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I have one word for my garden this weekend…….discouraging!  We had so much rain/snow in May that the weeds (thistle, grasses) are taking over.  I’ve just identified two of my nemeses, can anyone guess the other one?  Critters!  The little darling’s (she says sarcastically).  So what happened this week?

Well, the ground squirrels or chipmunks have managed to dig into my greenhouse and have proceeded to strip one pot of chard, two separate pots of basil seedlings and have munched on at least one tomato plant.  They are also nibbling at my greens (mesclun mix, microgreens).  I’m not really sure what to do about them, other than fill the holes back in to make it harder for them to get in the greenhouse.

Last weekend, I was so happy as my lupines were producing flower stalks and getting ready to show their colors.  This week, they looked like this:

IMG_20150627_174752182I don’t know whether it’s the ground squirrels or deer that have managed to chew their way through all the flower heads on my lupine.  I only hope they will produce more.  The flowers are really pretty.

I weeded some of the large perennial garden today and planted Liatris and Hosta.  The thistle and grasses were taking over so it was time to pull them out of there.  I guess I’m the perennial optimist.  I keep weeding and planting and am hopeful that plants will survive.

There are good things about the garden this week.  Some of the iris are finally blooming and looking fabulous.  My peony came back in great shape and has flower buds.  The geraniums I planted in pots on the deck a couple of weeks ago are blooming.  The potatoes are going gangbusters.  The Purple Viking potatoes I planted a month ago are really tall!  I planted the potatoes in stages, so they are not all at the same growth stage, but they are looking great!  The carrots have germinated and are starting to get bigger.  The garlic are all up and doing well, although they haven’t produced scapes yet.  That will probably happen in the next week or so.  The peas in the walls o’ water are coming on.  It looks like they may flower soon and then we’ll have peas.  I think all of my roses that I replanted last year are coming back.  Hopefully, they’ll produce some flowers.  I’m also hopeful that with all the lush grass around, the deer will leave my garden alone and not try to eat all my plants.

I guess there is more good than bad happening in the garden this week, so that makes me happy.  I think now it’s time for a margarita!

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The last couple of weekends up here have been unusually warm for this time of year. In fact, I think this is the warmest I have seen it this early since we’ve lived up at this elevation. Last weekend I cleaned up all the pots on the deck so I could put out some annuals later this spring. I tried to go out in the garden, but it was too wet to do anything. This weekend, I figured it was time to get out and inspect the garden to see if the soil had dried a bit and what, if anything, I could do. Turns out…..quite a bit for March.

I cleaned out the greenhouse, getting it ready to move new plants in in a couple of months. I need to get out today and repair the plexiglass that broke out over the winter. Luckily, the pieces that came off, came off in one piece and did not break up, so they are reusable.

I noticed the lupines and daffodils around the greenhouse are starting to come up. I think it’s a bit early for them, so hopefully we won’t get any really bad storms. The bearded iris are starting to nose up as well. I hope they do well since the deer discovered them last year and ate the leaves. I thought that they were mostly deer-proof, but apparently not much is totally deer-proof up here.

In the big garden, the iris are starting to come up. The garlic that I planted last fall is starting to show a few stems here and there. I cleaned out the pea stems from last year and actually planted new peas in the walls o’ water. The soil is not frozen anywhere in the garden which is most unusual for this time of year. I also got some daffodil bulbs last November but it was too late to plant them out in the garden at that time so I overwintered them in the garage. They got a good chilling period so when I planted them out yesterday, they were starting to produce stems and should produce some nice flowers in about a month or so.

I still hope we get some nice spring snows up here. The added moisture will help, otherwise it will be a really long spring/summer up here. And I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. We’ll have to wait and see.

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So I finally have had enough with the weeds in my big garden. Last weekend, I got out the big guns to tackle the Canada thistle and apply another application to the smooth brome. These weeds are nasty. Thistle has roots that go straight down, then take a sharp right (or left) so you never can pull the whole root. And when you pull the thistle, it just sends up more shoots from the roots from hell. I took a couple of pics of the thistle plants in decline from the herbicide. I may have to spray again, but they are on the decline!
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I also harvested peas today. I got a full colander of snow and sugar snap peas. And last weekend, I harvested the same. I’m really happy with the peas. Since I put the walls o’ water around them, they have taken off. Plus, the rain we’ve been getting has helped a lot, too.

Pea harvest today

Pea harvest today

And the best news (because I’m a geek) is in my greenhouse. I have parasitic wasps that are starting to take care of the aphid problem. I hope I didn’t kill too many of the wasps with my insecticidal spray a while back. These guys are awesome! You really can’t see the parasitic wasps, they are so tiny. They are not like yellow-jackets at all! The parasitic wasps lay their eggs in the aphid, when the egg hatches, the larvae eats the aphid from the inside out, then pupates and exits the dead aphid, leaving aphid mummies. It’s really cool. The aphid mummies are golden in color and more swollen than a regular aphid and if you look at the back end of the mummy, you can see the cut end where the adult parasitic wasp emerged. And the best part is the parasitic wasps showed up on their own. I didn’t have to purchase them or anything.

Aphid mummies on a pepper plant

Aphid mummies on a pepper plant

Aphid mummies on a pepper leaf

Aphid mummies on a pepper leaf

I have a couple of tomatoes on one of my tomato plants in the greenhouse and lots of flowers on the eggplant. I hope it’s not getting too hot in there and the flowers are aborting. I opened the door a bit to help it cool down, so hopefully more tomato and eggplant flowers will set fruit.

It’s another good week in the garden.

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The July monsoons are officially here. It has rained at least two or three days this last week and at least once each day this weekend. What does this mean for the garden? I didn’t have to water much! The greenhouse veggies needed water, but the outside garden is doing great. The peas in the walls o’ water are flowering. The roses are settling in nicely from the transplant last weekend and have actually put on new leaves.

I got insecticidal soap and drenched the peppers and eggplant in the greenhouse this weekend. I will probably have to make another application, but I hope I put a serious dent in the aphid population. The beans, tomatoes and eggplants in the greenhouse have flowers on them as well, so I hope they will set fruit soon. I will fertilize the tomatoes next weekend to make sure they have enough food for fruit production. Last weekend I harvested a bunch of basil to dry down and it looks like next weekend I’ll have to harvest again. It is doing fabulously well in the greenhouse.

The iris got planted this weekend, which will be a nice show of flowers next year. The lupine that was feasted on by critters is really making a nice comeback. I hope the lupines flower this year. It will be a nice addition to the garden.

The potatoes are producing nice vegetation and I am seeing little flower buds on some of them. I’m hoping to have a great crop this year. The garlic seems to be doing well, but it has not produced scapes yet, so I think they are a little behind this year.

The peony that I planted on the west side of the house has bloomed! Yay! I planted this peony 3 years ago and had forgotten what color the blossoms were supposed to be. They are a beautiful ruby color.

Peony bloom close-up

Peony bloom close-up

Peony blooms

Peony blooms

I think I will have to use the grass herbicide again. I was told that smooth brome can be a bugger to get rid of, so that might happen next weekend. The first application may have set it back a bit, but it hasn’t totally killed the grassy weeds yet.

Lastly, the Rufous hummingbirds have finally arrived and are battling it out with the Broad-tailed hummingbirds for space on the feeder. I always assumed we had Ruby Throated hummingbirds, but doing a bit of research for the links, Ruby Throated hummingbirds are east of the Mississippi. They don’t migrate this far west in the summer. The Broad-Tailed hummingbirds are the ones that migrate to the Central Rockies. They look pretty similar to the Ruby Throated hummingbirds. Either way, they are just amazing to watch.

Have a great week and happy gardening!

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I should title this Weeding 101. I spent most of the weekend weeding one section of the big garden so that I could transplant all the surviving roses into one area where they will get regular water. I’ve been threatening to do this for a couple of years now, but this weekend, it’s finally done. I started on weeding on Saturday, finished Sunday and got the roses transplanted. The mulch and iris planting will have to wait until next weekend. Pulling weeds is challenging work!

Starting weeding where I left off on Saturday

Starting weeding where I left off on Saturday

Finished weeding!

Finished weeding!

Roses are transplanted and watered in.

Roses are transplanted and watered in.


These roses are what has survived the EarthKind Rose Trial from several years ago. Based on the tags I found when I was transplanting, there are 3 George Vancouver, 3 John Davis and 1 William Baffin still surviving. There are also 4 others that had no tags so I will have to check my plot plan and see if I can figure out which ones they are.

There are also iris blooming. Down along the Front Range, the iris are already spent and folks are dividing for next year. Up here, they bloom about a month or so later than down in Fort Collins or Denver.

Large clump blooming in the big garden

Large clump blooming in the big garden

Yellow iris by the greenhouse

Yellow iris by the greenhouse

The lupine that was mostly stems a couple of weeks ago is starting to rebound and produce new leaves. I don’t know if it will flower this year or not. The peony on the west side of the house still has its flower buds. I hope it blooms in the next couple of weeks. And last, but not least……the greenhouse. have some serious aphid issues. I will be getting some insecticidal soap this week to try and combat the buggers. They are on peppers and eggplant. I really need to get them under control so they don’t infest my tomatoes too.

