'Hop-ing' to it

Life is good in the neighborhood!  I have been fortunate to have assistance from a couple of community service workers, so in LODA (also known as Lower Downtown Alamosa), we have been getting the flower planters (a/k/a recycled trash containers) cleaned up, some of the old soil pulled out, and new soil getting added.  It’s not quite time to plant yet, but I am going to throw a few seeds down and see what happens. We’ve also scraped the orange parking areas and we are ready for a fresh coat of paint. I guess you can call it spring fever.

My helper, Angelique, also helped get the planters at the SLV History Museum cleaned up and soil conditioner added. I am guessing that Dorothy Brandt is smiling greatly because she doesn’t have to bug me to get started. It feels good to be ready to go!

And now it is Saturday morning and we are working on the flower beds at the Visitors Center. I am VERY appreciative to be able to help my community in this way! I remember a time years and years ago when I made a mistake, like many of these folks have done, and community service was part of the learning lesson. I hope I am making a difference in the lives of these helpers and instilling pride in the community at the same time. My community service sentence must have been for years, or I am a VERY slow learner, because it has been almost 30 years and I’m still working at it!

Meanwhile, I am pretty amazed that I have a Hops vine coming up from SEED. It’s coming up in the middle of my courtyard and I have never had that happen before. I will be getting it pretty wet and then transplant it into a pot. For $10 to the charity fund it could go home to your house.

I also have a Russian Olive growing in a pot that had flowers in it last year. Who knows where the seed came from? I absolutely love Russian Olives so I will be transplanting this one—someplace. I can’t sell Russian Olives because they have been banned in the Valley. I understand how they can be obnoxious in a wetlands area, but I just haven’t seen that here. And sometimes, the RO is the only thing that will grow. I have heard that the RO really doesn’t have any nutritional value for birds and wildlife and so it doesn’t matter if they all die. I wonder why the deer and birds keep eating the seeds. I’m thinking it’s for the same reason I eat chocolate—no nutritional value, but good. How about we get rid of elms because of all their dang seeds—talk about obnoxious!

The season of the ‘shyster’ tree seller/digger/planter is upon us in full force. Beware, beware, beware!  If you insist on buying trees from someone parked on the side of the road, just remember that you “get what you pay for.” A tree that has a trunk of 2” on diameter, and stands 20’ plus, has to have a root ball of at least 2’! That’s the law, if I am remembering right! When the seller tells you not to take the burlap off, it’s because there just isn’t a root system.

I’m not saying that all trees purchased this way will die, but in my humble opinion most will. When I plant trees and/or shrubs, I like to have container grown stock. I like to see an established root system, even better if there are new roots. When the roots have grown round and round the bottom of the pot, you certainly need to cut/slice them to promote new growth and reduce the chance of girdling.

When you are planting your trees, do not add manure, or peat moss, or top soil. Dig the hole 2 to 3 times as wide, but no deeper than the root ball. Back fill with the soil that was dug out. Do not fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilizer because you want your tree to grow fast and big. A high nitrogen fertilizer would be something with a higher first number, such as a 20-5-6. Go for a root stimulator or mild compost tea, or top dress with earthworm castings. Let the tree develop a good root system and the top growth will happen the following years.

If you are loving your flowering crab apple, but hate the fruit you can spray the tree with a growth inhibitor when it is in full bloom—and that time is coming up soon. Come by and I will explain, cuz’ I’m out of room.

Thank you to everyone who attended the SLV Cancer Relief Fund concert last week at Society Hall. It was such an amazing evening and just knowing we are helping our neighbors and friends and even strangers is a feeling of love and awe that stays with all of us. 

And, please, keep my buddy Peyton in your thoughts and prayers! He’s my hero, my inspiration. We all need to learn from him!