Thursday, February 25, 2016

What is an Insectary? By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino
We are all aware now that some benefical insects like the honeybee are endangered and need to be protected and nurtured. Some areas are dedicating space to growing plants that attract beneficial insects but for the home gardener, we may not have large spaces of land just to dedicate to this effort. Some may also feel they want less bugs, not more in their garden but the key is finding the right plant for the right place in your garden to bring in the ones that are helpful rather than harmful.

 The good news is that you can do a smaller scale insectary in your own garden and landscape by following a few guidelines. You will first need to select seeds and plants that will bring these insects into your garden. One step would be to research native plants for your area. This helps you attract the insects that are also native to your area. These garden notes publications will help you choose some of these plants: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/Gardennotes/582.html http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/wildflowers-in-colorado-7-233/ 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Growing Grapes for Wine? It's Time to Prune! by Donna Duffy

John Crawford, photo by Donna Duffy

My neighbor, John Crawford, is a fourth generation vintner. I recently asked him to share some advice on pruning vines for maximum grape production. Here’s what I learned.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Check Your Turf for Snow Mold by Donna Duffy

Photo by Donna Duffy

Snow mold is a fungal disease that appears in late winter/early spring as the snow melts. Due to the prolonged snow cover this winter, there’s a good chance that you may find some patches of snow mold on your turf. I found several large and small patches when I walked around the (finally) snowless yard this morning.

Monday, February 15, 2016

How to Make a Cold Frame for Early Seed Start by Carol King

Photo houzz.com
A cold frame is a simple structure that uses the sun's energy and insulation to create a microclimate within your garden. You can harvest and eat a salad in March! Cold frames allow starting plants as much as six weeks before planting-out time.

S.E. Newman, Colorado State University Extension greenhouse crop specialist has this to say:

Cold Frames
For an early start, sow seed in a cold frame and transplant it into the garden later Seed may be started as much as six weeks earlier than outdoors.
Locate the cold frame on the south side of a garage or dwelling. If built with a tight-fitting lid, the cold frame will hold sufficient heat from the sun to keep seed and seedlings warm at night. On warm, sunny days (50F or warmer), prop the lid open to prevent buildup of excessive heat. Close the lid in the late afternoon to trap enough heat for cold evenings.
If temperatures fall below 20F, an outdoor- type electric light may be placed in the box to produce enough heat to keep plants from freezing. Insulated drop cords are suitable for this purpose. One 60-watt incandescent bulb for every 12 cubic feet of cold frame space usually is suf cient. Electric heating cables are available at most garden supply stores.
As the season progresses, gradually expose the plants to longer periods of outside temperatures, as long as the air temperature does not go below 50F. Treated in this way, they develop into sturdier plants that are better able to adapt to fully-exposed garden conditions at transplant time. This is particularly true of the hardy annuals and biennials that prefer to develop in cooler temperatures: petunia, ageratum, lobelia, verbena, cabbage, broccoli and lettuce.

Friday, February 12, 2016

St. Valentine and the Gift of Fresh Flowers by Carol King

dayforvalentine.tk
Legends and lore abound on why we celebrate Valentine’s day by giving flowers to our loved ones.  Here’s one of my favorites. This one involves the lore of forbidden love and has been favored over other stories by hopeless romantics.

Emperor Claudius II issued an edict forbidding marriage because he felt that married men did not make good, loyal soldiers to fight in his army. They were weak because of the attachment to their wives and family. St. Valentine was a priest who defied Claudius and married couples secretly because he believed so deeply in love. Valentine was found out, put in prison, and later executed.

Monday, February 8, 2016

How Honeybees Survive Winter by Audrey Stokes

Photo courtesy thetruthwins.com
When winter rolls around, bears hibernate and birds fly south, but what about the bees? Like every other creature on earth, bees have their own unique ways of coping with cold temperatures during the winter season. One way bees prepare for the winter is by gathering a winter reserve of honey.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Celebrate the Super Bowl! by Donna Duffy

Look no further than the world of plants to boost your 
Super Bowl fever!

Victory Rose
Photo courtesy direct gardening.com

Friday, February 5, 2016

February Word(s) of the Month: Winter Quiescence by Donna Duffy

Photo by Donna Duffy


Have you ever wondered what's going on with your tree roots underneath all that winter snow? Michael Snyder, Chittenden (Vermont) County Forester, explains the concept of winter quiescence - a state in which tree roots are resting, but ready.

Tree roots are inscrutable. While their importance to the aboveground parts of trees and forests is well appreciated by forest scientists, tree roots have always been notoriously difficult to study, obscured as they are by duff, soil, rocks, and darkness. And that’s just in summer; the problem is only exacerbated by winter’s snow and frozen soil. However, by all accounts, tree roots in our region are thought to spend the winter in a condition of dormancy. This means they are not dead but rather they overwinter in a resting phase with essential life processes continuing at a minimal rate. Full-on root growth resumes in spring, shortly after soils become free of frost, usually sometime before bud break. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Solving Low Humidity Problems in Houseplants by Carol King

Prayer Plant (Maranta leucoreura) photo by Carol King

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.

Monday, February 1, 2016

JeffCo Colorado Master Gardener Speakers Bureau: Master Gardeners in Service by Sally Berriman

Master Gardener show proper planting techniques
Need a great speaker for your next meeting?  Colorado State University Extension in Jefferson County may have just the person that you are looking for.  The Speakers Bureau is a group of CSU Extension certified Colorado Master Gardener volunteers who have received additional training to talk to groups on various horticultural/gardening topics.  Master Gardeners are available to give talks to garden clubs, neighborhood associations, fraternal organizations, schools, businesses or church groups. 

All of our speakers provide scientific, fact-based information on the best horticultural practices for Front Range gardeners.  There are various speaker styles available; we give lectures with or without slide presentations, demonstrations, hands-on classes as well as panel discussions.  We speak in classrooms, living rooms or backyards.