Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sixty Second Secrets for Gardening Success: Buying Transplants!

Today on Sixty-Second Secrets for Gardening Success: Buying Transplants!

When selecting transplants from the nursery or garden center, be sure you pick the best plants available. Plants should be a healthy green color, with a wide bushy form. Avoid buying leggy or stretched plants. Look for any signs of disease, insects, or damage to the plant before you bring it home.

Plants that are over watered in the nursery are often shallow rooted. Check the roots by pulling the plant out of its pot or container. Also check for pot bound or girdling roots before you purchase a plant.

Once you get your plants home, you will want to harden them off by placing them outside in the sun. Gradually increase the amount of time the plants spend out in the elements each day for a week prior to planting to acclimate them to their new environment.

For more information on gardening, contact your local
CSU Extension Office.

Sixty-Second Secrets for Gardening Success is a production of
Colorado State University Extension.
CSU Extension: Extending knowledge, changing lives.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Look What I Found in My Neighborhood

Posted by Mary Small, Jefferson County Extension

I hope you’re ready for a quick stroll through the community park just beyond my yard. We’re going to take a look at some biotic and abiotic problems caused by either living or non-living entities. 

Here is freeze injury on daylily leaves.  Night temperatures dropped into the upper teens and low 20’s a week ago, following a couple days in the mid 60’s to low 70’s.  Daylily and daffodil leaves were hit the worst, depending on how much leaf tissue had emerged. Some early blooming daffodil flowers were damaged, but the later bloomers will be just fine (assuming this doesn’t happen again!)

Oh look, there’s still some moss on the bare soil in a flower bed.  The soil in this section of the neighborhood is poorly drained, heavy clay. Perforated pipe was installed to improve drainage and plant based compost was been tilled into the soil.  But it is still a struggle for plants - doesn’t help that this part of the property often gets a double dose of irrigation water!

Look to the lower right to see a former lawn.  It’s in the community park, on a slope and faces west. There's no shade.
Kids and dogs play on the surface much of the year, so the soil is also compacted. A small crop of dandelions  have moved in. At first glance, the turf appears to be in great need of aeration, water and fertilizer.  That will help fill it in, making it healthier and give the dandelions less room to roost.

I had this damage pegged as abiotic (knowing the care it doesn’t receive) until I looked closer at the sparse blades of green grass….and voila, it’s biotic! The leaves are stippled or speckled and mites crawling all over the leaves. Dry conditions and south and west facing slopes are just perfect for turf mites to thrive. Because they’re active in early to mid spring, they’ve already been feeding and damaging turf and it will continue until sometime next month. Good turf care is needed ASAP! (Although good care last year would have been helpful, along with some water this winter.)

The pine connected to this trunk (below right) has been struggling for some time and finally turned completely brown sometime 
 last fall. Although we can't find above ground pest injury, I bet the roots could tell us a different story! There’s a flat side to the lower trunk, and like many other trees in the park it was planted incorrectly. I suspect there are girdling roots causing the flattened side of the lower trunk. 

Oops! This crabapple was planted too deep. There’s no trunk flare; it looks like a telephone pole at the base.  I wonder how long it will survive in the park. So far it leafs and flowers well, but it's only been planted two years. 

I’m not sure what plant this is supposed to be (below) , but obviously it has a poor pruning job.  So now as we end our quick tour, I leave you with a question to ponder: is this a biotic or an abiotic problem?!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Weed of the Moment: Purple (Mustard) Haze

Posted by: Tony Koski, CSU Turfgrass Specialist

You know you've seen it...that pretty little purple flower sprouting up all over roadsides and disturbed areas. This is purple (blue) mustard (Chorispora tenella) and it's an early flowering winter annual that some people think is a wildflower.
Yes, it's an attractive flower and the color is appealing in the early spring when not much else is blooming. But it can be invasive, depending on the situation. The fortunate thing is that by the time it flowers, it's nearly at the end of its lifecycle. To help prevent reseeding, remove the flowers via mowing.
What you need to think about is WHY it's growing there. It thrives in disturbed soils and can take pretty tough growing conditions where other plants falter. It's a common weed in fall lawn seedings. If it is in the lawn this spring, you should never see it again. The best control for weeds in the lawn is a thick, healthy, dense stand of turf. This weed doesn't stand a chance against healthy bluegrass (or fescue or buffalograss). If it's in garden beds, you have the option to pull it, hoe it or mulch it over.
For now, enjoy the won't be around much longer.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sixty Second Secrets for Gardening Success: Hanging Baskets!

Today on Sixty-Second Secrets for Gardening Success: Hanging Baskets!

Before you hang out your “welcome to spring” hanging basket, here are a few tips to ensure you have beautiful hanging baskets that will last the entire season.

Plan ahead! Know the exposure of the location where you intend to hang the basket. Will it receive full shade, partial shade, filtered sun all day, or will it receive morning sun, afternoon sun or full sun all day? Knowing this, select baskets with flowers that will perform well in their respective environments.

Another thing to consider is wind. Remember, baskets that receive more sun and more wind will dry out faster and may need to be watered more than once a day.

When you take your baskets down to water, inspect them for disease and other potential problems. Remove any dead or spent blooms and fertilize your baskets regularly to keep them looking beautiful all season.

For more information on gardening, contact your local CSU Extension Office.

Sixty-Second Secrets for Gardening Success is a production of Colorado State University Extension.
CSU Extension: Extending knowledge, changing lives.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Herbicide Carryover

Herbicide Carryover

Posted by: Darrin Parmenter, County Director, CSU Extension in La Plata County

For many gardeners, an application of livestock manure to the compost pile is a rite of autumn. Manures add organic matter and nitrogen to improve soil quality and vegetable production. There are good reasons to be cautious about routine manure use.  Heavy applications lead to salt and phosphorous buildup and fresh manures (less than 100 days old) may contain dangerous e. coli bacteria.

A new concern has emerged. It resembles a childhood poem and begins, “This is the garden that Jack made.” The final stanza goes, “This is the herbicide sprayed on the field that grew the hay ate by the horse that dropped the manure that lay in the garden that Jack made.” Picture Jack with a dead tomato plant.

Selective herbicides, such as the aminopyralids (brand name Milestone), clopyralids (Redeem and others), and picloram (Tordon),  used for the control of broadleaf weeds in grass-hay production and pastures, have the ability to survive cutting, baling, storage, and feeding, as well as time spent in piles of manure and compost. When these are applied to the garden, the herbicides may still be active and adversely affect subsequently planted broadleaf plants. Unfortunately, most of our important food crops are broadleaf plants. Symptoms of herbicide carryover damage to sensitive crops (beans, peas, tomatoes, potatoes, and others) are twisting, curling, and rolling of the leaves, especially the younger ones.

Manufacturers inform users of the problem on their product labels. The herbicides do not harm grass or animals that feed on them, and aged manures can be safely returned to grassy fields. But because the chemicals can persist for extended amounts of time, hay producers should disclose their herbicide selection to livestock owners. In turn livestock owners should disclose herbicide residues in manures given or sold to farmers and gardeners. The alternative, crop failure, is a liability risk for all.

If you cannot confirm their source of manure is free of this chemical, look for another source or improve your garden soil without any manure at all.Or if you are set on using manure in your garden, then performing a simple bioassay may be the easiest, cheapest, and even most effective way to determine the presence of herbicides: 
  • Materials include: test material (compost, manure, topsoil), potting mix (compost-free), washed plastic pots and pea seeds.
  1. Set up control pots by filling 3 pots with potting mix.
  2. Prepare test pots and label pots. Use material in question and fill 3 pots. If manure needs to be tested use a 2:1 manure:soil ratio.
  3. Plant 3 seeds in each prepared and labeled pot.
  4. Space plants in a random order with plastic saucers under each one. Space the pots far enough apart to avoid splashing when watering. 
  5. Maintain consistent growing conditions.
  6. Evaluate plant growth. If twisting, curling, rolling, or death of the leaves is witnessed, it would be advisable to NOT use that product. 
For more information, go to


Saturday, April 12, 2014

What is happening with these trees....and turf?

Posted by: Tony Koski, CSU Extension

I was driving through Windsor this afternoon and spied these trees... and spots. Who can tell me what is happening? I may have a prize for the correct answer.... or a drawing if there are a bunch of correct answers. Of course, you have to be brave and leave your name along with the guess. No worries... there are no bad answers (but only one correct one....hehe...).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sixty Second Secrets for Gardening Success: Frost Dates!

Today on Sixty-Second Secrets for Gardening Success: Frost Dates!

Because frosts kill tender plants and seedlings, knowing the average frost free date in your community is an important tool for aiding in successful gardening. 

As a rule of thumb for Colorado, the average last frost free date is around Mother’s Day. It is important to note that this is an average date. In some years, the last frost can be as early as April, or as late as June.

In the autumn, the average first frost usually occurs around the first week of October. Again this is only an average, and some frost can occur as early as mid September or late October around Halloween.

You can extend your growing season by placing a hoop house or covering your plants with a sheet of clear plastic to protect against light frosts.

For more information on gardening, contact your local
CSU Extension Office.

Sixty-Second Secrets for Gardening Success is a production of
Colorado State University Extension.
CSU Extension: Extending knowledge, changing lives.