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.
  




Thursday, July 12, 2018

Gardening Under Cover by Joyce D'Agostino

Photo courtesy Joyce D'Agostino
Most gardeners have to deal with a variety of weather and growing conditions each season. These challenges can include early or late frosts, too much rain or too little, excessive heat or a variety of garden pests or diseases.

Here in Colorado, many parts of our state lie within a band that goes through the US and is known for hail damage. Protecting your plants from this damage is a necessity if you want to see your garden grow from early planting to fall harvests and what is the best way to protect.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What's Bugging my Roses? by Donna Duffy

It’s that time in early summer when roses come into full bloom. Their beauty and fragrance make them the superstars of the early summer garden. Undeservedly, roses have a reputation for being difficult to grow. In fact, very few rose diseases are found in typical Colorado growing conditions, primarily due to our high altitude and dry conditions. Even so, your roses may become afflicted with a rose pest or disease. Here are four common rose problems and their controls, courtesy of the Denver Rose Society.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

PlantTalk: Overseeding Your Lawn (Video)

Overseeding is a great way to manage bare spots in your lawn. Here are tips from PlantTalk!


Friday, July 6, 2018

Happy International Kissing Day! by Carol King

Hot Lips (Psychotria elata)
International Kissing Day was established in 2006 to focus on kissing and to celebrate the significance it holds in our society. What better place to share kisses than in the garden!  Here are four of my favorite “kissing plants”:

Polygonum orientale
Kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate (Polygonum orientale or Persicaria orientale) used to be very popular in the U.S. Originally from China, it was a particular favorite of Thomas Jefferson. (gardeningknowhow.com)

Psychotria elata
Hot Lips (Psychotria elata). Affectionately known as Hooker’s lips, Psychotria elata has colorful red flowers that attract many pollinators, including butterflies and hummingbirds. (pininterest.com)

Salvia microphylla ‘Little Kiss’
Salvia microphylla ‘Little Kiss’. Red and white bicolor blooms on this strong salvia. It is isease resistant with a long-lasting flowering season, (Southern Living Plant Collection)


Cupid’s Kisses’ rose

Cupid’s Kisses’ rose. Flowers have a distinctive ‘pink lipstick’ that shows on the white petal base color. (High Country Roses)

Now go out and share a kiss or two in the garden!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Summer Hummingbird Tips By Joyce D’Agostino


Photo courtesy National Audubon Society
Now that it’s July, hopefully you are enjoying the flowering plants you added to your garden to attract pollinators. In addition to the butterflies and bees, July also brings a second opportunity to bring colorful hummingbirds to your landscape. The hummingbirds will be looking for sources of food and will remain in the area for several months.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Fourth from the Rose Garden! by Donna Duffy


The Fourth of July is about all things patriotic: freedom, independence, fireworks! You can celebrate these patriotic roses all summer long.

Many experts consider Fourth of July the best Rose introduced in the past decade. Its climbing canes reach 12 to 14 feet tall, with fresh, healthy foliage. North or south, east or west, it demonstrates uniform vigor and flower color. And it re-blooms beginning the very first year!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

How to Build a Native Bee Hotel

Native bee hotel, photo courtesy Modern Farmer
Some people think of bees as hive creatures with a nasty sting. But not all bees live in hives or have such an aggressive approach to self-defense. In fact, the great majority of native bee species live a solitary lifestyle and have puny stingers, which are virtually harmless and rarely used.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Gardening Power to the People: Insect Puddles (Video)

Attract beneficial insects to your garden by providing a water source. Here's how!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Gardening Power to the People: The Power of Mulch



It's time to mulch! In this short video, Jill Knussman, Jeffco Master Gardener, gives you tips for using mulch in your garden.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Are You Unknowingly Harboring a Noxious Weed in Your Garden? by Donna Duffy


It’s easy to get hooked on flowers that are easy to grow, especially those that seem to be refreshingly trouble-free. Unfortunately, some of these qualify as invasive ornamental weeds, and their rapid growth causes a multitude of problems. These undesirable plants reduce native plant habitat, reduce habitat for wildlife, alter riparian areas, and cause problems in agricultural lands. Colorado Noxious Weeds are illegal to grow, even though they may be available on the internet and in some “big box” stores. Following are three Noxious Weeds to watch out for, and native and non-invasive alternatives you can grow instead.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Deadhead Flowers for More Blooms by Carol King

Deadheading cone flower will increase blooms
Midsummer can be an exciting time in the garden. The results of all the hard labor in the spring are beginning to be evident: lots of blooms, especially monarda, black eyed susan, shasta daisy, day lilies, lavender, Russian sage and yarrow; the annuals are looking great and the grass is still green enough!

It’s time for deadheading, pinching, cutting back, and disbudding. I know this sounds like torture techniques performed on some poor wretch in a medieval novel, but these actions are just what most blooming flowers need. These methods will increase and provide continuous blooms throughout the season. They also help to keep the garden tidy; flowers compact and help you get that special blossom you want to win the prize in the county fair!

Pinching: Use your fingernails and pinch the plant before blooming. Pinching achieves a bushy, compact, shorter plant; one with lots of blossoms that won’t fall over as readily as an unpinched plant. Flowers that benefit from pinching include: asters, ageratum, browallia, calendula, coleus, annual chrysanthemum, verbena, zinnias, petunias, and chrysanthemums. Pinch fall blooming perennials any time but stop on the Fourth of July so you will have fall blooms.
Deadheading: This is the act of removing spent flowers. Most annual and perennial flowers need to have the old blossoms removed in order for new ones to bloom. Not doing so allows the flower to go to seed and they will soon stop blooming. Flowers that benefit from deadheading include: pansies, day lilies, geraniums, rudbeckia, echinacea, coreopsis, yarrow, veronica, and roses.
Cutting back: Cutting back certain plants after they flower will cause them to bloom one more time later in the season. Cut the flower all the way to the leaf on lady’s mantle, catmint, sages, salvia and sea hollies and the like. You’ll get another session of blooms.
Disbudding: Want a show stopping dahlia or a prize winning rose? Disbudding is the key to those prize flowers. On dahlias, remove the two side buds next to the central bud at the end of each lateral branch. The flower that develops will be larger and will grow a longer and stronger stem. On hybrid teas, remove or pinch the secondary buds by the main bud; on floribundas and grandifloras, remove the terminal buds.
Encourage those blossoms! Pinch, deadhead, cut back, disbud!!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Controlling Slugs in the Garden by Carol King

Photo CSU Extension
The wet spring and continuing storms have provided a banner crop of sugs in gardens along the Front Range of Colorado.  I see their slime trails each morning glistening in the sunshine and see evidence of their voracious eating habits on my hostas in particular.

Slugs are very destructive and difficult to control. Seedlings of many vegetables and flowers are favored foods, and they feed on many fruits and vegetables prior to harvest. Even the slime trails produced by slugs can contaminate garden produce.

Dr. Whitney Cranshaw, Professor and Extension Specialist of Entomology at Colorado State University recommends the following:

9
Photo gardenmyths.com

Techniques for Slug Control:
Reduce moisture in the garden. Slug populations depend on moisture in the garden to thrive.  Any effort  to reduce the amount of moisture will help with the problem.  Use of drip irrigation and soaker lines and overhead watering early in the day will help reduce the humidity they thrive on.
Remove hiding places for slugs. Removing surface debris,avoiding organic mulches (straw, grass clippings) increasing air movement around plants and using trellises and wider plant spacing will help in reducing slug populations.
Use traps or trap boards to kill or concentrate slugs. Slugs are attracted to chemicals produced by many fermenting materials. Thus pans of beer or sugar-water can attract, trap and drown slugs. Place them throughout the plant to reduce slug populations. Alcohol is not the attractant to slugs; its the yeast fermenting in the beer. Boards and wet newspaper placed on the soil surface will have slugs that seek shelter under them. Check these shelters every morning and kill any slugs found.
Plant trap crops to divert slugs from main crops. Slugs love some plants more than others so planting them will divert slugs from your prized plants. Good trap crops include: green lettuce, cabbage, calendula, marigolds, comfrey leaves, zinnias and beans.
Use repellents or barriers. Slugs don’t like to travel over abrasive materials. Diatomaceous earth, wood ashes and similar materials placed around plants provide some protection. These materials must be kept dry however. 
Apply baits according to label directions. Molluscicides are pesticides effective against slugs and snails, and are offered for sale in most garden centers. Read labels carefully and apply as directed.  Many of these are harmful to pets and other wildlife and cannot be used on vegetables. Metaldehyde is the most commonly used and effective molluscicide. It is sold often in the form of granular baits (Bug-Geta, etc.) or as a paste or gel (Deadline, etc.) It is not to be used in the vegetable garden and is harmful to dogs in particular.  An alternative bait that recently has become available includes iron phosphate (ferric phosphate) as the active ingredient. Trade names include Sluggo, Slug Magic and Escar-Go!, among others. Iron phosphate products can be used around edible crops and do not pose special hazards to dogs. Ammonia sprays make excellent contact molluscicides, but must be applied directly to exposed slugs. Household ammonia, diluted to a 5 percent to 10 percent concentration, is effective for this purpose.
For more information about slug control read this fact sheet: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05515.html


