Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mini Veggie Container Gardening

Don't have much garden space?  Or little time to devote to gardening this year?  Or are you getting older and a large garden is more difficult to maintain?  Well here is an opportunity to try your favorite vegetables in miniature size.

You have a wide selection of possibilities.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, squash and more are all available for growing in a small container.  In containers which are no larger than 24 inches high you can grow a number of tomatoes:

  • Tiny Tim is 45 days to maturity with red round fruits 3/4 inch.
  • Window Box Roma is 70 days to maturity with 2 inch red fruits and has a longer shelf life than regular tomato varieties.
  •  Elfin is 60 days to maturity with red fruits about one and a half inches which are crisp.

Next, you may want some cucumbers to go with your tomatoes:

  • Baby Cucumber with 52 days to maturity that makes a bushy vine.
  • Baby Whooper with 55 days to maturity that has no runners.
  • Midget with 50 days to maturity that has 2 foot vines.
For some of the bigger fruits such as cantaloupe:

  • Early Super Midget with 60 days maturity has a medium vine.
  • Minnesota Midget with 63 days maturity has 4 inch melons.
There are watermelons if you like those better:

  • Sugar Lumps with 78 days to maturity with melons that are 8 to 9 inches in diameter.
  • Lollipop with 70 days to maturity with melons that are 3-5 pounds.

Butterfly Gardening

Butterfly gardening is a different style of gardening. It is not as neat and manicured as some gardeners would like their garden. Gardeners need to know that to accommodate butterflies the plants that are offered must meet the requirements of their complete lifecycle. Food must be provided for the caterpillar stage and the adult stage.

To further understand how to design your butterfly garden, you need to know what butterflies will possibly visit your garden. Colorado State University has a fact sheet on Attracting Butterflies to the Garden (5.504). Here is a brief list of butterflies that come to northeast Colorado from Opler and Cranshaw's CSU fact sheet:

  • Western Tiger Swallowtail
  • Mourning Cloak
  • Clouded Sulfur
  • Checkered Skipper
  • Black Swallowtail

Here are some plant suggestions as sources for caterpillar food:

  • Hackberry
  • Milkweed
  • Wild licorice
  • Locust
  • Cottonwood
  • Chokeberry

Here are some plant suggestions as sources for nectar for adult butterflies:
  • Bush cinquefolia
  • Lilac
  • Sweet pea
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Zinnias
  • Cosmos

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

FireWise Landscaping


By Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate

 

Fire can happen on any landscape, at any time.  Incorporating preparation and prevention can assist with lessening the threat of fire.  

A fire on the plains can be effected by three things:

·        Surface fuels

·        Fine, fast-burning fuels

·        Usually driven by high wind

 
Photo Credit: Colorado Forest Service, Boyd Lebeda
 
 
What can you do when faced with a grass fire that travels quickly?  What preparations do you need to put in place around your home, long before a wild- fire? 
Aside from all of the above information, before fire season, stand back and look at your landscape differently can help prevent disaster to your family’s home.
First, according to the Colorado Forest Service when renovating your landscape around your home, this requires a defensible space.  This space serves as a buffer between your home and the trees, shrubs, perennials, grass and any wildland area that surround your home.  Do you have an evergreen planted up against your home? Does the ground slope away from your home?  What types of are established vegetation on your property?  All are factors to your ability to mitigate fire damage to your home.  CSU Forest Service recommends keeping your defensible space clean of trash and debris.
Second, everyone’s home has weak spots and hardening your home means using construction materials that can help your home withstand flying embers and shore up those weak spots.  Do you have a wood deck that attaches to your home? Are there garden tools with wooden handles or brooms or other highly flammable materials under the deck such as pine needles or leaves?  How often do you clean your gutters of debris? 
Third, have a Family Disaster Plan that has evacuation routes in place in case your family is asked to evacuate, a meeting area outside the fire hazard area and a Disaster Supply Kit.  This kit needs to last for at least 3 days and contain your family’s and pets’ necessary items.  Some of these items might be prescription medicines, cash, water, clothing, food and first aid.
Preparation goes a long way towards the success in a fire disaster or any disaster.  Disasters can put people in a panic mode.  If you have a plan, having a disaster supply kit insures that you may not forget medicine or something equally critical and the plan helps save lives. 
Now that you have an idea of what fuels a fire and what you need to do, you can add fire-resistant plants to your property and still have a beautiful landscape. There is a factsheet listed below which I have referenced in this article.  There are some wonderful native plants such as some of the perennial native forbs(wildflowers):
·        Echinacea purpurea, Purple Coneflower
·        Ratibida columnifera, Prairie Coneflower
·        many different species of Penstemon. 
 
Beyond these there is a wide list of non-native perennial choices from the FireWise Plant List on the FireWise Plant Materials Factsheet:
·        Ajuga reptans          Bugleweed
·        Lamium spp.            Dead nettle
·        Armeria maritima   Sea thrift
There are a number of shrubs and trees from which to choose from the same factsheet:
·        Prunus cerasifera               Flowering plum
·        Amelanchier alnifolia        Saskatoon alder-leaf serviceberry
·        Shepherdia argentea         Silver buffaloberry
·        Crataegus spp.                    Hawthorn
 
Here are some CSU links for Fire-Resistant Landscaping and FireWise Plant Materials that you can access for guides also used as references for this article:
CSU Quick Guide Series – Protecting Your Home from Wildfire: Creating Wildfire-Defensible Zones formerly CSU Extension Factsheet 6.302 –link:
 
CSU Forest Home Fire Safety Factsheet 6.304
CSU Fire-Resistant Landscaping 6.303
CSU Fire Wise Plant Materials 6.305
 


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fairy Gardens




 
Photo Credit: From Pinterest
 
 
 
Feel creative?  Try your hand at a fairy garden.  The sky is the limit!  Some folks use all natural materials and make things from scratch while others purchase miniature doors, windows and furniture. 
 
 
There are no rules about creating a fairy garden.  If you want the natural look, search in your back yard for bark and moss.  If you want stones and live nearby a river, lake or beach collect them for the look you want. 
 
Wooden popsicle sticks and toothpicks come in handy to use for fences, bridges or window frames.  Use your imagination.  Take a look at the picture below:
 
 
 
Photo Credit: etsy.com  Nature Fairy House
 
 
 
 
Art in any form helps everyone from little children to adults mentally, socially and emotionally.  So start the New Year spending time reenergizing yourself and take time to create.  Express yourself. 
There is no right or wrong when expressing yourself.  Go for it!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Plant Select 2016 Top Performers

According to Director of Plant Select Pat Hayward, fifty three public gardens in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Montana participated in the Plant Select Demonstration Garden Partner performance surveys in 2016.  These gardens display Plant Select winning plants, providing communities with educational opportunities to discover the plants that grow best in their local environments.  To qualify as a partner, each garden must do the following:

  • Display good garden design with regular garden maintenance
  • Have a well-planned educational program
  • Provide clear and legible signage with proper plant names
  • Be open to the public year round
  • Be at least one year old before applying
Plants were evaluated on winter hardiness, bloom and foliage quality, and overall appearance and performance on a scale of 1-9.  The results are as follows:

 
Grand Winner: Top Performer Overall
 
This  year's overall winner is Blonde Ambition blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' PP22,048).  Introduced in 2011, this ornamental selection of native blue grama grass was developed by David Salman, founder of High Country Gardens, and owner of Waterwise Gardening, LLC.  It received an overall score of 8.3 and was evaluated in 82% of the gardens reporting.  This is the second year in a row for Blonde Ambition as grand winner. 
 

Photo Credit: Plant Select
 
 
 
 

The following are the top performers in each of three elevation ranges.  Scores are based on reports from a minimum of half the gardens in each range.  Score and number of gardens reporting follow the winning plant name. 
 
Top performers in the 3000-5500' elevation range
 
  1. Blonde Ambition blue grama grass: 8.8/25
  2. Hot Wings Tatarian maple (Acer tataricum 'Gar ann' PP15,023): 8.1/21
  3. Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora): 8.1/19
  4. Turkish veronica (Veronica liwanensis): 8.1/19
  5. Orange Carpet hummingbird trumpet (Zauschneria garrettii ' PWWG01S): 8.1/18
 
Top performers in 5501-7000' elevation range
 
  1. Hot Wings Tatarian maple (Acer tataricum 'Gar ann' PP15,023):8.4/11
  2. Turkish veronica (Veronica liwanensis): 8.3/12
  3. Little Trudy catmint (Nepeta 'Psfike' PP18,904): 8.2/12
  4. Blonde Ambition blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis ' Blonde Ambition' PP22,048):8.1/15
  5. Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa): 8.1/13
 
Top performers over 7000' elevation
 
  1. Fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium ): 9.0/2
  2. Cheyenne mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii 'PWYO1S'): 8.7/3
  3. Winecups ( Callihoe involucrate ) : 8.5/2
  4. Kannah Creek buckwheat ( Eriogonum umbellatum v. aureum 'Psdowns'): 8.5/2
  5. Denver Gold columbine ( Aquilegia chrysantha ): 8.3/3
 
For more information about the Demonstration Garden Partner program:
 
 
 
High resolution images of the top winners can be found here:
 
 
 
Credit for this article goes to Plant Select.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Click Beetles

Adult Click Beetles, Photo Credit CSU Forest Service


What do wireworms and click beetles have in common?  Wireworms are the larval stage of click beetles.  So where can you find wireworms? 
  • They inhabit the soil
  • They feed on the roots of plants
  • They are found in decayed wood
What is the lifecycle of a click beetle?

  • First the adults can be found in abundance in mid to late spring.  The adults lay their eggs in shallow soil.
  • Then the larvae become active and tunnel into seeds, roots and other underground structures.
  • Next, the pupation occurs in small cells constructed in soil.
Click beetles host on root crops.  They also host on a wide variety of plant roots and seeds.  These beetles are very memorable once you have seen them.  They are among a large group of insects titled root, tuber and bulb feeders.  They are in good company with billbugs and weevils to name a few.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Tower Garden Results

 
Hydroponic System Photo Credit Alaina Akey, FFA student
 
 
 
Aeroponic System- Tower Garden Photo Credit Alaina Akey, FFA student
 
The soilless growing systems comprised of a tower garden and a hydroponic system in Wray, Colorado had the following results:
 
Hydroponic System:
The most efficient system was the hydroponic system because it used less water.
The system was easy to set-up. 
The pump did not circulate water that well and caused more algae build-up.
The system used .5 to 1 gallon of water.
When the system was moved outside it averaged 2-3 gallons per week.  The systems were moved outside because of the end of the school.  The systems were moved to the FFA student's home.
 
The Tower Garden:
 
The set-up was easy except for the net pots that were supposed to snap in and that did not always happen.
Easy to follow instructions.
The system used 3 to 5 gallons per week.
When the system was moved outside the water increased to 3-5 gallons every other day.
 
 With the Tower Garden and the hydroponic system tomatoes ended up with blossom end rot which is a physiological condition.  Researchers have discovered this to be a problem in tomatoes and peppers grown in aeroponic and hydroponic systems.  In our hydroponic system it was evident only in those grown without soil.  We broke the rules and left half the pots in a soilless medium and the others in water with clay balls for a medium.  The tomatoes growing in only water with clay balls still ended up with blossom end rot.  A medium consisting of a soilless medium can clog up a hydroponic system.  In ours it did not occur.  But that is what is meant by we broke the rules.
 
 

Photo Credit by Linda Langelo, CSU Extension, Golden Plains Area


See any of this on your Austrian Pines?  If you do then your pines might be attacked by Pine Zimmerman Moth.  These moths which you may or may not see are about mid-sized moths with gray wings.  Blended with red-brown and marked with zig zag lines.

This moth has a one year cycle.  It overwinters underneath the bark in a cocoon.  These caterpillars once active in mid-late April and May tunnel into any pre-existing wounds.  As they start tunneling, you may notice sawdust and or pitch over the entry site.   As they continue to feed into July and August, they create more pitch. 

The adult moths are active in July and August and the female lays eggs near the previous masses of pitch.  The best time to manage these moths are when the larvae are active and exposed on the bark.  Trunk sprays are best in mid-April and again in August.

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: