Monday, July 25, 2016

Do You Have Ripe Tomatoes Yet? By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino

Do you have the best tomatoes on your block – but they’re still green? Are you wondering when you will get that first ripe tomato?

You’re not alone with these concerns. It seems many of us work hard to get our tomatoes started so that they are strong healthy plants when you are ready to set them outside, with the hope of early and abundant harvest only to find that they are slowed down by weather issues.  It seems we get by the cold and wet springs only to suddenly be exposed to the hot and dry late spring and summer weather.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Deadhead Flowers for More Blooms by Carol King

July can be an exciting month in the garden. The results of all the hard labor in the spring are beginning to be evident: lots of blooms, especially monarda, black eyed susan, shasta daisy, day lilies, lavender, Russian sage and yarrow; the annuals are looking great and the grass is still green enough!

I spent Sunday deadheading, pinching, cutting back, and disbudding. I know this sounds like torture techniques performed on some poor wretch in a medieval novel, but these actions are just what most blooming flowers need. These methods will increase and provide continuous blooms throughout the season. They also help to keep the garden tidy; flowers compact and help you get that special blossom you want to win the prize in the county fair!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rain Barrels Now Legal in Colorado

Photo by Carol King

Starting Aug. 10, House Bill 16-1005 becomes law,  allowing most Colorado  home owners to use up to two 55-gallon barrels to collect rainwater from their rooftop downspouts. Highlights of the law are as follows:
1. Homeowners may use rain barrels to collect rainwater at single-family households and multi-family households with four (4) or fewer units.

2. A maximum of two (2) rain barrels can be used at each household and the combined storage of the two rain barrels cannot exceed 110 gallons.

3. The captured rainwater must be used on the same property from which the rainwater was captured, for only outdoor purposes, including to water outdoor lawns, plants and/or gardens.

4. Rain barrel water cannot be used for drinking or other indoor water uses.

5. House Bill 16-1005 requires the container to be equipped with a sealable lid.

6. Watering plants in a greenhouse where such a building is specifically dedicated to growing plants is NOT allowed. 

It is important for rain barrel users to understand that the capture and use of rainwater using rain barrels does not constitute a water right. The State Engineer will deliver its first report on rain barrels sometime in 2019 and if a water right holder can prove that those rain barrels have impacted their ability to receive the water that they are entitled to by virtue of their water right, rainwater collection will be curtailed.

Other considerations for the homeowner who choses to capture rainwater and use it in the landscape include the following cautions:
  • Untreated rainwater collected from roofs is not safe to drink, due to concerns surrounding microbial contamination of harvested rainwater. 
  • Because of the infrequency of rainfall there can be an accumulation of bird droppings, dust and other impurities on rooftops between rain events. Roofing materials, pitch, and heavy metals such as cadmium, copper, lead, zinc, and chromium may occur in high concentrations when it does rain. 
  • Acid rain can also cause chemical compounds to be leached from roofing materials.
  • Filtering  and screening out contaminants before they enter the storage container can help to mitigate this problem. Dirty containers may also become a health hazard or a breeding ground for insects and other pests.
For complete information on use of rain barrels in the state of Colorado, please refer to Colorado State University’s Fact Sheet.
The complete House Bill can be found here:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Debunking a Hot Weather Watering Myth by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy

Perhaps you’ve heard it said that “watering plants on a hot sunny day will scorch their leaves”. It’s a myth! The following information, provided by Linda Chalker-Scott, PhD, Extension Horticulturist at Washington State University, debunks that myth once and for all!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mid-summer Lawn Care: Fertilizing, Aerating and Mowing by Donna Duffy

Mid-summer can be tough on turf. In addition to watering efficiently, give consideration to fertilizing, aerating and mowing practices. Following are tips from Tony Koski, CSU Extension Turf Specialist.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mid-summer Lawn Care: Watering by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy Donna Duffy
Here we are in the heat of July, and your lawn watering practices may need to be altered from those that were effective in spring and early summer. Following are mid-summer watering tips from Dr. Tony Koski, CSU Extension Turf Specialist.

Follow watering programs encouraged or mandated in your community
  • Water the lawn whenever it is allowed.
  • Disregard for required community watering practices can result in substantial fines and may encourage communities to enact even stricter watering restrictions.
  • Contact your local water utility for information on your local watering restrictions.

Effective lawn irrigation requires an understanding of how the irrigation system operates, as well as ongoing maintenance of sprinkler heads
  • Learn how to program your control clock so that you irrigate according to the schedule mandated for your community.
  • Set the clock so that irrigation occurs between 6PM and 10 AM (or as otherwise mandated).
  • Repair or replace broken irrigation heads.
  • Adjust irrigation heads to avoid throwing water on streets, driveways, and other hardscape.
  • If you find that adjusting or repairing your irrigation system is too time-consuming or challenging, hire an irrigation or landscape management specialist to perform this important work.
  • Your lawn care company professional may be willing to program your irrigation control clock for you.
  • Contact your local water provider for information on conducting an irrigation audit; some lawn care companies, landscape management firms, or irrigation installation firms will conduct an audit of your irrigation system for a modest fee.

Even with unlimited watering per irrigation zone on a twice-weekly basis, lawns often will show signs of stress
  • Summer root stress reduces the ability of root systems to use water.
  • Stress will first appear in areas where irrigation coverage is lacking.

The application of wetting agents specifically developed for use on turf is recommended to reduce the occurrence of water repellent conditions in lawns
  • Wetting agents can benefit lawns subjected to extreme drying over the past few months by promoting better infiltration of water into the soil; summer use may reduce the occurrence and/or severity of dry spots in the lawn (but will NOT totally compensate for poor irrigation coverage).
  • Wetting agents are available in both granular and liquid forms; granular formulations are often easier for homeowners to apply.
  • The use of dishwashing detergents and other soaps in place of turf-type wetting agents is not recommended and may damage heat- and drought-stressed lawns.
  • The incorporation of water-absorbing polymers (sometimes called "hydrogels") into new or existing lawns does NOT reduce lawn water requirements and is not recommended for Colorado lawns.

Curtis Utley, Jefferson County CSU Extension Horticulture Agent, conducting a Lawncheck with a Golden resident
If you need help diagnosing turf problems, schedule a Lawncheck through Jefferson County CSU Extension.
Lawncheck is an on-site, lawn consultation service for a fee. A Colorado State University Extension professional will contact you to make an appointment and discuss cost. Service includes recommendations for improving your lawn and solving insect, disease and other lawn problems. To schedule a Lawncheck appointment, call Jefferson County CSU Extension at 303-271-6620.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Jeffco Horticulture Staff Member Utley Takes on New Challenges by Jacki Paone

Horticulture Agent , Curtis Utley with Master Gardener Clinician, Allison Millich, present at the Joint Meeting of the Board of County Commissioners and CSU Extension Advisory Committee in June. County Manager, Ralph Schell, in the background.

Curtis Utley, a member of the CSU Extension Horticulture staff in Jefferson County since 2003, has been promoted to Extension Horticulture Agent.  With the promotion come additional challenges in Extension reporting, supervision, writing and program delivery.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Psyllids Are Coming! Plant lice on Tomatoes by Patti O'Neal

Adult Psyllids photo Michigan State University Extension

Reports of sightings of this insect pest in Northern Colorado has set the alert for us on the Front Range.  The potato/tomato psyllid  is a member of the family known as “jumping plant lice” and is very damaging to tomatoes in particular.  It is time to start monitoring your tomatoes on a regular basis for evidence of this pest in your garden. 

Psyllids do not overwinter here in the cold climate of Colorado.  They blow up from Mexico, Texas and Arizona.  Some years are worse than others. And because they are found in one place does not mean they are in another.  Monitoring is the key.  When they are here, they can do a great deal of damage to tomato and potato crops. The home gardener is not exempt and should be on alert to catch this pest before it gets out of hand. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Friday, July 1, 2016

Patriotic Roses! by Donna Duffy

The Fourth of July is about all things patriotic: freedom, independence, fireworks! You can celebrate these patriotic roses all summer long.

Many experts consider Fourth of July the best Rose introduced in the past decade. Its climbing canes reach 12 to 14 feet tall, with fresh, healthy foliage. North or south, east or west, it demonstrates uniform vigor and flower color. And it re-blooms beginning the very first year!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Master Gardeners in Service: Plant Select Research and Display Garden by Michele Loudis

Delosperma (Alan's Apricot), photo courtesy Plant Select
The Plant Select program is a great resource for area gardeners because it tests and selects the best plants for our interior West’s challenging climate.  Spearheaded by Colorado State University, Plant Select collaborates with Denver Botanic Gardens, growers, landscape professionals, and public gardens to find resilient and tough plants that flourish in our fluctuating temperatures and dry, windy conditions.  And the Colorado Master Gardeners in Jefferson County help!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

It's Time to Divide Your Bearded Iris by Donna Duffy

Photo by Carol King
Iris are one of the superstars of the spring garden. Keeping them blooming year after year requires some work. Do you have bearded iris that you want to move, or that aren't flowering as well as they did a few years ago? It’s probably time to dig and divide them.