Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Care of Flood Damaged Lawns and Turf by Tony Koski, CSU Extension Turf Specialist

Flooded Lawn Photo courtesy North Dakota State University

Lawns that are covered by flood waters, even temporarily, may be subject to various types of damage. In general, most turf species will tolerate a few days of flooding without any negative effects. However, turf that remains flooded for more than a few days (especially when it is hot) can rapidly decline due to lack of oxygen and light. Substantial turf loss can be expected after 4 days of continued submersion. Other factors associated with flooding of turf include: soil coverage, water contaminated with petroleum or pesticides, high water temperature and algae scum. The most significant long-term effect of flooding is the deposit of sediment (“muck”), primarily silt and clay, over turf surfaces. This can lead to serious soil layering problems and even death of the existing grass.
Short-Term Care of Flooded Turf
Once flood waters have receded, pick up any debris, such as wood, glass, stones, nails and other metal objects deposited on lawn areas. This debris could pose a safety hazard to mower operators and damage power mowers or other equipment later used to maintain the lawn, as well as to people and pets who may use the lawn for recreation. Remove leaves or any other material that may smother grass.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Post Flood Vegetable Gardens Can Be Risky by Carol O’Meara, CSU Extension Boulder County

Photo by Dawn Madura, The Coloradoan/AP
If you’re cleaning up your vegetable garden after the flood waters recede, consider the safety of eating produce from the garden. If rain, and only rain, fell on the garden everything is fine, but if it was touched by or near flood water, your produce is risky-to-dangerous to consume.
Flood waters can contain sewage, pollutants such as oil, gasoline, solvents, etc., bacteria and parasites such as Giardia, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Shigella, Hepatitis A, and a host of other unsavory contaminants. Young children, seniors, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems are at highest risk for serious effects from consuming contaminated food and should not eat any produce that was in or near floodwater.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Heavy Rainfall Causes Tomato Problems by Mary Small

Fruit Splitting Caused by Too Much Water photo by Mary Small

There are some strange things happening to my tomato plants. They are wilting, some have blossom end rot and some fruit is splitting open.  Don’t plants wilt when they need water? Isn’t blossom end rot due to irregular watering? Well, yes, but………
Plants can wilt when there’s excess water around, like the 6 inches that fell on my garden. Soil contains pore space between the mineral and organic particles, some holding water and some holding oxygen.  But when a lot of water is applied to the soil, it drives the oxygen out.  Soil oxygen is needed by plants to perform various functions.  No (or low) soil oxygen damages or kills roots and these damaged roots can’t absorb nutrients and water.  So plants wilt. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Peaches on the Grill by Elaine Lockey

photo courtesy of

Grilled Balsamic Peaches

Yes, you read it right: grilled peaches. The sweet and tangy combined taste of grilled peaches is like no other.  I was skeptical until I tried this and now it’s my favorite summer side dish.  Use fresh peaches for this. It’s a great way to use up peaches that need to be eaten right away.

Ingredients (makes 4 servings)
4 peaches, halved and pitted (don't need to skin)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste   
1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (can decrease this amount)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
2 teaspoon chopped Italian flat leaf parsley


1. Preheat grill for high heat for 10 minutes

2. Place olive oil in a bowl. Add peach halves and toss to evenly coat with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Cook the peaches, flesh side down, on preheated grill until slightly charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the grill and dust with Cajun seasoning. Cut halves into slices or leave as is. Put peaches into bowl and toss with vinegar and parsley if desired.

4. Serve warm. Great side dish.

(Recipe adapted from and originally submitted by user Shock)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Five Reasons to Become a Colorado Master Gardener by Patti O'Neal

The Colorado Master Gardener Program in Jefferson County is accepting applications for the 2014 Apprentice Class and the Colorado Gardener Certificate Program.

The Mission of the program states that the:
“Colorado Master Gardener Program volunteer network strives to enhance Coloradans’ quality of life by:
    •    Extending knowledge-based education throughout Colorado communities to foster successful gardeners;
    •    Helping individuals make informed decisions about plants to protect neighborhood environments.
We are committed to using horticulture to empower gardeners, develop partnerships and build stronger communities.”

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hummingbird Moths Worth a Closer Look by Elaine Lockey

photo by Elaine Lockey
While eating dinner recently on a restaurant’s outdoor patio, I noticed something flying around the potted plants.  My first thought was “hummingbird” but something didn’t seem quite right.  On further inspection, it turned out to be an insect resembling a hummingbird.  It wasn’t long before it attracted the attention of many of the other diners. 

This strange insect that acts like a hummingbird is commonly called a “hummingbird moth”.  Sphinx moths and hawk moths are the common name for many of the hornworms, but there are several different species that can also be called hummingbird moths, because of the similar type of flight pattern with fast wing beats, hovering behavior and similar size heavy body.  They fly around deep-lobed flowers, and so are commonly seen around your flowers.  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Plant Spring Blooming Bulbs in September and October by Carol King

Fritillaria meleagris photo courtesy
Have you ordered your spring booming bulbs yet? This is the time to do so. I know we are mostly tired of gardening but remember how wonderful the spring is when the spring bloomers make their appearance!  September and October are the best months for planting bulbs.This will allow ample time for the bulbs to become well rooted before the ground freezes. Bulbs planted after October may not have time to root adequately and therefore may not flower uniformly in the spring. 
There are many bulbs to choose from including tulips, daffodils or narcissus, crocus, snowdrop, grape hyacinth and scilla.  Try some more exotic bulbs like Fritillaria meleagris, or Snake's Head Lily, striped squill, and allium. You can order them from catalogs, or buy in garden centers and big box stores.
Plant the bulbs at a depth consistent with the level indicated on a planting chart. As a general rule, this depth is four times the height of the bulb between the soil surface and the tip of the bulb. Make sure to plant the bulbs with the growing tip up.
For complete planting guidelines, try these Fact Sheets: 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pamper your Pollinators! By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino
We have all heard the news reports about how the honeybee is threatened and has dwindling populations. This is serious because we depend on these hard working pollinators to work the fields and backyard gardens so we can enjoy harvest success. Their absence can truly impact the future of growing. 
You can help support the bee populations with some simple additions to your garden and yard to attract the bees and give them the nectar and pollen they require. Check the internet for “plants that attract bees” to help you know which plants are preferable. If you use any type of pesticide or herbicide, check the label carefully, some will note “harmful to bees” and if you want to encourage bees into your garden you must avoid these products.
Many plants that bring the bees and other pollinators to your yard are familiar to gardeners and easy to grow. Sunflowers for example are a favorite of bees and you will soon notice that once they bloom that the bees arrive early in the morning and stay well into the evening. Vegetables with large flowers, such as pumpkins, squash and gourds as well as popular flowering bushes and plants such as wildflowers, lavender and hyssop welcome the bees too. 
As you walk your garden and yard, make note of which plants the bees prefer and plan to grow those again. The bees will be grateful for your wise choice of plants that support their good health.
Here are some good gardening fact sheets available to you to help you learn more about bees and other pollinators:
Photo by Joyce D'Agostino

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mid-Summer Leaf Drop by Mary Small

Tree owners and those responsible for maintaining trees often observe leaf drop occurring in mid-summer. Sometimes the number of leaves falling appears excessive, but in reality, the number of leaves lost is small in comparison the overall number of leaves in the tree. Some suggestions for the cause or causes of mid-summer leaf drop can include: drought; adjustment to summer conditions; inner leaf drop and shading.

Drought: Trees may lose as many as 10% of their leaves during a drought without being irreversibly affected. Typically, once drought conditions are in place, leaves begin to drop and continue to drop for the extent of the drought period. While a tree uses leaves to make food, this amount of leaf loss does little or no harm, and may actually be helpful to the tree. By shedding these leaves the tree loses less water through transpiration

Adjustment to summer conditions: Sometimes trees just make too many leaves! When cool moist spring weather turns to hotter, dryer summer conditions a number of leaves may drop suddenly. This is called "physiological leaf drop" and does not harm the plant's health. This leaf drop is simply a defense mechanism from further injury. When weather conditions are hot and dry, trees can take up an immense amount of water. If that water is not in the soil to support the root system the tree shuts down to preserve the moisture needed for continued life. This means eliminating the loss of water…which happens to be through the leaves.

Inner leaf drop: The observer should look carefully at the tree. If the falling leaves are from the inside of the tree they may have been "shaded out". Inner leaf drop occurs when the leaves on the outside and top of the tree are so thick that the leaves inside the tree do not receive enough sunlight. After such leaf drop, the larger branches inside the tree and close to the trunk look bare. Inner leaf drop is normal and not harmful.

Shading: If leaves can be lost due to shading from within a single tree, then it follows that leaves can be lost when an entire tree is shaded. Trees are living things and a tree may grow so large that it begins to cast shade on another tree which was once in sunlight. The smaller tree no longer receives enough light to support its leaves which begin to drop. Another form of shading occurs when closely planted trees grow so large that they begin to shade each other on the sides that face each other. Often, this leads to leaf loss on the sides of the trees where they are in close contact or are intermingling branches.

Adapted from: Ohio State Buckeye Yard and Garden Online and Brian Pugh, Oklahoma State University