Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Best wishes for happy and successful gardening in 2015!
Photo courtesy of therunninggarlic

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

May your garden be Merry and Bright!! Happy Holidays

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gift Ideas for Gardeners

It's not too late to get some great gifts for the gardener in your life! Also consider a gift to our Jefferson County Master Gardeners 2015 Gardening Symposium on January 24, 2015. Here's the link for more info.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Building Terroir to Impart Flavor and Place to Your Garden by Pete Biggam

The French have an old expression that relates the taste of an agricultural product to the place in which it was grown: gout de terroir, or terroir (Tare-wahr

Terroir is both a geographic area with specific soil and climate characteristics that also portrays a legacy steeped in traditions of agricultural practices and crop production that is a reflection of the people that work its land. 

Making the most of one’s land is the common goal of farmers and gardeners and is the heart of the notion of terroir, and relates back to “a sense and taste of place”.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Spring Gardening Symposium 2015: Improve Your Garden, Improve Your Life

Taste your place
Jefferson County CSU Extension Colorado Master Gardeners announce their 2015 Spring Gardening Symposium to be held on Saturday, January 24, 2015 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM  at the Jefferson County Faiurgrounds.  Come join us for a full day of vegetable gardening excitement for beginning and intermediate gardeners in particular.

Morning Session:
Building Your Terroir. Come learn how everything from the minerals in your soil to whatever is growing nearby affects the taste and nutrition of your vegetables.Your own terroir (taste of place) is special and cannot be matched anywhere else.
Going Organic. What are the steps to transforming your garden into a completely organic one? Learn the top 5 things to insure tproduction of clean food that also nurtures the earth.
Understanding Pests and Disease. Learn how to prevent pests and diseases from being a problem and what to do if they are.

Lunch and Learn Class (requires special registration)
Qi Gong for Gardeners – Learn to prepare your mind and body for the garden season with this gentle exercise session

Afternoon Session:
Top Ten Vegetables to Grow In Colorado. Easy and unusual vegetables to try will be presented.
The Thrill of Starting Seeds. The five key things needed to successfully start seeds at home .
Saving Seeds As If Your Life Depended On It. Learn why we should be saving and adapting seeds; vegetables, herbs and flowers, and a primer on where and how to start.
Let us help you step up your vegetable gardening success this year by taking your gardening skills up a notch. No questions unanswered! 

To register visit For more information call the Jeffco Extension Office at 303-271-6620.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Painted Poinsettias by Sheilia Canada

It is time to add those holiday plants to your home like amaryllis, paperwhites, Christmas cactus, and poinsettias. You may have seen the great varieties in color choices poinsettias come in. You can even get them in unusual colors that are painted.


I have the fun job at a local garden center of painting and adding glitter to our poinsettias.  I am an organic gardener and permaculturist in addition to being a Colorado Master Gardener so it is always a concern for me what is being applied to our plants. At our center, we use vegetable based dyes that are specially formulated for poinsettias. We spray these dyes so we can achieve those beautiful purples, mauves, blues, and oranges. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Making an Ice Candle by Donna Duffy

My calendar and the thermometer are having a disagreement about what season this is. Even so, it really is winter, and the weather is bound to get cold again. When the day and nighttime temperatures stay well below freezing, you can make an ice candle (think Stock Show weather!). 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Great Christmas Tree Conundrum: Real or Fake? by Carol King

Heading Out for the Perfect Tree!
If you are considering a “real tree” for Christmas,  here are a couple of options when looking at fresh trees.

You can cut your Christmas tree at several U. S. Forest Service locations near the Front Range, provided you have a permit.  The USDA Forest Service web site has information on where and when to get a permit, cutting dates and times, tips on caring for your tree including a recipe for a fireproofing mixture, and other details. There are also Christmas tree farms along the Front Range that allow you to “cut your own.”

Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter Watering by Donna Duffy

Baby, it’s dry out there! It’s been weeks since we’ve had measurable moisture in the lower elevations of Jefferson County, and our landscapes are thirsty. The lack of soil moisture and atmospheric humidity can damage plant root systems unless they receive supplemental water. Affected plants may appear normal in the spring only to weaken or die later because the amount of new growth produced is greater than the weakened root system can support.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Amaryllis: The Joy that Keeps on Giving by Patti O'Neal

Amaryllis is a rare gift to a gardener, providing near instant gratification producing a magnificent spectacle in 4-6 weeks. It’s a gift of growing something and making it bloom right in the middle of snow and freezing temperatures. The trick for many is to get them to do it again the following year. 

Amaryllis is a tender bulb, meaning it does not require a chilling period to bloom.  These beauties originate in the temperate climates of South America where they grow and bloom outdoors.  Here in the chilly Rocky Mountains we enjoy them “forced” during the holidays of December and on into January and even February. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

November Tomatoes?! by E. J. Bennett

Photo taken October 25, 2014
Whether by global warming or just a local climate hiccup, this year’s unusual fall weather has gardeners happily plucking tomatoes from the vine past Halloween.  Most years, however, we have to consider the eventual demise of our tomato production in late September or early October.  October 9 is our average first frost date in Denver, but 1944 holds the record, when frost wasn’t seen until November 15th! (guess it was busy freezing the Ardennes Forest over in Europe that year). 
If you want to maximize your tomato output through first frost, follow these simple steps in late August or early September:
1.  Ruthlessly evaluate and prune your tomato plants.  Vines with only flowers? Out.  Vines with tiny green tomatoes? Out.  Leave only the tomatoes you think have a chance of maturing before first frost.
2.  Shock your tomato plants.  No, this doesn’t mean gardening in your thong.  The act of pruning, above, will stimulate the plant to bring the remaining fruit to maturity.  But you can also use your shovel to cut some of the plant’s roots (dig straight down with your shovel 3-4 places in a circle around the plant, 6+ inches out from the base of the plant) and reduce total water to the plants by a third or more.  
3.  As the weather cools, cut remaining foliage back so the sun strikes the remaining fruit during the day.  The additional solar heat will help them mature. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bringing Herbs in for the Winter by Sheilia Canada

Photo Edmunton Journal
Herbs can be grown successfully indoors if you give them a little extra care.
For gardeners who like to cook, few plants are as rewarding as herbs. When the outdoor growing season ends, you can still enjoy fresh, homegrown herbs in your favorite recipes.

You can simply dig up your healthiest herbs and bring them inside. By taking note of herbs' special growing needs, you can harvest basil, thyme, and more straight through until spring. Here are three steps for successfully bringing herbs inside:

1. Choose the most robust plants to bring indoors. Before the first frost, dig them out of the garden and pot them up in fresh potting soil. Choose pots that allow for at least 1 to 2 inches of space around the root ball. Water thoroughly. Check each plant for insects, and if there's an infestation, treat the leaves with a soap spray.
2. Reverse the hardening-off process. Keep the pots outdoors out of direct sunlight for about a week. This will accustom your plants to being in containers and to the lower light conditions they'll experience inside. Keep them watered. Prune any lanky growth.
3. Bring them inside. To stay flavorful, herbs need at least five hours of direct sun a day. Turn windowsill plants regularly so that every side receives light. Don't let leaves touch the cold window glass. Fluorescent lights, hung 6 inches above the plants and left on for 14 hours per day, give even better results. 
Most indoor herbs prefer temperatures of about 65 to 70 degrees F in the daytime and about 60 degrees F at night. Herbs also need humidity. Provide it by placing the pots on trays filled with gravel and about an inch of water. Protect plants from drafts, but give them good air circulation. Don't crowd pots together. Overwatering will kill most indoor herbs, so between watering's, let the soil surface dry out and use tepid water. Fertilize once a month with diluted fish and seaweed fertilizer.

Why We Should Save Seeds from our Gardens by Ed Powers

I have lived in many climates across the country over the last 40 years and I have tried to save seeds in most of those climates.  A key for me in saving seeds was to research seed saving through universities such as Colorado State University.  What I found was heirloom type seeds produced the same crops year after year whereas hybrid seeds would not produce exactly the same crops the following years.  Heirloom seeds are true to form that comes from open-pollinated plants and some cases have been grown year after year for over 50 years.  These heirloom seeds will adapt too many local areas after being grown in that area for 3 to 5 years.  However Hybrid seeds are across between 2 different plant varieties to get the valued attributes of both. That is done to make stronger plants.  But it holds true only in one year.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Enjoying the Last of the Season’s Tomatoes By Joyce D’Agostino

