Monday, December 9, 2013
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.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
|Heading Out for the Perfect Tree!|
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.”
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
|Photo CSU Extension|
You can plan the garden with very young children by talking about what you might plant, going to the garden store and picking out some fun seeds. Choose seeds that are easy to handle, germinate quickly, and are tasty to eat. Radishes are great because they germinate quickly. Choose a mild variety if your children do not like spicy foods. Radishes come in white red, pink, purple and black varieties. There is even an Easter egg seed blend which is a blend of seeds in shades of purple, lavender, pink, scarlet and white radishes in one seed packet.
Posted by Carollee at 12:49 PM
Friday, November 22, 2013
|Collard Greens Photo by Joyce D'Agostino|
As the summer started to wind down, I planted Collard Greens (Brassica oleracea) which quickly came up and despite a late season hailstorm which tattered some of its leaves, it is still doing well and ready for harvest even though we are well into fall.
In fact, most of the Brassicas improve in flavor once they have had a nip of frost. When you harvest these vegetables, some will winter over if some of the leaves remain and the roots are intact. Add a layer of mulch with leaves or pine bark to help protect the plant during the cold winter months. Many of these vegetables are considered to be nutritional powerhouses and are great to add to your fall and winter meals.
If you missed planting any of these for your fall garden, you can add them in the spring. These hardy vegetables like cool spring weather too, so look for these seeds and plants as you plan your 2014 garden. Remember the seed catalogues for the new year will be arriving soon!
Here is a Planttalk tip sheet that gives you some information about growing and enjoying plants in this family:
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Emergency Quarantine Issued to Protect Colorado Ash Trees by Christi Lightcap, Colorado Department of Agriculture
|Emerald Ash Borer Photo Courtesy Cornell Extension|
LAKEWOOD, Colo. – The Colorado Department of Agriculture has established an emergency quarantine in the Boulder County area related to the recent discovery of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). The quarantine is effective immediately.
“The Emerald Ash Borer is a highly destructive pest to ash trees. In other states, it has caused significant economic impact to property owners and the nursery and landscaping industries. The quarantine is vital to limiting further infestation,” said CDA’s Plant Inspection Division Director, Mitch Yergert
The emergency quarantine prohibits the movement of all untreated plants and plant parts of the genus Fraxinus out of the quarantined area. This includes, but is not limited to:
· Logs and green lumber
· Nursery stock, scion wood, and bud wood
· Chips and mulch, either composted or uncomposted
· Stumps, roots and branches
· Firewood of any non-coniferous (hardwood) species
Saturday, November 16, 2013
On November 13th, twelve individuals were honored as Jefferson County’s newest Master Gardeners. To earn this designation, they went through a comprehensive application process and interview through Jefferson County CSU Extension. Once accepted as an apprentice, these dedicated people completed a minimum of 60 hours of college-level classroom instruction (including lectures, small group activities, and lab activities) focused on home gardening. On top of that, they contributed at least 50 hours of volunteer service in the past 7 months.
Did you know that there are 140 certified Master Gardeners in Jefferson County? If you are a gardener, you’ve probably interacted with these Master Gardeners around the county – at Farmer’s Markets, on the phone, in the Plant Diagnostic Clinic, leading youth programs, providing educational programs…they seem to be everywhere in the summer months. In fact, during 2013, the Jefferson County Master Gardeners donated 5,941 hours of volunteer service to benefit residents of all ages. Those hours are the equivalent of almost 3 full-time staff, and are valued at $131, 533! The Jeffco Gardener blog and Facebook page had almost 172,000 hits this year. These are busy volunteers who make a difference in Jefferson County!
Monday, November 11, 2013
|photo courtesy of http://research.ifas.ufl.edu|
There has been much recent press about the desert shrub Jatropha curcas and it's potential to soak up carbon monoxide emissions. A team of German scientists, publishing in the international science journal Earth System Dynamics, analyzed data from Jatropha plantations in several countries and found that approximately 2.5 acres of Jatropha can capture 17-25 tons of carbon monoxide per year, over a 20 year period.
According to the study’s lead author, the plants can lower desert temperature by as much as 2 degrees Fahrenheit as well as increase rainfall in these regions. Scientific American.com states that if the 1 billion hectares of suitable land was to be used for growing Jatropha, it would be "enough to offset the annual CO2 pollution of China, the U.S. and the E.U. combined."
This poisonous scrubby plant grows as a shrub or small tree and can handle low-nutrient soils. It can live for over 50 years and has not shown to be invasive. The benefit of growing Jatropha is that it grows well in the most arid of regions where it is difficult to farm for food. Instead, it is grown for ‘carbon farming’. Ideally this plant would be grown in coastal regions where it can receive some minimal irrigation. The cost of planting these plants if you use existing desalination devices would be more cost effective than higher-tech practices.
Friday, November 8, 2013
In my search for plant ideas to help in my heavily deer-foraged garden, I came across the book 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants by Ruth Rogers Clausen. The premise of the book is that “you can still have a lush, thriving garden by making smart plant choices. Many stunning plants are unpalatable to deer because of their poisonous compounds, fuzzy or aromatic leaves, tough, spiny or bristly textures, and for a variety of less obvious reasons.”
The author stresses that there is no such thing as a deer-proof plant. During times when deer are hungriest they will try to eat most anything. You might also notice that one group of deer leave your asters alone while another group or individual browses it any chance she gets. Plants that are considered “deer candy” and not recommended are hostas, lilies, daylilies, tulips and roses (except Rosa rugosa which deer leave alone). Clausen offers a more complete list of these favorites to avoid. But she lists in depth many more plants that you can happily grow without feeling you need to keep watch over your garden.
Monday, November 4, 2013
|Photo by Carol King|
As avid and dedicated gardeners, we all spent this year’s spring and summer seasons working diligently to create natural beauty, to provide a hospitable environment for our bird and insect friends (both good and bad), and hopefully to successfully grow some edible crops. But autumn is already upon us, signaling that it is nearly time to finish up our harvesting, weeding and transplanting activities and put away our beloved gardening tools for a well-deserved rest (for us too!).
But we are not done yet! Autumn is the opportune time to take advantage of this season’s abundance of available organic materials for composting. This includes the products of your year-end clean-up of vegetable, perennial and annual beds, the kitchen waste of your recently-harvested vegetables, and, most importantly, all those dry leaves falling from your trees or that inevitably blow into your yard from seemingly every other tree in your neighborhood.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
|Photo by Carol King|
Spruce trees are getting a lot of attention this fall. Their inner needles are turning yellow or brown and dropping off. To put your mind at ease, it’s not unusual for these conifers to shed interior needles beginning in late summer and continuing well into fall. This is normal evergreen behavior.
In fact, all conifers (“evergreens”) including spruce, pine, fir, juniper and arborvitae lose their oldest needles every year. Contrary to what the name implies, “evergreens” are not really green forever. Their needles generally have a 2–4 year life span, although spruce trees live about 5-7 years.
While needle loss occurs every year, the process is usually gradual, over a period of several weeks or even months, depending on species and weather. It’s so gradual, that you might not even notice the needle drop. Some species can shed needles in a fairly short period of time, making it look as though they’re in serious trouble. And environmental problems, like drought, can make needle drop happen more quickly than it would if the tree was healthier.
Friday, October 11, 2013
|Black Beauty Eggplant|
One hot summer day I went to visit my former client’s organic garden and she said to me, “One day I want to eat just from my garden. I wonder if I could do it for a month?” I quickly responded that I loved the idea and wanted to try it. Our friend, who is an organic urban grower, wanted to take this challenge as well. The three of us planned to live off of our gardens from September 1st- September 30th. Since the beginning, our goal has been to promote the awareness of affordable organic gardening through education to empower individuals to make changes to their health and life. In this challenge, the rules were simple. We could share our food, use oils & seasonings, and drink liquids (I was not about to give up my wine for the month as well!) but we could not have any fruits or vegetables we didn’t grow, no flour, quinoa, barley, wheat, rice, pasta, meat, lentils, beans, fish, soy, candy, chips, nuts, chocolate, ice cream, or cheese!
Although I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, I was excited. None of us planned our garden to sustain this challenge, but we figured we could be creative with what we had. In my backyard, just over 1,100 square feet, I was growing over 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables. Kathleen had a smaller back yard and Barb had a much larger yard with vegetables growing everywhere. Between the 3 of us, we had every green imaginable, peppers, tomatoes, acorn squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, hens and much more. It should have been easy, right?
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Every year when I plan my garden, I try to add a few items such as gourds, pumpkins and ornamental corn that will add some end of the season color and fun. Gourds are easy to grow and can be functional as well as decorative.
Gourds fall into several types, such as the hard shell gourds which are grown to make dippers, birdhouses, baskets and bowls. These gourds have very durable shells and can be carved or cut into a variety of functional shapes. Luffa, which are often used as bath sponges, are also a gourd and there are a variety of other gourds of all shapes, sizes and colors that belong to the Cucurbita family.
Friday, September 27, 2013
|Box Elder Bug Photo clemson.edu|
When days shorten and temperatures become chilly, folks often find uninvited guests – insects and their relatives- sharing indoor quarters. Although annoying and even startling, these creatures are just trying to hunker down for winter. They need to find shelter where temperatures hover between 40 and 50 degrees F. The west and south sides of a home can provide warm places to hang out as they search for prime real estate. They don’t need much of an opening on the home exterior to find it, either. Many can squeeze into quarters using an opening the width of a credit card!
The best way to manage the intruders is to keep them out in the first place. Look for exterior openings around windows, doors, etc., and caulk them. Examine door sweeps. Can you see light underneath the door? It’s time to replace the sweeps. These steps will help keep the unwanted critters out and you’ll be increasing energy conservation, too!
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
|Flooded Lawn Photo courtesy North Dakota State University|
Lawns that are covered by flood waters, even temporarily, may be subject to various types of damage. In general, most turf species will tolerate a few days of flooding without any negative effects. However, turf that remains flooded for more than a few days (especially when it is hot) can rapidly decline due to lack of oxygen and light. Substantial turf loss can be expected after 4 days of continued submersion. Other factors associated with flooding of turf include: soil coverage, water contaminated with petroleum or pesticides, high water temperature and algae scum. The most significant long-term effect of flooding is the deposit of sediment (“muck”), primarily silt and clay, over turf surfaces. This can lead to serious soil layering problems and even death of the existing grass.
Short-Term Care of Flooded Turf
Once flood waters have receded, pick up any debris, such as wood, glass, stones, nails and other metal objects deposited on lawn areas. This debris could pose a safety hazard to mower operators and damage power mowers or other equipment later used to maintain the lawn, as well as to people and pets who may use the lawn for recreation. Remove leaves or any other material that may smother grass.