Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Lily Lore and Care by Carol King

Photo Tufts University
It’s Easter time and the ubiquitous Easter Lily is every where.  Did you ever wonder why we purchase these flowers at Easter time?  Historically speaking Easter lilies don’t have much to do with the Easter holiday.  They are not native to the Holy Land.  In Biblical lore, however, the lily is mentioned numerous times. One of the most famous Biblical references is in the Sermon on the Mount: Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matt. 6:28-29). Often called the "white-robed apostles of hope," lilies were found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ's agony. Tradition has it that the beautiful white lilies sprung up where drops of Christ's sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow and deep distress.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Winter Damage in Colorado Evergreens by Mary Small

Many conifers aren’t looking too great right now. Much of the problem is related to dry fall and winter weather over the last couple of years.  Fall and winter months are typically dry, but these past couple of years have been especially dry.  How does that affect these plants?
Although trees and shrubs “go dormant” in the fall, the root systems of these plants still function as long as soil temperatures hover around 40 degrees.  Roots need water  to function properly and their source for that is either Mother Nature or irrigation that we provide.  No water during this period stresses or kills roots through dehydration. 
Evergreen leaves can continue to transpire, that is, lose moisture to the surrounding environment, on warm sunny days, even in the winter.  This is a normal leaf function, designed to keep the leaves from overheating, kind of like our perspiration. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lilac Ash Borer Does Not Equal Emerald Ash Borer by Mary Small

Lilac Ash Borer Damage in Ash
I was recently sent this photo and asked if I thought this could be emerald ash borer damage. Apparently a lot of ash trees in the neighborhood have similar injury.
Note D-shaped holes
One hole looks like a D, which could indicate a flatheaded borer such as emerald ash borer. (But flatheaded apple tree borers can also infest stressed ash.) Consider too, that lilac ash borer creates irregularly round exit holes and the rest of the holes in the picture are round-ish. The D shaped hole also is ragged around the edge, which is not typical of the flatheaded borers mentioned above.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rethink Your Colorado Bluegrass Lawn by Donna Duffy

Across Jefferson County, bluegrass lawns are just starting to green up. This is a good time to think about changes you’d like to make in your lawn this year. There are at least three options to consider:
1.    Leave it pretty much as is
2.    Renovate it
3.    Remove some lawn for vegetable or flower plantings

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Using Potato Grow Bags in Colorado by Ellen Goodnight


I will be the first to confess that I am not an expert potato grower. Further, I will admit that I have tried to grow a variety of potatoes, in all sorts of conditions and places in my gardens, with varying degrees of success. Moving to another house set a new challenge as I wanted to grow my beloved potatoes along with every thing else in a rather limited space. Potato plants can easily take over a garden.

I began to to look at alternatives and read about using large fabric bags. Would these really support large potato plants and would I get the kind of yield the advertisements promised? Did I really need to buy the special soil mix and fertilizer the catalog recommended? My potatoes had always grown in well-composted garden soil and done very well. I was  starting to have my doubts about the expense of growing in bags but  I decided to take a gamble.

I bought two large fabric bags, and one bag of the special soil mix and fertilizer. I wanted to compare the yield results of using the soil/fertilizer mix  in one bag and using garden soil mixed with my own compost in the other. I planted Red Norland, Russett and Yukon Gold seed potatoes in the bags in early April.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Growing Blueberries in Colorado by Carol King

Photo by Carol King
Who doesn't love a blueberry?  They are one of the super foods, filled with antioxidents.  These tiny, round blue-purple berries have long been attributed to the longevity and wellness of indigenous natives.  Blueberries are very low in calories. A cup of fresh berries provide only 57 calories.  Some research studies suggest that these berries help lower blood sugar levels and control blood-glucose levels in type-II diabetes.  Super food indeed. Why not grow them in the Colorado Front Range home garden?

Blueberries will not grow in Colorado soil. Blueberries need acidic soil (and a lot of it).  Our native soils are alkaline; the opposite of what a blueberry needs! Every year at this time, I see the blueberry plants lined up in the big box stores just waiting for some unsuspecting gardener to purchase and take home to complete failure.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A History of Saving Seeds By Ellen Goodnight

Saving vegetable and flower seeds is what our mothers and grandmothers did, year after year. Most often it was for economical reasons. If you grew a crop in your garden and it did well, you certainly wanted to grow it again without buying new seed. Saving seeds may have also been
a way of sharing with family, friends and neighbors, especially if they had enjoyed something grown in your garden. Often, our mothers and grandmothers shared seeds from several generations.

Today, we look at saving seeds in a new light. New gardeners may wonder why they should save seeds when there are so many seed catalogs and garden centers stocked with everything from common to exotic seeds. Novice gardeners may not know the difference between an
heirloom seed and a hybrid seed. They might not even know if their seed has been genetically modified. Some may not know for example, that the squash seeds they saved from last summer's garden might not produce the same squash! Additionally, even experienced gardeners may not realize that the genetic diversity represented by pure heirloom seeds is being lost. These challenges can be overwhelming to any gardener. On the bright side, however, "the movement to save pure heirloom seeds has become a global effort, with gardeners working to
preserve and bring back old seed varieties" (Baker Seed).

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Not So Fast! Gardening Tips for Early Spring by Donna Duffy

Pasqueflower emerging in March
Yes, it does feel a bit like Spring outside. And yes, there are signs of life in your yard and garden. As tempting as it is, don’t go full-force into your gardening mode quite yet. Following are some gardening chores you can start right now, and others that you’ll need to wait to begin.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Planning for Spring: What Kind of Mulch Should I Use? by Donna Duffy

The benefits of mulch are so well known that the question no longer is “Should I mulch?” but “What mulch is best for my landscape?” For die-hard gardeners, mulching is one garden task you can do any time of year – even in the winter.
Gravel mulch at Kendrick Lake Gardens in Lakewood

A mulch is any material that provides protection and improves the soil when applied to the soil surface. Mulches can:
  • reduce surface evaporation;
  • improve water penetration and air movement;
  • control soil temperature fluctuations;
  • protect shallow-rooted plants from freeze damage;
  • improve soil structure and nutrient availability.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Time to Prune Apple Trees in Front Range Colorado by Carol O'Meara

Carol O'Meara from Boulder County Extension gives us a hands on look at the proper way to prune an apple tree.  The time for pruning is now before bud break!

Here's a fact sheet also.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

History of the Irish Shamrock by Carol King

Photo courtesy CSU
The Irish shamrock (Irish: seamrog) is the most recognized symbol of the Irish. It has been symbolic of many things through the years. It was considered to be a sacred plant to the Druids of Ireland because its leaves formed a triad, and three is a mystical number in Celtic religion as well as many other religions. Supposedly, St. Patrick used it to illustrate the Holy Trinity to help convert Irish peoples to Christianity. 

In Ireland, all shamrocks are considered lucky and are worn and given as gifts on St. Patrick's Day. However, there is some disagreement among the Irish as to the exact plant, but most Irish growers will tell you that Trifolium repens, White Clover, is the plant most commonly known as a shamrock.   What we consider to be a common lawn weed, is a native of Ireland.  In Colorado, this Irish shamrock grows in our lawns, in prairies, pastures and foothills. If you enjoy clover honey, you can thank this lovely little plant.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Growing Grapes for Wine? It's Time to Prune! by Donna Duffy

My neighbor, John Crawford, is a fourth generation vintner who has shared his thoughts with us in past articles. I recently asked him to share some advice on pruning vines for maximum grape production. Here’s what I learned.

Purchase your vines from a reputable source. John orders his on-line from a company in New York. Be sure that you purchase vines grown for Colorado climate and altitude – hybrids and not varietals. He admits to trying to disprove the varietals-can’t-grow-at-6,000 feet myth for years – and failed each time due to early bud times and late season Colorado frosts.

For first year vines, plant them within a few days of their delivery from the nursery and don’t do any pruning, just let them grow. This gives the vines a chance to build their root system and store carbohydrates, providing energy to grow strong trunks and canes.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring is Here! by Carol King

I went looking for evidence of spring in North Lakewood, Colorado and here's what I found.

Yellow crocus

Stonecrop peeking up

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Tree in a Tight Spot by Rebecca Anderson

Winter is the time of year when I'm planning my landscape improvements for spring. This year I've got a new area to design because we had a tree removed last fall.  There was a mature red maple (Acer rubrum) planted in a strip between our driveway and the neighbor's. This 40 foot tall, 24-inch diameter tree was confined to a concrete-free zone of about 36 square feet.  Looking at CSU's formulas for calculating for rooting space, the tree's roots probably occupied an area close to 4,000 square feet.  Of course it had to be sending roots under driveways and sidewalks, but those roots under the hardscape didn't have the access to water and oxygen that roots in an open area would have.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Keeping Spring Flowering Bulbs Happy by Rebecca Anderson

This morning I found some crocus (Crocus sp.) leaves peaking through the mulch.  It’s a sure sign spring is on its way when the crocus, daffodils (Narcissus sp.), hyacinths (Hyacinthus sp.) and tulips (Tulipa sp.) make their appearances.