Questions & Answers

This page contains questions (edited) we have received from our viewers along with our responses.  
We thought you might find this information helpful.    


   I'm re-landscaping my yard some and would like to plant a couple of dwarf fruit trees.  Would pear trees thrive here?  I know that apples do well and peaches can grow, too.  We love pears.  Thanks!  K. H., Littleton, 3/10/11

   Apple and pear trees do well here.  Peaches are less reliable due to our late frosts.  For information on fruit trees please see and click on "Fruit."

   Can we grow any Persimmons in Denver, Colorado?  I'm thinking to try a Rosseyanka.  Is Rosseyanka a viable possibility?  C., Denver, 1/6/11

   Rosseyanka persimmons are supposed to be hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 5 and 6, so you may be able to grow them in Denver.

   I have a 4 - 5 month old Pink Lady apple tree that I have grown from a seedling.  It is currently about a foot tall and I just moved it to a bigger pot.  My problem is that we live in an apartment at present and I don't know whether I should wrap the pot and leave it outside on the balcony or if I should bring it in to keep it from freezing.  It hasn't dropped any leaves, though all the other trees outside have done so.  Is it supposed to drop leaves this young?  I'm learning about it as I go, but I would very much like to keep it alive through the winter so I can plant it when we get a house.  Thanks so much for any advice you can give me.  E. C., Fort Worth, TX; 10/29/10

   I am not familiar with weather conditions in your area.  Here in Colorado I would recommend that you bring the apple tree indoors and treat it like a houseplant during winter because plants in pots will freeze.  It may not drop its leaves indoors.

   I planted a raspberry bush in late summer of 2008, that was already caned. The bush has spread and this spring is lush and spread some more. However, we have yet to see a raspberry -- or flower since it was planted. Is there something we're neglecting to do?  E., Longmont; 5/2/10

A:    Please see the fact sheet "Raspberries for the Home Garden" for tips on growing raspberries:  Be careful not to apply too much fertilizer, which can lead to lots of leaves and little fruit. 

   I was wondering what you thought about growing an Improved Meyer Lemon tree indoors here in Colorado Springs. Assuming that its basic needs are met, will it thrive in our humidity (lack of) and other elements?  T. J., Colorado Springs, 12/26/09

A:    People in Colorado do grow dwarf lemon trees indoors.  Larger nurseries/garden centers in Colorado Springs may carry them. 
Q:    I live in Evergreen, Colorado, at about 8,000 elevation and wondering if there are any varieties of grapes that would work here? Most I have seen have elevation at 6,000 ft.  B. C., Evergreen, 5/12/09
A:    St. Theresa Seedless Grape grows in areas up to an elevation of 8000'.
Q:    I have red raspberry bushes that are about 6 years old. They have been very healthy - beautiful lush leaves and lots of blooms. I always see berries just begin to form - they never develop into berries. I have tried cutting them back, lots of water, less water fertilizer - wondering what might be the problem and what fertilizer I should be using. Thanks for your help.  V. L., Longmont, 5/10/09
A:    "Lush leaves" was a red flag to me.  Too much fertilizer can result in lots of leaves and little fruit.  For more information on raspberries please see  You will find helpful tips on pruning, a vital step to getting fruit.
Q:    I live in Monument, just west of I-25 and am looking forward to planting some fruit trees and berries this spring. I was really looking forward to planting a semi-dwarf or dwarf peach tree. Any recommendations? Should I totally stay away from peach and go with apple? How about cherry? Also, what type of edible berries do best up here? And lastly, where would the best place be to purchase all these--- I noticed Home Depot has some great prices on their fruit trees this spring. I'm on a pretty strict budget. Thanks! K. B. Monument, 3/28/09
   Peaches are a risky choice in your area.  Their blossoms tend to be killed most years by spring frosts, so you can't count on getting much fruit.  Apples are perhaps the best kind of fruit tree to plant. Sour cherries do fairly well.  Raspberries and strawberries should do okay too..  For a list of reliable apple and cherry varieties please see  Click on Fruits.  You will find lots of information there. 
   On the blog Front Range Food Gardener I found the following apple recommendations:
Scott Skogerboe, a Fort Collins nurseryman, suggests Honeycrisp, Cortland, Harleson, Redstone Canyon Gold, Zestar, State Fair, Joyce and Duchess of Oldenburg.
Carol O’Meara, a CSU Extension Agent in Boulder, lists Connell Red, Haralson, Honeygold, Keepsake, Prairie Spy, Regent, State Fair and Sweet Sixteen.
   You can purchase plants from Home Depot, but to be on the safe side, select only recommended varieties. 
Q:    I planted 25 Winona Giant Junebearing strawberries 5 years ago here in Colorado Springs. The 1st year, as expected, I saw few berries but many runners. The 2nd and 3rd years had huge crops of berries. The 4th year (2006) was about 1/10th of the previous two. Spring 2007 I tore out 1/3 of the plants ( I must have about 300 now) and ordered 25 more plants to replace them with. Do I need to replace the other 2/3 with new plants or could my harvest problems be due to plants being too close to each other? Some are only 2-3 inches apart from all the runners going everywhere. Any suggestions would be appreciated to bring back the large crops I was getting.  K. M., Colorado Springs, 1/18/08
A:    It sounds like the strawberry bed needs additional work to increase fruit production.  Some of the plants are growing too close to each other.  They should be about five inches apart.  This spring you can dig up ones that are too crowded and replant them where they have more room.  Also, plants that are more than 3 years old probably need to be pulled out.  Replace them with new plants or with some of the healthy ones that you are relocating. 
Q:    We live close to Colorado City in Southern Colorado. Would peaches and apples grow in this area? Also can we grow pomegranate?  Thanks, A. G., Pueblo, 1/7/08
   You can probably grow apples successfully in the Colorado City area, especially if you select recommended varieties.  Peaches and pomegranates are less likely to succeed due to spring frosts that will kill blossoms and young fruit.  For additional information on growing fruit trees please see
Q:    Hello, I would like to plant a fuyu persimmon tree on the west side in Old Colorado City and I was wondering if it would live or grow in Colorado. Thank you for your info.  C. R., Colorado Springs, 10/22/07
   Fuyu persimmon trees cannot be grown in your area of Colorado.  It gets too cold there in winter.
Q:    I bought a semi-dwarf improved Meyer lemon bush.  Do I need to plant more than one to get lemons from it?  I heard that fruit trees/bushes won't pollinate without another fruit bearing tree/bush.  R., Temecula, CA; 5/19/07
   You do not need another lemon tree/bush to get fruit on a Meyer lemon.  It is self-fruitful.  There are some fruit trees that require a pollinator, but not this one.
Q:    I live in Monument and would like to plant dwarf fruit trees. Do they grow at this elevation? If so, how do they fare in the hail storms and the wind/snow storms that are so common here?  J. T., Monument; 5/18/07  
   There are some fruit trees, mainly apples and plums, that grow at your elevation.  Peaches, apricots and other fruits tend to do poorly due to late spring frosts that kill blossoms and young fruit.  Late frosts and hail can be major problems.  For more information please see Planttalk at and click on "Fruit" in the menu.
Q:    We have moved to a new house and now have 3 mature apple trees.  Two are Golden Delicious that I don't think have ever been pruned. We also have one 7 year old McIntosh that has definitely never been pruned.  They are flowering already.  Have we missed the opportunity to prune them and enhance the shape and fruit production entirely at this point? (Or just for the season?). It looks like March is the ideal time to prune these?? If we can still prune at this point, can you provide a website that has diagrams or photos showing how to best prune (CSU's website, at least as far as I've been able to find, seems to be lacking any diagrams for more visual direction).  Thank you.  K. C., Longmont, 4/29/07
    Now (late April - early May) is not a good time to prune fruit trees.  Disease organisms are more likely to attack trees with fresh pruning cuts made in late spring and early summer.  The best time to prune the trees is late winter or early spring before the trees begins to produce leaves.
    The article "Pruning Neglected Fruit Trees" from Utah Cooperative Extension has diagrams and information that may be of help.  Please see 
Q:    I live in New York and have about 10 apple trees on my lot.  They produce "scrub" apples.  I want to keep the trees healthy but wish to eliminate the fruit.  The thousands of apples just get mowed.  How do I keep the trees and eliminate the fruit?  T. M., Perry, NY; 10/20/06
    There is a product called Florel that eliminates fruit production on apple trees.  It is available at garden centers and many home improvement stores.   It must be sprayed at exactly the right time to be effective.  The label directions will explain when to spray the trees with the product.
Q:    I love the blossoms on crab apple trees but I really don't like the fruit.   Is there a way to spray the blossoms to eliminate fruit production???  M. S., Aurora, 4/21/06
    Florel is a product that can be sprayed on crab apple trees to limit fruiting.  It must be sprayed at just the right time to be effective.  Be sure to read and follow label instructions.
Q:    Can fig trees survive in Colorado?  K. F., Dacono, 4/18/06
A:    Fig trees can't survive the cold winters in Colorado.
Q:    We live in mid Michigan.  We have a golden delicious apple tree about 5 years old.  It is now the end of December and the tree still has dried up leaves on it.  It there something wrong with the health of the tree?  It has never happened before.  Also we had a bad summer with the Japanese Beetles.  G., Saginaw, MI;  12/25/05
A:    Leaves on deciduous trees typically react to fewer hours of sunlight and cooler temperatures in fall by changing color and dropping.  However, if very cold temperatures occur before the leaves have fallen, the leaves can die and remain on the tree.
Q:     I have a medium size peach tree.  Four years ago when I bought the house it was full of peaches.  That was the last time I saw any peaches.  Why?  When should I prune a peach tree?  The bark has a black tint to it.  Is that okay?  R. B., Sterling, 10/7/05
   There are several possible reasons why the peach tree isn't bearing fruit.  The tree may be the type that needs a pollinator.  Perhaps it had one that no longer is around.  Fruit trees require at least 6 hours of full sun daily.  Has any nearby tree grown larger or a structure been added that now shades the peach tree?  Was there a frost when the tree was in bloom?  Peach and apricot trees often fail to fruit due to frost damage. 
    The peach tree should be pruned annually in late winter or early spring just before the tree leafs out.  Also, be sure to fertilize the tree in spring.  I'm not sure what the black tint is.  Peach trees are highly susceptible to viral disease.  Hopefully that is not a factor. 
Q:    We have a rhubarb plant that we transplanted last fall.   It grew some nice leaves this spring, but they were small and now, it has large seed stalks?  What is the best thing to do?  Cut off the stalks or just leave it alone?  When and with what is the best time to fertilize rhubarb?  J., Littleton, 5/28/05
A:    You should pull off the seed stalks with a strong yank.  Avoid cutting them because it leaves a stub that will decay.
Don't remove any of the stalks, except the seed stalks, for two seasons.  This allows the plant to build up the reserves in the roots and crown.  These reserves enable the plant to produce thick stems.   Fertilize plants in spring when growth starts with one cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer. 
Q:    We have an apple tree in our backyard.  I don't want it to bloom or have apples.  Is there any way of spraying it so that it doesn't get apples?  My dog and myself are allergic to bees and it attracts a lot.  I like the shade but not bees.  K. H., Loveland, 2/19/05
A:    You can spray the apple tree with Florel, a growth regulator, to prevent the tree from producing apples.  However, it will not stop the tree from blooming.  Be sure to read and follow all label instructions.
Q:    I am interested in purchasing a lemon tree for indoor container growing.  I am looking for the variety that will produce lots of lemons, yet not grow to be too huge to keep in our house.  Any suggestions?  R. H., Denver, 1/3/05
A:     Sunset Western Garden Book suggests using 'Improved Meyer' or 'Ponderosa' lemons in indoor containers.  Be sure to buy a dwarf form.  The lemon tree needs to be placed near a sunny window (southern or western exposure), but keep it away from heating vents.  Mist the tree to increase humidity.  You may also want to place a tray containing pebbles and water beside it to increase humidity.

Q:    I live in Thornton, CO, and am thinking about getting a couple of Kiwi vines.  I have found a variety that should be able to easily handle the winter here, but I am unsure about the altitude and heat.  How do they handle the predominantly clay soil and our hot summers?  D. O., Thornton, 5/2/04
A:    Hardy species of Kiwi (Actinidia arguta and A. kolomikta) can be grown here as ornamental plants or for their fruit.  The fruit is smaller than the type sold in supermarkets, but has a similar flavor.  The vines need special protection during winter the first two years.  For good pollination a male plant and a female plant are usually planted on the same trellis.  It will be three or four years before fruit is produced.  Due to our intense sunlight plants should be grown in partial shade.  They prefer moderate to regular watering. They like well-drained soil, so amend the soil with compost if you have clay soil.  'Ananasnaja,' 'Geneva,' 'Issai' and 'Meador' are cultivars you might consider.

Q:    I would like to plant an apple tree in my back yard on the west side in Colorado Springs.  Can you offer information about the best choices for varieties?  I was thinking of a semi-dwarf or mid-size tree, mid to late blooming.  I read that some varieties will cross pollinate with crab apple trees.  Is this true?  There are two in good proximity.  One is in bloom now and one should bloom within two weeks.  Thanks for any advice you can offer.  D. P., Colorado Springs, 4/17/04
   Yes, it is true that nearby crabapple trees can pollinate apple trees.  A technique sometimes used is to cut two or three blooming crabapple branches, place them in a bucket, and hang or perch the bucket in the apple tree.
    Some late blooming varieties include 'Criterion' and 'Rome Beauty.'  Other popular varieties include 'Cox Orange,' 'Red Delicious,' 'Golden Delicious,' 'McIntosh,' and 'Fameuse.'
    For additional information please visit the Planttalk website at and click on Fruits.  You will find an article on Apples, #1201.

Q:    I would like to plant a gooseberry bush, but I am afraid it will spread like raspberries do.  Does a gooseberry take over a garden?  C. F., Monument, 4/1/04
A:     A gooseberry bush can definitely spread and take over a garden unless it is kept under control by regular pruning.

Q:    How do I protect my peach tree from frost?  D. L., Gardnerville, NV; 3/24/04
A:     Here are a few steps you can take to limit frost damage to the peach tree:  Water the soil around the tree when you expect a frost.  Moist soil retains heat better than dry soil, and the soil releases the heat as temperatures fall.  Depending on the size of the tree, you may want to make a shelter for it.  Make a frame with four tall stakes or PVC pipe.  Place floating row cover or burlap over the top of the frame whenever frost is expected.  Small spot lights that shine on the tree may also help.  A fan that keeps air moving so cold air doesn't settle around the tree is another option.

Q:    I was wanting to plant some fruit trees; maybe an apricot and plum. Can you recommend a good hardy variety that can with stand Colorado's weather?  M. S., Westminster, 8/2/03
A:    Apricot trees are not dependable for fruiting along the Front Range.  They are hardy, but tend to bloom early and the fruit is then damaged by frost.  If you want to try one, place it in a cold spot on your property that gets no reflected heat from structures, driveways, etc. to discourage early bloom.  The area should not be a frost pocket.  Apply a thick mulch once the ground has frozen.  Hardy varieties include Goldcot, Moorpark, Sungold and Moongold.  Some of these need a pollinator. 
   Plums are more reliable for producing fruit.  As with apricots, avoid planting them in frost pockets.  Some recommended varieties include Stanley, Green Gage, Blue Damson, and Waneta.

Q:    Having moved to Colorado from Britain, I am on a very steep learning curve when it comes to gardening for this climate.  I have a couple of questions.
I want to plant a grape vine on the southern side of my property.  We have clay soils, the area I am thinking of planting has full sun most of the day!!  Are there any varieties which do better than others at this altitude with regard to rate of growth and fruiting?  Can you suggest a good book to help with Colorado issues as well as grape-vine growing?  My aim is to use a vine on a structure to provide some much needed dappled shade in which to sit.
   Secondly, is it worth planting herbs in the garden for culinary use, or would it be better to cultivate them in pots to be brought in for the winter?  I'm thinking of mint, thyme, rosemary, oregano, lemon balm, sage.  Will they survive the winter?  I ask because I planted a lavender last year and it died, I think because of the snow.  Any pointers would be most appreciated.
   Great website!  It's going straight on my list of favourites as I try to get my head round this climate!!!!  S. H., Longmont, 5/9/03
A:    There are several varieties of grapes that should perform well in your area: Concord, Himrod, Niagara, Valiant, Reliance, Canadice, Perlett and Beta.  Be sure to add compost to your clay soil before planting the grapes.  They need well-drained soil.  The major portion of the root should be planted at a depth of one foot.  This will provide protection in winter.
     A good book that will help with gardening in Colorado is "Progress of a Gardener" by Barbara Hyde.  It is the second volume of "Gardening in the Mountain West" and is written specifically for this location.  It has a brief section on grapes.  You will also find chapters on herbs, vegetables, fruits, pests, roses and several other topics.
     Herbs can be grown in pots or in the ground.  Growing them in pots has the advantage of allowing you to move them inside when the weather gets cold.  This will extend the growing season so you can use them longer.  If you plant them outside you will want to cover the crowns with several inches of mulch in late fall to protect them.  Most of the herbs you mentioned are perennials and should come back next year.  Oregano, however, isn't hardy and should be considered an annual here.
     Welcome to Colorado.  Good luck with gardening here!  I hope the Colorado Gardening website will be helpful.

Q:    We are relatively new residents in Boulder and would like to plant fruit trees and berry vines, but we do not know the types and varieties for this area or the best time of year to plant.  Any info you could send would be much appreciated.  Thanks for your assistance.  J. B., Boulder, 4/15/03
A:    Red and yellow raspberries do well in Colorado.  Recommended summer-bearing varieties include Latham, Boyne, Newburgh, Canby and Titan.  Fall-bearing varieties include Redwing, August Red, Heritage, Fall Red, Fall Gold, September, Pathfinder and Trailblazer.
       Fruit trees that are successful  include apples, plums, and sour cherries.  Due to our late frosts, peaches and apricots tend to perform poorly.  Sweet cherries aren't hardy enough and pears are prone to fire blight.  Good apple varieties are Red Delicious, McIntosh and Fameuse.  Sour cherries that do well are Montmorency and Meteor.  Recommended plums include Stanley, Green Gage, Blue Damson, Waneta and Sapalta.  Spring is a good time to plant fruit trees and berries.

Q:    I would like to grow strawberry plants in containers. Any information on types of containers, type of suitable plants, fertilization, etc. would be appreciated.  K. T., Castle Rock; 4/6/03
A:    Strawberries can be grown in a variety of containers: strawberry pots with pockets for the plants, hanging baskets, large barrels, etc.  Use a good potting soil, not dirt from the yard, to fill the containers.  When planting, place the crown of the plants level with the soil surface.  After planting the berries, place a layer of mulch over the soil to retain moisture and to keep berries off of the soil.  Water immediately.  Keep the soil moist, but not soggy.  Fertilize the plants with a water soluble fertilizer made for use on fruits and vegetables (Miracle Gro, for example), being careful to   follow the directions on the label.  The first blossoms are usually picked off to allow the plant  to use its energy to grow stronger before producing fruit.  Sturdier plants will produce more fruit.  Do not allow berries to rot on the vine.  Rotting fruit will attract insects and diseases.
     Recommended Everbearers (plants that produce a main crop in June, a light crop in late summer and small amounts of fruit throughout the summer) are Fort Laramie, Ozark Beauty, Ogallala and Quinalt.  Day neutral varieties, which fruit throughout summer, include Tristar, Tribute and Fern.  Another type of strawberry that produces only one large crop during the month of June is also available.  Known as June-bearers, this group includes Guardian, Kent, and Honeoye. 

