Monday, July 6, 2015

Leafcutter Bees by Joyce D’Agostino


Leaf cutter bee injury
Have you noticed curious semicircular cut outs in the leaves of some of your plants? This might mean that the busy Leaf Cutter bees are at work. 
Recently I noticed these cut out shapes on the leaves of some of my Alpine Strawberry plants. In researching more about them, I found that these bees are a beneficial insect, even though they may be doing some damage to your plants.
Leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.) are considered one of the important native insects here in the Western United States. They are solitary bees, meaning that they don’t live in a hives as do the social honeybees, but they are still very valued as a pollinator. 
When they make the cut and remove the leaf from your plant, it is not for a food source but used to build their nest cells. When they form their cell home, they then line each leaf cell with a mixture of nectar and pollen. The female bee lays an egg into the cell and seals it shut, which produces a secure environment for the eggs to develop. Leafcutter bees make their nests in soft rotted wood but they don’t cause damage to homes or other wooden structures. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!



Plant fireworks from scribal.com
Happy Fourth of July to all our favorite gardeners!  Here's a link to some amazing plant fireworks.

http://scribol.com/environment/10-most-amazing-natural-fireworks-on-earth

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Identifying Poison-Hemlock by Audrey Stokes

Poison-Hemlock (Conium maculatum).
Scientists recommend that you learn to identify and avoid plants that produce dangerous toxins. Your life may depend on it! Each year dozens of people die or are sickened by weeds they didn’t know would cause them harm. Gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts need to be well-informed in order to stay safe. Recently in Larimer County, a dog died from ingesting water hemlock. http://kdvr.com/2015/06/30/dog-eats-poisonous-plant-dies-within-1-hour/

Why are some weeds poisonous?  Most plants produce their own naturally occurring pesticide to deter predators so they won’t be eaten. No plant could survive without producing some defense mechanism. Most lists of Colorado’s toxic weed species that I researched were topped by the very dangerous Poison-hemlock (Conium maculatum). I found this especially alarming due to the fact that I have this weed growing on my property!  Originally imported from Europe as an ornamental plant, it has spread rampantly across North America.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Controlling Slugs in the Garden by Carol King

Photo CSU Extension
The wet spring and continuing storms have provided a banner crop of sugs in gardens along the Front Range of Colorado.  I see their slime trails each morning glistening in the sunshine and see evidence of their voracious eating habits on my hostas in particular.

Slugs are very destructive and difficult to control. Seedlings of many vegetables and flowers are favored foods, and they feed on many fruits and vegetables prior to harvest. Even the slime trails produced by slugs can contaminate garden produce.

Dr. Whitney Cranshaw, Professor and Extension Specialist of Entomology at Colorado State University recommends the following:
Photo gardenmyths.com

Techniques for Slug Control:
Reduce moisture in the garden. Slug populations depend on moisture in the garden to thrive.  Any effort  to reduce the amount of moisture will help with the problem.  Use of drip irrigation and soaker lines and overhead watering early in the day will help reduce the humidity they thrive on.
Remove hiding places for slugs. Removing surface debris,avoiding organic mulches (straw, grass clippings) increasing air movement around plants and using trellises and wider plant spacing will help in reducing slug populations.
Use traps or trap boards to kill or concentrate slugs. Slugs are attracted to chemicals produced by many fermenting materials. Thus pans of beer or sugar-water can attract, trap and drown slugs. Place them throughout the plant to reduce slug populations. Alcohol is not the attractant to slugs; its the yeast fermenting in the beer. Boards and wet newspaper placed on the soil surface will have slugs that seek shelter under them. Check these shelters every morning and kill any slugs found.
Plant trap crops to divert slugs from main crops. Slugs love some plants more than others so planting them will divert slugs from your prized plants. Good trap crops include: green lettuce, cabbage, calendula, marigolds, comfrey leaves, zinnias and beans.
Use repellents or barriers. Slugs don’t like to travel over abrasive materials. Diatomaceous earth, wood ashes and similar materials placed around plants provide some protection. These materials must be kept dry however. 
Apply baits according to label directions. Molluscicides are pesticides effective against slugs and snails, and are offered for sale in most garden centers. Read labels carefully and apply as directed.  Many of these are harmful to pets and other wildlife and cannot be used on vegetables. Metaldehyde is the most commonly used and effective molluscicide. It is sold often in the form of granular baits (Bug-Geta, etc.) or as a paste or gel (Deadline, etc.) It is not to be used in the vegetable garden and is harmful to dogs in particular.  An alternative bait that recently has become available includes iron phosphate (ferric phosphate) as the active ingredient. Trade names include Sluggo, Slug Magic and Escar-Go!, among others. Iron phosphate products can be used around edible crops and do not pose special hazards to dogs. Ammonia sprays make excellent contact molluscicides, but must be applied directly to exposed slugs. Household ammonia, diluted to a 5 percent to 10 percent concentration, is effective for this purpose.
For more information about slug control read this fact sheet: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05515.html


