Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Japanese Beetle Blues 2017

If you're a regular reader of my blogs (thank you very much), then you know I've become a one-note-Charlie when it comes to writing about the very destructive pest insect - Japanese beetle. It would be much more pleasant to write about eating delicious home grown vegetables, summer outdoor gatherings, or our trip to Vancouver B.C. Wait, some of those experiences have happened and the Canadian trip is planned for the fall in celebration of a certain someone's milestone summer birthday.

Over the past couple of years I've written about the Japanese beetle life cycle, their destruction to landscape plants in the Denver area (including lists of plants they like and mostly avoid) and some of the false information that is out there roaming the local internet community bulletin boards. This is one pest insect that garners lots of discussion most of the summer season, right up there with Emerald Ash Borers, which are plaguing Boulder County (they haven't been detected in Denver...yet).

Click HERE for the spring larvae control blog. We're beyond killing their spring larvae at this point. Instead, we need to focus on emerging adults and their next generation as females lay eggs in to September. In the spring blog there are links to earlier writings with more information about Japanese beetles and research-based control options (for larvae and adults).

Japanese beetle adults have emerged around me, I haven't locked onto one yet, but that will happen any minute. My friend Peggy spotted six beetles on Father's Day. In a couple of weeks, the number will rise to seventy, or seven hundred or more, depending on how long they've been visiting your garden and the meals you're serving, or shall I say growing. They've been in my garden for a good six years so they know my street address.

I decided to be proactive before they arrived and sprayed CEDAR OIL on our most vulnerable plants. One area in our garden that gets most of our attention is a mono-culture of silver lace vines (that can't easily be removed or replaced) without losing our valuable privacy from the alley.

Very recently I learned from a PhD professor in ornamental pathology at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) that JBs eat in groups, not because a crowd of beetles attract more numbers to the plant, but because once a plant is chewed, volatile oils are released and beetles are strongly attracted to the scent of the plant oils from leaves and flowers. 

That opens up some defensive possibilities for gardeners - how about spraying your plants before beetles arrive in the garden? Maybe early action will reduce numbers, maybe it might deter them so they go to the Virginia creeper next door. Maybe it won't be hot on the fourth of July? That's a a whole lot of maybes, but what Dr. Windham said makes sense. Keep them from chewing and releasing plant oils in the first place and just maybe.... 

He also stressed the importance of consistent, daily hand removal by flicking or tapping adults into soapy water. He has graduate students at the University of Tennessee who tap beetles off the research roses twice a day. We don't have that kind of help, but try to work in some flick time early in the morning or late evening when the beetles are more sluggish and taking a break from their constant chewing, scr_ _ _ _ _ and egg laying routine.

I try to avoid any spray contact with bees and other pollinators in my garden, so I spray well after the sun has set - while it is still barely light outside. I don't spray in the morning because pollinators are often active before first light. I have found that my home brew spray (2-3 times a week) kills just as well as any organic product sold over the counter plus it's easy to make and low cost. This is no infomercial for my home brew (I don't sell it), I'm just letting you know my control methods. It has not been tested by any university or company and I don't guarantee that pollinators or plant foliage will be unaffected.

Time to retreat to the basement or pack the car and head to the mountains or anywhere where it's cooler - it was 99 degrees today, the first day of summer. Unlike me, Japanese beetles love hot weather.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Garlic Harvest and Composting

Can you believe it, summer officially begins this week - just in time to focus on your fall planted garlic, harvest is any day or minute. Plus, get your compost pile started or stoked. Here's the first few bullets from my most recent Denver Post Punch List column, click on the link to continue reading.

Just like growing garlic, harvest is easy.  These few tips will guarantee a tasty pesto.
Cut garlic scapes (flowers) two weeks prior to harvest
  • Garlic is putting on lots of bulb growth in the weeks before harvest, so regular watering is important.
  • Hardneck garlic produces scapes (flower stalks) that should be cut off two weeks prior to harvest so bulbs grow bigger. Use scapes in stir fries or pesto, grill them like asparagus.
  • Refrain from watering garlic plants a few days before harvesting to transition the bulbs to their final maturation and to prevent staining of the papery cover that wraps the bulbs.
  • Continue reading.... 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

June Rose Blooms and The Rocky Mountain District Rose Show

June is always a busy month for gardeners - seeding, planting, and getting the containers all prettied up and anything else that needs to be finished before ninety-five plus degree days kick in. When it gets that warm I pin shade cloth to the tomato cages and head to the cool basement for a nap.  

This is also the month to enjoy roses in bloom (any many other plants, no dissing them, honest). But roses are America's national floral emblem after all, and most gardens have a rose bush or two. This season I'm noticing many 'Dr. Huey' roses blooming heavily all over Denver. These are the dark crimson, once blooming large shrub-climbers that are growing in vacant yards, alleys, cemeteries, in parks and possibly in your own garden. Not that there's anything wrong with 'Dr. Huey,' but in case you don't know - he is the most popular root stock used for grafting other rose varieties. He first started out as an own root rose grown and enjoyed for the dark red blooms with bright yellow stamens back in the early 1900s. Over the years he came to true fame as a very hardy root stock that growers and rose breeders use to graft such well known beauties like 'Peace,' 'Chrysler Imperial.' 'Gemini,' and 'Queen Elizabeth.'

If you planted one of these named roses (or any grafted rose) and down the road the bloom color changed, then the upper grafted rose died (usually from improper planting) and you know who - 'Dr. Huey' took its place! He didn't die below ground, he just continued growing above ground like any own root rose. This happens all the time with grafted roses and it will probably be happening five hundred years from now.

'Dr. Huey' overtaking another rose, possibly 'George Burns'
There are no landscape violation police, thank goodness, otherwise I would have been cited often through the years, but the 'Dr. Huey' rose is, shall I say, almost a rose weed (please don't yell at me). A couple of years ago I noticed he was growing outside my hairdresser's shop window and mentioned his provenance. Without any hesitation she said she liked the rose and had no desire to remove it and plant whatever was planted there originally, which she couldn't recall. 

Warning to anyone who tries to remove 'Dr. Huey,' you'll be working and digging quite awhile and if you leave any roots it will respond like bindweed and grow back again shortly. I admit, I'm quick to say "shovel prune" him to put in a different equally handsome or pretty rose that you'll enjoy all summer and fall. But it's your call.

Another reason to toss - 'Dr. Huey' usually comes down with a bad case of black spot later in the summer. Maybe Japanese beetles don't like 'Dr. Huey'... doubtful.

Almost dead grafted rose, the graft should be 2-3" below soil
I took this recent photo of 'Dr. Huey' at the Longmont Memorial Rose Garden, worth a visit by the way, very, very nice roses and lay out. But even in a well tended public garden he can show his mighty strength. In the same garden I noticed a couple of close to death grafted roses. 

They avoided becoming future 'Dr. Huey' roses because the whole plant died. The graft was more than two inches above the ground. The Denver Rose Society keeps spreading the word that the graft on any rose must go under the soil when planted (2-3 inches), not above, which is fine if you're living in the south. 

Speaking of roses, you probably won't find any 'Dr. Huey' roses submitted for judging at the Rocky Mountain Rose District Rose Show this Sunday, June 18 at Denver Botanic Gardens in Mitchell Hall. If he is submitted, he'll be in perfect health and shape for judging, just like all the other entries. This show is not to be missed. A district show always means lots of entries, beautiful roses and many varieties on display for judging and public viewing.  

You can enter too, there's a novice class for first timers, plus junior classes for people eighteen and younger. Find out all you need to know on this link - Rocky Mountain District Rose Show. Scroll down and click on the show schedule for information on the classes and sections to enter. In a show there's all sorts of fun ways to display roses for judging - vases, bowls, picture frames, floral arrangements and photography. 

If you're not the exhibitor type, come by Mitchell Hall at Denver Botanic Gardens to view the winners from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm. It's free to view with paid admission to DBG. And if you get in to the whole rose exhibiting spirit, there's always next year. 

Feel free to visit with anyone from the Denver Rose Society who will be on hand to answer questions. I'll be there taking photos and videos. And maybe, just maybe, I'll take home a blue ribbon. 

Working on the bud, getting it posed just right to go in to the vase!

Judges viewing rose arrangements
Best in Show 2015, Dave I. 'Veteran's Honor'

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Plant the Warms and Everything!

Oh dear, it's already past Memorial Day weekend and there's still so many plants that need to be purchased and put in the ground or in containers. I feel your need to rush so they can get growing, July 4th is next week (not really, but blink and it will be here). I just returned from a garden center, the shelves were nice and full and being stocked as I shopped. Does that rhyme?

No need to fret, this is the perfect time to purchase and plant your warm season vegetables and herbs, plus all perennials, shrubs, trees and anything else living on the list I missed, again with a rhyme!

Below is a re-posting of my warm season vegetable chart which may help you with the planting windows. Keep in mind that maturity dates on vegetables like tomatoes or peppers range from 55 to 85 days, so be sure to read the plant tag and look for shorter season maturing crops if planting later in June or early July. Plan ahead too - some short season vegetables are perfect for a second planting mid-summer like beans and summer squash. 

Oh boy the joy of summer begins! 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Time to Plant Tomatoes

One day yes, next day no, one week - maybe, next week - no way. The seesaw decision making continues for Front Range gardeners. When will it be time to plant tomatoes?? "Is it still too cold, is the soil dry enough, when's the next snow storm, my toe hurts!

Technically we haven't had continuous nights in the fifties, so if you held off planting warm season vegetables, you made a good call. If you're using cold frames or keeping them toasty at night and hail free then you're coasting and waiting for flower set, nice job.

I'm old school, I want to put tomatoes, peppers and eggplant in the ground on a sixty-five degree partly cloudy day with steady nights above fifty-five. Will that scenario be possible in the spring of 2017? Certainly not today, it's umbrella and polar fleece weather. But we're getting close, my official planting target is in a few days, it's looking consistently warmer according to my weather app.

In yesterday's (May 26) Grow Section of the Denver Post I "punched" about warm season planting so I've included the tomato planting bullets below, along with photos to illustrate the how tos. You can follow the same procedure for leggy peppers and eggplant. Eggplant usually doesn't get too leggy in garden centers mostly because I find they sell out early.

Here's the link - if you wish to view the entire column on the Denver Post website - Warm Season Planting

Hardening Off
  • Soil preparation and site selection are just as important as choosing healthy plants from the garden center. Make sure the soil is amended, drains well and receives the right amount of sun (read the plant tag). Avoid planting too close or on top of tree roots.
  • Try to rotate vegetable plantings each year in the garden.
  • Make sure all indoor grown transplants have been acclimated (hardened off) to the outdoors by slowly (over a few days) being exposed from shade to full sun and windy conditions.
    Sterilize Containers and Cages (not shown)
  • For vegetables-sterilize all planting cages, supports and containers with a one to ten bleach/water solution or disinfectant spray to remove possible carry over fungus or disease from previous years. Rinse well after cleaning.
  • Remove any blossoms or fruits on vegetable plants so they focus on root growth once in the ground.
  • Vegetable transplants, mainly tomatoes and peppers can get leggy (tall gaps between leaves) from growing too long in the garden center or under lights at home. Once outside, a leggy plant can easily fall over and get whipped around in the wind. 
  • Compensate for leggyness by planting deeply in the ground, in a container or trench plant if unable to dig a deep hole.
  • Start - dig a deep planting hole at least twice as wide as the container. Mix some all purpose dry or pellet fertilizer with the soil at the bottom of the hole. Check the package for the correct amount of fertilizer per plant. 
    Pepper in Deep Hole
  • Place the plant while still in the container in the hole to be sure the hold is deep enough for the height of the plant. 
Cut Lower Side Branch/Leaves
  • Once it is the correct depth, carefully cut off the side shoots and leaves of the entire plant to the main stem - leaving the top set of leaves.  Wherever side growth is removed, roots will develop in the planting hole - which makes the plant much stronger.
  • Next carefully remove the plant from the container, even from peat-based containers - these containers will not easily break down in our soils like they do in other parts of the country.
  • Plastic container grown tomatoes can easily be tapped out of the container before planting. Water a day or a few hours before transplanting so the root ball stays together and is easier to place and plant.
  • Carefully set the plant in the bottom of the dug hole.
  • Place a stake or stick next to the root ball for plant support as it grows. Adding it later may damage plant roots.
  • Gently fill in the soil around the plant, water when half the hole is filled with soil. Finish adding more soil to fill in the hole and water again. There should be just a set or two of top leaves showing. This seems drastic, but it works.
  • If planting in a container use the same procedure. Smaller patio or determinate tomatoes may not be leggy so deep planting is optional.
  • Trench planting a tomato on its side works well if a deep hole cannot be dug in the garden space. Dig a long trench the length of the plant; mix fertilizer with soil in the trench. Remove side shoots and leaves and carefully lay along the trench, with remaining top leaves at the end. Cover soil over the length of the plant so the soil is even with the rest of the area. There should not be a mound, if so, the trench isn't deep enough. Place the stake next to the foliage.
  • Trench (should have watered the rootball earlier)
    Check out this Denver Post video for a visual - Planting Leggy Tomatoes
  • After planting, place a large cage over indeterminate tomatoes (ones that produce fruit until frost and get very tall). Small, determinate or container tomatoes often don't need staking. 
  • Mulch the plant with chemical-free grass clippings or weed-free straw. 

