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.