Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mini Veggie Container Gardening

Don't have much garden space?  Or little time to devote to gardening this year?  Or are you getting older and a large garden is more difficult to maintain?  Well here is an opportunity to try your favorite vegetables in miniature size.

You have a wide selection of possibilities.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, squash and more are all available for growing in a small container.  In containers which are no larger than 24 inches high you can grow a number of tomatoes:

  • Tiny Tim is 45 days to maturity with red round fruits 3/4 inch.
  • Window Box Roma is 70 days to maturity with 2 inch red fruits and has a longer shelf life than regular tomato varieties.
  •  Elfin is 60 days to maturity with red fruits about one and a half inches which are crisp.

Next, you may want some cucumbers to go with your tomatoes:

  • Baby Cucumber with 52 days to maturity that makes a bushy vine.
  • Baby Whooper with 55 days to maturity that has no runners.
  • Midget with 50 days to maturity that has 2 foot vines.
For some of the bigger fruits such as cantaloupe:

  • Early Super Midget with 60 days maturity has a medium vine.
  • Minnesota Midget with 63 days maturity has 4 inch melons.
There are watermelons if you like those better:

  • Sugar Lumps with 78 days to maturity with melons that are 8 to 9 inches in diameter.
  • Lollipop with 70 days to maturity with melons that are 3-5 pounds.

Butterfly Gardening

Butterfly gardening is a different style of gardening. It is not as neat and manicured as some gardeners would like their garden. Gardeners need to know that to accommodate butterflies the plants that are offered must meet the requirements of their complete lifecycle. Food must be provided for the caterpillar stage and the adult stage.

To further understand how to design your butterfly garden, you need to know what butterflies will possibly visit your garden. Colorado State University has a fact sheet on Attracting Butterflies to the Garden (5.504). Here is a brief list of butterflies that come to northeast Colorado from Opler and Cranshaw's CSU fact sheet:

  • Western Tiger Swallowtail
  • Mourning Cloak
  • Clouded Sulfur
  • Checkered Skipper
  • Black Swallowtail

Here are some plant suggestions as sources for caterpillar food:

  • Hackberry
  • Milkweed
  • Wild licorice
  • Locust
  • Cottonwood
  • Chokeberry

Here are some plant suggestions as sources for nectar for adult butterflies:
  • Bush cinquefolia
  • Lilac
  • Sweet pea
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Zinnias
  • Cosmos

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

FireWise Landscaping


By Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate

 

Fire can happen on any landscape, at any time.  Incorporating preparation and prevention can assist with lessening the threat of fire.  

A fire on the plains can be effected by three things:

·        Surface fuels

·        Fine, fast-burning fuels

·        Usually driven by high wind

 
Photo Credit: Colorado Forest Service, Boyd Lebeda
 
 
What can you do when faced with a grass fire that travels quickly?  What preparations do you need to put in place around your home, long before a wild- fire? 
Aside from all of the above information, before fire season, stand back and look at your landscape differently can help prevent disaster to your family’s home.
First, according to the Colorado Forest Service when renovating your landscape around your home, this requires a defensible space.  This space serves as a buffer between your home and the trees, shrubs, perennials, grass and any wildland area that surround your home.  Do you have an evergreen planted up against your home? Does the ground slope away from your home?  What types of are established vegetation on your property?  All are factors to your ability to mitigate fire damage to your home.  CSU Forest Service recommends keeping your defensible space clean of trash and debris.
Second, everyone’s home has weak spots and hardening your home means using construction materials that can help your home withstand flying embers and shore up those weak spots.  Do you have a wood deck that attaches to your home? Are there garden tools with wooden handles or brooms or other highly flammable materials under the deck such as pine needles or leaves?  How often do you clean your gutters of debris? 
Third, have a Family Disaster Plan that has evacuation routes in place in case your family is asked to evacuate, a meeting area outside the fire hazard area and a Disaster Supply Kit.  This kit needs to last for at least 3 days and contain your family’s and pets’ necessary items.  Some of these items might be prescription medicines, cash, water, clothing, food and first aid.
Preparation goes a long way towards the success in a fire disaster or any disaster.  Disasters can put people in a panic mode.  If you have a plan, having a disaster supply kit insures that you may not forget medicine or something equally critical and the plan helps save lives. 
Now that you have an idea of what fuels a fire and what you need to do, you can add fire-resistant plants to your property and still have a beautiful landscape. There is a factsheet listed below which I have referenced in this article.  There are some wonderful native plants such as some of the perennial native forbs(wildflowers):
·        Echinacea purpurea, Purple Coneflower
·        Ratibida columnifera, Prairie Coneflower
·        many different species of Penstemon. 
 
Beyond these there is a wide list of non-native perennial choices from the FireWise Plant List on the FireWise Plant Materials Factsheet:
·        Ajuga reptans          Bugleweed
·        Lamium spp.            Dead nettle
·        Armeria maritima   Sea thrift
There are a number of shrubs and trees from which to choose from the same factsheet:
·        Prunus cerasifera               Flowering plum
·        Amelanchier alnifolia        Saskatoon alder-leaf serviceberry
·        Shepherdia argentea         Silver buffaloberry
·        Crataegus spp.                    Hawthorn
 
Here are some CSU links for Fire-Resistant Landscaping and FireWise Plant Materials that you can access for guides also used as references for this article:
CSU Quick Guide Series – Protecting Your Home from Wildfire: Creating Wildfire-Defensible Zones formerly CSU Extension Factsheet 6.302 –link:
 
CSU Forest Home Fire Safety Factsheet 6.304
CSU Fire-Resistant Landscaping 6.303
CSU Fire Wise Plant Materials 6.305
 


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fairy Gardens




 
Photo Credit: From Pinterest
 
 
 
Feel creative?  Try your hand at a fairy garden.  The sky is the limit!  Some folks use all natural materials and make things from scratch while others purchase miniature doors, windows and furniture. 
 
 
There are no rules about creating a fairy garden.  If you want the natural look, search in your back yard for bark and moss.  If you want stones and live nearby a river, lake or beach collect them for the look you want. 
 
Wooden popsicle sticks and toothpicks come in handy to use for fences, bridges or window frames.  Use your imagination.  Take a look at the picture below:
 
 
 
Photo Credit: etsy.com  Nature Fairy House
 
 
 
 
Art in any form helps everyone from little children to adults mentally, socially and emotionally.  So start the New Year spending time reenergizing yourself and take time to create.  Express yourself. 
There is no right or wrong when expressing yourself.  Go for it!