Thursday, December 1, 2016

Container Competition

For our small town of Julesburg, Colorado, the garden club here collaborates with the local chamber to enhance the festivities of main street.  The garden club asked businesses to decorate the containers in the theme of Old Fashion Christmas.  So some of the garden club members set example trees out in the containers ahead of the competition.

Photo Credit Linda Langelo

Friday, October 14, 2016

Small Jumping Spiders

Small Jumping Spider, Photo Credit - Bug Geek
In September, I had a client who has a windbreak within 20 feet from the house.  The client keeps the trees well hydrated and has created an environment that spiders love.  Of course, August into September is a time for spiders to mate.  The windbreak consisted of blue spruces.  On this year's candle growth, the females had made thick silken webs called "pup tents".  Some sources say they make their silken webs under the bark of various trees.  These tents are for protection and a "den" for sleeping at night.
These jumping spiders, Salticidae , are named this literally because they jump on their prey.  They can jump 30 times their length.  Their eating habits extend further than other insects.  Nectar seems to also be part of their diet.  Small jumping spiders are very active hunters or diurnal. 
These spiders have well-developed internal hydralic system according to Wikipedia.  This system extends their limbs by altering the pressure of body fluid or hemolymph within them. Pretty amazing arachnid. 
When this spider prepares to jump, they have a silken tether which they remain attached to if the jump does not go well.  This tether takes them back to their starting point.  According to Wikipedia, the silken tether is impregnated with pheromones and is used for navigation, social and reproductive communication.  So they do not have "wireless" communication. 
For further information go to the following links:

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Maple Not Sensitive to pH

Photo Credit:

One of my favorite maples in the west -- Hot Wings Tatarian Maple.  One feature that people in the west relish are their trees.  Beyond that, they love to see the fall coloration of the leaves.  Hot Wings Tatarian Maple gives them a beautiful orange-red color in the fall.  In the spring, the tree comes into bloom presenting yellow-white flowers.   In the summer, the red-scarlet samaras (seeds) are the tree for a show for six weeks. 

This is a wonderful small three that is an accent piece for your landscape.  It gets to 18 feet tall by 18 feet wide.  I planted it in my front yard right in front of the bay window.  The front lawn has a slight downhill slope so as the tree grows, the main crown fills the front window with a season of changes.

The best feature is it is not pH sensitive.  Maples in our western region struggle because the pH is often between 7.2 and higher.  Our alkaline soils prevent maples and other plants from obtaining iron, manganese or zinc.  These elements are micronutrients the tree still needs for photosynthesis and enzymatic activity. 


What is the most popular annual we use in our gardens?

Marigolds -- no

Four O'Clocks -- no

That's right!  Zinnias! Most popular worldwide!  They originate from Mexico and South Texas.

Photo Credit:  Linda Langelo, CSU, Golden Plains Extension
Zinnias are great for cut flowers, color and they just fill in and cover those open bare spots when you don't know what to plant.   A zinnia will do.
Zinnia elegans
-- Magellan grows 14 inches tall and are great for using as a cut flower.
Zinnia angustifolia
-- Creeping or spreading types
-- low water requirements and grows to 8-12 inches tall.  Resistant to powdery mildew  & leaf spot.  
-- a cross between Zinnia elegans and Zinnia angustifolia
--12 inches high and 15 inches spread
--a cross between Zinnia elegans and Zinnia angustifolia
--compact with bright colors

Tower Garden

Tower Garden Photo Credit Linda Langelo


Tower Gardens are cropping up everywhere.  These are aeroponic systems where water is pumped to the top and runs over the root systems of each plant.  As an FFA project we trialed one at the Wray High School greenhouse. 
Some important tips about this enclosed growing system:
  1. Keeping the water reservoir level.
  2. Keeping the pump submerged in water.  Check the level often.
  3. If there is insufficient lighting, then supplemental lighting will be needed.
  4. Keeping the water temperature in the reservoir 85 or less.  Ours stayed around 55 F - 65 F.
With the Tower Garden, we grew the seedlings in a starter soilless mix and the rock wool.  With the seedlings in the soilless mix we washed off the soilless mix when we transplanted them in the net pots. The first problem was the net pots did not snap into place even when they were empty.  We tried snapping them in place with the seedling in it and that on some was difficult.
The second problem was with the seedlings in rock wool starter cubes you had to push them all the way into the net pot.  
Our seedlings were about at 4 to 5 weeks old and they recommend 3-4 weeks for transplanting.  The root systems were delicate and not easy to place in the net pots.  The roots did not always have good coverage with water at the angle of the net pots on the tower.  This leaves only one option - use the rock wool starter cubes because it helps with less plant shock.  Our greenhouse had a heating issue and some of the initial seedlings died that were grown in the rock wool which is why we went to a soilless mix.  If the seedlings could be grown in the net pots and just easily snap in at 3-4 weeks instead of first growing in rock wool and then placed in the net pots that would be more successful.   
We compared this system with a hydroponic system which also passes water over the plant roots.  But in our case, we let half of the plants stay in soil and half in clay hydroton pebbles.  The plants that remained in soil performed better.  More to come on more results next month in November.


Carpenterworm Photo credit-Linda Langelo

What will this larva become?   A moth.  These pests are attracted to a wide range of hardwood tree hosts such as oak, elm, ash and poplar.  In Colorado, we have a lot of ash and poplar according to our CSU entomologist Whitney Cranshaw.  People want trees that are fast growing.  They want protection from the wind. 

Their lifecycle ranges between 3 to 4 years.  Carpenterworms form a central cavity with side tunnels inside the tree.  These can extend into the sapwood and eventually the heartwood.  They emerge in spring about the month of May.  You will notice exit holes along the bark.  Early signs of detection are small damp spots on the bark.

Carpenterworms are widespread throughout the US and Canada.  The best way to manage these borers will be to hang pheromone traps on the species of trees listed above.  Then you know they are present and can coincide your spraying with their egg laying and adult activity.  Trunk sprays are recommended. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Reason for Optimism After Hail

We stood and watched two-and-a-half-inch hail devastate the landscape around us within minutes. All efforts of the growing season gone.  Yet, in the aftermath, there is reason for optimism.  Most vegetables are resilient.  Take the local community garden for example, even the broad-leaved plants in our landscapes most affected can be resilient.  The silver lining is if 50 percent or more of the leaves remaining on the broad-leaved plants, they have the opportunity to produce food for the plant survive.  Broad-leaved plants such as daylilies can survive.  In fact, at various public places I've worked, we intentionally cut the daylilies back after they bloomed then watered fertilized them.  They produce a second bloom by late August and September.  I don't recommend this every season.  This is forcing a plant to bloom out of season and not the best cultural practice.

One other optimistic note after a severe storm, is if you have lots of native plants in your garden, it seems that they did better than any of the non-native herbaceous perennials, biennials and annuals. Amazingly, the native plants of the Plant Select Program fared the best in the Sedgwick County Courthouse Colorado, landscape.  These include:

  • Diascia integerrima 'P009S' Coral Canyon Twinspur
  • Penstemon x Mexicali 'P008S' Red Rocks Penstemon
  • Clematis scottii, Scotts Sugarbowls that faced the wind and hail head on came through with only a couple of seed heads pruned off the plant.
  • Fallugia paradoxa, Apache Plume
  • Ceroearpus intricatus, Littleleaf Mountain Mahogany
  • Ratibida columnifera, Prairie Coneflower
  • Nepeta "Pskite" PP 18,904 made it through with some tattered leaves as well.
  • Echinacea purpurea, Purple Coneflower also made it through with just a few leaves tattered.
There are a lot of other natives that would do well, these are just those we can testify to in the hail aftermath.  Natives do not need any fertilization.

There are many methods to heal what is wounded by storm damage; I would suggest the following:

Herbaceous perennials that had prolific flower stalks: prune those back to good growth if there are any good leaves left on the stalks.  If there are basal leaves or a rosette at the base of the plant, just prune the stalks to just above the basal leaves or rosette.  If the rosette or basal leaves are damaged give a light fertilization.  This will give plants further energy for growing new leaves. 

Annuals: you may just have to call it quits, especially if nothing grows back in a week.  Examine them to see if there is anything left to grow and fertilize.  Sometimes with petunias, snapdragons and violas, you may find that they get severely damaged, yet there is still a mass of leaves to grow again and flower.  With the petunias, pruning will be helpful.  Other annuals such as zinnias can be pruned.  There is still enough time in the season.  I am recommending to lightly fertilize annuals once a week.  On that note, too much nitrogen in the soil increases the mineral salt content.  Excessive salt can dehydrate the plant.  The symptoms would be burning or yellowing of the leaf margins.  The best thing to do is water and wash the excess nitrogen in the soil.  Nitrogen moves quickly through the soil.  Excess nitrogen will slow root development.

Biennials: enjoy what is left because if they are flowering this will be the last year you will see them.  You will need to start over next season.

Shrubs: prune out what is damaged and during the very hot days of summer give them a deep root watering.  The timing for pruning won't be perfect for some shrubs and you may lose next year's flower buds.

Trees: prune out what is damaged and during hot dry periods such as an extended drought give them an extra deep root watering, but do not fertilize them.  It makes sense to remove the branches that are hanging first and make nice clean cuts.  Then examine the tree for any severe hail damage and prune properly.  Even if your tree looks very thin, give the tree time, it will grow new leaves.

Fruit trees: remove the damaged fruit.  The damaged fruit will attract pests.  Again, look to see if there are any hanging branches and other severely damaged hail wounds on limbs that might not heal quickly.  Open wounds are an easy entry for pests and diseases for trees and shrubs.

In answer to the question, "a reason for optimism after hail?"  We have witnessed the wounds of severe hail, now we can apply optimism towards what remains on the landscape and heal.  It is hard work, and that, in part, is what gardeners do!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pinyon Needle Scale

Photo Credit: Donna Davis, CSU Forester - Egg Mass on Pinyon

Out here on the eastern plains of Colorado, I see this type of scale on pinyons less often than pine needle scale which also is attracted to Colorado Blue Spruce and many other pines. 

Photo Credit: Donna Davis

Pinyon needle scale attach to the needles.  This is how it overwinters as seen in the next photo.  Winter is done and they are out. 

Photo Credit: Donna Davis

Tri State Horticulture Symposium

Photo Credit: Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate

On both April 4 and April 5, we had an attendance of 21 and 20.  The picture above shows Dori Seamans from the NRCS and a beekeeper taking around a section of a traditional hive as both she and Shannon Bowling, Wildlife Biologist spoke about a newer hive called Flow Hive.  Flow Hive allows the honey to flow from a tap into jars without having to remove any part of the hive or smoke the bees.  It is less labor intensive.  The Flow Hive is being trialed in the Burlington Community Garden. 

Photo Credit: CMG Robin Vincent

In the picture above, CSU Entomologist Whitney Cranshaw covering Bugs and More Bugs.  People enjoyed learning about the role of antennae play for insects which is sensing their environment.   As Whitney stated, "Where do people get Spider sense.  Spiders have no sense.  They have no antennae."  Whitney used humor throughout his presentation to help folks become aware of important information about different insects. 

Photo Credit, CMG Robin

We invited several vendors to attend and show off their products.  We had Parkhill Gardens a local greenhouse and nursery.  We had Robin Schneider, a landscape designer from Wray with a design business titled, "The Garden Edge."   We had Evergreen Landscapes operated by Mark and Kristi Dix located in Yuma.  Next year, we hope to have more vendors attending. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Whitney Cranshaw Comes to Yuma

For our Tri-State Horticulture Symposium,  on April 5, Whitney Cranshaw our Colorado State University Extension Entomology Specialist is talking on Bugs, Bugs and More Bugs.  He is also planning on doing a one hour focus on other pollinators in our gardens which keep our gardens ecosystems balanced. 

Whitney will answer any questions on insects.  But for hot topics, he plans to talk about grubs, spider mites and aphids.  Three relentless pests that plague our gardens. 

April 4th, don't miss Invasive Weeds, by Brian Talamantes, CSU Weed Science and Agronomy Agent.  He is talking on the plants which escaped from our gardens and into the wild. 

Then to enhance Whitney's hour on other garden pollinators, Dori Seamans, NRCS and Beekeeper, and Shannon Bowling, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist will focus on Habitats for Pollinators including habitats for bees.

Meet the Vendors over lunch.  Local vendors have been invited to display their plant materials and show off their business. 

Lastly, Best Practices for Caring for our Trees, by Boyd Lebeda, CSU Forest Service will talk on the does and don'ts to caring for our trees.  Our prized resources.

Don't miss the deadline March 28, 2016.  Get registered now to be able to be guaranteed a lunch included in the cost which is $30 for one day/individual or $45/person covers both days.  Late fee is $50 at the door.