Saturday, November 15, 2008
Ceci Droll, Friend of Extension Award Recipient
Jefferson County Extension Office celebrated Master Gardener Achievement Night on Thursday, November 13, 2008, at the Jeffco Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall. Approximately 100 master gardeners and their guests attended the event.
Rusty Collins, Extension Director and Heather Hodgin, Horticulture Agent commended the group on their outstanding service to the Jefferson County community. During the past year, the gardeners volunteered more than 3700 hours toward helping Jefferson County CSU Extension reach its goal of empowering county citizens and enhancing their quality of life through education, innovation and excellence in service. Jeffco Master Gardeners answered gardening questions at the hotline, office walk-ins, plant clinic, e-mails and house calls. They staffed booths at the farmers’ markets, fairs garden shows, etc. The gardeners wrote newspaper articles worked in class rooms and with the green industry. They also presented educational programs and assisted in community greening projects such as Habitat for Humanity, the Courage Garden, and various school garden projects. All in all, Master Gardeners provided Jefferson County residents with $76,000 worth of free gardening advice during 2007-2008.
The highlight of the evening was the Friend of Extension Award presented to Cecilia Droll by Jefferson County Commissioner, Kathy Hartman. Ceci is the oldest master gardener certified in Jefferson County. She graduated in 1976, the second year of the program. Her devotion to the program is paramount. She has written newspaper articles, taught senior citizens gardening at the Jeffco County Health Department, engaged in outreach efforts at malls, planned, administered and judged at the Harvest Shows. At 95, Ms. Droll continues to be a dynamic force in the Master Gardener’s program. And she has a hug waiting for you as well!
Certificates of recognition were given to two year, ten year, and fifteen year gardeners and peer honors.
For more information about the Jefferson County Master Gardener’s program or for gardening advice, please call the Extension Office at 303-271-6620.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
So you are curled up by the fire, great book in hand, a glass of your favorite wine by your side. It’s time to ask yourself “Where’s my firewood from?” Perhaps you picked up some wood from the millions of beetle kill pine logs that are in the Colorado mountains. It’s there, there’s a ton of it and it’s free or cheap. But…should we? Could we inadvertently spread pine beetle to the Front Range? Have we already spread it?
For the answer to these questions, I spoke with Philip Murphy, Colorado State Forest Service, and Whitney Cranshaw, CSU Extension Entomology Specialist. Here’s what they both had to say. If the wood you plan to bring is infested with live mountain pine beetle larvae, you run the risk of bringing the beetle into the city. This could happen if you cut trees that are still somewhat alive. The wood from totally dead trees is ok; the beetles leave dead trees and move on to the living. The very best way to assure that your logs are safe is to look for the presence of live larvae. It can be seen by stripping away the bark on several pieces. If you locate any larvae do not bring the wood into the community. Look also for small pin head sized exit holes in the trunk. If these are present, the insect is gone and the wood is okay.
So what if you or your neighbor DID bring infested wood to the city? Dr. Cranshaw assures us that the chances of it causing much problem with healthy, well-cared for, living trees are fairly minor. Vigorously growing pines that are adequately watered can kill off a great many pine beetles. However, if pines in your neighborhood are stressed, they could very likely succumb to the beetle.
Moving any firewood, dear gardener, is an iffy proposition. Consider this: much of the tree devastation that we have experienced across the county has been exacerbated by people moving firewood.
• The emerald ash borer that has destroyed millions and millions, in fact, most of the ash trees in the Midwest and East was introduced through wood packing material carried in cargo planes or ships from Asia. It continues to be spread by firewood.
• The gypsy moth and oak wilt are spread by firewood movement.
• The beetle-borne fungus “thousand cankers disease” that is destroying all the walnuts in the metro area is suspected to have been brought from New Mexico on firewood.
• The Dutch elm disease came from a load of logs infected with the elm bark beetle that was moved from the Netherlands and has destroyed most of the American Elms in the USA.
• Other bugs that have moved into the Front Range from firewood are the Ips beetle that attacks pine and spruce and red turpentine beetles that attack native pine species.
Asian longhorn beetle that attacks maples, poplar, willows and black locust; Sirex woodwasp that attacks pines have destroyed trees in the Midwest through firewood movement.
Many agricultural and natural resources professionals believe that the movement of firewood is probably the biggest threat to tree populations. So many people burn wood and so many people move wood without thinking. Many states have prohibitions against moving firewood from one county to another and federal regulations prohibit moving any ash logs out of quarantined areas. (Colorado does not have a prohibition.) Look to your conscience, dear gardener, if you decide to move firewood or bring beetle kill logs to your home. At the very least, check for bugs.
Pine Beetle Larvae
Here's more information:
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Winter survival of our precious perennials is always a major concern. Keeping a few things in mind will help them come though the cold season. Remember that our chief winter enemies on the Front Range are: soil dryness, drying winds, fluctuating temperatures, and “false springs”. Plants in containers are especially vulnerable. If you want to experiment with over-wintering perennials in containers, the bigger the container the better. Barrel-size containers can work if they are somewhat protected from our drying winds and temperature extremes. I would not consider trying this with clay pots, even large ones, because damp soil can expand and crack them when they freeze. Thick wooden containers, or “closed-cell foam” plastic containers do provide some measure of insulation during temperature fluctuations.
Soils with a large amount of air space; sandy/gravelly soil, or soil with an over-abundance of organic or moisture-retaining materials, can actually let cold air penetrate more deeply, thus damaging plant roots. Nursery plants that have been rooted in very light “soil” material are susceptible to cold penetration even if they have been planted (sunk into) your regular garden soil. Winter soil moisture is critical. If we have little or no snow cover, water every 3-4 weeks on warmer days that will allow water to penetrate before it freezes. Keep the (dead) topgrowth on perennials as much as possible in winter. If we do have snow, any remaining topgrowth will catch snow that will add to soil moisture when it melts. Mulching around perennials is extremely important. It helps to retain soil moisture and reduces soil temperature fluctuations. A layer of shredded bark, pine needles, or other insulating material 3” deep or more will help greatly. Avoid using fallen leaves, these can mat down and mold.
Putting your perennials “to bed” properly during their “hibernation” season will let you sleep easier too. Then you can relax, read your garden catalogs and anticipate our next real spring!
Posted by Jeffco Master Gardener Dave
Monday, November 3, 2008
For some of us “Tree Hugging, Dirt Loving” gardeners here on the Front Range, the floral growing season is all too short. If it were up to us, we would like at least another month! Maybe we don’t want to fly south with the birds, or live in Florida, but we would like to eke out a few more days or weeks at the end of the season when some flowers are still blooming. Please?
There are a few annuals and perennials that do have tolerance for light frosts – other than the tough, ubiquitous Pansy we see in all the nurseries in fall and spring. Here are a few more to consider (nothing exotic): Bells of Ireland, Black-eyed Susan, Calendula, Callibrachoa, Coreopsis, Cornflower, Chrysanthemum, Dianthus, Ornamental Cabbage, Primrose, Roses, Rudbeckia, Snapdragon, Stock, Sweet Pea, and Violet. These will generally give us 2-3 weeks after the fall average (light) frost dates. If we have been diligent at deadheading during the summer, even the perennials in this group may still be blooming. These can be good little troopers in the fall, unlike Begonias, Impatience, and Portulaca, etc. that turn to mush or straw at the very mention of the word frost!
When planting, we also need to keep our little microclimates in mind – hillsides where cold air flows off, protected areas next to the house, or near heat-trapping brick or stone walls – the little “Zone 6” areas that are the exception to our Front Range Denver normal Zone 5 climate. Take advantage of any warmer areas you might have, and remember to harden off greenhouse-grown plants by exposing them gradually to our bright sunlight, wind and variable temperatures in early spring before planting them in your garden.
Posted by Jeffco Master Gardener Dave.