Monday, September 22, 2014

Why Leaves Change Colors and the Autumnal Equinox by Carol King

Today is  the Autumnal Equinox and the leaves are  “changing colors”.    According to Plantalk Colorado in actuality, leaves don’t change color, they just quit producing chlorophyll, the substance that makes them green.

This happens for a variety of reasons: shorter days, falling temperatures, available water.  These are all signals to the plant to go into energy saving mode and quit producing chlorophyll:  winter is coming!

When chlorophyll breaks down, what’s left is the color that was already there:  Yellow/ carotenoids, and red /anthocyanin. These pigments are masked by chlorophyll but help protect the leaves from sunlight. After the equinox shorter and shorter days become the norm. The chlorophyll will totally disappear leaving us with beautiful colors for a short while and then dead leaves to deal with!

So just what is the equinox? There are two equinoxes every year (September and March) when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal. It occurs the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from north to south. This happens either on September 22, 23, or 24 every year. The September Equinox in Denver is today, Monday, September 22, 2014 at 8:29 PM MDT

As you watch the leaves slowly change color and fall from the trees, you know the equinox is partly to blame.
Happy Autumnal Equinox and happy leaf peeping!. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Harvesting Peppers in the Fall by Joyce D'Agostino

Early jalapeno by Joyce D'Agostino
If you have grown sweet or hot peppers this season, now is the time to prepare to harvest what is left on the plants before the hard frost arrives. Peppers are tender annuals that prefer the warm weather, so will not tolerate frosts or extremely cold weather.
Purple Beauty Pepper by Joyce D'Agostino
Many peppers begin green and then will turn color as they mature or ripen. The taste and heat of the pepper can vary from the green state to when they turn a color. If your peppers are the hot variety, refer to the seed packet information to learn the Scoville units that rates the heat of the pepper. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Overwinter Your Container Plants by Donna Duffy

It’s the time of year to start thinking about how to overwinter perennial plants that have been happily growing in containers this summer. Containerized trees, shrubs and perennials are subject to Colorado’s winter temperature fluctuations, drying winds and freeze-thaw cycles. Planttalk Colorado provides the following suggestions to get your plants ready when the first hard freeze arrives.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Squash Pollination Tips by Sheilia Canada

Photo Hudson Farmers Market
I am having a lot of people ask me why their squash is not producing. Here are some tips and suggestions for bumping up your yield.

Firstly I will tell you I am not just a Colorado Master Gardener. I am also a Permaculturist. I practice many Indigenous and ancient gardening techniques that you may or may not have heard of. I do this because I find it makes sense for me as an organic gardener and Permaculturist. It creates balance in my garden and life.

So, lets look at our problem through this lense…

Problem = My squash is not producing. 
I have fertile well draining soil. 
I have it planted in full sun.
I am fertilizing with an organic 5-10-5 fertilizer.
I know squash are not self-pollinating. I need flowers & the pollen in them to cross to get any fruit.
I have lots of flowers. I STOP 
I look closer… Do I have any female flowers?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fall Blooming Perennials Add Color to the Autumn Garden by Carol King

Mid August is a good time to look at your garden and find spots for fall blooming perennials. Here are four “tried and true” plants that will add color to the fall garden.

ASTERS are tough and reliable, and a natural for dry climates like ours where several native species delight mountain hikers. In fact, many aster varieties fail to survive the winter if kept too moist. Asters are easy to cultivate. Among cultivated asters, growth habits range from three-foot perennials to compact mounds. The Greek word aster refers to the yellow-centered, star-like flowers that can be white, red, pink, purple, lavender and blue. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

There’s a Caryopteris in my garden! By Joyce D’Agostino

Caryopteris x clandonsis photo by Joyce D'Agostino
Yes, I am lucky to have a Caryopteris in my garden (Caryopteris x clandonsis). I know, it sounds like a long extinct dinosaur but it actually is a lovely landscape scrub that bursts into purple blooms each August. The bees love the flowers and seem to be on this plant from sunrise to sunset.

Also known as the Blue Mist Spirea, this relative of the mint family is a deciduous woody bush that has green leaves from spring until late summer when it flowers. It actually has not been in the US that long. It is native to eastern and southern Asia and first came to our country in the 1960’s. It’s a nice addition to your landscape if you have limited room because it grows to a manageable size of about 3 – 5 feet tall and has gray-green sword shaped leaves. The name is derived from the Greek word karyon which means nut and pteron which means wing because the airy flowers have petals that resemble wings with the seeds tucked inside.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Zucchini Not Producing Fruit Can Be a Pollination Problem by Carol King

Zucchini is often the big joke of the garden. This big producer is the butt of many garden pranks from neighbors leaving them on porches and running off, to finding the really BIG one tucked in the back of the plant.  Sometimes, however, gardeners report no fruit at all on their squash plants.  What could be the cause?

The most likely cause is lack of pollination. Squash, melons, and cucumbers belong to a family, called “cucurbits” and have a flowering habit which is unique among vegetable crops.  Each plant produces two kinds of flowers, male and female, both on the same plant.  In order for fruit set to occur, pollen from the male flower must be transferred to the female flower.  The pollen is sticky; therefore, wind-blown pollination does not occur.  Honeybees are the principal means by which pollen is transferred from the male to the female flower.  If you don’t have bees in your garden, you don’t have cucurbits. When bees are absent, fruit set on cucurbits is very poor and often nonexistent.  If only a few bees are present in the area, partial pollination may occur, resulting in misshapen fruit and low yield. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Gardening with Your Nose: Fragrance in the Garden by Ann Moore

Korean Spice Viburnum photo Home Depot
Much has been written, photographed, painted, and generally rhapsodized over
a well tended manicured garden or a meadow in full bloom. One of the great joys of tending a garden is surly the fragrance of the plants. Two of these you should try if you have not are Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlessi) and Clethra (Clethra alnifolia).

There are many nice viburnums, but Korean Spice has lovely fragrance in the spring and is reasonably easy to grow. It needs partial to full sun and fairly regular watering – more in extreme heat. It is fairly slow growing and normally reaches 4 to 6 feet tall. In my Mother’s yard it grew to 8 feet and perfumed the entire neighborhood. It is also called Korean Spice Bush.

Clethra photo Monrovia
Clethra is a native plant growing from Maine to Florida. It blooms in the fall
when other things are less likely top be blooming. It likes shade and moisture and will require more water in an extremely dry summer. Don’t be discouraged in the spring if it isn’t leafing out quickly – it is late to put out its leaves. It tolerates clay soil but must be kept moist if you have clay. It has bottle brush flowers, usually white, but there are pink varieties. The leaves are glossy green, turning yellowish to golden in the fall–some common names for it are Summer Sweet and Sweet Pepperbush.

Depending on your soil, they would both appreciate a large hole and plenty of mulch when they are planted. Neither of them require much care, other than regular water while they are getting established.

These are two seasonally grown shrubs, one for spring and for summer which will reward your nose and the neighborhood with their wonderful fragrance.