Q:    Hi!  I wondered what cultivars of cherries do well in Colorado. I am at 5700 feet, and would ideally prefer two sours and three sweet blacks. Also, can you recommend a nursery growing trees for our climate?  Thanks. M. D., Fort Collins, 12/18/02
A:    Both Colorado State University Cooperative Extension and Planttalk Colorado recommend a sour cherry named "Montmorency."  It is popular in the home garden and commercially.  "Meteor" and "Early Richmond" are also recommended.  "Meteor" is a slightly smaller tree.  "Early Richmond," while very hardy, doesn't have as high a quality fruit as "Montmorency."  "North Star" is very good and grows on a dwarf tree.
     Sweet cherries are less hardy than sour cherries and, therefore, are a challenge to grow along the Front Range.  You will lose them during a really cold winter.  "Stella" is self-pollinating and fairly hardy.  "Van" is another possibility.
     Cherry trees should be planted in full sun.  They require good drainage, so be sure to amend the soil with compost if you have clay soil.  To prevent possible frost damage, avoid planting trees in low areas of your yard or near anything that obstructs air circulation.  Also, avoid sites that are close to the west or south side of a building.  The heat produced in those areas can lead to early blooming that is vulnerable to spring frosts.
     There are several good garden centers in your area.  You might try Fort Collins Nursery at 2121 East Mulberry. Phone: (970)-482-1984.

Q:   I will be moving to Black Forest just outside of Colorado Springs, elev.7490 ft.  Will I be able to grow any type of fruit trees with special care?  Thanks.  N. R., San Jose, CA; 5/17/02
A:   According to horticulturist Barbara Hyde, apples, pears, plums and sour cherries can be grown in altitudes below 8,000 feet.  By using cultivars bred for the area and planting in protected, sunny sites you should have success. You might consider getting a small greenhouse where you could even raise citrus trees in containers!

Q:   I have a Northstar cherry tree I planted last year.  It looked very healthy. This year it still looks dormant.  It is not dead and is very flexible. Just no other signs of life.  B. B., Hot Springs Village, AR; 5/15/02
A:   There are many factors that could cause the poor vigor of the tree, resulting in the extended dormancy or death of the tree.  Weather conditions, too much or too little water, insufficient sunlight, diseases, pests, and soil conditions such as poor drainage, low nutritional level, wrong pH, etc. may have played a role.  Inspect the trunk and limbs for cankers and pests and treat as needed.  Evaluate watering practices being sure that sufficient water is provided, but being careful not to over-water, which would suffocate the tree.  It usually is best not to fertilize a stressed plant.

Q:    Is there anything that I can do to protect my apple trees from frost or snow?  K., Englewood, 4/18/02
A:    Unfortunately, little can be done in many cases to prevent frost damage to trees.  One idea I saw in resources I consulted is to erect a temporary shelter over the tree.  Use wood stakes or PVC pipes to construct a box-like frame around the tree and spread plastic or burlap over the top and sides.  Moisten the soil slightly because moist soil retains heat better, releasing it as the temperature drops.
   If no rain or snow accompanies the frost, you can use a fan to keep the air moving around the tree.  Cold air drops and settles close to the ground, while warm air is pushed upward.  The fan prevents the cold air from settling around the tree.  Of course this method requires a source of electricity and cords that are rated for outdoor use.
   I hope your apple trees survived the recent frost and, if we're lucky, we won't have any late snows this year!

