Thursday, December 18, 2014

Painted Poinsettias by Sheilia Canada

It is time to add those holiday plants to your home like amaryllis, paperwhites, Christmas cactus, and poinsettias. You may have seen the great varieties in color choices poinsettias come in. You can even get them in unusual colors that are painted.


I have the fun job at a local garden center of painting and adding glitter to our poinsettias.  I am an organic gardener and permaculturist in addition to being a Colorado Master Gardener so it is always a concern for me what is being applied to our plants. At our center, we use vegetable based dyes that are specially formulated for poinsettias. We spray these dyes so we can achieve those beautiful purples, mauves, blues, and oranges. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Making an Ice Candle by Donna Duffy

My calendar and the thermometer are having a disagreement about what season this is. Even so, it really is winter, and the weather is bound to get cold again. When the day and nighttime temperatures stay well below freezing, you can make an ice candle (think Stock Show weather!). 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Great Christmas Tree Conundrum: Real or Fake? by Carol King

Heading Out for the Perfect Tree!
If you are considering a “real tree” for Christmas,  here are a couple of options when looking at fresh trees.

You can cut your Christmas tree at several U. S. Forest Service locations near the Front Range, provided you have a permit.  The USDA Forest Service web site has information on where and when to get a permit, cutting dates and times, tips on caring for your tree including a recipe for a fireproofing mixture, and other details. There are also Christmas tree farms along the Front Range that allow you to “cut your own.”

Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter Watering by Donna Duffy

Baby, it’s dry out there! It’s been weeks since we’ve had measurable moisture in the lower elevations of Jefferson County, and our landscapes are thirsty. The lack of soil moisture and atmospheric humidity can damage plant root systems unless they receive supplemental water. Affected plants may appear normal in the spring only to weaken or die later because the amount of new growth produced is greater than the weakened root system can support.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Pamper Your Poinsettias! by Donna Duffy

Many of us will adorn our homes with poinsettias this holiday season. You’ll have several colors (pink, white, variegated) to choose from in addition to the traditional deep red. Regardless of color, look for dark green foliage, and richly colored bracts (the modified, colorful leaves). Poinsettias are tender plants, and will drop their leaves very quickly if chilled. Be sure to protect the plant with a plastic sleeve as you leave the store or nursery.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Caring for Your Christmas Tree by Donna Duffy

What’s your vision of a perfect Christmas tree? Some would say it needs to be full and symmetrical. Others look for well-spaced limbs strong enough to support lots of lights and ornaments. Some like natural trees, others like artificial trees. Me? I tend to gravitate toward the “Charlie Brown” trees hiding at the edges of the lot. Regardless of your preference, caring for your tree properly will keep it healthy and fresh for the longest possible time after purchase.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Easy to Grow Houseplants by CSU Extension

With outdoor gardening on the back burner, gardeners can turn their efforts toward indoor gardening. Here are five really easy house plants that will add oxygen to your home, help clean the indoor air, and assuage your green thumb!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Protecting Young Trees From Sunscald by Donna Duffy

This young Bigtooth Maple is susceptible to sunscald.

Did you plant new trees in the past couple of years? If so, they may be vulnerable to sunscald this winter. Planttalk Colorado offers this information to help protect young trees from sunscald.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Battling Fruit Flies by C J Clawson

Photo Counsel & Heal News
I returned home from a recent week long trip to discover my kitchen infested with fruit flies!  Of course, I blamed my husband for not eating the bananas in a timely manner and not rinsing out the wine glasses!  And now I am engaged in a battle with the enemy.  No, not my husband (although he did get KP duty)but instead, the Drosophila (meaning dew-loving) species of the insect world– also called vinegar flies or pomace flies for their characteristic of being found near over ripe or rotting fruit.  I’d like to share a bit of my war strategy – in case you are someone who doesn’t eat their bananas quickly enough:
  1. Throw out all the over ripe fruit on the counter.  This means tight bagging and immediate transfer to the outdoor garbage bin – don’t just toss it in your kitchen garbage can. 
  2. Wash any salvageable fruit and store in the refrigerator, if possible.  This goes for all future fruit purchases too – no need to import fruit flies from the grocery store.
  3. I am a kitchen scrap composter so, instead of tossing the over ripe fruit, I placed it all in the counter composting crock.  That crock has been moved to the back deck until temperatures fall sufficiently to kill off any fruit fly larvae.
  4. Thoroughly clean your kitchen garbage bin and disposal; wipe down your counters.  Check your floors for juice spills and toss out any questionable sponges or cloths.  Don’t let things like wine glasses sit with residue in them – remember, sweet and/or fermented moisture is what drew the fruit flies in the first place!
  5. Set some traps.  You can purchase these at a hardware store but you can also make your own using cider vinegar or wine, a jar, and either a plastic bag or paper funnel. Place an inch or so of liquid in the bottom of the jar.  Make a funnel with a piece of paper or cut a small hole in one corner of the bag and place over the jar so the small end of the funnel is close to but not touching the fluid.  Replace the trap every seven to ten days. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Amaryllis: The Joy that Keeps on Giving by Patti O'Neal

Amaryllis is a rare gift to a gardener, providing near instant gratification producing a magnificent spectacle in 4-6 weeks. It’s a gift of growing something and making it bloom right in the middle of snow and freezing temperatures. The trick for many is to get them to do it again the following year. 

Amaryllis is a tender bulb, meaning it does not require a chilling period to bloom.  These beauties originate in the temperate climates of South America where they grow and bloom outdoors.  Here in the chilly Rocky Mountains we enjoy them “forced” during the holidays of December and on into January and even February. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

November Tomatoes?! by E. J. Bennett

Photo taken October 25, 2014
Whether by global warming or just a local climate hiccup, this year’s unusual fall weather has gardeners happily plucking tomatoes from the vine past Halloween.  Most years, however, we have to consider the eventual demise of our tomato production in late September or early October.  October 9 is our average first frost date in Denver, but 1944 holds the record, when frost wasn’t seen until November 15th! (guess it was busy freezing the Ardennes Forest over in Europe that year). 
If you want to maximize your tomato output through first frost, follow these simple steps in late August or early September:
1.  Ruthlessly evaluate and prune your tomato plants.  Vines with only flowers? Out.  Vines with tiny green tomatoes? Out.  Leave only the tomatoes you think have a chance of maturing before first frost.
2.  Shock your tomato plants.  No, this doesn’t mean gardening in your thong.  The act of pruning, above, will stimulate the plant to bring the remaining fruit to maturity.  But you can also use your shovel to cut some of the plant’s roots (dig straight down with your shovel 3-4 places in a circle around the plant, 6+ inches out from the base of the plant) and reduce total water to the plants by a third or more.  
3.  As the weather cools, cut remaining foliage back so the sun strikes the remaining fruit during the day.  The additional solar heat will help them mature.