How crazy has this gardening season been? First, we had an early spring freeze that damaged some of the fruit crops and early spring flowers. Then we had a killing frost June 8. Then we go from high temperatures in the upper 80s to freezing temperatures in a matter of a day.
Would it be an understatement to say this has been one crazy year? I think most people are actually anxious to see this hot, windy, smoky gardening season come to an end.
But the great thing about gardening is that we grow through the experiences and challenges and roll up our sleeves and say, “better luck next year.” So, let’s talk about some of the things that may have occurred in your landscape and how to overcome them next season.
The average first light frost date of 32 degrees is Oct. 7 in the Montrose area. I hope you didn’t get nipped by the frost earlier this week. I know many people covered their gardens just in case. Regardless, root crops and cold hardy vegetables should be just fine. Translucent colored tomatoes and peppers signal they were definitely hit by the frost and are history, but those that survived the cold could be picked and kept in a cool location to ripen. Did you know that some apples actually become even sweeter following a light frost, so there may be some good in the craziness?
Last year we had a hard freeze with temperatures around 13 degrees on Oct. 11. This actually froze the leaves right onto the trees. When spring rolled around, the leaves were still clinging to some of the trees. Most trees managed to put on new growth and overcame.
However, I still see a lot of trees, especially maples, that still look discolored and a little deformed on the east side of the tree. These trees are going to go into winter a little stressed, so you might want to keep an eye on them during the winter months and make sure they don’t become too dry. A good soaking before the irrigation is blown out for the season will help.
Pinions had a rough summer with Ips beetle attacks. If your tree was one of the unfortunate ones to be attacked and is dead, or mostly dead, remove it this fall or winter. The beetles over winter will be in the infested trees and will emerge next spring. Because they’re attracted to fresh cut wood, this is one job you don’t want to put off until next spring since it will attract beetles to your remaining pinions and even your neighbor’s trees.
Just in case you ran into a few setbacks in your garden this season, perhaps this may help. If your potatoes or cucumbers have a hollow center, it’s due to nothing more than uneven watering. Mulching and trying to keep the soil from becoming too dry or wet will help prevent the problem next season.
Some varieties of cucumbers are more prone to “hollow heart,” so if this is a continual problem, you might want to check the seed packet next spring to choose a variety that is less prone to hollow heart.
Maybe you’ve experienced bitter tasting cucumbers. This is also a result of dry soil or the cucumber becoming too mature. Once again, mulching and consistent watering will help alleviate this problem in the future.
Carrots that appear to have “multiple legs” are another common problem. This can happen if your soil is compacted. The poor little carrot wants to grow deep and straight, but the soil is just too hard. Amending the soil in the spring or planting cover crops this fall will help improve the soil and allow you to grow happy carrots in the future. You may want to choose shorter carrot varieties until your soil improves.
This is definitely apple season, but worms in apples are probably the biggest problem that gardeners have when growing fruit. Spraying the apples for coddling moths a couple times throughout the growing season should solve this problem in the future. Traps can be somewhat effective but coddling moth control needs to begin shortly after the flowers fall from the tree next spring.
If the skin on your apples looks like they have a road map of tan patterns or if your pears have dark crusty areas, it could be the result of powdery mildew. Spraying the tree with dormant oil next spring and raking up the leaves this fall will help next year’s crop.
It’s time to reduce the amount of water your Austrian pines, peach and globe willows are receiving. Reducing the water signals the tree to start shutting down for winter.
This is a great time to divide and transplant crowded spring and early summer blooming perennials. However, iris and lilies should be transplanted after they’re done blooming in the spring.
If you managed to get through this year of gardening with a green lawn and healthy plants, give yourself a great big pat on the back. You overcame a bunch of obstacles and deserve a big “way to go!” If you weren’t quite so fortunate, don’t give up. Challenges keep it interesting.