Friday, June 22, 2018

Gardening Power to the People (Video): Insect Puddles

Did you know that insects need water to drink? An easy way for you to encourage pollinators in your garden is to make an "Insect Puddle." In this video, Colorado Master Gardener, Cathy Jo shows you just how to do it.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Pollinator Week: Providing Water for Pollinators

Swallowtail drinking from a mud puddle, photo courtesy offset.com
Creating a pollinator-friendly garden goes beyond providing pollinator-friendly plants. Pollinators need sources of water for many purposes, including drinking and reproduction.  Butterflies, for example, will gather and sip at shallow pools, mud puddles or even birdbaths.  

Aphids in the Garden by Bernadette Costa

Aphid infestation, photo courtesy UMN Extension
As most of us have discovered, aphids are very common in home landscapes.  Sometimes called plant lice, they are small, soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects, generally less than 1/8” long.  Most are green or black but they can also be found in a variety of other colors as well.  A characteristic common to all aphids is the presence of cornicles, or tubes, on the back ends of their bodies, sort of like “tailpipes”.  These cornicles secrete substances that help protect the aphids from predators.  Over winter, aphids exist as eggs on perennial plants and hatch in the spring.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Colorado's Native Bees

Leaf Cutter bee with leaf, photo courtesy dakotabees.com

Colorado has over 950 species of bees, and all but a handful of these are native. Most of the few introduced (non-native) species that now call Colorado home were brought in accidentally. The most well-known non-native bee is the honey bee, an important pollinator of many of our agricultural crops, especially those that are also non-native. But our native bees, who for millions of years have co-evolved with our native flowering plants, are much more important, efficient, and effective pollinators for native fruits and vegetables. Many of these, like squash, tomatoes, and eggplants, cannot be pollinated by honey bees at all!

Happy Summer Solstice 2018! by Carol King

Photo Paintless Dog
Welcome to the longest day of the year! Summer Solstice is June 21, 2018 in the northern hemisphere and in Jefferson County, Colorado, arrives at 4:07 a.m. MDT. The Summer Solstice is an astronomical event that happens when the sun is directly above the Tropic of Cancer. This day has more hours of daylight than any other day of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere, Solstices occur on June 20th or 21st each year.

 It is also known as Midsummer’s Day as it occurs in the middle of our summer. Summer Solstice is considered to be halfway through the growing season for gardeners above the Equator. It marks the 1st day of summer and is celebrated by various cultures, and customs around the world. Celebrating Summer Solstice dates backs thousands of years. It was celebrated by the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and the Celts. Summer Solstice is associated it with good harvests and fertility, and abundance in your garden. 

Happy Summer Solstice to one an all and here’s to an abundant harvest! Here’s more information: Astronomy Facts About June.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Save Our Pollinators: What You Can Do by Patti O'Neal

Photo by Donna Duffy
Do you enjoy any of these foods?  Avocados, Blueberries, Apples Cherries, Chocolate, Coffee, Peaches, Vanilla?  What if you did not have them any longer?  What would your world look like then? 
Did you know that insect pollinators – primarily social and solitary bees – are responsible for pollinating 35% of the world’s crop production, increasing outputs of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide as well as many plant-derived medicines.  At least one third of the world’s agricultural crops depends upon pollination provided by insects and other invertebrates.  

Monday, June 18, 2018

National Pollinator Week 2018: Gardening for Pollinators

Pollinators on Opuntia bloom, photo by Donna Duffy

June 18-24, 2018 has been designated National Pollinator Week. Now is the time to add pollinator-friendly plants to your landscape. Following are landscaping tips from the Colorado Native Plant Society and the USDA Forest Service to help you get started.

Gardening Power to the People: Trellis / Vertical Gardening (Video)

Trellising can be an important part of your vegetable garden. Not only does it help expand your planting space, it's a great way to grow many vegetables. Here's a video with Colorado Master Gardener Ed explaining may kinds of trellis.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Rose: The Official Flower of Father's Day by Carol King

Father's Day Patio Rose
The rose is the official flower for Father’s Day and became so because of one of the founders of Father’s Day in the United States.  In 1910, Sonora Smart Dodd, from Washington State,  recognized the need for a Father’s Day after hearing a Mother’s Day sermon in church. She lost her mother at the age of 16, was reared by her father and became very passionate about the need for a Father’s Day. At the first Father's Day celebration, young women handed out roses at church, with attendees encouraged to pin on a rose in honor of their fathers– red for the living and white in memory of the deceased. Hence the rose became the official flower of Father’s Day. 
It wasn’t until 1972, during the Nixon administration, that Father’s Day was officially recognized as a national holiday.

Friday, June 15, 2018

DIY Rain Barrel Installation (Video)

Thinking of installing a rain barrel? This video from PlantTalk Colorado shows you how!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Conglobation (Think Pillbugs): June Word of the Month

Armadillidium vulgate, common pillbug, photo courtesy pbs.org

Conglobation is a term often associated with the common pillbug because of the way they roll up into a ball. This is called conglobation. Rolling into a ball is why many people call them 'roly-polies'. When pillbugs are threatened or bothered, they roll into a ball, likely to protect their soft inner body. Rolling into a ball could also limit water loss. When moving, they alternate between gradual right and left turns so that they end up moving straight forward.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Gardening Power to the People: Pollinators—Bee or Wasp? (Video)

Not all flying insects are "bees." Here's a video that will help you distinguish between two important pollinators:

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Watch for Codling Moths on Apple and Pear Trees

Adult Codling Moth, photo courtesy CSU Extension
For the first time in several years, we didn't have a late spring freeze in 2018! That's good news for fruit production in Jefferson County. The fruit trees are already showing signs of a banner fruit yield. Watch your apple and pear trees for codling moth - it's the most important insect pest of these trees in North America.  Damage is done by the larvae, which are cream-colored caterpillars that tunnel fruit and produce ‘wormy’ apples.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Spittlebugs in the Garden by Carol King

Photo Media Space
While weeding near my bee balm (Monarda), I saw several patches of a frothy white substance on the leaves. Upon further study, I discovered that I have a small infestation of the spittlebug (Cercopidae: spp) Aptly named, the white froth is what the immature spittlebug or nymphs surround themselves with as they feed on plant tissue.

Adult Spittlebug Oregon State University
Adult spittlebugs are inconspicuous, often greenish or brownish insects, about 0.25 inch long. While spittlebugs suck plant juices and can distort plant tissue and slow plant growth, they do not seriously harm plants. As they don’t cause significant damage, just wash them off with water if their appearance bothers you. Otherwise, enjoy yet another fascinating bug in action!

Here’s more information:
 http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/GARDEN/VEGES/PESTS/spittlebugs.html

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Tomato Growing Techniques (Video)

Tomatoes are arguably the most popular vegetable grown in the home garden. However, they are not an easy vegetable to grow.  Here are several short videos to help in making your tomato growing efforts successful.











Sunday, June 3, 2018

Cottonwoods by Carol King



The cottonwoods are starting to spit cotton. In a few days the skies will be filled with cottonwood snow. It will pile up in the corners of the porch and cover the spirea bush like cotton candy. People’s noses will itch and they will blame the cottonwood. The cotton will stick to your sweaty body as you garden and you will go into the shower looking like a giant spider tried to snare you. Invariably, the call comes in for help. Can’t we do something? Please!

A combination of factors causes these trees to produce abundant seed. Sometimes large seed production is a reaction to stress (drought), while other times it is caused by favorable moisture. In other words, they just do this.
The cottonwood at first glance and without proper study, can easily be dismissed as a "trash tree." It has some personal habits that the urban homeowner can find extremely irritating. Like the male catkins that fall early in the spring looking a little like hundreds of wooly worms on the ground. And the sticky pods that fall after that and stain your pants. Then the female lets loose with this cotton, and then because it self-prunes, there are always twigs and dead leaves beneath the tree.