Q:    What is your advice on pruning (when and how)?  We have black raspberry bushes, and several fruit trees (apple, cherry and peach).  N. S., Lakewood, 4/1/02
A:    The sources I consulted provided the following information on pruning:
Black Raspberries:  Prune in the fall after the leaves have fallen.  Cut canes back to ground level.
Fruit trees: Prune in late winter or early spring just before bud break.  Remove dead, weak, and broken branches.  Also remove branches that interfere with others or that have a narrow, upright crotch.  Do not leave stubs nor cut flush to the trunk.  Instead, make cuts just beyond the branch collar, a slight swelling where the branch connects to the trunk.

Q:    I live in Colorado Springs and I want to grow blueberries.  I have sandy soil and my back yard faces the Southwest.  I would like to know when to plant and if they need full of partial sun.  I have two small blueberry plants that don't give any instructions.  I have automatic sprinklers in my yard so I could place them where they would get a good water supply. Can you tell me how much water they need as well?  J. S., Colorado Springs, 3/31/02
A:    According to the Sunset Western Garden Book, blueberries should be planted in early spring.  They require good drainage, and your sandy soil will be of help with that requirement.  They also prefer to be moist.  Therefore, you will need to water quite frequently to prevent the soil from drying out.  Check the soil often, because sandy soil does not retain moisture very well.  Using a mulch will help the soil retain moisture.  Plant them in an area that gets full sun.
   Now for the bad news:  they need acidic soil.  Most soil in Colorado is very alkaline.  You may want to consider growing them in containers or raised beds filled with an acidic potting soil like the ones used for azaleas and rhododendrons.  You can add chemicals and amendments to the garden soil to try to improve the pH, but the benefits will be short-lived and the soil will revert back to being alkaline without ongoing attention.

Q:    I am planning a strawberry patch this spring. Can you recommend a good everbearing strawberry for Colorado? (I live in Englewood.)  S. H., Englewood, 3/23/02
A:   Some everbearing strawberries that are recommended for Colorado include Ogallala (cold hardy), Fort Laramie (cold hardy), Ozark Beauty, and Quinault.  Local garden centers should carry them and they may be available by mail or Internet order.

Q:    Hi. My name is John and I'm originally from Kansas.  The grade of soil I am used to is much richer than that in the back yard where I plan to start a couple of gardens. It is somewhat sandy but there is some good in it. (I'm in South East Colorado Springs near the airport if that helps.) I was wondering what you would suggest to fix that issue.
    Also on another note I would like to plant some bare root Clematis, Raspberries and Blackberries along with some various seeds like Poppies, Sweet Peas, Morning Glories, and Pepper and a few Gladiola Bulbs. (The seeds will be started inside and then transplanted.) What time of year would you suggest I start planting the bulbs and bareroot plants? On the same note what time would be best to transplant the seedlings?
   Thank you Very Much for your time.  J., Colorado Springs, 2/24/02
A:    To improve the soil you should add organic soil amendments such as compost. Because your soil is sandy, you may also want to include some coarse sphagnum peat to improve water retention. You can add composted manure that has been aged for a year to areas other than vegetable gardens.  Due to the possible presence of E-coli and other disease-causing bacteria, manure is no longer recommended for vegetable beds.  As soon as the soil is workable this spring, add three cubic yards of the amendment per 1000 square feet, working it into the soil well.  Adding too much amendment all at once can lead to problems with salt accumulating in the amended soil.  Plan to improve the soil gradually over a period of years.
   You can plant the bareroot plants in spring (mid-March or later).  Be sure to soak the roots several hours or overnight before planting.  I have read that bareroot raspberries can be difficult to establish and blackberries require special winter protection here.  Plant the Poppy, Sweet Pea and Morning Glory seedlings and the gladiola bulbs after the last frost date -- between May 13th and May 18th in Colorado Springs.  Because peppers are very cold sensitive, wait until June 1st to plant them outside.  Be sure to harden off the transplants for a week before planting them by putting them outdoors for a few hours each day, gradually increasing the amount of time spent outside.  A low analysis complete mineral fertilizer (5-10-5) can be worked into flower beds at a rate of 10 - 20 pounds per 1000 square feet.  Use of a starter solution high in phosphate is also recommended for transplants to help them become established.
   It sounds like you will have a great garden.  Good luck.

Q:   I am moving to Colorado Springs and am interested in knowing the growing season for fruits and vegetables and if you have a lot of fresh local produce year round.  We live in California now and eat only fresh fruits and vegetables.  Thank you.  S. B., Salida, CA, 2/9/02
A:   Fresh produce, including produce from organic growers, is readily available year round at supermarkets.  However, produce is not locally grown during winter because the ground freezes and temperatures are too cold.  Beginning in spring (April and May), vegetables are planted in succession depending on their tolerance to cold and frost.  Locally grown produce is ample during late spring through fall at farmer's markets, roadside stands, and supermarkets.  If you plan to grow fruits and vegetables, I suggest that you contact CSU Cooperative Extension and request that they send you copies of their free fact sheets on growing fruits and vegetables in Colorado.  Several fact sheets are available on this topic and they are highly informative.  You can also access them on the CSU website.  Another good source for information is Planttalk Colorado.  Please see my website and look in the menu for "Resources" to get more information about these sites and services.  You can contact the Cooperative Extension office for the Colorado Springs area by mail at 305 South Union Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO 80910-3123; by phone: 719-636-8920, and by E-mail:

Q:    When and how to trim a nectarine fruit tree. Bore fruit first time last summer. Grown from a seed.  D. B., Ft. Collins, 1/21/02
A:   You should prune nectarine trees in late winter or early spring just before the buds open.  Remove weak, broken or interfering branches.  Also remove branches that have narrow, upright crotches.  When cutting off branches do not leave long stubs.  On the other hand, don't cut off the branch flush to the trunk.  Cut just beyond the collar, a swelling at the base of the branch.  If the tree has long young whips they can be cut back to just above a bud to promote branching.

Q:    I have several grape vines growing on a trellis.  During the recent snow storm the leaves which had been quite profuse, all died.  Will the plants regenerate leaves this year?  They are looking quite dead at the present time. C. W., Centennial, 5/28/01
A:    If the grape vines are established, they have a good chance of leafing out again.  You may want to prune off any badly damaged sections to encourage new growth.  A light application of fertilizer may also be helpful.

Q:    I have several small cherry trees that are producing fruit for the first time this year.  The upper most leaves are becoming deformed, curling inward. Can you tell me what the problem is and what I should do to correct it? J. O., Thornton, 5/21/01
A:    When leaves curl, aphids are often the cause.  They typically are found on new growth in late spring and early summer.  Ladybird beetles (ladybugs) are a natural predator.  Spraying the trees with a strong jet of water may help.  Malathion may be used if problems are severe.  Dormant oils, which should be applied in winter, are one of the best controls.  For a definitive diagnosis you can take a sample to your county CSU Cooperative Extension office.

Q:    I heard that peach trees will yield fruit sometimes in the Front Range.  Is that true?  Is there a variety whose flowers are more likely to survive the late frosts?  J. C., Superior, 4/10/01
A:    Because frosts can damage early-blooming peaches, they are not considered dependable when planted along the Front Range.  Some varieties that may perform satisfactorily are Reliance, Polly, Halehaven, J. H. Hale, Ranger, Elberta and Haven. Trees perform best when planted in full sun in soil that drains well.  Avoid planting them in low areas.

Q:     I have a question about preparation for the winter.  Am I to cut back my grape vine each year (it grows along my fence) or just leave it?  E., Denver, 10/28/00
A:    You should prune grape vines early in spring each year, leaving 2-4 good canes. Don't prune them now (in the fall).