Friday, October 21, 2016

Fertilize Bluegrass in the Fall for a Green Spring Lawn by Carol King

Photo Carol King
Did you know that fall is the best time of year to fertilize Colorado's bluegrass lawns and you still have lots of time to do this?  If you fertilize now, you won't have to do anything in the spring but watch your lawn turn green.

Planttalk Colorado give us the advice to "simply fertilize with nitrogen sometime during late September to early November at lower altitudes, and earlier in the mountains." 

The benefits of fall fertilizing include a healthier turf before winter, a healthier root system, and stimulating a turf that greens up earlier in the spring without excessive top growth. 

Fall fertilization produces dense, green spring lawns and should be a part of every good lawn care program.

For more information including how much nitrogen to put on your lawn see this fact sheet:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fall Rose Care by Donna Duffy

The arrival of fall brings the realization that winter really will be here soon. Among all of your other fall garden chores, be sure to plan some time to get your roses “tucked in” and ready to brave whatever winter may bring. According to the Denver Rose Society’s publication “Growing Roses in Colorado,” there are five basic steps to remember.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Crow Damage and Control by Joyce D'agostina

American Crow, photo courtesy
Attracting birds, bees and butterflies to your garden has always been a great idea. However this year, I have notice a much larger population of the black crow, Corvus corax, in our neighborhood. Crows have been known for many years to be foragers who will eat just about anything, including your favorite garden fruits and vegetables.

About mid-summer, when some of my tomatoes were finally ripening, I heard a commotion in the garden and noticed several of the crows flying out of my garden area. To my disappointment, they had helped themselves to several of the ripe tomatoes and also had done damage to a few others.

Since I am not always available to catch these crows when they are in my garden, I had to think of something to help deter them. The magpies also were very interested in my garden crops so I had to think fast to try to come up with something to deter them without doing harm or damaging my garden. Crows are known to be very clever birds with great memories and tend to travel in groups so that they help protect each other as they forage so I had to find something effective.

Mylar windsock, photo by Joyce D'agostina
One item that I saw in a gardening catalog is a windsock type device that you hang in your garden. This item was made from a Mylar plastic that caused bright hologram type lights as the streamers move in the breeze. This was reported to be annoying and a deterrent to birds but was harmless to bees and butterflies.

I purchased one of these windsocks and hung it in the garden. I noticed almost immediately that the birds stayed away from the garden and no more plucked or pecked tomatoes. It was also hanging close to a Lavender Hyssop which the bees love and it didn’t seem to cause any issues with them continuing to enjoy that plant. This seemed to be a good solution because I didn’t want to use any chemicals or other harmful solutions to keep these hungry birds from my garden.

Scarecrows, photo courtesy Wikipedia

Scarecrows have also been for centuries as a way for farmers to keep these birds from their crops. The idea was to make a large figure that resembled a human that would make the birds think that there were people in the garden, which scared them away. Today Scarecrows are found all around the world and there are scarecrow making contests. Adding a scarecrow to your garden will not only possibly help keep away the bird pests but also add a great seasonal look to your garden. If you google Scarecrows and your city or county name, you may find a local event featuring scarecrows.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Summer Vacation is Over for Houseplants by Rebecca Anderson

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) that has spent the summer outside
Most houseplants are tropical and flourish with some outdoor exposure during the summer.  With cooler nights in the forecast it’s getting to be time to bring them back indoors.  Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit will damage many houseplants, so keep an eye on those nightly weather reports.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Fall Landscape Cleanup Tips for the Vegetable Garden by Peter Drake

Photo courtesy CSU Extension
Whether you have made a vegetable garden in a raised bed, an in-ground bed, or a container, now is a very good time to plan for how you can clean up your garden, and put it in order for the winter months to better ensure that, come next year’s planting, your garden will possess good health and balanced nutrition.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Planning Your Garden for Next Year by Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Carol King
As we approach fall, most of us are busy doing cleanup of our summer garden. Since gardening can take time, effort and money to maintain, it is a good idea now to make a list of those vegetables or fruits that you want to plant again and the ones that you will eliminate.
Make two columns for your list, and label one column “keep” and "eliminate" in the other column. Even though you may be well aware now of what you didn’t want to plant again, after a few months of busy fall and winter activities, it might help to have a list to refer to so you remember some key issues.
For example, maybe this year you planted kale only to find that you, your family or friends didn’t like it. There is no point to plant anything that takes up garden space that won’t be eaten or appreciated. So you might want to put kale in the eliminate column. Also, if you like zucchini but don’t need bushels of it, you can make note to have only one plant next season. Anything that was a hit can go into the keep column.
Since many people can have limited time spent in the garden, any plant that was more high maintenance than you could handle should be considered on the cut list. If you had to spend a lot of time and money on certain plants, you can consider that maybe they are not worth trying to repeat them. And since our growing season can be shorter than some areas, having tomatoes for example that don’t produce until September may not be a smart choice either unless you find that they are worth the wait!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

When Frost Threatens – Take Action by Patti O'Neal

Frost can signal that the end of the gardening season is near – but not necessarily over.
I have a good friend who recently said “I am sick of the garden – I just want it to be over.”  If this is you, then when frost threatens, by all means do a final harvest of the tenders and call it done.  If it’s not you, there are many measures you can take to protect your crops from a killing frost incident, as more times than not, such an incident is followed here by an Indian Summer and at least another month of flower and vegetable enjoyment and harvest.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Fall Pruning “Dos and Don’ts” by Audrey Stokes

Mild fall weather may have you thinking about pruning shrubs and trees but it's better to wait until winter or at least until after deciduous trees’ leaves have fallen. When it comes to fall pruning, procrastination is the way to go.  One exception to any ‘no-pruning’ advice is that dead, diseased and damaged wood should be removed as soon as possible.  Hire a professional arborist to remove big limbs, high branches, and any other tree job that you’re not prepared to do.

