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All I want for Christmas this year is good weather for gardening

By Jelani Yancey

I wish for the same thing each Christmas: a good gardening year! World peace would be good too. But if there is any correlation between results and my behavior, I was a bad boy this year. In fact, many gardeners are overjoyed to say goodbye to 2011.

My memory recalls mostly the heat of the summer. It took a toll on the production of my tomatoes and the thickness of my fescue lawn and the hybrid tea roses had a long lag between blooms. My fall garden planting got put off to where the harvest was short for the beans and broccoli. A bright spot was less mowing.

In the first six months of 2011, there was average rainfall. When plants might need it the most in July, August and importantly September, we fell behind for normal rainfall. December has turned out to be wetter than average and brought us close to normal for total moisture in 2011.

Our area’s average low can be between minus 10 and 20 degrees. We only got down to minus 6. I’ve learned my lesson and use only cold hardy plants.   

The growing season night temperatures play an important part in plant health. Warm night temperature and the plants continue to burn up their food produced during the light hours. Cool temperatures allow the plant to store up food. That didn’t occur often enough for my lawn. It declined over the summer.

To be specific on my wish, I requested an inch of rain per week during the growing season. Plenty of sun to shine on my plants leaves so they will produce their needed food. No 100 degree days and just as important cooler summer nights to store up reserves.

That is my Christmas wish. If it doesn’t come true I can blame it on not keeping it a secret. I can’t be that bad year after year.

You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the Riley County, K-State Research and Extension website at And you can contact Gregg Eyestone at the Riley County office of K-State Research and Extension at 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan, by calling 785-537-6350 or e-mail:

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