Saturday, December 31, 2011

Welcome 2012!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Get the Dirt on Dirt by Jim Rohling

Jim Rohling Demonstrates Soil Gathering for Soil Test to Lakewood resident, Ted Struzeski
January is not too early to start thinking about your 2012 vegetable garden. A lot of thought, planning, and work goes into a successful productive garden.  Did you know that in Colorado, 80 percent of plant problems are due to soil problems?

CSU Extension recommends a  soil test as the best way to check the growing potential of your garden. You can bring home the best looking and attractive plants from the garden center or order the best seeds, but they won’t give the best results if your soil lacks the proper nutrition or qualities the soil should have.   A soil test gives you a baseline to work from to improve your soil nutrition, soil texture, and soil tilth. Over-fertilizing is a common problem. It is expensive and may harm your garden’s production and our environment.

The soil test is just one part of the soils class being taught as one of the six classes at the Jefferson County Master Gardeners 2012 Spring Gardening Symposium. We will also cover a good soil profile, soil compaction/tilth, soil amendments, soil and plant nutrition, and compost and mulching.

Join us at the Spring Gardening Symposium on January 28, 2012, Vegetable Gardening A –Z: Hitting the Basics.  It is a full day of six classes and covers Soil Preparation & Amendments, Vegetable Basics, Starting your Garden from Seed or Transplants, Tomatoes, Container Vegetable Gardening and Mountain Vegetable Gardening.  All this plus handouts, seeds and lunch for $70.  There is an optional lunch and learn class on Basic Flower Gardening for an additional $10.  Spend the day Colorado Master Gardeners who have access to the best research based gardening information, and in addition learn how the Jefferson County Master Gardeners can assist you with your gardening adventures all year long.  Call the Master Gardener line (303-271-6632) for more information.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Holiday Gift to You: Wings of Life!

Pollination: it's vital to life on Earth, but largely unseen by the human eye.  As  gardeners,  we know the importance of this feat of nature. Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg shows us the intricate world of pollen and pollinators with gorgeous high-speed images. Here's his film "Wings of Life," inspired by the vanishing of one of nature's primary pollinators, the honeybee.

Enjoy the film and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Real Christmas Tree Industry Needled by Growing Artificial Tree Sales by Elaine Lockey

Christmas tree farm
There has been a downward trend in real Christmas tree sales in the US, from 40% of homes purchasing one in 1991 to just 23% last year (National Christmas Tree Association). The main reason? More people are buying artificial trees. In the recent Wall Street Journal article, "Fir Real? Christmas Trees in Crisis", changing demographics are contributing to the decline - baby boomers are less inclined to buy real trees as they get older. Buyers of real trees are buying smaller trees now which are less profitable. The economy is also playing a role as tree growers planted a surplus of trees when the economy was doing well but now there is an oversupply of trees with fewer buyers.

Real Christmas trees have a long and illustrious history.  The first known decorated tree was in Latvia in 1510.  Since then, Christmas trees have held a place in countless homes and outdoor displays. A Christmas tree has been displayed in the White House annually since 1914, when President Franklin Pierce began the tradition.

There are over 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the US that employ 100,000 people.  Almost half a million acres of land are grown for Christmas tree production. So what is the industry doing about the decline in sales? 

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Science Behind Your Christmas Tree by Elaine Lockey

photo courtesy of
Going to pick out a Christmas tree is always an exciting holiday tradition.  It’s one my family never really took to though.  My father preferred the variety of tree that didn’t drop needles or require watering.  Once I had a home of my own, I decided that I wanted a “real” tree from then on – I sought the fresh smells and natural beauty that an artificial tree just can’t provide. 

As I perused the tree lots looking for the right tree, I have to admit, it never crossed my mind to think about why the choices are Douglas Fir, White Fir and Scotch Pine for the most part. What makes them the tree of choice to adorn my living room?  And once I brought the tree home, what can I do to keep it greener longer?

It turns out, there is an incredible amount of research behind the selection of trees specific for growing as a Christmas tree, and another whole body of research into how trees can behave more to our liking when growing in a tree stand - way more than the time that it takes me to pick out the perfect tree.  Just who is doing the research?  One such place of research is the Christmas Tree Research Center at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College.  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Best Gifts for Gardeners by Patti O'Neal

What do I get for the gardener or my favorite new “wanna be” gardener on my list this year?  Most of my friends are seasoned gardeners and they are the hardest to buy for – they already have all the basics.  So I have been “shopping” the best websites and catalogues and nurseries to find unusual items, the most sustainable items or just things that I might not have thought of.  I am sharing them with you in hopes that you will find the perfect item to surprise and delight that gardener in your life.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Poinsettia Sale at CSU!

CSU Horticulture Students With Poinsettias
For four months, students in Colorado State University's fall floriculture practicum have nursed hundreds of poinsettias from tiny rooted cuttings into vivid holiday plants.  They are for sale at the 18th annual holiday sale running Dec. 5-9 and Dec. 12-16.

Read about the project here!