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Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

DSC_0085If your New Year’s resolution is to join hands with others to make the world a better place, start in your own backyard. Big change can come from small scale refurbishing and the lives you save will repay your kindness with fruit, food, erosion control, and an increase in oxygen from the bevy of plant offspring produced by pollination.

Just don’t be surprised that the helping hand you reach out is accepted by a claw in gratitude; and please don’t squeeze. The tiny denizens of a healthy garden include bees, beetles, butterflies, birds, moths, flies, and bats who move pollen in important ways.   Good habitat is a premium for them, and you can help by creating pollinator friendly gardens.

Audubon Rockies wants to help you in your resolution, offering the Habitat Heroes – Gardening for Beauty and Birds workshop, Saturday, March 5, 9 a.m. to noon at the Boulder County Parks and Open Space building in Longmont, Colorado. As part of the Habitat Heroes program, the workshop features two speakers who give advice for creating meaningful gardens with pollinators in mind.

The Habitat Heroes program encourages gardeners to practice wildscaping, a form of landscape stewardship that utilizes native plants, minimizes water consumption, and provides habitat for birds, bees, and wildlife, large and small. According to the Audubon Rockies press release, it doesn’t matter if your landscape is a residential yard, a few pots on a balcony, a public park, schoolyard garden, orchard or farm – the concepts can be used in many forms.

As more wildscaped gardens emerge, they’ll create a mosaic of habitats that link to larger natural areas, providing a mix of food and shelter for wildlife and insects across urban areas.

This half-day workshop is for both novice and veteran gardeners who are interested in wildscaping tips and techniques, attracting wildlife in an urban environment, eliminating chemicals in the landscape and minimizing water consumption. The workshop features two prominent gardening and horticultural experts:

Marcia Tatroe, writer and columnist for Sunset Magazine and the Denver Post, and author of Cutting Edge Gardening in the Intermountain West and Perennials for Dummies. Marcia will discuss how wildlife habitat can coexist within a covenant controlled community, and how to ensure your garden pleases both wildlife and fastidious neighbors.

Deryn Davidson, a Colorado State University Horticulture Extension Agent for Boulder County. Deryn will explore how gardens can be designed to enhance the aesthetics of a site, attract pollinators and provide habitat for an array of wildlife.

If you go:

What: Habitat Heroes – Gardening for Beauty and Birds, sponsored by Audubon Rockies, Boulder County Audubon Society, Terra Foundation and in partnership with CSU Extension, Boulder County.

Where: Prairie Room, Boulder Country Parks and Open Space, 5201 St. Vrain Rd., Longmont

When: Saturday, March 5. The workshop begins at 9:00 a.m.

Registration: $15.00 per person.  Visit brownpapertickets.com with the keyword  Habitat Hero.

Door Prize: Win a Garden in a Box, an exclusive pre-planned garden from High Country Gardens.

 

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In the warmth of our early spring, landscapes burst with enthusiasm for the season; trees and perennials woke up in a raucous, flower-filled welcome.  Gardeners greeted the spring show with joy, but as plant after plant sent forth blooms we soon went from feeling euphoric to feeling alarmed.

“Wait, wait, it’s only March,” we muttered at forsythia, and “you’re not supposed to be here until Mother’s day,” we told lilacs.  Crabapples ushered in April instead of May while flowering bulbs burst open in a display more like the fireworks finale than a long, colorful parade.

Sure, it was nice, but also disturbing.  After all, Mother Nature has a way of laughing at Colorado.  And this year, she’s in a full belly-laugh, sending snow and freezing temperatures just as we brought out our Hawaiian shirts and flip flops.

The start of our season was weeks ahead of schedule, with horticulturists and gardeners noting a three-week earlier flowering or leafing out.  Diseases and insects emerged early too, making things busy for landscape and tree maintenance companies.

Experts use phenology, or Degree-day models, to predict pest outbreaks; it’s based on the number of days or hours at certain temperatures the pest needs to emerge after winter.  Depending on the pest, we’re eight days to one month ahead of the usual pest problems.  The Emerald Ash Borer began popping from trees at the beginning of May; last year (the first season tracked following its detection here in Colorado) it emerged in early June.  The bug isn’t getting more aggressive, it’s simply following the climate we’ve had this year.

Gardeners should be aware that many pests are active earlier.  And although the recent cold weather might have put a crimp in their activities, those pests are resilient.  Controlling pests before their damage is severe is the best way to sustainably garden, so be on the lookout for potential problems and have your strategies in place to keep your plants healthy.

Here are a few thugs to watch for:

Fire blight is a bacterial disease that’s destructive to apple, pear, quince and crabapple. It attacks in spring, when temperatures reach 65 degrees F and frequent rain occurs. The best weather conditions for this damaging disease is exactly what we just had: humidity, rain, and hail.  This is when masses of bacteria are forced through cracks and bark pores to the bark surface, where they form a sweet, gummy exudate called bacterial ooze.

Insects attracted to this ooze pick up the bacteria on their bodies and carry it to opening blossoms or young branches wounded by pruning, insects, or hail. Girdling cankers – areas of disease on the wood – develop from branch or blossom infections.  Leaves wilt, darken, and curl into a shepherd’s crook. This gives the tree a fire-scorched appearance, thus the name “fire blight.”

There’s no cure for this disease; prevention is the best solution. Fire blight control include use of resistant varieties, cultural practices, pruning and spraying.

Japanese beetles are beautiful but devastating insects that attack over 300 types of plants, including grapes, raspberries, beans, apples, and roses.  Ganging up on plants, they cause serious injury.  Louisville, Lafayette, and Boulder residents have reported the beetles; it’s unclear how widespread they are in our area.  For more information on Japanese beetles and their control, see ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05601.html.

Gardeners with strawberries, raspberries, and other cane fruit should watch for Spotted Wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii).   The overwintering females of this fruit fly relative lay hundreds of eggs on ripe fruit.  Upon hatching, the larvae burrow inside, where they feed on the fruit, growing into plump maggots.  According to the Degree-day models, we’re rapidly approaching peak egg laying by overwintering females and the first emergence of this season’s adults.

From egg to adult is a mere eight to ten days, depending on temperatures, and there are several generations per year.  Keep your fruit meticulously cleaned from the floor of the garden and pick and discard overripe fruit.

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In Victorian times messages of love were sent with flowers, each type and color having its own meaning. Should someone send you a bouquet of red roses, they were speaking of love. Should the roses be yellow, they were saying they’re jealous.

Modern relationships are carried out differently – nowadRosesays, love is celebrated by sending flowers, candies, and text messages. “I lv U” has replaced floral displays, but sending flowers is still a great way to express passion for that special person in your life. With all of the new varieties of flowers, what would Victorian florists send in today’s world of modern love?

Roses are great if you’re already in a relationship. But what about the person who has a crush on the girl in the next office cubicle, and isn’t sure if she is interested in return? Try sending mixed wildflowers – they’re non-committal, casual, and not intense. Frightening people is a real risk in today’s romance scene, and wildflowers have less of a reputation for commitment.

Wildflowers can be grown in the garden for just such casual occasions. However, this does not mean picking weeds to give; save those for when asking for a divorce.

Unsure whether it’s time to take the relationship to the next level, or keep it casual? Send Gerbera daisies, tulips, and freesias. Together these make a unique mix with big flowers, bold color and soft fragrance. This step above standard bouquets sets the stage for better things, while leaving an “it’s just casual” safety net should the receiver become alarmed at the idea of closer involvement.

Occasionally people come together for brief romantic interludes.   In some cases those involved want to remain friends without continued entanglement, and carnations are an ideal choice to send. Inexpensive and commonly found in many retail stores, they soften the words without encouraging further involvement. Carnations say “Yes, I’m sending a flower to thank you, but I don’t really want anything more”.

Unless, of course, it was the interlude of a lifetime, one never to be repeated yet sizzling and memorable. The absolute must-send bouquet for this is made up of yellow daylilies for the fleetness of love, blue forget-me-nots for remembrance, and red Crocosmia “Lucifer” for the devil that made you do it.

Relationships may encounter a few bumpy times, and lovers have ways of communicating this, such as blasting Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” over the stereo. When this happens, hustling quickly over to the florists to choose unique flowers for one-of-a-kind bouquets is best. Hand-pick tropical flowers and orchids to show an effort went into the apology, a good thing to demonstrate to an irritated spouse.

Flowers can encompass the wide range of love found in our world. Close friends can be celebrated with unusual arrangements, such as floral displays placed in items that evoke unique interests or shared moments. Think outside the box when choosing both flowers and the vase to hold them. Often personal items, such as a bike helmet, can convey deep appreciation for friends and the connection you have together. 

For those who have no clue where they are in a relationship, the safest way to go is with traditional roses. They’re formal, standard, and are the best fall-back when you don’t want to risk not doing enough. But don’t underestimate them: due to their reputation as beacons of love they may help the receiver to feel more strongly about the sender. Especially if the roses are made from chocolate.

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cropped-dsc_0032.jpg  The depths of winter is a gardener’s favorite time, where we curl up under a lap throw and delve into seed catalogs. Each new variety or old friend is weighed and considered for inclusion in the upcoming garden; the shopping list grows along with the gardener’s contentment.

Perusing my stack of brightly colored, glossy catalogs helped nurse me through a bout of flu, distracting me from feeling sorry for myself and ensuring I didn’t drive my spouse crazy with pathetic cries for aspirin, juice, or more tissue. I thumbed the pages with vegetables to try, such as Mexican sour gherkins (tiny, one-inch fruits with sweet cucumber flavor and an almost-pickled sour tang), Lows Champion dry bean for making a sweet pot of baked beans in winter, and the stunning, conical, deep mauve-colored Kalibos cabbage.

Deep into my shopping, a new lettuce variety stopped me short. The chartreuse and maroon romaine Ruby Glow looked gorgeous and sounded delicious, yet I stopped, not because I would move mountains to have it, but because the price was astounding: $6.95 for one packet of seed. I thought it was a flu-induced hallucination.

Shock turned to anger as I turned the pages, finding more and more examples of pricey seed packets. When did the basics of gardening get so expensive? It’s not like we’re ordering a half-caff, skinny dipped, two pumps of classic, soy-based mocha latte. These are seeds, the building basics of every garden.

And when gardeners buy seeds, we buy them like it’s an addiction.  We become hunter-gatherers, ordering varieties from different companies, consulting with friends, cobbling together the perfect, unique combination of crops that fit us like a glove. I used to think we really can’t help ourselves, until this catalog arrived.

The price halted me. It got me thinking, which is never a good thing. We aren’t known for calculating the cost of seed to table, but if we did, we’d find truth in William Alexander’s the $64 Tomato book (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $10.93). Yet I started calculating.

For that price, I could order two packets from other sources and have two different types of crops. Variety is the spice of gardening. I also know that, caught up in the frenzy of shopping at somewhat low prices, I don’t pay much attention to how many packets I’m purchasing, which is a very good marketing strategy for companies to have. Adding in shipping costs magnified the grumbling in my mind.

I continued to flip pages, not-so-silently judging the company’s pricing. In other catalogs there are pricey packets, but in general, the companies keep prices reasonable. Local companies also have sales in garden centers; we can pick up our packets from them and avoid shipping costs.

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EAB PA DCNR  Think our recent cold snaps might halt the Emerald Ash borer in its tracks? Not likely, according to the United States Forest Service. Even though the polar vortexes are creating havoc on our landscapes, one place that’s still cozy is deep inside the wood of trees.

For the cold to smack the Green Menace down, temperatures have to dip to at least minus 20-degrees F inside the wood, and even colder temperatures are needed to kill higher numbers of larvae. Boulder hasn’t seen those types of low temps, so don’t count on Mother Nature giving the cold shoulder to the emerald pest this winter.

Read their report on how cold temps help stop the bug.

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Doing battle with a bug threatening to destroy thousands of our trees takes patience, strategy and a variety of tools. You can throw thousands of staff hours at it. You can remove hundreds of infested trees. You can even sizzle the invaders with electrified, bug-zapping replicas of the female emerald ash borer (though effective on a testing scale, I can’t envision stringing thousands of lines of the shocking beauties throughout the trees).

But sometimes what you need is an answer both subdued and eloquent, another bug to target a thug that’s attacking our ash. Dubbed the “Green Menace,” the emerald ash borer (EAB) has been found in Boulder, and Colorado’s interagency EAB Response Team is pulling out all the stops to try and halt the spread of the insect.

With that in mind, they’re releasing wasps, but not the kind that disrupt picnics or carry toddlers off for a midnight snack. These tiny insects are harmless to humans and beasts; they’re stingless and don’t concern themselves with picnics or soda pop.

Instead, Tetrastichus planipennisi target EAB larvae as they grow under the bark of the tree, laying eggs inside their bodies for the hatching wasps to use as hosts. The growing parasitoid larvae ultimately kill their EAB hosts before they can mature. Each female wasp can lay up to 100 eggs in a single larva. 

Tetrastichus planipennisi  pupae

Tetrastichus planipennisi pupae

 More than two thousand of the wasps have been brought to Boulder already, and released through the combined efforts of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, University of Colorado, City of Boulder and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). For years, USDA has been employing biocontrols for use against EAB in the U.S., and they are providing the wasps at no charge to Colorado.

There are moments during which I suddenly have soundtrack music cue up in my head, and in this case, the snippets of the William Tell Overture distract me as I contemplate what the wasps will do. But the release itself is a tad anticlimactic: no one screams “Release the wasps!” while swarms of adults cloud the skies. Rather, the release is a quiet one; the wasps rest in their pupal stage, nestled together in wood bolts attached to trees. They’ll gradually chew their way out and fly to find their prey, quietly doing what many of us cannot: finding EAB larvae.  Climbing

It is hoped that the wasps will help suppress EAB populations in the city and manage the insect’s potential future spread, much like a hero arriving to save the day. The wasps have been released on the East Campus of the University of Colorado, in a location that offers the wasps rich hunting, as ash in this area are hard-hit by the bug.

According to a press release from the EAB Response Team, up to two additional Tetrastichus releases are planned in Boulder in the coming weeks, dependent on weather conditions. The parasitoid wasp Oobius agrili, which targets Emerald Ash Borer eggs laid in the late spring or summer, also is being considered for release here in 2015.

Like EAB, Tetrastichus is native to Asia and the USDA conducted extensive research on it in its native range before bringing it to the U.S. for testing. Once here, they conducted further testing to ensure that the wasps won’t attack other insects in the absence of EAB. They determined that the wasp prefers to hunt EAB above all else, and even if they lay eggs on non-EAB larvae, the eggs don’t survive. Due to this, the USDA determined that Tetrastichus poses little risk to other insects here.

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Written by Dr. Tony Koski, Extension Turf Specialist
Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture
http://csuturf.colostate.edu       http://csuhort.blogspot.com

Lawns that are covered by flood waters, even temporarily, may be subject to various types of damage. In general, most turf species will tolerate a few days of flooding without any negative effects. However, turf that remains flooded for more than a few days (especially when it is hot) can rapidly decline due to lack of oxygen and light. Substantial turf loss can be expected after 4 days of continued submersion. Other factors associated with flooding of turf include: soil coverage, water contaminated with petroleum or pesticides, high water temperature and algae scum. The most significant long-term effect of flooding is the deposit of sediment (“muck”), primarily silt and clay, over turf surfaces. This can lead to serious soil layering problems and even death of the existing grass.

Short-Term Care of Flooded Turf
Once flood waters have receded, pick up any debris, such as wood, glass, stones, nails and other metal objects deposited on lawn areas. This debris could pose a safety hazard to mower operators and damage power mowers or other equipment later used to maintain the lawn, as well as to people and pets who may use the lawn for recreation. Remove leaves or any other material that may smother grass.

Soil (“muck”) deposited on a lawn can sometimes be removed before drying by a combination of scooping/shoveling and washing with a jet of water using a hose-end sprayer.  However, removal of soil may be impractical or impossible due to the size of the lawn area, the depth of the soil, the weight of the wet soil, and ability to move it to another location.

Soil deposits on golf greens and other sand-based turf systems (soccer, football or baseball fields) should be removed as quickly and thoroughly as possible to reduce the potential for silt and clay to move into the sand root zone, clogging the pores and reducing infiltration and permeability. The use of shovels, sweepers and water to move/remove soil deposits will reduce the potential for damage. However, these affected turf systems will likely require aggressive core cultivation and topdressing to restore and maintain acceptable infiltration and aeration.

After the Turf has Dried
It is often not possible or practical to remove deposited soil from flooded turf while it is still wet. The drying process may take two or three weeks, perhaps longer, depending on weather, soil, and drainage characteristics of the underlying soil and turf. Remediation at this point is largely dependent upon the depth of deposited soil.

Lawn repair with less than 1-2 inches of soil
Lawns submerged less than 4 days and covered with an inch or less of soil have a good chance to recover.  Assessment of potential lawn damage and recovery may not be possible until those areas have dried. Checking for new shoots emerging from the soil or the emergence of new shoots from surviving plants is a good way to make an early assessment of damage. Usually, once regrowth has begun, it will continue, although it may take several weeks before the lawn has completely filled in.

Core cultivation/aerification is one of the most important and beneficial operations conducted where soil deposits are less than an inch. When the lawn has begun to grow (green leaves begin to appear), go over the lawn 3-4 times with a core type aerifier. This will help improve overall soil structure, improve soil oxygen levels, help break up soil layering problems caused by the deposited soil and encourage recovery during the fall. The lawn should also be fertilized (using any lawn fertilizer, following label instructions for applying the correct rate) at this time (September-October).

Overseeding can also be done at the time of aerification. The aerification holes provide perfect conditions for the germination of grass seed. Lawn areas that are thin (or the entire lawn can be overseeded at this time) can be overseeded with Kentucky bluegrass or a Kentucky bluegrass/perennial ryegrass mix (tall fescue lawns should be overseeded with tall fescue seed), using a seeding rate of 5-6 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet. Rake the lawn lightly after seeding to work seed into the aeration holes. Irrigate the lawn to maintain moist, but NOT saturated, soil conditions.

Lawn repair with greater than 2 inches of soil
Lawns covered with more than 2 inches of soil may be heavily damaged, with only a slight chance of recovery. Degree of recovery will vary with grass species and depth of soil. The greater the depth of soil, the slower the recovery and the less likely the lawn will recover. If the lawn area is completely buried with many (3 or more) inches of soil, then the best strategy may be to accept that the majority of the lawn has already been severely damaged or killed and it will be necessary to reestablish a “new” lawn.

Reestablishment of a “new” lawn over a flood-damaged lawn
To reduce the future potential for soil layering to cause drainage and rooting problems for the new lawn, there are two ways of dealing with the deposited soil. One is to remove as much of the soil as possible, down to the original lawn surface. Understanding that this may be difficult or impractical, the deposited soil may be left on the lawn and rototilled into the lawn as deeply and thoroughly as possible. This, in essence, will create a “new” lawn root zone that is a mix of the deposited soil and the underlying lawn and its soil. The goal is to eliminate, as much as possible, the formation of layers in the “new” lawn root zone by thoroughly mixing the original lawn’s soil, the layer of the original, dead lawn, and the flood-deposited soil.

After leveling and firming the “new” lawn soil, it can be sodded or seeded as any new lawn would be established. Cool-season grasses can be seeded anytime between Aug. 20 and Sept. 30 (buffalograss should be seeded in April/May). Sod can also be used to provide an instant lawn. Do not sod over existing dead or buried vegetation. The old dead layer of lawn grass must be thoroughly tilled into the soil before laying new sod.

Written 18 September 2013

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