Valley Gardening: Let’s talk about six packs

All is good in the neighborhood! I am just sitting here waiting for more snow, make that hoping. My phone says a 60 percent chance at 6 p.m. and then 90 percent at 7 and 8 p.m. and then we go to 40 percent at midnight and back up to 70 percent at 2 a.m. I guess by the time you read this we will know if anyone knew what they were talking about. The predictors haven’t been right most of the time, so who knows.

I imagine that you have all heard about the City of Alamosa Public Works Director being let go—not sure if he quit, or if he was fired, or what. He was always nice to me. (Remember…I was given that chance of quitting or being fired over 25 years ago—nothing to be ashamed of, right?). I was going to go to the next city council meeting to question the ordinances he was working on concerning folks dumping snow on city right of ways. Maybe those ordinances will go away, like I believe they should. Time will tell, I guess.

Meanwhile….as you start thinking/dreaming about spring, please let me give you a little education about six packs, and what I think you should look for. And no, I’m not talking about Coors or Dos Equis or the like!

Way, way back…when I first started learning about annuals (from Bob and Betty Bennington), I started getting my flowers planted in 606’s. 606 means that in a standard 10 x 20 tray there are 6-6 packs or 36 plants. I have always believed that this is very important, because of our short growing seasons. I want plants with larger root balls, without them being totally root bound. I believe that larger plants, with a larger root ball will take off growing MUCH faster than, say a 1206.

A 1206 is equal to 72 plants in a 10 x 20 tray or 12-6 packs. These are TINY little 6 packs, in my opinion, and they are usually, very root bound. Of course, they are usually cheaper but please remember that the old adage kicks in here, when ‘you get what you pay for’! If you start almost any seed I know of, vegetable or flower, in a 1206 it might give you 2-4 weeks before girdling starts to occur. Girdling is when the roots go round and round and round the inside of the pot.

Girdling can happen with annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, and even houseplants. When you come across roots that have girdled, they need to be pulled apart, or trimmed, or sliced, or broken up—how severely kind of depends on the plant. A plant will continue to grow in that circular pattern if you don’t break up the roots. If you don’t open up the root system the roots will typically not spread out and grow to their full capacity. Sometimes when a tree has blown down, you can tell that it doesn’t have a root system—you can tell that it didn’t have a chance, because it wasn’t planted right 2, or 5 or 7 years ago.

If you want to see what I mean by ‘girdling’ stop by the store, and we can check out some houseplants. I do have a picture of a root system that was on a little Stone Pine that I had for sale at Christmas time.  When it didn’t sell, I decided to transplant it, and the root was almost 2’ long, in a 4” pot—even I was amazed!

I want to give a shout out to the Boogie Romero’s—both of them, for stopping by the store this week—I think of them as some of the best that Alamosa has to offer. It has been eight months since Dorothy passed away, and yet they go ‘visit with her every single morning’! Such a love story! 

I had another friend (that makes three friends) stop by this week and he was fuming! He wanted to know who you complain to about Boutique Airlines! I gave him my input (of course), and then I remembered a couple of friends being stranded all day, a week ago, by Boutique. If any of you have had similar experiences, did you find someone who took your complaints seriously? Advice for my friend is greatly appreciated.