Friday, January 30, 2015

Seed Saving and Seed Saving Methods by Ed Powers

Tempting though it may be to ignore everything else but the delicious flavor of our home produce, it is important to bear in mind that all living things – which means, to a greater or lesser extent, pretty much all of our food – follow a cycle in their growth patterns. With crops which are annuals, such as most commercial crops and many salads and vegetables, if we harvest the food but not the seed we are breaking this cycle. 

In order to create an even more efficient system, we can harvest the seeds from our vegetable plots and re-seed them next year, ensuring prolonged biodiversity and more economically liable growing for us, as we don’t have to keep buying seeds. 

When you save seeds for planting and legacy from year to year you should plant only heirloom seeds. There are some useful resources out there to help decide which vegetables will be most successful.  I have researched many sources including universities.   Here are some tips on seed saving from experienced gardeners and knowledgeable  individuals and organizations.

However tempting it might be to fill your garden with a blossoming diversity of different types of vegetables, in terms of actually being able to save that diversity for coming generations it may be more helpful to grow just one variety of each different crop at a time. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Welcome New Jefferson County Master Gardeners! by Donna Duffy

Back row: Barb Donahue,  Jack Mellon, Kelli Marko, Mariska Hamstra, Keith Rabin. Front row: Lorrie Redman, Lynn Leventhal, Michelle Loudis, Cherie Luke, Dustin Foster. Not pictured: Audrey Stokes, Brooke Colburn.

On January 15th, 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 volunteers 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, each volunteer contributed at least 50 hours of service in 2014. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Brown Needles on Pines May be Due to November's Cold Snap by Mary Small

Photo by CJ Clawson
We are starting to see the first damage to plants caused by the unseasonably cold weather in November. Many evergreens, particularly pine, are now showing injury from the rapid and sustained drop in temperature. Needles are turning a straw to red brown color, depending on the species and location.  Warmer, southern sides of trees are especially hard hit, since those areas had not yet developed complete winter hardiness. 

Photo by  CJ Clawson
Plants develop the ability to withstand cold winter temperatures in response to decreasing daylight and other signals. One of the signals includes exposure to gradually decreasing temperatures. And November’s cold spell was anything but gradual. We descended from early fall temperatures into mid January ones! The temperature dropped 50 degrees in a few hours.

 What can be done now? Water all evergreen root systems monthly in the absence of rainfall or snowmelt.  It won’t reverse the process – the brown needles won’t turn green again- but it will keep healthier portions of the plant hydrated. 

It will likely be mid-spring 2015 before we can begin to assess the true damage from the cold. And like a similar Halloween freeze of 1991, injury may continue to appear for a couple of years. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Starting Seeds Indoors by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy
Starting seeds indoors gives you earlier vegetables and flowers, and your cultivar choices will be endless. Relax, the  task of seed planting is reassuringly simple. Just take it step-by-step, and you’ll soon be marveling over a healthy crop of seedlings. Planttalk Colorado offers the following tips for successful seed starting.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Houseplant Problems: Spider Mites by Donna Duffy

Two-spotted spider mite, photo courtesy Iowa State University
Spider mites are among the most serious houseplant pests. Left untreated they can multiply rapidly, causing injury, defoliation and plant death. They’re not true insects, but are more closely related to spiders and ticks. The University of Minnesota Extension provides the following information to identify and manage these pesky mites.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

House Plant Problems: Rosemary and Powdery Mildew by Carol King

I received a nice little rosemary Christmas tree as a gift.  I was cooking chicken and decided to add some when I noticed it was covered with some white powdery dust.  It seems that my little tree had powdery mildew.  Rosemary grown indoors is very prone to this and the little Christmas trees especially so.  I investigated the cure and found that potassium bicarbonate products and neem oils can be used  to control this disease.  However, I was cautioned to make sure the product of choice can be used both indoors and on edible crops. Read the directions on the label and follow them perfectly since it is being used for cooking. There has been some success reported with baking soda and water: spray with a solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda dissolved in 1 quart of water.  Repeat if necessary.  Here's a link to the Missouri Botanic Gardens helpful information. 
I personally  just tossed the plant in the dust bin and put it out of its misery!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Houseplant Problems: Fungus Gnats by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy Organic Gardening
What are those annoying tiny black insects that hang out in your houseplants and fly around when disturbed? Most likely, you have fungus gnats.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Houseplant Problems: Mealy Bugs by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy
If you are noticing small, white puff balls on your houseplants, you may have the dreaded Mealy bug. Mealy bugs are white, soft-bodied insects that suck plant juices, causing leaves to turn yellow and drop. You’ll normally find them along leaf veins, or where the leaf joins the stem.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What are Seed Libraries and why do we need them? by Ed Powers
A seed library is a depository of seeds where seeds are leant or shared with its members. It is distinguished from a seed bank in that the main purpose is not to store or hold germplasm or seeds against possible destruction, but to disseminate them to the public which preserves the shared plant varieties through propagation and further sharing of seed. 

Members come to the library and borrow seed for their garden.  They grow the plants in their garden and at the end of the season; they let a few plants ‘go to seed.’  From those plants, they collect seeds and return the same amount of seed (or more) as they borrowed at the beginning of the growing season.  Seeds are free to members.

The library is both a collection of seeds and a community of gardeners.  Since seed is a living thing, it must be renewed each year somewhere by someone or unique varietals can become extinct.  Even growing one seed and returning it to the library is a valuable contribution.  Seed Libraries may also operate as pure charity operations intent on serving gardeners and farmers.
A common attribute of many seed libraries is to preserve agricultural biodiversity. by focusing on rare, local, and heirloom seed varieties.
Seed libraries use varied methods for sharing seeds, primarily by:
  1. Seed swaps otherwise known as seed exchanges, in which library members or the public meet and exchange seeds.
  2. Seed "lending," in which people check out seed from the library's collection, grow them, save the seed, and return seed from the propagated plants to the library.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Christmas Tree Recycling by Donna Duffy

That lovely, fragrant cut tree you bought weeks ago has probably seen better days by now. It’s time to get it out of the house! Following are some options for recycling the tree once you’ve removed all of the decorations and tinsel. One caution: don’t burn the tree in your fireplace – the pitch content in the bark and needles can cause them to burst into flames from the intense heat.