CO-Horts Blog

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sixty Second Secrets for Gadening Success: Selecting Trees

Today on Sixty-Second Secrets for Gardening Success: Colorado Friendly Gardening Principle #1. Right Plant, Right Place- Selecting Trees!

The average life span for a tree in a landscape is 8 years. This is due largely to poor planting, and poor planning. Some things to consider when selecting a tree for your landscape include:
• Mature Size: Consider the mature size of your tree. The tree should fit into your available space, when mature, without the need for pruning.
• Growth rate: While many homeowners prefer a fast growing tree, remember that fast growing trees are often more prone to internal decay, insects, diseases and also have a shorter life span.
Soil conditions: Poor soil conditions contribute to 80% of all tree problems. Start any gardening project by getting a soil test from your local CSU Extension Office.
Other things to consider include watering needs and management concerns.

For more information on selecting trees, 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.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Infrared Fun

Posted by Eric Hammond Adams County
I acquired an infrared thermometer recently.  It’s a really neat toy tool that measures the surface temperature of any object you point it at.  It has all sorts of practical uses such as checking windows or duct work for air leaks and is even used in horticulture research to help quantify things like stress by measuring leaf temperature.      So, 
Ryobi infrared thermometer  
what is the first thing I do with it (well second thing actually- I now know my dog’s nose has a temperature of 81°F- does that seem low)?    I walk around pointing it at different elements of my and neighbor’s landscapes while they undoubtedly watch me through their windows wondering exactly what kind of crazy I am.   

To set the scene, it was partly cloudy day earlier this week with little direct sunlight and I took all of the temperatures around two in the afternoon.  According to what I’m sure is my highly accurate car thermometer the air temperature was 43°F.  So, all in all it was a pretty mild day for January in Colorado.  No direct sunlight and not crazy warm or cold.   Even so, seeing the temperature of various things in the landscape depending on their composition and orientation was pretty interesting.  (Disclaimer: This is all antidotal.  It’s based on data collected on one afternoon with the cheapest infrared thermometer the Home Depot sells.)

Air Temperature
Littleleaf Linden Trunk
Dormant Turf
Rock Facade  (Southwest facing)
Concrete Driveway
Home siding (South facing)
Wood Mulch
Home siding (North Facing)
Caddo Sugar Maple Trunk
Dogs nose


Even though some of the temperature differences were not as dramatic as I would have guessed the relative temperatures of the elements do illustrate the importance of good landscape design and management.

Rock façade facing Southwest.
A tuff site to for a plant.
 I think the temperatures of the rock façade and composite siding would have been higher if the weather had been less cloudy and more shortwave radiation was reaching them but, even the 20°F difference I observed serves to illustrate the danger of planting to close to brick or concert structures with South to West exposures.   The added heat load can be stressful to plants in both the winter and the summer, especially to evergreens.   

Sunscald on Littleleaf Linden
The most interesting thing to me was the high temperature of the lower portion of the trunk of the Littleleaf Linden.  On a 43 °F day it had a temperature upwards of 80°F.  Its only one tree and the temperature could certainly have been influenced by other factors such as the site the tree was planted in but, it struck me as noteworthy because Lindens are often prone to sunscald (also known as southwest disease).  This is a condition that is caused by rapid fluctuation in the temperature of the bark.   The reason we recommend wrapping young tress, especially those like lindens which have smooth and\or thin bark is to mitigate these fluctuations.  The difference between the Linden and Caddo Sugar Maple might be attributed to several factors including the sites the trees are planted in and color of their bark.  The linden was planted along a parking lot while the maple was in turf.  The maple also has a much lighter colored truck than the Linden.  It will be interesting to return and see what the temperatures are on a warmer day with more direct sunlight.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sixty-Second Secrets for Gardening Success: Indoor Herb Gardening.


Today on Sixty-Second Secrets for Gardening Success: Indoor Herb Gardening.
Do you love using fresh herbs in you culinary creations? Consider an indoor herb garden! For a culinary garden consider growing garlic, chives, basil, oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme. If you want to grow a tea garden you may want to plant spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, chamomile or catnip.
Be sure to choose a container that provides good drainage, and fill with one or more of your favorite herbs. Place your herb garden in a sunny location that receives at least half a day of sun and be sure to water regularly. After the threat of frost passes, you can place your garden outdoors and enjoy fresh herbs all year round.

For more information on herb gardening, contact your local
CSU Extension Office or visit

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

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

United in Orange!

Alexis Alvey, Horticulture Agent, CSU Denver Extension

Even though it’s January, you can show your Broncos support all season long with these orange-hued flowers!  Plant them in the spring in mid-May after the risk of frost has passed, and all your neighbors will know what a dedicated fan you are!

  • Agastache aurantiaca

-          Agastache aurantiaca, or Coronado® Hyssop, is an enduring perennial native to the southwest.  Its spikes of muted orange flowers add subtle color to the garden in late-summer through fall.  Just as alluring is its fine, silvery foliage which highly fragrant.  It grows well in moderate to dry soil conditions, in partial to full sun.  In 2001 it was chosen as a Plant Select winner and has certainly proven its merit in Colorado gardens.  Will grow to 15 inches tall by 12 inches wide.

  • Coreopsis ‘Jethro Tull’

-          Coreopsis, or Tickseed, has become a staple in the low-water garden.  ‘Jethro Tull’ is more compact and longer-blooming than many other Coreopsis cultivars.  The golden-orange flowers look superb in any garden border.  Be sure to plant in full sun.  Will grow up to 18 inches tall by 24 inches wide.

  • Gaillardia ‘Mesa Bright Bicolor’

-          Gaillardia, or Blanket flower, is typically a perennial, but this beauty has more of an ephemeral nature.  Don’t expect ‘Mesa Bright Bicolor’ to overwinter – instead, treat it like an annual.  The vivid orange and red-colored flowers were striking enough to turn many heads when it was planted at the CSU Annual Flower Trial Garden in 2011.  This cultivar is compact with medium green foliage and will grow to 14 inches tall by 20 inches wide.

Photo source:

  • Gazania krebsiana

-          Gazania krebsiana, or Tanager® Gazania, is a low-growing, drought-tolerant, tender perennial.  A South African hybrid, it’s been proven to thrive in Colorado’s tough growing conditions and is a 2003 Plant Select winner.  It may reseed moderately in zone 5, and in protected sites is winter hardy.  Season-long, bright orange flowers will surely dazzle your garden!  This Gazania will grow to 4 inches tall by 10 inches wide.  Be sure to plant in full sun.      

Photo source:

Let’s unite in orange and cheer on the Broncos to a Super Bowl win!!!  For more information on Plant Select, visit

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Drought, dust, and tumbleweeds plague southeastern Colorado
    by Linda McMulkin, CSU Extension-Pueblo County

        Drought, dust, and tumbleweeds have been in the Pueblo news in recent days. Years long drought has damaged plant communities throughout the region, stripping the land of its native vegetation.  High winds have sent dust and dry plants into the air, creating health and driving hazards, and waves of brown, watermelon sized balls rolling across the prairie.

US Drought Monitor map for Colorado, 1/12/14
        Southeastern Colorado has experienced drought conditions for years (5-10 years depending on who you talk to).  While the drought designation from the US Drought Monitor has eased a bit for my county in recent weeks, parts of our region are still in that scary dark red color.  My travels through the Arkansas Valley this winter revealed too many acres with no visible plants except a few dead or struggling yucca and cholla. 

While I measured less moisture at my home (17 miles from the Pueblo Airport) than was recorded at the official National Weather Service station, the annual precipitation numbers for Pueblo help reveal the reason for our recent dust storms.  Average precipitation is around 12 inches per year, but the past 3 years have been much less; in 2013 we received 9.7 inches, 2012 5 inches, and 2011 9.2 inches.  What those annual numbers don’t show is the moisture pattern, where about half of the rainfall we received fell in a 2 -3 week window in late July and early August.

In 2013, we started the year with the soil moisture so depleted and irrigation water unavailable that many of our farmers chose to leave fields fallow and ranchers sold a high number of cattle. From January through June, we got 2.2 inches of moisture.  In unirrigated lots and fields, nothing greened up, even normally drought tolerant species. 

 In my yard, kochia and Russian thistle germinated after limited rain in May, but stayed less than ½ inch tall until the gully washers started in late July.  The nearly 6 inches of moisture we got in those next 3 weeks helped green up some native forbs, but mostly gave the tumbleweed crop just what it needed to thrive.  While green was good after so many months of brown, I knew what we would face when those thousands of plants went dormant in the fall.

A ditch along Highway 10 in Otero County,
filled for miles with hunbreds of the incredibly prickly,
 2013  crop of Russian thistle.
The onslaught began in early November, when the wind broke the plants loose and started them rolling them back and forth across the prairie.  Tumbleweeds have collected 3+ feet deep in ditches (I waded into the ditch in the photo to measure), covered fences and cholla, blocked entrances to buildings, and provided me with some hair-raising experiences as I drive the local highways.  I suspect I saw the same plants rolling eastward last night that were rolling westward this morning.  While I enjoy smashing the rollers, drifts of them blocking lanes of I-25 and Highway 50 are scary.

The dust storms started last summer and have gotten bad enough recently to cause multi-car accidents on I-25.  I’ve watched the Ken Burns series about the dust bowl and realize our current problems don’t compare.  But dust related allergy symptoms and hazardous driving conditions have become a too frequent topic of conversation recently (click for Pueblo Chieftain photo of the visibility in Pueblo on 1/15/14).

       I’m optimistic that things will get better, but know that to heal the land takes time as well as water.  For now, I’ll smash tumbleweeds as they roll across the highway, gather and dispose of the ones in my yard, and schedule time to pull the new plants as they come up this spring.  I’ll take my allergy pills and drive slower on my daily commute.  And hope that snow and rain return to our region in 2014.
      Click on the links for recent articles from the Pueblo Chieftain on tumbleweeds and dust storms.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sixty Second Secrets for Gardening Success: Colorado Gardening

Today on sixty-second secrets for gardening success: Colorado Gardening.

Colorado’s climate creates many advantages for gardening. With its abundant sunshine, and low humidity, it creates an environment that is ideal for many plants. However, some of our soils which may be clayey, high in pH, and low in organic matter, large fluctuations in temperature, and scant precipitation can also create challenges for gardeners.

Your local CSU Extension office is here to help. From Gardening for newcomers, to xeriscaping, native plants and grasses, plants adapted for our area available through the Plant Select Program, we have plenty of information to help you garden successfully in Colorado.

So stop by your local CSU Extension Office or talk to you local Colorado Master Gardeners and explore the possibilities of Colorado gardening today!

Sixty-second secrets for gardening success is a production of Colorado State University Extension.
CSU Extension: Extending knowledge, changing lives.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Talking to myself about Post-Season Poinsettia Care

Kurt M. Jones, Chaffee County Extension Director

I was given a poinsettia after the holidays because “they were going to be thrown away if I didn’t take it.” Knowing that the post-season care was difficult, I decided to utilize my local extension agent (me) to learn about how best to care for poinsettias after their blooming period was finished. Here was the advice that I got from myself…

Poinsettias often lose their color in late winter, usually by mid-March. When the plant has passed its stage of usefulness in March or April, remove the colorful bracts and part of the stem. This cutting back can be done any time from March through mid-July, depending on the desirable size and shape of the plant. Be sure to leave three or four leaves on each stem to insure sufficient photosynthesis.

During the early summer, the plant will need to be repotted into the next larger size pot. Use a well-drained potting soil, such as a blend of sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite and/or perlite. Thoroughly mixing a phosphate fertilizer with the soil at the time of repotting is a common practice.

Place the poinsettia in a bright area where the temperature will remain constant. Water as needed to keep the soil moist to the touch, and fertilize with a complete fertilizer every two to three weeks. During the summer, the plant can go outside provided it is partially shaded and temperatures don’t fall below 55 degrees F. To keep the plant well-formed, trim tall growth at six-week intervals. The last pruning should occur in late August.

Poinsettias are short-day photoperiodic plants. This means that they set buds and produce flowers as the autumn nights lengthen, blooming naturally during November or December. To flower and develop colored bracts, a poinsettia must receive as much sunshine as possible during the day. Starting about October 1st, it also needs at least 14 hours of uninterrupted darkness each night at temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees F. Stray light of any kind such as street lights, pool lights or lamps could delay or halt the reflowering process. Keep this dark treatment until color shows in the bracts. This normally happens near Thanksgiving, but could happen as early as two weeks before Thanksgiving. Continue watering and fertilizing to encourage good growth.

There are many pests that can infest poinsettias. Insects should be washed off with a mild soap solution using a sponge or spray bottle. Mealybugs and whiteflies may require a pesticide treatment or removal of infested plant parts. Mealybugs can be treated using rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs.

Cool, moist soil temperatures encourage root diseases. If lower leaves start turning yellow and fall off, a root rot condition may be present. This can be overcome by using a fungicide as a soil drench.

One common misconception with poinsettias is the fear they are poisonous. In a 1995 poll, 2 out of every 3 people held the false impression that poinsettia plants are toxic if eaten. Research conducted at Ohio State University showed that rats fed unusually high doses of poinsettia plant parts were not adversely affected. To equal this experiment, a 50-pound child would have to eat more than 500 poinsettia bracts. Based on this research, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission denied a 1975 petition to label poinsettias as dangerous. Poinsettias are not edible and are not intended to be eaten. If eaten, parts of all plants may cause varying degrees of discomfort, but usually not death. Keep all plants out of the reach of small children.

Sounded like pretty good advice that I got (from myself). If nothing else, I have prolonged the inevitable “throwing away” of the poinsettia. Hopefully taking care of these plants will not leave you talking to yourself. Good luck with keeping your plants beyond the season!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Catalog dreaming

Posted by Carol O'Meara, Boulder County Extension

How quickly can a New Year’s resolution crumble? Several weeks ago, I wrote a list of the things I would or wouldn’t do in 2014. Although a few were reaching for the stars, I felt confident that the first of these, “I will not believe everything the seed catalog tells me,” was a promise I could keep.

I lasted one day. I wish I could blame this on my friend, who dropped by so we make a list of seeds to buy together this year. But the truth is, I was weak. The pages were glossy, the photographs lush with color; when they introduced the new stars of the season I could only sigh and acknowledge defeat. The Pandora’s Box of catalogs is open, and the season of dreaming is upon us.

Getting an early start on your garden plan is a smart move this year, since seeds sales are expected to be brisk. Last year, millions of U. S. households tried food gardening for the first time and if you started your shopping late, you might have found your favorite seeds were gone. There’s wisdom in shopping early, but unless you want to end up with more plants than places to put them, take a cozy morning and draw up your garden plan.

Begin with measurements of the square footage you can devote to your garden, then sketch out the garden on graph paper. I use one square per square foot, drawing in paths, raised beds, and trellising.

Next, make a list of vegetables, herbs, or fruit you’d like to plant. Look up the space each one needs to grow, and note that next to the item on the list. Draw the plants into your garden sketch, planning for them to have enough room to grow to mature size. Place taller plants to the north of the garden so they don’t shade the shorter ones as they grow.

As your map fills in, you’ll be able to tell if you’ve plenty of room for everything on your list or if you need to scale back your expectations. In my case, I won’t grow potatoes this year; they take up a lot of room and my interests are leaning towards more peppers. You might decide that planting fewer of everything is best.

Once you know what plants fit in your garden, you’re ready to shop. The choice of seeds versus seedlings is a personal one; it depends on whether you have the room to care for seedlings for eight weeks. Purchasing plants ready to pop in the ground is an easy way to jump into the garden.

But if you want a kitchen garden your foodie friends will envy, start your own seeds. Hundreds of varieties fill stands at local garden centers and catalogs are arriving in mailboxes for January perusing. Pouring over their pages is a good way to educate yourself in the cornucopia of choices for your food; a means to learn about everything from artichokes to zinnias.

But you can easily get lost in the belief that a gardener can do no wrong, because those writers gush over every plant in the catalog (just once, I’d like to see a little honesty). Get with a buddy to plan your purchases, stretching your dollar while increasing your gourmet choices. Order early, and you won’t be disappointed.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Your Lawn...and its Global Warming Potential

Posted by Tony Koski, Extension turf specialist

There’s nothing like a -15 F night to get a person thinking about global warming, right? Well, that, and the fact that it’s my turn to write for our blog … and there’s not much else exciting to write about in the turf world in early January. I recently read on one of our favorite blogs, the Garden Professors, about a cool experiment that one of the Garden Professors (Jeff Gillman) conducted to demonstrate the potential effect of increasing CO2 levels on plant growth – in which he used perennial ryegrass, a commonly used turf species. When grown in a high CO2 atmosphere, the ryegrass grew measurably faster than under ambient conditions. Fun, interesting, and not unexpected. Also not unexpected were some reader comments suggesting that growing and mowing the faster-growing turf might lead to increased levels of atmospheric CO2 - and possibly contribute to global warming. 

You can find hundreds of anti-turf rants on the internet (no proof...but who needs that?) which state that, of course, bluegrass lawns and their maintenance MUST contribute to global warming and will cause the end of civilization as we know it - along with the hundreds of other sources of greenhouse gases, including automobiles, bottled water, burping and farting cows, rice farming...and even owning a dog or cat. But I digress...

Here at Colorado State University, my colleague, Dr. Yaling Qian, and her graduate students have conducted research for years on the carbon sequestration (fancy way of saying “removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere via photosynthesis and storing it in plant parts that are slow to decompose…like roots, thatch and soil organic matter”) potential of lawns and golf courses. 

In a turf system, carbon is sequestered in
its roots, thatch, and soil organic matter
For years we have known that turfgrass systems, whether they be golf courses or home lawns, can store relatively large (compared to agricultural systems, anyway) amounts of carbon. However, the “carbon cost” of maintaining  those turf systems (referred to as “hidden carbon costs” in carbon world lingo) has been less well-understood – thus begging the question: Does the maintenance of a lawn or golf course emit more carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases, like nitrous oxide) into the atmosphere than is sequestered in the soil by those turf systems? In a carbon neutral turf system, the carbon “costs” of maintenance are equally offset by the amount of carbon sequestered by the turf. In a carbon negative turf system, it would store more carbon than is released as a result of its maintenance…and the opposite for a carbon positive system. It’s a bit confusing but, when it comes to carbon sequestration, negative is good and positive is bad. So…..are lawns (or golf courses…or parks…or…any turf system) carbon negative, neutral, or positive?

As a lawn matures, it needs less nitrogen to remain
healthy because N is stored in (and released from)
its soil organic matter.
In a recent journal article published by Dr. Qian, she clearly proves that a properly-maintained Kentucky bluegrass home lawn (moderate levels of nitrogen, water and mowing) will be largely carbon negative (remember, that’s good!) for the first 10-20 years of its existence, carbon neutral or slightly carbon negative during (approximately) years 20-30, and carbon neutral to slightly carbon positive after 30 years. As any turf system matures, its rate of carbon storage begins to slow – and then levels off when the turf is around 30-40 years of age. Their research shows that these mature turf systems require approximately half (or less) the nitrogen needed during establishment and early years. By reducing N fertilization rates on older lawns (from 4 lbs. N per 1000 square feet per year down to 1 or 2 pounds annually), nitrous oxide (a powerful greenhouse gas) emissions can be reduced by as much as 50% - bringing those very old turf systems closer the goal of being carbon neutral or negative. 

So, YES, urban lawns can act as carbon “sinks”, thus being beneficial in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions – even when the hidden carbon costs of mowing, fertilization and irrigation are factored in – if the lawn systems are maintained using best management practices. Yes….lawns are good for the environment…and we have research to prove it!

The "hidden carbon costs" of tree production should
be considered in discussions of the potential for trees
to sequester carbon in our urban landscapes.
Another comment on the Garden Professors blog suggested to “… get rid of the lawn and plant trees.” as perhaps an alternative (to lawns) approach to carbon sequestration. But, as my co-blogger Alison O’Connor recently wrote, merely planting a tree and assuming it is instantly providing an environmental benefit in terms of carbon sequestration is a faulty assumption – because you must consider the very real hidden carbon costs of growing and maintaining that tree – as well as, eventually, removing it.

I guess the bigger point to consider here is this: all of our landscape plants, by virtue of photosynthesis, remove some carbon from the atmosphere. Whether or not they are individually carbon negative or positive is determined not by just the plant themselves, but what it “costs” in terms of carbon to produce, plant, and maintain that plant. And when it dies, it will eventually decompose and return some of that stored carbon back to the atmosphere. For those of us in the green industry, whether teachers or practitioners, the use of best management practices will make for healthier plants, probably save (someone) money, and perhaps even keep some greenhouse gases in a form which many people find more acceptable – non-gaseous.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sixty Second Secrets for Gardening Success: Houseplants: Right light, right water

Today on Sixty-Second Secrets for Gardening Success: Houseplants: Right light, Right water!

Plants require the correct amount of light and water in order to live which will vary greatly depending on the type of plant you have.

Light can be measured in two simple ways: Quality which refers to the color and brightness of the light, and quantity which refers to the number of hours a plant receives light. Light quality and quantity are important as they impact color, size, shape, and flowering. A light meter can be purchased at your local garden center to tell you how much light your plant is receiving.

Soil moisture probes are instruments that measures soil moisture. There are even some that send you a text message telling you that you need to water your plant. How frequently you need to water your plant depends on several things:
The type and size of your plants pot,
The temperature and humidity level of your plants room, and
The type of medium your plant is growing in.
For more information, on houseplants, contact your local CSU Extension Office.

Sixty-Second Secrets for Gardening Success is a production of
State University Extension

CSU Extension. Extending knowledge, changing lives.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Looks Like We Made It: Top 10 Blogs from 2013

Posted by: Alison O'Connor, Larimer County

Yes, it looks like we made it. Not that I’m stealing Barry Manilow’s lyrics (though I am a Fanilow), but we’re approaching the one-year anniversary of our blog.  To date, we’ve posted 100 blogs and have had over 23,100 hits from our faithful readers.  Thanks for reading and for your comments.  I thought it would be interesting to see what specific blogs were in the top 10 for readership this year.  I don’t know how it’s possible, but that dang turf specialist, Tony Koski, takes the top notch for his “Lawn Tonics” blog.  I guess we all have Jerry Baker, “America’s Master Gardener”, to thank for this crazy concoction that doesn’t work.

In second place, Tony again has the blog of choice, with “Muck on Turf”, following a frenzy of questions from concerned homeowners after the devastating floods in northern Colorado in September.  Let us know—did your turf recover from the muck deposits, or do you have to resod/reseed this spring?

Coming in third was former Douglas County horticulture agent Andrea Cummins' blog on “Crazy Colorado Weather.”  It was a strange spring, that’s for sure.  It was a very dry fall and winter, followed by plentiful rainfall and snow in April/May and that early May cold snap that damaged some of our plants as they came out of dormancy.

Fourth place goes to Tony (again!).  Ok, it’s getting old with the turf stuff.  Anyway, his article on “Roundup is Roundup, Right?” garnered a bunch of attention.  Good stuff was included too.  And to answer the question, no—Roundup comes in many formulations, so use the one for your needs and read the label thoroughly. 

The Jefferson County Plant Diagnostic Clinic folks secured fifth place with “The Mid-summer Leaf Drop Blues” in response to all those trees that were shedding leaves left and right.  It’s a great article on what drought stress can do to mature trees and what trees do in response to handle stress.
The sixth place article was “Is that Your Ascochyta or Mine?”  This common turf disease is prevalent in summer and can be most likely traced to drought stress or skips in your irrigation system.  And  yeah, Tony wrote that one too.  Seriously, this is like having Taylor Swift win every award at the Grammy's.   

Seventh place is awarded to Linda McMulkin’s article on “School Gardens Get a Jump on the Growing Season.”  They are doing some excellent education down in Pueblo County, working with children and showing them some easy ways to start plants in cold frames.  Cold frames are inexpensive and easy to make…and you can grow lettuce and other cool season crops so much earlier in the spring (and later into the fall). 

Next up was my article on “Seriously Cool Science: Estimating the Carbon Cost of Producing Trees in the Nursery.”  This timely article from the University of Kentucky and Texas A&M looked at the carbon “cost” of producing a redbud from the nursery to landscape.  Incredibly interesting research.

Coming in for ninth place was Eric Hammond’s article on “Plant This, Not That: Arborvitae Edition.”  Remember that cold snap in May that Andrea mentioned?  Well, it all but nuked nearly every arborvitae in the immediate Front Range area.  This was proof that these evergreens, while popular and easily available, may not be the best choice for Colorado’s unpredictable weather. 

Finally, to wrap up our Top Ten list, Alexis Alvey’s “Demystifying the Organic Food Controversy” secured our final spot.  Alexis tackled the 18-page article that was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which looked at the safety and nutrition of organic foods.  The general conclusion?  More studies need to be done on the subject.   But the study did report that organic food had a 30% lower chance of having detectable pesticide residues compared to conventionally-produced foods.  A good reminder from our food safety specialists: always wash your all fruits and vegetables before eating!

A couple of notables were Irene Shonle’s “Rainwater Collecting” blog which really explains how you can (legally) harvest rainwater, and Carol O'Meara's "Growing Veggies in a Dry Land." 

We are interested in hearing what you want more of, or topics we should cover. There’s so much to discuss and we’re only on the tip of the iceberg. Let us know and we’ll see which blogger would be best to cover that subject. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sixty Second Secrets for Gardening Success: Don't Move Firewood.

Today on Sixty-Second Secrets for Gardening Success: Don’t Move Firewood! 

Transporting firewood is one of the most common methods for introduction of damaging pests such as Mountain Pine Beetle, Gypsy moth, and Thousand Cankers Disease. By “buying it where you burn it”, you can play an important part in protecting our natural and urban forests.

Some important things to consider before buying firewood include:
  • Know where the wood was cut? Never transport or burn wood from out of state. 
  • If available, purchase local firewood. 
  • When you are camping, firewood is often available at the camping location.
  •  Leave any unburned wood in place, and do not transport it. 
  • Know if the wood you are burning is treated, kiln dried or debarked. 
  • Know what species of wood you are burning.

For more information, 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.