Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Time to start planning for the garden. There is a catalogue for every taste. The picture in this blog is Echinacea 'Orange Marmalade' read more about it later in the article.
Willing to try heirloom varieties? Willing to go organic? Are you even willing to try grafted tomatoes? Get two or more varieties on one vine.
Here are some of the new items out there. Try an Italian heirloom eggplant called Prosperosa Eggplant. It even sounds Italian. It is still purple with a pleated top and cream color under the stem. How about an organic lettuce called Mottistone. It is a French Crisp/Batavia type, totally unique with a claim to be a "strong and healthy, disease-resistant variety," according to Territorial Seeds.
If you want a zippy annual, there is a new zinnia called Zahara Raspberry Lemonade Mix with three colors coral, yellow and starlight rose. It seems to me that more and more, the gardening world is expanding in their choices of offering plants with mixed colors or at the very least, mixes of plants like bulbs in color combinations. Just for the ease of gardening. But if you are into just white, there is a new introduction in a sunflower called White Ice which gets to be about 4 to 5 feet tall.
In the last 5 to 7 years there has been an explosion of new introductions in the perennial plant world. There are several new Echinacea introductions for 2011.
According to AB - Breeding for Better Gardens 'Southern Belle' is a hybrid with many characteristics of Echinacea tennesseensis which is an endagered species only a few are found in southern part of Tennessee. It flowers as one of the first Echinaceas, already in late June and continues to flourish in October as the latest cultivars begin to lose their color. 'Southern Belle' is very hardy. The double flowers are very attractive with a beautiful, deep pink color.
Echinacea 'Guava Ice' is a salmon-pink double flowering very disease resistant with a first flowers late June and ending in September.
Echinacea 'Marmalade' is double flowering with yellowish orange ray petals and on top in its tufted bonnet the petals are more golden yellow. It blooms for 8 to 12 weeks starting in early to mid-June.
Echinacea purpurea 'White Double Delight' is exactly like 'Pink Double Delight' because they are twins.
If you need something that will do well in a shady area of your landscape the new series of Tiarella introductions are called Diva-rellas series of clumping Tiarella cordifolia. The blossoms range from a deep purple-red to eggplant with a mix of variations in leaf shape and coloration with again green and purple. If you are interested in reading more about these plants and where they originated link onto
http://www.plantsnouveau.com/2009/02/26/diva-rellas/. You will also find more information about many new perennial plant introductions on this link.
If you are interested in knowing about the perennial plant of the year go to the Perennial Plant Association and see the perennial awarded for 2011.
If you are interested in new introductions for almost any plant there is an association or plant society that you can search on-line.
If you want to know about Plant Select 2011 introductions, go to plantselect.org.
If you want to know about Proven Winners, go to www.provenwinners.com and you will see a wide range of plants from annuals to shrubs.
Enjoy picking new plants for your garden in 2011. If you are an avid gardener like me, there is going to be less lawn and more plants.
Happy New Year and Happy Gardening in 2011!
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
According to research at the Missouri Botanic Gardens by Richard R. Clinebell and Peter Bernhardt, penstemon are a good native plant which benefit several pollinators. The five Penstemon species used in their study were P. tubaeflorus, P. cobaea, cobaea variety purpureus, digitalis, grandiflorus and pallidus. The study took place in nine sites in tall grass prairie in Illinois, Kansas and Missouri.
Penstemon tubaeflorus was noted having the native bee, Bombus spp. or more commonly known as the bumble bee as a pollinator.
Penstemon cobaea and Penstemon digitalis are visited by a rare Penstemon wasp, Pseudomasaris occidentalis.
Both Penstemon digitalis and pallidus which have a reduced bell-shaped corolla attract a bumble, Bombus nevadensis subsp. auricomus that fits perfectly to the flower.
Leaf cutting bees, Megachile brevis, carry dorsal depositions of penstemon pollen when they come in contact with the anthers and stima while busy foraging for nectar on only four of the Penstemon species listed, not including P. tubaeflorus.
Other pollinator are three distinct subfamilies of the anthophorids such as carpenter bees, digger bees and cuckoo bees attracted to the same four Penstemon species, again not including P. tubaeflorus. The anthophorids are very diverse in the western United States as are some 22 species of penstemon.
