Sunday, November 29, 2015

Choosing a Fresh Christmas Tree by Carol King

Photo CSU Extension
Are you thinking of getting a fresh Christmas tree this year? It seems that there are tree lots on every street corner and the choices can be overwhelming. Here are a few simple steps that will ensure you get the freshest tree and keep it that way.

At the tree lot:
  • Check that the needles bend rather than break with gentle pressure; 
  • Shake it carefully to look for needle loss; 
  • Check the cut end: it should be sticky with sap. 
If these conditions exist, buy the tree and take it home.

At home:
  • Make a new cut at the end of the trunk about an inch above the old one.
  • Keep the cut end standing in water, whether you decorate the tree immediately or not. This allows a fresh route for water to travel into the trunk. 
  • Check the tree's water level frequently, and refill as necessary. Fresh evergreen trees can take up an amazing amount of water. You may have to fill the reservoir several times a day. Don’t let the water level drop below the trunk, as a seal will formant prevent the tree from absorbing water.
  • Keep your tree away from heat sources such as a heating duct or television set. A fresh tree that receives good care should remain in safe condition indoors for ten days to two weeks.
You can also 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 , (Rocky Mountain Region Regional Christmas Tree Program) 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.” is a good web site.

For more information on selecting the perfect tree check this CSU fact sheet:

Enjoy that fresh tree! 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Protecting Trees From Heavy Snow by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy tree
Winter weather has arrived and the snow is falling! Take precautions to avoid this kind of tree damage.  Here are some suggestions on protecting your trees from the weight of heavy snow from Curtis Utley, Jefferson County CSU Extension Research Associate.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cornucopia: Origins by Carol King

Cornucopia Photo
The cornucopia is the symbol of abundant harvest and is most often associated with Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a horned shaped vessel filled with an abundance of the earth's harvest. 

Cornucopia became an English word in 1508 when it first appeared in the dictionary. Its origins are from two Latin words; Cornu meaning "horn" and Copia meaning "plenty". 

The cornucopia has been a symbol of a great harvest for centuries and was probably first referred to in Greek and Roman myths and dates back to the 5th century B.C. My favorite is the Greek version: “ Almathea was a goat who nursed and raised Zeus. While playing one day, Zeus accidentally broke one of her horns. He was so saddened by this that he used his godly powers to fill the broken horn with whatever Almathea wanted so it became the horn of plenty. Zeus also put the goat's image in the sky and that is our constellation Capricorn.”

The symbol of the cornucopia was also used, along with rolling fields of grain, to lure new settlers to come to the New World. It is now in our national consciousness as a symbol for bountiful garden harvest and the sharing of food that has become our American Thanksgiving.  

Wishing you and yours a harvest of good food and good fortune! Happy Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pines Shedding Needles is Normal by Carol King

Photo by Carol King
Are your pine trees dropping their needles? There is no cause for alarm; they are probably naturally losing their needles. Everyone knows that deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall, but fewer people learn that evergreen trees also lose their old needles in the late summer and  fall. Evergreens normally do shed previous years' needles on a regular basis. Often there can be a "heavy" needle drop on Front Range landscape pines, spruces and firs. The most common causes of excessive needle drop are too-wet and too-dry soils. We have had both this year!

There may be a problem if there is yellowing or dieback on the tips of branches. Consider drought, salts, root damage, spray damage, soil compaction, conifer aphids, mountain pine beetle and other factors. Occasionally, "deciduous conifers" such as bald cypress, larch and dawn redwood are found in Colorado landscapes. These conifers lose all their needles every autumn, to be replaced the following spring.

For more information, check out these articles at Planttalk Colorado™.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Houseplants Have the Winter Yellows by Rebecca Anderson

Peace Lily, Spathiphyllum sp., with a yellow sun leaf

I take most of my houseplants outside every summer.  They seem to enjoy a few months on the patio, growing a multitude of lush leaves in the more direct sunlight.  Then in the fall as the nights cool off, I bring them back in the house.  After the transition, I notice several of the leaves become yellow and dry up.  I'd like to think they're mourning the passing of another summer, but really they are going through a normal physiologic process to streamline their metabolism for the lower light conditions inside the house.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Wayward Weeds or Red Root Pig Weed by Ann Moore

Amaranths retroflorus photo from
       The term weed is sometimes slang for marijuana but since that chapter is not finished yet, we will just accept Merriam Webster’s definition:  a weed is a plant not valued in the place is is growing and is usually of vigorous growth, especially one that tends to choke out more desirable plants.

This covers lots and lots of plant growth (a lovely little petunia in an onion patch?).  But the one we really should hope to find a good use for soon is Red Root Pigweed, scientific name Amaranths retroflexus.

Amaranth is a lovely nourishing seed that has been around for literally hundreds of years.  There are recipes for all kinds of delicious sounding things made with amaranth seeds.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Gardening Power to the People:Wrapping Trees for Winter Protection Video

It's time to wrap your newly planted and young trees to prevent sun scald and to keep that valuable tree healthy through the winter.  Here's how:

Monday, November 9, 2015

Gourd Birdhouses by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy
It’s gourd harvesting time! There are two basic types of squash that are grown and used decoratively: 1) Cucurbita or soft-skinned gourds – these are the colorful orange, gold and green gourds that look like small squash and come in odd shapes; 2) Lagenaria or hard-skinned gourds – these larger, utilitarian gourds include the familiar Birdhouse, Bottle and Dipper gourds. Hard skinned gourds grow green on the vine and eventually turn shades of tan and brown.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Checklist for Preparing Trees for Winter by Donna Duffy

Photo by Carol King

This article is provided courtesy of Aaron Bergdahl, Forest Health Specialist with the NDSU/North Dakota Forest Service. Minor adaptations have been made for Colorado readers.

With fall fading, it is important to remember to prepare your trees for a potentially tough Colorado winter. The following checklist serves as a reminder of the most important considerations for fall tree care and proper tree winterization.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sow Native Plant Seeds Now! By Donna Duffy

You still have time to sow native plant seeds in your garden. Mid to late fall is a good time to sow native seeds because subsequent winter cold and snow will promote seed germination next spring. If you are unsure where to purchase native plant seeds, check out the Colorado Native Plant Society’s publication: Native Plant Vendor List.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Are Your Roses Ready for Winter? by Donna Duffy

The arrival of fall brings the realization that winter really will be here soon. Among all of your other fall garden chores, be sure to plan some time to get your roses “tucked in” and ready to brave whatever winter may bring. According to the Denver Rose Society’s publication “Growing Roses in Colorado,” there are five basic steps to remember.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!!

Jefferson County CSU Extension Master Gardener bloggers wish you all a very Happy Halloween!