Thursday, March 28, 2019
Monday, March 25, 2019
|Late winter houseplants at my house| In the cup on the left which is filled entirely with potting soil, water sits at the base of the container while, in the cup on the right which was filled halfway with gravel, water sits above the gravel - From The Garden Professors Facebook page
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Posted By Abi Saeed, Garfield County Extension Agent: Agriculture, Horticulture, and Natural Resources
Just like us, pollinators need two main things in order to survive: (floral resources) and (nesting materials and habitat).
|Solitary Bee on a Black-Eyed Susan (Photo: Abi Saeed)|
Although it is always a good idea to incorporate , encouraging pollinators in your landscape involves more than just flowers, as habitat is equally important. This is especially critical for wild bees that nest in the ground and in existing cavities.
|Ground Nesting Bee emerging from her nest. (Photo: Abi Saeed)|
|A 'Bee Hotel' showcasing the variety of nest materials that|
can be utilized by cavity nesting bees in the landscape.
These include: Bamboo reeds, cardboard and paper tubes,
drilled blocks and bundles of twigs.
(Photo: Abi Saeed)
Monday, March 18, 2019
Posted by: Kara Harders, Small Acreage Management Specialist for the Peaks and Plains Region - CSU Extension/NRCS
Weed control is a constant battle but some are easier (in theory) than others. Some of the more difficult weeds to control are those which have a taproot. These weeds readily come back after being mowed, pulled, or eaten because they have enough nutrients stored in their roots to regenerate! There are several tools to consider for controlling weeds organically. No matter what tools are used, it is important to recognize weeds as a symptom of land management. You may control the weeds one season, but if the ground is left uncovered, over grazed, or reintroduced to weeds, your problems will likely return quickly.
Obviously, life would be much easier if the weeds weren’t there to start with. When it comes to organically controlling weeds, proactive strategies will save you far more time and labor than reacting to the weeds once they are present and established. Proactive approaches to weed management include mulching, crop rotations, or cover cropping. These methods all make it difficult for plants to get enough sunlight to grow or become comfortable in their surroundings. They also increase soil health, decrease erosion, and even help with pest problems. Consider adding these methods to your land to help prevent the problem!
If you only have a few of the pesky plants, using a spade to dig out the whole root can be a reasonable approach, especially if the ground is relatively soft. Getting the plants out before they go to seed helps prevent new ones from establishing too. Hand pulling is generally not effective on plants with taproots since they tend to break off leaving the roots safely underground ready to re-grow. This is why goats are less effective on taproot type weeds. If you want to use animals to control weeds, pigs are a more effective choice. Since they plow and root up the soil, they do a better job killing the roots of these weeds.
Occultation is a less known method which helps germinate and kill weeds early in the season. By anchoring heavy tarps (UV-stabilized silage tarps work well) or dark landscape fabric over land you wish to farm, you can increase the temperature of the soil earlier in the spring and cause seeds to germinate earlier. When the plants under the tarp sprout, they have no sunlight and die off. After three to four weeks the weeds should have grown and died, leaving behind a bed of soil ready for planting. If well cared for, the tarps or fabric can be reused many times! A barrier to this method is the tarps can be too heavy, difficult to move, or hard to store depending on your situation.
Flame weeding is another method that can kill weeds from a seed bed after they have germinated. Flame weeding works by burning young plants when their root systems may not be established enough to allow them to recover. It also can knock back a weed population allowing desirable plants seeded shortly after to better compete for sunlight, moisture, and nutrients.
Herbicides can also be a choice in organic agriculture (although are often less effective on established weeds with taproots). In order for an herbicide to be approved for organic use, the active ingredients need to be approved for use by the National Organic Program (NOP). The timing of the application is highly important and multiple applications are often required. One of the more frustrating aspects of organic herbicides is they have broad spectrum effects, essentially, they kill everything they touch. And remember, always read and follow directions on herbicide labels!
