Valley Gardening: Prepare for the giant pumpkin contest

Where in the heck has March gone? It seems like just yesterday I was telling everyone not to plant, and now I’m thinking I better get the onion plants on their way. Yikes!

As Willie and I were cleaning up the flowerbeds in front of the store, I noticed one of my hops vines sending up a shoot. Sometimes you would want to leave the mulch from last year on them, but I cleaned it all off, thinking they would realize it is still cold in the evening and slow down a little bit. Hops grows so-o-o fast, it is just amazing. I imagine they will start growing, and then get frosted, and then start growing again. 

My lilacs are budding out big time at home. They and fruit trees that are budding out may not have any flowers or fruit. It’s been such a weird year. I loved the snow we received this past week, only hoping for lots more. As the weather warms up, there will be carpets of kochia weeds EVERYWHERE!!

In the next two-four weeks you could probably start your peppers and tomatoes inside. It’s difficult to tell you exactly when because some folks have greenhouses, some only a windowsill. Others have nice little T5 grow lights with heat mats underneath. Target your planting to when you can put them outside, and that also varies a LOT! Is your garden sheltered? Do you use Wall O Waters? Or black tires? 

Beyond that the typical advice is to plant/transplant outside 1-2 weeks after the last frost. Holy cow---that could be the first of July for some of you—and you will never get a ripe tomato. I recommend planting in mid May and use every trick in the book to get your plants growing below the ground before you take the frost protection off in June, or thereabouts. Oh….the joys of gardening in the Valley!

The Giant SLV Pumpkin Contest is starting—yahoo! In case you don’t remember, Josh Gilliam, out of La Garita, grew a 440lb pumpkin about four years ago. So much fun! Josh has been antsy for over three weeks, just waiting for seeds. The challenge is on! I have the seeds—3 for $5 and they come from some champion pumpkins out of Canada. One hundred percent of the entry fee will go towards the prizes—to be determined based upon the number of entries. 

We have seeds for 300-500 lb. pumpkins and 500-700 pounders. Come on by and get ready to go. I will be starting a few seeds at the store and they will be available around the 10th of May if you want plants already started. What I learned a few years ago is that the seeds germinate really fast, so you don’t want to get them started too soon. Large pumpkin (and squash and zucchini) do not always transplant real well.

The contest is pretty much open to all kinds of growing and any fertilizers. I would ask that all growers be willing to share their ‘recipes for success’ with others. I know in the big contests that there are a lot of secrets, so I’m only asking for general information. We are the Valley after all, neighbors helping neighbors.

Speaking of help…I am looking for 20 people who would buy a bale of Fox Farm Soil Conditioner for me to use in Mom’s Garden. The price would be $18 and that’s my cost, with suggested retail prices between $26 and $32.95. If I can get some help, then I buy the Netafim drip tubing and plants that I want to put in this area. Many thanks, in advance!

Next week at Society Hall Rusty Z, hypnotist/comedian is going to beguile us all. If you want to forget about the world’s problems, taxes, the wind, etc.—come to the Hall and be prepared to LAUGH!! Get ready…Thursday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m.

I’m hoping you all have a great Easter and I guess, April Fool’s Day! Kind of strange that they fall on the same day, huh?

And, thank you to the folks who came into the store to sign my petition to keep the Rickey Recycling Center open for longer hours—15 this week. How many signatures do you think I need?