Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Uh-Oh! A "Blue Moon" Ends the OOs

It's a "Blue Moon" New Years Eve! This is a good omen for the 2010 planting season. Our wish for all  gardeners is a year with ample rain, no hail, early spring, warm summer, late fall frost, and a long harvest!  May your corn be as high as an elephant's eye; may you get blood from your turnips; may your cabbage be as large and wise as a man's head; may your tomatoes be lusty and if your fruit rots, may it become wine; may your artichokes have hearts; may your potatoes keep their eyes peeled; and may 2010 be the Dawning of the Age of Asparagus!

Happy New Year from the Jeffco Gardener Blog Team.

Read about the blue moon phenomenon here: - Press Releases - Uh-Oh! A "Blue Moon" Ends the OOs

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Tree Recycling by Donna Duffy

That lovely, fragrant cut tree you bought weeks ago has probably seen better days by now. It’s time to get it out of the house! Following are three options for recycling the tree once you’ve removed all of the decorations and tinsel. One caution: don’t burn the tree in your fireplace – the pitch content in the bark and needles can cause them to burst into flames from the intense heat.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Garden Song-Merry Christmas

Dear Gardeners,

Jefferson County CSU Extension Colorado master gardener bloggers would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Please enjoy this video of children dancing to The Garden Song (by David Mallett) at The American Horticultural Society's River Farm.  

Here's another version performed by that great philosopher/folk musician, Arlo Guthrie.  As gardeners, we will all appreciate the alternative lyrics that include: "Slug by slug, weed by weed, boy this garden's got me teed!"

Here's to a productive and prosperous new year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Tree Blight in Frasier Fir

I have not seen Fraiser fir Christmas trees in my small search in Wheatridge.  The local greenhouse seemed to have only Douglas and Noble.  However, I found this video  interesting even though this blight is currently affecting trees in North Carolina.  We know from past experience how quickly a tree disease can spread across the county.

Video - Christmas Tree Blight |

Friday, December 18, 2009

Real Christmas Trees 'Greener' than Fake

It may not sound like "tree-hugging," but cutting down a real tree for Christmas is actually greener than going with the artificial kind, one scientist says.
"It is a little counterintuitive to people," said Clint Springer, a biologist at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia.
Because of concerns over deforestation around the world, many people naturally worry that buying a real tree might contribute to that problem, Springer says. But most Christmas trees for sale these days are grown not in the forest but on tree farms, for the express purpose of being cut.

Read the whole story here:

Real Christmas Trees 'Greener' than Fake | LiveScience

Of course, there is controversy with this as well.  There is a group of tree growers who are looking to influence Christmas Tree Farms to change the way in which they grow trees.  Without pesticides, and utilizing real environmental conditions using sustainable farming practices.  Read more HERE.

Nothing is simple, dear gardener, even the Christmas tree choice!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good Reads for Gardeners

Got that "garden withdrawl" feeling this winter? Feeling those "wish I could garden" blues? Try snuggling up with one of these good reads recommended by Jefferson County Master Gardener, Carol King. They would also make a great gift for a fellow gardener.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Local News | Rare Tree Stolen from Seattle Arboretum

Some grinchy news out of Washington State:  A  7-foot conifer, one of the park's rarest specimens, an imperiled species collected from the mountainous Yunnan province in China was stolen last week. It is assumed that someone wanted a Christmas tree!

Local News | Rare tree stolen from Washington Park Arboretum | Seattle Times Newspaper

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Picking a Poinsettia

There is more to picking a poinsettia than just going in the store and buying one you like.

Dr. Steven Newman, Greenhouse Crops Extension Specialist and Professor of Floriculture at Colorado State University who is a specialist in poinsettias gives this advice:

Picking a poinsettia « Gardening after five

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Garden Gnomes for Christmas

No doubt many a gardener will receive a  garden gnome for Christmas.  They are available at all the garden shops, big box stores, and even the grocery store in the produce section!  So why are gnomes given to gardeners?

Gnomes first appeared in European folklore as benevolent creatures who rewarded the good behavior of farmers, merchants, and housewives with assistance in fields, shops, and gardens at night. They also thought to ward off thieves from stores of grains and vegetables in barns. Why wouldn't any self respecting gardener want one or several?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Building a Straw Bale Greenhouse: Phase 2 by Gardener Cumax

The straw bales were laid on top of the foundation. Then the RBA (roof bearing assembly) was laid out on top of the bales. The RBAs consist of 2 sheets of 20" wide by 22/32" thick quality plywood. They were screwed together, and then a thin 1" x 4" screwed to that to act as a rail or guide so the RBA didn't slip and slide off. Each corner was pre-assembled so as to be perfectly square. The tall X at the far end is my doorframe. It's 4' wide and perfectly centered.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hybrid Poplar Trees Help Farm Families

During a recent trip to New Mexico, I happened on this article about some interesting work being done at New Mexico State University. Hybrid poplar trees are being tested to help remediate old uranium processing sites as well as providing resources for farm families.  Fascinating research; perhaps "Mother Nature" can help clean up the environment!

News from The Associated Press

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wrap up trees for the season « Gardening after five

 Dear gardener, you know that little tree you planted in the spring? You know how you carefully planted, watered and tended it ?  That little tree needs for you to do two more things to help it survive a Colorado winter. First, water it if we don't get appreciable moisture every month.  Winter watering is extremely important.  Second, wrap that little tree.  Here's an article that explains the importance of putting your arms around your tree!

Wrap up trees for the season « Gardening after five

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Favorite Gifts for Gardeners by Donna Duffy

Throughout the year, and especially during the winter holidays, I often want to buy a special gardening gift for a friend. So I polled twelve gardeners to see what gift they’d most like to receive. Here’s their list (in random order):

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Building a Backyard Bird Habitat

This morning as my husband and I had breakfast, I heard a horrible noise from the front yard.  When I looked out the window, I saw a hawk that had pinned a flicker to the ground.  We watched in horror as the hawk waited until the flicker died and then flew off to enjoy his dinner.  I felt guilty as  I feed the birds and might have brought this on myself.  My son says "Mom, you fatten the flickers for the hawks."  Oh my goodness, what do you think?  Do I feed the flickers and I feed the hawks?

Anyway, here's an article about turning your yard into a bird habitat. And be prepared, it's bewildering and you might feel like a murderer enabler.

When leaves are down, it's time to assemble backyard bird habitat | | The Coloradoan,

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How To Make Flowers (or a Pinwheel) Using A Soda Can | Greenopolis

Your Thanksgiving holiday is over and your have a recycle bin full of beer and soda cans.  What to do? Hey, how about creating some great yard art! Here's a cool idea.
How To Make Flowers (or a Pinwheel) Using A Soda Can | Greenopolis

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Choosing That Christmas Tree

Yes dear gardener, it’s that time of year. Time to decide what kind of “real” tree to get for Christmas.  There are a couple of options when looking at fresh trees.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Scientists Develop Rot-Proof Apple that Stays Fresh for 4 Months : TreeHugger

 I saw this story and began pondering the idea of scientists turning fresh apples into "cheez whiz". It is called the RS103-130 apple and is supposed to make storage easier and is resistant to disease.

There are 2,500 apple varieties grown in the US; 7,500 varieties grown world-wide.  Let's hope in a few years they don't all become a memory and a number!
Scientists Develop Rot-Proof Apple that Stays Fresh for 4 Months : TreeHugger

Sunday, November 22, 2009

CSU Extension Greenhouse & Nursery Diagnostics

Small and beginning farmers might want to participate in this grant project.  Maybe you are hoping to be a part of the new "agriburbia" movement or just want to be a part of the program.

The Specialty Crops Program at Colorado State University is accepting applications for grower research and education grants for the 2010 production season. The application deadline is Dec. 15.

Read about the complete program here:

CSU Extension Greenhouse & Nursery Diagnostics

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My House Has a Terrible Hangover! by Gardener Dave

During our last big weekend snow
my house went on a kind of spree
I looked up from my drive below
and RAN, before IT fell on me!

A monstrous load, a “gutter-bender”
I snapped one “pic” – then fear took over
“Move my car!  Don’t want crushed fender!”
My House Has a Terrible Hangover!

November weather has been wild
Record snow, then record warm
Acting like some mad, spoiled child
bent on doing folks some harm

Flooding, rain, more snow to plow
Monsoon storms in the Far East
“Normal” never happens now
Please! Can someone tame this beast?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Protect Your Landscape While De-icing Your Walkways by Donna Duffy

Winter has made an appearance in Jefferson County! 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.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Using Garden Debris for Decorations!

Carol O'Meara, Boulder County Extension agent offers these suggestions for using items from your winter garden to decorate for the holidays.

Nature Decorates

Friday, November 13, 2009

Synchronicity and Pondering Garden Wisdom

This week, I have been experiencing what Jung calls "meaningful coincidence"  and began pondering the important differences we, as gardeners, can make in peoples lives.

One of the projects featured at our Master Gardener Appreciation breakfast was the children's garden at the Extension Office.  Heather Hodgin obtained a grant in 2008-09 to build the raised beds and this summer, Jeffco master gardeners worked with a local elementary school, and Home Depot employees to build and plant a  garden.  Mary Small shared several heart warming stories about the changes gardening made in these children's lives. One child began to write about flowers and another's drawings went from images of violence to images of plants.

Today, I  read a quote by Rachel Carson  "If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder...he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it..." This is exactly what the gardeners did for the school children at the Extension garden.

And then this story  appeared about a group in Denver using gardening to unite generations.

We, dear gardeners, do so much more than grow stuff.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Agriburbia" Sprouts on Colorado's Front Range

Here's an interesting story about a relatively new concept in development called "agriburbia". We have some agriburban development going on right here in Jefferson County, Colorado.

 Agriburbia" sprouts on Colorado's Front Range - The Denver Post

There must be a role for Master Gardeners in developing these projects. It sounds like a really smart way to develop land and raise food at the same time!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Miles Davis's Container Gardening Tips.

Here is a very funny article "written" by famed jazz great Miles Davis.  Some very wise gardening advice given!

McSweeney's Internet Tendency: Miles Davis's Container Gardening Tips.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

We Are Now Officially Into Fall: Lasagna Gardening Can Now Begin

Because Colorado is not one of the 23 states that ban yard waste in landfills, much of our garden waste including fallen leaves and grass clippings will be bagged in plastic, put out on the street and sent to area garbage dumps. It is estimated that as much as 33% of solid waste  sent to landfills is yard waste. This is waste that can be composted and used to improve the environment.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

How to Harvest Carrots in Your Basement by Gardener Cumax

What a great storm this is. Being a weather geek, I got busy 2 days before this storm hit. I usually wait until the last minute to harvest my summer carrots. With a spading fork to loosen this up, I put them in the trash, tops, dirt and all and filled it up with water. I let it soak overnight. The next morning, as the storm started dropping snow, I drained the water out, cleaned the bottom and brought it down to the basement. Thus the basement carrot harvest began.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October’s Scary Themes by Gardener Dave

Here are three little Haikus to remind us
it’s Halloween time again.
Just in case you didn’t remember, ha!…

Toothy pumpkin grins
Ghosts and goblins everywhere
Halloween is here

Bedsheet ghosts abound
Kids in costumes on my porch
Trick or treaters rule!

Zombies beg for “brains”
Vampires search for toothsome necks
Chills run up my spine!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Beyond The Usual Fall Gardening Chores by Donna Duffy

When the days become shorter and the leaves start to fall, most gardeners go about the business of doing the routine fall tasks – pruning, mulching, garden clean-up, planting bulbs. Here are four additional fall chores that you might not think about.

1. Get a garden journal. Use it to record what worked this summer, what you want to change, new plants you’d like to try…anything that is fresh on your mind at the end of the gardening season.  Be specific rather than general: for example, “eliminate Primrose and Valerian in front garden” will be more helpful than “get rid of invasive plants.”  If you are like many of us, those details get lost in the hustle-bustle of the holidays and the long, cold days of winter. In the springtime, your journal will be a bridge between fall and spring, and will help you jump start the new gardening season.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Master Gardener Calendar Sale

Want a unique and one of a kind gift? Need a calendar for 2010 (which is right around the corner)? Jefferson County CSU Extension Master Gardeners are conducting a fund raiser with their Master Gardener Calendar sale. The calendars are available at the Extension Office for $12 each or by mail for $14.50 . The calendar consists of beautiful pictures taken by Jeffco Master Gardeners and features some of their beautiful gardens. Included with the picture of the month is a monthly "to do list", a pest watch, Plant Talk tips and fact sheets that pertain to that month's information.

The money raised will go into the Jeffco Master Gardener Fund which helps fund a scholarship for a CSU Horticulture student and helps purchase books and other items for the Master Gardener Call Center.

For more information and a copy of this beautiful calendar, please call The Jefferson County Extension Office at 303-271-6620.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Denver's aquaponics project aims to turn

I saw this article, Dear Gardener, and thought of all the studies I have read of the real change that gardening can make in the lives of people.  I can't imagine living in a neighborhood where one can't get fresh food and yet, in our very own Front Range, there is such a place.  This article made me think of what an important place we gardeners might take with some vision and promise in the lives of people. Kudos to the visionaries and kudos to the neighborhood!

Denver's aquaponics project aims to turn "food desert" into an oasis of health - The Denver Post

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sudden Aspen Decline

It seems that a lot of the posts lately have been concerning the dire state of many of our trees.  Aspens also are dying at an unprecedented rate in Colorado. Here's an attempt to treat and reverse "sudden aspen decline" with fire.

Next victim: aspen trees |

Shared via AddThis

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Scientists Race to Save Ash Tree

The emerald ash borer has devastated ash trees in fourteen states and threatens to make the ash tree extinct.  An effort to save seeds and save these trees is underway.  The National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colorado is storing the seeds.

 Click here for this story.

Scientists race to save ash tree - The Denver Post

In addition, these two articles, one about pine beetle moving into urban areas and one about moving firewood in general should alert us to heed this wise bit of advice: DO NOT MOVE FIREWOOD!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Zinnias; The Work Horse Annual of the Garden by Tallgrass Toni

Early October and my zinnia garden still had flowers. These annuals are the true work horses of any garden and provide the gardener with cut flowers from late July until they are killed by frost.

The zinnia is a member of the Asteracease family and is a native of Mexico. It was named for the German botanist, Johann Gottfried Zinn. Who knows what he was doing in Mexico at the time. It was called "mal de ojos" which means ugly to the eyes in Spanish because the bloom was very small. The bloom was later improved upon by the Burpee Company who now advertises seeds with giant blooms.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mountain Pine Beetle Different in Urban Areas by Mary Small

For about three years, mountain pine beetle has been found in the urban corridor.  Arborists and city foresters have been watching the hit trees carefully and are taking steps to keep the pest contained. What they’ve learned is that MPB behaves differently in the city than in the forest. In the urban setting, most of the trees with beetle hits are Scotch pine. A much smaller percentage include ponderosa pine and other pine species. Even with lodgepole or ponderosa pine nearby, the insects heard for Scotch pine!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wasps in October

I have noticed a number of very slow moving yellow jackets bumbling around my house this week. There are probably thirty wasp carcasses on the window sills.  Now, dear gardener, I am not much of a housekeeper but this particular problem is driving me nuts.  I did some research and discovered that I must have a yellow jacket nest in my walls! Because it turned cold, they found a "back door" in their nest and are coming into the warmth.  There's not much to be done but swat them; eventually they will all die. In the meantime, the carcass count continues to rise and I am a maniac with the fly swatter!

Click here for complete information about this problem.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Early Fall Review by Heirloom Fan

This summer certainly posed its challenges in my garden and for many of you as well. We had the cold, wet spring. Then things warmed up and the flea beetles and aphids began chewing on everything. And of course the devastating hailstorm in July.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Arvada Gardeners Taste Test! by Dusty M

What's a really cool and unique way for gardeners to entertain friends and colleagues at the end of summer? How about arranging a tomato-tasting and cider-pressing party? That's what Arvada gardeners Tom and Char Gottlieb did on a recent Saturday afternoon. It was their 12th annual gathering, held despite the July hailstorm that flattened their garden and destroyed all their apples. So this year, particularly, the guests were asked to bring their favorite tomatoes and apples to share.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bees in Paris

Here's a fascinating story about Parisians and their bees. There is probably a similar tale to be told about beekeepers in the Denver/Metro area. Perhaps gardeners will save the bees!


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall Traditions by Gardener Janet

The air turns cooler; the apples on the backyard trees are ready for harvest. In our family, that means it is time to be baking apple pies. A few years back, my husband discovered a tool I had found at a garage sale. This simple tool had a profound impact on our family. The apple peeler-parer-slicer spoke to my husband who became obsessed with harvesting, and using every single apple produced on our two apple trees.
Needless to say, the rest of us needed to become competent at doing something with the buckets of peeled and sliced apples he was producing. Thus, the apple pie assembly line was born. My daughter became the “spice girl”; she would mix sugar, flour and spices to create the perfect pie filling. My job was the crust; I would make dough for a double crust over and over. On a good day we would make seven or eight pies. Neighbors, friends, and family were the recipient of these pies.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Chronological Conundrum by Gardener Dave

A task remains for me to do

It happens every fall

For with the weathers changing scene

comes Standard Time’s recall

My quandary is, my earnest friends,

(this gives my brain a trial)

that I don’t have “no” outside clocks,

just a big, round, bronze SUNDIAL

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Let the Lowly Radish Till Your Soil

I know what you are thinking, dear gardener.  You are thinking, "I am sick of tilling the soil".  Well help is on the way:  try this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chicken With Sage and Proscuitto by Gardener Janet

There are many varieties of garden sage available. All prefer full sun and pests seem to leave the plants alone. These perennial plants grow quickly; they have beautiful foliage, blue/purple blossoms and the leaves taste and smell great.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Harvest Chronicles by Late Bloomer

It's been a slow growing season, and now the work begins. The hail storm, while severely damaging the eggplant and chile peppers, seems to have caused them to grow to heights never before seen. Suddenly (it seems) they are heavy with fruit. The tomatoes are just late; some of them were badly damaged and never grew much taller, but are likewise loaded. I have dubbed a yellow summer squash my 'golden zuccini' because of its gargantuan size. Good thing it can be seen! Lots of winter-type acorn squash will be OK if protected from the early frosts. Now the work begins.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Miscellaneous Mid-September Musings by Gardener Dave

Is it unrealistic to hope for an extended fall? Probably so, but we could have nice weather for another month and a half or so. After our cool, wet May-June and our turbulent July-August, I sure hope so!

I have two subjects today: One is about whether or not we can be totally objective about our own gardens, and the second des with some observations I’ve made while driving around the area..

Can we be objective with our own gardens?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tech Helps Dandelions Ooze : Discovery News

The dandelion, that most reviled of "weeds" may have come into its own.  We may be driving our hybrid cars in a few years on dandelion tires!  How's that for green.

Read this:

Tech Helps Dandelions Ooze : Discovery News

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Building a Straw Bale Greenhouse: Phase 1 by Gardener Cumax

The foundation corners were laid out last Sunday. The stakes were set at 18' x 12' but they weren't square. I had a friend come over and help me square the foundation lines. This is the single most important step. Over a 18' x 12' area we were able to get the diagonal measureme
 nts within 1/4 inch. Pretty impressive adjustment because one could go all day in tweaking the stakes 1/8 of an inch and never quite get it right.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Catalpas Crashing by Mary Small

The Jeffco Clinic, Arapahoe County Extension and a number of tree care companies have been fielding questions about failing catalpa. Leaves turn chlorotic, then wilt, turn brown, shrivel up and drop. In some cases, internal streaking is found in small twigs. Often, only one portion of the tree is damaged, while the rest looks normal (a healthy Catalpa is shown in the photo).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Plant Alert: Giant Hogweed by Mary Small

Recently I was directed to an on-line article in which a popular local author recommended the use of Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) as an exotic ornamental. While an unusual and attractive plant, it is on the Federal noxious weed list - for very good reasons. If moist skin (say from perspiration) contacts plant sap and the affected area is exposed to sunlight, painful, burning blisters result. Some people develop painless red blotches that turn into purplish or brown scars that can persist for several years. If sap should get in eyes, temporary or permanent blindness can result.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

35 Days After by Gardener Cumax

I've never been one to interfere with Nature, but that has never stopped Nature from periodically cold-cocking me to let me know who is really in charge. When the weak tornado that roared through at 10:35pm Monday, July 21st, Nature packed quite the punch for these parts. I hope I never hear the word "microburst" again because they are what they are: micro. No, this was a sustained macroburst if you will. How else are ping pong ball sized hail be sustained horizontally for 10 minutes? Yeah, right.