Hope everyone had a nice 4th of July!

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……..that mountain gardening brings me to the point of frustration. I was hoping to get through this season without having to use my walls o’ water….for ANY of my plants. But today, I got them out again. Last weekend I planted some cabbage and aspabroc seedlings a friend had given me, thinking they would be fairly cold hardy and could withstand the cool temps at night. I was wrong! Last Sunday we had a freeze event that toasted some of the leaves, the intense sun up here burned leaves on a couple of them and now something is feasting on them. So in an effort to save what little plant material is left, I got out the walls o’ water and put them around the upside down tomato cages that I set over the plants. All this in an effort to provide a bit of warmth to the soil and the plants, protect them from the hellatious winds we are having up here and provide protection from predation. I also put walls o’ water around my pea seedlings. They seem to be doing ok with the cool weather, but I did notice something has been nibbling at them. I would really like to harvest some peas this year.

Another frustration is the weed situation. Every time I think I am making a little headway in digging them out, we get rain or snow and they flourish. I think I am going to have to resort to some grass selective herbicide to combat the smooth brome that has become one of the MOST noxious weeds in my garden. A grass selective herbicide won’t hurt my broadleaf plants, but I will have to be careful around my bearded iris, garlic and remaining daffodil leaves. I’ve hesitated to use herbicides, but this grass keeps finding its way into my garden via very strong rhizomatous roots and prolific seedheads and it is so hard to keep ahead of it.

Which brings me to my last frustration of the day…….frost! We had a frost event last night. I watered my potatoes yesterday and most all of them had sprouted. The ones that had sprouted last weekend, I hilled up again and they had pushed their way through the soil. The other spuds that had not sprouted last weekend were just starting to nose up this weekend. I went out again this morning to water and noticed the potato leaves looked water-soaked and were a much darker color. Guess what? Frost! It did get cool yesterday afternoon but I didn’t think that it was going to frost. I should know better. I’ve lived in the mountains now for 12 years. But I am still surprised by weather events. Hopefully the potatoes have enough energy to put out some more leaves. I did notice that under the darkened leaves were some leaves that were protected, so I’m hoping they will thrive.

All that being said, you may ask why do I continue to garden up here? Simple…..I like to grow plants. Nothing tastes quite like freshly harvested vegetables from your own garden. And it is a challenge, but I’m going to keep trying.

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Where does the time go? Seems like just yesterday I was planting the garden. But now I’m in the midst of harvest and loving it. This is actually the latest that I’ve harvested potatoes or anything else out of my garden, but we have not had a hard frost yet. Plus, we’ve been getting some nice rain showers pretty much every afternoon, so that has helped with the outside veggies. In some ways this is good, it means that the growing season is a little bit longer, but I am not sure how this bodes for the fall/winter season.

Today, I finished harvesting the potatoes. I started about a month ago and just harvested one tube of Yellow Finns. The following weekend I harvested the Desiree, Red Pontiac and Kennebec potatoes. I skipped harvesting on labor day weekend and this weekend, harvested Nicola, Crackled Butterball, Colorado Rose, Sangre, Purple Viking, Bintje, Carola and Masquerade. Some varieties did better than others. I only got 4 Purple Viking potatoes, but they also had not sprouted when I planted them, so I think they were behind from the beginning. The yellow flesh potatoes seemed to do well this year. And the reds did good for as late as I planted.

I did learn a few things from planting in the tubes such as: the smaller the diameter of the tube, the fewer seed potatoes need to be planted in it (it’s ok to plant the same variety in a couple of tubes); putting plastic around the tubes kept the soil fairly moist (and the wind didn’t dry them out so fast) since I only watered once a week; the tubes encouraged a lot of top growth of the potatoes which, even though we were getting rain, prevented much of that moisture from reaching the soil in the tube. All things considered though, I will be planting potatoes in the tubes again next year. There was little to no predation by critters, they could not come up from under the soil and there wasn’t any deer browsing either. That said, it has been raining and I think there is other preferred forage for the animals this year.

I really liked the idea of planting in the tubes, so I made a few extra tubes and planted carrots, parsnips, zucchini and onions in tubes as well. I harvested a few carrots today, mostly to thin them so the others can get bigger. But I figured that the tubes might be good for these root and bulb crops. We’ll see what I end up with when I am finished harvesting everything.

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