Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Great Pumpkin Recycle by Keith Rabin

Photo courtesy treehugger.com

This year, consider doing something beneficial, fun and productive with your pumpkins instead of relegating them to the landfill. There are many options that provide benefit to the soil, birds and wildlife.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Summer Vacation is Over for Houseplants by Rebecca Anderson

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) that has spent the summer outside
Most houseplants are tropical and flourish with some outdoor exposure during the summer.  With cooler nights in the forecast it’s getting to be time to bring them back indoors.  Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit will damage many houseplants, so keep an eye on those nightly weather reports.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

When Can I Pick My Apples (or Pears) by Joyce D'Agostino

Apples ready to harvest photo by Joyce D'Agostino
This time of year, some of us are fortunate to have fruit trees that are bearing fruit and are even overabundant. The question is, when do I know when my fruit really is ready to pick because often just judging by the color does not often mean that the fruit is ripe.
One good way is to first determine which variety of fruit you have and research when it typically is ready to harvest. Apples for example, have very early, early, mid-season and late season varieties and harvesting at the right time will result in the best results for canning or eating fresh.
Also, you may find that keeping up with a large harvest can be challenging,  Fruit may begin to drop from the tree or falls from windstorms and the cleanup can be considerable. Proper pruning of your trees not only helps the tree become more healthy but helps control better harvests.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hello Yellow; Fall Flowers by Ann Moore

Chrysanthemums by Carol King
Have you noticed it? The days are slightly shorter and a little cooler.

It is time for the stately cottonwood trees along the irrigation canals, the many ash trees planted as street trees in many cities and of course Colorado’s famous aspens in the high country are turning yellow. There are many many traditional and familiar yellows that are apparent in the fall.

Chrysanthemums come in all shades of yellow from vivid gold to pale almost white and some have two shades on the same blossom. Chrysanthemums are best and easiest planted as container plants and now is the perfect time for next fall show.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Harvesting and Storing Vegetables by Donna Duffy

In many parts of Jefferson County, we’ve already had a frost or freeze. You may be wondering what to do with vegetables still growing in your garden. Following are several tips to prolong your harvest of root crops, squash, pumpkins, cabbage, celery, kale and collard greens.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Why Leaves Change Colors and the Autumnal Equinox by Carol King

Photo autumn-pictures.com 
Today is  the Autumnal Equinox and the leaves are  “changing colors”.    According to Plantalk Colorado in actuality, leaves don’t change color, they just quit producing chlorophyll, the substance that makes them green.

This happens for a variety of reasons: shorter days, falling temperatures, available water.  These are all signals to the plant to go into energy saving mode and quit producing chlorophyll:  winter is coming!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Harvesting Peppers in the Fall by Joyce D'Agostino

Early jalapeno by Joyce D'Agostino
If you have grown sweet or hot peppers this season, now is the time to prepare to harvest what is left on the plants before the hard frost arrives. Peppers are tender annuals that prefer the warm weather, so will not tolerate frosts or extremely cold weather.
Purple Beauty Pepper by Joyce D'Agostino
Many peppers begin green and then will turn color as they mature or ripen. The taste and heat of the pepper can vary from the green state to when they turn a color. If your peppers are the hot variety, refer to the seed packet information to learn the Scoville units that rates the heat of the pepper. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Overwinter Your Container Plants by Donna Duffy

It’s the time of year to start thinking about how to overwinter perennial plants that have been happily growing in containers this summer. Containerized trees, shrubs and perennials are subject to Colorado’s winter temperature fluctuations, drying winds and freeze-thaw cycles. Planttalk Colorado provides the following suggestions to get your plants ready when the first hard freeze arrives.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Squash Pollination Tips by Sheilia Canada

Photo Hudson Farmers Market
I am having a lot of people ask me why their squash is not producing. Here are some tips and suggestions for bumping up your yield.

Firstly I will tell you I am not just a Colorado Master Gardener. I am also a Permaculturist. I practice many Indigenous and ancient gardening techniques that you may or may not have heard of. I do this because I find it makes sense for me as an organic gardener and Permaculturist. It creates balance in my garden and life.

So, lets look at our problem through this lense…

Problem = My squash is not producing. 
I have fertile well draining soil. 
I have it planted in full sun.
I am fertilizing with an organic 5-10-5 fertilizer.
I know squash are not self-pollinating. I need flowers & the pollen in them to cross to get any fruit.
I have lots of flowers. I STOP 
I look closer… Do I have any female flowers?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fall Blooming Perennials Add Color to the Autumn Garden by Carol King

Aster wikipedia.org
Mid August is a good time to look at your garden and find spots for fall blooming perennials. Here are four “tried and true” plants that will add color to the fall garden.

ASTERS are tough and reliable, and a natural for dry climates like ours where several native species delight mountain hikers. In fact, many aster varieties fail to survive the winter if kept too moist. Asters are easy to cultivate. Among cultivated asters, growth habits range from three-foot perennials to compact mounds. The Greek word aster refers to the yellow-centered, star-like flowers that can be white, red, pink, purple, lavender and blue. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

There’s a Caryopteris in my garden! By Joyce D’Agostino

Caryopteris x clandonsis photo by Joyce D'Agostino
Yes, I am lucky to have a Caryopteris in my garden (Caryopteris x clandonsis). I know, it sounds like a long extinct dinosaur but it actually is a lovely landscape scrub that bursts into purple blooms each August. The bees love the flowers and seem to be on this plant from sunrise to sunset.

Also known as the Blue Mist Spirea, this relative of the mint family is a deciduous woody bush that has green leaves from spring until late summer when it flowers. It actually has not been in the US that long. It is native to eastern and southern Asia and first came to our country in the 1960’s. It’s a nice addition to your landscape if you have limited room because it grows to a manageable size of about 3 – 5 feet tall and has gray-green sword shaped leaves. The name is derived from the Greek word karyon which means nut and pteron which means wing because the airy flowers have petals that resemble wings with the seeds tucked inside.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Zucchini Not Producing Fruit Can Be a Pollination Problem by Carol King

Photo commons.wikimedia.org
Zucchini is often the big joke of the garden. This big producer is the butt of many garden pranks from neighbors leaving them on porches and running off, to finding the really BIG one tucked in the back of the plant.  Sometimes, however, gardeners report no fruit at all on their squash plants.  What could be the cause?

The most likely cause is lack of pollination. Squash, melons, and cucumbers belong to a family, called “cucurbits” and have a flowering habit which is unique among vegetable crops.  Each plant produces two kinds of flowers, male and female, both on the same plant.  In order for fruit set to occur, pollen from the male flower must be transferred to the female flower.  The pollen is sticky; therefore, wind-blown pollination does not occur.  Honeybees are the principal means by which pollen is transferred from the male to the female flower.  If you don’t have bees in your garden, you don’t have cucurbits. When bees are absent, fruit set on cucurbits is very poor and often nonexistent.  If only a few bees are present in the area, partial pollination may occur, resulting in misshapen fruit and low yield.