Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Growing Tomatoes in Colorado by Carol King

Photo CO-Horts
Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable to grow in the home garden in the US. In fact 93% of American gardening households grow tomatoes!

Here are a few fun facts about tomatoes: 
  • The tomato plant originates from the family of Nightshade plants (potato, tobacco, chili peppers) in Central America. It was domesticated around 500 BC by Aztecs and used not only as a food, but also as powerful (and dangerous) hallucinogenic.
  • It is speculated that there is over 25 thousand tomato varieties.
  • Americans obtain more vitamins from tomatoes than from any other vegetable.
  • An average American eats around 24 pounds of tomato each year.
  • Americans have increased their tomato consumption 30% over the last 20 years. In the last few years however, salsa has replaced ketchup as the top selling condiment in the United States.
It’s finally time to plant tomatoes here along the Front Range in Colorado and this CSU Fact Sheet has all the information you need to have a great tomato crop: 


Interested in container grown tomatoes?  Try this video: 

Other interesting Tomato Facts can be found at http://www.vegetablefacts.net/vegetable-facts/tomato-facts/
Happy gardening!



Friday, May 20, 2016

Jefferson County Master Gardeners in Service: Horticulture and Demonstration Garden by Jill Knussman

Photo by Jill Knussmann
Did you know that Jefferson County Master Gardeners have a demonstration vegetable and fruit garden at the fairgrounds? For the past two years, hundreds of pounds of produce have been grown in these garden beds and donated to local food banks. We invite you to visit and see what you can learn about growing produce.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hardening Off and Transplanting Seedlings By Brooke Colburn

Seedling Photo by Brooke Coburn
It is time to begin to transplant tender seedlings outdoors, and seedlings that have grown indoors up to this point need special treatment before being planted outdoors. These seedlings are used to lowers light levels, protection from the elements, and ample water. So they will need to adjust gradually to the outdoor environment, a process called hardening off.
Hardening Off
Photo Brooke Coburn
Shade for new seedlings by Brooke Coburn
About a week before transplanting, begin placing the seedlings outdoors for a few hours each day. Place the plants in a location with light shade and protection from the wind so as to avoid scalding and wilting. A shade cloth, tree, or trellis can provide adequate shade. Each day, gradually increase the amount of time the seedlings spend outdoors until they can be left out even overnight. Keep a careful watch on the weather forecast, however, and be sure to bring the seedlings inside if temperatures are going to dip near to freezing.
Transplanting
Transplant seedlings on an overcast, cool day, if possible, after the danger of frost has passed. Loosen the soil and dig a hole for the transplant. Carefully remove the seedling from the pot, keeping as many of the roots intact as possible. Place the roots in the hole and move loose dirt back around to support the stem of the plant. Water right away with a solution of half strength fertilizer. Keep newly transplanted seedlings well-watered for the first three to four weeks after transplanting until they develop a larger root system.
Summary
Gradually acclimate seedlings to the outdoor environment by providing protection from sun and wind. Transplant on a cool, overcast day, and continue to provide sufficient water until the root system has developed. See the links below for more information and to find your local frost dates.
Sources
Buying and Hardening Seedlings http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1802.html
Climate Summary: Castle Rock, Littleton, and Parker, Colorado http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/Gardennotes/742.pdf




Sunday, May 15, 2016

Through the Eyes of a Potato: History From a Potato's Perspective by Randy Wilkerson

Russet Burbank Potato, photo courtesy Wikipedia
My official name is Solanum tuberosum, but you can call me potato. I was born in the Andes of South America, probably near Lake Titicaca on the border of what is now Peru and Bolivia, but some of my ancestors probably came from Chile. My parents were members of the Nightshade family, so that makes me a Solanaceae. Some of my relatives include tomatoes, eggplants, chili peppers and petunias.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Plant Tags Can Educate Garden Shoppers by Paula Hamm

Photo by Donna Duffy
It’s that time of the year when many of us have the impulse to rush to our favorite garden center.  When you go, take a good look at the plant tags.  Take the time to examine them and learn about the specific requirements of the plants they accompany.  Using symbols and pictures, growers pack many facts and details to help you successfully grow and nurture your plants.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Prevention of Deer, Elk and Rabbit Damage to the Home Landscape by Peter J. Drake

Photo courtesy nps.gov
Whether you are justifiably proud of your long-standing, carefully-nursed hedge and flower beds, or you are just starting out in shaping your home yard into the plantscape of your dreams, you have probably already confronted, worried about, and tried to deal with wildlife damage—particularly, for Colorado at this time of year, the damage resulting from activities of deer, elk and rabbit.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Carnation, The First Mother's Day Flower by Carol King

Photo Colorado State University
Carnations were the very first Mother’s Day flower given when Anna Jarvis, Mother’s Day founder, distributed her mother’s favorite flowers, white carnations in 1907, during the first Mother’s Day memorial service.

