Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Plant Select 2016 Top Performers

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Plant Select

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Click Beetles

Adult Click Beetles, Photo Credit CSU Forest Service

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

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

Monday, December 12, 2016

Tower Garden Results

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Container Competition

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

Photo Credit Linda Langelo

Friday, October 14, 2016

Small Jumping Spiders

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

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Maple Not Sensitive to pH

Photo Credit:

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

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

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


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

Marigolds -- no

Four O'Clocks -- no

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

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

Tower Garden

Tower Garden Photo Credit Linda Langelo


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


Carpenterworm Photo credit-Linda Langelo

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Reason for Optimism After Hail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pinyon Needle Scale

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

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

Photo Credit: Donna Davis

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

Photo Credit: Donna Davis

Tri State Horticulture Symposium

Photo Credit: Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate

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

Photo Credit: CMG Robin Vincent

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

Photo Credit, CMG Robin

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

Monday, March 7, 2016

Whitney Cranshaw Comes to Yuma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

European Elm Scale

The small oval white "dots" on the bark are scale.  In fact they are white cocoons from which the males will emerge and begin to mate with the females.  The time is near for mating in late April and May.  They are fuzzy or hairy.  These are called European Elm Scale.  They are found on elm trees throughout the United States. 
Trees exhibit symptoms of premature leaf yellowing and leaf drop.  Heavy infestations weaken branches.  Other problems are honeydew production.  The female populations can be heaviest in late June and early July.  The eggs hatch within the female's body, and the crawlers emerge over several weeks.  The nymphs will crawl onto the underside of leaves and position themselves by main veins.
Be sure to watch for the premature leaf yellowing and leaf drop in July and early August.  This could be among the possibilities.

Freeze and Borer Damage on Hackberry Trees

Photo Credit: Donna Davis, CSU Forest Service
This is damage done by woodborers and quite possibly freeze damage. Most of the time we think that the damage was done by a squirrel who ripped the bark away. In this case with the trunk riddled with holes, Red-headed Ash borers and/or Flatheaded Appletree borers are responsible along with freeze damage.  These are two common borers for our area that would be attracted to Hackberry trees. There are visible cracks in the trunk and no active tissue for the bark to stay connected to the tree.  These cracks are a sign of the freeze damage not always visible on the outer surface of the bark.

Photo Credit: Donna Davis, CSU Forest Service

Monday, February 22, 2016

CSU/USDA Grant Writing Workshop

A Farmers Market, Local Food Promotion and USDA Grant Workshop

When and Where: Monday, March 21, 2016
Time: 12:00-4:30 pm
Cost: $15- includes lunch
CSU Extension, Akron, Washington County
181 Birch Avenue
Akron, CO 80720

Who: Any farmers, ranchers, food producers, food and farming organization members or broader community members interested in learning about and applying for a variety of food system grants.

Why: Dawn Thilmany and Becca Jablonski, CSU Extension, will share their experience and insights on a wide range of funding programs and will present information, tips and best practices, as well as providing direct technical assistance to help you get started!

What Next? Those who RSVP by March 16th will be guaranteed lunch and receive homework that they can bring to jump start their grant writing and get immediate feedback from those with experience in this area. Space is limited so make sure to rsvp today.

Please contact Linda Langelo at 970-474-3479 for questions and to register for this workshop.
This program is a collaboration between the CSU Extension of the Land Grant University System and Colorado Building Farmers, funded by a number of USDA agencies including USDA NIFA.

Monday, January 25, 2016

 Photo Credit: Dennis Kaan, Area Director of Golden Plains Extension
This Linden tree had almost half of the trunk's bark removed from a someone who visited the city park in Akron, Colorado four years ago.  The tree was "skinned" from the first branch to the base of the trunk.  This is almost an area of between 3-4 feet in length.  
Each season this tree has slowly begun to grow over the open wound.  Last summer there were no dead branches nor any signs of dieback.  This tree demonstrates the capacity of trees to overcome adversity.  The tree was given supplemental watering during the drought years and every season the lawn is fertilized which adds some fertilization for the tree especially in the way of nitrogen.  Nitrogen moves quickly through the soil because it is very soluble.  But the Potassium and phosphorus are not readily soluble in that lawn fertilizer.  Potassium has a high positive charge and bonds strongly with negatively charged elements in the soil.  Phosphorus has a negative charge and reacts strongly with other soil elements such as iron, aluminum and calcium with positive charges and moves only a few inches through the soil.
With the small amounts of nutrients from the lawn fertilizer, these will still be absorbed by the tree and be of some benefit.  It is amazing what one tree or plant will do to survive over another. 

Tri-State Horticulture Symposium

Tri State Horticulture Symposium

Monday, April 4 & Tuesday April 5, 2016

Yuma County Fairgrounds

At the Concession Building

410 West Hoag Road

Yuma, Colorado

Thompson Park, Julesburg, CO. Photo Credit: CSU Extension, Linda Langelo, Horticulture Program Associate

 Whether it is the year of the begonia or the year of the delphinium, the next gardening season is around the corner to challenge even the most experienced gardeners.  Come and be educated on some of the latest gardening issues.

Topics and Speakers on April 4, 2016:

Bugs, Bugs and More Bugs

By Whitney Cranshaw, CSU Entomology Specialist



Topics and Speakers on April 5, 2016

Invasive Weeds

By Brian Talamantes, CSU Weeds Science & Agronomy,



Habitats for Pollinators

By Dori Seamans, NCRS/Beekeeper, Burlington, CO. &

Shannon Bowling, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist


LUNCH & Meet the vendors



Continue Meeting the Vendors – 1:00-1:30

A native grass exhibit will be on display. 

Best Practices for Caring for our Trees

By Boyd Lebeda, CSU Forest Service


Contact: Sedgwick County Extension at (970)474-3479 for further details and to register by Monday, March 28, 2016


Cost $30 includes lunch for one day either April 4 or 5, late registration or at the door $40. Registration for both days is $45 while late registration for both days or at the door is $50.  Sponsored by Colorado State University

Friday, January 22, 2016

Common Tree Planting Errors

These pictures demonstrate what not to do.  A picture is worth a thousand words. 

  • The first picture is the end result of ponderosa pines about 40 years old that succumbed to girdling roots left around the base of the tree. This tree was buried slightly deeper than it should have been.  A strong wind of 50 miles an hour pushed this tree over.
  • In the second picture it shows the root ball in the planting hole with burlap and twine still enclosed in the wire basket.  Both the burlap and wire basket need to have the top third removed to allow the roots to spread.  Roots generally go out and slightly up toward ground level.  In some cases, Maples and Colorado Blue Spruce are shallow rooted trees. 

  • What causes burlap not to decompose quickly?  Burlap does not decompose quickly here in many locations on the eastern plains of Colorado because of improper water levels in the soil, too high or too low pH, lack of proper oxygen, lack of available nitrogen, higher levels of aluminum or manganese.  In turn the microbes, particularly bacteria are responsible for decomposition is lessened due to the stress placed on them by the poor environment of our soils. 
  • There are other living organisms in our soils besides bacteria in the following descending order:        
  1. another group of bacteria called actinomycetes providing valuable antibiotics,
  2. fungi provide soil stability with their threadlike filament structures,
  3. algae and cyanobacteria are photosynthetic microbes which can add small amounts of carbon to soil and
  4. protozoa which make nutrients available by mineralizing them for plants and animals.
  • Other than those mentioned above, there are more soil animals such as nematodes, microarthropods such as mites and springtails and larger animals such as earthworms and burrowing insects like dung beetles.



Food Waste: Compost or Redistribute?

Photo Credit: Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate


In times of great human need we rescue each other and at other times we may be called to rescue our animals or livestock.  So why not rescue food that is going to be wasted?  According to the Environmental Protection Agency we waste up to 40% of the food we produce.  This translates into an even bigger number of $165 billion dollar loss with 805 million people going hungry according to the Colorado Springs Food Rescue.

Nonprofits have popped up all over the country because of the Federal Law the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.  The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects the donor and the recipient agency against liability, excepting only gross negligence and/or intentional misconduct.  Since 1996, many states have passed their own Good Samaritan Laws. 

Established nonprofits can collect food from any distributor to any recipients.  This leaves the field wide open to supplementing food shortages.  This means that restaurants don't have to add left over food to their trash which lowers their waste collection costs.  This is a win-win for all involved.  A homeless family or a family that has a low-income gets the benefit of a variety of food which was previously unattainable.  Think about what your nonprofit can do?  Go to the link: and read about how Colorado Springs Food Rescue operates. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Proper Tree Planting

Photo Credit:  Linda Langelo
I wonder which came first? Was it the fence? Or was it the tree?  Or maybe it is the neighbor's fence?  We may never know.  This is a situation you should avoid.  This is not proper placement for this tree. The tree seems to be leaning.  I would want to know why. The limbs of this tree are over on the neighbor's property.  The trunk of the tree is sitting on the edge of a flower bed with stones and a garden edge up to the trunk or covering the support roots.  The bark should be allowed to breathe.  If the bark is covered by fabric this allows water to keep the bark moist.  This can cause rotting.  If the feeder roots are buried under stone/gravel and then fabric, this mitigates oxygen to the roots.  Roots need both water and oxygen.
When you go to purchase a property, keep these things in mind.  Some time in the future, the tree may fall on the fence.  Or the tree's roots if they are shallow-rooted will grow into the neighbor's turf.  All these issues are easily avoided by either moving the tree to a new location or removing the tree.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Dreaming of Wisteria

What a nice addition to the garden.  Wisteria can provide lots of shade with these beautiful flowers growing in drooping clusters, or racemes.  Depending on the type of wisteria those drooping racemes can either be six inches long to 3 feet.

But, oh the fragrance of these takes your memory back to the fragrance of sweet pea flowering vine.  Even the flowers seem to match in their structure.  That is because they are related both being in the Legume Family.  If you were to take a blindfold test, would you know if you were sitting next to a sweet pea or a wisteria vine? picture
It may also surprise you to know that there is a wisteria native to the U.S. called American wisteria, Wisteria frutescens.  This native is less aggressive than both the Chinese and Japanese types.  The racemes on this native are 9 inches and very fragrant.  The flowers are lilac to blue colored.  The vine will reach a height of 20 to 50 feet with the longest life span of all wisteria.  Unfortunately, this native only grows best in the southeast from Texas to Florida. 

If you are interested in the non-native types, Silky wisteria, Wisteria venusta repels deer, but attracts butterflies.  It has a short 6 inch white racemes blooming in May and June which grows to about 32 feet.

The wisteria with a number of cultivated varieties in a number of colored options such as white, lavender, blue and deep purple is the Japanese wisteria, Wisteria floribunda.  Anyone living in zones 5 through 9 can enjoy this type with the longest of all the flower racemes reaching up to 3 feet and blooming in May and June.  As much as we sell color blends of tulips, annuals, perennials why not blend two or even all three different colors into the appropriate landscape theme.

Last but not least, there is the Chinese wisteria, Wisteria sinensis, with mauve or lilac colored racemes reaching 9 to 12 inches with the exception of one variety, Cooke's Special of 20 inch length racemes.  This type will bloom in May and June.

All of these types need full-sun with well-drained soil to grow and an acid to neutral soil pH.