Valley Gardening: Regarding poinsettias and plums

Still no winter to speak of, grateful that Wolf Creek is at a 66” snow depth at the summit. That seems like a lot, until you compare their average of 430”. Let’s all keep hoping for more! Not just for the ski area but for our summer moisture. I attended briefly the Potato & Grain Conference when Larry was called out of town for the passing of his mom. Water was a huge topic of conversation.

Even while we were in Las Cruces, water was often in the discussions. Larry’s Aunt Sandy has a small pecan orchard and was on pins and needles just waiting to hear what her water allocation is going to be this year. So this lack of snow doesn’t just affect us in the SLV. It is way beyond our neighborhood—keep praying for snow and storms and more snow and storms. I don’t see any snow predicted for us for the next two weeks—yikes!

I had a couple of folks ask me about poinsettias and their care this time of year. For now, when they start to get leggy, cut them back to about 6”. Water as you have been and fertilize every 2-3 weeks with a standard houseplant fertilizer. When the temperatures warm up, you can actually take the plant, pot and all, and set it down in the garden in a shady spot. In the fall, be prepared to pull it up and transplant it into a pot approximately 2” bigger. More about that at a later time (if I remember).

A little bit earlier (Friday) I had a visit from Mike Singer with the Department of Agriculture. We went over the Quarantine List for the SLV. This list reminds me to tell YOU not to bring in plum trees! I can’t sell them and neither can any other nursery in the Valley. The reasoning behind it is that it harbors the Peach Tree Aphid, which can absolutely destroy the potato fields! Yes, you could go outside of the Valley if you absolutely had to have a plum tree, but why would you? Why take the risk of hurting your neighbors in the farming community?

In the Prunus family, the only species that are okay in the SLV are the Western Sand Cherry, Purple Leaf Sand Cherry, Flowering Almond—glandulosa and triloba (a favorite of mine), Amur Chokecherry, Nanking Cherry, and Chokecherry. If you want to know more about these varieties please come by the store and have a cup of coffee.

It’s still too early to even get most seedlings started—unless you have a greenhouse. And even then, it’s risky.

For instance….a tomato seed can take 5-10 days to emerge. You can start your seeds 4-6 weeks before transplanting. Transplant when air temperature is 45 or warmer or 1-2 weeks after the last average frost date—typically June 10th. If you follow the seed packet advice you will never get a tomato to ripen.  Learn every trick in the book for all gardening, because it just isn’t easy in the Valley. It is, however VERY rewarding to grow your own vegetables. And delicious.

Did you get any miniature roses for Valentine’s Day? If you did, keep pinching the spent blooms back to keep them blooming. And check them every day for aphids and mites. I don’t know where the pests come from, but they come out of the woodwork when you get a rose or a hibiscus. Check the bottom sides of the leaves—that’s where they hide, and keep an eye out for little spider webs.

Next week I will have a valuable opinion on the proposed RV park/housing development. There is a meeting tonight (Friday) that I will be attending. I want to be informed BEFORE I make a decision on my support or not.

Meanwhile, after 40 years, the Narrow Gauge Newsstand is closing its doors! So sad. It’s a sad day for downtown Alamosa when there won’t be a book store. I know someone else will rent the spot, BUT we won’t have a bookstore for our kids and grandkids. There are a number of reasons behind the closing, but shopping on Amazon was a big part of it, I believe. March 2nd is their final day. Have you shopped local today?

And, I’m still gathering signatures from folks who would like to see extended hours at the Rickey Recycling Center. Come by and sign!