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."