Sunday, August 13, 2017

Preserving Herbs by Donna Duffy


Photo courtesy herb gardening.com
One of the joys of summer cuisine is the addition of fresh herbs. Fresh herbs are showing up at the Farmers Markets, and many are ready to harvest in home gardens. As a general rule, herbs grown for their leaves should be harvested before they flower. For most herbs, the best time to pick is early in the morning just as the dew evaporates, but before the heat of the day.  Herbs can be used fresh from the garden or dried and enjoyed later. Following are tips for preserving and storing herbs.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tips for Saving Seeds By Joyce D’Agostino

Seed saving, photo courtesy modern farmer.org
Many of us enjoy starting our plants from seed. Some of these seeds may have been shared by friends or have been handed down through family members, which give them a special legacy of their own. Now that we are in mid-summer, there are many garden favorites that are producing and those that you may want to grow again next year.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Growing Your “Third Season” Crops By Joyce D’Agostino

Leafy Green Vegetables photo Colorado State University
By now, many gardeners are enjoying the bounty of their warm season vegetables such as tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers. However we do know that these vegetables do not tolerate frosts well and their production will be done in the fall.

If you would like to continue to harvest into the fall, there is still time to plant a few hardy garden crops. Many of these vegetables are very nutritious and will help extend your garden harvests even after some frosts.

Kale and collard greens are very cold tolerant and can be planted now. Be sure to review the attached bulletins for suggested varieties. You will want to choose those that do not take more than about 60 days to maturity, to allow them to produce before the killing frosts. For the best results, choose those that have been tested in our area for best production, hardiness and flavor.

Many cold season tolerant plants such as the brassicas and collards tolerate light frosts and in fact the flavors are enhanced when they are exposed to a light frost. As you can see in the kale bulletin below, it is recommended to plant kale in the front range area in the fall rather than in the spring to get the sweetest flavor and texture. There are a few other favorites such as radishes, carrots, lettuce, spinach and turnips that also tolerate cooler weather and in fact with some protection may continue to produce well into the late fall.

For more information about growing cold tolerant vegetables and extending your garden production, see the bulletins below:


Friday, August 4, 2017

Time to Plan and Plant the Fall Vegetable Garden by Patti O'Neal

Swiss Chard by Carol King
Colorado is well suited to fall gardening and winter harvest. While weather often dictates the length of the season, eleven months is not out of the question for Front Range gardeners. Imagine harvesting spinach for a great salad in November!

If you’ve never tried fall gardening, here are 5 reasons why you should.

1.  Gardens can be any size – So anybody can do it.
Fall crops are primarily greens and root crops, so they are very well adapted to container gardening, table top raised beds, and raised beds of all kinds.  Start with one container of spinach this year, you’ll catch the bug and increase it next year.

2.  There are many vegetables that thrive in fall Front Range gardens and can be planted now.
Beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale and chard can all be planted now.  August is the best time to plant arugula, cabbage, endive, spinach, cilantro and in September you can plant bush peas, radishes, Chinese greens, more spinach and lettuce and the list goes on. My fall garden has no fewer than 5 varieties of spinach, 10 varieties of lettuce and 4 Chinese vegetables, like Pac Choi and Bok Choi  and 3 kales to name a few. September or October is the time to plant garlic.

3.  Fall crops thrive in cooler weather and many fall crops are frost tolerant.
Cool crop vegetables develop their prime flavors when the ambient temperatures are cooler.  Get them germinated and up now so it is cooler when they begin to mature. 

4. Fall crops do not need a full 8 hours of sun each day.
Crops still require sun to photosynthesize these leafy vegetables are designed to thrive in less than 8 hours of full sun.  If you did not have the right place for tomatoes, you may have the perfect place for a pot of spinach, lettuce or chard which all will do well with 5-6 hours of light.

5.  Season protection is easy to obtain and apply.
There are many ways to protect your crops whether they are in containers or raised beds or even in ground that can be left on and removed for harvest or quickly applied if a frost happens.  These can be frost blankets, horticultural fabrics, cloches and even having a supply of old sheets handy if applied correctly. 

Why not try your hand at fall gardening? Having a fresh organic salad grown in your own garden for Thanksgiving will be a real treat! 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Cheers to Your Plants! by Carrie Garczynski

Photo courtesy Horticulture magazine
Have you experienced hints of raspberry, swirls of lily, or essence of grass? Yes, in your yard, and perhaps in your favorite bottle of wine. Anyone who drinks wine probably has oodles of wine corks! What do you do with all of them? And what do corks have to do with gardening? 

Well, corks are hand-harvested and made from the cork oak trees Quercus suber from Spain and Portugal. They don’t soak up water, do not rot, are impervious to air, and can mold into the contour of any container. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

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 28, 2017

Tomato Problems: Bacterial Diseases in Tomatoes by Mary Small

Photo by bitkisagligi.net
Photo by flickrhivemind.net
Moist weather in spring and summer can contribute to the development of bacterial diseases on tomatoes, just like it does for fireblight. The two diseases most often seen in moist years are bacterial speck (Pseudomonas syringae pv.tomato) and bacterial spot (Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria).

Leaf symptoms look the same for both diseases. Small water-soaked spots form and grow to about 1/8” in size with yellow halos. The centers are light brown and often tear; yellow halos are common. On more mature plants, infections are concentrated on the older foliage. Spots may also appear on the fruit pedicels.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tomato Problems: Blossom End Rot by Carol King

Blossom end rot, photo courtesy CSU Extension

It seems like there is lots of tomato conversation lately about blossom end rot. So what is this nasty sounding ailment? It starts at the end where the blossom was and begins turning tan, then a dry sunken decay sets in. The lesion enlarges, turns to dark brown to black and becomes leathery. Thus the blossom end begins to rot.

It shows up especially in the first fruit of the season and after the fruit is well on its way to development. In severe cases, it may completely cover the lower half of the fruit. Both green and red fruit develop it. It’s not a pest, parasite or disease process but is a physiological problem caused by a low level of calcium in the fruit itself. In other words, dear gardener, IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!

Friday, July 21, 2017

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.
  




Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Growing Elderberries in Colorado by Donna Duffy


Elderberries, photo courtesy Plantalk

Elderberry is a remarkable shrub or small tree of several species and many forms and colors of foliage, flowers and berries It has been found in Stone Age and Bronze Age excavations, was one of the sacred trees of the Druids, and has been used as a medicinal herb by early Europeans, native Americans and modern herbalists. However, it has not been popular in landscapes until recently when selections have been made for special leaf colors and textures. And now home-food and food-medicine gardeners want elderberries because scientific research has verified herbal lore that elderberries have health benefits. The Wall Street Journal identified elderberry with seven other berries as “nutritional royalty.”

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Is Plant Fertilizer Safe for Pets and Children? by Joyce D'Agostino

Read the Fertilizer Label Carefully and Follow Directions.
I recently received a call on the JeffCo Extension Master Gardener hotline from a consumer in Jefferson County who wanted to know which fertilizer that we could recommend to him that was “pet safe”. He planned to use fertilizer on his lawn and garden in the future and wanted to be sure that his pets would not be harmed should they be exposed to the fertilizer when it was applied.

While we do not endorse or promote a specific product, my first suggestion to him was to be sure that he bought his fertilizer from a reputable source and carefully read the label.  Some consumers may not be aware that the label information on products like fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides are actually legal statements. The companies that make these products are obligated to outline on their label the components of their product, how it should be used and any safety guidelines that the person must use to handle and apply their product. In addition it should tell what to do if a person or animal is exposed to their product.

The label should include the name of the manufacturer and the contact information so consumers can call their customer service department with questions or concerns. If there is no label information that supplies all of these important details, it should be avoided.

Even some products that are organic in nature could be toxic if used in the improper levels or for the wrong application.   All of the information must be carefully reviewed and considered before making your choice.

Taking the time to research the products that are available, read labels, contact the manufacturer with questions or ask for guidance from a reliable garden center will help you choose the product that is both safe and effective.

Here are some Extension Fact Sheets that might be of help: