Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Myth of Paper-based Sheet Mulch

Photo courtesy
Note: This information is excerpted from Horticultural Myths, Linda Chalker-Scott, Washington State University Extension. See link at bottom of article.

In their quest to create more sustainable landscapes – those that require fewer inputs of fertilizers, pesticides, and other resources – gardeners, landscapers, and restoration ecologists have focused on mulches. The use of mulches to suppress weeds and conserve soil water has a substantial agricultural history. Newspaper mulch, either as intact sheets or chopped and shredded, has been successful in reducing weeds and increasing yield in some row crops. Cardboard sheet mulch, often used in tree plantations, has been less reliable. These paper mulches are increasingly common in urban landscapes, especially restoration sites. Are they effective in suppressing weeds, maintaining soil water, and aiding plant establishment in this context?

Monday, January 29, 2018

Houseplant Choices

Maximum Yield Magazine offers eight of their favorite indoor winter houseplants.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Gardening Power to the People: Pruning Shrubs (Video)

When is the best time to prune shrubs? It depends! If it's a spring-blooming shrub, wait until the shrub has finished its spring bloom. Late winter is a good time to prune your summer blooming shrubs. Watch Master Gardener Gail's pruning tips.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Use Caution with De-Icing Salts

De-icing salt applicator, photo courtesy
Winter is in full swing in Jefferson County! Even though it's been a warm winter, snow and ice are inevitable. In addition to shoveling all that snow, many people also apply de-icing salts to make the walkways safe and passable. While these products can certainly help ensure safe footing in treacherous conditions, they can also damage the landscape plantings that they contact. So – what to do? Protect your footing or protect your plants? It’s possible to do both.

Monday, January 22, 2018

January Word of the Month: Winter Quiescence

Photo courtesy Donna Duffy
Have you ever wondered what's going on with your tree roots underneath all that winter snow? Michael Snyder, Chittenden (Vermont) County Forester, explains the concept of winter quiescence - a state in which tree roots are resting, but ready.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Rosemary “for Remembrance” By Olivia Tracy

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis); photo courtesy of PlantTalk Colorado
During Shakespeare’s time, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) was often associated with memory or remembering; it was given as a sign of friendship, and the early Herballs believed that the scent could “quicken the senses and memorie” (John Gerard, The Herball, Or Generall Historie of Plantes, 1597). These herbals may have been on to something-- recently, scientists have found possible relationships between the scent of rosemary and improved cognition.4

Today, rosemary is a welcome presence (and scent) in an indoor winter herb-garden. A Mediterranean plant, rosemary doesn’t tolerate low temperatures well; however, when planted in a container, you can keep it indoors during the winter, and move it outdoors during the warm summer months.2 You can buy rosemary plants from a store, or you can start them from seed. (You can also propagate rosemary through cuttings; however, it is best to take cuttings from rosemary in the spring or summer.)3 
  • Plant your rosemary plant in soilless mix (potting soil),2 and be sure to allow the soil to dry between watering (rosemary is a fairly drought-tolerant herb).1 
  • Apply water-soluble fertilizer every few weeks to help the plant thrive in the indoor space.2 
  • Like most herbs, rosemary loves sunlight, so be sure to place your rosemary plant in an area that will receive the largest amount of possible sunlight (in a south- or west-facing window).2 
If you’d like more information about rosemary, other herbs, and herb gardening, the following webpages were sources for this post, and are excellent sources to explore: 
1CMG GardenNotes #731, Herb Gardening
3If you hope to propagate rosemary or other herbs by cuttings, you may find useful advice in this article by the Missouri State Extension: 
4Recent study exploring the relationship between the scent of rosemary and cognition in schoolchildren: 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Gardening Power to the People: Cleaning Your Garden Tools (Video)

January is a great time to prepare your tools for the upcoming gardening season. Master Gardener Gail demonstrates an easy way to sharpen and clean all your devises.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Martin Luther King Jr World Peace Rose Garden

Photo courtesy National Park Service

The International World Peace Rose Gardens program is a worldwide effort to help youth recognize the importance and value of peace. In March 1992, the Martin Luther King, Jr. "I Have a Dream" World Peace Rose Garden was planted at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. The garden is an artistic interpretation of Dr. King’s life and ideals of peace through nonviolence. The garden’s starburst design brings attention to the brilliance of Dr. King’s ideals using the Official Flower of the United States, the rose.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Easy Houseplants for Your Indoor Garden

January in Colorado is a tough time to be a gardener in Colorado. Having a collection of indoor plants is one way to assuage our desire to be in the garden. Dry furnace air and lack of sunshine makes indoor gardening a challenge along the Front Range. Organic Life Magazine suggests eight very simple to grow house plants.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Top 2018 New Year’s Resolutions for a Great Garden in Colorado by Carol King

Photo Wikipedia Commons
Having a thriving garden in Colorado can be a challenge with our erratic, weather, water restrictions, and heavy clay soils.  However making these seven resolutions will give you a much greater chance for a successful garden.
  1. Get a soil test from a reputable soil testing lab before adding any amendments. Adding amendments without knowing what your soil needs is, at best a waste of money and at worst harmful to the soil and your plants. The Soil Testing Laboratory at Colorado State University is a great place to start:
  1. Use mulch in the garden to suppress weeds and hold in moisture.  Mulches also improve water penetration and air movement; control soil temperature fluctuation; protect shallow-rooted plants from freeze damage and frost heave and improve soil structure and nutrient availability. This CSU fact sheet will help you choose the most appropriate mulch for your garden:

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Book Review: “The Flower Farmer, an Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers” by Lynn Byczynski Reviewed by: Joyce D’Agostino

Did you know that the majority of fresh cut flowers sold through the floral industry come from outside of the United States? Often this means that the flowers coming into the US for the florists shops travel very long distances, have been handled many times, cut days or weeks ago and may be exposed to herbicides and pesticides along the way.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

What are “Chill Hours” (and why is this important to my fruit trees?) By Joyce D’Agostino

Golden Delicious Apples, photo courtesy Stark Bro's Nursery

If you have fruit trees in your landscape, you may have noticed that some years the trees seem to produce abundantly, other years there is less of a crop. This can be puzzling to figure out why some years are considered a ‘good fruit year’, and others are not.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year 2018!

Great advice for all the gardeners out there. Happy New Gardening Year!