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.