Thursday, November 17, 2016

Battling Fruit Flies by C J Clawson

Photo Counsel & Heal News
Fruit flies are quite common this time of year. The Drosophila (meaning dew-loving) species of the insect world– also called vinegar flies or pomace flies for their characteristic of being found near over ripe or rotting fruit.  If you have a problem with them in your kitchen, here's some strategy:
  1. Wash any salvageable fruit and store in the refrigerator, if possible.  This goes for all future fruit purchases too – no need to import fruit flies from the grocery store.
  2. If using a kitchen scrap composter place the compost in the counter composting crock and take it outside until temperatures fall sufficiently to kill off larvae.
  3. Thoroughly clean kitchen garbage bin and disposal; wipe down counters.  Check floors for juice spills and toss out any questionable sponges or cloths.  Don’t let things like wine glasses sit with residue in them – remember, sweet and/or fermented moisture is what drew the fruit flies in the first place.
  4. Throw out all the over ripe fruit on the counter.  This means tight bagging and immediate transfer to the outdoor garbage bin – don’t just toss it in your kitchen garbage can. 
  5. Set some traps.  They can be purchased at a hardware store or make your own using cider vinegar or wine, a jar, and either a plastic bag or paper funnel. Place an inch or so of liquid in the bottom of the jar.  Make a funnel with a piece of paper or cut a small hole in one corner of the bag and place over the jar so the small end of the funnel is close to but not touching the fluid.  Replace the trap every seven to ten days.
Here are some interesting facts about fruit flies. The 1933 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Thomas Hunt Morgan whose work with Drosophila led to the identification of chromosomes as the vector for genes in heredity.  Currently, fruit flies feature prominently in research on diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. Fruit fly wings beat around 220 times per second compared to hummingbird wings that beat at about 70 times per second in normal flight. Fruit flies only live eight to ten days but a female will lay approximately 500 eggs during that time. 

Here's a fact sheet with more information: Fruit Flies in the Home

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Protecting Trees and Shrubs from Extreme Temperature Drop by Carol King

Our first round of really cold weather is headed this way.  Although it is in the 70’s today and tomorrow, Thursday and Friday night are predicted to be in the teens and twenties.  What comes to mind is September 2014 when we experienced a dramatic drop in temperature that destroyed many trees and shrubs. Could this weather event be a repeat of that one?

I spoke with Patti O’Neal, CSU Jefferson County Extension and she gave me this advice:
  1. We have been watching, and trees have begun their dormancy process now, whereas in 2014, they had not. 
  2. The temperature won’t drop like it did overnight in 2014.  This will happen more gradually over a two day period so the element of “sudden-ness” will not hit the way it did previously. 
  3. The way things have been predicted lately and the difference between 2014 and what has actually happened have been pretty disparate. Some areas of the metroplex have hit 32 degrees, while Arvada, for instance,  has not been below 39 yet. 
So what to do?
In the event the meteorologists are actually correct this time, make sure you water well; trees in particular if you have not already done so this past week.  Roots go into a freeze much sturdier moist than dry and whatever the plant can take up tonight and tomorrow is just that much better.

Use a hose and sprinkler if your system has been turned off already and make sure you place the sprinkler to the best advantage of the feeder roots of the tree (at the drip line) and not the trunk of the tree.  Then make sure to unhook the hose from the bib after you finish to prevent freezing and damage to your pipes.

It is also predicted that temperatures will go back up again next week.  Stay vigilant and water during the warmest part of the day into next week if you can as the ground will not have frozen yet. 
The fact that the trees have begun their dormancy process should protect them as well.  That was an issue in 2014 when they had not.  Where we expect we might see some further damage is on trees that were damaged in 2014 and are still struggling to recover.  Ornamental pears with bark damage from the 2014 freeze that are still trying to put on new bark, for example, might be candidates for issues.  Wrapping with paper will not help at this point.  Additional protection such as insulation, a campers freeze blanket or a hot water blanket would be a far better choice. 

In summary, the event should not be as brusque as the 2014 event on the whole, but weather is unpredictable and we should prepare as best we can at this point. 

Pines Shedding Needles is Normal by Carol King

Photo by Carol King
Are your pine trees dropping their needles? There is no cause for alarm; they are probably naturally losing their needles. Everyone knows that deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall, but fewer people learn that evergreen trees also lose their old needles in the late summer and  fall. Evergreens normally do shed previous years' needles on a regular basis. Often there can be a "heavy" needle drop on Front Range landscape pines, spruces and firs. The most common causes of excessive needle drop are too-wet and too-dry soils. It has been very dry this summer and fall.

There may be a problem if there is yellowing or dieback on the tips of branches. Consider drought, salts, root damage, spray damage, soil compaction, conifer aphids, mountain pine beetle and other factors. Occasionally, "deciduous conifers" such as bald cypress, larch and dawn redwood are found in Colorado landscapes. These conifers lose all their needles every autumn, to be replaced the following spring.

For more information, check out these articles at Planttalk Colorado™.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Overwinter Your Container Plants by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy Pinterest

It’s the time of year to start thinking about how to overwinter perennial plants that have been happily growing in containers this summer. Containerized trees, shrubs and perennials are subject to Colorado’s winter temperature fluctuations, drying winds and freeze-thaw cycles. Planttalk Colorado provides the following suggestions to get your plants ready when the first hard freeze arrives.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

All Those Leaves! What to Do? by Donna Duffy

Leaves, leaves, leaves!! Photo courtesy Donna Duffy

Special thanks to Alison O'Connor, Larimer County Extension agent,  for sharing the following article.

Ugh. Dealing with leaves in the fall. It’s almost like nature mocks us. We work hard all summer to grow tomatoes, mow the lawn religiously and fend our garden from insects and disease. Just as we want to take a break and watch some football, the trees decide to drop their leaves and landscape maintenance continues.

I’ve been asked this question a lot—What should I do with all the leaves that drop? There’s a lot of great ways to use them, including composting, tucking them around newly planted plants, throwing them in the veggie garden to till in next spring or mulching them into your lawn.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Jefferson County Master Gardener Calendars for Sale by Bill Orchard

Need a calendar for 2017? Want to get a unique and distinctive holiday gift? The Jefferson County Gardeners are conducting a fund raiser with their calendar sale.  The calendars are available at the Extension Office for $12 each or by mail for $15 (quantities of five or more are sent free). The calendar consists of beautiful pictures taken by Jeffco Master Gardeners and Native Plant Masters and features some of their beautiful gardens. Included with the picture of the month are a second complementary garden picture, the monthly garden "to do list", and either a Plant Select or Native Plant selection.  The native plants were selected by the Native Plant Masters as plants they recommend for use in the home landscape. This aligns with the Plant Selects, which are chosen because they are plants that do well in our environment. Both common and botanical names of all plants are provided.
The money raised will go into the Master Gardener Fund which awards scholarships to horticultural students from any Jefferson County High School, Junior College or any State College or University.
For a copy of this beautiful calendar, please visit the CSU Extension Office in Jefferson County, 303-271-6620, 15200 West Sixth Ave, Unit #C, Golden, CO 80401, 8am to 5pm weekdays.  Checks made out to “Master Gardener Fund” can also be mailed to Calendar Sales, c/o Stan Ames, 15855 W Ellsworth Pl, Golden, CO 80401.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Master Gardeners Celebrate 40 years of Service in Jefferson County by Amy Bubar

This year, Jefferson County CSU Extension’s Master Gardeners are proud to be celebrating their 40th anniversary of service to Jefferson County residents. Jefferson County has one of the largest cadres of Master Gardeners in the state. These volunteers utilize research-based information to foster successful gardeners, develop partnerships and build strong communities.