Friday, June 22, 2012
I was out walking in my Coal Creek Canyon neighborhood recently when I spotted something that made my blood run cold. There, in a garden bed in front of one of my neighbors' houses, was a rambling plant with blue-green leaves. I'd never seen it in the Canyon before, but I was quite familiar with it since I used to live in a house that backed up to South Table Mountain in Golden. I can recall how the stuff blanketed the hillsides there, and how even the most ravenous deer refused to touch it. Yep, it was time to talk with my neighbor about myrtle spurge.
I am pretty non-confrontational by nature, particularly with people I have only exchanged a bit of small talk with. As an apprentice Colorado Master Gardener, I feel I should talk to my neighbors about their noxious weeds, in particular ones that are on the A and B eradication list. The sight of myrtle spurge alarmed me because, like I said, I've never seen it growing in the Canyon before. Still, it was going to be tough to get up the nerve. Just exactly what was I going to say?
|Myrtle spurge in bloom|
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
The hot dry winds are not only stoking the flames of the High Park fire and making it impossible to control, but they are wreaking havoc on tender succulent vegetation.
June should be a month of fresh and happy flowers, and green vegetation. Some flowers, such as penstemons, seem to be holding up pretty well, but others, including the otherwise tough blue flax, are withering almost as soon as they flower.
|Blue flax withering in the drying wind|
Any new plants will probably need extra attention at this time. If you have the water rights, give plants some extra moisture. Otherwise, mulch heavily. The poor bleeding heart in the picture below was battered by the wind and sucked it away all the moisture from its tender foliage. I am hoping it will recover from its root system.
|A tender bleeding heart was wind-whipped over the weekend|
The forest is dry and crackly to walk in, and I don’t think I need to repeat that fire danger is very high right now. Be careful out there!
Pollinators are a big part of our plant ecosystem and we need to do our part in providing a suitable habitat for them. Here is a link to a Planttalk 1404 - Bees & pollination, http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1404.html
There is also a great website Pollinator Partnership, http://www.pollinator.org/index.html
There is a downloadable guide, Selecting Plants for Pollinators, that can be customized by your area. So here is the link for the guide which includes our mounatin area, http://pollinator.org/PDFs/Guides/SRockyMtStepperx3FINAL.pdf
Friday, June 15, 2012
Saturday, June 9, 2012
|Shoshoni Yoga Retreat's compost system. The piles are surrounded by straw bales and ringed by an electric fence to discourage bears.|
|Anaerobic compost container made of a 55 gallon drum and a metal top portion with a locking lid.|
|Finished compost from the anaerobic compost container above. My friend empties it once a year.|
|Red worm indoor composting box|
Composting sounds like a great idea, doesn't it? Instead of trucking food waste to a landfill, where it will only take up space and generate methane gas, it can be turned into a product that does wonders for virtually any soil and that you would pay big bucks for if you bought it at a garden center. There's just one small problem; your leftovers may attract wildlife. If the wildlife you're attracting weighs upwards of 500 pounds and comes with sharp claws, powerful teeth and an attitude, you've got a serious dilemna on your hands (and you were just trying to be environmentally friendly!)
The good news is there are several strategies you can use to deter bears from considering your compost pile an all-you-can-eat buffet. Choose one or more of these that seem the most practical, time-saving and cost effective for your own situation. (For general advice on composting at home, visit the CSU Extension website and look for the fact sheet "Making Compost").
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Voles are having one of their periodic population explosions this year – at least at my house. I can look out at almost any time of day and see them scurrying around on the edges of my garden. They look like large, gray mice.
Under the cover of the snow this winter, they girdled some canes of one of my roses; a sorrow which I discovered when everything melted. They are currently nibbling on foliage and grass.
I have investigated the myriad holes and runways they have developed in the bank at the edge of my garden. The holes are small and open, and there is a “runway” right outside each hole that the voles use to travel. Voles like to be protected from predator’s eyes, so the runways usually travel under grass or other vegetation.
I have been using simple wooden snap traps to reduce their populations. I place the business end of the trap into the runway, and they just run right into it, no bait needed. Traps need to be emptied frequently, but the voles can be tossed down the hill for ravens or coyotes. For more information on controlling voles go here: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/natres/06507.html.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
|Dry dead needles on windy side of trees|
We had a dry and windy winter this year (thanks to La Niña). Pine trees are really beginning to show the effects of their winter struggles, evident in the dead and dying needles in patches and clumps on the outer edges of the trees. The effect is especially pronounced on the windy and south sides of the trees. It may look alarming, but it doesn’t mean the tree is dying, and it isn’t a sign of pine beetle. (With pine beetle, the entire tree would turn yellow to brown, not just the exterior needles). This happens because transpiration from needles or leaves occurs when winter days are warm and dry. Small "hair roots" may die in dry soils leaving roots unable to replace lost leaf moisture, and this results in needle death. Once the needles fall off, the trees will look much better. For more information, please go to: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/2129.html