Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Vermaculture or Composting With Worms Videos


Vermiculture or vermacomposting is the cultivation of worms, using food scraps and produce a great soil amendment. Worm castings (worm waste) contain higher levels of
nitrogen than most other organic amendments. Worms are natural soil builders and vermicomposting is a clean and efficient method to recycle otherwise wasted food. 

Why vermicompost?
It reduces the volume added to the landfill. 
It requires little space, and equipment. 
Children love to help and will be amazed at how quickly the worms work. 
It is an indoor gardening project and perfectly suited for apartments or other small homes.
It provides wonder compost for your plants. 

Here are three videos produced by our Jefferson County Master Gardener Video Team showing you exactly how to do this!

Part I

Part II


Part III

Monday, March 28, 2016

Pruning Considerations: Shade Trees in the Landscape by Sally Blanchard

Photo by Donna Duffy
It is tough to be a shade tree here in the Front Range! With periods of drought to record precipitation, blistering heat to deep freezes, extreme winds to infestations of lethal insects, our trees need our help! Surely you’ve watered those trees during this period of warm weather and little or no snow or rain, and now it is time to look closely and see if your trees are in need of pruning. Early spring is the perfect time to accomplish this task.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Colorado's Native Bees by Cindy Gibson

The hum of bees is the voice of the garden – Elizabeth Lawrence

Photo courtesy Donna Duffy
As the days become warmer and the first flowers of spring appear, look and listen for the gentle sound of bees in your garden. Many bees that call Colorado home will emerge from their underground nests, hollow stems, or holes in trees starting in March. The diversity of local habitats in Colorado helps to explain why there are over 900 reported native species!

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Right Plant for the Right Place by Rebecca Anderson

Photo courtesy gardeningabout.com
When Master Gardeners and Extension horticulture staff are helping people with plant problems, we usually start with the soil.  It is thought that 80% of plant problems are related to soil issues.  We like to start with soil testing to find out if there are any deficiencies or excesses in the soil that can be corrected so plants will grow better.  But what happens when the soil test doesn't show problems and your plants still aren't thriving?  What else could be going on?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Celebration of Irish Plants by Donna Duffy

Trifolium repens, Photo courtesy backyardgardener.com

You probably know that in Ireland, all shamrocks are considered lucky and are worn and given as gifts on St. Patrick's Day. Most Irish growers will tell you that Trifolium repens, White Clover, is the plant most commonly known as a shamrock. In Colorado, this Irish shamrock grows in our lawns, in prairies, pastures and foothills. If you enjoy clover honey, you can thank this lovely little plant.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Rethink Your Lawn by Donna Duffy


Photo courtesy university-gardens.com
Across Jefferson County, bluegrass lawns are just starting to green up. This is a good time to think about changes you’d like to make in your lawn this year. There are at least three options to consider:
  1. Leave it pretty much as is
  2. Renovate it
  3. Remove some lawn for vegetable or flower plantings

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Importance of Insect Pollinators by Audrey Stokes

Bumblebee
First things, first: What are pollinators?

Many insects, birds, and animals help move pollen between flowers and act as “pollinators”. Butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, and flies are examples of insect pollinators. When a pollinator visits a flower it is looking for food but while feeding, these insects inadvertently transfer pollen grains between flowers and help the plants produce fruit and seeds.

Next: Why is pollination important to plants?

Pollination is important because it leads to the production of fruits we can eat, and seeds that will create more plants. Pollination begins with flowers. Flowers have male parts that produce very small grains called pollen. Pollination is the transfer of pollen grains from one flower to another.

And, so: What are the importance of insect pollinators?

Pollen Wasp
  • Pollinators support biodiversity: There is a correlation between plant diversity and pollinator diversity.
  • The pollinator population of an area is a great indicator of the overall health of an ecosystem.
  • Some crops, including blueberries and cherries, are 90 percent dependent on honey bee pollination.
  • Honey bees visit five million flowers to make one pint of honey.
  • To produce 150 pounds of honey, bees cover a distance equal to 13 trips to the moon and back.
  • 90 percent of the nation's apple crop is pollinated by bees.
  • There are 4000 bee species in the U.S. 
  • Increased yields and higher quality crops are benefits that growers and consumers realize from a healthy pollinator population, native or managed.
  • Worldwide, approximately 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated by insects and animals in order to produce the goods on which we depend.
  • It’s estimated that there are about 2.4 million bee colonies in the U.S. today, two-thirds of which travel the country each year pollinating crops and producing honey and beeswax.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Forcing Shrub or Tree Branches to Bloom Indoors by Bonny Griffith

Photo kids gardening.org
This time of year can be difficult for Colorado gardeners.  The weather can be absolutely beautiful, and we want to go outside and garden, but we know it’s much too early to remove our rose collars or plant annuals!  So here’s an activity for midwinter days when you want to hurry spring—cut flowering branches and bring them inside to flower.
Just about any flowering shrub or tree can be forced to flower early.  Here is a list of some of the most commonly available in Colorado gardens:
  • Apple and Crabapple (Malus spp)
  • Cherry and Plum (Prunus spp)
  • Dogwood (Cornus florida)
  • Forsythia (Forsythis spp)
  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp)
  • Lilac (Syringa spp)
  • Pussy willow (Salix caprea)
  • Quince (Chaenomeles spp)
  • Redbud (Cercis Canadensis)
  • Spirea (Spiraea spp)
  • Viburnum (Viburnum spp)
Cut one to two-foot long branches or twigs from the shrub or tree, choosing pieces with as many plump buds as you can find.  Keep in mind what the shrub will look like later in the year—you don’t want to damage its beauty when it is leafed out.  
Use a sharp pruning tool to make the cuts.  After you’ve brought your branches inside, carefully split the cut ends about an inch with a sharp knife.  Then place them in a vase half-filled with warm water.  Set the vase in a warm, sunny location and be sure and change the water every few days. 

You will be rewarded with blooms in one or more weeks.  Voila!  Enjoy your early spring!
Here's an article from Purdue University Extension for more information: https://hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-23.pdf

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

New to Colorado? Five Gardening Tips for Success by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy Colorado Dept. of Tourism

Welcome to Colorado! Regardless where you came from, you are likely to find gardening in Colorado different than it was in your home state - both rewarding and challenging. It's not too early to start thinking about your Colorado landscape. Following are five tips to help you get started on the right foot.