Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gardening With Children by Nancy Brant

Photo CSU Extension
One of the main reasons that children enjoy gardening is to spend time with someone they love.   It is a good time to experience the outdoors, talk over problems and bond.  If you love gardening, your children will probably enjoy it too.  Another reason children like gardening is that they love being outside and playing in the dirt.
You can plan the garden with very young children by talking about what you might plant, going to the garden store and picking out some fun seeds.  Choose seeds that are easy to handle, germinate quickly, and are tasty to eat.  Radishes are great because they germinate quickly.  Choose a mild variety if your children do not like spicy foods.  Radishes come in white red, pink, purple and black varieties.  There is even an Easter egg seed blend which is a blend of seeds in shades of purple, lavender, pink, scarlet and white radishes in one seed packet.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Enjoying Hardy Brassica Vegetables By Joyce D’Agostino

Collard Greens Photo by Joyce  D'Agostino
If you grow any vegetables from the Brassica family (Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Collards, Colza, Hanover Salad, Kale, Kohlrabi, Mustard, Rutabaga, Turnip) you may notice that even though the days are shorter and we have experienced some cold weather and even frosts, they seem to still be alive and well. 
As the summer started to wind down, I planted Collard Greens (Brassica oleracea) which quickly came up and despite a late season hailstorm which tattered some of its leaves, it is still doing well and ready for harvest even though we are well into fall.

In fact, most of the Brassicas improve in flavor once they have had a nip of frost. When you harvest these vegetables, some will winter over if some of the leaves remain and the roots are intact. Add a layer of mulch with leaves or pine bark to help protect the plant during the cold winter months. Many of these vegetables are considered to be nutritional powerhouses and are great to add to your fall and winter meals.
If you missed planting any of these for your fall garden, you can  add them in the spring. These hardy vegetables like cool spring weather too, so look for these seeds and plants as you plan your 2014 garden. Remember the seed catalogues for the new year will be arriving soon!
Here is a Planttalk tip sheet that gives you some information about growing and enjoying plants in this family:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Emergency Quarantine Issued to Protect Colorado Ash Trees by Christi Lightcap, Colorado Department of Agriculture

Emerald Ash Borer Photo Courtesy Cornell Extension
LAKEWOOD, Colo. – The Colorado Department of Agriculture has established an emergency quarantine in the Boulder County area related to the recent discovery of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). The quarantine is effective immediately. 
“The Emerald Ash Borer is a highly destructive pest to ash trees. In other states, it has caused significant economic impact to property owners and the nursery and landscaping industries. The quarantine is vital to limiting further infestation,” said CDA’s Plant Inspection Division Director, Mitch Yergert 
The emergency quarantine prohibits the movement of all untreated plants and plant parts of the genus Fraxinus out of the quarantined area. This includes, but is not limited to:
·         Logs and green lumber
·         Nursery stock, scion wood, and bud wood
·         Chips and mulch, either composted or uncomposted
·         Stumps, roots and branches
·         Firewood of any non-coniferous (hardwood) species

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Welcome New Master Gardeners! by Donna Duffy

On November 13th, twelve individuals were honored as Jefferson County’s newest Master Gardeners. To earn this designation, they went through a comprehensive application process and interview through Jefferson County CSU Extension. Once accepted as an apprentice, these dedicated people completed a minimum of 60 hours of college-level classroom instruction (including lectures, small group activities, and lab activities) focused on home gardening. On top of that, they contributed at least 50 hours of volunteer service in the past 7 months. 

Did you know that there are 140 certified Master Gardeners in Jefferson County? If you are a gardener, you’ve probably interacted with these Master Gardeners around the county – at Farmer’s Markets, on the phone, in the Plant Diagnostic Clinic, leading youth programs, providing educational programs…they seem to be everywhere in the summer months. In fact, during 2013, the Jefferson County Master Gardeners donated 5,941 hours of volunteer service to benefit residents of all ages. Those hours are the equivalent of almost 3 full-time staff, and are valued at $131, 533! The Jeffco Gardener blog and Facebook page had almost 172,000 hits this year. These are busy volunteers who make a difference in Jefferson County!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Carbon Farming with Jatropha by Elaine Lockey

photo courtesy of http://research.ifas.ufl.edu

There has been much recent press about the desert shrub Jatropha curcas and it's potential to soak up carbon monoxide emissions. A team of German scientists, publishing in the international science journal Earth System Dynamics, analyzed data from Jatropha plantations in several countries and found that approximately 2.5 acres of Jatropha can capture 17-25 tons of carbon monoxide per year, over a 20 year period. 

According to the study’s lead author, the plants can lower desert temperature by as much as 2 degrees Fahrenheit as well as increase rainfall in these regions. Scientific American.com states that if the 1 billion hectares of suitable land was to be used for growing Jatropha, it would be "enough to offset the annual CO2 pollution of China, the U.S. and the E.U. combined."

This poisonous scrubby plant grows as a shrub or small tree and can handle low-nutrient soils. It can live for over 50 years and has not shown to be invasive. The benefit of growing Jatropha is that it grows well in the most arid of regions where it is difficult to farm for food.  Instead, it is grown for ‘carbon farming’. Ideally this plant would be grown in coastal regions where it can receive some minimal irrigation.  The cost of planting these plants if you use existing desalination devices would be more cost effective than higher-tech practices.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Book Review: 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants by Elaine Lockey

In my search for plant ideas to help in my heavily deer-foraged garden, I came across the book 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants by Ruth Rogers Clausen.  The premise of the book is that “you can still have a lush, thriving garden by making smart plant choices. Many stunning plants are unpalatable to deer because of their poisonous compounds, fuzzy or aromatic leaves, tough, spiny or bristly textures, and for a variety of less obvious reasons.”

The author stresses that there is no such thing as a deer-proof plant.  During times when deer are hungriest they will try to eat most anything. You might also notice that one group of deer leave your asters alone while another group or individual browses it any chance she gets. Plants that are considered “deer candy” and not recommended are hostas, lilies, daylilies, tulips and roses (except Rosa rugosa which deer leave alone).  Clausen offers a more complete list of these favorites to avoid. But she lists in depth many more plants that you can happily grow without feeling you need to keep watch over your garden.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Autumn Composting-Seize the Moment! by Mark Woltkamp

Photo by Carol King
As avid and dedicated gardeners, we all spent this year’s spring and summer seasons working diligently to create natural beauty, to provide a hospitable environment for our bird and insect friends (both good and bad), and hopefully to successfully grow some edible crops.  But autumn is already upon us, signaling that it is nearly time to finish up our harvesting, weeding and transplanting activities and put away our beloved gardening tools for a well-deserved rest (for us too!).  
But we are not done yet!  Autumn is the opportune time to take advantage of this season’s abundance of available organic materials for composting.  This includes the products of your year-end clean-up of vegetable, perennial and annual beds, the kitchen waste of your recently-harvested vegetables, and, most importantly, all those dry leaves falling from your trees or that inevitably blow into your yard from seemingly every other tree in your neighborhood.