Sunday, July 31, 2016

Do Plants Repel Mosquitos? by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy

 Ask any gardener – they will tell you that it’s a buggy year. The mosquitos seem especially ferocious this summer, which made me wonder if there are any plants that will repel mosquitos. Here’s what I learned from CSU’s research.

Photo courtesy
Rumors and misinformation abound regarding plants that will repel mosquitoes in home landscapes. Common plants purported to repel mosquitoes include catnip, peppermint, rosemary, marigolds, Eucalyptus and Artemisia species, to name a few. None of them will repel mosquitoes by merely growing in a landscape. The volatile oils purported to have repellent properties are released when plants are crushed or burned. No data exists to support their effectiveness as repellents. Check out Plantalk’s publication Do Plants Repel Mosquitos for more information. 

Since we can’t depend on landscape plantings to repel mosquitos, the next best thing is to try to repel them by other means. To keep mosquitoes away during outdoor gatherings, burn Citronella candles. Lemon grass, Cymbopogan nardus, a course grass-like plant, contains Citronella oils. Burning candles with wicks saturated with the herb, myrrh is also quite effective at keeping many insects away. In fact, ancient Egyptians used myrrh as a fumigant.

If insects such as mosquitoes have already become a problem, many herbs can be used directly on the skin as repellents. Infusions of 50% Chamomile and 50% Elder leaves dubbed on skin are effective for up to 20 minutes. Infusions are much like making tea, boiling water is poured over the herb and the herb/water mixture is then left to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. The remaining liquid is strained and used as the repellant.

As well as infusion, other properties of herbs such as their essential oils can be used as repellents. Essential oils such as Lavender, Tea tree oil and Citronella from the stone root, Collinsonia canadensis can be worn on the skin and in hair to effectively keep mosquitoes away. It is best to dilute these powerful essential oils in a little olive oil and test this new mixture on a patch of skin before applying to ones entire body. More information can be found in CSU’s publication Plants Help Keep Mosquitos Away.

Don’t let the mosquitos chase you indoors – grab a repellant and make your stand!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Preserving Herbs by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy herb
One of the joys of summer cuisine is the addition of fresh herbs. Fresh herbs are showing up at the Farmers Markets, and many are ready to harvest in home gardens. As a general rule, herbs grown for their leaves should be harvested before they flower. For most herbs, the best time to pick is early in the morning just as the dew evaporates, but before the heat of the day.  Herbs can be used fresh from the garden or dried and enjoyed later. Following are tips for preserving and storing herbs.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Do You Have Ripe Tomatoes Yet? By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino

Do you have the best tomatoes on your block – but they’re still green? Are you wondering when you will get that first ripe tomato?

You’re not alone with these concerns. It seems many of us work hard to get our tomatoes started so that they are strong healthy plants when you are ready to set them outside, with the hope of early and abundant harvest only to find that they are slowed down by weather issues.  It seems we get by the cold and wet springs only to suddenly be exposed to the hot and dry late spring and summer weather.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Deadhead Flowers for More Blooms by Carol King

July can be an exciting month in the garden. The results of all the hard labor in the spring are beginning to be evident: lots of blooms, especially monarda, black eyed susan, shasta daisy, day lilies, lavender, Russian sage and yarrow; the annuals are looking great and the grass is still green enough!

I spent Sunday deadheading, pinching, cutting back, and disbudding. I know this sounds like torture techniques performed on some poor wretch in a medieval novel, but these actions are just what most blooming flowers need. These methods will increase and provide continuous blooms throughout the season. They also help to keep the garden tidy; flowers compact and help you get that special blossom you want to win the prize in the county fair!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Debunking a Hot Weather Watering Myth by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy

Perhaps you’ve heard it said that “watering plants on a hot sunny day will scorch their leaves”. It’s a myth! The following information, provided by Linda Chalker-Scott, PhD, Extension Horticulturist at Washington State University, debunks that myth once and for all!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mid-summer Lawn Care: Fertilizing, Aerating and Mowing by Donna Duffy

Mid-summer can be tough on turf. In addition to watering efficiently, give consideration to fertilizing, aerating and mowing practices. Following are tips from Tony Koski, CSU Extension Turf Specialist.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Mid-summer Lawn Care: Watering by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy Donna Duffy
Here we are in the heat of July, and your lawn watering practices may need to be altered from those that were effective in spring and early summer. Following are mid-summer watering tips from Dr. Tony Koski, CSU Extension Turf Specialist.

Follow watering programs encouraged or mandated in your community
  • Water the lawn whenever it is allowed.
  • Disregard for required community watering practices can result in substantial fines and may encourage communities to enact even stricter watering restrictions.
  • Contact your local water utility for information on your local watering restrictions.

Effective lawn irrigation requires an understanding of how the irrigation system operates, as well as ongoing maintenance of sprinkler heads
  • Learn how to program your control clock so that you irrigate according to the schedule mandated for your community.
  • Set the clock so that irrigation occurs between 6PM and 10 AM (or as otherwise mandated).
  • Repair or replace broken irrigation heads.
  • Adjust irrigation heads to avoid throwing water on streets, driveways, and other hardscape.
  • If you find that adjusting or repairing your irrigation system is too time-consuming or challenging, hire an irrigation or landscape management specialist to perform this important work.
  • Your lawn care company professional may be willing to program your irrigation control clock for you.
  • Contact your local water provider for information on conducting an irrigation audit; some lawn care companies, landscape management firms, or irrigation installation firms will conduct an audit of your irrigation system for a modest fee.

Even with unlimited watering per irrigation zone on a twice-weekly basis, lawns often will show signs of stress
  • Summer root stress reduces the ability of root systems to use water.
  • Stress will first appear in areas where irrigation coverage is lacking.

The application of wetting agents specifically developed for use on turf is recommended to reduce the occurrence of water repellent conditions in lawns
  • Wetting agents can benefit lawns subjected to extreme drying over the past few months by promoting better infiltration of water into the soil; summer use may reduce the occurrence and/or severity of dry spots in the lawn (but will NOT totally compensate for poor irrigation coverage).
  • Wetting agents are available in both granular and liquid forms; granular formulations are often easier for homeowners to apply.
  • The use of dishwashing detergents and other soaps in place of turf-type wetting agents is not recommended and may damage heat- and drought-stressed lawns.
  • The incorporation of water-absorbing polymers (sometimes called "hydrogels") into new or existing lawns does NOT reduce lawn water requirements and is not recommended for Colorado lawns.

Curtis Utley, Jefferson County CSU Extension Horticulture Agent, conducting a Lawncheck with a Golden resident
If you need help diagnosing turf problems, schedule a Lawncheck through Jefferson County CSU Extension.
Lawncheck is an on-site, lawn consultation service for a fee. A Colorado State University Extension professional will contact you to make an appointment and discuss cost. Service includes recommendations for improving your lawn and solving insect, disease and other lawn problems. To schedule a Lawncheck appointment, call Jefferson County CSU Extension at 303-271-6620.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Jeffco Horticulture Staff Member Utley Takes on New Challenges by Jacki Paone

Horticulture Agent , Curtis Utley with Master Gardener Clinician, Allison Millich, present at the Joint Meeting of the Board of County Commissioners and CSU Extension Advisory Committee in June. County Manager, Ralph Schell, in the background.

Curtis Utley, a member of the CSU Extension Horticulture staff in Jefferson County since 2003, has been promoted to Extension Horticulture Agent.  With the promotion come additional challenges in Extension reporting, supervision, writing and program delivery.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Psyllids Are Coming! Plant lice on Tomatoes by Patti O'Neal

Adult Psyllids photo Michigan State University Extension

Reports of sightings of this insect pest in Northern Colorado has set the alert for us on the Front Range.  The potato/tomato psyllid  is a member of the family known as “jumping plant lice” and is very damaging to tomatoes in particular.  It is time to start monitoring your tomatoes on a regular basis for evidence of this pest in your garden. 

Psyllids do not overwinter here in the cold climate of Colorado.  They blow up from Mexico, Texas and Arizona.  Some years are worse than others. And because they are found in one place does not mean they are in another.  Monitoring is the key.  When they are here, they can do a great deal of damage to tomato and potato crops. The home gardener is not exempt and should be on alert to catch this pest before it gets out of hand. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016