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. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Gardening with Your Nose: Fragrance in the Garden by Ann Moore

Korean Spice Viburnum photo Home Depot
Much has been written, photographed, painted, and generally rhapsodized over
a well tended manicured garden or a meadow in full bloom. One of the great joys of tending a garden is surly the fragrance of the plants. Two of these you should try if you have not are Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlessi) and Clethra (Clethra alnifolia).

There are many nice viburnums, but Korean Spice has lovely fragrance in the spring and is reasonably easy to grow. It needs partial to full sun and fairly regular watering – more in extreme heat. It is fairly slow growing and normally reaches 4 to 6 feet tall. In my Mother’s yard it grew to 8 feet and perfumed the entire neighborhood. It is also called Korean Spice Bush.

Clethra photo Monrovia
Clethra is a native plant growing from Maine to Florida. It blooms in the fall
when other things are less likely top be blooming. It likes shade and moisture and will require more water in an extremely dry summer. Don’t be discouraged in the spring if it isn’t leafing out quickly – it is late to put out its leaves. It tolerates clay soil but must be kept moist if you have clay. It has bottle brush flowers, usually white, but there are pink varieties. The leaves are glossy green, turning yellowish to golden in the fall–some common names for it are Summer Sweet and Sweet Pepperbush.

Depending on your soil, they would both appreciate a large hole and plenty of mulch when they are planted. Neither of them require much care, other than regular water while they are getting established.

These are two seasonally grown shrubs, one for spring and for summer which will reward your nose and the neighborhood with their wonderful fragrance.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Spotted Wing Drosophila Found in Colorado Fruits by Mary Small

Mushy Raspberries Infested with Spotted Wing Drosophila
The spotted wing drosophila is a newer pest in Colorado.  It was first reported in the state in 2012 and has been found in many counties.  The insect is a fruit fly that attacks fruit crops including raspberry, black raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, peach, cherry and grapes. They are particularly damaging to later ripening fruit.
One difference between it and other fruit flies is that the female can lay eggs in ripening fruit. (Most fruit flies attack fully ripened fruit.) When fruit is ripe and ready to be picked, it can already be infested. That’s because the female has a sclerotized (hardened), serrated ovipositor (egg laying structure). She can pierce fruit that has not yet been softened in the ripening process. The eggs hatch into tiny maggots that quickly convert fruit into a mushy liquid mess.

Control is difficult. Fruit should be picked on a regular basis and all fruit that’s dropped to the ground should be collected and discarded. The fruit growing area should be cleaned up of debris in the fall. Insecticidal sprays are applied to the crop on a regular basis once the insect has been reported in your area.  Please see this publication for suggested products. Treat crops in the early morning or in the evening when bees are less active to avoid harming them.  Read the label to determine when you can harvest the crop after treatment as this varies from product to product. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bacterial Diseases in Tomatoes by Mary Small

Photo by bitkisagligi.net
Photo by flickrhivemind.net
Moist weather this spring and summer has contributed to the development of bacterial diseases on tomatoes, just like it did for fireblight. The two diseases most often seen in years like this one are bacterial speck (Pseudomonas syringae pv.tomato) and bacterial spot (Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria). So far, we’ve had a couple tomato samples infected with bacteria brought to the plant clinic.
Leaf symptoms look the same for both diseases. Small water-soaked spots form and grow to about 1/8” in size with yellow halos. The centers are light brown and often tear; yellow halos are common. On more mature plants, infections are concentrated on the older foliage. Spots may also appear on the fruit pedicels.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Emerald Ash Borer Detected in New Areas of Boulder by Christi Lightcap Director of Communications at Colorado Department of Agriculture



BOULDER, Colo. – Emerald ash borer (EAB), a highly destructive tree pest that poses a serious threat to Colorado’s urban forests, has been detected in new locations within the City of Boulder. The non-native pest – already responsible for the death of millions of ash trees and tens of millions of dollars in costs in more than 20 states – is of concern because ash species comprise an estimated 15-20 percent of all trees in Colorado’s urban and community forests.

After EAB was first confirmed in Boulder in September 2013, an interagency EAB Response Team conducted a preliminary survey to determine the extent of infestation. The city was divided into a grid of one-square-mile sections, and branches were sampled from each to determine the presence of EAB. The survey resulted in infestation being positively identified in sampled ash trees within five separate sections.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Spice up Your Summer with Homemade Salsas! by Chef Elizabeth Buckingham

Photo closetcooking.com
Fresh homemade salsas are a flavorful, healthy way to use an abundance of summer produce – and of course you can customize these recipes to suit your own tastes. A basic salsa typically includes tomatoes, peppers and onions, but the potential combinations are endless. Make your salsas spicier with a variety of hot peppers; incorporate local fruits for sweeter salsas; add fresh herbs for texture and brightness. Salsas can easily be made raw (such as in a traditional pico de gallo) but throwing the vegetables on the grill adds another flavor dimension that elevates anything you use it with. Beyond the standard corn chips, try dipping fresh raw vegetables or using your salsas as a sauce for flank steak, grilled chicken, shrimp skewers, salmon filets, or burgers. If you want to really save the flavors of summer, you can preserve your salsas by water-bath canning to enjoy throughout the year.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Growing Summer Savory By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo Joyce D'Agostino
If you enjoy growing culinary herbs, you might want to consider adding Summer Savory (Satureia hortensis)  to your herb garden. 
I have heard of this herb for a number of years and wanted to finally give it a try. This spring I started the seedlings inside and simply transferred the tiny plants to a pot outside once the plants developed their second leaves. I moved it to the full sun next to my other herbs and it quickly began to grow in height.
This herb is a native of Southern Europe and some reports say that next to salt and pepper, this herb is the most frequently used in the kitchen and on the table. Those who love to make dishes such as beans or stuffed cabbage report that this herb adds a subtle aromatic flavor to these dishes. Since Savory has a mild peppery flavor, it can also be added to salad dressing and to marinades for meats as a substitute for black pepper.
The plants are considered annuals and can grow from 12 -18” tall so make a nice border plant. I found their leaves very attractive and it has been easy to grown and maintain. It has light purple flowers later in the season and then the leaves can turn a nice reddish bronze color after frost. Once they have flowered, pull up the entire plant and hang them to dry and use the crumbled dried leaves in dishes for fall and winter cooking.

Friday, July 25, 2014

It’s July! Why Is My Tree Dropping Its Leaves? by Patti O’Neal

Photo Patti O'Neal
Trees on the Front Range are under a lot of stress these days.  Right now we are seeing two things:  leaves turning yellow and dropping or leaves just dropping.  This is a common reaction of trees at this time of year, especially given the spring weather we had. 
This spring, we had cool, damp weather which encouraged trees to put on a great deal of leafage.  They have been green and full and lovely until now.  Now the hot, dry, low moisture conditions have persisted for several weeks, accompanied by hot, dry winds.  The trees cannot sustain the abundant growth they put on earlier in the year and are basically cutting their losses and letting go of growth they are now unable to sustain.   This is a natural response of trees to low moisture situations.  This response is often preceded by the yellowing of the leaves, another response to the lack of moisture or just the inability to take up enough water from the root system to match the transpiration of moisture from the top of the tree from the hot, dry conditions.   This can also be caused by rapid temperature fluctuations which we have experienced lately as well.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer Farmers' Market Recipes By Chef Elizabeth Buckingham

Peach and Prosciutto Salad photo tidymom.net
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. 

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.