Saturday, December 15, 2018

Holiday Plant Lore: Wreaths by Carol King

Photo by Echter's Garden Center
Hanging a circular wreath of evergreens during mid winter is a tradition that goes back to ancient Greece and Rome.

In Roman times wreaths were hung on doors as a sign of victory and rich Roman women wore them as headdresses at special occasions. Roman emperors wore Laurel Wreaths. 

In Ancient Greece, wreaths were used at funerals to represent the circle of eternal life. They were also given to the winners of events in the original Olympic Games in Greece.

In early Christendom,  evergreen wreaths were laid at the burial place of early Christian virgin martyrs in Europe, the evergreen representing the victory of the eternal spirit over death.

Modern Christmas wreaths transcended from Celtic Kissing Boughs and the German and Eastern European custom of Advent Wreaths.

The word 'wreath' comes from the Old English word 'writhen' which means to writhe or twist. The circular ring shape of the wreath signifies eternity, and the evergreens represent growth and the everlasting. As the wreath is made of plants that remain green throughout the winter, it represents life in the dead of winter.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Choosing a Fresh Christmas Tree by Carol King

Photo CSU Extension
Are you thinking of getting a fresh Christmas tree this year? It seems that there are tree lots on every street corner and the choices can be overwhelming. Here are a few simple steps that will ensure you get the freshest tree and keep it that way.

At the tree lot:
  • Check that the needles bend rather than break with gentle pressure; 
  • Shake it carefully to look for needle loss; 
  • Check the cut end: it should be sticky with sap. 
If these conditions exist, buy the tree and take it home.

At home:
  • Make a new cut at the end of the trunk about an inch above the old one.
  • Keep the cut end standing in water, whether you decorate the tree immediately or not. This allows a fresh route for water to travel into the trunk. 
  • Check the tree's water level frequently, and refill as necessary. Fresh evergreen trees can take up an amazing amount of water. You may have to fill the reservoir several times a day. Don’t let the water level drop below the trunk, as a seal will formant prevent the tree from absorbing water.
  • Keep your tree away from heat sources such as a heating duct or television set. A fresh tree that receives good care should remain in safe condition indoors for ten days to two weeks.
You can also cut your Christmas tree at several U. S. Forest Service locations near the Front Range, provided you have a permit.  The USDA Forest Service web site , (Rocky Mountain Region Regional Christmas Tree Program) has information on where and when to get a permit, cutting dates and times, tips on caring for your tree including a recipe for a fireproofing mixture, and other details. There are also Christmas tree farms along the Front Range that allow you to “cut your own.” 


Enjoy that fresh tree! 


Monday, December 10, 2018

It's Frost Season! But What Kind of Frost is That?

Autumn frost, photo by Donna Duffy

It’s the time of year when frost occurs almost daily. But what kind of frost is it? Just a few degrees or a slight change to the environment can separate air frost from ground frost, or hoar frost from glaze or rime. Following is a detailed look at what each term means, courtesy of The Weather Channel.

Hoar frost, photo by Donna Duffy

Hoar frost
Consisting of tiny ice crystals, hoar frost is formed through the same process as dew - but only when surface temperatures are below freezing point. 
Hoar frost follows a feather-like appearance, forming when the surface temperature reaches 0C before the dew begins to manifest on it.  Often more rounded frost particles appear, called 'white' frost, which is when the dew forms first and then freezes as a result. However, if there is any fog present, this usually prevents the formation of hoar frost since it lessens the potential for the cooling of the Earth's surface.

Air frost
Air frost happens when the temperature of the air plunges to or below the freezing point of water. The depth of air above the ground also must have increased to at least three feet above the ground. The combination then creates a layer of cold air hovering just above the ground that should hit 32F or below, and gradually becomes thicker and thicker as more heat energy fades away and the temperature continues to fall.

Grass frost
A grass frost is an un-official strain of ground frost. A grass frost takes place when natural surfaces, such as grass, freeze, while other surfaces such as tarmac and concrete pavements don’t. The reason why such man-made surfaces don't come into contact with this frost is due to their better ability to hold onto warmth.

Glaze or rime
Frost is often confused with rime or glaze. Rime is a rough white ice deposit which forms on vertical surfaces exposed to the wind. It is formed by supercooled water droplets of fog freezing on contact with a surface it drifts past. Glaze can only form when supercooled rain or drizzle comes into contact with the ground, or non-supercooled liquid may produce glaze if the ground is well below 32F. Glaze is a clear ice deposit that can be mistaken for a wet surface and can be highly dangerous. On the roads, we often refer to glaze as “black ice”.

Glaze, also called black ice, photo courtesy science.howstuffworks

Ground frost
Ground frost relates to ice formed on the ground, or on objects and trees, where the surface consists of a temperature below freezing point. On those occasions when the ground cools faster than the air, ground frost can occur without an air frost.

So there you have it! Everything you always wanted to know about frost!\




Friday, December 7, 2018

Winter Care for Houseplants

Photo courtesy Beth Bonnicksen, Boulder County CMG
Winter weather adversely affects growing conditions for houseplants. Proper care during the winter months can help insure the health of houseplants. Following are tips from University of Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County, Mary Jane Frogge.

Most houseplants grow well with daytime temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees F and night temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees F. Temperatures below 50 degrees F or rapid temperature fluctuations may damage some plants. Keep houseplants away from cold drafts, radiators, and hot air vents. Also make sure houseplant foliage doesn't touch cold windows.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Choosing and Caring for Your Poinsettia By Olivia Tracy

Poinsettia Plants (Euphorbia pulcherrima) Photo courtesy of Olivia Tracy

In the first weeks of December, many people buy poinsettia plants (Euphorbia pulcherrima) to decorate their homes for the holiday season. While the vibrant red and pink leaves of the poinsettia are often referred to as “flowers,” they are actually called bracts; the true poinsettia flower sits at the center of those bracts. 

Here are a few tips for selecting healthy poinsettia plants and caring for them in your home. 
  • Choose plants with dark green leaves; if the cultivar has lighter or mottled bracts, then the foliage may be lighter as well. Avoid plants with pale green and yellow leaves; this often indicates that the plant has been given too little or too much water. 
  • If it’s cold outside (around or below 35 degrees Farenheit), be sure your poinsettia is carefully wrapped before you transport it. Once it’s in your home, remove the plastic sleeve immediately; leaving the plant in the sleeve can damage the bracts. 
  • Be sure your poinsettias receive indirect sunlight for at least six hours a day; avoid direct sunlight, which can fade the bracts, and protect your poinsettia from extreme temperatures by not placing it near drafts or heating vents. 
  • Water the poinsettia whenever the top of the soil feels dry to the touch. When watering, be sure to either remove foil wrapping or cut a hole in the bottom of the wrapping so that water can drain out of the pot; too much water can suffocate the root system.

For more information about poinsettias, including how to fertilize your plant after the holidays and help your poinsettia re-flower next year, please see the CSU Fact Sheet 7.412, “Poinsettias” http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/poinsettias-7-412/  

Friday, November 30, 2018

'Tis the Season for Ice Melt by Rebecca Anderson

Photo by Beckie Anderson

Winter is here, along with the snow and ice we don’t have to worry about during the warmer months. Although the snow brings moisture that will help our plants flourish next spring, it does make getting around in the winter tricky and even dangerous at times. Ice melting products help clear away the slick surfaces, but with more products available every season it can be difficult to choose which is right for your situation. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Jefferson County Gardeners Calendars for Sale by Bonny Griffith

Photo Mary Kirby

  • Want a calendar that reminds you every month what you should be doing in your garden? Or perhaps you would like a unique and distinctive holiday gift for other gardeners on your shopping list? The Jefferson County Gardeners are selling 2019 calendars with beautiful and interesting photos of plants and flowers taken by Master Gardeners. The calendars are available at the CSU Extension Office at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds for $14 each or by mail for $16 (quantities of five or more to one address will not be charged the shipping fee). The money raised from the sale of the calendars will fund scholarships for horticultural students in Colorado. Each calendar features: 
  • Twelve months of beautiful high-quality photographs taken in Jefferson County. Each month has a “Gardening To Do List” especially written for Jeffco gardeners. 
  •  Six months each have a photo of a Plant Select® specimen. Plant Select® is a non-profit program jointly run by Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens and professional horticulturists. Plants selected for the program must be tough and resilient, have low water needs and be non-invasive. They also must be aesthetically pleasing! For more information on the Plant Select® program, go to https://plantselect.org. 
  •  Six months each have a photo of a Native Plant specimen. Native plants are low-maintenance and are beneficial to wildlife and pollinators. For more information on learning about Native Plants, go to http://conativeplantmaster.colostate.edu. Both Plant Select® and Native Plant photos include a brief paragraph with information on how to care for them. Both common and botanical names of all plants are provided. Printed on a matte finish to allow for writing your appointments on the appropriate date. 
  • Calendar size is 9 x 12 inches, so there is plenty of room for writing on each date. Each month also has a special box for writing notes. 
  • 55% of your cost is tax-deductible. 
 To buy this beautiful calendar, please visit the CSU Extension Office, 15200 W. Sixth Ave., Unit #C, Golden, from 8am to 5pm weekdays. The phone is 303-271-6620. Or email jeffco.gardeners.calendar@gmail.com. Credit cards are accepted.

Prevent Floppy Paperwhites: Give Them a Stiff Drink by Carol King


Cornell University Bulb Experiment

Have you heard that drinking alcohol will stunt your growth?  Well this is certainly true with narcissus and amaryllis bulbs.

We bulb lovers love to force bulbs to bloom during the winter holidays.  They brighten an otherwise dark time in gardening. Narcissus (also known as paper whites) and amaryllis are notorious for getting tall and leggy and flopping over.  To combat this problem look no further than the liquor cabinet.

The Flower Bulb Research Program at Cornell University conducted experiments using various kinds of alcohol and discovered that plant height will be reduced by one third thus stopping the “flop over”. Alcohol interferes with water uptake, thus less cell stretching and shorter stems. Here are their recommendations:

“Start your bulbs in plain water. When roots have formed and the green shoot is 1 to 2 inches long, pour off the water and replace with a solution of 4 to 6 percent alcohol. If you are using 80 proof liquor (40 percent alcohol), that works out to one part gin (or the like) to 7 parts water.

Rubbing alcohol (either 70 or 100 percent isopropyl alcohol) can be substituted; just remember to dilute it more. Keep the beer and wine for yourself; their sugars damage plants.” 

Distilled spirits are watered down at a rate of 1 part to 7 parts water. Rubbing alcohol needs more dilution at a rate of 1 to 11.

So enjoy a glass of wine while you give the bulbs a good stiff drink of the hard stuff! Enjoy your beautiful shorter flowers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Cornucopia: Origins by Carol King

Cornucopia Photo publicdomainpictures.net
The cornucopia is the symbol of abundant harvest and is most often associated with Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a horned shaped vessel filled with an abundance of the earth's harvest. 

Cornucopia became an English word in 1508 when it first appeared in the dictionary. Its origins are from two Latin words; Cornu meaning "horn" and Copia meaning "plenty". 

The cornucopia has been a symbol of a great harvest for centuries and was probably first referred to in Greek and Roman myths and dates back to the 5th century B.C. My favorite is the Greek version: “ Almathea was a goat who nursed and raised Zeus. While playing one day, Zeus accidentally broke one of her horns. He was so saddened by this that he used his godly powers to fill the broken horn with whatever Almathea wanted so it became the horn of plenty. Zeus also put the goat's image in the sky and that is our constellation Capricorn.”

The symbol of the cornucopia was also used, along with rolling fields of grain, to lure new settlers to come to the New World. It is now in our national consciousness as a symbol for bountiful garden harvest and the sharing of food that has become our American Thanksgiving.  

Wishing you and yours a harvest of good food and good fortune! Happy Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 17, 2018

Word of the Month: Marcescent - Leaves That Hang on in Winter


This Acer grandidentatum, Bigtooth Maple, is slow to drop its leaves in winter,  photo by Donna Duffy
Ever wondered why some deciduous trees hold on to their leaves through the winter and others go bare? Learn about marcescent leaves and why they might just help a tree out. The article below was written by Jim Finley, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Checklist for Preparing Trees for Winter

Photo by Carol King

This article is provided courtesy of Aaron Bergdahl, Forest Health Specialist with the NDSU/North Dakota Forest Service. Minor adaptations have been made for Colorado readers.

With fall fading, it is important to remember to prepare your trees for a potentially tough Colorado winter. The following checklist serves as a reminder of the most important considerations for fall tree care and proper tree winterization.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Houseplants for Low Light by Olivia Tracy

Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) from http://www.hort.cornell.edu/4hplants/Flowers/SnakePlant.html

As the days shorten in the fall, you might find that your home doesn’t get the same quality of interior light that it gets during the summer months. You may also have a room in your home, or at your workplace, where you’d like to have some greenery, but don’t get a lot of natural sunlight. Not to worry- there are a few houseplant varieties that generally adapt well to low-light conditions and can bring color to those spaces as we head into winter. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Amaryllis: The Joy That Keeps on Giving by Patti O'Neal

Samba Amaryllis, photo courtesy Donna Duffy

Amaryllis is a rare gift to a gardener, providing near instant gratification producing a magnificent spectacle in 4-6 weeks. It’s a gift of growing something and making it bloom right in the middle of snow and freezing temperatures. The trick for many is to get them to do it again the following year. 

Amaryllis is a tender bulb, meaning it does not require a chilling period to bloom.  These beauties originate in the temperate climates of South America where they grow and bloom outdoors.  Here in the chilly Rocky Mountains we enjoy them “forced” during the holidays of December and on into January and even February.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Wrap Trees in Winter to Prevent Sun Scald (video) by Carol King

Sunscald is often called "southwest injury" because it most occurs on the southwest side of young tree trunks. In Colorado, it primarily occurs from December through March on young, thin-barked, deciduous trees.  If you have newly planted trees, protecting them from sun scald should be on your To Do list.  And late October, early November is the best time to wrap them. Colorado Master Gardener Gail shows you how in this video.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Easy to Grow Houseplants by CSU Extension (Video)

With outdoor gardening on the back burner, gardeners can turn their efforts toward indoor gardening. Here are five really easy house plants that will add oxygen to your home, help clean the indoor air, and assuage your green thumb!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween!

It’s Halloween! Here are some Halloween-themed plants to get you in the “spirit”!

Lonicera reticulate, photo courtesy Plant Select
Lonicera reticulata, Kintzley’s Ghost, was introduced by Plant Select in 2006. This lovely honeysuckle vine grows 8-12’ tall. The showy, tubular yellow flowers cover the vine in June. Each flower is surrounded by a large perfectly circular pure white bract. Amazingly, this bract holds its color throughout the summer into the fall before eventually fading. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Tips for Winter Watering


Colorado winters are unpredictable and it isn't unusual to have an extended dry period before the spring rains begin. Following are tips for winter watering of turf, trees and shrubs from Dr. James Feucht, CSU Cooperative Extension Landscape Plants Specialist.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Winter Rose Care or How to Use a Rose Collar by Tagawa Gardens (Video)

Here are some great tips for winterizing your roses using rose collars from PlantTalk.



Saturday, October 20, 2018

PlantTalk: Mulching leaves into your lawn leave pine needles alone! (Video)

A better way to handle leaves than rake and put in landfill:

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

PlantTalk: How to Winterize Your Rain Barrel (Video)

Time to put those rain barrels to bed! Heres how:

Monday, October 15, 2018

It's Time to Plant Spring-blooming Bulbs!

