Thursday, December 30, 2010

A comparison of commercially available soil amendments

A Comparison of Plant Growth of Bush Beans Using Three Commercially Available Soil Amendment Products.

The purpose of this trial was to determine if commercially available products sold as enhancements to plant growth were in effect beneficial and did in fact enhance plant growth and production.

The commercial products examined were:
Soil Secrets
Soil Mender

Green beans grown in soil amended with these products were compared with soil amended with acidified composted cotton burrs and unamended soil. Each treatment was replicated six times in a randomized complete block design. There were no significant differences at the 10% level of probability in plant growth, number of flower buds or beans, or nitrogen-fixing bacterial nodules of green beans.

You can find the complete report at

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Selecting the best rootstock for your fruit trees

The rootstock you select for your fruit tree determines the size of the tree, how soon they produce fruit, their susceptibility and resistance to disease and insect pests, what type of support they need, and their tolerance to heavy clay soils. Some rootstocks are even said to increase the cold tolerance of the scion grafted to the rootstock. 

The rootstock is the root system;  the scion is the apple, peach, pear, etc. that will produce the fruit. Very few fruit trees are grown on their own roots.

Dr. Ramesh Pokharel and I have compiled a list of what we feel are the best fruit tree rootstocks for western Colorado.  We have also included rootstocks on our list that we do not recommend even though they are often sold by area nurseries and garden centers.  Research reports and personal experience of the authors have been used to generate this list.

Neglecting to consider the rootstock when you chose a fruit tree can result in a sick tree and little fruit production.  You can find our list at

When you go to the nursery this spring to buy a new fruit tree, be sure to take this list with you.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Landscape Professionals

Have you ever wonder who is qualified to design your new landscape, upgrade or design a new irrigation system for your lawn and gardens, or even who is qualified to do the installation? 

Until now we didn’t have a decent list of those professionals. Now we have a series of lists consisting of landscape architects, designers, contractors, and irrigation system design professionals.

We certainly don’t have all of those who are qualified on these lists. As additional survey responses are received, these lists will be updated.

These lists are specific to the Colordo Counties of Mesa, Delta, Montrose, Ouray, Gunnison, and San Miguel. Other Counties and areas will need to develop their own lists.

The lists we have compiled thus far can be found at .

Monday, December 27, 2010

Huge larva found in dead cottonwood.

This larva is 2 inches (50 mm) long.  This beetle larvae was collected from dead wood from a pile of cottonwood.

When Kathy brought this to the office she stated several large dying branches were removed from the top of their tree. This longhorned beetle may have been the cause of the death of those branches. When friends collected firewood from the pile this creature was feeding in the dead wood.

This is the larvae stage of a beetle, most likely a longhorned beetle, Order Coleoptera, Family Cerambycidae, genus Saperba

The head end.
We won't really know what species it is until it pupates and emerges as an adult.  That might take some time.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Donate to the Ute Learning Garden

The Ute Learning Garden covers two and one-half acres and is an example of the plant life zones of western Colorado from the low desert to the ponderosa pine – aspen zone.  This site promotes cultural diversity, educates people on native plants, promotes water conservation, creates intergenerational appreciation and provides a site where schoolchildren and adults alike learn about Native Americans, life zones of Western Colorado, and native plants and their uses.

We don’t charge our visitors and even cover the cost of busing students from area schools. 523 area children and 277 adults join us at the Ute Learning Garden on organized tours in 2010. The student activities we provide are based on their curriculum of study and support the educational goals of their teachers.

I would encourage students and teachers to visit and learn about the history of western Colorado and the previous residents of this area. If you are interested in learning more about guided tours contact Susan Rose at 244-1841 or

This project funds lodging, transportation and meals for Ute Indian students and elders from the Ute Indian reservation in Utah to visit and present two PowWows, one in June, the other in September.

Much of western Colorado was previously identified as the site of the Ute Indian reservation but in 1881 the Ute Indians were forcefully escorted be the US Army to a reservation in Utah. This project provides an opportunity for Ute Indians to visit their old home site and learn about their ancestors’ and how they lived. This is also an opportunity to provide local residents an opportunity to mingle with and learn from the Ute Indians.

Signs placed throughout the gardens highlight the various native plants and how they were used by the Ute Indians. Wickiups and cooking hearths, all historically accurate, are located throughout the gardens. More permanent signs are being developed for installation in early spring of 2011.

Ute Indian Erected the TeePee
The teepee on site is of Plains Indian design. When funding is available a Ute Indian teepee will be erected. When the Ute Indian students and elders erected our current teepee, many of the Indian youth stated they had never been that close to a teepee let alone help put one up.

Even though this project is located on Mesa County property, county funds are not used to maintain the gardens, support busing of students to the site, or cover the other costs necessary to keep this project alive. Consequently your donations to this project are critical. Your donations help provide funding for the busing of students, cover the cost of items needed to maintain the garden, including irrigation supplies, plants, and decomposed granite for walkways, and support our effort to bring Ute Indian students and their elders back to their native land. Hopefully we can install a riparian site this coming spring.

Fire up your computer and go to and make your secure donation. If you would prefer, you can send a check made out to the CSU Foundation – Ute Learning Garden in care of Dr. Curtis Swift at P.O. Box 20,000-5028, Grand Junction, CO 81502-5028. You will receive a tax credit from the Colorado State University Foundation for your contribution.

You can also drop off gobs of cash or stocks and bonds at my office at the Mesa County Fairgrounds. Every bit helps! Have a great Holiday Season

Monday, December 20, 2010

Seedling Trees and Shrubs for reforestation and

The Colorado State Forest Service seedling tree program distributes about two million trees and shrubs each year, throughout Colorado and neighboring states. The program provides seedlings at low cost to landowners with two or more acres, who pledge to use them for reforestation, wildlife habitat, erosion control, windbreaks, or other non-landscape purposes.

A field of Colorado blue spruce seedlings at the CSFS Nursery.
 These plants are available in lots of 50 bare root, or 30 regular or small potted sizes. The bare root lots are $44.00; the regular potted are $56.00, and the small potted are $36.00. Bear in mind these trees and shrubs are from 5 to 30 inches in height depending on the species.

In the Tri River Area (Mesa, Delta, Montrose and Ouray Counties) we fill over three hundred orders each year. Get your order in as early as possible because many of these trees and shrubs will be sold out well before the end of the order period, in early April. The trees and shrubs can be picked up in late April at locations in Mesa, Delta and Montrose counties. We will let you know when and where you can pick up your seedlings.

Each March, the Colorado State Forest Service holds free “Seedling Survival” workshops, to educate people on the care of these seedlings. We want you to succeed with your seedlings, and will do our best to provide you with the information you’ll need.

The Colorado Forest Service’s website at has the buyer’s guide, with pictures and information about the available species. If you are planning on planting trees or shrubs in a site where you think or know there is salt get your soil tested. We can test your soil for salts in any of our three county office; Mesa, Delta or Montrose.

To order trees through the Tri River Area program, contact Ginny Price at or call her at 970 249-3935.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Flat Apple Virus

Flat Apple caused by Cherry Rasp Leaf Virus
 This apple is flatter than it should be.  It also has strange bumps and a very deep depression at the blossom end.  This problem is caused by a nematode-vectored virus known as cherry rasp leaf virus. The vector is Ziphinema americana, the dagger nematode.

This virus was first identified on Cherry where it causes the leaves to develop strange protrusion on the under side of the leaves called enations.  This virus also infects peaches and raspberries. Many weed species serve as hosts for the virus and when fed upon by the nematode will serve as the source of the virus to infect other plants..

Most likely this apple tree was planted in an area where a cherry or peach orchard once existed and where the dagger nematode was present. 
Note the deep depression on the blossom end and strange bumps

Killing the virus in the tree is not possible without also killing the tree.  This tree will eventually die so it might as well be removed.

Removing the tree and treating the soil is an option but costly and dangerous and is only logical for commercial orchardists using the skills of a licensed pesticide applicator familiar with soil fumigation or soil treatments for nematodes.

For those with only a few trees, the best recommendation is to remove the tree, avoid planting cherry or apple trees or raspberries in this site and purchase those fruits from local farm markets or the grocery store.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Landscape Fabric can Strangle Trees.

Fabric may become embedded into the tissue.
 Landscape fabric placed around trees does not stretch as the tree grows. This can result in the fabric eventually strangling the tree it is designed to protect.

An examination of the fabric around the tree should be made every few years to avoid tree damage. Remove any rock or bark mulch and cut away and remove any fabric pressing against the trunk or strangling roots. Neglecting this simple task can result in tree death.

The fabric around this root needs to be removed to prevent root death.
 When replacing the mulch, keep it 6 to 8 inches away from the base of the tree to avoid excessive moisture and root/crown rot.