Monday, July 30, 2012

Hardy Succulents: Tough Plants for every Climate; Book Review by Pam Macy

 “Succulents are the drama queens of contemporary gardens,” states the back cover of this compelling book.  Hardy Succulents: Tough Plants for every Climate, by Gwen Moore Kelaidis, Storey Publishing, 2008, is a stunningly beautiful paperback, containing an abundance of close-up color photos and descriptions of succulents of every kind. After recently viewing Ms. Kelaidis’ garden during the 2012 Colorado Master Gardeners’ tour in Denver, and gradually realizing I was witnessing an experienced garden talent in action; there was no doubt I needed to purchase her book.  The array of succulents in her garden, both in-ground and in countless containers, was a visual feast.

This book is particularly useful for Colorado gardeners, since Ms. Keladis resides and gardens here (zone 5b). It references what will grow elsewhere but offers specific recommendations about what is most suitable for our western conditions. Reading the text often feels like talking to a good friend who is sharing her knowledge because she wants her friend to enjoy these plants just as much as she does, and to insure her success in growing them.  Ms. Kelaidis was a joy to meet; when I asked her about propagating hens and chicks, before I knew it, she had retrieved several starter pots of hens and chicks, and gave them to my companions and I!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Aphids by Gail Wilson

One of the most common insect problems we suffer here on the Front Range is Aphids.  They are so very common they are sometimes called plant lice.  These small, soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects are generally less than 1/8" long.  Green or black is the most common color but they can also be found in a variety of other colors as well. 

The insects survive by sucking the sap and juices from the soft, new growth, causing injury to plants.  These injuries damage the plant's ability to properly process food and causes the plant to lose vigor, wilt, distort or show spots.  Aphids can also transmit viral diseases from unhealthy plants to healthy plants.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Garden Tool Care at Its Finest: Oiled Sand by Gail Wilson

I have spent a fair amount of money on my garden tools and I work hard at keeping them in good shape.  One of the ways I do that is oiled sand and I would like to share that secret with you.

I use a 3-gallon plastic bucket because I found it at a thrift store but you can use a 5-gallon bucket or even a large trash can filled only about a third full.

To create the oiled sand I used general all-purpose sand and the most inexpensive motor oil I could find at the local big box store.  You can use mineral oil or vegetable oil but for me the motor oil was less expensive.   The success of the project is not dependent on the quality of the oil.    A 5-gallon bucket requires approximately ½ gallon of oil so for my 3-gallon bucket I used a total of about 1 and 1/3 quarts.  That is enough oil to moisten the sand but not enough to create a drippy mess.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Will my Green Bell Peppers turn Yellow? by Gail Wilson

Have trouble figuring out when peppers are ripe and ready for harvest? Here's a few tips to help.

First things first, different pepper plants produce different colored peppers so it is imperative that you know what type of peppers you’ve planted.

You can harvest peppers at any size desired, however, green bell varieties are usually harvested when they are fully grown, about 3-4 inches.  When fruit is mature, they break easily from the plant but less damage occurs if the fruit is cut from the plant.