Home Map and Hours Classes and Events Employment

Welcome to Tagawa's Blog

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why the Snow and Cold are a Good Thing

     Our first measurable snow of the season, and the cold temperatures that go with it, have many of my friends grieving over the loss of summer.  But we not only need the moisture.  We also need the cold.  More specifically, the plants, from trees on down, need the cold.

     Sub-freezing temperatures are one of the best bug controls of all.   I welcome the cold because it helps take down the house fly population.  And that means I can leave my front door open for my pack of hounds to come and go without my constantly reaching for the fly swatter. 

     But it isn't just those insects still out and about that can fall victim to prolonged cold.  Damaging bugs trying to over-winter in the soil or under the bark of trees can be killed, too.  And that's a big help come next spring when our growing and gardening seasons return.

Plants take cues from Mother Nature

     Shorter day-length is a big signal to plants that it's time to slow way down and rest for the winter.  But cold temperatures play a significant role too, in coaxing plants into dormancy.

     The wet snow that's fallen this week is just what the plant doctor ordered:  nice and wet, but not heavy enough to break branches on trees and shrubs that haven't dropped all of their leaves yet. 

     We've had a beautiful show of fall color in the mountains and on the plains this year.  One of the best autumn displays we've seen in a long while. But it's time for those brilliantly-colored leaves to give it up, and let the plants "nap" 'til next spring. 

Compensating for Mother Nature

     In the best of all gardening worlds, Mother Nature would deliver a lot more wet, soaking snow during the next six months or so.  But we'd best assume that's not going to happen.

     So when moisture from the sky falls short, it's our job to make up the difference with winter watering.  I've written about winter watering before.  I'll write about it again, because it's so vital to plant survival. 

     When we go without a good soaking snow every month or so, we need to drag out our garden hoses and make up for the difference.  Remember that on average, in our soil, 85% of a tree's roots are in the top 12- to 18-inches of soil.  Trees, shrubs, perennials and even lawns don't need frequent winter watering, they need occasional deep winter watering.  There's a big difference. 

     Newly-planted trees, shrubs and perennials need enough moisture to soak down to the bottom of their root ball.  More mature plants will have larger root systems, and should be watered near their "drip line," the outer-most point of their branches. 

     The amount of water needed to do that depends on the type of soil the plants are growing in, the slope of the ground and the exposure.  Plants growing in south- and southwest-facing exposures tend to dry faster.  You'll need to check the soil in your own landscape with a moisture meter or small spade.  Tagawa's carries both, and our experienced staff will gladly offer
all the advice you'll need.

Colorado plants need winter!

     Even folks who want to hang onto an endless summer usually agree that our plants need winter.  It helps control damaging insects.  It coaxes plants into dormancy.  And hopefully, it brings some much-needed moisture. 

    But many of us who garden also welcome winter
for our own sake.... when Mother Nature finally forces us to put away our trowels and shovels.... at least for a while. 



No comments: