WLSlogorectangle.JPGThe 2013 Western Landscape Symposium happens on March 16 in Pueblo with a terrific line-up of sessions for this year. Registration is a bargain at $18 per ticket in advance. This year’s schedule promises sessions by David Salmans (of the recently sold High Country Gardens), Dan Johnson (Denver Botanic Gardens), Whitney Cranshaw (professor of entomology at CSU), and more. A full schedule and registration information can be found here:

Sadly, the local Peak to Prairie Landscape Symposium is not happening this year and is on indefinite hiatus.

For all you die hard gardeners next month Larry Stebbins the director of Pikes Peak Urban Gardens (PPUG) will be giving a class entitled “Fall Veggie Class”.  This class is the first in a series of six classes Larry will present throughout the winter.  The “Fall Veggie Class”  will not only cover Fall Veggies, but also what worked and what did not work in the garden this year.

Just like the rest of the U.S. we have had some unusual weather to deal with this past summer.  First our May was cold and damp then came the heat in June followed by the rain in July.  It was a challenging year to be a Colorado Gardener.  Larry is a great speaker and just full of knowledge about growing vegetables here in Colorado.  Go to www.ppugardens.org to register and attend the class.

Don’t let a lack of space stop you from growing fresh vegetables. Even if you only have a small yard or live in a condo or apartment you can enjoy fresh and tasteful vegetables from your own garden. Most people think you need a big gardening space to grow your favorite vegetables, but you don’t. Picking the right type of vegetable and a variety of containers you can grow succulent vegetables too.

When choosing your vegetables look for varieties that will grow well in small places. Choose bush beans instead of climbers. Choose from the many determinate tomatoes out on the market. You are not limited just to determinate varieties, you can also grow indeterminate tomatoes like Brandywine, Celebrity, Better Boy and many more. With the indeterminate varieties will have to install a trellis. There are many dwarf varieties of vegetables on the market. (more…)

If you have lived here in  Colorado for any length of time you know how bizarre and unpredictable our weather can be.  As a gardener in Colorado we have to go to extreme lengths at times to have productive vegetable gardens.  If you have never used garden fabric/row cloth in your vegetable garden now might be perfect time to check it out.

This spring has been one of cold temperatures with little moisture.  Now the temperatures are rising fast, what is a gardener to do to ensure a healthy and productive vegetable garden?  The answer may be just a short drive to your local nursery or your favorite gardening catalog.  Garden fabric has many valuable uses in the garden at a very minimal expense.

  • Protects your plants from the cold and wind
  • Protects your transplants from harsh conditions while acclimating to the outdoors conditions
  • Protects your plants from diseases and bugs
  • Helps to moderate the soil temperatures

There are a number of different garden fabrics in the market, you must decide what you are trying to accomplish.  Are you trying to keep your plants warm or cool?  Are you trying to protect your plants from bugs?  Or are you trying to protect your transplants from the wind?  Once you have decided what your mission is you can start shopping for the correct garden fabric.

An all-purpose fabric cloth can usually meet the typical gardener’s requirements.  It can protect your plants down to a certain temperature, keep the bugs out and provide protection for your newly planted transplants.  Make sure you read and understand the manufacturer’s fabric cloth’s description.  It is a good idea to keep a variety of fabric cloth on hand  so you can adapt as the season changes.

In the early spring you are looking for a fabric cloth that will protect our plants from cold temperatures.  Some fabric cloths provide protection down to 24 degrees while letting 70% of the sun rays penetrate.  It also allows the rain and overhead watering to penetrate.

Come summer you are looking for a fabric cloth that will keep your cool weather crops like lettuce from getting overheated, becoming bitter and finally bolting.  At the same time you need a fabric cloth that will keep insects like the carrot fly and cabbage root fly out.

Once your vegetables are up and producing you want to protect them from those varmints looking for a free meal.  How many times have you gone out in the morning for some fresh strawberries for your cereal only to find the birds have beat you to them?  All you have to do pull your fabric cloth back pick the vegetables you want and cover them back up.

Fabric cloth is easy to install.  You can just loosely lay it down on top of your plants and as they grow the cloth will remain on top.  Ah but we live in Colorado where those nasty Chinook winds blow everything from here to Kansas.  One way to keep your fabric cloth here in Colorado is install hoops over your vegetables and attach the cloth to the them.  Or you can just put dirt on the cloth that hangs down the sides or stake it with some garden staples.

Here is an example of a more permanent method of covering your crops.  It is very sturdy, allows moisture in and keeps bugs out.  It takes about 20 minutes to build and can be used time after time depending on the strength of fabric cloth you use.  This one was built with UV Spun-bonded Polypropylene – 1.25 oz/sq.yard- approx. 10 mil.

No matter what type of fabric cloth you decide to use the ultimate end is to harvest good looking, tasty vegetables from your garden.

Contributed by Rich Young, Certified Colorado Gardener.

Summer has come and gone and Fall is now here which means the first frost is not far behind.  I tried a new vegetable in the garden this year “Yellow Spaghetti Squash”.  One reason was I always like to experiment with new vegetables and second I am on a Gluten Free Diet because I have Celiac Disease and was looking for a good substitute for spaghetti.

Spaghetti Squash usually takes between 90 to 100 days to reach its maturity, depending on the variety.  You can tell it is ready to harvest when the fruit has turned a deep yellow color, and the rind is hard.  Another way to make sure it is ready to harvest, is your fingernail to test the hardness of the skin.  You want to make sure it does not give anywhere on the fruit.


After a year’s hiatus, we’re excited to announce that the popular Gardening in the Pikes Peak Region class series is back for Fall 2010! These classes are taught by Colorado Master Gardeners (the El Paso County program will be reopened on Sep 1, 2010…see previous post about the closure).

To register, download the complete detailed schedule and registration instructions.

Here is a quick overview of the schedule: (more…)

photo by Lisa Bird

Berlandiera lyrata

Appearance: This very aromatic plant has bright green, flat spreading leaves with shallowly lobed edges.  The flowers are daisy-like, with green center and light yellow petals.  The underside of the petals have maroon markings on them.

Habitat: This plant is very drought tolerant and blooms profusely throughout the season.  The flowers have a wonderful chocolate scent are are edible.  Chocolate Flower prefers full sun and needs very little water.  Found on the Western plains to northern Mexico, in dry rocky soils.  Hardy to Zone 4. (more…)

Sphaeralcea coccinea

Cowboy’s Delight

Sphaeralcea coccinea

Appearance: This small perennial appears to be a sweet little hollyhock. It grows to just over 12″ tall, and the silver-green, hairy leaves are each deeply lobed into three sections. Another variety found in cultivation, Sphaeralcea munruona is very similar, but with more gently lobed leaves. The wheel-shaped bright orange flowers are under an inch in diameter. Their bright appearance in often otherwise dull areas is what earned it its common name of cowboy’s delight. Blooming starts in June and continues through September.

Habitat: Cowboy’s delight thrives in sunny, open areas and can be found in both the plains and foothills. (more…)

Dwarf Pussytoes (Antennaria parvifolia)

Photo by Lisa Bird

Appearance: Dwarf Pussytoes has pretty white flowers clustered like a cat’s toes on stalks growing to 6 inches in height.  The lance-shaped leaves grow in low mats, so the combination of the leaves and flowers on stalks makes it ideal for use as a groundcover.

Habitat: One of nine species found in the southern Rockies, it is commonly found in open mountain and foothills areas in sandy, well-drained soils. It has low moisture requirements and grows in sun to part shade. (more…)

Q: What type of vines do well in the Pikes Peak Region?

A: Perennial vines and trailing plants can be an interesting addition to your landscape. Though we may not have much success with vines like wisteria here (some white flowering varieties do okay), we do have many other choices.

Most vines need some kind of support, whether it is a trellis, fence, or wall. But many vines are equally appealing when allowed to cascade down a slope or trail over a retaining wall. They can lend a different look as a ground cover, and many do quite well in containers.

Several vine varieties have adapted well to Colorado’s temperamental climate. Here are a few: (more…)