Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Myth of Paper-based Sheet Mulches by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy doityourself.com
As the days slowly get longer, many of us start thinking about our planting beds for the next growing season. The use of paper-based sheet mulch has gained attention. But is it effective? Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D., Extension Horticulturist and Associate Professor, Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Washington State University, is known for her myth-busting horticultural research. The following is excerpted from her response to the myth: Newspaper and cardboard sheet mulches are excellent ways to reduce weeds and maintain soil health in permanent landscapes. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Farmers' Almanac: Fact or Folklore? by Donna Duffy

Did you know there are two versions of the Farmers’ Almanac? The Old Farmers’ Almanac is celebrating is a whopping 225 years old. The “younger” Farmers’ Almanac is only 200 years old, and has a Special Collector’s Edition to celebrate this milestone. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Try Amaranth in your Garden by Vicky Spelman

Matthew Blair, Researcher at Tennessee State University in a Field of Amaranth

If the popularity of quinoa has taught us anything, it's that people are increasingly open about exploring grains besides the familiar wheat and rice. Now, researchers at Tennessee State University are hoping consumers are ready to give another ancient grain a try: amaranth.

Amaranth was revered by the Aztecs in Mexico. Today in the U.S., it's mostly grown in people's backyards or on research farms, like an experimental field at Tennessee State University.

Some of the amaranth there looks like corn with a colorful, flowery plume on top. Others are more like shrubs. Matthew Blair, an associate professor at TSU, is leading a team of researchers in evaluating dozens of varieties.  Amaranth is a grain that thrives in high temperatures, is largely resistant to drought and is seen as a heartier crop than corn.  "We all know how fast corn grows in the summertime," Blair says. "Well, amaranth can grow equally fast, or faster."

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Here They Come...Seed Catalogs! by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy treehuggers.com
It's the stuff gardeners' dreams are made of: seed and nursery catalogs that fill our mailboxes in January and put us on the road to planning our next garden. Those catalogs are a lot more than a list of products the seed companies want to sell. They are encyclopedias of information that, among other things, tell us which plants won't grow in Colorado. That keeps us from throwing away money for plants destined to fail with our growing conditions. Dan Jewett, Denver County Master Gardener, offers the following information to get the most out of the seed catalogs that end up in your mailbox. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

URGENT: 2017 Spring Gardening Symposium Change of Location

Join us at the "Taj" for the 2017 Spring Gardening Symposium!
Take note! The 2017 Spring Gardening Symposium "Jump Start Your Garden the Right Way" has a new location. Please join us at the Jefferson County Municipal Courts Building, 100 Jefferson County Parkway (fondly known as the Taj) on Saturday, January 28th.  Check in begins at 7:45am and the exciting, information-packed program begins at 8:45.

It's not too late to register or find a friend to join you! Click here for the registration link. What a great way to spend a cold January day!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Nature's Beauty: Hoarfrost by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy Colleen Hart, The Weather Channel Facebook Page

Sometime this winter, you may be fortunate enough to see hoarfrost in your landscape. But look quickly, because it will disappear with sunlight.

According to the Old English dictionary (c. 1290), hoarfrost is defined as "expressing the resemblance of white feathers of frost to an old man's beard." No, this isn’t frost on performance-enhancing drugs, but it can be quite different from your normal frost! Colleen Hart of The Weather Channel provides the following facts about hoarfrost.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Protecting Perennials in the Winter by Donna Duffy

Rudbeckia, photo by Donna Duffy
Colorado's relatively warm days and cold nights, extreme temperature fluctuations and drying winds can wreak havoc with many of our commonly planted perennials. Planttalk Colorado offers the following suggestions to protect your perennials over the winter.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Symposium Sneak Peak: Companion Planting by Dustin Foster

An example of trap cropping, photo courtesy organicfarmingblog.com
Separating the facts from fiction when it comes to companion planting can be tricky.  There are many “old wives tales” and practices learned from grandparents and parents.  Some actually, if not accidentally, have some scientific truth to them and some, not so much.  Once such scientific concept is called trap cropping.  Although it may not have been known as that back in the day, it is a scientifically proven companion concept.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Symposium Sneak Peak: Plentiful Container Vegetable Gardens by Jennifer Verpraskus

Photo courtesy harvesttotable.com
Container gardening can be a fun and easy way to grow vegetables as well as flowers in the Front Range. Quick and easy access to food, as well as utilizing small spaces and hard surfaces makes growing food in pots desirable. Container vegetable production is somewhat more demanding than growing flowers and other ornamentals, but it can be done following some simple guidelines.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Symposium Sneak Peak: Dreaming of Tomatoes by Sharon Tanaka

Photo courtesy gardeningknowhow.com
Here’s a quiz for you. Ask people what vegetable they would grow IF they could only grow one. What do you think they would choose? Eighty percent would say “tomatoes, of course!” And yet, tomatoes are one of the plants that bring the most questions to the Jefferson County Master Gardeners Hotline. Surprisingly, with the right information, tomatoes are one of the easiest and most successful vegetables that the home gardener can grow in Jefferson County. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Symposium Sneak Peak: The 10 Easiest Vegetables to Grow in Colorado by Amy Bubar

Photo courtesy extension.unh.edu

The vegetable gardening season is over for most of us. And with winter just beginning, it might feel like next season is an eternity away. But the truth is that it’s never too early to start planning next year’s garden. In fact, now’s the prefect time to get started.