Gardening Tips for the Week of August 23-29

August 24, 2009 at 8:54 pm 1 comment

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Hay producers in Gunnison County are reporting that harvests are significantly smaller than in past years and there remains some speculation about the exact cause.  Could the cool, wet spring and early summer weather be the culprit?  Did the early summer hailstorm Gunnison experienced stunt the growth of plants? Or how about the dry weather we have had later on in the summer?  Though a combination of all of these factors could certainly affect harvests, climate data also reveals that Gunnison has had about 20% fewer Growing Degree Days than at the same time last year.  Wikipedia explains the concept of Growing Degree Days as follows: 

 “In the absence of extreme conditions such as unseasonal drought or disease, plants grow in a cumulative stepwise manner which is strongly influenced by the ambient temperature. Growing degree days take aspects of local weather into account and allow gardeners to predict the plants’ pace toward maturity.  Growing degrees is defined as the number of temperature degrees above a certain threshold base temperature (at the Extension Office we use 50 degrees Fahrenheit).  The base temperature is that temperature below which plant growth is zero. Growing degrees are calculated each day as maximum temperature minus the minimum temperature divided by 2 (or the mean temperature), minus the base temperature. Growing Degree Days are accumulated by adding each day’s Growing degree contribution as the season progresses.” 

 On August 24, Gunnison had accumulated 764 Growing Degree Days during the growing season.  On August 24 of 2008, 955 Growing Degree Days had been recorded. 

Because the growth of plants and the completion of their life stages (seed germination, vegetative growth, flowering and seed production) depend on the accumulation of specific quantities of heat, calculation of Growing Degree Days can be a useful tool when trying to predict how long crops will take to reach the stage at which they can be harvested.

All of this begs the question: How has the lower number of Growing Degree Days affected vegetable gardens in Gunnison County?  Have you noticed differences in the amount of vegetables you have harvested from your garden this year?  Have your cool season vegetables (like broccoli, peas, spinach, onions, garlic, root crops, etc.) performed better than they usually do?  Have your warm season crops (tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, etc.) languished in comparison to last year? 

Gardeners, please share your experiences and observations!  Post observations and insights from your own garden by clicking on the “Add Comment” button below.   

 “Fallscaping”

August gardeners lament the passing of colorful June and July gardens, but we can extend our garden season into autumn and now is the time to start.  Read this article written by Kathy Roth, a Master Gardener in Larimer County” to learn more about extending your garden’s beauty well into the fall and winter: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/columngw/gr080802.html

 How much should I water my lawn this week? 

For most homeowners, attention to irrigation efficiency has the greatest potential for water conservation.  In the typical home yard, extra attention to irrigation system design, maintenance, and management could reduce water use by 20-50%!  Using locally calculated evapo-transpiration (ET) rates to determine how much water to apply to your lawn will help you conserve water. 

The evapotranspiration rate for the seven day period between August 16-22 1.5 inches, calculated for cool season turfgrass in Gunnison.  During this time period, Gunnison received no precipitation.  So, watering 1.5 inches will replace the amount of moisture that has been lost through plant transpiration and evaporation from soil during the past week and needs to be replaced to maintain a healthy lawn. 

This is meant to be a general guide to determining your lawn’s irrigation needs.  Please note that micro-climates in your yard and various grass species in your lawn will have considerable effect on your lawn’s actual water needs, so be sure to check soil moisture to a depth of 4-8” with a garden trowel or screwdriver to determine if the root zone of your grass is sufficiently moist.

How do I figure out how long to water my lawn in order to apply the correct amount of water?  Visit this link: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/gardennotes/264-Minute2Inch.html

For more about conserving water through efficient irrigation scheduling, visit: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/gardennotes/265-Scheduling.html

For assistance in establishing an efficient irrigation schedule for your lawn, contact the CSU Extension Office in Gunnison County at 641-1260.

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Entry filed under: Weekly Gardening Tips.

Gardening Tips for the Week of August 16-22 Gardening Tips for the Week of August 29- September 5

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