Are you already missing vine ripened tomatoes? It seems to hit us this time of year that summer is over and even though there might be green tomatoes still on the vine, they will likely not ripen. 
But there are a few ways to enjoy ripened tomatoes for a few more weeks. One solution is very simple. Pick your green tomatoes and then wrap them in newspaper or wax paper. Place them in a box in a single layer and then place in a cool, dry place.
Photo by Joyce D'Agostino
The tomatoes will then ripen over the upcoming weeks and allow you to enjoy a few more fresh tomatoes from the garden.This method works well but does require some regular checking to ensure that the tomatoes are ripening and not drying out or rotting. Each variety of tomato can ripen at different rates, so putting the box so it is accessible and can be regularly checked is advised. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bulbs 101 by Keith Rabin
Poet Emily Dickinson referred to herself as a “ Lunatic On Bulbs “ , while referring to her passion for daffodils, hyacinth and spring perennials in general. To Emily Dickinson the bulbs were not just flowers to her but were moral and and personal emblems to her and in her poetry. She was better known in her life time for her gardening expertise than her poetry. For me planting bulbs without reading her poetry without dirt on my hands from planting bulbs just feels wrong somehow...
She slept beneath a tree, 
Remembered but by me,
I touched her cradle mute, 
She recognized the foot. 
Put on her carmine suit, 
And see!*
Its customary to class plants having thickened root stock as bulbous. Botanically there are distinctions between the true bulb, made up of scales or layers like the onion, the tuber which is solid as a potato and the corm which is woody like. In addition to tubers, true bulbs and corms there are other plants containing thickened root stock or rhizomes, (peony, German Iris and flags also known as iris.) These four types comprise an enormous number of species and varieties. Most of these groups all have foreign roots, covering most of the world.
It's time to plant bulbs as soon as the ground is cool and before the ground freezes. Ideal air temps are (not constant) from 50 to 60 degrees. October and early November are prime time along the Front Range.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Garden Journal by Sheilia Canada

Fall is a perfect time to get your garden more organized with a Garden Journal. With the falling of the leaves it is a lot easier to see the structure and dimensions of your garden area. Your plants successes and failures during the growing season are still fresh in your mind.
Mapping out specific annual crops for proper crop rotation is highly important to elimination of a recurrence of disease or insect issues.
Making a record of what happened every growing season will definitely help you get a closer look at all of the interactions going on in your garden.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Preparing Your Yard and Garden for the Winter by Lynn Leventhal

Photo by Lynn Leventhal
The leaves are turning golden and falling to the ground.  The temperature is dropping.  The days are getting shorter.  It is time to think  of putting our gardens to bed.  Here is an overview to get you started.

Before I start I like to take pictures and make notes on my successes and failures.  Then the majority of the work is cleaning up the leaves which have fallen and cutting the lawn for the last time.    

Pruning:  the majority or pruning is done in the winter and spring.  The reasons for pruning are to maintain a shrub’s shape, enhance flowering and reduce pest problems.

Lawns:  fertilize your lawn in the fall and water monthly.

Photo by Lynn Leventhal
Vegetable gardens:  pull up old vines and vegetable plants to reduce insect eggs which can survive in the winter and hatch in the spring.

Annual flowers:  pull up vines and foliage of annual flowers and compost them.

Perennials:  After temperatures hit freezing and the plants die back cut the stems on most perennials to within an inch or two of the ground.  However, there are many exceptions to this so be sure to research recommendations for each plant type you have.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dreaming of Compost By Joyce D’Agostino

Since keeping our garden soils healthy and amended is always recommended, I had on my wish list a composter. Previously I had done some minor composting of things like fall leaves which worked well but I needed to advance to a better system to produce good quality compost.
Composter photo by Joyce D'Agostino
I was lucky to have recently acquired a tumbler composter from someone who was moving. I have already started adding some good quality kitchen and canning scraps to the composter and giving it a daily turn. It was time for me to get serious about composting since my busy schedule prevented me from amending my soil as well as it should have been and I could see a marked difference between the beds with amendment and the ones that did not receive a good dose of fresh soil and compost.
Composting is not difficult, but there are guidelines for what can and cannot be added to your compost. Often you hear you can add  “kitchen scraps” but not all kitchen waste can do into your compost pile. For example, you cannot add things like meat scraps, bones, etc. Not only do these not break down properly they can attract wildlife to your pile or composter. Also, if you had any plants that had diseases, these should be discarded with your trash and not added to the composter. The reason is that some composters do not get to a high enough temperature to destroy the pathogens and this could result in the compost becoming infected with these diseases and spread the following year if used.
Much of our front range soils are packed clay, so adding compost to the soil not only enriches it with great nutrients, but also helps keep the soil quality high to allow the right balance of oxygen and water.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Growing and Drying Herbs for Year Round Use by Joyce D’Agostino

Garlic Chives photo by Joyce D'Agostino
When the fall comes and most of the annual garden begins to fade, those of us who enjoy gardening find that we miss the enjoyment of growing during the “off season”.
If you grow herbs, then many of these plants can be started inside (or the containers brought inside) and grown all year around.
Cilantro photo by Joyce D'Agostino
When you begin to choose your herb plants, note that there are two types of herbs, the perennial type and the annual type. The annuals for our climate include tender herbaceous types such as basil, which won’t tolerate cold weather and hard freezes. Cilantro for example enjoys the cooler weather of spring and fall but also won’t tolerate a hard freeze. However there are perennials that have more woody stems such as thyme and Greek Oregano which have woody stems and can be harvested even during the cold winter months. These hardy plants establish new growth and fresh green leaves in the spring and many produce flowers that the bees and butterflies enjoy.

Monday, October 6, 2014

On The Changing Of Seasons by Keith Rabin

Photo by Carol King
“ I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown. For in going out, I found I was really going in.”  (John Muir)
As we all “ Go In “ our own ways and harvest each our labors of the seasons,  I look for signs that connect me back to nature. For no greater gift is there for our health and happiness.
“ The richness I achieve comes form nature, The source of my inspiration.“(Claude Monet)
Finding inspiration in the changing of the season is in finding the poems left us without words. Gifted to us by the Creator in the color and textures only found in nature. It lifts our spirits, our hearts and through our senses and in our mind we find solace within. I call it the art of looking.
“ The poetry of earth is never dead.” (John Keats)
To learn of ourselves from the silence of a wilderness we achieve more knowledge of nature and self than by any spoken or written words. Take the time to find your own wilderness and embrace the teaching in its silence....

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Great Pumpkin Recycle by Keith Rabin

Photo courtesy

This year, consider doing something beneficial, fun and productive with your pumpkins instead of relegating them to the landfill. There are many options that provide benefit to the soil, birds and wildlife.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

When Can I Pick My Apples (or Pears) by Joyce D'Agostino

Apples ready to harvest photo by Joyce D'Agostino
This time of year, some of us are fortunate to have fruit trees that are bearing fruit and are even overabundant. The question is, when do I know when my fruit really is ready to pick because often just judging by the color does not often mean that the fruit is ripe.
One good way is to first determine which variety of fruit you have and research when it typically is ready to harvest. Apples for example, have very early, early, mid-season and late season varieties and harvesting at the right time will result in the best results for canning or eating fresh.
Also, you may find that keeping up with a large harvest can be challenging,  Fruit may begin to drop from the tree or falls from windstorms and the cleanup can be considerable. Proper pruning of your trees not only helps the tree become more healthy but helps control better harvests.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hello Yellow; Fall Flowers by Ann Moore

Chrysanthemums by Carol King
Have you noticed it? The days are slightly shorter and a little cooler.

It is time for the stately cottonwood trees along the irrigation canals, the many ash trees planted as street trees in many cities and of course Colorado’s famous aspens in the high country are turning yellow. There are many many traditional and familiar yellows that are apparent in the fall.

Chrysanthemums come in all shades of yellow from vivid gold to pale almost white and some have two shades on the same blossom. Chrysanthemums are best and easiest planted as container plants and now is the perfect time for next fall show.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Harvesting Peppers in the Fall by Joyce D'Agostino

Early jalapeno by Joyce D'Agostino
If you have grown sweet or hot peppers this season, now is the time to prepare to harvest what is left on the plants before the hard frost arrives. Peppers are tender annuals that prefer the warm weather, so will not tolerate frosts or extremely cold weather.
Purple Beauty Pepper by Joyce D'Agostino
Many peppers begin green and then will turn color as they mature or ripen. The taste and heat of the pepper can vary from the green state to when they turn a color. If your peppers are the hot variety, refer to the seed packet information to learn the Scoville units that rates the heat of the pepper. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Squash Pollination Tips by Sheilia Canada

Photo Hudson Farmers Market
I am having a lot of people ask me why their squash is not producing. Here are some tips and suggestions for bumping up your yield.

Firstly I will tell you I am not just a Colorado Master Gardener. I am also a Permaculturist. I practice many Indigenous and ancient gardening techniques that you may or may not have heard of. I do this because I find it makes sense for me as an organic gardener and Permaculturist. It creates balance in my garden and life.

So, lets look at our problem through this lense…

Problem = My squash is not producing. 
I have fertile well draining soil. 
I have it planted in full sun.
I am fertilizing with an organic 5-10-5 fertilizer.
I know squash are not self-pollinating. I need flowers & the pollen in them to cross to get any fruit.
I have lots of flowers. I STOP 
I look closer… Do I have any female flowers?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fall Blooming Perennials Add Color to the Autumn Garden by Carol King

Mid August is a good time to look at your garden and find spots for fall blooming perennials. Here are four “tried and true” plants that will add color to the fall garden.

ASTERS are tough and reliable, and a natural for dry climates like ours where several native species delight mountain hikers. In fact, many aster varieties fail to survive the winter if kept too moist. Asters are easy to cultivate. Among cultivated asters, growth habits range from three-foot perennials to compact mounds. The Greek word aster refers to the yellow-centered, star-like flowers that can be white, red, pink, purple, lavender and blue. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

There’s a Caryopteris in my garden! By Joyce D’Agostino

Caryopteris x clandonsis photo by Joyce D'Agostino
Yes, I am lucky to have a Caryopteris in my garden (Caryopteris x clandonsis). I know, it sounds like a long extinct dinosaur but it actually is a lovely landscape scrub that bursts into purple blooms each August. The bees love the flowers and seem to be on this plant from sunrise to sunset.

Also known as the Blue Mist Spirea, this relative of the mint family is a deciduous woody bush that has green leaves from spring until late summer when it flowers. It actually has not been in the US that long. It is native to eastern and southern Asia and first came to our country in the 1960’s. It’s a nice addition to your landscape if you have limited room because it grows to a manageable size of about 3 – 5 feet tall and has gray-green sword shaped leaves. The name is derived from the Greek word karyon which means nut and pteron which means wing because the airy flowers have petals that resemble wings with the seeds tucked inside.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Zucchini Not Producing Fruit Can Be a Pollination Problem by Carol King

Zucchini is often the big joke of the garden. This big producer is the butt of many garden pranks from neighbors leaving them on porches and running off, to finding the really BIG one tucked in the back of the plant.  Sometimes, however, gardeners report no fruit at all on their squash plants.  What could be the cause?

The most likely cause is lack of pollination. Squash, melons, and cucumbers belong to a family, called “cucurbits” and have a flowering habit which is unique among vegetable crops.  Each plant produces two kinds of flowers, male and female, both on the same plant.  In order for fruit set to occur, pollen from the male flower must be transferred to the female flower.  The pollen is sticky; therefore, wind-blown pollination does not occur.  Honeybees are the principal means by which pollen is transferred from the male to the female flower.  If you don’t have bees in your garden, you don’t have cucurbits. When bees are absent, fruit set on cucurbits is very poor and often nonexistent.  If only a few bees are present in the area, partial pollination may occur, resulting in misshapen fruit and low yield. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Gardening with Your Nose: Fragrance in the Garden by Ann Moore

Korean Spice Viburnum photo Home Depot
Much has been written, photographed, painted, and generally rhapsodized over
a well tended manicured garden or a meadow in full bloom. One of the great joys of tending a garden is surly the fragrance of the plants. Two of these you should try if you have not are Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlessi) and Clethra (Clethra alnifolia).

There are many nice viburnums, but Korean Spice has lovely fragrance in the spring and is reasonably easy to grow. It needs partial to full sun and fairly regular watering – more in extreme heat. It is fairly slow growing and normally reaches 4 to 6 feet tall. In my Mother’s yard it grew to 8 feet and perfumed the entire neighborhood. It is also called Korean Spice Bush.

Clethra photo Monrovia
Clethra is a native plant growing from Maine to Florida. It blooms in the fall
when other things are less likely top be blooming. It likes shade and moisture and will require more water in an extremely dry summer. Don’t be discouraged in the spring if it isn’t leafing out quickly – it is late to put out its leaves. It tolerates clay soil but must be kept moist if you have clay. It has bottle brush flowers, usually white, but there are pink varieties. The leaves are glossy green, turning yellowish to golden in the fall–some common names for it are Summer Sweet and Sweet Pepperbush.

Depending on your soil, they would both appreciate a large hole and plenty of mulch when they are planted. Neither of them require much care, other than regular water while they are getting established.

These are two seasonally grown shrubs, one for spring and for summer which will reward your nose and the neighborhood with their wonderful fragrance.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Spotted Wing Drosophila Found in Colorado Fruits by Mary Small

Mushy Raspberries Infested with Spotted Wing Drosophila
The spotted wing drosophila is a newer pest in Colorado.  It was first reported in the state in 2012 and has been found in many counties.  The insect is a fruit fly that attacks fruit crops including raspberry, black raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, peach, cherry and grapes. They are particularly damaging to later ripening fruit.
One difference between it and other fruit flies is that the female can lay eggs in ripening fruit. (Most fruit flies attack fully ripened fruit.) When fruit is ripe and ready to be picked, it can already be infested. That’s because the female has a sclerotized (hardened), serrated ovipositor (egg laying structure). She can pierce fruit that has not yet been softened in the ripening process. The eggs hatch into tiny maggots that quickly convert fruit into a mushy liquid mess.

Control is difficult. Fruit should be picked on a regular basis and all fruit that’s dropped to the ground should be collected and discarded. The fruit growing area should be cleaned up of debris in the fall. Insecticidal sprays are applied to the crop on a regular basis once the insect has been reported in your area.  Please see this publication for suggested products. Treat crops in the early morning or in the evening when bees are less active to avoid harming them.  Read the label to determine when you can harvest the crop after treatment as this varies from product to product. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Emerald Ash Borer Detected in New Areas of Boulder by Christi Lightcap Director of Communications at Colorado Department of Agriculture

BOULDER, Colo. – Emerald ash borer (EAB), a highly destructive tree pest that poses a serious threat to Colorado’s urban forests, has been detected in new locations within the City of Boulder. The non-native pest – already responsible for the death of millions of ash trees and tens of millions of dollars in costs in more than 20 states – is of concern because ash species comprise an estimated 15-20 percent of all trees in Colorado’s urban and community forests.

After EAB was first confirmed in Boulder in September 2013, an interagency EAB Response Team conducted a preliminary survey to determine the extent of infestation. The city was divided into a grid of one-square-mile sections, and branches were sampled from each to determine the presence of EAB. The survey resulted in infestation being positively identified in sampled ash trees within five separate sections.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Spice up Your Summer with Homemade Salsas! by Chef Elizabeth Buckingham

Fresh homemade salsas are a flavorful, healthy way to use an abundance of summer produce – and of course you can customize these recipes to suit your own tastes. A basic salsa typically includes tomatoes, peppers and onions, but the potential combinations are endless. Make your salsas spicier with a variety of hot peppers; incorporate local fruits for sweeter salsas; add fresh herbs for texture and brightness. Salsas can easily be made raw (such as in a traditional pico de gallo) but throwing the vegetables on the grill adds another flavor dimension that elevates anything you use it with. Beyond the standard corn chips, try dipping fresh raw vegetables or using your salsas as a sauce for flank steak, grilled chicken, shrimp skewers, salmon filets, or burgers. If you want to really save the flavors of summer, you can preserve your salsas by water-bath canning to enjoy throughout the year.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Growing Summer Savory By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo Joyce D'Agostino
If you enjoy growing culinary herbs, you might want to consider adding Summer Savory (Satureia hortensis)  to your herb garden. 
I have heard of this herb for a number of years and wanted to finally give it a try. This spring I started the seedlings inside and simply transferred the tiny plants to a pot outside once the plants developed their second leaves. I moved it to the full sun next to my other herbs and it quickly began to grow in height.
This herb is a native of Southern Europe and some reports say that next to salt and pepper, this herb is the most frequently used in the kitchen and on the table. Those who love to make dishes such as beans or stuffed cabbage report that this herb adds a subtle aromatic flavor to these dishes. Since Savory has a mild peppery flavor, it can also be added to salad dressing and to marinades for meats as a substitute for black pepper.
The plants are considered annuals and can grow from 12 -18” tall so make a nice border plant. I found their leaves very attractive and it has been easy to grown and maintain. It has light purple flowers later in the season and then the leaves can turn a nice reddish bronze color after frost. Once they have flowered, pull up the entire plant and hang them to dry and use the crumbled dried leaves in dishes for fall and winter cooking.