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Downy Mildew on Sunflowers by Donna Duffy


I always grow a few sunflowers at the edge of my yard every summer. They are a great conversation piece and a delight to the neighborhood kids and birds. Because of the rain, I got the seeds started late this year and they are up about 3" this week. I was checking them out and noticed a white fuzzy substance on the bottom of the leaves on two plants. After some research, I discovered this is Downy Mildew.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Snakes in the Garden by Donna Duffy

Every summer, I am greeted by garter snakes in my garden. I really do like having them there, I just don’t like to be surprised by them. Last year I was on hands and knees, reaching deep into some overgrown perennials, pulling out dead leaves and stems. When I pulled my hand out of the darkness, I discovered my fingers were wrapped around a snake. It wasn’t pretty for either of us: the snake went flying through the air and I ended up on my back. 



It was one of Colorado’s most common snakes, Thanmophis elegans, or the Western Terrestrial Garter Snake. Here are a few facts about this harmless snake from Colorado Herping.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

An Invasion of Flea Beetles by Donna Duffy

Flea Beetle - photo courtesy CSU Extension

I was working in the yard last week and noticed an abundance of tiny, shiny, jumpy insects. After some research, I discovered that they were flea beetles. Once I identified them, I started seeing them in my neighbor’s yards as well. So I turned to CSU Extension and discovered Fact Sheet 5.592: Flea Beetles.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Spittlebugs in the Garden by Carol King

Spittlebug Froth photo UC Davis
While weeding near my bee balm (Monarda), I saw several patches of  a frothy white substance on the leaves.  Upon further study, I discovered that I have a small infestation of the spittlebug.  Aptly named, the white froth is what the immature spittlebug or nymphs surround themselves with as they feed on plant tissue.  Adult spittlebugs are inconspicuous, often greenish or brownish insects, about 0.25 inch long. 

While spittlebugs suck plant juices and can distort plant tissue and slow plant growth, they do not seriously harm plants. As they don’t cause significant damage, just wash them off with water if their appearance bothers you.  Otherwise, enjoy yet another fascinating bug in action!



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Gardening Power to the People: Trellis / Vertical Gardening by Ed Powers




Watch this 4-minute video by Ed Powers, Jefferson County Master Gardener, about ideas for trellising and vertical gardening. Thanks, Ed!





Monday, June 15, 2015

What to do with a Tree Stump? by Donna Duffy

Last October, I had a huge elm tree removed from a corner of my yard. I was left with a tree stump about 2 feet tall, and it’s sprouting like crazy. I’m not sure what I want to do with this stump, so I turned to CSU Extension for information. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Open Garden Day at CSU Horticulture Demonstration Garden by Patti O'Neal

CSU Master Gardeners of Jefferson County will be available for questions and tours of the gardens on Saturday, June 20th, from 8:00am until 1:00pm at the Horticulture Demonstration and Research Garden located at the Jeffco Fairgrounds.  

Master Gardeners tend this garden and build structures, demonstrate different planting styles and experiment with plants to show how to manage and increase harvest of produce in front range gardens.  They will be working in the garden this day and invite you to come and ask questions and take photos for ideas and learn about good gardening practices.  


Adjacent to this garden is our Plant Select garden where the public can see some really durable ornamental plants for Colorado.  We do not amend or water this garden other than what Mother Nature provides, so you can be sure these plants do incredibly well here.  

Come and bring questions, cameras or samples of plant problems from your gardens and Master Gardeners will help you to understand what’s happening this year and how you can help your plants to thrive. 


Please join us!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June Lawn Care by James Johnston


This spring we have had an abundance of moisture and our lawns and gardens are benefiting from it. With its deep green color, Kentucky Bluegrass is in its glory…for now. Leap forward to late June/July with the watering restriction and take into consideration how to maintain your lawn. Whether your turf is a bluegrass, ryegrass, or fescue, proper watering techniques can promote a healthy lawn.

Kentucky Bluegrass or ryegrass lawns need anywhere from 1” in shady areas to 2.25” of water per week in full sun. This may be difficult to do with the restrictions but the following information may help you get the best results for your lawn.