Half of Windsor has flowers and veggies. The other half has, at best, stalks and stems or mush because of the hailstorm Aug. 3. Since we live in Hail Alley, every one of us can expect this somewhat questionable “benefit” of Mother Nature. True, it does bring moisture, something we always need, but the delivery is usually overwhelming. My neighborhood is experiencing the second benefit of hail: roof repair crews are everywhere.
Anyway, back to the flowers. Aug. 10 was Tour Day in Windsor. Seven homes and Treasure Island Demonstration Garden were toured. The eighth home was so extensively damaged that it had to be removed from the list. Master gardeners from Weld County were at each home giving help and handing out information.
I consulted the expert on hail in Windsor, Lauren Springer Ogden, a former Windsor resident and author of “The Undaunted Garden” and she quickly responded to my email request for information.
Springer Ogden said: “I heard about the hail in Windsor. At least it wasn’t a tornado this time. Talk about bad timing regarding the garden tour. I’m really sorry. Hail this late is unusual and it’s a good idea not to cut things back as hard as you would were it a month earlier, because this can promote too much lush growth just before winter. I wish I could have some great words of encouragement. The garden is not going to look fabulous anymore this season no matter what, but when I’ve been through such a mess, I use it as an excuse to drastically change things that I might not have done otherwise when things were looking passable or pretty good. When things look bad, it’s easier to say, ‘Hey, that area is not what it was, let’s change it up.’ It’s easier to rip out a hail-smashed perennial or tear out a leafless shrub than a healthy one. There are a bunch of plants on sale at nurseries all over the Front Range now, and it’s just starting to cool down enough to make planting viable again. After the massive snowstorm in October 2011 that damaged so many Fort Collins trees, I cut down seven in my garden that had not measured up after nine years. Some had been badly damaged, but a couple had not, I just was sick of them. It is just easier to do the dirty deed after such an insult. Fall is the best time to rethink the garden, and you’re getting a head start thanks to this debacle.”
And about the veggies: Some areas of the town were hit so hard that there is nothing left of the plants. Many of us have a scraggly stalk with flat leaves or nothing at all. This was a late storm, and the veggies will probably not recover. So, if you are a veggie gardener here is some advice from Springer Ogden:
“One more thing, Janene, specifically for the poor veg gardeners. Now it won’t help the tour situation, but it’s time to plant again in the veg garden, anyway, (recently) I dug out bunch of beans and harvested my daikon radishes to make room for another crop of green beans (the flat Romano Italian ones which I love) and some more cilantro, and sowed several rows of mesclun and baby bok choy for September and early October harvest. The veg gardeners could just go ahead and sow, and put up signs on the rows to educate people on what can be sown for late summer and fall harvest here in NoCo.”
So there you have it, tend to what is salvageable, replant and enjoy the crop. Plan for next year.
Treasure Island Demonstration Garden was part of the tour and looks forward to your visit if you weren’t able to be there Aug. 10. Volunteers from the Town showed up last Tuesday and Thursday to help in the cleanup.
Treasure Island Demonstration Garden is a partnership between the Town of Windsor and the DiGGers, a group of committed master gardeners. The Town of Windsor provides the land, the non-potable water supply, and other important support services. The DiGGers and treasured community volunteers provide the gardening expertise and care. Treasure Island Demonstration Garden is a Plant Select® and vegetable demonstration garden. All food grown at the garden is donated to the Windsor Food Pantry. For information about water conservation and water-wise gardening go to www.windsorgov.com. To contact the DiGGers, please call (970) 686-2999, brochures and newsletters are available at the garden. Donations to the garden can be made through the Community Foundation, Treasure Island Demonstration Garden, 711 8th Ave., Greeley, CO 80631.