But before we dismiss the cottonwood let’s consider its place in history. I think a very good case could be made for us not even being here without the cottonwood. It provided the Native people shade, a place to camp for the night, and they used the inner bark for women's skirts; the European settlers used the wood for their cabins and their coffins. The Mexican and Spanish people of the Southwest
used it for fuel, its life-saving shade and its roots for carving religious icons. I like to think that the cottonwoods along our ditch are relatives of the ones the Arapaho Chiefs Little Raven and Left Hand shaded themselves under long before Denver began, when they camped along Cherry Creek near its junction with the South Platte.
The rustle of the leaves of the cottonwood can remind you of lapping or rushing water. And last fall right here in the wilds of north Lakewood, a group of vultures migrating, roosted overnight in the neighbor's cottonwood wowing us all with the sight of those great dark birds perched in the tree.

There are a lot of them in north Lakewood (cottonwoods, not vultures), partly because of the irrigation ditches that continue to meander through parts of Jefferson County from a throw back time when this was farmland. And as the cottonwood chooses its own spots it grows all along the irrigation ditches.
So in answer to that question, what can I do about the cotton from the cottonwood? Well, nothing, short of cutting all the trees; or spraying every tree every year with a growth regulator. Ethephon, sold as Florel™. It is labeled to prevent cotton development in female trees and needs to be applied during flower development.

I would like to propose a new reverence for this tree; an understanding that the benefits outweigh its trashiness. Birds call it their home: the woodpeckers, the owls, the grackles, the magpies and vultures; and it continues to offer us life saving shade and the lovely sound of water when the wind blows. And perhaps we should ponder whether our lives have to be so tidy that we don't allow some messiness to interfere?

I say, consider that cottonwood an embarrassing old aunt of a tree. She dresses all wrong, talks too loudly, but has a heart of gold. Her skirts are too short, she gets drunk at Thanksgiving dinner, but she will give you her last dime and a bed on her couch for as long as you need it. She deserves your love! Celebrate the cottonwood. Gather the cotton and stuff a pillow; the cotton is actually hypoallergenic!
Here’s some more information. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1758.html

Friday, June 1, 2018

Fall is Not the Only Time to Plant Bulbs by Carol King

As you are planting  your summer flower garden, don’t forget to include bulbs, corms and roots. Some examples include gladiolus, dahlias, canna, lilies and tuberous begonias. Often called summer bulbs, these flowers add an exotic touch to the garden. Here are some of the most popular examples:


Photo Pine Tree Garden Seeds
Gladiolus is a popular corm, coming in nearly every color, including lime green. Plant the corms 3 inches deep and 6 inches apart in the spring, after danger of frost has passed. During the growing season, the original corm withers and a new corm forms on top of it. The cutting of the flowers does not inhibit the development of the new corm, as long as the leaves are left. As soon as the vegetative top of the plant dies down, dig the corms. Remove the withered corm, and store the new corms in a frost-free location over winter. Avoid a storage place with high temperatures and low humidity.

Dahlia Show Everett, Washington
Dahlias come in a wide variety of colors. They usually require support because of their height. Provide support by driving a stake into the ground 12 inches deep and 6 inches behind the root at the time of planting. Dahlias do not tolerate frost, so plant the tuberous roots after all frost possibilities have passed. In the fall when the vegetation is killed by frost, prune back the stalks to 6 inches. Leave the tuberous roots in the ground for two weeks to harden before digging them.  Dry the tuberous roots enough to shake off excess soil, and pack in sawdust, perlite or vermiculite and store in a cool, dry place until spring.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Safe Alternative for Removing Weeds in Colorado Lawns by Carol King

Want to control weeds in your landscape but hesitate using herbicides?  There are ways to control weeds without harming your children and pets.  This video with Carol O'Meara, Extension Agent from Boulder County and Dr. Tony Koski, CSU Extension Turf Specialist, gives us some safe, alternative methods for ridding our lawns of weeds.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Summer Vacation for Houseplants; Tips for Moving Them Outside by Rebecca Anderson

