Monday, November 29, 2010

Lavender and Christmas Craft Fair and Bake Sale

This photo is courtesy of Rosemary Litz and shows just a few of the items available at the Lavender Christmas Fair this Saturday, November 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at C Building at the Mesa County Fairgrounds, Grand Junction, CO.

This is no ordinary Christmas Craft Fair. There will be over 60 varieties of handmade soaps (richly formulated, 100% vegetable, colored naturally with herbs and spices) plus herbal bath teas, bath salts, lavender dream pillows and tranquility pillows, pillow liners, eye pillows, neck wraps, back pads, comfy pillows, drawer & closet sachets, shoe stuffers, purse poppers, hand-made jewelry, herbal spa bags, botanical blessing bottles. Other items available will include wood turned ornaments, bowls, and wine stoppers, goat milk soap in five flavors – lavender, rosemary, natural, arrow root, and baby powder – ceramic soap dishes, lavender bouquets, lavender sachets, lavender balm, lavender oil, aromatic holiday houseplants, ad infinitum.

The lavender in these products was grown locally by members of the Western Colorado Lavender Association , a local group of dedicated lavender growers.

I’ve been informed bed bug travel kits will not be available. You might want to see if one of the venders can make a kit for you. Everyone needs a bed bug kit especially when traveling. All this takes is Neem oil, lavender oil, water and polysorbate 20. Mix it together in the correct proportions and use this as a spray. I’m not sure the lavender will kill the bed bugs but the neem oil is a good insecticide. The lavender will at least make you sleep better even if the bed bugs are biting.

Don't miss this great opportunity to stock up on gifts for this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Winter gardening series scheduled at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens

A series of educational brown bag lunches will be held at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens the last Tuesday of each month starting in January. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens.

Cost: $5
Time: 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

January 25 – Rot to Riches: Home Composting Science

February 22 – ABC’s of Bees: History, Cultivation & Bee Keeping

March 22 – Native Plants That Attract Butterflies, Hummingbirds, & Bees

April 26 – Old Garden Roses Pre-1862: Strongly Scented Repeat Bloomers

For more information or to register, call 254-FUNN (3866), visit, or stop by 1340 Gunnison Ave., Grand Junction.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fountain grass invades lawns

I took this photo today, November 18, 2010.  The color is bleached out at this time of year.

Many of you have seen Fountain grass also called Crimson Fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum rubrum) in your neighbors’ gardens. Some of you may have this weedy grass in your own gardens and more than likely growing as a weed in your lawn.

Fountain grass foliage does not cut smoothly but shreds and the cut ends turn white. The shredded tips are highly visible on the right side of this photo.

Once in lawns Fountain grass can be difficult and costly to control.

Voight and Reicher found one or two spot treatments of glyphosate were very effective in killing Fountain grass in lawns but since this chemical also kills all other grasses this may not be a great choice especially for lawns with a heavy infestation of this weedy grass. In most cases reseeding would be required.

Products containing quinclorac would be a better choice as this chemical won’t kill bluegrass, tall fescue, ryegrass or zoysiagrass. (See the Drive 75DF label at for more detail). The problem with this chemical is it will most likely damage trees, shrubs and other ornamentals that have roots in the treated area.
Late Breaking News from Dr. Tony Koski, CSU Turfgrass Specialist - "Drive, when used to spot treat these clumps, will not pose a problem for trees. I've never seen ornamental injury caused by Drive, even when broadcast. Drive and quinclorac-containing products are the only effective selective options. Two applications of Drive XLR8 at full rate, about 10-14 days apart, provides good control. The homeowner RTU products (WeedbGon Maxx plus Crabgrass Killer, for example) will require more (maybe 3-4) sequential applications due to lower quinclorac concentrations. And definitely remove seedheads to prevent further problems."
If you decide to apply quinclorac it needs to be applied when the grass is in active growth as it is absorbed through the leaves and the roots.  A 1.5 ounce bottle covers a 4000 square area. Online prices range from ~$17 to $40 for this size container so shop carefully. If you would prefer to have someone else do the treatment check with your local lawn care company or pesticide applicator for a quote!

To avoid the problem of Fountain grass invading your lawn avoid purchasing this grass.
A better option would be to select a Muhly grass such as Muhlenbergia capillaris as seen in the following photo. This is a native and hardy from zones 5 to 10. Some local nurseries should have Regal Mist or other cultivars of this colorful grass available in the spring.

Photo courtesy of Park Seed Co.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fertilizing trees late in the season is not a good idea!

Trees should not be fertilized in late fall or during the winter months.  Trees should be fertilized between bud break in the spring and when leaves start to change color in the fall.  In other words, trees should be fertilized when they are actively growing. 
When fertilizer is applied in late fall, especially if the tree has not acclimated properly for winter, the tree is likely to pop bud as occurred with the tree in this photo.  This photo was taken on November 8; the leaves emerged in mid-October after the tree was fertilized.

The firm that fertilized this tree may have thought they were helping the tree.  Instead their application of fertilizer resulted in the release of buds that should have remained dormant until spring. The release of buds and subsequent development of leaves takes energy from the tree.  As a result this tree may not have the energy necessary to develop new buds next year and is likely to die or be in such poor health it will be highly susceptible to insect, mite and disease pests.. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Die back of trees is often due to root problems.

If you don't believe tearing out a root affects a tree, think again. Root damage due to trenching or other construction tasks can cause the top of a tree to decline and die.

Roots are intimately connected to the branches and since a tree has from 4 to 11 major roots, ripping out one of these large roots can result in the eventual death of up to 25% of the branches. The death of affected branches takes time and depends on the amount energy and water stored in the branch and buds.  Several years may elapse between root damage and symptoms of branch decline depending on the type and size of the tree.

Some trees are said to have an interconnecting vascular system but most trees have roots connected to specific branches.  Thus if a root or portion of a root is damaged, the branch to which the root provides water, nutrients and hormones is negatively affected and the branch dies from the tip back. 

Declining branches are more susceptible to infection by internal rot fungi. Conks, bracket fungi and other fungal fruiting bodies may appear on the branch as the branch dies.  These branches are also more susceptible to failure and breaking off the tree.

Encircling roots as they wrap around and strangle the base of the tree, cause the same type of damage but often affect much more of the tree than when a single root is ripped out of the tree. Some times the complete tree will die back from the top due to encircling roots.

Encircling roots are often due to planting too deep.  To learn more about planting depth check out the publication at

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Concrete debris does not belong in planting areas!

Washing out cement trucks, dumping excess cement or cleaning concrete and texturing tools in an area where you are going to plant flowers, vegetables, trees or other plants reveals the unprofessional character of those involved.  

If the contractor does not have a spot other than the planting area to dump this debris, he/she/they should at least provide a tarp or section of plywood on which to capture the washings and waste cement.  When such contamination does occur it is not unusual for only the large clods of solid concrete to be removed; the remaining contaminates are simply tilled into or buried under more soil. Once such contamination occurs, there is no way to remove all the contaminated soil without a great deal of expense and effort.  It is less costly to do the construction project properly in the first place.

When you see this type of contamination in planting areas, whether it be for a lawn as in this photo or other plant types, I hope you are reminded of the fact this person or persons is/are only concerned in getting the job done quickly and not professionally.  The concern for the health and welfare of the plant material to be planted in areas near such construction projects should also be the mark of a professional. 

As the one who pays the ultimate bill,  you should be watchful for such problems and ensure contamination of this type does not occur.

To learn more about what should and should not be done at a landscape site, check out the web page at

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A soil test can improve the health and production of your gardens.

Soil samples can be submitted through the Mesa County Extension office for $25 per samples.  This will cover the cost of having your sample analyzed by a reputable lab and recommendations from me on what to add to your soil to improve it for plant growth.  I will also provide you recommendations on what not to add and how to correct soil problems.

Samples can be dropped off at the Delta or Montrose Extension offices for delivery to the Mesa County office.  If you live in Mesa County or are driving this way, drop off your sample(s) at my office at the Mesa County Fairgrounds. Payment for this service is expected at the time you drop off your sample(s). Checks need to be made out to the Mesa Extension Fund.

It typically takes 10 days from the time the sample reaches my office for the analysis to be completed and my letter to be sent back to you. I prefer to corresponde with you via email if at all possible.

Soil samples should be taken from several spots in the area you want to have tested. Collect the samples from the soil surface to a depth of at least 8 inches. Use a clean shovel or soil probe and a clean pail, bucket or box in which to collect the sample. If multiple samples are collected that represent one area, it is best to combine them into one sample. Allow the samples to dry on a clean table before submitting them for analysis. The sample can be placed in a zip lock bag. Submit no more than one pint per sample. Please remove any rocks or large organic debris particles from the sample. Only the soil will be tested.

If you are submitting more than one sample, mark each bag with your name, the crop/plants being grown or you are planning to grow at that site and an identifying number or name so you can match the results up to the area where you collected the sample.

I will need the following information from you along with your sample(s):
Name and mailing address
e-mail address
phone number
crop or plants you intend to grow
and whether your intention is to grow this crop organically.