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:



Monday, July 10, 2017

Leafcutter Bees: Friend or Foe? by Joyce D'Agostino


Photo CSU Extension

Have you noticed curious semicircular cut outs in the leaves of some of your plants? This might mean that the busy Leafcutter bees are at work. Recently I noticed these cut out shapes on the leaves of some of my Alpine Strawberry plants. In researching more about them, I found that these bees are a beneficial insect, even though they may be doing some damage to your plants.

Leafcutter Bee Photo CSU Extension

 Leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.) are considered one of the important native insects here in the Western United States. They are solitary bees, meaning that they don’t live in a hives as do the social honeybees, but they are still very valued as a pollinator. When they make the cut and remove the leaf from your plant, it is not for a food source but used to build their nest cells. When they form their cell home, they then line each leaf cell with a mixture of nectar and pollen. The female bee lays an egg into the cell and seals it shut, which produces a secure environment for the eggs to develop.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mosquitoes in the Home Garden by Carol King

Mosquito photo cdc.gov
While we have not had a lot of rain over the past several weeks, mosquitoes can still become a problem in the garden. The best time to manage mosquitoes is when they are in the larval stage. This stage, called wrigglers, lives in shallow water and feeds on microorganisms. They can be found in used tires, wheelbarrows, birdbaths, saucers under pots, ornamental pools and other places that hold standing water. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Fight the Bite website  recommends the following steps for reducing the mosquito population. 
Mosquitoes lay eggs in still water, which hatch in 7 to 10 days. If standing water is eliminated weekly around the property, many  mosquitoes will be kept from breeding in the first place. Here are some things you can do:
  • Remove standing water in ponds, ditches, clogged rain gutters, flower pots, plant saucers, puddles, buckets, equipment and cans. Empty or flush out containers weekly to reduce or eliminate the larvae.
  • Check for items that might hold water including wheelbarrows, leaky air conditioner hoses, pool covers, tarps, plastic garden sheeting, and trash.
  • Change the water in birdbaths weekly.
  • Use mosquitofish (mosquito-eating fish Gambusia can be released in ponds) or mosquito dunks to prevent mosquito larvae from growing in small areas of standing water.
  • Avoid mosquitoes at dawn and dusk when the bugs are most active. 
  • Wear socks, long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors.
  • Apply insect repellent with DEET. Follow directions carefully.
For more information about complete mosquito management, check these fact sheets:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Gardening Power to the People: Pollinators (Video)—Bee or Wasp?

Many people confuse bees and wasps. While they are both in the Hymenoptera order of insects they have unique characteristics. This short video will help you distinguish between the two.

Monday, July 3, 2017

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!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Deadhead Flowers for More Blooms by Carol King

Midsummer can be an exciting time 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!

It’s time for 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!

Pinching: Use your fingernails and pinch the plant before blooming. Pinching achieves a bushy, compact, shorter plant; one with lots of blossoms that won’t fall over as readily as an unpinched plant. Flowers that benefit from pinching include: asters, ageratum, browallia, calendula, coleus, annual chrysanthemum, verbena, zinnias, petunias, and chrysanthemums. Pinch fall blooming perennials any time but stop on the Fourth of July so you will have fall blooms.
Deadheading: This is the act of removing spent flowers. Most annual and perennial flowers need to have the old blossoms removed in order for new ones to bloom. Not doing so allows the flower to go to seed and they will soon stop blooming. Flowers that benefit from deadheading include: pansies, day lilies, geraniums, rudbeckia, echinacea, coreopsis, yarrow, veronica, and roses.
Cutting back: Cutting back certain plants after they flower will cause them to bloom one more time later in the season. Cut the flower all the way to the leaf on lady’s mantle, catmint, sages, salvia and sea hollies and the like. You’ll get another session of blooms.
Disbudding: Want a show stopping dahlia or a prize winning rose? Disbudding is the key to those prize flowers. On dahlias, remove the two side buds next to the central bud at the end of each lateral branch. The flower that develops will be larger and will grow a longer and stronger stem. On hybrid teas, remove or pinch the secondary buds by the main bud; on floribundas and grandifloras, remove the terminal buds.
Encourage those blossoms! Pinch, deadhead, cut back, disbud!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

It’s Time to Arm Yourself Against Yellow Jackets - An Update By Joyce D’Agostino


Photo courtesy CSU 
Update: Recently I assisted another Master Garden at an information table at a public event. One of the people attending the event stopped by our table and saw materials about bees. She stated that she didn’t like bees and wanted none of them in her garden. One of her friends told her she was very mistaken, we all need bees to help with pollinating our gardens. This person insisted that the “bees” were very bothersome and she was concerned she could get stung. After talking with her for a few moments and asking her to describe what she was seeing, her description matched the Western Yellowjacket. Despite me telling her it wasn’t a bee, she still felt that it was part of the “bee family” and she wanted no part of any bees around her garden.
It may explain why people do mistake these aggressive hornets with our friendly honey bees and bumble bees and why so many of the beneficial insects are sprayed with insecticide. 
We are repeating this blog from April to help you see what a Yellow Jacket looks like compared to honey bees and bumble bees. Trying to control them earlier in the season is the best way to reduce or eliminate the Yellow Jacket population but proper identification will help so that you don’t use insecticides on the bees visiting your garden. If you have any questions about bees and yellow jackets, contact your local Extension Service office.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Growing Healthy Tomatoes by Joyce D'Agostino



Photo courtesy Old Farmer's Almanac

Tomatoes are one of the most often grown garden vegetables. For the most part, tomatoes can be easy to grow and give you a nice bounty of fresh tomatoes for eating and cooking.

But occasionally problems can occur such as disease, insect issues or growth problems. Having some tips early on may help you avoid problems so you can enjoy your tomato crop throughout the season. Tomatoes benefit from being spaced so that there is good air circulation.  Giving your plants some room and not touching each other if possible helps to avoid the foliage staying damp or transferring diseases. Remember when you plant a small tomato, it can grow into a much larger plant, so refer to the seed packet or the information included if you bought a plant to know how far to space your plants.