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GARDENING: Checklist for preparing your lawn & garden for winter

frosty cold morning
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If you had problems this past summer with fungal diseases in your Kentucky bluegrass lawn, core aerate this fall. As long as the ground is not frozen, and it hasn’t frozen on the valley floor, you should consider aerating. After you aerate, rake a fine organic matter into the holes to improve the benefits of aerating.

When you aerate, you relieve compaction and allow more oxygen into the root zone. This improves the overall health of the turf. Since your cool-season grass will continue to develop roots until the ground freezes, an application of a fast-release nitrogen fertilizer would be beneficial. If you have had your sprinkler system winterized, you will need to water with a hose. You need to water after you make this end-of-the-year application of fertilizer.

Your vegetable garden would benefit from an application of compost applied this fall. Apply this to a depth of 2 inches and work it in to the soil as deep as possible. Avoid cattle manure as this is normally high in salts. If you don’t have a compost pile where you can dispose of your kitchen waste this winter, pits or trenches dug into your gardens this fall would suffice. These pits would allow the disposal of coffee grounds, potato peelings, and other compostable materials during the winter. Cover these materials with soil after the holes or trenches are about one-half full and these materials will compost in the spring and summer months.



Continue to mow the lawn at the same height as it was maintained during the summer. Turf allowed to go into the winter without being mowed is more likely to suffer from disease problems during the winter and spring months.

Rake up and dispose of any leaves and other debris that accumulates under your trees. Foliar pathogens overwinter in leaf litter and spores from infected leaves and other plant debris are likely to infect plants next spring. Hiring an arborist to remove dead branches from your trees will improve tree health and reduce the chance of disease and insect problems next year.



Perennials may still be divided this late in the season, but you should do this soon. Your plants will do best if they have time to become established before the ground freezes. A 3- to 4-inch layer of coarse organic mulch will help keep the soil temperature warmer later into the season, giving these plants a better opportunity to establish their roots. Bark mulch or wood chips work well. Apply this layer of mulch late in the afternoon when the soil has warmed from the day’s sun.

LAVENDER WORKSHOP OCT. 26-27

The Lavender Association of Western Colorado, through a specialty crop grant from the Colorado Department of Agriculture with the support of Colorado State University, will be conducting a two-day workshop on the basics of distilling for essential oils and hydrosols on Oct. 26-27, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Mesa County Fairgrounds Community Building on Hwy. 50, just south of Grand Junction.

Speakers include Ann Harmon, distiller, certified organic farmer, hydrosol researcher/educator of Morning Myst Botanicals, Northport, Wash.; Dr. Cindy Jones, herb grower, educator, formulator, Sagescript Institute, LLC, and Colorado Aromatics, Longmont, Colo.; Dr. Janet Scavarda, DC, certified aromatherapist, Grand Junction; Bob Lane, lavender farmer and distiller, Dayspring Farm, Olathe; and yours truly, Dr. Curtis Swift, High Altitude Lavender, Grand Junction.

Fifteen stills will be set up for demonstration under the gazebo for all to see. The workshop will focus on creating products with essential oils and hydrosols, and demonstrate the distillation process for commercial as well as medicinal essential oil and hydrosols. Conference attendees will learn the latest about the LAWC Specialty Crop Essential Oil Grant. You can learn more about the workshop at http://www.ColoradoLavender.org.

Dr. Curtis E. Swift is a retired horticulture agent with the Colorado State University Extension. Reach him at Curtis.Swift@alumni.colostate.edu, 970-778-7866 or check out his blog at http://SwiftsGardeningBlog.blogspot.com. He owns Swift Horticultural Consulting and High Altitude Lavender.


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