Oxalis Plant photo by Rebecca Anderson
Many houseplants will get a boost from being outdoors during the warm summer months. Increased sunlight exposure will let them recover from the low light levels inside most homes. Since most houseplant originate from tropical areas, they should not be moved outdoors until night time temperatures are above 55 degrees. Place them in an area with partial shade and good wind protection. Ideal locations would include a covered porch or under a tree. After a few days, sun-loving plants such as jade (Crassula ovata), poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) and hibiscus (Hibiscus sp.) can be moved to a full-sun location. Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera sp.), umbrella trees (Schefflera arboticola) and citrus plants prefer to stay in the shade. Exposing a houseplant to excessive sun before it has been hardened off will cause photo oxidization, or a yellowing of the leaves. This process is the plant version of a sunburn. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Memorial Day and Poppies by Carol King

Photo by Tina Negus
The Memorial Day Organization tells us that Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.  Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No.11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields", Moina Michael conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Thus a tradition was born.

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Why not plant a poppy bed in honor of Memorial Day?     Poppies are easy to grow in Colorado.  They are drought and pest resistant.  Many varieties grow easily from seed.

Here's an article that will help you have success with your planting. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Low Water Stresses Urban Trees

Hot Wings Tatarian Maple, photo courtesy Denver Post

Information excerpted from: Lack of Water is Key Stressor for Urban Trees, North Carolina State University. Click on the link for the article in its entirety.

A recent study found that urban trees can survive increased heat and insect pests fairly well - unless they are thirsty. Insufficient water not only harms trees, but allows other problems to have an outsized effect on trees in urban environments.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Gardening Power to the People: Insect Hotels Pt. 2: More Details (Video)

Here is part two for making your very own insect hotel. Here's a link to part one: https://youtu.be/0w1V6c3nsN4

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Gardening Power to the People: Insect Hotels Pt. 1-Getting Started (Video)

Insect hotels are all the rage in gardening now. Do you want to make one? Jefferson County CSU Extension Colorado Master gardeners show you how! Here's a link to part two: https://youtu.be/RBrTiZ8Doso

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Raised Bed Gardening in Colorado: (Video)

Explore the advantages of elevated, or raised bed, gardening. See if this gardening method might be best for your garden.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Japanese Beetle Facts and Resources

Japanese beetle on roses, photo courtesy Whitney Cranshaw, CSU
For close to a century, the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) has been one of the most seriously damaging insect pests of both turfgrass and landscape plants over a broad area of the eastern US. Recently, there have become a few permanent, reproducing populations in some communities along the Front Range of Colorado. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Carnation, The First Mother's Day Flower by Carol King

Photo Colorado State University
Carnations were the very first Mother’s Day flower given when Anna Jarvis, Mother’s Day founder, distributed her mother’s favorite flowers, white carnations in 1907, during the first Mother’s Day memorial service.

"The Carnation Gold Rush" is a term used by Denver locals, historians and preservationists to represent the period between the 1880s and 1930s when the floriculture industry developed and thrived in Colorado.  Denver was once called The Carnation Capitol of the World, there were so many grown here!

Here are some interesting links about the carnation connection to Colorado history:



Carnations are members of the dianthus family and there are several hardy periennal varieties that work well in Colorado. They also called “pinks” from the Latin word pinct, which means pinked or scalloped, referring to the jagged edges of the flower petals. Here is a fact sheet on growing the “Darling Dianthus.”

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust


Happy Mother’s Day! 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Get A Head Start on Yellowjacket Control by Carol King

Yellowjacket photo by Whitney Cranshaw
I noticed wasps are waking up from their winter naps, which made me think of that old meanie, the yellowjacket.  Yellowjackets can be controlled to some extent if we start early, rather than waiting until they are buzzing around our barbecues. The traps will catch the queens before they can find a place to nest.

Whitney Cranshaw, Entomology Professor and Extension Specialist from CSU tells us that the western yellowjacket (V. pensylvanica) is, by far, the most important stinging insect in Colorado. Late in the season, when colonies may include up to 200 individuals, they become serious nuisance pests around outdoor sources of food or garbage. The western yellowjacket is estimated to cause at least 90 percent of the “bee stings” in the state. Yellowjackets (Vespula spp.) are banded yellow or orange and black and are commonly mistaken for honey bees, but they lack the hairy body and are more intensely colored. Yellowjackets typically nest underground using existing hollows. Occasionally nests can be found in dark, enclosed areas of a building, such as crawl spaces or wall voids.