Photo by Donna Duffy

When your garden takes on its “fall-ish” look, it’s time to start thinking about planting bulbs for spring bloom. In Jefferson County, late September and early October are the best times for planting bulbs. This allows the bulbs to grow a healthy root system before the ground freezes.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Fall Cleanup Tips for the Vegetable Garden by Peter Drake

Photo courtesy PlantTalk Colorado

Whether you have made a vegetable garden in a raised bed, an in-ground bed, or a container, now is a very good time to plan for how you can clean up your garden, and put it in order for the winter months to better ensure that, come next year’s planting, your garden will possess good health and balanced nutrition.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Notes on Container Growing – 2018 By Joyce D’Agostino

Herbs, 6/28/18, photo by Joyce D'Agostino
Container gardening has long been used successfully for many vegetables, herbs and flowers. This year I had my chance to really test it out. We had planned to move at some time in 2018 but this move happened sooner than expected and in May, which left me right very close to the time to set out the young plants.  Since our garden area completion was delayed, and I had plants to get into the ground, I had to think quickly in order to have a place for all of the plants.
The good news is that I not only had quite a few containers on hand, but had also found some grow bags at my favorite garden center this spring that I planned to test out. These bags are made from a strong felt type fabric that allows good drainage. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Summer Vacation is Over for Houseplants by Rebecca Anderson

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) that has spent the summer outside
Most houseplants are tropical and flourish with some outdoor exposure during the summer.  With cooler nights in the forecast it’s getting to be time to bring them back indoors.  Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit will damage many houseplants, so keep an eye on those nightly weather reports.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

It's National Kale Day!

Photo courtesy National Kale Day

Did you know that today is National Kale Day? Here’s some information from the website.

National Kale Day celebrates kale’s incredible health benefits, highlights kale’s culinary versatility, and promotes eating, growing and sharing kale throughout America. National Kale day is the first Wednesday in October and is an annual celebration.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

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 26, 2018

Don't Put Your Lawn to Bed Yet! by Rebecca Anderson

Photo by Donna Duffy
With fall approaching, everyone is looking forward to a break from the hot weather and summer yard chores of mowing and watering.  It's true that the grass isn't getting tall as quickly as it did in June, but that doesn't mean that it has quit growing.  In the fall, grasses are forming tillers: side shoots that thicken the grass and help it recover from losses that occurred in the more stressful times of summer. This side growth still requires some water, so don't roll up the hoses or blow out your sprinklers yet.  Water application of 0.5 to 0.75 inches per week is recommended by CSU for the months of September and October.  This is significantly less than the recommended 2.25 inches per week in the hottest months of summer, but is still more than our rainfall totals for most weeks.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Fall Needle Drop by Mary Small

Fall needle drop on Black Hills spruce, photo by Donna Duffy

Spruce trees often get attention in the fall. Their inner needles turn yellow or brown and drop off. To put your mind at ease, it’s not unusual for these conifers to shed interior needles beginning in late summer and continuing well into fall.  This is normal evergreen behavior. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Facts, Traditions and Folklore of the Autumnal Equinox

Photo courtesy bouldercast.com
Facts about the autumnal equinox: 

  • This year's autumnal equinox is on Saturday, Sept. 22, at 7:54pm in Colorado, marking the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • The sun crosses the Earth's equator at the time of the equinox, from the Northern Hemisphere into the Southern Hemisphere.
  • During the autumnal equinox, day and night are balanced to about 12 hours each all across the world.
  • In the far north, the autumnal equinox signals peak viewing of the aurora borealis or northern lights.The celestial display of brilliantly colored lights happens when charged particles from the sun strike atoms in Earth’s atmosphere, causing them to light up. These light displays peak around the fall and spring equinox. That’s because disturbances in Earth’s atmosphere—known as geomagnetic storms—are strongest at these times.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Fall Gardening Tips Video

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

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Colorful and Curious Gourds Provide Fall Interest by Joyce Agostino



Photo by Joyce D'Agostino

Every year when I plan my garden, I try to add a few items such as gourds, pumpkins and ornamental corn that will add some end of the season color and fun. Gourds are easy to grow and can be functional as well as decorative.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Fall Invaders: Insects in the Home by Mary Small

Box Elder Bug Photo clemson.edu

When days shorten and temperatures become chilly, folks often find uninvited guests – insects and their relatives- sharing indoor quarters. Although annoying and even startling, these creatures are just trying to hunker down for winter. They need to find shelter where temperatures hover between 40 and 50 degrees F. The west and south sides of a home can provide warm places to hang out as they search for prime real estate. They don’t need much of an opening on the home exterior to find it, either.  Many can squeeze into quarters using an opening the width of a credit card!
The best way to manage the intruders is to keep them out in the first place.  Look for exterior openings around windows, doors, etc., and caulk them. Examine door sweeps. Can you see light underneath the door? It’s time to replace the sweeps.  These steps will help keep the unwanted critters out and you’ll be increasing energy conservation, too!

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Aster Yellows Blues by Carol King

Echinacea varieties, photo by Donna Duffy

My latest indignity in the garden, (does it never end) is aster yellows in a cone flower, Echinacea purpurea.  A couple of years ago I noticed a Dr. Seussian blossom with funny shaped green things coming out of the flower. My research led me to this condition called aster yellows.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Harvesting Peppers in the Fall by Joyce D'Agostino

Early Jalapeño Pepper, photo by Joyce D'Agostino
If you have grown sweet or hot peppers this season, now is the time to prepare to harvest. Peppers are tender annuals that will not tolerate frost.

Many peppers begin green and then will turn color as they mature or ripen. The taste and heat of the pepper can vary from the green state to when they turn a color. If your peppers are the hot variety, refer to the seed packet information to learn the Scoville units that rates the heat of the pepper. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

PlantTalk: Planting Garlic (Video)

Fall is the best time to plant garlic in Jefferson County. Here are helpful tips from PlantTalk Colorado!

Monday, August 27, 2018

It's Time to Divide Your Bearded Iris by Donna Duffy

Photo by Carol King
Iris are one of the superstars of the spring garden. Keeping them blooming year after year requires some work. Do you have bearded iris that you want to move, or that aren't flowering as well as they did a few years ago? It’s probably time to dig and divide them.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Summer Fruit Season is Here By Joyce D’Agostino

Grapes, photo by Joyce D'Agostino

It’s that time of the summer, when your fruit trees are loaded with fruit that is ripening. Fruit have a number of vitamins, minerals and fiber that are great for your diet, so enjoy them fresh.

But if you have more than you can eat quickly, the bulletins below will give you great tips on how to can, freeze, dehydrate or make jams or jellies from your fruit to extend your enjoyment for later use. When you properly can, freeze and dry your fruit at peak ripeness, then they will retain these beneficial nutrients for months. Jams and jellies can also make great gifts.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Renovating the Lawn in Fall


Photo by Donna Duffy
Does your lawn have dead spots or thinning? Do you have sections that just aren’t thriving? Once you've ruled out irrigation problems, consider renovation of the turf - and fall is the perfect time to do it. Cool weather is optimum for growth of cool season grasses, and lower temperatures slow the drying of seeded areas, leading to better germination.  Following are tips for lawn renovation from Carl Wilson, CSU Horticulturist.

Monday, August 20, 2018

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 late summer, there are many garden favorites that are producing and those that you may want to grow again next year.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Fruit Fly Control by Carol King

Fruit flies
This time of the year, when your counter if full of ripening fruit and the compost bin is loaded with peelings, seeds, and all the residue of the wonderful produce available this season, we find a problem pest flying around.  That annoying little creature we call the fruit fly.  

Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Entomology Specialist gives us this information about the fruit fly. 

"Vinegar flies, also known as small fruit flies, commonly develop in overripe or decaying fruit and vegetable matter. They are minute, light brown flies with orange-red eyes and rarely are they found very far from the fruit bowl. Numbers tend to build in late summer. If conditions are suitable and food is present, they may breed indoors.

Although associated with fruit, developing vinegar flies actually feed on yeasts. To eliminate a vinegar fly problem, use up overripe fruit, refrigerate it or discard it. At the same time, give attention to other breeding sites. Vinegar flies may, for example, breed in the moist residue that remains in the bottom of beer bottles or soft drink cans, as well as in other areas where moist organic matter allows for yeast growth. After all such food sources are removed, some residual adults may remain for a week or so, but ultimately will die out."

Also clean sinks and drains, empty indoor compost pails and set out baited traps. Here's and article on how to make your own fruit fly trap: lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/fruitflytrap.shtml


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Debunking a Hot Weather Watering Myth by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy ehow.com

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!

Friday, August 3, 2018

How to Use Your Harvested Rainwater (Video)

If you have installed a rain barrel, here are best practices for using the water.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Celebrate Colorado Day!

Columbine, Aquilegia caerulea, Colorado state flower, www.statesymbolsusa.org
On August 1, 1876, president Ulysses S. Grant signed a proclamation admitting Colorado as a state. Colorado Day was celebrated as a state holiday on August 1 for many years, and then was moved to the first Monday in August, most likely after the time the U.S. Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill in 1968. The day no longer became a public holiday, but rather an observance, when the state started observing Martin Luther King Jr Day as a public holiday in 1985.  

Following are some Colorado natives that have earned designation as a state symbol.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Summer Mystery: Powdery Mildews by Olivia Tracy

Photo courtesy of M. Grabowski, UMN Extension
If you’ve gone out to your peonies and found that they look like someone dusted them with talcum powder, you likely have a case of powdery mildew. Varieties of powdery mildew can affect almost every type of plant (although particular infections are host-specific), and the leafy portions of the plant are typically most affected. The original whitish-gray, powder-like growth will eventually turn brown, and then black, and can ultimately cause leaves or buds to drop off the plant.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Five Things to Know For a Successful Fall Vegetable Garden by Patti O’Neal


Plant Lettuce now for Fall Harvest photo CSU Extension
Front Range weather has been especially challenging to gardeners this season.  After a fairly dry winter, spring presented with cold nights, freak snow storms, scorching heat and pounding rain and hail – and all of a sudden it’s mid July and we have had scorching heat!  But take heart.  One of the nicest growing seasons is yet to come; fall. 

There are many vegetables that will happily germinate from seed in the warm summer soil and thrive in the cooler temperatures of fall once they mature, and even taste better after a cold snap. This includes about 20 varieties of leaf and head lettuce, Swiss chard, radishes, kale, about 6 varieties of spinach, many oriental greens, onions, cilantro, peas, beets, turnips, arugula, carrots, kohlrabi and collards.  Even better news is that thinnings of all of these vegetables can be used in salads or soups.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

How to Harvest Summer Squash (Video)

Fine Gardening show us the nuances of harvesting summer squash.

The Cicadas are Singing!

Dog-day Cicada, Neotibicen canicularis
Did you know that Colorado has 26 species cicadas, all of the order Hemiptera?  It seems like the cicadas are earlier than usual this summer, I heard the first one in my garden at dusk in mid-July.  That's a bit disconcerting because according to folklore, the first cold spell arrives about 6 weeks after the first cicada serenade. But that's just folklore, right? Following are some interesting facts about cicadas.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Create a Monarch Waystation




Monarch Watch is a nonprofit educational outreach program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration. 

Monarch Watch strives to provide the public with information about the biology of monarch butterflies, their spectacular migration, and how to use monarchs to further science education in primary and secondary schools. We engage in research on monarch migration biology and monarch population dynamics to better understand how to conserve the monarch migration. We also promote protection of monarch habitats throughout North America. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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.