CO-Horts

CO-Horts

Friday, December 28, 2018

A Gardening Resolution for 2019



Posted by: Alison O'Connor, Larimer County Extension

Image result for 2019 images

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but I do like to make goals. My typical resolution is something silly, and generally something I already do. So I'll make a "resolution" to eat more chocolate...or go to exercise class (because of the chocolate consumption)...or play golf as much as I can. I already do these things, so my resolution stays part of my routine. Easy!

But I like to make plans for the vegetable garden, since it's a blank slate every year...and I'm not a great vegetable gardener. I always try to grow something new (for me) or different. I'm not a tomato eater, so having tomato plants isn't a priority. For awhile it was trying to grow the biggest zucchini, but the local Larimer County Master Gardeners proved they are far better at that. FAR BETTER. It's embarrassing to bring a puny seven pound zuke, when they show up with ones weighing over 12 pounds.

For two years I grew Indian corn, because I fell in love with 'Glass Gem'. And it was fun! I had a bumper crop of Indian corn. Unwrapping each husk was a surprise (like those LOL Dolls that are all the rage). I planted two rows, six in each row. At the end of the season, I had enough to make a wonderful wreath for fall decor.
'Glass Gem' Indian Corn
I was so proud of my harvest!
For the last few years I've grown potatoes in fabric bags. While easy, I find my interest in keeping them watered all summer to wane around the end of July. But even with my limited inputs (only water, rarely fertilizer), I had a pretty good crop of potatoes. Even Hazel the beagle approved!
Ten pounds of potatoes from two containers.
Last year I decided to grow birdhouse gourds, because I saw these crafty chickens and wanted to make them for holiday gifts.
Birdhouse gourd crafty chickens!
And while the gourd vines grew great, the incessant hail didn't bode well for the fruits. I had hail four times in 2018 and it was brutal. These vines are so tender and the big leaves just couldn't keep up with the damage. The final straw was a doozy of a hailstorm in late September that decimated everything, so I had to harvest the gourds early. They were very, very green, which is not the way to long-term preservation.
Bumper crop of too-green birdhouse gourds.
Let's just say that the combination of the hail pockmarks on the gourd flesh and the fact they didn't properly dry led to a rotting, oozing mess. Needless to say, no one got any crafty chicken gourds for Christmas this year (maybe people are relieved?). "Wow...thanks Alison...I just don't know what to say....".

So I'm trying to think of what to try in 2019. I have room in the garden, since there won't be zucchini or corn. I was thinking about miniature pumpkins because they are so cute--and can be used in many ways in the home and garden. I have to eliminate sweet corn, since the garden is adjacent to the chicken coop and I don't want any raccoons in the yard. Any thoughts? What have you grown that was new and exciting?

11 comments:

  1. If you like cantaloupe, try Minnesota Midget. A very short-season, space-saving, personal size melon with 4-inch fruit. As a single serving desert, cut in half and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the seed cavity.

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  2. I've got to agree with the Minnesota midgets!

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  3. Chamomile isn't a vegetable but I recommend giving it a try. The plant will attract some pollinators and you can dry the flowers for tea. Put in a cute jar...chamomile tea for holiday gifts!

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  4. Melons and tea are great ideas! I'll keep you posted and what woos me from those alluring seed catalogs.

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  5. I for one, would have loved a birdhouse gourd.I have several but none are as cute at those pictured. I know Alison's would have been very artistic as well. DARN! Try em' again Al! Moms

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    1. Good thing I bought a couple properly dried gourds at the farmers' market! You might get a crafty chicken :)

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  6. I have been wanting to try 'On Deck' sweet corn, supposedly the first sweet corn developed for container gardening. Have you tried it ? I am not sure if growing sweet corn in a container on my deck would still protect it from the critters - mostly raccoons - but thought it might be less susceptible to marauders.

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    1. I had a gentleman who lives in Estes Park grow 'On Deck'. He was a corn breeder and missed good Midwest sweet corn. He said the flavor was pretty good for a short-day sweet corn that could be grown in a container. I think it's worth trying!

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  7. PS - Your 'Glass Gem' corn was beautiful !

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  8. My resolution this year is to work on my lawn. I'm a reader from Wisconsin. I have no problem growing great vegetables most years. Tomatoes and corn come easy for me, and zucchini too. I have had great luck with the birdhouse gourds. You should try them again as they are pretty easy to grow, but you need a good strong trellis or fence. And no hail of course. But I have always had a bad lawn. Lots of weeds and crabgrass. And I seen to get grubs every year from the Japanese beetles. Between the grubs and the weeds my back lawn especially always looks bad. The front lawn is pretty good, but its a different kind of grass, dwarf fescue. The back is bluegrass I think? It might just be worn out. It is at least 30 years old and hasn't been seeded. I replaced the front lawn 5 years ago with the dwarf fescue and it does much better than the back yard. If you have any suggestions for me that wold be very welcome. Love reading your web site.

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    1. Oh wow! See, I LOVE my lawn and can offer you some tips! First, consider using acelepryn this spring--it's sold to homeowners as Scotts GrubEx. It will control white grub larvae (including Japanese beetle) all summer. While a pesticide, its effects on the environment are very low and the application rate is very low. It will need to be watered in well following application--with about an inch of water. Depending on where you live in Wisconsin, it would probably be a May application. Also, fescue is a great grass and doesn't take much input. If your backyard is 30 years old, it could benefit from overseeding. Think of all the great advances we've had with science in 30 years...the same goes for turfgrass seed. If you like bluegrass, you could use a newer, improved variety. Always buy high-quality seed. And lawns will always benefit from regular fertilization. Your lawn is old, so maybe only one or two applications per year will do it (depending if you're collecting clippings or not). Plus, Wisconsin has a great turf department. Check out some of their publications at https://hort.uwex.edu/topics/lawns/

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