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.