Saturday, April 30, 2016

History of the Tomato by Cherie Luke

Photo courtesy cedargrovegardens.com
The best way to get a delicious tomato is to grow it yourself! And many of us must be doing just that: according to the US Department of Agriculture, 93% of home gardens grow tomatoes, making it the most popular vegetable to grow. With 25,000 varieties to choose from, it’s no wonder we are enamored with our tomato plants.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Planting Trees in Colorado for Arbor Day by Carol King

Photos by Carol King

Happy Arbor Day, an annual observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. What better way to celebrate than to plant a tree! Spring is typically tree and shrub planting time in Colorado.  The garden centers and big box stores are offering a huge assortment to choose from.  How does one know which tree to choose?  Choosing the right tree is essential to tree health and success. Don’t just go to the garden center and take whatever you can find.  Put some study into it.  

Ask yourself some questions. What is growing well in your neighborhood? What varieties are suited to Front Range Colorado and are most resistant to common insect and disease pests? What is the purpose of my tree?  Shade? Fruit? Windbreak?  This can be a daunting decision so here are some resources to help:

Front Range Tree Recommendation List, from Colorado Nursery Grower's Association, American Society of Landscape Architects Colorado, the Colorado Tree Coalition, and Colorado State UniversityExtension.
http://coloradotrees.org/PDFs/TreeRecommendationList.pdf
Recommended Trees for Colorado Front Range Communities, from Colorado State Forest Service, http://static.colostate.edu/client-files/csfs/pdfs/trees_for_frontrange.pdf
Read more: Colorado tough: Great trees for your Western garden - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/homegarden/ci_25616185/colorado-tough-great-trees-your-western-garden#ixzz306oIQnag 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Jefferson County Master Gardeners in Service: Community Garden Coaching by Nancy O’Brien

Community Garden Coaching, photo by Nancy O'Brien

You might be wondering, “what is a garden coach, anyway?” A garden coach provides specialized gardening information to manage garden problems. Jefferson County Master Gardeners are available to provide coaching for neighborhood associations, fraternal organizations, schools, businesses or church groups that have or sponsor a community garden. For example, a Master Gardener coach could come to a community garden and work individually with each plot owner to figure out how to get maximum harvest from their space.

Monday, April 25, 2016

How to Read a Seed Packet by Paula Hamm

Photo by Paula Hamm
Growing plants from seed is incredibly rewarding and fascinating but there are a few things you need to know before you get started.  You can find nearly everything you need to know on the seed packet itself.  

First, every seed packet should list the common and Latin name of the seed inside the envelope.  It is not uncommon for more than one plant to have the same common name;  the Latin name can help you figure out whether the seed packet you are holding has the seeds you want.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Recommended Fruit Tree Varieties for Colorado Front Range by Carol King

Photo CSU Extension
Growing fruit trees along the Front Range in Colorado can be challenging but also satisfying.  Late frosts, heavy spring snows, and several pests and diseases make this interesting to say the least!  However, in successful years, the gardener can be blessed with bumper crops of apples, cherries, plums, and often peaches and apricots.

Here are some varieties that are considered among the best for success in Colorado  recommended by J. R. Feucht, former Landscape-Plant Specialist, CSU Extension; and Curtis Utley, Jefferson County CSU Extension.

Apples
The more reliable varieties are:
  • Cox Orange. Aromatic dessert apple. Yellow flesh.
  • Red Delicious. A good winter apple and very resistant to fire blight.
  • Golden Delicious. A fall apple of good flavor that bears sooner than most varieties.  Also a good variety to plant with other apple trees to ensure good pollination.
  • McIntosh.  An all-purpose red apple.
  • Johnathan.  A popular apple but fairly susceptible to fire blight.
  • Fameuse.  Old variety similar to McIntosh.
  • Goldrush, Pristine, Liberty, Empire, Honeycrisp, Arkansas Black, Sweet 16, Hazen, Winecrisp, Pixie Crunch, Sir Prize, Williams Pride, Fireside, and Jonafree are also recommended by Mr Utley.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Celebrate Earth Day by Audrey Stokes


Each year, Earth Day marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement which began in 1970. At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Missing Monarchs by Caroline Reardon

Monarch migration, photo courtesy worldwildlife.org
In mid March, the Monarch butterflies, Danaus plexippus, who’ve overwintered in temperate central Mexico and southern California, mate and then begin their migration northward. Most fly either on a Midwest/Eastern path or along the Pacific coast, but some “strays” do fly through Colorado. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Growing Great Celery Video

Thinking about growing celery this year?  This video will help you succeed.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Honey Bee Swarm Season is Here! By Rebecca Anderson

Bee swarm, photo by Beckie Anderson
Spring means honey bee swarm season.  A swarm occurs when an existing hive gets too full and the bees are feeling crowded.  The queen bee produces a couple of princess bees as her replacement.  Then the queen gathers half of the worker bees to move out of the hive with her.  This results in a ball of bees hanging from a tree branch, eave or fence, peacefully humming to themselves.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Starting Those Hard to Grow Seeds: Stratification and Scarification By Brooke Colburn


Spring is creeping upon us here in the Front Range, and if you plan to start any of your flowering, perennial, native, or woody plants from seed, they may require some special treatment to overcome dormancy and germinate. There are two general types of seed dormancy: mechanical and chemical. Mechanical dormancy refers to a seed coat that is impermeable to water and or air, and it must be broken by a process called scarification. Chemical dormancy involves chemicals in the seed that must be leached away or broken down by a method called stratification.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Challenge of Growing Blueberries in Colorado by Carol King

Photo Carol King

Who doesn't love a blueberry?  They are one of the super foods, filled with antioxidents.  These tiny, round blue-purple berries have long been attributed to the longevity and wellness of indigenous natives.  Blueberries are very low in calories. A cup of fresh berries provide only 57 calories.  Some research studies suggest that these berries help lower blood sugar levels and control blood-glucose levels in type-II diabetes.  Super food indeed. Why not grow them in the Colorado Front Range home garden?

Blueberries will not grow in Colorado soil. Blueberries need acidic soil (and a lot of it).  Our native soils are alkaline; the opposite of what a blueberry needs! Every year at this time, I see the blueberry plants lined up in the big box stores just waiting for some unsuspecting gardener to purchase and take home to complete failure.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Jefferson County Master Gardeners in Service: Call Center for Your Horticulture Questions by Amy Norwood

 Master Gardener Amy Norwood staffing the Call Center
If you are a Colorado gardener, chances are you’ve asked yourself questions like these:

  • What is the best time of year to prune my apple tree?
  • When I mow my lawn, what should I do with the clippings?
  • What type of light does my indoor fern plant require?

You aren’t alone: questions about outdoor landscapes and indoor plantscapes arise 52 weeks a year.  Jefferson County Master Gardeners answer these questions year-round via the Master Gardener Call Center.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Starting Seeds Outdoors Video

Starting seeds outdoors is not as easy as tossing them on to the ground. Learn how to warm the soil, keep it warm and choose cold season veggie seeds.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Spring Lawn Management Checklist for Colorado Lawns by Dr. Tony Koski


Photo Lawn Institute

Dr. Tony Koski, Extension Turf Specialist, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension offers  this advice for lawn management of bluegrass and other turf grasses.

Fertilizing the Lawn
  • Fertilization of lawns this spring (March-June) is a highly recommended practice. 
  • The ideal fertilizer will contain a mixture of quickly and slowly available nitrogen sources. Most lawn care companies use these type of fertilizer blends. 
  • Excellent fertilizer blends are available to the homeowner from local nurseries and garden centers. 
  • Fertilizer applied before watering is allowed will not cause a problem for lawns; adequate moisture from spring precipitation and irrigation (once it is allowed) will cause nutrients to be released to the turf. 
    Photo CSU

Aerating (Cultivating) the Lawn
  • Lawn aeration is a highly recommended spring lawn care practice. 
  • While deeper (2-3 inches) core holes provide the greatest benefit to the lawn, even shallow (1 inch) core holes will help to enhance water infiltration for the spring and summer watering periods. 
  • Overseeding may be done in conjunction with lawn aeration; this may especially benefit those lawns thinned by drought conditions or winter mite activity (avoid using crabgrass preemergent herbicides at the time of overseeding). 
  • Lawn aeration will help to control thatch, an organic layer that often impedes proper water movement into the soil. 
  • Lawn aeration, fertilization, and overseeding all can be done at the same time. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Jefferson County Master Gardeners in Service: The Courage Garden by Lorrie Redman

Weeping Crabapple in bloom at The Courage Garden, photo by Loretta Simms

Every day, we are surrounded by stories of violent crime. Rather than forgetting these horrific events, communities strive to bring people together to honor the victims and seek solutions. In Jefferson County, a Courage Garden was created in 1995 to help individuals remember loved ones and to remind community members that there is still work to be done. The garden provides a peaceful setting for reflection and solace. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Happy April Fools' Day by Carol King

punjabigraphics.com
Did you ever wonder where this silly holiday came from?  Also called All Fools’ Day, it has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, but its exact origins remain a mystery.

 Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 and became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. It became a popular holiday in 1700 in England when pranksters begin  playing practical jokes on each other. 

April Fools’ Day has also been linked to ancient festivals such as Hilaria, which was celebrated in Rome at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises. 

My favorite speculation and the one that is so appropriate to Colorado is the conjecture that April Fools’ Day was tied to the vernal equinox, or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather. We have certainly have had our April Fools’ early from Mother Nature this year!

In any event, if you receive a packet of these, dear gardener, enjoy!