Trench is covered, stake goes next to top foliage

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pollinator Spotlight

Pollinators have been working in our our gardens since early spring. They come in all shapes and color patterns and there's too many to describe each and every one of them in a sentence or two. As we enter in to the summer season keep an eye out for these marvelous hard workers - they truly keep our planet alive. Keep adding more and more plants they seek and depend on. Sort of like the if you build it, they will come scenario. Watching them is free entertainment, check them out in your own backyard.  

Honey bees on garlic chive blooms, late summer
Jefferson County Master Gardeners have been running a series on their blog entitled Pollinator of the Week. Their blog is linked on my site, but if you have missed the series or wish to get caught up, check out the links below. Thank you Donna Duffy, Jeffco Colorado Master Gardener extraordinaire for writing about these important bees, other pollinators and helpful articles on how to care for them. Be sure to continue following the series by subscribing to their blog.

Save our Pollinators Day at Jefferson County Fairgrounds June 24, 2017

Pollinator of the Week - Monarch Butterflies (by Carolyn Reardon)

Pollinator of the Week - Flower Flies 

Pollinator of the Week - Squash Bees

Pollinator of the Week - Leaf Cutting Bees

Pollinator of the Week - Rufous Hummingbird

Pollinator of the Week - The Colorado State Insect (aka the Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly)

Pollinator of the Week - Hawk Sphinx Moth

Pollinator of the Week - Halictid Bees (aka Sweat Bees)

Providing Water for Pollinators 

Build a Bee Colony

Colorado's Native Bees 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Garden Shopping in Colorado - Birdsall & Co.

One of the many perks of living in a large metro area is the outstanding choices of shopping, dining and entertainment. My amusement thrill ride days at Elitch Gardens are probably behind me, but I'll never tire of trying a newly opened coffee bar or visiting locally owned garden centers and gift shops. This is the first, in what I hope to become more blogs written about the reasons to check out and shop the good finds from local Front Range garden centers.

Birdsall & Co. located on south Broadway has been a decades-long destination garden shop for every level of gardener. If you want quality and fair prices, this is the place to go. Garden pruners, always a must have for many jobs in the garden are a personal choice and work best when they fit your hand. Find your forever pair (or two) from either Felco or Burgon & Ball at Birdsall & Co. I'm still using my garden spade and pruners purchased there over a decade ago!

As you wander their new store in its new location in Englewood you'll discover more cool and useful garden items than you ever imagined. This is not a box store full of shelves of chemical sprays and dusty rows of hoses.

You'll find quality teak furniture, birdbaths, statuary, real and artificial botanical greenery and art pieces that add pop and interest to containers or simply displayed as a front porch greeting or tucked in the perennial border. 

Air plants and succulents with accessorizing beautiful glassware or pottery are the rage and so easy to care for. The folks at Birdsall & Co. will help you choose and give you all the growing tips you need. They teach classes too!
Zinc Fountain

Speaking of great service. A few years ago we purchased a small water fountain the spring before the former owner of Birdsall and Co. sold the store to Annie and Scott Huston. John helped us tremendously with the installation procedures and until last summer it worked like a charm. When we turned it on, realized that there was a leak somewhere so we called the store. Their son Owen came out and quickly diagnosed the issue as a cracked water pipe. With the help of his sister Morgan and a couple of strong guys, was able to thread a new hose so we're back to the pleasant babbling sound and perks from our water fountain.

Rest assured when purchasing any fountain or water feature from Birdsall & Co., they can troubleshoot over the phone or send out Owen or another qualified professional. BTW their water features are out of this world amazing and a great addition for any size landscape. They carry cast stone and fiber cement fountains, plus glazed and the new to the market - tranquil zinc fountains imported from Hungary.

Their extensive selection of colors, sizes and unique shaped containers will keep you busy in a fun way. Do you choose the bright, yet calming contemporary teal green or popular bright blue glazed pot or go more traditional with a cast stone urn or iron container for a weathered, antique look? Take your time, and feel rest assured that any container you purchase will last many seasons.

