Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Brighten Your Space with Indoor Citrus By Olivia Tracy

Etrog Citron (Citrus medica); photo courtesy of Olivia Tracy

This winter, if you’re hoping to cheer up your indoor space, why not incorporate the bright color and invigorating scent of a citrus tree? While some citrus varieties are too large to grow indoors, there are dwarf cultivars of lime, lemon, orange and tangerine that can grow in containers, including the ancient Etrog Citron (Citrus medica; pictured); sour citrus does particularly well, as it requires less heat to ripen.3 While many nurseries are now closed for the season, you can still mail-order dwarf citrus trees from reputable seed and plant distributors. 

Some Indoor Citrus Varieties Include:1,2,3 
Bearss Lime (Citrus latifolia)
Kaffir Lime (Citrus hystrix), grown mostly for the leaves

Meyer lemon (Citrus x meyeri)
Variegated Pink Lemon (Citrus x limon)

Mandarin/Satsuma Oranges (Citrus reticulata); actually a tangerine, with fragrant flowers and the familiar ‘orange.’
Calamondin Orange (Citrofortunella mitis), a small, sour orange; often grown as an ornamental.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Forcing Paperwhite Narcissus Bulbs by Carol King

Photo brighter
Paperwhite narcissus are classic holiday flowers that display the spirit of Christmas. They are available to purchase everywhere during this season. Classical mythology states that a young man named Narcissus was vainly staring at his own reflection in a pond and he fell in and drowned, then legend says that the first narcissus plant came up where he had lost his life. They’re sold this time of year to give us something pretty to grow during the darkness of winter. 

Planttalk Colorado has this advice for planting these lovely bulbs:

"Paperwhite narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus) are one of the easiest bulbs to force for cut flowers or ornamental displays in the home from December to March. They are a form of daffodil that can be forced without a chilling period.To force paperwhites, fill a bulb pan with about one to two inches of potting soil, then position the bulbs in the soil so they are nearly touching each other with pointed end up. Add enough potting soil so that only the top half of the bulbs remain exposed, then water well.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Gardening Power to the People: Wrapping Your Trees for Winter Protection Video

Protect trees from winter sun scald by wrapping them now! Here's how:

Friday, November 24, 2017

Feeding Birds in the Fall and Winter By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino

Like most outdoor wildlife, birds depend on the natural surroundings for food, water and shelter. Often some areas have little open space for wildlife to thrive and providing supplemental nutrition during the fall and winter can help birds survive and cope with the changing weather.

In a previous blog (10/19/2017: Love Birds and Pollinators? Don't Clean the Fall Garden by Carol King) we discussed how not removing some of your flower seed heads can provide a good source of seeds for the birds.  So instead of doing a full scale clean up of your landscape to remove dried seeds and pods, leave some for the wildlife to enjoy. 
Providing seed and suet blocks for the birds throughout the cold weather months is also a good and acceptable way to give birds an extra source of nutrition.  

There has been some discussion as to whether filling your birdfeeder with seeds is good for the birds or if they should depend solely on natural foraging and finding open water sources. Research shows that providing food for the birds is acceptable and focusing on the right seed such as the black sunflower seeds which is high in nutrition, plus fresh water, provides an important and healthy supplement to the bird’s diets. 

For water, you don’t need to invest in an expensive birdbath, a shallow durable dish will work just as well. Change the water often so that it doesn’t freeze and remains clean is important. Electric or solar water heaters can also be purchased to keep the water from freezing. 

When it comes to choosing the best food, before investing in a large amount of certain seed, first start with the black sunflower seed. If you then want to test another type of seed, start with a small amount.  

Choosing the right bushes and trees to add to your landscape also is very important to provide shelter from the weather and predators. The bulletins below provide good research based information on feeding your birds and other wildlife and suggestions for shelter plants:

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Gardening Power to the People: Planting Bulbs Video

It's not too late to plant spring blooming bulbs! Gardener Gail will show you how.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Senior Gardening 5 – Tools by Carol Russell and Nance Tucker

Photo courtesy

The most important tool in the garden is either a mobile phone or an alert system. If you were to fall in the garden and couldn’t get up, a tool for communication would be essential.  Having a communication device will ensure that you can get the necessary assistance if needed.

There are a number of specially designed gloves that can improve your grip and protect your hands while you work. Some gloves have extra padding in the palm and finger joints that can improve grip, and cause fewer calluses and blisters.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tips for Senior Gardening 4 - Raised Beds, Trellises, and Container Gardens by Carol Russell and Nance Tucker

Raised bed, Clear Creek Path in Golden, photo by Carol Russell

Raised garden beds, trellises, and container gardening are easier ways to grow plants and flowers because it brings the garden to you, eliminating most stooping, squatting and kneeling. They are also adaptable for gardening in a small backyard, an apartment patio, or on the grounds of a retirement home.

Raised Beds
To eliminate bending and kneeling entirely, think about raising your garden a few feet above the ground. Raised garden beds are great for seniors as the garden planters have legs bringing the gardens up to your level. Table beds are elevated and offer a shallow bed of 6” - 12” at a raised height and can be tended while sitting down. These beds are especially good for the chair-bound individual who wants to be able to get his legs underneath the bench so that he can work comfortably. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tips for Senior Gardening 3 – Pathways, Don’t Fall this Fall by Carol Russell and Nance Tucker

Concrete pathway, photo by Donna Duffy
After being diagnosed with a degenerative disease that affects balance, my first question was “How will I be able to continue gardening without falling?”  I found that garden accessibility starts with paths. Accessible paths allow for increased mobility and safety of movement throughout the garden. I went to the garden and wandered down a path: my typical walkabout. Was the path easy to walk on or was I paying more attention to where I placed my feet rather than smelling the roses? Edges in the garden are hazardous. A flagstone pathway is much more treacherous than a flat cement path.  

Also, places to pause are an integral part of pathways.  Did I need to sit down to appreciate a beautiful flower or a combination of great perennials? I should consider this location for a bench. Is the pathway cool as a result of shading? 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tips for Senior Gardening 2 - How to Design and Modify Your Garden by Carol Russell and Nance Tucker

Benches provide places to rest, photo by Donna Duffy
When I found out I had a degenerative disease I also learned I was part of a large group:  nearly 20% of Americans have disabilities. Although not everyone is handicapped, we all age. We need gardens that can take care of themselves as we mature.  My garden, like yours, needs to be easy to access, reasonably low maintenance but still beautiful. Following are a few design elements I learned, with advice from some experts, on transforming your gardening from a daunting list of chores into a rewarding, joy-filled activity. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Tips for Senior Gardening 1 – Maturing Gracefully with Your Garden by Carol Russell and Nance Tucker

Nance Tucker in the Jeffco PlantSelect Garden,  photo by Carol Russell
Many of us from the baby boom era are approaching retirement thrilled to finally have time to play in the garden but also with angst because our bodies just don’t function as they once did. After I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, I thought my gardening days were over - not so. I continue to garden and continue to learn. However, I needed some inspirational tips and science-based knowledge to improve my long-term, quality-of-life in the garden.