Friday, July 25, 2014

It’s July! Why Is My Tree Dropping Its Leaves? by Patti O’Neal

Photo Patti O'Neal
Trees on the Front Range are under a lot of stress these days.  Right now we are seeing two things:  leaves turning yellow and dropping or leaves just dropping.  This is a common reaction of trees at this time of year, especially given the spring weather we had. 
This spring, we had cool, damp weather which encouraged trees to put on a great deal of leafage.  They have been green and full and lovely until now.  Now the hot, dry, low moisture conditions have persisted for several weeks, accompanied by hot, dry winds.  The trees cannot sustain the abundant growth they put on earlier in the year and are basically cutting their losses and letting go of growth they are now unable to sustain.   This is a natural response of trees to low moisture situations.  This response is often preceded by the yellowing of the leaves, another response to the lack of moisture or just the inability to take up enough water from the root system to match the transpiration of moisture from the top of the tree from the hot, dry conditions.   This can also be caused by rapid temperature fluctuations which we have experienced lately as well.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer Farmers' Market Recipes By Chef Elizabeth Buckingham

Peach and Prosciutto Salad photo
The heat of summer is here and with it comes an incredible array of fresh fruits and vegetables. Cooking fresh, light and healthy dishes is super-easy in the summer – the amazing produce doesn’t need much to shine! Keep things simple and throw your fruits and vegetables on the grill for extra flavor and sweetness, or leave everything raw for crunch. Truly, it’s summertime and the cooking is easy!

This fresh, light salad combination showcases the best of Colorado’s amazing summer peaches. You can replace the prosciutto with crumbled bacon, or keep it vegetarian and omit the meat altogether. A sharp artisan cheese really brings out the peaches’ sweetness.

Peach & Prosciutto Salad with Balsamic Syrup (serves 4)

2 ripe peaches
4 oz. prosciutto
1 oz. balsamic syrup
6 oz. mixed salad greens
Artisan goat cheese, blue cheese or feta crumbles, if desired
Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper

Slice peaches into thin wedges, removing pit. Slice prosciutto into one-inch-wide strips and wrap each peach slice with one slice of prosciutto. Arrange salad greens on chilled salad plates and top each plate with a few wrapped peach slices. When ready to serve, drizzle lightly with balsamic syrup and sprinkle with salt and fresh pepper. Sharp cheese crumbles may be added for additional flavor contrast, if desired.

Monday, July 14, 2014

White Butterflies Visiting Your Garden By Joyce D’Agostino

Cabbage Moth
This year I noticed a large amount of  small, white delicate butterflies in my garden and yard areas. These little visitors are actually an Imported Cabbage Worm Butterfly (Pieris rapae (Linnaeus) and while they are attractive they can bring some damage to your garden brassicas. 
Plants in the brassica family  include cabbage, broccoli, kale, collards and turnips. Many people enjoy growing and eating these healthy vegetables so if you notice these insects, what do you do to avoid crop loss and protect your plants?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Leafcurl Ash Aphid by Patti O'Neal

As if ash trees have not been terrified enough this year with the threat of emerald ash borer on them, worried homeowners are seeing yet another injury to their ash trees.  Luckily this one is not as potentially threatening as EAB – although it is much uglier!

Leafcurl ash aphid has struck trees in the Denver Metro Area.  Symptoms are twisted, thick, gnarled leaves at the ends of branches.  These clumps are often covered with the sugary exudate, honeydew, that is excreted by the insects which in turn collect pollen and other debris passing by in the air and can cause the clumps to appear webby and really messy – a scary thing to behold.  The kind that sends one to the closet for, what else? something to spray on it!

But resist.  First of all, it won’t help, and second, the colonies will begin to decline as new growth ceases being produced on your trees, which is about now.  And third, by now the natural enemies have amassed to curtail the outbreaks. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Make the Most of Your Microclimates by Donna Duffy

A microclimate is the climate of a small area that is different from the area around it. It may be warmer or colder, wetter or drier, or more or less prone to frosts. Microclimates may be quite small - a protected courtyard next to a building, for example, that is warmer than an exposed field nearby. Cornell University Extension offers the following information about factors that influence microclimates.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Health Hazards for Gardeners? by Donna Duffy

Gardening is great for your health, right? The benefits of gardening-related exercise are well known. Lesser known are some serious health hazards that you could encounter. Remember,  your physician is always your first line defense and should be consulted anytime you have symptoms that are concerning.

Gardening, yard work and landscape injuries can be as simple as a scrape or as severe as a deep puncture wound, but any that break the skin can leave you at risk for tetanus, a serious and potentially fatal bacterial disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost one-third of reported tetanus cases come from gardening or farming injuries.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fire Blight Arrives in Our Trees! by Mary Small

As if trees didn’t have enough trouble from last summers’s hail, fall's damaging freezes, and a late spring, some have now developed fire blight!  This bacterial disease is common on crab apple, apple, mountain ash and pear. 

