Monday, September 24, 2012

Kim Bone's Garden

If you missed the Jeffco Master Gardeners' garden tour or the Garden Conservancy Tour then you missed Kim Bone's beautiful garden.  Here's a music video of it.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cider Pressing and Tomato Tasting 2012 by Duane Davidson

Tomato Tasting Table
Char and Tom Gottlieb's harvest season event, making cider and tasting multiple varieties of tomatoes, celebrated its 15th anniversary this September. Family, friends, neighbors, and Char's Colorado Master Gardener colleagues gathered in the Gottlieb front and back yards on a recent Saturday afternoon. It was a pleasant, sunny day with a hint of fall, a perfect afternoon to celebrate the bounty of garden and orchard.

Though gardeners agreed this year's hot temperatures hampered tomato production, they provided about thirty different varieties for the tasting. Many were familiar, but several newcomers were introduced by their proud growers. Some were a little sweeter, some more tart; all were delicious and fun to taste.  

Using the Cider Press
 As for apples, it was a bountiful year according to those carrying in large buckets and boxes to the cider press. They took their turns, first chopping the apples into small pieces in the grinder, then squeezing the juice out in the turnscrew press.

Word has spread about this gathering. Even a news photographer turned up to record this year's activities. Watch for a feature item in your newspaper.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lavender Hyssop is a Great Bee Magnet by Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino
A few years ago, I overheard some gardeners remarking how much they enjoyed hyssop.  Since I enjoy growing herbs, especially those that produce both attractive flowers and fragrant foliage, I decided to give it a try.

I chose a Lavender Hyssop, Agastache foeniculum,  and started it from seed. The seed information promised that it would attract bees and butterflies.

Since this is a perennial, the first year it remained small and didn’t flower but did survive the severe hailstorm of the summer of 2009. It continued to grow each year since and this was the first year that it produced fluffy lavender flower spikes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mulch-Moving Turkeys by Elaine Lockey

As if deer weren’t enough of a struggle for mountain gardeners, throw in some mulch-moving turkeys! 
Turkey surveying her handiwork
Ever since I put down new mulch on my garden bed, I‘ve had regular visitors who like to do some landscaping of their own.  A group of turkeys scrape out all the mulch onto the driveway and sidewalk with their strong feet, on an almost daily basis.  This not only causes a big mess but damages the plants. 

They are searching my garden for food, most likely insects as turkeys are opportunistic omnivores.  They eat a mostly plant-based diet of herbaceous green leaves, berries, seeds, grasses, and acorns.  Insects play a smaller but important part of their diet, especially for the young turkeys, called poults.  Insects might include grasshoppers, dragonflies, slugs and snails and beetles.  Turkeys do a large amount of scratching for food especially in the fall, so possibly coincidental timing with my new mulch.  They are enjoying the ease of moving the soft mulch to most likely find plentiful insects hiding within the bed.  

I wondered if this was a unique situation but I did find some fellow internet gardeners who have experienced the same thing.  And they weren't just mountain gardeners - many lived in suburban settings and reported that there were more turkeys moving in. There are some various solutions that they offered.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Golden Rain Tree Bugs by Gardener Dave

Golden Rain Tree
A  while ago Carol King wrote an informative article about box elder bugs on this blog. Well, my yard has now been “occupied” by some of their close relatives – golden rain tree bugs – uninvited by me, mind you, but very numerous all the same. They go by several other aliases: red shouldered bug, soapberry bug and Jadera bug – the latter comes from their Latin name “Jadera haematoloma”, apparently the most common species that we see here in Colorado.

The bugs have set up housekeeping near my one golden rain (GR) tree at the west side of my house – so far I have seen only a few actually ON the tree – but they are raising families and getting ready for a big celebration for sure!  So far their favorite spot seems to be out of the sun on a cedar fence about 6 feet from the tree. They are very active bugs – and most of their life cycle (except eggs) seems to be displayed all at one time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Early Leaf Color is Drought Related by Mary Small

When fall coloration appears early, like this year, it usually means plants are stressed.  Many factors can stress trees, but in 2012, the likely culprit is the weather.  Conditions in the Denver metro area have been dry since fall of 2011.  March, June and July were warmer than normal months.  

The excessive heat and dry conditions can kill roots or stress them.  When roots are stressed they can’t absorb water well from the soil.  Tree leaves still continue to transpire (lose moisture to the surrounding environment) and the poorly functioning roots can’t supply the need.

During the growing season, trees are constantly making and breaking down chlorophyll (the green plant pigment) to produce starches and sugars, their “food”.   When a plant is stressed, it can’t produce as much chlorophyll, so the green color fades, allowing other pigments to show.  (These other pigments are always present, but masked by the presence of chlorophyll.)  So reds, oranges and yellows begin to appear even though the calendar tells us the normal leaf coloration period is a ways off.  

You can apply water to help improve plant health, although it won’t reverse leaf color changes now.  Be sure to provide water this fall and winter to help already stressed plants survive the winter. This fact sheet