I encourage you to grow penstemon in your garden. The best to grow here in northeastern Colorado among this group is Penstemon digitalis or Foxglove Penstemon. The famous Penstemon digitalis cultivar is the award winning 'Husker Red' and readily available. There are many other cultivars available. You will enjoy a bloom time from April through August. They grow in woodland, meadow or field setting.
Native bees also help pollinate a number of other crops such as almonds, apples, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, pears, plums, squash, tomatoes, watermelons, canola, sunflower, alfalfa and clover.
There are 20,000 native bee species worldwide with 4,000 of those species residing in the United States. However, the European Honey Bee, Apis mellifera is the most important crop pollinator in the U.S. Due to their decline since 1950 because of disease, the native bees are equally as important.
Various studies in the literature give information about the increasing demand of pollinaton services, decline in managed bee colonies, increase in rental prices of managed bee colonies for pollination which all play a factor in the future role of the wild pollinators or the native bees. One additional factor is the future trend of food production, not including crops grown for livestock or oil production, will also play a key role in determining how important native bees could become.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
The Golden Plains Area Extension is in the running for $50,000 for two projects: Ag Fest and Community Gardens.
Support Extension by VOTING DAILY through December 31st.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Every growing season do you have 10 bushels of homegrown tomatoes that you will not be able to use? Would you like to get together and can the surplus vegetables that would otherwise go to waste in your garden? Well in the state of Virginia that is what folks did at harvest time.
In an article published by American Profile, since 1942 people have been bringing their produce into the Keezletown Community Cannery in Keezletown, Virginia. People bring beans, beets, peaches, pears, cucumbers and even chickens to the canning kitchen. As a team, these people work to peel, chop and mince among friends and fellow gardeners.
Community canning kitchens started in the 1940’s during the time Americans were doing Victory gardens in the food-rationing days of World War II. Today there is a resurgence of community canneries. Why? People want to know where their food is coming from and know what is in the food according to Elizabeth Andress, director of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia in Athens.
This is a chance to give back to the community for all who grow a vegetble garden. Help supply the local food bank throughout the year without having to dig deeper into your pocketbook for canned goods during the winter. And if you are not a vegetable grower, then help can or contact others you know who grow. This is an opportunity for local farmers who have some surplus to also give.
The vision is to duplicate this effort in Callaway, Virginia in other areas. For over 30 years, members of the Highland United Methodist and Piedmont Presbyterian churches have canned apple butter to raise money for building maintenance and help church members in need. Let’s set a great example here by preserving the food we cannot use from our gardens. Remember the old saying: waste not want not.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
So when do you know if it is natural needle drop or not? Monitor by watching in late summer and early fall to see if the inner most needles, the older needles, begin turning. Sometimes, the change can be very subtle. Environmental stresses such as drought, herbicide damage, insect damage, disease damage or root damage can intensify the fall needle drop. If there is another added stress such as a disease you will want to monitor the tree more often. Acquire knowledge about the disease so that you understand what it is you are monitoring.
Other reasons for unseasonal needle drop might be mites, drought, planting care, nutrition, herbicides, winter damage or wet/poorly drained soils. Mites cause the needles to yellow and there will be evidence of stippling on the needles. If you suspect mites, hold a white sheet of paper under the branch and shake. If you see small moving insects, they may be mites. If you see light webbing on the branches as well as insects on the white paper, then contact your local Extension service to confirm this.
Herbicide damage can cause premature needle drop as will excessive soluble salts or a lack of potassium. With de-icing along roadsides, the salt content is increased. Increased levels of salts affect nutrient and water absorption of plants. The excessive amounts of sodium displace the calcium, magnesium and potassium uptake. Further, excessive sodium causes soil aggregates to breakdown leading to poor aeration and slower water permeability. This means reduced levels of oxygen for the roots as well as less water because the water is drawn to the high salt content.
Drought such as our late summer heat and no-to-low precipitation in the Golden Plains Area will cause an even earlier needle drop and it may even be more severe because of the insufficient moisture.
Proper planting leads to the best start a tree can have along with planting a tree in the proper place and soil. Planting depth, either too deep or too shallow can cause a decline in the health of a tree and in 80% of transplanted trees cause death within 7 to 8 years. For further information about planting and proper placement go to Colorado State University Extension Website and click on fact sheets. Then click on the title: Trees and Shrubs and go to fact sheet 2.926 Healthy Roots and Healthy Trees. At the end of this fact sheet you can also reference at the bottom of the last page another comprehensive piece of literature titled: Colorado Master Gardener Garden Notes #633 The Science of Planting Trees. Having this information and using it will help guide you to keeping your trees healthy.
Other stresses that cause premature needle drop or excessive needle drop in the fall are nutritional deficiencies such as iron. To avoid this problem before planting new trees have your soil tested so that you can place the proper tree with the proper soil pH. Often times, our high alkaline pH causes an iron deficiency here in the Golden Plains Area.
Winter damage is due to winter injury or winter drought. The best practice is to deep root water before the ground freezes in the fall and periodically during the winter. Newly planted trees need light infrequent watering. It is handy to purchase a soil moisture meter to help you determine moisture levels. For further information on proper watering go to http://www.cmg.colostate.edu/ and click on CMG Garden Notes on the left side of the page at the bottom and then under classes click on Tree Planting. Garden Notes #635 Care of Newly Planted Trees provides a listing of tree caliper and watering need for our hardiness zone 4-5. This listing provides irrigation requirements for tree vigor. As a rule of thumb with newly planted trees in our hardiness zone 4-5, they have an establishment that takes one season per inch of trunk caliper.
With this knowledge about evergreens and their natural cycle, you won’t panic when needles turn during late summer or early fall. Consider all the other factors in your landscape before accessing the situation or call your local Extension Agent.
Before the soil freezes and the damaging winds with the cold temperatures of winter take hold, irrigate the top 6 to eighteen inches of the soil surface. Starting the landscape plants out for the winter season out of a drought stressed state helps the plants go into their dormancy in a healthier state. If conditions are excessively dry in the fall, this can interfere with the normal process of their dormancy and predispose them to winter injury.Think of it this way. Have you ever been dehydrated? Do you loose your vigor and physical strength? In a plant without the proper amount of water the metabolic activity slows. Water plays an important role in the survival of a healthy plant by keeping biochemical and chemical processes of plant metabolism functioning. Water transports minerals through the soil to the roots. Within a plant, water is a solvent for minerals and dissolved sugars transported throughout.When a plant does not receive adequate water this slows the process of photosynthesis. Less photosynthesis means less energy and less in the production of sugars and starches for the plant to use.Additionally, water is a cooling mechanism that allows plants to maintain an appropriate temperature for the metabolic process to occur.During the dry periods in January, February and March give the landscape plants some additional moisture especially when the there is no snow. Any trees or shrubs in open, windy sites need additional water to help prevent desiccation. Desiccation occurs during sunny, windy, dry days when the leaves loose their water faster than it can be replaced by the roots when they are in frozen soil.Any plant that is newly established is more susceptible to winter drought whether it is a tree, shrub, herbaceous perennial or turf grass. Desiccation in evergreens shows as reddish-brown color of the needles in late winter. In other plants the winter damage may not show up until early summer.Water when the soil and air temperatures are both above 40 degrees. This will give the roots a chance to utilize the water before the soil freezes again at night. Be sure that water is applied to the root zone area. For trees this is by the tips of the branches and not at trunk of the tree.Mulching around the roots of your plants can help conserve water loss and winter damage. Applying a 2-inch layer of mulch reduces water loss as well as maintains uniform soil moisture. Mulching can mediate the freezing and thawing cycles of the soil. The proper time to apply the mulch is after there have been several killing frosts. Types of mulch can range from pine bark, wood chips, pine needles, evergreen pine boughs, and straw or alfalfa hay. Smaller sizes of wood chips need to be used in more protected sites and not open landscape beds. The high wind velocity on the eastern plains will carry the wood chips to another location.By using these techniques of watering and mulching, all your landscape plants can survive the winter in a healthier state. For additional information or if you have any questions, please feel free to call or visit your local extension office. We will be happy to assist you in keeping your landscape healthy through the winter.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Ethylene (C2H4) affects the growth, development and the senescence with all plants as well as tomatoes. It is present in all vegetables and fruits in small quantities as a natural hormone when the fruit or vegetable reaches a mature stage of development. Also, ethylene is used to initiate the ripening process with fruits and vegetables from an external source.
With tomatoes, the ripening process comes to a halt with temperatures above 85 degrees fahrenheit. When ethylene is not present at these high temperatures, tomatoes do not produce lycopene and carotene pigments responsible for color of ripe tomatoes depending on the cultivar. If ethylene were present the tomato would normally start at light green and go to red, pink, yellow or orange, again depending on the cultivar.
So often, we see tomatoes during the heat of July and August that are at full size called a "mature green" and sit on the vine until temperatures begin to cool down at summers end. At summers end all the tomatoes ripen at once. One other point would be the tomato will successfully stay on the vine unless, there are no other environmental stresses that occur in between the ripening stage.
Many fruits produce ethylene in larger quantities when exposed to external sources of ethylene. Some fruits and vegetables are sensitive to the ethylene and can dimish the quality of the produce and reduce the shelf life. Some of these are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leafy greens and lettuce.Aside from the fruits and vegetables sensitive to ethylene, the following is a list of fruits which naturally produce ethylene: apples, avocados, bananas, melons, peaches, pears and tomatoes.
To learn more about ripening fruits and vegetables, go on-line and read The Ripener Newsletter.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tomato psyllids are damaging to tomatoes and potatoes. Leaves on the tops of tomatoes yellow along the midveins and leaf edges. Leaf veins may turn purple. Growth stops while any new leaves remain small, narrow and stand upright producing a feathery appearance. Potato leaves become thickened and curled. Waxy beads of sugary waste from nymphs can be observed on the plants.
The nymphs are a flat yellow-orange discs about a 1/10 of an inch when full grown which sit on the leaves for up to 3 weeks. There can be between 3 to 4 generations of these psyllids in one season.
The damage begins while the nymphs are sitting on the leaves and feeding they are injecting saliva into the leaves which disrupts the plant growth. So leaf curling, color changes and slowed growth begins.
After the nymphs mature into adults after a few days they go from a pale color to gray or black with white bands and markings.
Where do tomato psyllids come from? Psyllids normally occur in southern states. They migrate to Colorado but they spend their winters in the extreme southwest of the United States and Mexico. Migration starts as the spring weather warms. These psyllids can become a pest in greenhouses with tomato and potato production.
Research trials from Colorado State University have found the most effective control comes when using sulfur. Other choices are permethrin/esfenvalerate rated with fair control.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Colorado State University Extension has a great fact sheet titled: Grasshopper Control for Small Acerage and Gardens. There is a list of controls that are available for the homeowner. Some of these are listed below, but for further reading visit CSU Extension Website and go to fact sheets:
1)Common name: Carbaryl Trade name: Sevin
2)Common name: Acephate Trade name: Orthene
3)Common name: Permethrin Trade name: Many trade names.
4)Common name: Nosema locustae Trade name: NOLO Bait or Semaspore
If you are interested in hiring a licensed pesticide applicator, then the recommendation is as follows:
1)Common name: Diflubenzuron Trade name: Dimilin (this is a restricted use pesticide)
Think about calling your neighbor and getting a larger area sprayed at one time and splitting the cost.
If you are into the organic methods and want to use poultry livestock to control the grasshoppers then purchase turkeys, guinea hens and chickens. If you decide on chickens, they scratch and will damage young plants.
Other alternatives like vegetable oils or garlic-based preparations are not recommended and may increase feeding on plants.
Once again, go to CSU Extension Website and click on fact sheets and read more about grasshoppers. This season may take an arsensal of different chemicals and techniques. Let's get creative and devise new techniques. Here is an organic method, called electrocution like bug zappers. Remember necessity is the mother of invention.
Monday, June 21, 2010
In case you are wondering, these are not nasty pests. Folks have collected the caterpillars and brought them into the office for identification. These caterpillars are not pests. They will feed on the leaves of plants in the Parsley family and sometimes with plants in the Citrus family. So, for our Colorado area, if you have any carrots, dill or parsley in your garden and find these caterpillars, the pictures to the right are the adult butterflies. The adult butterflies feed on nectar from red clover, thistle and milkweed. So in order for this butterfly to complete its lifecycle it needs different plants at each stage to survive. Like this black swallowtail, there are many moths and butterflies which are important pollinators across the United States. All of the pollinators have a limited palette and without the necessary plants, they become extinct.
Have you seen these before? The underwing Moth is in the Noctuidae family in the order Lepidoptera. The adult moths are active at night and spend the day resting upside down with wings open against the bark of trees. The picture to the left is the caterpillar stage of an underwing moth. The moth acquired its name because of the colorful patterns on the hindwings which are covered by the forewings while resting. Hence, the colors of black, red or yellow are displayed while in flight.
This catepillar stage of the lifecycle feeds at night and rests during the day hiding in the crevices of the tree bark. Like all butterflies and moths, the catepillar is the second stage in the what is termed a complete lifecycle. First, during the summer the female lays the eggs in small clusters in the tree bark. Second, a catepillar emerges the following spring as the leaf buds begin to swell and feed on the leaves of willows, poplars, cherry trees and walnuts. The eggs are very hardy and can survive a dry and cold winter.
There are more than 200 species of underwing moths across the United States. Below is a picture of the adult stage of an underwing moth:
Saturday, May 15, 2010
1) Ag Fest is a project that educates 5th and 6th graders about the practical application of science and math of food production. This project utilizes the new STEM curriculum which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. We piloted the project this spring in 3 locations Brush, Lamar and Seibert. We had 10 instructors teaching 10 different areas of agriculture/food production. These included embryology, biodiesel, livestock and insect lifecycles to name a few. We have found that there is a demand to take this project on the road to several other neighboring counties. We are asking $10,000 for this project.
2) Community Garden Effort is a project that educates all ages through the community gardens in the Golden Plains Area. There are five gardens at varying stages of establishment. These gardens teach child and adults as well as FFA and 4-H how to raise food. The community gardens help supply the local food banks and the participants have the opportunity to help build the local farmers' market of which there are none with local fresh produce less than 50 to 100 miles away. We are asking for $15,000 for this project.
In a time when Extension offices around the country have either closed or are laying off staff, we are attempting to stretch the tax-payers dollars by looking for funding through local, state and national funding such as Pepsi.
Educating our youth outside of the classroom ensures that they see how their knowledge can be applied in different aspects of agriculture. This is the real test of their knowledge. It strengthens them as students and enhances them as future citizens in our communities.
This is a link for our project is on
If you chose not to use the link go to www.refresheverything.com our title is Educate youth in food production in 7 counties in Colorado. We are under Education and then under $25,000. You can go to the words VOTE FOR and click on Ideas Near You and once you have voted Ideas you support.
We need people to vote for us daily and as often as they can using a different email each time. If we make it in the 100 rank or below we stay on the site automatically and the voting starts again next month. We were only able to get ranked at 197 and have worked down to 166 or there about each day. The best rank that we could have gotten would have been 101 first time out. We have gone down to 103 but have not been able to stay there.
We will keep submitting our project each month because others have done the same and have now reached the top ten ranking and now will be funded.
If you believe this type of education is valuable and wish to help us stretch our tax-payer dollars, please vote for us and share this with others.
We greatly appreciate your support. Know that we have a passion in Extension for educating people in general and not just youth, so that you can make an informed decision because we delivered research-based information that is accurate.
Our goal is to better you life.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Since they are a shallow rooted crop they can be grown in containers and started about 4-6 weeks before the last frost. They can tolerate some frost. It is best to plant the seed directly in the ground at about half an inch deep and thin later to 2 to 3 inches. Though radishes tolerate a wide variety of soils, it is best to add compost to build better soil structure whether sand or clay. Use fertilizers low in nitrogen and use only one application of fertilizer.
Radishes will germinate quickly between 3 to 10 days. And they will mature quickly from about 20 days to 40 days. If you like a lot of radishes stagger the crop, to have several over the cool season.
Nutritionally, radishes have vitamin C and K as well as riboflavin and B6. They also contain high levels of copper, manganese and potassium.
So what can stand between you and a really good radish is hot weather. Air temperatures over 75 turn radishes pithy and they go to seed. They are tolerant of shade and need about 6 hours of sun. So if you live in a really hot climate like Colorado where winter often goes directly into summer with no spring, radishes would not mind some afternoon shade. Like most other vegetables, they need an inch of water per week.
For those who really love radishes, there are spring as well as winter radishes. Winter radishes can be planted in mid to late summer with a spacing of 2 to 3 inches apart. They grow slower and come in different colors like black, green and white rather than the pink, red, purple or white of the spring radish.
Radishes can be enjoyed in different salads such as oriental salads. For a quick salad recipe go to Cooks.com and try the couscous salad with radishes. Or marinate your radish. Don't forget the tops of the radishes are edible, too.
So before the season gets away from you, go and plant your radishes.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Now that everyone is getting in the mail all the new seed and plant cataloges, think about adding some native choices to your list. The native pictured to the left is Gaura coccinea or scarlet beeblossom. Planting these in mass can make quite a show in the middle to late summer.
Natives over annuals. Annuals need water and fertilizer regularly. An annual by its very nature does what it needs to do in one season. Annuals give us a spectacular show in a very short time. Because annuals have been on the market for a long time they are readily available. We can buy annuals at a reasonable price. However, those prices are now effected by our sluggish economy. Once you purchase an annual that money only lasts a season. With purchasing a native that fits with your environment, it can last for many years.
So where do we find natives. Some of the nurseries have a small supply. Most nurseries carry seed. If you are looking to start from seed, go to a native plant seed company. Those places usually carry a wider variety. If you live in Colorado, go on-line to Colorado Native Plant Society. They can recommend some choices. Every state may have a native plant society.
The American Horticultural Society can help you with information on other societies. You can email them and get information or call.
Here is Colorado, I have used the Rocky Mountain Native Plant Company. They have a wide list and you can purchase plants in different sizes.
I suggest to familiarize yourself with these plants to do some research. Part of your research could be to take our Extension class titled Native Plant Master offered every spring. The deadline for the application is in March. Call your local Extension office for information.
The second thing I would suggest to learn about natives is go visit the nurseries that supply them. That way you can see the plant. Sometimes we see plants in pictures and they look great. Then we get the plant and it is not quite the same color or texture we thought.
Some of the plants that I would suggest in our area of the Golden Plains of Colorado would be as follows:
Coneflower -- Echinacea angustifolia
Aspen Fleabane--Erigeron speciosus
James' Buckwheat--Eriogonum jamessii
Common Gaillardia--Gaillardi aristata
Dotted Blazing Star--Liatris punctata
Rocky Mountain Iris--Iris missouriensis--for moist areas
Cardinal flower--Lobelia cardenalis--for moist areas
Western Coneflower--Rudbeckia occidentalis
Prairie Spiderwort--Tradescantia occidentalis
Along with these there are a list of grasses and other shrubs and trees that would complete your landscape.
I have listed a few choices below:
Trees: box-elder -- Acer negundo
Gambel oak-- Quercus gambelii
Ponderosa Pine--Pinus ponderosa
Southwestern White Pine--Pinus strobiformis
Limber Pine--Pinus flexilis
A word of caution when selecting trees: keep them within their native elevation. If your elevation is up to 4,000 purchase trees that match that elevation. Plants can and do adapt; however, not all plants adapt, and if they do, they still may present a weakness due to less optimal conditions than their native environment.
Shrubs: Mountain-mahogany--Cerocarpus montanus
Golden currant--Ribes aureum
Red berried elder--Sambucus racemosa
Western Chokeberry--Prunus virginian melanocarpa
Apache plume--Fallugia paradoxa
A word of caution when selecting shrubs: again same as above - keep shrubs within their native elevation.
By using natives you will enjoy a lifetime of natural beauty and conserve on water, pesticide and fertilizer. So go out this spring and visit nurseries that carry lots of native plants and see what appeals to you that will grow in your elevation.