Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Organic Gardening in a Nutshell by Amy Norwood

Organic lawn fertilizer with an OMRI logo, Photo: Amy Norwood

Gardening season is here. If you're reading this blog post, chances are that you're a gardener who cares about the impact your garden has on nature and you want to minimize the impact. Learning about organic gardening practices and including them in your gardening routine can move you toward that goal. But what exactly are organic gardening practices?

Monday, May 16, 2022

My Winter-Time Master Gardener Work by Ed Powers

One of the African Violets grown in the winter enclosure.
We did lose some of the violets due to the moisture level
but most of them made it.

Every late fall and winter are an interesting time for me as a Master Gardener at 8,000 feet.  I enjoy gardening during the late spring and summer.  My question after summer is what is next.  

So, I begin by making sure I have pulled all my vegetables and letting my flowers go to seed.  I then pull all the spent vegetables.  After that I break up the soil and add any amendments I need for the next year.  I put the raised gardens to bed for the winter.
Enclosure for my more sensitive plants including violets,
small Bonsai and other house plants.  Works well - we only
lost a few plants during the Winter.  
The violets were on warming pads in the enclosure. 

This year I brought one of Russian tomato pots indoors for a trial to see if they would over-winter inside in my plant area in the basement.  That area has large windows facing south, east and west.  It also has some plant lights lit at night in that same area. The area’s average temperature in that area is around 66 sometimes and higher at other times.  So far as of late April it is doing well and growing. It also has produced flowers and tomatoes.   I also over-winter my outdoor succulent in the same area and they are doing well. They have grown so much that they have to be split and repotted.

The Russian Tomato growing in my basement.  As of May 1st, it is
5.5' tall.  If you look carefully in the center of the plant, you see a
ripening tomato that has developed while over-wintering in the basement.
I will cut the tomato back when I place it outside for the summer.

I also grow African Violets, Ficus trees, and started several willows for bonsai work, several Christmas cactus and a few other assorted house plants.  In any case they all require different needs.  This keeps me very busy in the winter.   The African violets must be kept at 67 and above and have at least 12 hours of combined artificial and natural light.  They are housed in an area I can watch over them weekly.  

My Bonsai trees also face the south and are doing well.  I have a Ficus tree that is a foot tall and have had it for more than 20 years and 2 smaller ones I started from cutting off that tree. I have repotted these trees this year. 

My 30 year old Ficus bonsai - with it are my 4 and 1 year old Ficus
bonsai.  Both are from cuttings of 30 the year year old tree.

I am rooting willow cuttings to grow as bonsai.  They will sit in
water for 4 weeks and then be planted in plain soil with no
fertilizer. They must be kept moist until fully rooted and well leafed. 

It is time to start my seedlings indoors so that I can plant them in the second week of June at my altitude.  I have started them; my cucumbers and tomatoes have started and my squash have just emerged.  I planted my flower seed outside in the last week of April and am making sure my raised gardens are ready to plant my tomatoes and squash.  

I begin the cycle again.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Hardening Off and Transplanting Seedlings


Photo by Brooke Coburn

It is time to begin to transplant tender seedlings outdoors, and seedlings that have grown indoors up to this point need special treatment before being planted outdoors. These seedlings are used to lower light levels, protection from the elements, and ample water. So they will need to adjust gradually to the outdoor environment, a process called hardening off.

Hardening Off


Photo by Brooke Coburn

Shade for new seedlings by Brooke Coburn

About a week before transplanting, begin placing the seedlings outdoors for a few hours each day. Place the plants in a location with light shade and protection from the wind so as to avoid scalding and wilting. A shade cloth, tree, or trellis can provide adequate shade. Each day, gradually increase the amount of time the seedlings spend outdoors until they can be left out even overnight. Keep a careful watch on the weather forecast, however, and be sure to bring the seedlings inside if temperatures are going to dip near to freezing.


Transplant seedlings on an overcast, cool day, if possible, after the danger of frost has passed. Loosen the soil and dig a hole for the transplant. Carefully remove the seedling from the pot, keeping as many of the roots intact as possible. Place the roots in the hole and move loose dirt back around to support the stem of the plant. Water right away with a solution of half strength fertilizer. Keep newly transplanted seedlings well-watered for the first three to four weeks after transplanting until they develop a larger root system.


Gradually acclimate seedlings to the outdoor environment by providing protection from sun and wind. Transplant on a cool, overcast day, and continue to provide sufficient water until the root system has developed. See the links below for more information and to find your local frost dates.


Buying and Hardening Seedlings


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Drip Watering Pots and Plant Containers by Gardener Dave

Some years ago I swore off clay pots in my landscaping layout. My reason for this is:  In our dry climate, small clay pots dry out “before you can put the hose away” – especially the unglazed ones.  Glazed pots fare a little better, but beware of the darker colors as they absorb radiant heat and can cook plant roots if they are in full sun all day.

I still like the look of unglazed clay pots, especially in groups with the largest in the center, or large-to-small arrangement. The “Italian style” pots with the thicker rounded rims are my favorites.  Hmmmm… now I’m talking about “my favorite unglazed pots”!  What convinced me to use them again after I had sworn off?

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Watch Out for Hail Season! by Joyce D'Agostino


Photo: Joyce D'Agostino

For many of us, having to deal with hailstorms is a reality. In this area of Colorado, we are in a hail zone meaning that we can experience more than the average hail events, and some of them can wipe out your garden in minutes.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Earth Day 2022 by Vicky Spelman

“This is the moment to change it all — the business climate, the political climate, and how we take action on climate. Now is the time for the unstoppable courage to preserve and protect our health, our families, and our livelihoods.”

“For Earth Day 2022, we need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). It’s going to take all of us. All in. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet.”


Earth Day is celebrated every April 22, but some events take place on the weekends before or after the 22nd.

It was created in the United States to increase public awareness of environmental problems and is now celebrated around the world.

Earth Day is credited with starting the environmental movement in the United States. ~CNN

Some of the Oldest Living Things – CNN Travel

Blooming Rose - approximately 1,200 years
Hildesheim, Germany

Pafuri Baobab Tree - approximately 2,0000 years
Kruger Game Preserve, South Africa

Working Tree - approximately 2,500 years
Village of Vouves on the Mediterranean island of Crete
Still produces a yearly crop of olives

Wild Herb - approximately 3,000 years
The Yareta, bright green blobs that resemble moss-covered boulders,
are actually flowering shrubs in the Andes Mountains

Land Forest - approximately 80,000 years
The Trembling Giant of Utah consists of almost 50,000 quaking aspen trees
(Populus tremuloides) are genetically identical and share a single root system

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Cheap Versus Expensive Seeds by Nancy Shepard

Seeds can cost from $1.00 to $5.00 a packet or more. Are expensive seeds that much better? Turns out that less expensive seed must meet the same minimum germination standard as expensive seed, but that’s not the whole story. Federal and state laws ensure that all commercially available farm and garden seeds are properly tested for purity, noxious weed seeds, and germination rates. The 2017 Colorado Seed Act “prevents the distribution and use of poor quality seed through the regulation of labeling, labelers, and the sellers of seed for propagation.”

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Ready to take the pledge Gardeners? by Vicky Spelman

"So, by now you have all your seed starting gear cleaned and ready. You have your seeds and sterile growing media and you have even filled your containers and watered them in so the media is moist and ready. Great job!

Next step…BEFORE you even dare to open a seed packet…. is to create name markers for each planted cell. Never ever think you will remember which is which. You will not. Your sprouts can all look alike at plant out in May! Save yourself some anguish and make your labels ahead of time! It’s a good idea also to write your starting date on the back. You won’t remember that either!

Friday, April 1, 2022

April Fools' Day gardening... by Vicky Spelman

 Some fun April Fools' Day gardening pranks...

image courtesy of Mr. Plant Geek 
Power-flower – the USB sunflower
A press release issued by Thompson & Morgan’s horticultural innovators in 2014 was about the amazing FlowerPower product, which could charge an iPad or mobile phone and had a waterproof USB port in its stem.  Of course, it was a prank, but would have been neat and useful if real.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

A Different Approach to Growing Basil by Amy Norwood


Photo: Amy Norwood

Basil is a wonderful herb for the summer garden because it pairs so well with tomatoes and other summer garden veggies!  Left to its own devices, the basil plant will produce a spike of small flowers on the end of each stem.  The flowers eventually become seeds.  The conventional wisdom for growing basil is to pinch off the flower spikes when they appear.  If you want to eat the basil, by pinching the flowers you encourage the plant to put its energy into growing leaves, not making seeds.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Happy Saint Patrick's Day by Vicky Spelman

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
Tis a grand day to be Irish!
My wish for all of you!
May green be the grass you walk on!
May blue be the skies above you!
Pure be the joy that surrounds you!
True be the hearts that love you!

May all your gardens be healthy
May all your gardens have wonderful veggies!


Monday, March 14, 2022

What Do Our Master Gardeners Grow? Part 3

We polled our Master Gardeners, and this is what they said....

Plants I'll Always Plant:  Verbena bonariensis

Plant I'm Itching to Try:   Salvia Dorris (Desert Sage)

Forget About It:  Hibiscus - I’ve tried about 6 times!
~Master Garden Cherie