Friday, April 20, 2018

It's Arbor Day in Colorado by Carol King

Photo wvc-ut.gov
The first celebration of an Arbor Day was organized by the mayor in the Spanish village of Mondoñedo in 1594. The first “modern day” Arbor Day happened in Spain in 1805 in the village of Villanueva de la Sierra and was organized by a local priest, Don Ramón Vacas Roxo. According to author and professor Miguel Herrero Uceda, Don Ramón was “convinced of the importance of trees for health, hygiene, decoration, nature, environment and customs” and decided “to plant trees and give a festive air.” After celebrating Mass on Carnival Tuesday, Roxo, accompanied by other clergy, teachers, and villagers, planted a poplar tree. The celebration and plantings lasted three days. The priest was so moved by the importance of trees that he wrote a manifesto in their defense and sent it to neighboring towns to encourage people to protect nature and establish tree plantations. From the Smithsonian.

The very first Arbor Day in the United States was celebrated in Nebraska in 1872 and was inaugurated by planting over a million trees in just one day. It was the idea of J. Sterling Morton, who promoted tree planting while employed for the Nebraska Territory. In Colorado, the third Friday in April each year is “set apart and known as "Arbor Day," to be observed by the people of this state in the planting of forest trees for the benefit and adornment of public and private grounds, places, and ways in such other efforts and undertakings as shall in harmony with the general character of the day established.”Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S. 24-11-104)”

Celebrate this Arbor Day by planting a tree of course! Here’s a video on “doing it properly.”





Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Guttation: April Word of the Month


Photo courtesy Noahelhardt/wikimedia commons
Have you ever noticed tiny water droplets uniformly spaced around the margins of a leaf on a dewy morning? If so, you might have wondered what would cause dewdrops to form in such a regular pattern. In fact, you have observed a phenomenon called “guttation.”

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Money Plants to Soothe Your Tax Day Blues

It’s tax day again, meaning that many of us have money on our minds. Did you know that from 1918 to 1954, March 15 used to be tax day? In 1954 the IRS  moved it to its current date of April 15th. Because the tax covered more of the middle class, the IRS needed to issue more refunds. Pushing back the date allowed the Feds to hang on your money longer (http://time.com/money/4258979/ides-of-march-tax-day/).

If you have the tax day blues, here are two “money plants” that might brighten your spirits though they won’t fatten your wallet.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Variegated Tulips: Beauty From a Virus By Olivia Tracy

Variegated Tulip (Tulipa), likely “Tulip Yellow Spring Green.” Photo courtesy of Olivia Tracy.

Have you ever seen tulips like these, tulips that look like they’ve been ‘painted’ with multiple colors? Many people love the look of these variegated tulips, and they’ve been popular since the 1600s, when Holland went mad for variegated tulip varieties and tulip speculation (and tulip prices) skyrocketed.1 While we don’t have this mania today, we can still buy varieties like Rembrandt, Princess Irene, Kaufmanniana and many others that promise beautifully variegated tulips. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Catkins Cometh! by Carol King

I  know that spring has “sprung” when the street in front of my house becomes covered with cottonwood catkins. Our neighborhood has many cottonwoods, poplar, willows, birches and aspen trees: all catkin-loaded!  And spring is definitely here.

The catkin is is a strand of tiny unisexual flowers, blooming on many species of trees. The flowers are tiny and inconspicuous, but the blooming catkins are lovely, though very short-lived.  Catkins rely on wind to spread their pollen, and we have certainly had the wind helping out. After the female flowers are fertilized, the male catkins wither and drop.

Each species of tree has its own habits and forms, which are interesting to contemplate. The brief beauty of the catkin-bearing trees hearlds early spring, a welcome sign of greenery to come!

The word catkin is derived from the Dutch katje, meaning "kitten", because it resembles a kitten’s tail. Enjoy this brief display which hints of Springtime!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Front Range Tree Recommendations by Carol King

Photo arborday.org
Spring is typically tree and shrub planting time in Colorado.  The garden centers and big box stores  offer 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.
https://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/garden/treereclist.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 

Recommended Fruit Tree Varieties for Front Range Colorado 
http://jeffcogardener.blogspot.com/2016/04/recommended-fruit-tree-varieties-for.html

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Gardening Power to the People: Growing Blueberries in Colorado (Video)

Growing blueberries in Colorado is a challenge at best. Knowledge of soils and best planting practices will help you succeed. Patti O'Neal, Horticulture Assistant at the Jeffco Extension Office gives you growing advice in this useful video.

 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Spring Lawn Management Checklist for Colorado Lawns by Dr. Tony Koski


Photo Lawn Institute

Dr. Tony Koski, Extension Turf Specialist, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension offers  this advice for lawn management of bluegrass and other turf grasses.

Fertilizing the Lawn
  • Fertilization of lawns this spring (March-June) is a highly recommended practice. 
  • The ideal fertilizer will contain a mixture of quickly and slowly available nitrogen sources. Most lawn care companies use these type of fertilizer blends. 
  • Excellent fertilizer blends are available to the homeowner from local nurseries and garden centers. 
  • Fertilizer applied before watering is allowed will not cause a problem for lawns; adequate moisture from spring precipitation and irrigation (once it is allowed) will cause nutrients to be released to the turf. 
    Photo CSU

Aerating (Cultivating) the Lawn
  • Lawn aeration is a highly recommended spring lawn care practice. 
  • While deeper (2-3 inches) core holes provide the greatest benefit to the lawn, even shallow (1 inch) core holes will help to enhance water infiltration for the spring and summer watering periods. 
  • Overseeding may be done in conjunction with lawn aeration; this may especially benefit those lawns thinned by drought conditions or winter mite activity (avoid using crabgrass preemergent herbicides at the time of overseeding). 
  • Lawn aeration will help to control thatch, an organic layer that often impedes proper water movement into the soil. 
  • Lawn aeration, fertilization, and overseeding all can be done at the same time. 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April Fools’ Day Garden Hoaxes

Photo courtesy hoaxes.org
From the early 1900s to the present, gardeners have swapped April Fools hoaxes and photos. It just goes to show that we DO have a sense of humor about this serious subject of gardening. Even Denver made the list in 1958 when an unknown prankster transformed stop signs into giant flowers. It was suspected to be the work of "a recent arrival from neighboring Kansas, the sunflower state." [Spokane Daily Chronicle - Apr 2, 1958]

Check out some of the best gardening hoaxes in the last 100 years or so!





Friday, March 30, 2018

Time to Start Tomato Seeds Indoors Along the Front Range Colorado

Quick to germinate and grow, tomato seeds are best sown indoors about six weeks before the average last frost date. People in the Denver metropolitan area normally use Mothers' Day as a guide for when to plant. However, Denver had its last spring freeze on April 5 in 1977 and on June 8 in 2007. The average over the last ten years is May 5. Using May 13, 2018 Mothers' Day as a planting date, tomato seeds can be started indoors the first week of April.

Here's a great guide on starting tomato seeds indoors from Modern Farmer: 
Colorado State University Vegetable Planting Guide. 


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Best Practices for Starting Seeds

Photo Ft. Collins Nursery


IIt’s the time of year when many gardeners begin to start seeds indoors for their vegetable gardens. John Porter with Nebraska Extension and Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture has this advise about starting seeds indoors:

Be economical. Use low-cost or recycled items such as takeout containers or shallow disposable aluminum baking pans to start your plants.  Sterilization is key in reducing disease.  Thoroughly wash containers, then dip in a solution of 10% household bleach (1 part bleach : 9 parts water) to disinfect.

Start seeds in clean, sterile seed-starting mix. Don’t skimp. Use a sterile mix that is primarily made of peat or coconut coir.

Transfer the seedling to an individual container/cell/pot with regular potting soil (when its first set of true leaves (the second leaves appear).

Place newly sown seeds in a warm (around 70 degrees F) place to help
them germinate faster. Heat is the most important factor in seeds
germinating: Move the seedlings to a cooler place (around 65 degrees) as
they will grow sturdier and not get thin and leggy.

Light is necessary for good plant growth. A good, sunny (usually south 
facing) window with plenty of light is one option. Otherwise invest in some lighting.

Don’t get started too early.  Read the packet for the number of days/weeks before last frost to start your seeds.

What about fertilizer? Seedlings don’t need much in the way of 
fertilizing when they’re put in a good potting mix.

For the complete article, check here: Starting Seeds with Success: Best Practices.

Plant Talk Colorado Starting Seeds Indoors.

Colorado State University Vegetable Planting Guide.





Sunday, March 25, 2018

Photoperiodism: March Word of the Month

Photo courtesy maximumyield.com
Photoperiodism: the amount of light and darkness a plant is exposed to.

This is the time of year when we make the transition from more darkness to more light in the Northern Hemisphere (the spring equinox). The spring equinox brings the transition of seasons, as the balance of light shifts to make for longer days, shorter nights, and a shift in photoperiodism for plants.

Photoperiodism causes a biological response to a change in the proportions of light and dark in a 24‐hour daily cycle. Plants use it to measure the seasons and to coordinate seasonal events such as flowering. Photoperiodism is important for plants as the amount of uninterrupted darkness is what determines the formation of flowers on most types of plants!

"Short day" (long night) plant requires a long period of darkness. They form flowers only when day length is less than about 12 hours. Many spring and fall flowering plants are short day plants. Examples are: chrysanthemums, poinsettias, Easter lilies, and some soybeans

"Long day" plants require only a short night to flower. These bloom only when they receive more than 12 hours of light. Many of our summer blooming flowers and garden vegetables are long day plants. Examples include: spinach, radishes, lettuce, and irises.

"Day neutral" plants form flowers regardless of day length. Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers and some strawberries are examples.

For more information about photoperiodism and its effects on plants, check out these links: