Monday, October 16, 2017

Go Hug a Tree by Carrie Garczynski

Photo by Carrie Garczynski

Trees around Colorado are abundant, and we love them! We love them for their beauty, their shade, and their ability hold that wooden swing with the long rope handles that we adore in the summer. Trees are necessary for life, and not just ours. Animals rely on trees for food, shelter from predators, and as a jungle gym; the soil depends on them to reduce erosion, hold it in place and to pass nutrients; plants use trees as a food source, shade from the sun, protection from the wind, and a trellis to climb upon. And this is just to name a few benefits.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fall is the Time to Manage Dandelions by Rebecca Anderson

 
Everyone recognizes a dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) by its bright yellow flower that transitions to a white puff ball in a matter of days. Most homeowners consider the dandelion an enemy of the perfect lawn.   A single plant can produce 15,000 seeds and those seeds can travel 100 miles with the proper gust of wind.  The plant is a perennial, meaning it will come back year after year once it is established.  This can make controlling dandelions a difficult task.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Become a Colorado Master Gardener in Jefferson County Colorado by Bruce Ide

Colorado Master Gardeners at Farmers' Market
Colorado State University and Jefferson County CSU Extension will be offering Colorado Master Gardener and Colorado Gardener Certificate classes starting January 2018.
If you have an interest in increasing your gardening knowledge and in helping your friends and neighbors become better gardeners and in protecting the environment, one of these programs might be for you.
The Colorado Master Gardener Program is for people who have the interest and time available to provide research based information to the community through volunteer service with the Jefferson County Extension. 
The Colorado Gardener Certificate is for people who want to learn to be better gardeners, protect the environment and share information with their friends and neighbors without the volunteer requirement of the Colorado Master Gardenersm  program.
Jefferson County CSU Extension is taking applications for the Colorado Master Gardenersm or Colorado Gardener Certificate programs.  More information and applications can be found at: http://jeffco.extension.colostate.edu/horticulture/
Deadline for applying to the Colorado Master Gardener program is Gardener Applications October 27, 2017. Deadline for Garden Certificates is December 8, 2017.  For additional information please call 303-271-6620.


Spiders in the House by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy notyourhomepage.com
You’ve probably noticed an increase in spiders in the house. I know I have – I’m greeted most mornings by a spider trapped on the shower floor or in the sink. Spiders start wandering indoors in the early fall when cooler outdoor temperatures force them to find shelter. Before you panic, remember that most Colorado spiders are harmless.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Five Tips for Fall Lawn Care by Donna Duffy


Autumn is definitely in the air and you know what that means – winter is just around the corner. Here are five actions you can take to get your lawn in top shape for spring.

Monday, October 2, 2017

When Frost Threatens – Take Action by Patti O'Neal

Frost can signal that the end of the gardening season is near – but not necessarily over.
I have a good friend who recently said “I am sick of the garden – I just want it to be over.”  If this is you, then when frost threatens, by all means do a final harvest of the tenders and call it done.  If it’s not you, there are many measures you can take to protect your crops from a killing frost incident, as more times than not, such an incident is followed here by an Indian Summer and at least another month of flower and vegetable enjoyment and harvest.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Harvesting and Storing Vegetables by Donna Duffy


The seasons are certainly changing in Jefferson County, Colorado. It's time to harvest the  vegetables still growing in your garden.  Following are several tips to prolong your harvest of root crops, squash, pumpkins, cabbage, celery, kale and collard greens.

Harvesting
  • Root Crops can remain where they are grown until there is a danger of soil freezing. Postpone harvesting by hilling the soil over the shoulders of carrots and beets to protect from freezing. If straw and soil are piled over the row as insulation, harvest may be delayed even longer.
  • Harvest onions soon after the tops fall over. Pull the onions, remove the tops, and cure the onions in mesh bags or crates where they have good air circulation until the necks dry down. When they rustle upon handling, they are ready to move to a cool, dry storage area.
  • Do not harvest winter squash and pumpkins until the vines are frost-killed and the skin is hard to the thumbnail. Leave stems on the fruit to protect against disease invasion.
  • Celery and late cabbage may be harvested after the frost has stopped their growth. Pull celery with its roots attached. Cut cabbage and remove the loose outer leaves.
  • Kale and collards can be left in the garden long after the first fall frost. Harvest as needed until the foliage finally succumbs to cold weather.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fall Vegetable Garden Cleanup by Audrey Stokes

Photo by Audrey Stokes
You and your fall garden benefit when you give your plants the same TLC in fall as you do in spring and summer. A vegetable garden left unattended through winter provides a cover for pests and disease. 
Plant disease agents such as bacteria, fungi and viruses all remain alive, though dormant, during the winter months. By recognizing the places where these organisms hide, gardeners can often destroy them and prevent disease outbreaks the following spring. Many fungi spend the winter on or in old leaves, fruit and other garden refuse. These fungi often form spores or other reproductive structures that remain alive even after the host plant has died. Cucumber and squash vines, cabbages, and the dried remains of tomato and bean plants are all likely to harbor fungi if left in the garden over the winter.
Insects, too, survive quite nicely over the winter months. Cucumber beetle, Colorado potato beetle and Mexican bean beetle all overwinter as adults. In spring they migrate to young plants where they feed and lay eggs for a new generation. Insects and plant pathogens survive on weeds as well as on garden plants. Many weeds serve as alternate hosts for insects and fungi, helping them to complete their life cycle. Destruction of these weeds removes a source of future troubles.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Planting and Growing Fall Bulbs by Carol King

owtdoor.com
The gardening season is winding down but remember how beautiful those tulips and daffodils were in April and May? Fall bulb planting is an easy way to jump-start the spring gardening season. September and October are the best months for planting those spring blooming bulbs. Planting now will allow ample time for the bulbs to become well rooted before the ground freezes.

Here are a few simple tips for successful bulb planting:
  • Plant the bulbs at a depth consistent with the level indicated on the planting chart. As a general rule, this depth is four times the height of the bulb between the soil surface and the tip of the bulb. 
  • Plant the bulbs with the growing tip up.
  • After the ground freezes, cover the bed with a 3-inch mulch to prevent alternate freezing and thawing that breaks roots and damages bulbs
  • Purchase bulbs in early for best selection and variety. Choose bulbs that are large and free from disease or decay. To ensure higher quality, pick out bulbs individually.
  • Select a variety of bulbs that will provide a long-lasting show in spring. Many suppliers will indicate the bloom time (early, mid or late) and mature height. Choose bulbs of varying heights for each bloom time to prolong color and add interest to the spring garden.
Planting now will ensure your  spring garden is beautiful!  Here is further information:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Why Leaves Change Colors and the Autumnal Equinox by Carol King

Photo by Carol King
The Autumnal Equinox in Denver is Friday, September 22, 2017 at 2:02 p.m. MDT.  So just what is the equinox? There are two equinoxes every year (September and March) when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal. It occurs the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from north to south. This happens either on September 22, 23, or 24 every year. 

Days are becoming “shorter”and the leaves are  “changing colors”.    According to Plantalk Colorado in actuality, leaves don’t change color, they just quit producing chlorophyll, the substance that makes them green.

This happens for a variety of reasons: shorter days, falling temperatures, available water.  These are all signals to the plant to go into energy saving mode and quit producing chlorophyll:  Winter is coming!

When chlorophyll breaks down, what’s left is the color that was already there:  Yellow/ carotenoids, and red /anthocyanin. These pigments are masked by chlorophyll but help protect the leaves from sunlight. After the equinox shorter and shorter days become the norm. The chlorophyll will totally disappear leaving us with beautiful colors for a short while and then dead leaves to deal with!

As you watch the leaves slowly change color and fall from the trees, you know the equinox is partly to blame.

Happy Autumnal Equinox and Happy Leaf Peeping!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Visit from the Painted Ladies By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino
Recently I noticed a large group of colorful butterflies on my fall aster plants. These butterflies are Vanessa cardui more commonly known as the Painted Ladies.
Due to favorable spring conditions in California, which helped these butterflies find the right host plants to lay their eggs, and then favorable weather and host plant conditions during the summer to aid in their nutrition, these colorful insects are numerous this year.  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Browning Evergreen Needles Normal by Mary Small

Photo by Carol King
Are your evergreens showing some browning and losing needles? Never fear! This is normal evergreen behavior.  It is not unusual for conifers to shed interior needles beginning in late summer and continuing well into fall.   In fact, all conifers (“evergreens”) including spruce, pine, fir, juniper and arborvitae lose their oldest needles every year. Contrary to what the name implies, “evergreens” are not really green forever. Their needles generally have a 2–4 year life span, although spruce trees live about 5-7 years. 

While needle loss occurs every year, the process is usually gradual, over a period of several weeks or even months, depending on species and weather. It’s so gradual, that you might not even notice the needle drop. Some species can shed needles in a fairly short period of time, making it look as though they’re in serious trouble. There is no need to treat evergreens for the condition.  

This fall and winter, ensure all evergreens are irrigated monthly in the absence of rain or snowmelt. Apply water so it reaches the absorbing roots.  For established plants, these are located a distance of two to three times the height of the plant away from it. For newly planted trees, apply water to the planting hole and just outside it. Always irrigate when the soil is unfrozen and able to absorb the water.  Studies show that fall-applied water has great benefit.  Roots are still active and can absorb water as long as soil temperatures stay above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  

For more information about winter evergreen care check here.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Fall Gardening Tips Video

Colorado State University Horticulture faculty and graduate students share their best inside information you can use in your garden.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Harvesting Amaranth by Donna Duffy

Amaranth ready to harvest, photo by Donna Duffy

You can begin harvesting amaranth plants for greens almost immediately. Young greens are perfect for salads, while older greens are better when cooked like spinach. Seeds ripen about three months after planting, usually in the mid- to late summer, depending on when you planted. They are ready to harvest when they begin to fall from the flower head (tassel). Give the tassel a gentle shake. If you see seeds falling from the tassel, it’s amaranth harvest time.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

It's Grape Harvesting Time by Donna Duffy

Candice grapes ready to harvest, photo courtesy John Crawford

Grape growers anticipate this time of year all season long. If Mother Nature has been cooperative, it’s finally time to take off the nets and harvest grapes. John Crawford, my neighbor in NE Lakewood, has been growing grapes and making wine for over three decades.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Got Milkweed? by Donna Duffy

Asclepias speciosa seeds about to disperse, photo by Donna Duffy

If you have  native Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) plants in your landscape, now is the time to decide how many more you want. Milkweed seed pods are bursting open and each one releases numerous seeds that love to drift to other parts of your yard and take root. That’s great if you want more Milkweed plants! But if you don’t, now is the time to take action.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Bee Flies in Colorado By Joyce D’Agostino


Bee fly on Lobelia, photo by Joyce D'Agostino

This summer while I was observing some bee activity on my flowers, I noticed an unusually fuzzy insect that was foraging for nectar. I was curious what it was so I sent a picture of this ‘bee’ to Mario Padilla, Entomologist at the Butterfly Pavilion. Mario specializes in bees but is also widely knowledgeable in the genus and species of many native and exotic insects.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Benefits of Planting a Fall Cover Crop by Jennifer Verprauskus

Hairy Vetch cover crop, photo courtesy Urban Farmer Seeds
When Fall rolls around and everyone starts to put their gardens to bed, there are a few things to consider before you say good bye to the garden until next spring. It’s during this time of year that we have the choice to either plant a fall garden or a fall cover crop. 
The fall garden is typically started at the end of July or early August but it can be planted into September and October. In early to mid-October, we can replant spinach, cilantro, arugula, asian greens, kale, and other fast growing semi-cold hardy crops. However, when I plan on planting this late into the Fall, I think about using a season extender, which is a structure that captures heat from solar radiation and warms the plants and soil inside the covering, such as low hoops, heavy weight Reemay, cold frames and much more.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Cicadas: The Sounds of Summer's Close by Carol King

Dog Day Cicada (Tibicen dorsatus, T. dealbatus) photo by BugGuide.Net
Nothing signals that August is here like the sound of cicadas singing: they can be counted on to sing until frost. In fact, according to folklore, it's six weeks after the first song that a frost is possible. Here are some other interesting facts about cicadas:

Cicadas are essentially tiny violins with wings. The body of a cicada is similar to that of a violin or a guitar, in that much of it consists of empty, air-filled spaces that act like a resonating chamber and amplify the sound they generate. The loud noise we hear is the male's mating call—females are silent.

Cicadas are the loudest insects in the Southwest. Their mating call and response can reach over 90 decibels. That is as loud as a gas lawnmower or a motorcycle. 

Cicadas are super sneaky. Ever tried to locate a cicada you are hearing, only to find nothing there? Once you start walking to a tree they stop calling as soon as you get too close, making it even more difficult to find them.

Cicadas have enemies that are the stuff of nightmares. The female cicada killer wasp flies around,  finds a cicada, stings and paralyzes it, and carries it to a burrow, lays one egg on it, and then closes the burrow up where the larva proceeds to feed on the victim.

There are 26 species of cicadas native to Colorado. The most common one along the Front Range is the Dog day cicadas (Tibicen dorsatus, T. dealbatus), the largest cicadas found in Colorado. They may be upward of two inches long. Their common name is derived from the males’ piercing call, which is often heard in the so-called “dog days” of mid-summer.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Harvesting and Enjoying Sunflower Seeds By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo courtesy Donna Duffy

Sunflowers are one of the most popular and recognized parts of American gardens. In addition to their bright beauty, they attract beneficial insects. Some species produce seeds that are not only a great snack but have good nutritional value.

This time of year, most sunflowers are in bloom and some are already producing their dried discs of seeds. There are several varieties of sunflowers now available to the home gardener. These include pollenless flowers that have been developed for cutting bouquets. This type does not shed the yellow pollen onto furniture or cause issues for those with pollen allergies. There are dwarf varieties, also preferred for flower bouquets, as well as specialty color combinations.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Proper Soil Drainage Helps During Monsoon Season By Joyce D’Agostino


Gardening in the rain! Photo courtesy i.telegraph.co.uk

Gardeners in the front range of Colorado often find themselves during the summer growing season with hot temperatures and little rainfall or watering restrictions. This month we experienced the opposite effect with monsoon effect storms. While the moisture is welcome, often these storms produce very heavy rain in short periods of time supersaturating the soils and can include high winds and hail. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Celebration of the Solar Eclipse by Donna Duffy

Yes, there’s lots of hub bub about the solar eclipse, and rightly so! What might surprise you is how often the name “eclipse” shows up in the world of flowers and vegetables. Here are a few examples. And the good news is, you don't have to wear special glasses to enjoy these beauties!



Eclipse Hybrid Tea Rose, photo courtesy plants.gardensupply.com


Chocolate Cosmos Eclipse, photo courtesy mr-fothergills.co.uk


Rudbeckia Solar Eclipse, photo courtesy Cheryl's Unique Flower Seeds


Green Eclipse Zucchini, photo courtesy speedway.com


Eclipse Beet, photo courtesy Maule's Seed Catalogue

And my favorite...

Cosmic Eclipse Tomato, photo courtesy rareseeds.com

Happy Solar Eclipse!!





Sunday, August 13, 2017

Preserving Herbs by Donna Duffy


Photo courtesy herb gardening.com
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.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tips for Saving Seeds By Joyce D’Agostino

Seed saving, photo courtesy modern farmer.org
Many of us enjoy starting our plants from seed. Some of these seeds may have been shared by friends or have been handed down through family members, which give them a special legacy of their own. Now that we are in mid-summer, there are many garden favorites that are producing and those that you may want to grow again next year.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Growing Your “Third Season” Crops By Joyce D’Agostino

Leafy Green Vegetables photo Colorado State University
By now, many gardeners are enjoying the bounty of their warm season vegetables such as tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers. However we do know that these vegetables do not tolerate frosts well and their production will be done in the fall.

If you would like to continue to harvest into the fall, there is still time to plant a few hardy garden crops. Many of these vegetables are very nutritious and will help extend your garden harvests even after some frosts.

Kale and collard greens are very cold tolerant and can be planted now. Be sure to review the attached bulletins for suggested varieties. You will want to choose those that do not take more than about 60 days to maturity, to allow them to produce before the killing frosts. For the best results, choose those that have been tested in our area for best production, hardiness and flavor.

Many cold season tolerant plants such as the brassicas and collards tolerate light frosts and in fact the flavors are enhanced when they are exposed to a light frost. As you can see in the kale bulletin below, it is recommended to plant kale in the front range area in the fall rather than in the spring to get the sweetest flavor and texture. There are a few other favorites such as radishes, carrots, lettuce, spinach and turnips that also tolerate cooler weather and in fact with some protection may continue to produce well into the late fall.

For more information about growing cold tolerant vegetables and extending your garden production, see the bulletins below:


Friday, August 4, 2017

Time to Plan and Plant the Fall Vegetable Garden by Patti O'Neal

Swiss Chard by Carol King
Colorado is well suited to fall gardening and winter harvest. While weather often dictates the length of the season, eleven months is not out of the question for Front Range gardeners. Imagine harvesting spinach for a great salad in November!

If you’ve never tried fall gardening, here are 5 reasons why you should.

1.  Gardens can be any size – So anybody can do it.
Fall crops are primarily greens and root crops, so they are very well adapted to container gardening, table top raised beds, and raised beds of all kinds.  Start with one container of spinach this year, you’ll catch the bug and increase it next year.

2.  There are many vegetables that thrive in fall Front Range gardens and can be planted now.
Beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale and chard can all be planted now.  August is the best time to plant arugula, cabbage, endive, spinach, cilantro and in September you can plant bush peas, radishes, Chinese greens, more spinach and lettuce and the list goes on. My fall garden has no fewer than 5 varieties of spinach, 10 varieties of lettuce and 4 Chinese vegetables, like Pac Choi and Bok Choi  and 3 kales to name a few. September or October is the time to plant garlic.

3.  Fall crops thrive in cooler weather and many fall crops are frost tolerant.
Cool crop vegetables develop their prime flavors when the ambient temperatures are cooler.  Get them germinated and up now so it is cooler when they begin to mature. 

4. Fall crops do not need a full 8 hours of sun each day.
Crops still require sun to photosynthesize these leafy vegetables are designed to thrive in less than 8 hours of full sun.  If you did not have the right place for tomatoes, you may have the perfect place for a pot of spinach, lettuce or chard which all will do well with 5-6 hours of light.

5.  Season protection is easy to obtain and apply.
There are many ways to protect your crops whether they are in containers or raised beds or even in ground that can be left on and removed for harvest or quickly applied if a frost happens.  These can be frost blankets, horticultural fabrics, cloches and even having a supply of old sheets handy if applied correctly. 

Why not try your hand at fall gardening? Having a fresh organic salad grown in your own garden for Thanksgiving will be a real treat! 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Cheers to Your Plants! by Carrie Garczynski

Photo courtesy Horticulture magazine
Have you experienced hints of raspberry, swirls of lily, or essence of grass? Yes, in your yard, and perhaps in your favorite bottle of wine. Anyone who drinks wine probably has oodles of wine corks! What do you do with all of them? And what do corks have to do with gardening? 

Well, corks are hand-harvested and made from the cork oak trees Quercus suber from Spain and Portugal. They don’t soak up water, do not rot, are impervious to air, and can mold into the contour of any container. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

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 28, 2017

Tomato Problems: Bacterial Diseases in Tomatoes by Mary Small

Photo by bitkisagligi.net
Photo by flickrhivemind.net
Moist weather in spring and summer can contribute to the development of bacterial diseases on tomatoes, just like it does for fireblight. The two diseases most often seen in moist years are bacterial speck (Pseudomonas syringae pv.tomato) and bacterial spot (Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria).

Leaf symptoms look the same for both diseases. Small water-soaked spots form and grow to about 1/8” in size with yellow halos. The centers are light brown and often tear; yellow halos are common. On more mature plants, infections are concentrated on the older foliage. Spots may also appear on the fruit pedicels.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tomato Problems: Blossom End Rot by Carol King

Blossom end rot, photo courtesy CSU Extension

It seems like there is lots of tomato conversation lately about blossom end rot. So what is this nasty sounding ailment? It starts at the end where the blossom was and begins turning tan, then a dry sunken decay sets in. The lesion enlarges, turns to dark brown to black and becomes leathery. Thus the blossom end begins to rot.

It shows up especially in the first fruit of the season and after the fruit is well on its way to development. In severe cases, it may completely cover the lower half of the fruit. Both green and red fruit develop it. It’s not a pest, parasite or disease process but is a physiological problem caused by a low level of calcium in the fruit itself. In other words, dear gardener, IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!

Friday, July 21, 2017

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.
  




Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Growing Elderberries in Colorado by Donna Duffy


Elderberries, photo courtesy Plantalk

Elderberry is a remarkable shrub or small tree of several species and many forms and colors of foliage, flowers and berries It has been found in Stone Age and Bronze Age excavations, was one of the sacred trees of the Druids, and has been used as a medicinal herb by early Europeans, native Americans and modern herbalists. However, it has not been popular in landscapes until recently when selections have been made for special leaf colors and textures. And now home-food and food-medicine gardeners want elderberries because scientific research has verified herbal lore that elderberries have health benefits. The Wall Street Journal identified elderberry with seven other berries as “nutritional royalty.”

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Is Plant Fertilizer Safe for Pets and Children? by Joyce D'Agostino

Read the Fertilizer Label Carefully and Follow Directions.
I recently received a call on the JeffCo Extension Master Gardener hotline from a consumer in Jefferson County who wanted to know which fertilizer that we could recommend to him that was “pet safe”. He planned to use fertilizer on his lawn and garden in the future and wanted to be sure that his pets would not be harmed should they be exposed to the fertilizer when it was applied.

While we do not endorse or promote a specific product, my first suggestion to him was to be sure that he bought his fertilizer from a reputable source and carefully read the label.  Some consumers may not be aware that the label information on products like fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides are actually legal statements. The companies that make these products are obligated to outline on their label the components of their product, how it should be used and any safety guidelines that the person must use to handle and apply their product. In addition it should tell what to do if a person or animal is exposed to their product.

The label should include the name of the manufacturer and the contact information so consumers can call their customer service department with questions or concerns. If there is no label information that supplies all of these important details, it should be avoided.

Even some products that are organic in nature could be toxic if used in the improper levels or for the wrong application.   All of the information must be carefully reviewed and considered before making your choice.

Taking the time to research the products that are available, read labels, contact the manufacturer with questions or ask for guidance from a reliable garden center will help you choose the product that is both safe and effective.

Here are some Extension Fact Sheets that might be of help:



Monday, July 10, 2017

Leafcutter Bees: Friend or Foe? by Joyce D'Agostino


Photo CSU Extension

Have you noticed curious semicircular cut outs in the leaves of some of your plants? This might mean that the busy Leafcutter bees are at work. Recently I noticed these cut out shapes on the leaves of some of my Alpine Strawberry plants. In researching more about them, I found that these bees are a beneficial insect, even though they may be doing some damage to your plants.

Leafcutter Bee Photo CSU Extension

 Leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.) are considered one of the important native insects here in the Western United States. They are solitary bees, meaning that they don’t live in a hives as do the social honeybees, but they are still very valued as a pollinator. When they make the cut and remove the leaf from your plant, it is not for a food source but used to build their nest cells. When they form their cell home, they then line each leaf cell with a mixture of nectar and pollen. The female bee lays an egg into the cell and seals it shut, which produces a secure environment for the eggs to develop.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mosquitoes in the Home Garden by Carol King

Mosquito photo cdc.gov
While we have not had a lot of rain over the past several weeks, mosquitoes can still become a problem in the garden. The best time to manage mosquitoes is when they are in the larval stage. This stage, called wrigglers, lives in shallow water and feeds on microorganisms. They can be found in used tires, wheelbarrows, birdbaths, saucers under pots, ornamental pools and other places that hold standing water. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Fight the Bite website  recommends the following steps for reducing the mosquito population. 
Mosquitoes lay eggs in still water, which hatch in 7 to 10 days. If standing water is eliminated weekly around the property, many  mosquitoes will be kept from breeding in the first place. Here are some things you can do:
  • Remove standing water in ponds, ditches, clogged rain gutters, flower pots, plant saucers, puddles, buckets, equipment and cans. Empty or flush out containers weekly to reduce or eliminate the larvae.
  • Check for items that might hold water including wheelbarrows, leaky air conditioner hoses, pool covers, tarps, plastic garden sheeting, and trash.
  • Change the water in birdbaths weekly.
  • Use mosquitofish (mosquito-eating fish Gambusia can be released in ponds) or mosquito dunks to prevent mosquito larvae from growing in small areas of standing water.
  • Avoid mosquitoes at dawn and dusk when the bugs are most active. 
  • Wear socks, long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors.
  • Apply insect repellent with DEET. Follow directions carefully.
For more information about complete mosquito management, check these fact sheets: