Thursday, December 31, 2009

Landscape Seminar

January 20, 2010
Yuma Community Center
421 East 2nd Avenue
Yuma, Colorado

Topics and Speakers:

Growing & Pruning Fruit Trees/Shrubs
By Bruce Bosley, Natural Resources & Cropping Systems

Common Pruning Mistakes
By Tyson Reents, Owner of Sunrise Lawn Service


Composting and Aquaponics for your family or business
By Colorado Master Gardener Lisa Brewer and Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate

Raised Beds & Container Gardening with Trellising Techniques
By Bill and Deb Rawlings, Owners of William’s Fresh Floral and Garden Center

Contact: Phillips County Extension at (970)854-3616 for further details and to register by
January 13, 2010
Cost $35 includes lunch, late registration or at the door $45

Sponsored by Colorado State University

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Aquaponics: What is it all about?

In Phillips County in Colorado in our new Phillips County Community Event Center on January 16th, come and participate in an aquaponics workshop from 10 to 12.

Aquaponics yields two products: vegetables + fish. Join our workshop and find out how others are supplementing their income or starting a business with aquaponics. Grow foods that you love without soil or fertilizer. This system still is very conservative with water.

Call the Phillips County Extension at (970)854-3616 and ask for Linda Langelo, Horticulture Program Associate.

Gardening Workshops

The first in a series of gardening workshops is titled Designing Your Garden on January 9th in Burlington. Call Phillips County Extension at (970)854-3616 or Kit Carson County Extension (719)346-5571 for more information.

This workshop will focus on square foot gardening. The inventor Mel Bartholomew has made this technique popular. Its popularity is due to the strategy behind the techniques. This strategy changes the psychological approach to gardening. That strategy is less work and less space. Having less space conserves water. Let's face it-backyard gardeners are not farmers and farming is hard work.

The technique can be accurately described as each square is a foot and the maximum area is four feet by four feet. Each square can contain anywhere from 1, 4, 9 or 16 plants. This can give you a maximum of 130 plants/four foot block.

Every week you can easily manage one block of four feet by four feet in just an hour. The gardening is done in a raised bed. A great deal of work goes into the preparation of the soil in the raised bed that creates the four by four foot block. But once that is accomplished, you have no use for power equipment and an ideal place to sow seeds that is easy to work. The raised bed is is no deeper than a foot. This depth gives the plant's roots plenty of room to grow.

Join us January 9th in Burlington and learn more about this easy almost effortless way of gardening and save water at the same time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tentative 2010 GPA Garden Class Schedule

January 9: Designing Your Garden - Garden layouts, watering systems, companion planting & vertical gardening.

February 6: Compost Happens!- Composting & vermicomposting & soil improvements.

March 6: Starting Your Garden From Seed - Do’s & don’ts of starting plants indoors - grow lights & cold frames.

April 3: Raising Micro Greens & Salad Gardens - Fresh salad & greens year round & raising sprouts.

May 1: Gardening in Raised Beds & Containers - Produce a lot in a small space! Hands-on workshop at Williams Floral & Garden Center after class time.

June 5: Raising Herbs Inside and Out - Raising, harvesting, storing & using the herbs you grow.

August 7: Raising Fruits & Berries – Ext. Agent Bruce Bosely - Methods of raising fruit & plant varieties for the Plains.

September 11: Raising & Storing Root Crops - Compare & contrast methods of growing root crops & best way to preserve them.

October 2: Starting Early & Finishing Late - Extend the growing season with micro-greenhouses.

November 6: Raising Vegetables Year Round - Triumphs & pitfalls of growing food in greenhouses.

For more information contact Linda Langelo, GPA Horticulture Program Associate or (970) 854-3616 or Lisa Brewer, GPA Master Gardener (719) 346-8828

Monday, October 26, 2009

Class Offered for Growing Pumpkins & Squash

Perhaps no family of plants is more fun and rewarding to grow than pumpkin and squash. The variety of pumpkins and squash is amazing. Their colors and shapes are interesting and even a bit artistic in the garden. The vines are fast and aggressive and require no great skills on the part of the gardener as long as a few simple rules are followed. Come learn about the ins and outs of raising pumpkins and squash. We will learn about heirloom varieties and new ones; raising them in large gardens or in smaller spaces with trellising tricks.

Local master gardener, Lisa Brewer, along with Extension Agent Linda Langelo, will be offering a class entitled “Powerful Pumpkins and Super Squash” as part of their on-going series of home gardening classes. The class is free to anyone interested in raising their own vegetables and fruit. Joy Akey, Extension Agent from Yuma County, will be there with lessons on the proper way to preserve the bounty from your next pumpkin and squash harvest! Squash and pumpkin are nutrient dense and calorie thrifty vegetables that we should utilize more often in our healthy diets. Recipes will be available to get you started on adding squash and pumpkin to your meals.

Class will be held at Old Town in Burlington on Saturday, November 7th. Class begins at 10:00 a.m. and will last until noon. If you are attending the class you may enter the facility at the west gate (the old Emporium entrance) between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. After that, you will need to go around to the new entrance on the east side of Old Town. If you would like more information on this or any other classes being offered please contact Lisa Brewer at 719-346-8828.

Perry Brewer

Thursday, October 1, 2009

True and False -- What to do for fall lawn care and other tidbits!

Fall and spring are the two better times to overseed your lawn. True.

When you overseed your lawn, your seed must make good contact with the soil. True.

Overseed your lawn with different types of grass species other than what you have. True.

When you fertilize your lawn in the fall, it keeps it greener longer and greens up earlier in the spring. True.

Fertilizing your lawn in mid-September stimulates healthier root growth. True.

Fertilizing your lawn in mid-November and mid-September also helps stimulate healthier root growth. True.

Fertilizing late in the season does not provide the same benefits to buffalograss and blue grama grass, bermudagrass or zoysiagrass as it does Kentucky Blue grass. True.

Fall is a bad time for core aeration. False.

Needled and broadleaf evergreens are at a higher risk when planted in the fall. True.

Needle drop occurs every autumn on conifers/evergreens. False.

Needle drop occurs every 3-4 years on ponderosa. True.

Needle drop occurs every 4-5 years on austrian pines. True.

Water your trees at the root zone once a month, if it is a dry month in the winter. True.

Start monitoring water for you trees beginning November 1 to March 1. True.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fall Bulbs -- Iris Rebloomers -- Order Through Your Local Master Gardeners

Top left: Blue Suede Shoes is a reblooming iris for zones 3 to 9 with a late spring and early summer bloom.
Top right: Mariposa Skies also a rebloomer with the same zones and bloom time as Blue Suede Shoes.
Lower left: Immortality again with the same zones and bloom time.
Lower right: Pure as Gold again with the same zones and bloom time as the others.
Remember these will bloom again in the fall. They are spectacular and when there is not much blooming what a show. I used Immortality on a golf course back east and what a show stopper it was.
So, if you are interested in ordering this collection, it sells for $40 through Master Gardeners in the Golden Plains Area or call Linda Langelo 970-854-3616 and place your order.

Flower Power Bulb Sales

Flower Power Bulbs come direct from Holland through the Dutch Bulb Company. We have been using the fall sale of bulbs for a Master Gardener Fundraiser in the Golden Plains Area for the third season in a row. Each year, we get to keep 50 percent of what we raise. The funds go to support projects like classroom supplies for Master Gardeners who teach about gardening or for other community projects like the local community gardens. Two years ago in Holyoke, Master Gardener funds were able to pay for a tree for an after school class on proper tree planting. These are just a few examples of how the funding is used to educate our communities children.
The bulbs that are for sale this year are as follows:
A Reblooming Iris Collection for $40 with Blue Suede Shoes, Immortality (white), Pure as Gold, Mariposa Skies (white and blue)
Jumbo Crocus (20) for $10
5 Allium Purple Sensation -- always popular for $10
5 Fragrant Hyacinths Mixture for $12
8 Deluxe Tulip Mixture for $12
Turkenlouis Oriental Poppy for $15
3 Stargazer Lilies for $15
4 Avalon Daffodils for $12
20 Glory of Snow for $10
4 Pagoda Dogtooth Violets for $10
25 Lavender Mountain Lilies for $10
8 Pink Impression Tulips for $12
1 Brookside Hardy Geraniums $15
12 White and Blue Grape Hyacinths for $10
And a spring garden collection for $25 with 5 Tulips, 5 Deluxe Daffodils, 10 Jumbo Crocuses, 10 Blue Grape Hyacinths, 10 Tall Dutch Iris and 10 Alpine Rosy Bells.
We hope you consider Master Gardeners. Thank you for your donation.
Please call (970)854-3616 and speak with Linda Langelo for information and placing an order.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Vegetable Gardening Classes Offered

The C.S.U. Golden Plains Area Extension Service is offering classes in vegetable gardening to anyone interested in raising their own produce. Vegetable gardening is a wonderful way to relax, spend time outdoors, connect with children and/or grandchildren, and even get a little exercise! It also offers the added bonus of fresh tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc. for your table!! What could be better than that?

Extension Horticulture agent, Linda Langelo, and Kit Carson County Master Gardener, Lisa Brewer, will be offering many classes in the coming months. Most of the classes will be held in the old gift emporium at Old Town in Burlington. A small fee of $10.00 will cover the costs of materials and handouts. In addition to these classes, there will be some hands-on workshops next spring at Williams Floral & Garden Center in Burlington.

Some of the class topics will be on designing your garden, raising and using herbs, vermicomposting, raised bed and container gardening, small fruit and berries, water-wise gardening, preserving your harvest, and many more. Each class will last from two to three hours and you will come away with good information that you can adapt to your particular gardening needs.
If you are interested in attending one or more of these classes, please call the Burlington Extension Office at 719 346-5571 to register.

Fall 2009 schedule of Classes:

Sept. 12th – “Staring Early & Finishing Late” – extending the growing season with micro-greenhouses and harvesting the garden twice.

Oct. 3rd – “Gardening with Heirlooms” – the pros and cons of raising heirloom varieties of tomatoes, squash, peppers, etc.

Nov. 7th – “Powerful Pumpkins & Super Squash” – growing, cooking and canning pumpkin and squash for nutrient dense, low calorie dishes.

*All classes will begin at 10:00 a.m. at Old Town in Burlington

The Mountain Pine Beetle Arrives on the Plains

The Colorado State Forester for the northeastern region of Colorado, Norland Hall, announced the mountain pine beetle was found in Willard, Sterling and Fort Morgan over the last couple of weeks in August. The picture to the left shows a close up dorsal view from the USDA Forest Service.
Yes, the mountain pine beetle has been concentrated in the Rocky Mountains and Black Hills areas. For the past few years, those residing on the plains have watched the devastation from a front row seat. However, this bark beetle which is only about ¼ inch long with black or brown coloring. The larvae are yellowish-white with no legs and dark heads.
These beetles attack ponderosa, lodge pole, limber and occasionally scotch pines. If you have any of these trees in your landscape keep the trees healthy. The best natural defense is a healthy tree. Healthy pines are less attractive to the beetle. Other natural defenses are woodpeckers and clerid beetles. Mother Nature can help control outbreaks by providing extremely cold temperatures. However, when planting your landscape use a diversity of trees in your plan and properly space the tree to match its mature height and width. Overcrowding adds stress to the trees. To create an analogy for you, picture the idea of having a family of ten live in a two bedroom home with no basement and two bathrooms.
In our current economic state, everyone is looking for a bargain. Firewood for some people is the primary way they keep their homes heated in the winter. These beetles have devastated acres of trees and are providing a cheap source of firewood. Firewood is being sold from acres of those ponderosa trees from Colorado and Wyoming. If you purchase firewood from such a source, remember if the bark is still intact, there may be mountain pine beetle larvae still alive and active in the firewood.
The signs to watch for are a popcorn-shaped masses of resin on the trunk where the beetles initially attack and have started tunneling. Notice any sawdust in the bark crevices or on the ground. Woodpecker feeding is another piece of evidence with pieces of bark on the ground. Woodpeckers also feed on other larvae as well. In May or June the crown of the pine would turn reddish-brown and would be a late symptom of attacks the previous season.
If you have any questions or see the popcorn-shaped masses of resin on the bark or fresh sawdust, please feel free to contact your local Extension office.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What is Swiss chard?

Swiss chard is a member of the Beet family that does not produce an edible root, but rather produces edible crinkly leaves. This is not a popular vegetable because people do not know what to do with it or even know what it is.
In the Holyoke Community Garden, we are growing the 1998 All American Selection called Bright Lights. The stem colors or petioles of Bright Lights range in color from orange, red, white, yellow, gold, pink and striped. It takes 55 days to maturity. Swiss chard is excellent as an ornamental.
Swiss chard can grow in any soil type, but likes the soil to stay evenly moist. It will grow in any day length and temperature. The seeds can be planted in spring an inch deep and 4 to 6 inches apart. If the soil is high in organic matter, this will keep the soil moist.
There are no major disease or insect problems occasionally aphids and leaf miner. Aphids can be hosed off with water or sprayed with insecticidal soap.
This crop will provide a full season of harvesting once the leaves get to be about 4 inches tall. Harvest the outer most leaves. Once you harvest it, it is best eaten fresh, but you can freeze, can or dry it.
Swiss chard has the bitterness of beet greens and a salty flavor of spinach leaves. But with swiss chard, you can eat both leaves and stalks. The stalks need to be cooked slightly longer than the leaves.
The vitamin content of Swiss chard starts with the highest percentage of vitamin K, then A and then C. Besides these, magnesium, manganese, potassium and iron are also high percentages within this vegetable. Other nutritional benefits of lesser levels are calcium, copper and dietary fiber, B6, B2, B5, B1, B3, folate, zinc, tryptophan, biotin and phosphorus.
With this easy to grow vegetable, there is a far greater benefit with a full season of harvesting.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A native---Cleome

This is a native of the western region. Right now it is blooming in Sedgwick County in Julesburg along the roadside growing among the fenceline into the fair grounds.
This plant can be found on dry sandy soils along roadsides and waste places. The bees appreciate the nectar from the blossoms of this plant. However, livestock stay away from the plant because it has an unpleasant odor. The flowers are attractive in gardens. This is as an annual.
The common annual that you can purchase from Burpee is called Cleome hasslerana and can flower from early summer until fall. It takes full sun and likes a dry location in the garden. The Queen series has violet and rose colors. This plant can get 3 to 4 feet tall or taller and needs to go in as background in your garden or as a focal point. It does not need dead heading and can reseed next year, but may not come up in the same location. The more popular name for it is Spiderflower.
Other seed mixes that you can purchase of this annual are called Sparkler Mix with white, purple and pink. It is best to just sow the seed directly. This annual takes little care. And the best part is that it should be considered as a xeric plant.
As for the plant's cultural assets, the Indians used the plant for food and making pottery paint. The whole plant was boiled to make into cakes of black dye. The seeds were eaten raw or cooked. The seeds were ground into a meal to be used as mush or used in flour for bread-making. The shoots, leaves and flowers were used as potherbs.
Do not underestimate such as easy to care for plant in your annual borders next year!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Xeric Landscapes

People are becoming more and more interested in xeric plants. Xerophyte plants have many different innovative adaptations of their physical to survive an environment of extreme heat and drought. Cactus have spines to help shade the plant and a waxy coating to hold the moisture in the plant. Some plants store water in their stems. Other xerophytes have no leaves and there for no transpiration. Some come out of dormancy for a short period, flower and go to seed and go back into dormancy.

There are many types of plants to choose for the xeric landscape. Calylophus serrulatus is a golden-yellow flowering plant that is very drought tolerant as well being among the native plants. It is readily available in several mail order catalogues.

Plan on planting these xeric plants during the fall when their root system has the opportunity to have a lot more moisture and produce a well-developed root system by next spring and summer. The ability of these xeric plants is to have roots that can grow to several feet in order to have access to subsurface moisture. Some other types of plants are butterfly bush, agaves, ice plants, hesperaloe, hyssop, pussytoes, prickly poppy, fringed sage, red valerian to name a few.

Anyone can go to Plant Select website and search through some seventy selections for xeric plants. Plant Select is a plant program started by Denver Botanic Gardens and Colorado State University in search of plants that were the best selections for our native climate. Among the list some are more xeric than others. There are some listed as annuals and not winter hardy. Pay attention to the zones. For those in northeast Colorado, we are in zone five, but it is better to select plants hardy to zone 4. If we have a slightly colder winter, then the plants are sure to overwinter.

The last and most important point about xeric plants is they need to be well-drained soil. Some of the plants can tolerate a periodic flooding, but if their root systems sit in consistently wet soil the crown of the plant will rot, along with the roots.

Go out and explore and add some xeric plants to your garden today.

Monday, July 13, 2009

European Elm Flea Weevil

Throughout the Golden Plains Area, the European elm flea weevil is a pest that has been in the United States since 1982. Now it is showing up in Siebert, Wray, Paoli and Holyoke, Colorado. This pest attacks Siberian elms and has been doing so in the upper Midwest since 2003. The adults begin chewing holes in the leaves. The feeding usually starts in May and early June. We are still seeing activity from the adults here in July. The females lay eggs in the mid-vein of the leaf. When the larvae hatch, they begin to mine the leaf tip. The mined area enlarges into a blotch. Once the larvae pupate, they emerge from the leaf and in late July or early August.

These weevils can do extensive damage in defoliating a tree. Their extensive feeding on trees can weaken the tree making it more susceptible to secondary problems. There are chemical controls recommended. A systemic soil drench applied to the tree in fall will help with the leafminer stage in late spring and adults feeding later in the season. For adults emerging now sprays are recommended now. Contact your local Extension for identifying the pest and recommendations on sprays.

The outbreaks began in Siebert and then have been slowly making their way into northern region of the Golden Plains Area to Pailo and Holyoke.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fire Blight

Wet, rainy springs with temperatures of 65 and above are the best environment for fire blight. This bacteria, Erwinia amylovora, infects certain apple trees, quince, crabapple and mountain ash. Chanticleer pear and Bradford pear are ornamental trees for the landscape. Both are not resistant to fireblight. Other plants also not resistant to fire blight are hawthorn trees.

Apple trees that have some resistance are Early McIntosh, Grimes, Golden Delicious, Missouri Pippin, Sharon, Red Delicious, Winesap, Duchess, Turley and Haralson. According to University of Idaho, the commercial varieties of Enterprise and Liberty do not live up to their claim of better resistance.

Pear trees that have some resistance to fireblight are Douglas, Golden Kieffer, Seckell, Anjou, Magness, Moonglow, Brandywine and Centurion.

Crabapples that have some resistance to fireblight are Radiant, Kelsey, Red Splendor, Royalty, Snow Cloud, Vanguard and Dolgo.

The signs of fire blight begin with the flower petals. The blossoms turn brown, mushy and wilt. Then, the bacteria moves down into the branches and creates cankers. Next, the leaves darken, usually along the veins and through the rest of the leaf. Eventually, the leaves will be entirely darkened or appear to have a scorched look to them. Lastly, the newest growth at the ends of the branches will blacken and curl creating a "shepherd's crook" symptom.

If fire blight is left untreated the disease will progress to the point where the cankers will girdle the tree. Do not feed the tree with nitrogen fertilizer and avoid any overhead irrigation.

The proper treatment starts with pruning the infected areas. Each cut needs to be 6 to 12 inches from the infected area and in healthy tissue. When pruning a 10% household bleach is recommended to be used to clean the pruners before the next cut. The bacteria is carried on the pruners and is taken to another location.

There are certain chemicals that are useful in controlling the spread in healthy areas of the tree. These chemicals provide good coverage over the healthy tissue. What is already infected, the chemicals cannot bring the infected tissue back into a healthy state. Lime sulfur and/or streptomycin (Agristrep) are recommended. Bordeaux mix, a copper compound is recommended to be applied when the blossoms are at 50% open. Follow directions when using any chemical. Copper compounds can kill healthy tissue, if they are overused during the season.

Just remember bacteria are opportunistic. When the right set of circumstances occurs, they begin to spread. So be proactive if you have trees that lack a higher resistance to fire blight.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


How much do you know about sprouts? Yes, the lingo is microgreens. Have you ever tried sunflower sprouts? They are high in Vitamin B complex, and E and has 25% protein. Along with sunflower sprouts are pea shoots. These types of sprouts are called microgreens. This is a quick crop that you can grow well in a tray with light soil and nutrients. In this case, Growing Power creates their soil from compost and adds the worm castings to the tray along with coconut fiber that has been ground into smaller pieces called coir.

There are a number of different types of crops that can be grown as microgreens. Wheatgrass, mustard and shisho are a few. All require darkness for the seed to germinate. The germination can take from 3 to 5 days. Then it takes 5 to 10 days before harvest. Germination and harvest are dependent upon weather. If the weather is cloudy and cool, both germination and harvest will take longer. The cooler it is outside, the the cooler it is in the greenhouse.

You can grow in containers a winter salad mix and/or a summer salad mix. In the winter, you can grow spinach, collards, kale, mustard, radish, cabbage and wheatgrass. For the summer, you can remove the spinach and cool season crops and add lettuce, arugla and swiss chard. Because they make their own soil from compost and then add the vermicompost portion, they have a rich nutrient soil. They use this in their pots and leave the lettuce, arugla and swiss chard in one pot for several cuttings and then reseed the pot again.

There is quite a niche here in Milwaukee. They even grow pots of nasturiums and dandelion greens. The local chefs buy the nasturiums. Dandelion greens go in the salad or can be packaged separately.

Any of these products can be marketed at the Farmers Markets, grocery store or local restaurants. There is a license that you need for processing these salads and greens on a wholesale level and a license you need for weighing.

It can be a fascinating business for a local market.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Growing Power Workshop

Master Gardener, Lisa Brewer and myself met 100 people today who came for these workshops. Everyone seemed concerned with being able to develop food on a local level and sustaining that development. People came from Tanzania, Georgia, Texas, Oregon, Kentucky, New York, Idaho, Missouri, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, California, Ontario, Cairo and Mexico. Today demonstrated that this is a global issue to be able to have local sustainable food systems.

Lisa attended the aquaponics workshop and I attended the vermicomposting workshop. Everything that is used has been recycled from one place or another. The burlap bags that cover the worm bins because they like being in the dark are from a local coffee company. The wood used for different projects in the greenhouse is all recycled. All of the pieces to the hoop houses are recycled. The compost bins outside are made from pallets from different companies. Nothing in the entire operation goes to waste. The food waste is used in the compost.

In the vermicomposting workshop, we were split in teams and in the first ten minutes given a challenge of how to solve a community dilemna in Detroit. We were asked to create an organization. And in this organization we would have one product -- compost. How would we be able to engage the community in our vermicomposting project? We had to find ways to reduce the unemployment now at thirty-percent, utilize juvenile delinqents, work with gangs, reduce health issues in the community and find a location. We decided to become integrated which has two boards. One board oversees the non-profit and one board oversees the profit making portion and a liasion as a go-between. We named our integrated organization, Garbage to Gold. We decided we would partner with other organizations to help us get our product out in the community. We felt it important to engage the City Council and any other political leaders in the community and get them on board. We would use community service and exchange programs to get volunteers. The board members who were good at doing community outreach with youth development would do afterschool activities to get families involved. If the land was contaminated by heavy metals, we would do a Brownfield's Grant. So in ten minutes, we did a business plan. Then we began a step-by-step process of composting and vermicomposting. Basically, it does not take that long to develop a conceptual plan for the business and then begin to implement that plan.

In aquaponics, Lisa learned start small and do not get too ambitous. Give your system at least 12 months to go through the perch or tilipia lifecycle before adding onto the system. First and foremost, you must have a processing system in place and check into licensing for fish farming in order to sell the product. Keep in mind, not everyone wants to clean their own fish. It requires special training to clean tilipia. Tilipa also require that the water temperature remain around 70 degrees. Perch are a cold water fish that like 40 degrees maximum. Tilipia are vegetarian and Perch are carnivorous. Do not be afraid to tweak things and experiment. These fish are a great source of protein. The warm water of the tilipia can also keep the greenhouse warm in the winter. The fish water can be recycled to feed the plants.

More tomorrow.........

More on Loess Soil

Topsoils developed on top of these loess hills and a different ecological community developed.

Two features unique of this soil are: 1) the cross sections are almost uniformly loess and 2) if you removed the topsoil from a loess hill, the exposed loess will erode like sugar when saturated. Locally, this loess soil is named "sugar clay" because of this erosion. Oddly enough when loess is covered with topsoil, loess can slump. It slumps in a uniform manner across a slope creating a characteristic "cat step" ledges seen on grassy hills. Even beyond this, cut a Loess Hill vertically and its wall can stand for decades due to the interlocking characteristics of the loess soil particles.

Pictures coming soon. For more information on this soil, you can read "Fragile Giants" by Cornelia Mutel. There is an annual Loess Hills Seminar conducted by the Northwest Area Education Agency call 800-352-9040 ext. 6080.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gone to School in Milwaukee

Here we are in downtown Milwaukee. Pictures coming soon. Tomorrow we are taking the hands- on classes in aquaculture and vermiculture.

We have seen black soil in Wisconsin through all their farms.

We learned about the Loess Hills in Iowa. They are hills made almost entirely of windblown soils. Toward the end of the ice age, winds picked soil up ground fine like flour and formed dunes along the ancient waterway that today is the Missouri River. Today, the Loess Hill is a hill made of loess that is more than 60 feet in height. So 640,000 acres of land in western Iowa constitute the Loess Hills landform. Loess deposits are found around the world. Only in China are these deposits higher than in Iowa.

More on loess --- tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Carpet Rose for 2009

If you have never heard of a carpet rose and want lots of color in your garden, carpet roses can provide this with little care. Amber is the newest carpet rose. After twenty years of breeding this rose is improved heat and humidity tolerance as well as disease resistance. So what's the worry? With my experience with carpet roses, they need to be pruned in later spring to about 1/3 their size. If you do not prune them, they will tend to be less prolific. Truely, they are easy to care for and maintain. These carpet roses are a groundcover that gets 2 1/2 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide. One drawback is the weeds can grow underneath the canes as the canes grow up and spread. Plenty of light can get below for weed seeds to germinate.

If you love roses, these carpet roses provide stunning, prolific color. This new Amber has orange, yellow blooms, blushed with tones of soft pink overlaid with peach. The foliage is glossy deep green. Again, it is a compact bush 2 1/2 wide by 2 1/2 high. It is disease resistant and early flowering. It is hardy in zone 5 and can survive in zone 4. It is suggested that in zone 4 and 5, the carpet rose has some winter protection. This will depend on where it is placed in your landscape. Remember, Colorado can have microclimates with our landscapes. An old rule of thumb is watch for where the snow melts first in the winter. This will be the warmer spot for your rose in the winter and warmer in the summer.

Further cultural care on this easy to maintain rose, is it can thrive in many soil conditions. However, well-drained soil is important. These roses do not like to sit in wet soil. Once the carpet rose is established it can tolerate dry conditions. These carpet roses do best in full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade in hot, dry places. Just remember, the more sun, the more flowers.

This carpet rose, Amber as well as any of the others bloom in spring and then continue to bloom through late fall. Just remember the initial flush of bloom is in spring.

So if you love roses, try out Flower Carpet Amber. My experience with these carpet roses was back east when they first came out. They are much improved from 20 years ago. However, they like well-drained soils and they do better with organic matter added to the soil, if not every year every couple of years. And lastly, they open up in the center letting the air and light down to the ground underneath those canes, so you will be pulling some weeds from time to time.

Planting these in mass, makes for a spectacular show of color in a large space. Flower Carpet Amber has a light sweet fragrance. Enjoy the roses!

Yuccas of all Yuccas!

In the south and southwest, Yuccas are native. They are prolific in our Colorado and Kansas prairies. So big deal - a yucca.

However, plantsman Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery is passionate about yuccas. He selected a blue seedling and named it 'Sapphire Skies'. It has a stunning powder blue foliage. It is the hardiest of all yuccas. The latin name for this yucca is Yucca rostrata.

It prefers full sun and well-drained soil like other yuccas. It gets to be three-by-four feet. As it ages, it will develop a stout trunk to a height of four feet or more.

'Sapphire Skies' is drought resistant like other yuccas. The best feature is that it will tolerate cold, wet winters.

If you are passionate about yuccas like Sean Hogan, and purchase this yucca, you need to wait a few years after it grows out of its juvenile form to take on that stunning powder blue foliage. It goes from the ugly duckling to the beautiful swan as yuccas go.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Buyer Beware of Quickgreen Grass

This is what every homeowner dreams about -- the perfect lawn! When you see ads that guarantee a quickgreen grass that germinates in 5 days, grows like crazy, withstands cold, drought, disease and heavy traffic: beware. The miracle grass is an annual ryegrass, Lolium multiflorum. According to Tony Koski, CSU specialist it has a lousy color and texture, and shreds horribly when mowed with a rotary mower and is an annual here in Colorado. Being an annual it will winterkill. As Tony puts it what remains will become an ugly weed.

So we need to look for greener pastures elsewhere. There is nothing that can be a panacea for homeowners on having the perfect lawn. Lawns are high maintenance. Like any other plant each different type has a different cultural practice. If you want the best lawn, you follow the appropriate cultural practices.

Information on turf grass can be found at .

Friday, April 17, 2009

Vegetable Winners

In the April issue of Organic Gardening listed several vegetable varieties tested from their different testing garden locations throughout the country. And the winners are as follows:

Cherry Tomato 'Smarty' was a disease resistant variety. It grows to about four feet. Seeds can be obtained from

Tomato 'Ramapo' healthy plants with the best tasting tomato. Seeds can be obtained by

Carrot 'Yaya' grows 4 to 6 inches long gives good taste and uniform size. Seeds can be obtained from

'Honey Nut' Winter Squash needs plenty of space, but delivers with sweetness and yield. Seeds can be obtained at

'Dancer' Eggplant performs well all summer by staying healthy and robust and has a second wind in October. Seeds can be found at

'Mustard Lime Streaked' Mizuna has no flea beetle troubles. It is fast-growing and regrows rapidly after each shearing. Seeds can be found at

'Lambkin' Melon gets good marks for taste and ripening quickly. Seeds can be obtained at

'Trombetta' Climbing Italian Summer Squash with a sweet mild flavor is attacked by squash bugs, but is a heavy producer. So you do not need many seeds. This grows well in Eastern Colorado. The Holyoke Community Garden had great success with it last year and it did not get attacked by squash bugs. Seeds can be obtained at

'Oasis' Turnip is a white turnip that is sweet and juicy. Seeds germinate reliably and roots fatten up almost as quickly as radishes. These can be planted in the spring and fall. Seeds can be obtained from

'Flexum' Hybrid Sweet Pepper has thicker than expected flesh and nonstop production. Seeds can be obtained at

'Multy' Lettuce both tasty and ornamental. Seeds can be obtained at

So get going and growing. For April you can plant potatoes, radishes, onions, lettuce, swiss chard and peas for starters.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring has sprung in the Golden Plains Area

For Vegetable Gardening Lovers
If you like peas, get ready to plant by April 1. Research shows that you can have 50% higher yield if you wait until May 1. Peas like well-drained soil. Your peas will appreciate a soil rich in organic matter with plenty of phosphorus and potash. Ideally, the soil temperature should be about 40 degrees. Before the pea seedlings start blooming give them about half an inch of water per week. When the pods start filling out, increase the weekly water to an inch.
There are three main types of peas: shelling or garden peas that have tender sweet peas in an inedible pod such as ‘Maestro’ variety; snow peas have small, underdeveloped peas in tender, edible pods such as ‘Sugar Snow’ variety; snap peas have mature sweet peas in edible pods such as ‘Sugar Snap’ variety. Other varieties to try are the dwarf Alaska variety.
Along with peas, you can plant spinach, radishes and lettuce.
Radishes are the earliest of the root crops and mature in 30 to 45 days. Space the seed appropriately because transplanting breaks the tap root on these crops. Any root crops can be left in the soil all winter.
Lawn Care
We recommend having your lawn core-aerated. Core aeration promotes better root growth, thatch build-up and alleviates soil compaction. Soil compaction can worsen thatch build-up. Be sure to check your lawn’s moisture level. If the soil crumbles in your hand or stays in a ball, neither is the proper time to core aerate. Too wet and the tines on the machine will cause more compaction and plug the tines. Too dry and the tines on the machine will not penetrate the soil. The proper moisture level is when soil can easily crumble in your hand when worked with your fingers.
Core-aeration is more beneficial than power raking. If shallow, light power raking is done on a regular basis it can help the roots get air and speed up spring greening of your lawn.
Enjoy those spring bulbs
As your spring bulbs are starting to flower, remember to let those tulips and daffodil leaves die down before you remove them. The leaves are feeding the bulbs for next year’s spring flowers.
Look for other possibilities to add to your garden. There are a variety of alliums that can bloom from early spring into early summer. They come in a variety of colors yellow, white, beige, purple, pink and blue. The Star of Persia is one of the most spectacular in lavender to lilac color. This is also a good cut flower.
Fall flowering bulbs like autumn crocus are called Colchicum. The flowers resemble a crocus. Plant the corms in spring or early summer in full sun to partial shade about 6-8 inches in well-drained soil. These flowers are often referred to as ‘naked ladies’ because the flowers emerge from the ground long after the leaves have died back. They are worth the added show for fall along with the asters and chrysanthemums to decorate your fall garden display.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gardening Tips

1) Resist the urge to water your lawn right now. The grass is dormant and the soil temperature is too cool for the grass to grow. Begin watering after the last hard freeze.
2) During the winter when there is no snow cover, each month your trees and shrubs can benefit from a watering. To get the water in the root zone efficiently, use a deep root feeder. Place the feeder in about 6 inches deep at the drip line. The drip line is where the feeder roots are located which would be at the ends of the tree’s/shrub’s branches. You will have to do this on a day when the temperature is above freezing. If you encounter frozen soil you will have to do it on a warmer day.
3) Pruning trees including fruit trees should begin before the buds begin swelling. Late February and early March is the normal time frame for pruning.
4) Plant potatoes when the soil temperature reaches 45 degrees.
5) Plant lettuce seeds in the ground 4 weeks before the last frost. Last year in the Golden Plains Area the last average frost date was on May 11.
6) Plant peas in the ground 4 weeks before the last frost date. The last frost date in the Golden Plains Area can vary from May 7 to May 15. The frost date can range as much as a week earlier or a week later. Monitor the weather.
7) For control of annual grassy weeds like crabgrass, place your pre-emergent two to four weeks before the soil temperature reaches 55 to 60 degrees. If in late March the soil temperature reaches 55 to 60 then the pre-emergent needed to be applied late February or early March. The best way to record soil temperatures is by using a soil thermometer. They are fairly easy to obtain at a local hardware store or garden center and they are reasonably inexpensive.
8) Grass begins to grow when the soil temperature gets into the 50’s. Naturally, it grows better at higher temperatures, but it will stay dormant until that point.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Take a Colorado Native Plant Master™ Course

From Linda Langelo and Joanne Jones:

Have you always wanted to learn more about the beautiful plants that grow in nature? Would you like to learn how to use them in your landscape or to distinguish natives from noxious weeds? Learning which native plants are suitable for landscaping is just one of the skills that participants learn in the Native Plant Master™ program, sponsored by Colorado State University Extension. Native Plant Master courses are held outdoors at local open space parks and other public and private lands in various counties across Colorado. Courses focus on plant identification, ecology, ethnobotany, landscaping and other human uses. Courses include use of a botanical key with an emphasis on scientific names and families.

Hello everyone, Joanne Jones and I, with the help of Bruce Bosley are offering the Native Plant Masters program on May 9, 23 and 30th. The classes will be on Saturday morning's beginning at 8 a.m. - we will meet at the Welcome Center in Sterling and go to the site together.The deadline for registration is March 15 - so we will take any applications received on Monday the 16th. Below is the registration information for the classes. Applications should be sent to Joanne Jones, Morgan County Extension Office PO Box 517 Fort Morgan CO 80701.

Registration is limited. Applications are due for all county programs by March 15, 2009. There is a fee for each course and each course consists of three, four-hour sessions. The cost is reduced for participants who agree to teach at least 20 people per year per course about Colorado plants. Participants who pass three courses and satisfy the teaching requirement become certified Native Plant Masters.

For more information, visit or contact your local Colorado State University Extension office directly: Kit Carson County - (719) 346-5571, Phillips County - (970) 854-3616, Washington County - (970) 345-2287 or Yuma County (970) 332-4151.

CLICK HERE to access brochures & application forms:

Participate in Earth Hour

From Linda Langelo:

Join a global effort to reduce your carbon footprint on Saturday, March 28th for one hour starting at 8:30 PM. What you need to do is so simple: turn your lights off from 8:30 to 9:30 to cast your vote for a call to action on climate change and to honor Earth.

Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 with 2.2 million homes and businesses switching off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the movement grew to include 50 million people, with global landmarks such the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome's Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square. Australia alone reduced their carbon foot print by 10.2 percent. Their target was to achieve a five percent reduction. In doing this they learned that if their commercial sector turned off lights when the buildings were not in use and combined this action with other cost-effective technology they could reduce lighting emissions by 70 to 80 percent.

By joining this effort and turning off all nonessential lights for one hour, people have begun to see how one small local action can affect the entire planet. It's up to individuals to decide to take further action on a daily basis.

Normally, the public does not associate Extension with participating in our clean energy economy. We are better known for 4-H youth development, agriculture and horticulture as well as family, consumer science educational programs. As a trusted information source on these topics as well as biomass, carbon sequestration, geothermal, solar and wind energy (, CSU Extension is leading the way to help reduce carbon footprints. Working with communities around Colorado on clean energy, CSU Extension has now included in its menu of educational opportunities through the Clean Energy Strategic Initiative Team (CESIT). Seven subcommittees will research and learn relevant information about clean energy industries or opportunities within Extension. The purpose of these groups is to educate both Extension agents and community members at large. The topic areas for the seven subcommittees include:

* Solar
* Wind
* Biomass & Biofuels
* Geothermal & Hydropower
* Homes & Community
* 4-H & Schools
* Grants & Funding

Help us to help you make a bigger impact in 2009. 538 cities and towns in 75 countries have signed up to turn their lights off. Why not Colorado?

This is yet another way you can make a positive impact doing one small change. Earth Hour has a target of one billion votes for 2009. This is one time when all the small changes we do make a big difference toward a better quality of life on Earth. To read more on Earth Hour, or to sign-up online, go to

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Botanist discovers new plant in Southwestern Colorado

February 2, 2009
The flora of North America has a new member. A new plant species has been discovered in the Lone Mesa State Park in southwest Colorado by a Colorado State University botanist.

Peggy Lyon, botanist with CSU's Colorado Natural Heritage program, and Al Schneider, a volunteer from the Colorado Native Plant Society, were compiling a list of plant species for Lone Mesa State Park when they noticed a small shrub that did not look like anything that they had ever seen before.

"This plant would have easily been overlooked if we had only focused on surveying for known rare plants rather than identifying all species in the area," Lyon said.

A specimen of the plant was shipped to the scientific editors of the Flora of North America who confirmed that the plant was indeed a new species.

The new species is known only from several populations in and around the Lone Mesa State Park in Dolores County, Colo., where at least 4,000 snakeweeds have been identified. Lyon will conduct further research in the area this summer. The plants are low, compact subshrubs that flower in late July through early September.

Lyon and Schneider chose the name Gutierrezia elegans for their discovery. The common name is the Lone Mesa snakeweed.

"We have chosen the specific epithet 'elegans' because it summarizes so many of the most obvious visual characteristics of this new species," Schneider said. "Gutierrezia elegans is delicate with masses of brilliant yellow flowers topping gracefully arching stems that form into a low, domed symmetry. In short, the plant is elegant."

Friday, February 27, 2009

2009 Selections Announced by Plant Select - the landscape stimulus program for tough climates

Tough economic times may mean that homeowners and gardeners will be spending more time at home and in their gardens in 2009. But limited time and lack of knowledge may result in heavy losses if plants chosen are inappropriate and unsuitable. Plant Select, a regional plant introduction and recommendation program, is working to ensure gardeners successfully invest in their home gardens by identifying and distributing landscape and garden plants especially suited to the Rocky Mountain and High Plains’ gardening conditions.
Plant Select has introduced or recommended 87 plants to date, including 40 trademarked and four patented plants, ranging from tall leafy trees, climbing vines, hardy flowering perennials and creeping groundcovers. The winners for 2009 are as follows:
Littleleaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus intricatus) is a dense twiggy evergreen shrub from the Southwest desert that can tolerate many of the extreme conditions of the region, especially hot, dry situations. A perfect choice for small to mid-sized yards, it grows to 3 to 6 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. The small, inconspicuous flowers transform into attractive, feathery seed pods by mid-summer. It can be used in the landscape as a fine-textured, small-scale hedge plant or as a specimen in the Xeriscape.
Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha) is an elegant clump-forming grass that offers a beautiful alternative to the stiffer, more architectural Karl Foerster grass. This graceful grass grows 24 to 40 inches tall and 15-18 inches wide, preferring locations with sun to partial shade, and moderately moist to dry soil. The attractive feathery flowers persist from summer through fall and into winter, offering year round interest to a variety of situations.
Lavender Ice ice plant offers a new color in hardy ice plants with its iridescent lavender flowers and dark eyes, blooming nearly all summer long. This striking sport of Table Mountain ice plant occurred at Perennial Favorites nursery in Rye, Colorado. It prefers full sun to partial shade and moderate to dry soil, and grows to about 2 to 3 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide. The green foliage turns purplish in the winter.
Silverheels horehound (Marrubium rotundifolium) is a vigorous mat-forming ground cover with rounded, fuzzy leaves fringed with a beautiful silver lining that encircles each leaf. This native plant from Turkey thrives in moderate to dry soils, growing to just 2 to 4 inches tall and 24 to 36 inches wide in full sun in a wide range of soil types. The name “Silverheels” comes from the nickname of a mysterious dance hall girl who wore shoes with silver heels in a Colorado mining town in the 1860’s. She ultimately earned the admiration of local miners while nursing them back to health during a deadly smallpox epidemic.
Another new flower color is also found in Coronado Red hyssop (Agastache ‘Pstessene’). This selection has brilliant crimson and maroon spires from July to September, and came to Plant Select from Welby Gardens, Denver. This new cultivar brings a unique and exciting color offering of our native mints. The plant prefers full sun and is quite adaptable to most moderate to dry soils. It’s a little smaller in height and width (15 to 18 inches tall and 12 to 15 inches wide) than many of the other agastaches. This is a magnificent addition to gardens designed to attract hummingbirds and other beneficial pollinators.
Lastly, Plant Select is helping Denver celebrate its 150th anniversary by introducing Denver Daisy Rudbeckia (Rudbeckia). This tender perennial has flowers with a striking dark eye and long-rayed yellow petals. It blooms from May through early fall, growing to 18 to 28 inches tall and 10 to 25 inches wide. Denver Daisy™ was hybridized by Benary Seed Company from the Colorado native Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta). Requiring moderate to dry conditions, these stunning flowers perform best in full sun to partial shade in moderate soils.

Criteria for selecting plants for inclusion in the program include good performance in a broad range of garden situations in the Rocky Mountain region, adaptation to the region’s challenging climate, uniqueness of flower color or plant habit, disease and insect resistance, exceptional performance under low water conditions, a long season of beauty in the garden, noninvasiveness, and the capability to be mass produced.
In addition to the Denver Botanic Gardens and Colorado State University, partners and members of Plant Select are found throughout the U.S. and include seed producers, wholesale propagators and growers, retail garden, more than 80 demonstration gardens around Colorado and neighboring states, and landscape architects and designers.
Gardeners seeking more help with their landscaping investments can turn to Durable Plants for the Garden – A Plant Select Guide, released in January 2009 by Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colorado. This compendium of the program’s history, colorful and descriptive portraits of the first ten years’ plant selections, helpful tables, and additional references will be a valuable resource to gardeners throughout the region and beyond.

For more information, visit High resolution images can be found in the “Press Area;” the password is “salvia,” and is case-sensitive.

Plant Select is collaboration between Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens and the green industry to seek out and distribute the best plants for the Rocky Mountain Region and beyond.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Community Gardens

What is a community garden? Long before the Victory Gardens of World War II, there were community efforts that date back more than 350 years. A group of English peasants called the Diggers cultivated land belonging to the King in Surrey in 1648. These Diggers of Surrey were English dissenters. This group established a new movement for food distribution. As always, necessity is the Mother of Invention. The driving force for turning to cultivating public land for food was high unemployment, scarity and expense of food and an ailing economy. So history, repeats itself.

Today, community gardens are cropping up everywhere. Again, the unemployment rate sores to a new high with up to 500,000 jobs lost each month since the beginning of 2009. People need to eat. If you have the knowledge and skill to grow your own food, then you can provide for yourself.

People grow their own food today, because they like to know who is growing it and how it is being grown. Locally fresh grown food raised without pesticides are what people are demanding.

In the January issue of the Journal Advocate, an article by Ellen Simon titled, "As Economy stumbles, gardeners grow their produce." explains the concept of grow-it-yourself dining. When you grow fresh food in your own backyard, you can have all your favorite vegetables. You can plan your meals around what you are growing in the garden. It is convenient. You are providing the labor. You do not have to travel to the grocery store as often for most of your food and reduce your carbon footprint.

W. Atlee Burpee & Company, the nation's largest seed company, has sold twice as many seeds this year as it did last year, with half the increase from new customers, the company's president, George Ball, estimates. These new gardeners are getting advice from companies like Burpee on how to raise tomatoes, soil acidity and seed starting.

In northeast Colorado, Extension is holding workshops on composting, seed starting and beginning gardening. Classes will be held at noon on April 3 and May 1 at the Family Education Services Building at 215 North Interocean. Evening classes will be held on March 30 and May 4 at 6:00PM in the Phillips County Extension Office in Holyoke, Colorado. For further information, please call (970)854-3616. The contact for these classes is Linda Langelo.

Do not be left out in the cold. Expand your knowledge, share ideas, share seeds and then go and grow.

Upcoming Events For March 2009

Landscape Seminar 2009
On Wednesday, March 18, 2009 from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM homeowners and professionals are welcome to attend the Landscape Seminar 2009. This will be held at the Sedgwick County Fairgrounds Exhibit Building in Julesburg, Colorado.
The topics and speakers covered are as follows:
Invasive Ornamentals and Invasive Weeds by Fred Raish, Supervisor, Yuma County Pest District This starts at 10:00 AM and runs to 11 AM.
Aesthetics of Ponds by Derk Kailey, Owner of Pine Ridge Gardens, Merino, Colorado
This starts at 11 AM and runs to noon.
Tree Health: An Understanding of Insect & Disease Problems by Norland Hall, Colorado State Forest Service, District Forester
This starts at 1:30 PM and runs to 2:30 PM.
How to Design or Renovate a Perennial Flower Bed by Joanne Jones, Horticulture Agent, Morgan County
This starts at 2:30 PM and runs to 3;30 PM.
The charge of this seminar for preregistration is $35 which includes lunch. If you register at the door, the charge is $45 and lunch is not reserved. If you wish to attend just the morning or afternoon session then the charge is $17.50.
For more information or to reserve a place, please call Sedgwick County Extension Office at (970)474-3479.