My favorite month? Definitely not April

Topic of conversation at Sunday’s dinner: What are your favorite and least-favorite months of the year?

Both kids quickly said December as their No. 1 favorite. Perhaps it’s because that’s typically the first day of skiing or the end of the school semester. Or wait. Could it be because of Christmas?

Yet when it came to the opinion of the least favorite, our choices started to differ. Asher chose June: no holidays, no birthdays and it’s exactly six months from his birthday. Unfortunately, he was born in January, so actually, July is six months. But I really didn’t mind – his argument held no water because Father’s Day is in June, so I stopped listening relatively early on. Elena chose November: She equated it to Thanksgiving, which she equates to mashed potatoes, which we all know she hates.

Just kidding, Elena; this is just another opportunity to mention your name and potatoes in the newspaper.

I chose April, as it drives me batty, and to be honest, it blows. Literally. We aren’t talking Cheyenne, Wyo., or even Oklahoma wind, but this year, April has been nothing but a pollen- and dirt-filled 25 days, and I cannot wait for it to end.

As a farmer, or even a gardener, wind can be one of your worst enemies as it does a fantastic job at drying things out very quickly. If you already are growing cold-season crops (spinach, peas, lettuce and onions, for example), and they already are germinated and leafed out, it may be worthwhile to protect them. Using coldframes or even frost cloth can take the bite off desiccating wind, but make sure they are securely fastened as the same wind that dries out your plants can quickly blow your materials into the neighbor’s yard.

If you recently have seeded shallow-planted crops such as lettuce and carrots, it also is important to keep the top quarter- to half-inch of soil moist. The winds can quickly dry out this depth of soil, so if your seeds germinate, the lack of moisture quickly will destroy those newly formed roots. Frequently, gardeners can lightly irrigate a couple of times a day, apply a thin layer of vermiculite or even use frost cloth directly on top of the soil to retain moisture.

As your plants get larger the need for wind protection may decrease. But don’t forget, come June, once the tomatoes and peppers are transplanted and crops such as beans and squash start to put on their first true leaves, the process of wind protection may start all over. The transplants are stressed as you have ripped them out of the confines of their warm, black pots, so any additional stress (read wind) may exacerbate the situation and shut down the plant for a period of time. Beans and squash, with their large leaves, also may be susceptible to drying winds. Simply protecting them with a log or timbers placed on the ground next to the plants may block those winds long enough for a larger and stronger plant to develop.

So I’m sorry for those of you with birthdays between now and the end of the month. I am not discounting the importance of your special day. But when mud falls from the sky and the temperature reaches a brutally low 12 degrees, you know that you are ready to move on to the best month of the year: May!

parmenterdm@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.

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