"The Carnation Gold Rush" is a term used by Denver locals, historians and preservationists to represent the period between the 1880s and 1930s when the floriculture industry developed and thrived in Colorado.  Denver was once called The Carnation Capitol of the World, there were so many grown here!

Here are some interesting links about the carnation connection to Colorado history:



Carnations are members of the dianthus family and there are several hardy periennal varieties that work well in Colorado. They also called “pinks” from the Latin word pinct, which means pinked or scalloped, referring to the jagged edges of the flower petals. Here is a fact sheet on growing the “Darling Dianthus.”

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust


Happy Mother’s Day! 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Brief History of Honey Bees by Rebecca Anderson

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) foraging in a Five Spot wildflower (Nemophila maculata).

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) have populated our planet for eons.  Fossil evidence of the earliest bee ancestors date to 130 million years ago.  About 80 million years ago, bee fossils started showing characteristics of social structure.  Recent genetic analysis of modern honey bees point to the insects originating in Asia, not Africa as previously thought.  Humans have interacted with bees for millennia.  Rock art from 25,000 years ago depict honeycomb and wild honey bee hives.  Residue of beeswax has been found on artifacts dating back 9000 years.  These artifacts were located in various regions including Europe, the Near East and North Africa.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Inviting Daphne to Your Garden by Rebecca Anderson

Daphne in bloom in April, photo by Rebecca Anderson
The daphnes (Daphne sp.) are a group of broadleaf shrubs that add interest to gardens around the world.  There are nearly 100 species of daphne, which are in the same family as thyme (Thymeaceae).  The most common species in the United States are the D. xburkwoodii, hybridized by British brothers Albert and Arthur Burkwood who were accomplished nurserymen in the 1920's.  The 'Somerset' cultivar is the original popular variety.  A beautiful mutation of 'Somerset' was discovered by New Jersey gardener Carol Mackie in 1962.  Since then, the 'Carol Mackie' cultivar has been widely propagated.  It is listed as hardy in zones 5 to 9, although many gardeners in zone 4 have had success.  'Carol Mackie' joined my flower bed in 2007 as an impulse purchase, and has really made herself at home since.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Don’t Miss the Boat: It’s Time to Plant Cilantro! by Amy Bubar

Cilantro, photo courtesy CSU Extension
I had the most delicious soup the other day at my favorite neighborhood eatery.  Creamy and rich, it also had the unmistakable fresh, bright essence of a certain herb, which served as the perfect reminder:  Now’s the time to plant cilantro!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

History of the Tomato by Cherie Luke

Photo courtesy cedargrovegardens.com
The best way to get a delicious tomato is to grow it yourself! And many of us must be doing just that: according to the US Department of Agriculture, 93% of home gardens grow tomatoes, making it the most popular vegetable to grow. With 25,000 varieties to choose from, it’s no wonder we are enamored with our tomato plants.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Planting Trees in Colorado for Arbor Day by Carol King

Photos by Carol King

Happy Arbor Day, an annual observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. What better way to celebrate than to plant a tree! Spring is typically tree and shrub planting time in Colorado.  The garden centers and big box stores are offering a huge assortment to choose from.  How does one know which tree to choose?  Choosing the right tree is essential to tree health and success. Don’t just go to the garden center and take whatever you can find.  Put some study into it.  

Ask yourself some questions. What is growing well in your neighborhood? What varieties are suited to Front Range Colorado and are most resistant to common insect and disease pests? What is the purpose of my tree?  Shade? Fruit? Windbreak?  This can be a daunting decision so here are some resources to help:

Front Range Tree Recommendation List, from Colorado Nursery Grower's Association, American Society of Landscape Architects Colorado, the Colorado Tree Coalition, and Colorado State UniversityExtension.
http://coloradotrees.org/PDFs/TreeRecommendationList.pdf
Recommended Trees for Colorado Front Range Communities, from Colorado State Forest Service, http://static.colostate.edu/client-files/csfs/pdfs/trees_for_frontrange.pdf
Read more: Colorado tough: Great trees for your Western garden - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/homegarden/ci_25616185/colorado-tough-great-trees-your-western-garden#ixzz306oIQnag