Here are some of the more common active ingredients to look for in organic herbicides:
* Vinegar (Acetic Acid) – 5%-30% acetic acid as post-emergent herbicide. It is a post-emergent herbicide used to burn off top growth. Acetic acid is most effective on small annual weeds and less effective on grasses than it is on broadleaf weeds. The more potent horticultural vinegars (above 11%) can cause burns on human skin when exposed to it.
* Herbicidal soaps – fast-acting, broad spectrum herbicides made from fatty acids. They are used as post-emergent and are most effective on annual broadleaf weeds and grasses.
* Clove oil – an active ingredient in post-emergent, non-selective organic herbicides. Research has shown that is can be as effective as acetic acid in controlling broadleaf weeds but at a lower application rate.
* Chelated Iron – These iron products are similar to the iron you would use to fertilize a lawn. However, the iron is bound to a chelating agent making it more available for plant uptake. Broadleaf plants absorb the iron more easily and when the high levels are oxidized it causes the broadleaf weeds to dry up and die quickly. Multiple applications are needed throughout the year and is most effective in lawns. See this document for more information. https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/ipmnet/Iron%20Herbicide%20Info-UMD-IPMnet.pdf
If you are looking for more weed management strategies, check out this page. It is a ATTRA publication about proactive and reactive methods which provide an alternative to conventional tillage systems. (https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub-summaries/?pub=479)
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Monday, March 11, 2019
|Photo Credit: Brandon K. Percival; Northern Cardinal;Audubon112 Annual Christmas Count; Pueblo Reservoir, CO|
- Bird need a diversity of food sources
- Like any wild animal, birds need shelter
- Birds need nesting sites
- Birds need plenty of water
But here is the important thing. Naturally occurring local plant material is the best for attracting birds. Why? The birds are familiar to the local native plant venue. Without a good mix of native plants, there really is nothing on the menu. I compare this to my own dietary restrictions. I am gluten free. When I am out traveling and stop to eat at places which are familiar to me that carry gluten free selections on the menu. Otherwise, I won't be stopping.
Here are a few native shrubs from which to choose:
- Serviceberry - Amelanchier alnifolia
- Red Twig Dogwood - Cornus sericea
- Wax Currant - Ribes cereum
- Red Berried Elder - Sambucus racemose
- Western Sand Cherry - Prunus besseyi
- Woods' Rose - Rosa woodsii
- Silver Buffaloberry - Sherpherdia argentea
- Sumac - variety of species
|Photo Credit: Shelley Dahme; Eastern Towhee; 112 Annual Christmas Bird Count; Longmont, CO|
Providing shelter varies with the species of bird. According to "Birds and Blooms", Chickadees prefer small trees and shrubs or thickets for shelter while Blue birds prefer being close to open fields. For the various birds that come in your landscape, you can provide bird houses for them in their preferred habitat. Here is a link to an article from "Birds and Blooms":
For placing birdhouses in your landscape, pay attention to the different habitats of the variety of birds
that visit. If it is not the correct location, the birdhouse may remain unused.
Water is the next important thing. Like all other living beings, birds need water. They need it 365 and a half days a year. The trick according to Cornell Lab Ornithology is selecting the right type of birdbath. It cannot be too deep. It needs to be somewhat sheltered for protection. Birdbaths need to be easy to clean. For more specific details, here is a link to Bird Notes from Sapsucker Woods by Cornell Lab Ornithology:
One final and interesting note about birds is the colors which attract different species. Here is a link to the National Wildlife Federation article: "True Colors: How Birds See the World," by Cynthia Berger (2012). In short, birds have 4 cone cells in their eyes while we have three. The fourth cone cell is sensitive to seeing UV wavelengths. Plus, it has been discovered that birds have a colored oil in each cone cell. Overall, they see what we cannot. Happy reading!
Monday, March 4, 2019
|Weevil. Photo by Stephen Luk, bugguide.net|
|Lilac root weevil on peony. Photo by Whitney Cranshaw|
|Black vine weevil larva. Photo by Peggy Greb, bugwood.org|
|Circular shaped cuts from leafcutter bee. Photo by Whitney Cranshaw|
|Adult root weevil U-shaped feeding damage. Photo by Whitney Cranshaw|