Pruning timetables can be broken down according to the type of plant: trees, shrubs, perennials and roses.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Put Poinsettias in the Dark for Reblooming by Carol King

Photo by Carol King
So you saved your poinsettia from last Christmas. You fed and watered it properly and it’s looking good.  Right now is the time to take action give it some uninterrupted darkness if you want “blooms” by this holiday season.

Photoperiodism is the physiological reaction of organisms to the length of day or night. Poinsettias are short-day photoperiodic plants. They actually sense seasonal changes in night length which they take as signals to flower. This means they set buds and produce flowers as the autumn nights lengthen, blooming naturally during November or December.

Starting about October 1, your poinsettia needs at least 14 hours of uninterrupted darkness each night at temperatures between 60 and 70F.  Stray light of any kind (street lights, pool lights or lamps) could delay or entirely halt the reflowering process.  From October 1 to December 1, (or for at least 40 days) your poinsettia will need a strict light/dark regimen to produce color. Provide 13 to 16 hours of complete and uninterrupted darkness daily. At dusk, place the plant in a dark room (or closet) or cover with a box or paper bag.  At dawn, move or uncover the plant to allow 8 hours of sunlight. The dark treatment should last until color shows in the bracts (approximately Thanksgiving). Continue fertilizing and watering to encourage good growth.

For more information about the care of poinsettias look here:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Renovating the Lawn in Fall by Donna Duffy

Photo by Donna Duffy
Does your lawn have dead spots or thinning? Do you have sections that just aren’t thriving? Once you've ruled out irrigation problems, consider renovation of the turf - and fall is the perfect time to do it. Cool weather is optimum for growth of cool season grasses, and lower temperatures slow the drying of seeded areas, leading to better germination.  Following are tips for lawn renovation from Carl Wilson, CSU Horticulturist.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Try Growing Leafy Greens to Provide Ongoing Winter Nutrition By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino
The summer is winding down,and for many that means the end of gardening season.  There is good news, however, for those who want to try to extend  harvests into the cooler weather and to try some new methods.
Many of the vegetables commonly called “greens” such as spinach, kale and collard greens enjoy and even get better tasting with the cooler weather. It’s well known that these leafy greens pack a lot of nutrition, and can be enjoyed in salads, prepared as a side dish or added to smoothies.
With a little protection such as frost blankets, floating row covers or plastic tents, these plants can go well into the colder months and possibly even provide ongoing harvests well into early winter. Planting them now allows them to establish their roots and begin growing their leaves for sturdier plants. Other great vegetables to try that tolerate colder weather and shorter days are root crops such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi and turnips.
For the most part, the fall into the winter gardening is more of a harvesting time rather than seeing plants getting bigger and producing ongoing fruits and vegetables. One good reference book to read on this topic is Four Seasons Harvest” by Elliot Coleman. Coleman began experimenting growing into the colder seasons on his Vermont farm and has some valuable tips for trying this in your own home garden. He explains that the colder months are more for harvesting what you have sown weeks before and how the proper protection and cultural practices keep the harvests going.
Here are some research based references for spinach and kale that give you tips on starting and growing these delicious greens this fall and winter:

Friday, September 23, 2016

How and When to Harvest Winter Squash and Pumpkins by Carol King

Photo by Carol King
Winter squash and summer squash are two separate vegetables to be handled differently.

Summer squash varieties include zuchinni, yellow squash and patty pan and are harvested and eaten as immature fruit.  Summer squash has soft, thin skin that is edible, can all be eaten raw or cooked, and has a mild flavor that can range from sweet to nutty. 

Winter squash varieties include acorn, butternut, hubbard, spaghetti, turban and of course pumpkins. They are harvested when the seeds within have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. Winter squash are picked in September or October, before heavy frosts. Mature fruits can be stored most of the winter if protected from freezing. Immature squash and pumpkins do not store well; therefore, be sure that fruit is mature before harvesting.

To harvest and store winter squash and pumpkins follow these guidelines:
  • Pick winter squash when the skin has hardened into a tough rind not easily dented with light fingernail pressure. 
  • Harvest the fruit by cutting it off the vine with a sharp knife or a pair of looping shears leaving 3-6 inches of the stem attached to the fruit. 
  • Wash the fruit with soapy water containing one part of chlorine bleach to ten parts of water to remove the soil and kill the pathogens on the surface of the fruit. 
  • Make sure the fruits are well dried before setting in a shed to cure.
  • Winter squash can tolerate light frost that kill the vines.
  • Squash are best stored at a temperature between 50 and 55°F. Put the fruits on a single layer on wooden pallets with enough space in between them (the squash should not touch each other) and do not place them on a concrete floor. Store the fruits in a cool dry place.
For more information about harvesting and storing winter squash check these out: