Monday, July 6, 2020

Chelinidea vittiger aequoris nymph by Kimberly Sheahan

Photo: Kimberly Sheahan
Photo of adult cactus bug by Lyle Buss, University of Florida
I love this time of year because my xeriscape yard is in bloom.  I recently signed up to be a citizen volunteer for the Native Bee Watch (you can check out more information here if you’re interested  As part of my new interest in bees, I’ve been photographing them as they pollinate the cacti in my yard. Today I noticed something odd on one of my opuntia sp. pads (prickly pear), it looked like it had a weird growth of extra spines.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Celebrate 4th of July with Plants by Pam Hill

Courtesy: Good Earth Plants

This Fourth of July is the 244th anniversary of the day in 1776 when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.  The first organized celebration with fireworks followed in Philadelphia in 1777 and continued through the 19th century, though the date did not become an official federal holiday until 1941.  

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Victory In the Garden - Fertilize For Growth by Erin Matthias

 Courtesy IPM University of Missouri
Fertilizing is a must if you want high yielding plants and the best quality produce from your Victory Garden. But, what exactly, do those three numbers on a fertilizer package mean? And what’s best, organic or conventional fertilizer? Finally, how do we know how much fertilizer to give, and when is the best time to fertilize?

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Freeze, Drought and Damage to Trees by Heather Duncan

A frost-damaged tree. (Courtesy of Colorado State Forest Service)
In early October 2019, we experienced an extreme weather event when from October 9-11 our front range temperatures dropped from highs in the upper 70’s to lows in the 10’s or even single digits before rising again to the mid 60’s.  Most of our trees had not yet hardened off for winter causing a range of damage. While weaker trees may have suffered more severe damage, healthy trees likely weathered this event with minimal damage such as blackening or browning of leaves on deciduous trees or “grizzled” foliage on evergreens. 
Many of our healthy trees hold enough reserves to handle a single event like this so any longer-term damage would necessitate additional stressors and Mother Nature never disappoints!
Over this past winter, we experienced a short period of drought during December and January.  The front range received only three weather events that brought any measurable precipitation during those months.  The dry winter conditions likely added additional pressure to our trees, especially to those that did not receive any supplemental water during this period.  Signs of winter injury might include browning or rust colored needles on evergreens and sun-scald or leaf scorch on deciduous trees.
Photo: Mary Beth Mainero

Photo: Heather Duncan
Normal Needle Drop
Photo: Heather Duncan
And to add this…in April 2020 temperatures plunged again!  While many spring plants can tolerate light freezes or temperatures of 29º Fahrenheit, we experienced another deep freeze just as many trees were budding and beginning to flower.  From April 10-13 our temperatures dropped from highs in the upper 60’s to lows well below freezing and into the teens.  Not only did this freeze result in a Disaster Declaration for our Western Slope from the USDA, many of our other trees around the state, already stressed by the previous drought and early fall freeze, suffered additional damage such as leaf or flower buds being killed or leaf distortion.
Photo: Heather Duncan
But don’t dismay!  While flower buds are gone for this season and you’ll likely have to wait for next year to see those again, most healthy trees and shrubs have enough reserved energy to form a second flush of leaves.  Many of our trees on the front range have already leafed out again.  Here are some tips and resources linked below on how to manage your trees going forward:
·      Water appropriately:  if there isn’t rain or snow in the forecast, water the root zone to a depth of around 12 inches once or twice per month (even over the next winter) however be careful to not overwater
·      Mulch: applying mulch under a tree may help reduce moisture loss and competition from turf and improve moisture penetration into the soil
·      Hold off on the fertilizer: wait until the tree has fully re-leafed
·      Watch and wait for continued leaf and needle emergence:
o   check for soft/pliable limbs and buds (alive) or dry/brittle limbs and buds (dead)
o   healthy trees will likely form new buds this summer and over the coming seasons will fill in the gaps
o   only prune out dead branches after new growth has emerged and do not prune any living tissue
And for additional information, as always, the Jefferson County Colorado Master Gardeners are here to support you.  Please visit our website at
Additional information is available:  Western Slope, Woody Plants, CSU-Woody Plants

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Hidden from View by Nancy Shepard

Photo: Nancy Shepard

Whether we are beginner gardeners or those with years of experience, the one thing we all share in common are the things we don’t want others to see. While I’ve never tried to achieve the look of Martha Stewart’s potting shed prepped for photos in her magazine, I am mortified by how my side yard looks:

Monday, June 29, 2020

My Square Foot Garden Venture by Belinda Ostermiller

Photo: Belinda Ostermiller
Inspired by recent Colorado Master Gardener classes, I decided now is a good time to try my hand at vegetable gardening - not that I haven't grown the odd tomato or lettuce before. This time something a little more adventurous was in order.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Is that flower pollinated? CSU Native Bee Watch

CSU - Native Bee Watch
"Bees are pollinating flowers only when they are visiting the reproductive flower parts. If the bee is on the petals, leaves, or stem, the bee is not pollinating. Look inside a flower to see the anthers and the stigma. Note the pollen on the anthers. That pollen needs to be transferred to another flower of the same species or the same plant."

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Supporting Your Pollinators by Kimberly Sheahan

Photo: Kimberly Sheahan

Late spring is a wonderful time in Colorado - gardens are beginning to hit their stride and show off their magnificent blooms and the pollinators are hard at work.  A wonderful way to support pollinators and beneficial insects that you've attracted to your garden is to provide them their own water source separate from birds.  Typically, a bird bath is too deep for pollinators as well as potentially putting them near predators.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Fruit Pollinators by Steven White

Courtesy Wikipedia 
As your Victory Garden expands into planting Fruit Trees, one of the questions you will run into is ‘do I have enough space’.  Trees are obviously larger and may need another tree variety for pollination. Fruit trees are divided into two categories, self-fruitful (does not need a pollinator to set fruit) and self-unfruitful (needs a pollinator of another variety to set fruit).  The fruits below will aid in determining what you plant. 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Summer Solstice by Vicky Spelman

Courtesy Pixabay
Hello Summer and the longest day of the year! 

Summer Solstice 2020 in the Northern Hemisphere will be at 3:43 PM on Saturday, June 20th.

Summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere occurs on June 20, 21 or 22, when the sun reaches its most northerly point, directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer (23 degrees 27 minutes north latitude). The summer solstice is the longest day of the year and marks the beginning of summer.

A solstice is different from an equinox, the two times each year when the sun is directly above the Earth's equator and day and night are of equal length. Equinoxes mark the beginning of spring (March) and fall (September).
Solstice loosely translated in Latin is "sun stands still". For several days before and after each solstice the sun appears to stand still in the sky, i.e., its noontime elevation does not seem to change from day to day.

Cultures around the world have held celebrations in conjunction with the solstice for hundreds of years. Among these is Midsummer, which is celebrated on June 24 in Scandinavia and other northern European countries. 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Quick Guide to Growing Cucumbers-2020 Victory Garden by Dorianne Bautista

Courtesy Pixabay

Delicious eaten fresh or pickled, here is your quick guide to growing cucumbers!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Are Your Lilacs Blossoms Looking “Rusty’? Time to Prune By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo Joyce D'Agostino
For those who love lilacs, having those wonderful blooms and fragrance is a welcome end of the long winter. Lilacs now come in various shades of purple, lavender, pink and white. 
But now that the season for lilac blooming is over, you may notice that those lovely flower heads are replaced with unsightly rusty colored heads. This is normal for your lilac and not an indication of a decline in the shrub or a disease. However now that the blooms are done and before the lilac prepares for next season, you have a window of time now in June to do some removal of those old flowers as well as some pruning.  

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Pine Needle Mulch by Jon K. Fitzgerald

Jon K. Fitzgerald
Mulching your landscape with pine needles.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Growing Strawberries in Your Victory Garden – National Garden Bureau

National Garden Bureau

Strawberries are a fun addition that can easily be grown in gardens, containers, and window boxes! Think strawberry shortcake, strawberry pie, or eaten straight from the garden! Any way you eat them, it’s a major “YUM!”  Are you growing strawberries?

Monday, June 8, 2020

Growing (and Buying) Produce in the age of COVID-19 by John Porter, Nebraska Extension

University of Nebraska Extension - John Porter's Article

Growing (and Buying) Produce in the age of COVID-19 (and reducing fear with facts) by John Porter, Nebraska Extension (published The Garden Professors May-15-2020)

<<First off, we have to remember that SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19, is not a food borne illness.  This means that it is not spread through the consumption of contaminated food like E. coli and Salmonella.  I’ve seen many instances of people spreading fear about food online, with many suggesting using soap or bleach on food to minimize risk.  Those steps are both unnecessary and actually pose a poisoning risk.  There is currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is transmittable by food or food packaging.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Staying at Home and Still Successfully Gardening by Nancy Shepard

Pixabay - Salvia May Night

With the stay-at-home order, the nurseries were closed and I couldn’t go plant shopping. Yet my garden was fully awake and starting to give its best spring show. Last year I had re-landscaped my front yard and was still filling it in with perennials last fall.  As I toured the backyard and saw the masses of plants developing, it occurred to me that I already had new perennials for the front yard if I just used what the backyard already had.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Try Gardening for Mental Health While Quarantined by Carol Russell

Photo: Carol Russell

People react differently to stressful situations, and the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19, has caused feelings ranging from concern or worry to anxiety or anger. When we’re wounded in body, mind, or spirit, we’re often drawn to the natural world as a place to heal. For some, it’s a hike in the mountains or along the shore of a lake – both difficult to do if you are quarantined or are under a “stay at home order”.  It is much easier to have our home or community victory garden as our place of healing. Personally, I simply remember my favorite things in the garden and then I don’t feel so bad.

In addition, the recent COVID-19 stay-at-home requirement is providing more free time to pursue our interests. Gardening is a way for people to turn their feelings of helplessness into something nourishing – vegetables.  Garden plants and practices offer unique lessons and opportunities to clients in a horticultural-therapy program described in Horticulture-The Art and Science of Smart Gardening May/June 2020. A Supportive Nature.  The victory garden may actually save lives by helping to alleviate mental health issues resulting from the COVID – 19 Virus. 

Furthermore, a recent article in Psychology Today, titled ”10 Mental Health Benefits of Gardening” listed numerous activities that we practice while gardening that provide major health benefits such as: acceptance, overcoming perfectionism, a growth mindset, connecting with others and your world, being present, exercise, stress reduction, and heathy eating.  PsychologyToday  
Gardening is a way for people to turn their feelings of helplessness into something nourishing. This year, a vegetable garden may also provide one thing we seem to be lacking at the moment: control over our lives. It includes the satisfaction of raising nutritious and delicious food, exercising outdoors while socially distancing, relieving pressure on the nation’s food supply system, passing essential knowledge on to our children and growing extra to share with others. Where to begin to start your own garden? CSU-Grow&Give 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Rhubarb - Try it for your 2020 Victory Garden by Vicky Spelman

Photo Courtesy: sungress
Rhubarb Love it for its Taste; Eat it for Your Health.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Encouraging Children in the Garden by Melissa Lovell

Photo: M C Lovell
One of the best ways to encourage children to eat vegetables is to grow them together. Many vegetables that go great in salads can be grown fairly quickly indoors or out; in containers or in the ground. Seeds, soil and water are all you need to get started. Use potting soil or amend the ground with compost to create a rich soil for the seeds to grow in. After planting, keep the soil moist and in a sunny location. Click here for details about growing leafy greens: LeafyGreens 

Monday, May 25, 2020

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.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Memorial Day can be Planting Day by Joyce D'Agostino

Photo: Joyce D'Agostino

If you love to garden, you know how hard it is to wait to finally plant your summer garden. Often this begins with weeks of starting seeds inside under lights, nurturing the seedlings and then getting the young plants acclimated for the final place in your garden.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Using a Moisture Meter to Determine Watering Trees/Shrubs by Steven White

Moisture Meter
Watering newly planted trees and shrubs can be a challenge.  It is not easy to determine if the root ball is wet or dry.  I am going to share with you my method for checking to see if the tree and/or shrub is moist or dry.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

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 the plant tissue. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

How about a 2020 Victory Garden for Pollinators? by Vicky Spelman

Daniyal Ghanavati - Pexels
We’ve all read many articles about the decline of our pollinators.  With the same energy used in the original Victory Gardens, we can meet another threat to our food supply and help our pollinators. 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Your Landscape and Water by CSU

Colorado State University
Is your landscape ready to work for you to beautify your home and be able to withstand drought conditions?  The following documents the many ways landscaped outdoor areas contribute to the quality of life and property values in Colorado.

Colorado State University did a study of landscaping contributions to the environment, quality of life and property values in Colorado, which should be considered when planning for drought.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Interested in Growing Your Own Food This Year? by Rita Stafford

CSU - Planttalk Colorado
Establishing your own vegetable garden can be done very economically depending on your choice of materials and the size of your project. The benefits of growing your own food range from...

Sunday, May 10, 2020

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.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

An Apple for our Higher Altitude by Ed Powers

Courtesy Wikipedia - Antonovka Apples
I recently discovered and ordered 2 small seedling trees which originated from Russia and Poland.  They could be great for our altitude in the Rockies.

This apple is called Antonovka. It consists of several varieties, but the Common Antonovka is usually grown in the U.S.  

Monday, May 4, 2020

Do your roses look awful? by Dave Ingram

Photo: Vicky Spelman
As we look at many gardens around the Denver metro area, we are realizing that this has been one of the harshest winters we've had in some time. Starting with the hard freeze last October, through the mid-winter dry spells, and including mid-April's temperature drop into the teens, our rose canes have taken a beating. Hybrid teas, shrubs, climbers - lots of dead and shriveled canes, many of them just since the last storm. This note is to let you know the damage is not just in your yard - we are seeing it all over.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Making Cool Season Veggies "COOL" by Wyatt Koeniger

Photo:  Wyatt Koeniger
If you’re like me, you struggle to know what is a cool season vegetable and when to plant it; it is also hard to know what's “COOL” in Colorado.  Surprisingly, there are many different cool crops to grow that can satisfy the most discerning palate.  Some reasons to try cool season veggies yourself are:
·      Late spring frost won’t hurt them
·      Some are perennials
·      Able to be grown at higher elevations
·      Extended growing season

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Ponderosa pines, spruce may exhibit ‘winter burn’ by Colorado State Forest Service

A frost-damaged tree. (Courtesy of Colorado State Forest Service)
Ponderosa pines, spruce may exhibit ‘winter burn’ by Colo State Forest Service

A cold snap in October, coupled with last week’s extreme temperature fluctuations, injured ponderosa pines, other pine species and spruce trees in the Douglas and Elbert county areas, including Castle Rock, Franktown, Parker, Elizabeth and Kiowa. With warm weather preceding winter last year, the trees did not have the chance to transition into dormancy before freezing occurred. Large shifts in outside temperatures last week exacerbated the damage.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Monday, April 27, 2020

Phenology: Planting for Late Season Now by Nancy Shepard

All Photos by Nancy Shepard
Every year in my excitement to get new plants, I am always drawn to what looks good right now in the stores and plant sales which usually means choosing spring-summer flowering specimens. 

As I start preparing for planting this year, I’m giving special attention to plant phenology or plant blooming time. I was looking through my 2019 garden photos taken in late August and saw how sad and wiped out my garden looked by that time. But I also stumbled on pictures of a mini-vacation we had taken to Steamboat Springs late last fall. We had visited their Yampa River Park botanic gardens and what a wonderful place to get late-blooming ideas. Built in 1995, the park is at 6,880 feet with an average of 158 inches of snowfall each year. The park contains over 50 small gardens donated and tended by organizations and individuals and uses no tax dollars. 

Friday, April 24, 2020

Knock Out Roses (Rosa radrazz) by Quinn Wicken

Courtesy Tagawa Gardens
Knock Out Roses (Rosa radrazz) are an immensely popular, no fuss, beautiful blooming shrub here in Golden, Colorado.   These hardy plants are easy to grow and drought tolerant, come in many colors, and are naturally disease and insect resistant.  One of my favorite characteristics of these hardy bloomers is their self-cleaning abilities, knocking off their own expired blooms to make way for new blooms during the growing season. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Earth Day is April 22nd by Vicky Spelman

Courtesy Verizon
Earth Day is April 22 of every year, and this year will mark 50 years of Earth Day.  A lot of things are closed or canceled due to the global coronavirus pandemic, but Earth Day is not one of them. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Square Foot Gardening for your 2020 Victory Garden by Vicky Spelman

University of Florida - Gardening Solutions
Square foot gardening is the practice of dividing the growing area into small square sections (typically 12" (30 cm) on a side, hence the name). The aim is to assist the planning and creating of a small but intensively planted vegetable garden. It results in a simple and orderly gardening system, from which it draws much of its appeal. Since the beds are typically small, making covers or cages to protect plants from pests, cold, or sun is more practical than with larger gardens. 

Friday, April 17, 2020

Backyard Botany: Daffodil

Thursday, April 16, 2020

What is crop rotation by Vicky Spelman

Courtesy Wisconsin Horticultural Division of Extension
Crop rotation is one of agriculture’s oldest beneficial practices.  In the home vegetable garden, crop rotation involves changing the planting location of vegetables each season within the garden.  It is used to reduce damage from insect pests, to limit the development of vegetable diseases, and to manage the soil fertility.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Want to extend your growing season? by Vicky Spelman

Oregon State University Extension
Want to extend your growing season? Build a raised bed cloche.  

Cloche (pronounced klōsh) is a bell or dome-shaped cover used to protect small or delicate outdoor plants from frost and cold weather.  This definition has expanded and includes the many types of portable and permanent structures used for sheltering plants from wind and cold – and serve as mini-green houses.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter Lily Lore and Care by Vicky Spelman

The popular Easter lily we use today to celebrate the holiday is referred to as ‘the white-robed apostles of hope.’  These snow-white flowers symbolize new life and hope.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Vegetable Miracles in the Snow by Nancy Shepard

Photo: Nancy Shepard

With such nice weather last week, I cleared a space in my garden for planting some cool-season veggies:
·      Arugula (Eruca vesicaria ‘Rocket’)
·      Spinach (Sinacia oleracea ‘Lavewa’)
·      Snap Peas (Pisum sativum ‘Sugar Snap’)
·      Snow Peas (Pisum sativum ‘Oregon Sugar Pod II’)