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What's bugging you? January 20, 2016

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Have you made any New Year's resolutions for 2016? How is that going for you? Have you ever completed all your resolutions? To avoid embarrassing failure I just resolve to do better than last year.

So how does this all pertain to gardening? Well the process of resolutions is to look back through the years and see what mistakes were made and what was not accomplished and to do better this year. Let's look at what we should be doing right now in our gardens in the dead of winter.

I don't know about you but I still have plenty of snow on the ground so my outdoor gardening is pretty much curtailed at the moment. But there is still a lot to do. First, make plans for what you need and want to accomplish in your garden this year. This may be thinning out overgrown plants, adding new plants, putting in an irrigation system, pruning those wild growing shrubs, being more aggressive in combating weeds and other garden pests. Well, you get the picture. I would prioritize my list so that the most pressing ones get done.

But what can you do right now or in the next few weeks to come? How about going out and putting flagging tape on those branches you deem must be removed for esthetic reasons or for just plain being able to walk underneath without poking out your eye. Yes, you can prune them off now but many of us want to wait until it gets a little warmer.

What about improving your gardening knowledge by reading a good book. Your library may have one or two or could interlibrary loan you one. Go to your local bookstore or go online for some ideas. Speaking of being online, how about perusing available YouTube videos? I am sure there are lots of those that might be of interest. And of course there are always the CSU gardening sites.

You also might have an opportunity to attend an all-day (six-hour) class on some specific gardening topic in Grand Junction. For the first time ever, Colorado State University Extension is offering limited opportunities for you to attend one of the master gardener apprentice course classes going on right now. There will be a limit of six individuals for each class and the cost is $60.

By the time you read this the first two classes will have already gone by and the planting and care of trees and woody plants class is full. But you might be able to sign up for classes on irrigation management; soils, fertilizers and soil amendments; integrated pest and weed management; entomology (insects); turf management; plant diseases; small fruit and fruit trees; or water-wise design and native plants. These are all classes that master gardeners must take to become knowledgeable and proficient in answering homeowner questions. If you are interested please call Susan Honea at 970-244-1834.

There is one more gardening chore that you need to do this winter. Water your trees and large shrubs at least once, twice would be better in the next 2-3 months. This is especially needed for evergreens such as spruce and pine trees. These trees especially struggle for lack of moisture during the winter but don't show problems until the spring.

Until we next talk, enjoy your time indoors but make productive use of this time. Better planning, better knowledge lead to better and more enjoyable gardens.

Jim Leser retired to Cedaredge in 2007 after a career with Texas A&M University Extension in entomology. He is a member of the Cedaredge Tree Board and a Colorado Master Gardener.

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