Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jeffco CSU Extension Colorado Master Gardeners: 2013 Highlights by Mary Small

Colorado Master Gardener volunteers in Jefferson County actively engage Jefferson County residents to foster successful gardening. A dedicated corps of 110 volunteers brings a variety of projects to life. In 2013, these energetic volunteers donated 6944 hours to CSU Extension. In business terms, that’s the equivalent of almost 3½ full time staff! In dollars, that volunteer service is worth $153,740. Following are descriptions of some of the major outreach projects which resulted in 10,338 direct contacts with Jefferson County citizens.

Beekeeping 101

Public Gardening Classes – CMG volunteers trained in public speaking presented classes on a variety of gardening topics throughout the year. One of the most successful projects in 2013 was the Backyard Food Production Classes. Colorado Master Gardeners and staff in Jefferson County developed a class series that studied successful backyard food production. Topics covered included Small Fruit Production, Growing Heirloom Vegetables, Biointensive Garden Design, Starting Your Own Plants from Seed, Soil and Amendments, Irrigation, Mapping, Planting, Season Extenders and Backyard Beekeeping. Three hundred seventy two (372) citizens attended. Approximately 1/3 of the audience were first time gardeners. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Low Humidity Problems and Indoor Houseplants by Carol King

Spider Plant Chlorophytum comosum
This time of year, we Colorado gardeners turn to indoor plants to soothe our gardening souls.  However the indoor environment in our homes can be very harsh for many plants. Many of our house plants are native to humid, tropical rain forests and require special consideration when they reside in our Colorado homes. While lighting and temperatures need to be monitored for successful indoor gardening, humidity is the big issue during colder months.  Heating systems common in Colorado circulate dry, warm air throughout the house. Our indoor environment often has less than 10 percent humidity. This is a drastic reduction from the 70 to 90 percent relative humidity levels found in the native climates of most tropical plants.

Why does this matter? Humidity is the level of moisture in the air and can affect a plant's need for water.  Plants grown indoors with low humidity lose more water through transpiration, so their root systems require more water. In addition, plants located near heating or cooling vents may develop leaf spots or brown tips.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Clean Your Garden Tools Quickly and Easily by Gail Wilson

January can be a grim time in the garden here along the Front Range.  Master Gardener Gail gives some good tips for taking on this task and January might just be the time to do that!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Deicing Salts Can Damage Plants by Carol King

Use care when applying deicers
Winter is in full swing along the Front Range and with it comes the inevitable snow and ice causing slippery roads, sidewalks and driveways. Most municipalities use mag chloride on roadways.  Homeowners and business people also often use rock salt (sodium chloride, or table salt) or ice melt on slippery walkways. All of these are salts, and salt works by lowering the melting or freezing point of water. The effect is termed 'freezing point depression'
While salt is a necessary part of winter road and walkway safety, it does have its drawbacks. Unfortunately for your plants, it often winds up in the landscape causing injury. When salt sprays from puddles onto plants as cars drive by, it may scorch leaves or kill buds and twig tips. Pines in general are especially noted for their sensitivity to roadside deicing salts. If you notice dying vegetation is on the side of plants facing the road or driveway, the damage has likely been caused by salt spray. Turf grass and other plantings can also be killed if salt-laden snow is piled on it over the course of winter. Accumulation of salt in the soil makes it difficult for plant roots to absorb water and will inhibit seed germination of grasses and wildflowers.