Rocky Mountains

June, 2004
Regional Report

Get Rid of Weeds Early in the Game

Following all the rain, weed seeds will germinate rapidly and invade yards and gardens. Don't let up on pulling or digging young weed seedlings. With moisture in the soil, it's much easier to yank weeds up, roots and all. Prevent weeds from producing seed heads and you'll greatly reduce a severe weed invasion. Weeds take advantage of weak, thin lawns. Keep your lawn growing thick to choke out most invaders.

Watch for Early Garden Pests

As temperatures warm up, be on the watch for signs of spider mites on shrubs, trees, and flowers. Mottled, dusty-looking leaves and fine webbing indicate the presence of mites. You can confirm infestations by using a magnifying glass to look for tiny, crawling specks on the undersides of the leaves. To help discourage mite attacks, rinse the foliage periodically with a strong spray of water or use insecticidal soap or homemade soap sprays.

Monitor Container Gardens

Tend container gardens carefully. Small pots may require water daily, large pots only every other day. It's a good idea to check soil moisture regularly to avoid overwatering that can result in root rot. Since constant watering will leach out nutrients, fertilize every few weeks with a soluble plant food. A timesaving method of fertilizing is to incorporate a 10-15-10 slow-release fertilizer into the soil so nutrients will be available as the plants need them. If planting new containers, add some water-absorbing polymers to the potting mixture so you'll need to water less often.

Prune Spring-Blooming Shrubs

Prune spring-flowering shrubs, including Japanese quince, forsythia, lilac, spiraea, and honeysuckle, after flowering. Cut out dead, insect-infested, and diseased branches. Canes that are crowded or crossing can be thinned out to allow more light penetration and encourage a more vigorous bush. To renovate older shrubs, remove about one third of the oldest branches to the base. After pruning, lightly cultivate an all-purpose, 5-10-5 plant fertilizer around shrubs and water in thoroughly.

Wait for Soil to Warm Up Before Planting

In mountain areas, the soil may be warm enough to set out warm-season vegetables. Use transplants for tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, and melons. Sow seeds of corn and beans.

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