Warmer than average temperatures during blossom time creates ideal conditions for disease development. If rain falls at the same time, its spread is rapid.  And guess what?  This spring was just perfect, if you were fire blight bacteria!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

What Makes a Weed a WEED? by Rebecca Anderson

Photo by Rebecca Anderson
This is the time of year when our landscapes are becoming greener and new plants are sprouting every day.  As I spend more time doing projects in my yard, I'm often faced with a decision: is a particular plant a weed or is it a beneficial landscape plant?  Here are some guidelines I use to help come to a conclusion. 
  1. Plants growing in the wrong location are weeds. This defines all the traditional weeds like the dandelions (Taraxacum sp.)in the lawn, but it also helps when evaluating more mobile landscape and garden plants. The morning glories (Ipomoea sp.) growing on the trellis where I planted them can stay. The ones climbing up the arborvitae (Thuja sp.) need to go. 
  2. Plants that are unattractive are weeds. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but many of the common weeds lack attractive characteristics we value in other plants. This benchmark may apply to an intentionally placed landscape plant that has become scraggly over time, too. If pruning can't bring it back to the desired form, then perhaps removal is another option.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Large Miller Moth Population Expected by Mary Small

Euxoa auxiliaris Miller Moth
According to CSU Extension Entomologist, Dr. Whitney Cranshaw, “miller moth” numbers will be above average. Because the numbers of their caterpillars found in crops and other locations this spring, the moth numbers may be way above average. 
How much of a nuisance they will be is dependent on moisture and numbers of flowering plants around. Moisture has been good, contributing to the development of flowering plants. While last week’s freeze may have damaged some flowers, they are still abundant and will be attractive to the moths. Moths feed on nectar in the flowers.
Flowering plants most often visited by miller moths in our area include lilac, cherries, spirea, cotoneaster, horse chestnut, raspberry and Russian olive. Dark and dense plants such as cotoneaster, spruce and pines are most used by miller moths for shelter around homes.
The moths become a problem for humans when they accidentally enter homes.  During the day moths seek shelter in cracks and crevices around homes, in door entries and near windows.  At night, the moths become active and may be attracted to indoor or exterior lighting.

The major infestation is not expected for a few more weeks, about mid-June.
For detailed information on miller moths, including deterring them from your home, see this information.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Caution on Compost . . . Can It Be Too Much of a Good Thing? by Patti O'Neal

Amend, amend, and amend.  It is the mantra we all chant when managing our Colorado soils.  We here at CSU are constantly recommending that you add organic materials to your soils to improve water and nutrient holding capacity if you garden in sandy, gravelly or decomposed granite soils and to improve soil structure, drainage and filtration of water and nutrients in clay soils.  Improving the soil is still important for good plant growth and production of fruit and flowers.

But can you have too much of a good thing?  Much is being made, and justifiably so, of phosphates these days and their adverse effect on our groundwater supplies.  As a result many states are adopting laws to prevent the addition of phosphates to many products for household and outdoor use.

Friday, May 16, 2014

How to Plant Tomatoes in Colorado

It just snowed here but we know that tomato planting time is nigh! Here's a video from Carol O'Meara, Boulder County Extension Agent on the proper way to plant tomatoes in Colorado.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Lawns Struggling as Spring Gets Underway by Mary Small

It’s not that unusual for lawns to look a bit tough right now, especially when MotherNature hasn’t been cooperative with moisture! What’s a person to do?
First, try to figure out what is causing the lawn problem.  Look at it as a whole and see if you can pick out a pattern to the damage.

A colleague of mine stood took this picture from her home’s second floor window. You can see that some areas of the lawn are brown and some are green.  The damage is happening in swaths, not small spots or circles. This pattern is pretty typical of poor sprinkler function and it means that the sprinkler system needs a closer look. (Especially note the foreground and the area near the raised bed in the background.)The problem could be that heads are plugged or partially plugged, so aren’t applying enough water. They could be tipped due to the freeze/thaw cycles from winter. Maybe the head is a bit high and was dislodged during aeration or mowing. But you won’t know until you look at the sprinkler heads and check sprinkler delivery.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Tending to Roses in the Spring by Donna Duffy

It’s finally beginning to feel like spring! Your roses are probably showing signs of life again with canes turning green and leaf buds starting to form. But this is Colorado, and we’re not quite out of freeze danger yet. With that in mind, the following are some steps you can take to help your roses get off to a good start.