Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer Farmers' Market Recipes By Chef Elizabeth Buckingham

Peach and Prosciutto Salad photo
The heat of summer is here and with it comes an incredible array of fresh fruits and vegetables. Cooking fresh, light and healthy dishes is super-easy in the summer – the amazing produce doesn’t need much to shine! Keep things simple and throw your fruits and vegetables on the grill for extra flavor and sweetness, or leave everything raw for crunch. Truly, it’s summertime and the cooking is easy!

This fresh, light salad combination showcases the best of Colorado’s amazing summer peaches. You can replace the prosciutto with crumbled bacon, or keep it vegetarian and omit the meat altogether. A sharp artisan cheese really brings out the peaches’ sweetness.

Peach & Prosciutto Salad with Balsamic Syrup (serves 4)

2 ripe peaches
4 oz. prosciutto
1 oz. balsamic syrup
6 oz. mixed salad greens
Artisan goat cheese, blue cheese or feta crumbles, if desired
Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper

Slice peaches into thin wedges, removing pit. Slice prosciutto into one-inch-wide strips and wrap each peach slice with one slice of prosciutto. Arrange salad greens on chilled salad plates and top each plate with a few wrapped peach slices. When ready to serve, drizzle lightly with balsamic syrup and sprinkle with salt and fresh pepper. Sharp cheese crumbles may be added for additional flavor contrast, if desired.

Monday, July 14, 2014

White Butterflies Visiting Your Garden By Joyce D’Agostino

Cabbage Moth
This year I noticed a large amount of  small, white delicate butterflies in my garden and yard areas. These little visitors are actually an Imported Cabbage Worm Butterfly (Pieris rapae (Linnaeus) and while they are attractive they can bring some damage to your garden brassicas. 
Plants in the brassica family  include cabbage, broccoli, kale, collards and turnips. Many people enjoy growing and eating these healthy vegetables so if you notice these insects, what do you do to avoid crop loss and protect your plants?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Leafcurl Ash Aphid by Patti O'Neal

As if ash trees have not been terrified enough this year with the threat of emerald ash borer on them, worried homeowners are seeing yet another injury to their ash trees.  Luckily this one is not as potentially threatening as EAB – although it is much uglier!

Leafcurl ash aphid has struck trees in the Denver Metro Area.  Symptoms are twisted, thick, gnarled leaves at the ends of branches.  These clumps are often covered with the sugary exudate, honeydew, that is excreted by the insects which in turn collect pollen and other debris passing by in the air and can cause the clumps to appear webby and really messy – a scary thing to behold.  The kind that sends one to the closet for, what else? something to spray on it!

But resist.  First of all, it won’t help, and second, the colonies will begin to decline as new growth ceases being produced on your trees, which is about now.  And third, by now the natural enemies have amassed to curtail the outbreaks. 

Natural enemies of the leafcurl ash aphids - the beneficial insects that feed on aphids - are lady beetles and their larvae, lacewing larvae, flower fly larvae and parasitic wasps.  

Exposed aphids can be taken care of with a strong jet of water, insecticidal soap and then if all else fails an insecticide.  But leafcurl aphids have created a protected environment by curling the leaves tightly, thus preventing any of these remedies from being successful.  More importantly, the use of insecticides will harm the natural enemies of aphids.  So, it makes sense to resist using them and move on to what actually does work.  

So what is the best management technique for the leafcurl ash aphid?  First, this insect pest creates more of an aesthetic issue for your tree than a health threatening one.  So carefully cutting the tips of the branches off and not letting them smash to the ground, but catching them in a disposable plastic bag and sealing it up carefully and taking it off to the trash – never the compost pile.   Sanitation (the clean up of all falling leaves and the gnarled branch tips) is crucial for preventing infestations in future years as leafcurl ash aphids overwinter in the soil on the roots of the ash.  Winged stages work their way through cracks in the soil to disperse to the foliage shortly after bud break in the spring.  It is the young aphids that develop on the tender, emerging leaves that induce the thickening of the leaves and the tight curling.  As new generations emerge and feed, the leaves continue to distort and the unsightly clumps form on the branch tips.  Horticultural oils might be sprayed during the dormant stage just before bud break or a systemic applied to the soil as the soil warms and the insects emerge. 

For additional information see CSU fact sheet 5.511 Aphids on Shade Trees and Ornamentals at

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Patriotic Roses! by Donna Duffy

The Fourth of July is about all things patriotic: freedom, independence, fireworks! You can celebrate these patriotic roses all summer long.

Many experts consider Fourth of July the best Rose introduced in the past decade. Its climbing canes reach 12 to 14 feet tall, with fresh, healthy foliage. North or south, east or west, it demonstrates uniform vigor and flower color. And it re-blooms beginning the very first year!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Make the Most of Your Microclimates by Donna Duffy

A microclimate is the climate of a small area that is different from the area around it. It may be warmer or colder, wetter or drier, or more or less prone to frosts. Microclimates may be quite small - a protected courtyard next to a building, for example, that is warmer than an exposed field nearby. Cornell University Extension offers the following information about factors that influence microclimates.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Are You Unknowingly Harboring a Noxious Weed in Your Garden? by Donna Duffy

It’s easy to get hooked on flowers that are easy to grow, especially those that seem to be refreshingly trouble-free. Unfortunately, some of these qualify as invasive ornamental weeds, and their rapid growth causes a multitude of problems. These undesirable plants reduce native plant habitat, reduce habitat for wildlife, alter riparian areas, and cause problems in agricultural lands. Colorado Noxious Weeds are illegal to grow, even though they may be available on the internet and in some “big box” stores. Following are three Noxious Weeds to watch out for, and native and non-invasive alternatives you can grow instead.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Health Hazards for Gardeners? by Donna Duffy

Gardening is great for your health, right? The benefits of gardening-related exercise are well known. Lesser known are some serious health hazards that you could encounter. Remember,  your physician is always your first line defense and should be consulted anytime you have symptoms that are concerning.

Gardening, yard work and landscape injuries can be as simple as a scrape or as severe as a deep puncture wound, but any that break the skin can leave you at risk for tetanus, a serious and potentially fatal bacterial disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost one-third of reported tetanus cases come from gardening or farming injuries.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fire Blight Arrives in Our Trees! by Mary Small

As if trees didn’t have enough trouble from last summers’s hail, fall's damaging freezes, and a late spring, some have now developed fire blight!  This bacterial disease is common on crab apple, apple, mountain ash and pear. 

Warmer than average temperatures during blossom time creates ideal conditions for disease development. If rain falls at the same time, its spread is rapid.  And guess what?  This spring was just perfect, if you were fire blight bacteria!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Deadhead Flowers for More Blooms by Carol King

June and July are exciting times in the garden. The results of all the hard labor in the spring are beginning to be evident: lots of blooms, especially monarda, black eyed susan, shasta daisy, day lilies, lavender, Russian sage and yarrow; the annuals are looking great and the grass is still green enough!

I spent Sunday deadheading, pinching, cutting back, and disbudding. I know this sounds like torture techniques performed on some poor wretch in a medieval novel, but these actions are just what most blooming flowers need. These methods will increase and provide continuous blooms throughout the season. They also help to keep the garden tidy; flowers compact and help you get that special blossom you want to win the prize in the county fair!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cottonwood Cotton by Carol King

Photo CSU Extension
I saw the first whisps a couple of days ago. Soon we will be sweeping up big piles of the stuff. As it warms up, it will be sticking to our sweaty bodies; we will be spitting it out and wondering when will it all end. What you say? Well, cottonwood cotton of course!! Planttalk Colorado provided this information about cottonwood cotton.

"Cottonwood trees are dioecious, meaning they have male and female flowers on separate trees. Cotton shed by female trees in June is often so abundant that it turns nearby lawns white. Heavy snows in winter promote plentiful new growth. This in turn fuels abundant flowering of both male ("cotton less") and female (cotton-bearing) cottonwoods in the spring. Flowers on female trees, after being pollinated by wind-borne pollen from male trees in April, develop small green capsules that split open in June to shed small seeds carried by wind-borne "cotton".

Thursday, June 5, 2014

What Makes a Weed a WEED? by Rebecca Anderson

Photo by Rebecca Anderson
This is the time of year when our landscapes are becoming greener and new plants are sprouting every day.  As I spend more time doing projects in my yard, I'm often faced with a decision: is a particular plant a weed or is it a beneficial landscape plant?  Here are some guidelines I use to help come to a conclusion. 
  1. Plants growing in the wrong location are weeds. This defines all the traditional weeds like the dandelions (Taraxacum sp.)in the lawn, but it also helps when evaluating more mobile landscape and garden plants. The morning glories (Ipomoea sp.) growing on the trellis where I planted them can stay. The ones climbing up the arborvitae (Thuja sp.) need to go. 
  2. Plants that are unattractive are weeds. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but many of the common weeds lack attractive characteristics we value in other plants. This benchmark may apply to an intentionally placed landscape plant that has become scraggly over time, too. If pruning can't bring it back to the desired form, then perhaps removal is another option.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Safe Alternative for Removing Weeds in Colorado Lawns by Carol King

Want to control weeds in your landscape but hesitate using herbicides?  There are ways to control weeds without harming your children and pets.  This video with Carol O'Meara, Extension Agent from Boulder County and Dr. Tony Koski, CSU Extension Turf Specialist, gives us some safe, alternative methods for ridding our lawns of weeds.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer Vacation for Houseplants; Tips for Moving Them Outside by Rebecca Anderson

Oxalis Plant photo by Rebecca Anderson
Many houseplants will get a boost from being outdoors during the warm summer months. Increased sunlight exposure will let them recover from the low light levels inside most homes. Since most houseplant originate from tropical areas, they should not be moved outdoors until night time temperatures are above 55 degrees. Place them in an area with partial shade and good wind protection. Ideal locations would include a covered porch or under a tree. After a few days, sun-loving plants such as jade (Crassula ovata), poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) and hibiscus (Hibiscus sp.) can be moved to a full-sun location. Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera sp.), umbrella trees (Schefflera arboticola) and citrus plants prefer to stay in the shade. Exposing a houseplant to excessive sun before it has been hardened off will cause photo oxidization, or a yellowing of the leaves. This process is the plant version of a sunburn. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Large Miller Moth Population Expected by Mary Small

Euxoa auxiliaris Miller Moth
According to CSU Extension Entomologist, Dr. Whitney Cranshaw, “miller moth” numbers will be above average. Because the numbers of their caterpillars found in crops and other locations this spring, the moth numbers may be way above average. 
How much of a nuisance they will be is dependent on moisture and numbers of flowering plants around. Moisture has been good, contributing to the development of flowering plants. While last week’s freeze may have damaged some flowers, they are still abundant and will be attractive to the moths. Moths feed on nectar in the flowers.
Flowering plants most often visited by miller moths in our area include lilac, cherries, spirea, cotoneaster, horse chestnut, raspberry and Russian olive. Dark and dense plants such as cotoneaster, spruce and pines are most used by miller moths for shelter around homes.
The moths become a problem for humans when they accidentally enter homes.  During the day moths seek shelter in cracks and crevices around homes, in door entries and near windows.  At night, the moths become active and may be attracted to indoor or exterior lighting.

The major infestation is not expected for a few more weeks, about mid-June.
For detailed information on miller moths, including deterring them from your home, see this information.

Friday, May 23, 2014

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.

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Why not plant a poppy bed in honor of Memorial Day?     Poppies are easy to grow in Colorado.  They are drought and pest resistant.  Many varieties grow easily from seed.

Here's an article that will help you have success with your planting.