow).