Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fall Pruning “Dos and Don’ts” by Audrey Stokes


Mild fall weather may have you thinking about pruning shrubs and trees but it's better to wait until winter or at least until after deciduous trees’ leaves have fallen. When it comes to fall pruning, procrastination is the way to go.  One exception to any ‘no-pruning’ advice is that dead, diseased and damaged wood should be removed as soon as possible.  Hire a professional arborist to remove big limbs, high branches, and any other tree job that you’re not prepared to do.
Pruning timetables can be broken down according to the type of plant: trees, shrubs, perennials and roses.
Trees
  • In early fall, pruning wounds close more slowly and plants are more at risk for fungal diseases than at other times of year. For most trees, the best time for major pruning is winter to early spring because wounds close faster.
  • Pruning in late summer and early fall may stimulate new growth, which has little time to harden before cold weather comes. The cold can harm this tender new growth, and the tree may need more pruning in spring to remove the damage. 
  • If you want to prune in fall, wait until trees drop their leaves and are dormant—usually late October or November. “With leaves gone, you can see what you are doing and determine where corrective pruning is needed”, says Dr. James Feucht of Colorado State University Cooperative Extension. (http://www.colostate.edu/Dept/CoopExt/4DMG/Trees/fallprun.htm)
  • See this CSU Extension video about pruning trees: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7IdsEJCHdg

Monday, October 20, 2014

Enjoying the Last of the Season’s Tomatoes By Joyce D’Agostino

Are you already missing vine ripened tomatoes? It seems to hit us this time of year that summer is over and even though there might be green tomatoes still on the vine, they will likely not ripen. 
But there are a few ways to enjoy ripened tomatoes for a few more weeks. One solution is very simple. Pick your green tomatoes and then wrap them in newspaper or wax paper. Place them in a box in a single layer and then place in a cool, dry place.
Photo by Joyce D'Agostino
The tomatoes will then ripen over the upcoming weeks and allow you to enjoy a few more fresh tomatoes from the garden.This method works well but does require some regular checking to ensure that the tomatoes are ripening and not drying out or rotting. Each variety of tomato can ripen at different rates, so putting the box so it is accessible and can be regularly checked is advised. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bulbs 101 by Keith Rabin

Gardenphotos.com
Poet Emily Dickinson referred to herself as a “ Lunatic On Bulbs “ , while referring to her passion for daffodils, hyacinth and spring perennials in general. To Emily Dickinson the bulbs were not just flowers to her but were moral and and personal emblems to her and in her poetry. She was better known in her life time for her gardening expertise than her poetry. For me planting bulbs without reading her poetry without dirt on my hands from planting bulbs just feels wrong somehow...
She slept beneath a tree, 
Remembered but by me,
I touched her cradle mute, 
She recognized the foot. 
Put on her carmine suit, 
And see!*
Its customary to class plants having thickened root stock as bulbous. Botanically there are distinctions between the true bulb, made up of scales or layers like the onion, the tuber which is solid as a potato and the corm which is woody like. In addition to tubers, true bulbs and corms there are other plants containing thickened root stock or rhizomes, (peony, German Iris and flags also known as iris.) These four types comprise an enormous number of species and varieties. Most of these groups all have foreign roots, covering most of the world.
It's time to plant bulbs as soon as the ground is cool and before the ground freezes. Ideal air temps are (not constant) from 50 to 60 degrees. October and early November are prime time along the Front Range.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Garden Journal by Sheilia Canada

Fall is a perfect time to get your garden more organized with a Garden Journal. With the falling of the leaves it is a lot easier to see the structure and dimensions of your garden area. Your plants successes and failures during the growing season are still fresh in your mind.
Mapping out specific annual crops for proper crop rotation is highly important to elimination of a recurrence of disease or insect issues.
Making a record of what happened every growing season will definitely help you get a closer look at all of the interactions going on in your garden.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Preparing Your Yard and Garden for the Winter by Lynn Leventhal

Photo by Lynn Leventhal
The leaves are turning golden and falling to the ground.  The temperature is dropping.  The days are getting shorter.  It is time to think  of putting our gardens to bed.  Here is an overview to get you started.

Before I start I like to take pictures and make notes on my successes and failures.  Then the majority of the work is cleaning up the leaves which have fallen and cutting the lawn for the last time.    

Pruning:  the majority or pruning is done in the winter and spring.  The reasons for pruning are to maintain a shrub’s shape, enhance flowering and reduce pest problems.

Lawns:  fertilize your lawn in the fall and water monthly.

Photo by Lynn Leventhal
Vegetable gardens:  pull up old vines and vegetable plants to reduce insect eggs which can survive in the winter and hatch in the spring.

Annual flowers:  pull up vines and foliage of annual flowers and compost them.

Perennials:  After temperatures hit freezing and the plants die back cut the stems on most perennials to within an inch or two of the ground.  However, there are many exceptions to this so be sure to research recommendations for each plant type you have.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dreaming of Compost By Joyce D’Agostino

Since keeping our garden soils healthy and amended is always recommended, I had on my wish list a composter. Previously I had done some minor composting of things like fall leaves which worked well but I needed to advance to a better system to produce good quality compost.
Composter photo by Joyce D'Agostino
I was lucky to have recently acquired a tumbler composter from someone who was moving. I have already started adding some good quality kitchen and canning scraps to the composter and giving it a daily turn. It was time for me to get serious about composting since my busy schedule prevented me from amending my soil as well as it should have been and I could see a marked difference between the beds with amendment and the ones that did not receive a good dose of fresh soil and compost.
Composting is not difficult, but there are guidelines for what can and cannot be added to your compost. Often you hear you can add  “kitchen scraps” but not all kitchen waste can do into your compost pile. For example, you cannot add things like meat scraps, bones, etc. Not only do these not break down properly they can attract wildlife to your pile or composter. Also, if you had any plants that had diseases, these should be discarded with your trash and not added to the composter. The reason is that some composters do not get to a high enough temperature to destroy the pathogens and this could result in the compost becoming infected with these diseases and spread the following year if used.
Much of our front range soils are packed clay, so adding compost to the soil not only enriches it with great nutrients, but also helps keep the soil quality high to allow the right balance of oxygen and water.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Growing and Drying Herbs for Year Round Use by Joyce D’Agostino

Garlic Chives photo by Joyce D'Agostino
When the fall comes and most of the annual garden begins to fade, those of us who enjoy gardening find that we miss the enjoyment of growing during the “off season”.
If you grow herbs, then many of these plants can be started inside (or the containers brought inside) and grown all year around.
Cilantro photo by Joyce D'Agostino
 
When you begin to choose your herb plants, note that there are two types of herbs, the perennial type and the annual type. The annuals for our climate include tender herbaceous types such as basil, which won’t tolerate cold weather and hard freezes. Cilantro for example enjoys the cooler weather of spring and fall but also won’t tolerate a hard freeze. However there are perennials that have more woody stems such as thyme and Greek Oregano which have woody stems and can be harvested even during the cold winter months. These hardy plants establish new growth and fresh green leaves in the spring and many produce flowers that the bees and butterflies enjoy.

Monday, October 6, 2014

On The Changing Of Seasons by Keith Rabin

Photo by Carol King
“ I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown. For in going out, I found I was really going in.”  (John Muir)
As we all “ Go In “ our own ways and harvest each our labors of the seasons,  I look for signs that connect me back to nature. For no greater gift is there for our health and happiness.
“ The richness I achieve comes form nature, The source of my inspiration.“(Claude Monet)
Finding inspiration in the changing of the season is in finding the poems left us without words. Gifted to us by the Creator in the color and textures only found in nature. It lifts our spirits, our hearts and through our senses and in our mind we find solace within. I call it the art of looking.
“ The poetry of earth is never dead.” (John Keats)
To learn of ourselves from the silence of a wilderness we achieve more knowledge of nature and self than by any spoken or written words. Take the time to find your own wilderness and embrace the teaching in its silence....

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fall Vegetable Garden Cleanup by Audrey Stokes

Photo by Audrey Stokes
You and your fall garden benefit when you give your plants the same TLC in fall as you do in spring and summer. A vegetable garden left unattended through winter provides a cover for pests and disease. 
Plant disease agents such as bacteria, fungi and viruses all remain alive, though dormant, during the winter months. By recognizing the places where these organisms hide, gardeners can often destroy them and prevent disease outbreaks the following spring. Many fungi spend the winter on or in old leaves, fruit and other garden refuse. These fungi often form spores or other reproductive structures that remain alive even after the host plant has died. Cucumber and squash vines, cabbages, and the dried remains of tomato and bean plants are all likely to harbor fungi if left in the garden over the winter.
Insects, too, survive quite nicely over the winter months. Cucumber beetle, Colorado potato beetle and Mexican bean beetle all overwinter as adults. In spring they migrate to young plants where they feed and lay eggs for a new generation. Insects and plant pathogens survive on weeds as well as on garden plants. Many weeds serve as alternate hosts for insects and fungi, helping them to complete their life cycle. Destruction of these weeds removes a source of future troubles.

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.