Colorado October weather can be anywhere from divine warm sixty degree days to disastrous, sudden cold – often with snow that can snap branches on leafed out trees and freeze sprinkler pipes in mere hours. Guess what is predicted in less than seventy-two hours? They’re saying a temperature drop of sixty degrees. Are you ready? Is your landscape ready? At least a little bit?
This isn’t unusual for October or any fall months along the Front Range. That’s why every seasoned Coloradoan has a down jacket hung right next to a sleeveless shirt.
I’m prepared as much as I can possibly prepare. The landscape trees and shrubs are well hydrated from supplemental watering the past couple of months. All the warm-season vegetables have been harvested and cleared out. Some lettuces are popping up here and there – I’m leaving them to fend for themselves – no cold frame or covering this fall. I’ll hold off and plant garlic seed next week or I may get it in the ground before Thursday’s storm. I have plenty of grass mulch to cover the planting area, plus snow is a fine insulator.
If you have planted your garlic already be SURE to place a 3+ inch layer of organic materials such as chopped leaves and or chemical-free grass clippings over the planted cloves. If low on mulch, use a heavy floating row cover or flat bed sheet or plastic. Use care when using plastic and don’t let it touch any nearby plant foliage (I doubt your garlic has sprouted with green leaves showing, but if it has, don’t use plastic over them). Plastic conducts cold to whatever foliage it touches.
It’s never a good idea for plants to go into the fall and winter with dry roots. Dry means damage to the fine root hairs, so try to remember “winter – wet” – not sopping, but moist soils are advantageous to plant roots to get through dry times and abrupt weather events. Things can still happen even with the best intentions and preparedness.
Sometimes the weather is so drastic in change that plant death is unavoidable, not all plants, but some. The most talked about deadly storm system that affected Canada and most of the United States was back in November of 2014. There’s even a Wikipedia page for this damaging storm. Click here for a local summary of that event from The Denver Post.
Until Jerry arrives to blow out our sprinkler system I have securely wrapped and covered the exposed back flow preventer and the attached pipes so they don’t freeze. It’s about a five minute task.
The shut off valve is usually inside the house (should be two shut offs, one for the sprinkler, one to the whole house). Drain excess water in the exposed pipes as well by opening the ball valves attached to the back flow preventer (located on the outside pipes, see the 9News video below).
My previous blogs on fall and wintering watering – SO IMPORTANT for newbies to Colorado!
My short video from a couple of years ago on wrapping the sprinkler pipes. Ferris wanted to be part of the action.
Four final words – snow shovel, find it.