Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Master Gardeners in Service: Plant Select Research and Display Garden by Michele Loudis

Delosperma (Alan's Apricot), photo courtesy Plant Select
The Plant Select program is a great resource for area gardeners because it tests and selects the best plants for our interior West’s challenging climate.  Spearheaded by Colorado State University, Plant Select collaborates with Denver Botanic Gardens, growers, landscape professionals, and public gardens to find resilient and tough plants that flourish in our fluctuating temperatures and dry, windy conditions.  And the Colorado Master Gardeners in Jefferson County help!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ridding the Garden of Mosquitoes by Carol King

Mosquito photo cdc.gov
We have had a lot of rain over the past several weeks.  While the rain is welcomed, the fallout can be an abundance of mosquitoes. The best time to manage mosquitoes is when they are in the larval stage. This stage, called wrigglers, lives in shallow water and feeds on microorganisms. They can be found in used tires, wheelbarrows, birdbaths, saucers under pots, ornamental pools and other places that hold standing water. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Fight the Bite website recommends the following steps for reducing the mosquito population. 
Mosquitoes lay eggs in still water, which hatch in 7 to 10 days. If standing water is eliminated weekly around the property, many  mosquitoes will be kept from breeding in the first place. Here are some things you can do:
  • Remove standing water in ponds, ditches, clogged rain gutters, flower pots, plant saucers, puddles, buckets, equipment and cans. Empty or flush out containers weekly to reduce or eliminate the larvae.
  • Check for items that might hold water including wheelbarrows, leaky air conditioner hoses, pool covers, tarps, plastic garden sheeting, and trash.
  • Change the water in birdbaths weekly.
  • Use mosquitofish (mosquito-eating fish Gambusia can be released in ponds) or mosquito dunks to prevent mosquito larvae from growing in small areas of standing water.
  • Avoid mosquitoes at dawn and dusk when the bugs are most active. 
  • Wear socks, long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors.
  • Apply insect repellent with DEET. Follow directions carefully.

For more information about complete mosquito management, check these fact sheets:

Friday, June 17, 2016

Spittlebugs in the Garden by Carol King

Spittlebug Froth photo UC Davis
While weeding near my bee balm (Monarda), I saw several patches of  a frothy white substance on the leaves.  Upon further study, I discovered that I have a small infestation of the spittlebug.  Aptly named, the white froth is what the immature spittlebug or nymphs surround themselves with as they feed on plant tissue.  Adult spittlebugs are inconspicuous, often greenish or brownish insects, about 0.25 inch long. 

While spittlebugs suck plant juices and can distort plant tissue and slow plant growth, they do not seriously harm plants. As they don’t cause significant damage, just wash them off with water if their appearance bothers you.  Otherwise, enjoy yet another fascinating bug in action!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Don't Forget to Thin Your Seedlings! by Amy Bubar

Photo courtesy vegetable-gardening-online.com
Your vegetable garden is finally in!  Now, don’t make the mistake of neglecting your labor of love.  Those seeds tend to sprout and grow faster than we often realize, so once your seedlings are a few inches high they may need to be thinned out to make room for their roots to grow. It may seem disheartening to pluck from the ground something that you nurtured to life, but thinning is important to help reduce competition for water, light, and nutrients by nearby plants.  This will allow space for your roots to expand morph into the crop of savory delights they were destined to be!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cottonwood Cotton by Carol King

Photo CSU Extension
The first wisps appeared last week.  Soon we will be sweeping up big piles of the stuff. As it warms up, it will be sticking to our sweaty bodies; we will be spitting it out and wondering when will it all end. What you say? Well, cottonwood cotton of course!! Planttalk Colorado provided this information about cottonwood cotton.

"Cottonwood trees are dioecious, meaning they have male and female flowers on separate trees. Cotton shed by female trees in June is often so abundant that it turns nearby lawns white. Heavy snows in winter promote plentiful new growth. This in turn fuels abundant flowering of both male ("cotton less") and female (cotton-bearing) cottonwoods in the spring. Flowers on female trees, after being pollinated by wind-borne pollen from male trees in April, develop small green capsules that split open in June to shed small seeds carried by wind-borne "cotton".

Monday, June 13, 2016

An Invasion of Flea Beetles by Donna Duffy

Flea Beetle - photo courtesy CSU Extension

I was working in the yard this morning and noticed an abundance of tiny, shiny, jumpy insects. After some research, I discovered that they were flea beetles. Once I identified them, I started seeing them in my neighbor’s yards as well. So I turned to CSU Extension and discovered Fact Sheet 5.592: Flea Beetles.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Native Perennials by Audrey Stokes

Mirabilis multiflora, Desert four o'clock

Governor Hickenlooper has just proclaimed June 10-16 as "Native Plant Appreciation Week"! For more information and a list of related events, visit the Colorado Native Plant Society's webpage.http://www.conps.org

It's a great time to add native plants to your landscape! Following are some helpful facts and tips from CSU Extension by I. Shonle, L.G. Vickerman and J.E. Klett (4/14).

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Master Gardeners at the Farmers Markets by Ed Powers

Photo courtesy IA State Extension
Farmers Market time is here! June kicks off this great summer event across the state. Our Jefferson County Farmers Markets offer fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the local area as well as produce from other regions of the state (think Palisade peaches and Rocky Ford melons!). Many markets have morphed into outlets for crafters and cottage food producers as well as clothes, books and other items.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Gardening Challenges in Colorado – Climate By Jim Rohling

Photo courtesy Jim Rohling
One of our biggest challenges in gardening in Front Range Colorado is climate. We can have rain on Monday, snow on Tuesday, sunshine on Wednesday, and hail on Thursday. Challenging seems like an understatement!

Some of the elements of climate important to gardeners include sunshine and temperature, precipitation, wind, and hail.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Growing Bearded Iris in Colorado by Carol King

Iris photo Carol King
What a year it is for the Bearded Iris (Iris hybrida) in gardens along the Front Range! Also called “flags”,  multiple blossoms and colors abound on these easy to grow periennals.

Iris is the name of the Goddess of the Rainbow in Greek mythology, and because of the great elegance of the iris bloom, it has been the symbol of monarchs and royal families throughout history. From King Minos' palace on the Greek Island of Crete in 2100 BC. to the symbol of power and position of the Bourbon Kings of France, including Louis XIV; the iris was adapted on royal banners as the “Fleur de Lys”. It still proudly adorns the beautiful flag of the French-founded Province of Quebec in Canada. Great Britain also uses the motif. Edward III added the iris to his royal coat of arms during the 14th Century. 

Irises also have a medicinal history, the roots having been used in preparation for medicines for skin infections, syphillis, dropsy and stomach problems. Today, it is still a staple in herbal medicines.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Plant Select® to the Rescue! by Donna Duffy

Amosonia jonesii, Colorado Desert Blue Star
Even though it's still cool outside, it won't be long before soaring temperatures will take a toll on our yards; particularly perennials, shrubs and trees. As you are planning your gardens, consider replacing those temperamental plants with others that thrive in Colorado’s challenging growing conditions. But where do you find these hardy plants?