73-gallon Pop Up Rain Barrel
Annie recently showed me her selection of rain barrels, which are now encouraged and legal to use in Colorado. One easy pop up barrel that can be stored over the winter holds 73-gallons of rain water and is just over one hundred dollars, a great deal!

I could go on and on with the list of garden treasures being sold at Birdsall & Co. Scroll through the photos below, better yet, stop in and say hello - browse and allow plenty of time to dream, plan and enhance your garden setting.

Rain Chains
Bird Houses
Succulents in Urn

Birdsall & Co.
2870 S. Broadway
Englewood, CO  80113
303 722-2535
Hours - M-S 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Sunday noon to 4:00 pm 
Design Services - Columbine Design, Inc.
Cut Flowers and Potted Plants - In Bloom 
Wholesale Pricing and Services for Trade Professionals - Inquire


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Third Time - NO Charm

We're close to the end of May and we're still getting snow and cold weather...this is no third time weather event that is in any way charming. It's more like..."really, we have to worry about more landscape carnage, haven't we had enough already!!" 

Covering is about the best thing you can do as shown in my photos below. It looks like a weather gone south make-do camping set up, but what else is one to do? We had the pvc pipes, rebar stakes, screen fabric, plastic sheeting, row covers and various tables, chairs and tomato cages...time to get creative!

My plan starting yesterday (Wednesday) was to use perforated shade cloth over hoops and structures to allow moisture to the plants and to keep our favorite perennials and shrubs from getting too schmushed. Later today I'll add thick floating row covers for warmth over other plantings, we're supposed to get down below freezing tonight and Friday night. Earlier I covered the leafy greens with row cover then plastic on top. It's wise not to put plastic directly over foliage, which only transfers damaging cold. Don't hesitate to use plastic garbage cans or large tubs as long as the plants aren't touching the plastic.  
For my final act of landscape protection before calling it a day - I'll cross my fingers, do a stop the snow dance and pray (not necessarily in that order). 

The photo to the right looks technical, but it's just a very large perforated shade cloth over three tall tomato cages, plus some old wire fencing lower right to protect the side of the shrub. There are three Mini Man™viburnums under there, I love these shrubs and just want them to stay nice and bushy and happy!

I'm proud of myself for thinking of this contraption - it's a square metal outdoor table plus two side chairs over lemon balm, oregano and other herbs. 

The tunnels over this area failed Wednesday night so I had to think fast. They got smashed from overnight rain, but I'm optimistic they will pull through. If not, I'll prune any broken stems or a deeper prune, they'll grow back quickly in a matter of days to a couple of weeks. Either way, all the storm stressed plants will receive some half strength fertilizer in a few days.

The tunnel set up below is iffy for holding up through another snowy night. Snow adds weight which may collapse the whole thing. I'll stretch the shade cloth late tonight and hope for the best. Bottom right is a layer of floating row cover over some new perennials I couldn't resist planting a week ago. I'll probably add some plastic over the row cover for extra warmth and protection tonight. 

When it's all said and done, our plants are going to do and react accordingly after extreme weather events. Call your tree professional for limb damage removal and pruning. Clean up spent foliage and toss in the compost pile. Get back to the garden center for replacement plants but wait until after Memorial Day to plant, even then have a bucket or table on hand!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Springtime in the Rockies

It's mid-May, and without a doubt the last two weeks of weather extremes has left "a wake" in its path. To re-cap - the last weekend in April was surprisingly correctly predicted (they're usually wrong) to be cold, snowy and possibly destructive to trees and new plantings. It started snowing on Friday the 28th around noon. It was a steady snow at our home in central Denver, but did not stick to the grass or sidewalks, which is typical for CO snow late in the season. Gardeners generally rejoice with April snow because the moisture is so appreciated and needed, especially after our mild dry and warm winter season (we only used the snow blower once). But why so cold? No answer, it just was.

Friday evening we noticed how weighted and floppy one of the early leafed out maple tree was becoming so we paused the movie a few times and broomed off the snow. I didn't set the alarm to shake all the trees during the night, I just told myself que sera sera (sing it Doris) and dreamt they'd be fine. Saturday morning was not fun to wake up to - cold, wet snow was covering every shrub, grass blade and ant pile. The teeny tiny emerging leaves on locust trees on our block looked burnt, dead burnt. So did our red bud trees which just finished a glorious season of neon pink spring bloom.

I didn't reach for a tissue, just went straight to work assessing the damage and gently brushing snow off the conifers and snow trodden plants in the landscape. After a quick text to get in my tree pruner's queue we made minestrone soup and then waited for the sun to return. Birds soon flocked to the birdbath looking for a fresh, not frozen drink of water.

Our landscape fared pretty well, no severe damage or breakage, just some dead branch tips on the Seven-Son Flower and some splayed and broken branches here and there on some shrubs. My number one concern was and is for the two-week old newly planted Kentucky Coffee tree, Gymnocladus dioicus 'Espresso.' It was in the same leafing time frame as honey locusts. We know that trees have stored spare buds when these kind of events happen, so no worries about mature trees pushing new leaf growth, but my hope is that 'Espresso' will shrug off the cold damage and also emerge with happy new leaves in its new home on the Cahill boulevard. Ten days later it seems like it is still thinking about putting out new leaves, I'll keep you posted.
Stem hail damage on Manzanita, photo by Dorothy B.

On May 8, certain areas of metro Denver and surrounding cities received anywhere from pea-sized, no harm wimpy hail or rain, to golf ball sized destructive, rip off every leaf down to branch damage hail. 

The aftermath called for a case of tissue. I can practically hear my garden friends crying from north Denver. Reports, photos and personal stories are still being reported. Golden and areas in west Denver and Lakewood seemed to get hit the hardest. Insurance companies are working 24/7 and roofers are signing up clients quicker than bindweed coiling up chain link fence. 

Our landscape dodged the golf ball sized bullets. It rained very hard with small hail that bounced around for several minutes, but no great harm or foul.

Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor and nature
May 8, 2017 hail in Arvada, photo by Dave I.
Dorothy's herb knot garden (couple miles west of me) was shattered and sad.

Photo by Dorothy B.

So now what...the same rules apply after every hail event. Carefully prune off damaged foliage from perennials and shrubs. Wait. Call in a professional arborist to prune damaged limbs on mature trees. Wait. Lightly fertilize perennials in a week or two to give them a nutrient boost. Wait and replant as necessary, it's still very early in the season. 

Read more hail advice from these reputable resources - 

Caring for Storm Damaged Trees

Denver Post - How to Fix your Hail Damaged Garden in Colorado 

Oh Hail, What to do Now - Roses

Planttalk Hail Damage

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Japanese Beetle Spring Larvae Control

It is early in the season to be writing about a garden pest that doesn't even show its attractive coppery self until June or so. I'm not fond of giving any complements to Japanese beetles because of their insatiable, destructive appetites for many of our favorite landscape plants. However, there are effective control options that gardeners can focus on now prior to the adult beetle emergence from grass turf this summer. 

My recommendations are based on factual and research-based resources including Colorado State University Extension and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Internet graphic from JMB Equipment
Keep in mind that there is a tremendous amount of misinformation about Japanese beetle controls out there. Comments are already showing up on local internet-community bulletin boards. My best advice is to read and follow the recommendations from reputable sources and remain informed. 
Spring Larvae Controls:

Following their life cycle will help in understanding when and what control products to use. Japanese beetles have a one-year four-stage life cycle (like butterflies, but JBs take one full year). The egg-larva-pupa-adult life cycle begins when the adult beetles emerge from their winter home (spent as larva and pupa) below turf grass. 

When they emerge along the Front Range is anyone's guess - in the past few years they have been seen as early as mid-June. My hunch is they may emerge earlier because of the warm Denver area winter and spring. Once they are flying as adults, they begin feeding, mating and laying eggs in turf grass so the cycle begins again. Check the graphic to see how they spend each quarter of their life. 

There are organic and synthetic products to use on grass turf in spring and again in the summer through fall during their egg laying period. Keep in mind that adults are very good fliers, so even if you treat your lawn, this is no guarantee they won't fly in from other neighborhoods. In large numbers JB larvae may cause turf die back as they eat their way through their grub stages, so treating the lawn is worth doing (IMO). 

University and Agriculture experts recommend treating the turf as soon as the female beetles emerge and begin laying eggs. On the many edu websites and reputable sources I've read, synthetic granular grub control products may not have much killing effect on mature overwintering grubs. Pay attention to when to apply products and read all the labels for their efficaciousness.

Check out the Colorado researched fact and information sheets linked below. As a quick summary, I have written my bullet points from my April 7, 2017 Denver Post Punch List -

Denver Post Punch List - Second Week of April
  • Japanese beetles have invaded certain areas in Denver, Littleton, Centennial and south into Pueblo. They are very destructive chewers of several ornamental flowers and foliage. In large numbers their larvae can cause turf die back. 
  • Adult Japanese beetles emerge from turf areas anywhere from late June into July. We are about two weeks ahead of spring, so consider treating the lawn now to kill their larvae.
  • Keep in mind that adult Japanese beetles are good fliers so treating your lawn doesn't mean they won't fly in from surrounding yards, parks, school grounds or golf courses.
  • Timing is everything, so apply grub control products soon, then again in the summer during their egg laying period.
  • Look for a product that is labeled for Japanese beetle grubs (larvae). Read and follow pesticide labels, some products may need to be watered in well after application.
  • Caution when using products containing imidacloprid and chlothianidin (neonicotinoid insecticides) that adversely effect pollinators like bees who visit blooming weeds including dandelions and white clover. Mow or remove any blooming plants in lawns before application.    
  • Products containing Chlorantraniliprole (trade names - Acelepryn or Scott's Grub-Ex) are fairly new registered insecticides that have a much lower potential hazard to pollinators than do other insecticides used for Japanese beetle larvae control.
  • Biological controls including parasitic nematodes and milky spore infect and reduce larva survival. These products can be pricey and may need repeated applications for control.
  • Colorado State University Extension and the Colorado Department of  Agriculture both recommend using a combination of controls to reduce numbers. This includes flicking adults into soapy water, and other recommended sprays for adults and products for grubs. Traps are not recommended for adults - they attract more adult beetles to the area.
  • Check out these three excellent research-based resources -
For links to the other blogs I've written on Japanese beetles, please click here - Japanese Beetle Blues 2016. The cedar oil "home brew" spray recipe for adult control of JBs in my blog is not research-based.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rose Pruning Workshop - Cancelled

Yep, Mother Nature is predicted to bring cold and snow on April 29, so the pruning workshop is officially cancelled. The Denver Rose Society will try again next year around the same time.

Depending on your perspective, one of the most or least favored spring garden chores is pruning the roses. Proper pruning means healthy regrowth with eagerly awaited blooms. Conversely, roses have thorns (technically called prickles), some varieties more than others, but with proper gloves and long sleeves the work is quick.

If you're in the camp of not knowing how much to prune on the rose shrub or how far down to cut in to the cane, then may I suggest cancelling whatever you have scheduled on Saturday, April 29 and attend the learn how to prune your roses workshop hosted by the Denver Rose Society. You'll just need to take a short drive to the Jefferson County Detention Center Rose Garden via 6th avenue (or another route of your choosing), exit at Johnson Road in Golden. Here's the direct link with all the helpful Google Map information Rose Garden at the Jefferson County Detention Center.

 Jail Pruning in Action (photo by Anna L.)
Why go to a detention center to learn how to prune roses you may be asking (I asked the same question when I joined the Denver Rose Society several years ago)? 

Because on the northwest side of the jail complex there is a rose garden that is tended by the inmates - the only one in the country with this type of landscape learning opportunity for jailed inmates. They have the chance to work outside during their sentence and provide a much needed service for the county. Talk about win-win. 

The rose garden is open to the public and you'll find easy access picnic tables to enjoy the view of the foothills and roses - is that a nice combo or what! Read more about the jail rose garden - Jeffco Jail Rose Garden History.

Each year in late April the Denver Rose Society invites its members and the general public to attend this pruning workshop at the jail rose garden. You're welcome to just watch the demo and learn from the experts or bring your pruners and join in the pruning fun with some guidance and tips from DRS members. The best part (besides learning how to prune) is that we aren't responsible for removing the pile of spent canes, the inmates happily rake and toss them after we leave.

Here are the who-what-wheres-

Who: Denver Rose Society invitation, open to all, NO CHARGE
When: 9:30 am to 12:30 pm (come anytime during this window)
Where: Jefferson County Detention Center Rose Garden
What: (to bring): comfortable clothes, hat, sunscreen, water and snacks are provided. Grab your pruners and loppers, don't forget your gloves if you plan on participating. 
What If:  the weather is crummy, then check the DRS Facebook page to confirm cancellation. Or phone 303 901-1389 and ask if the workshop is happening.
Stuff to buy: Mile-Hi Rose Feed - one of the best organic fertilizers on the planet, made right here in Colorado. It's not just for roses, use it on any plant, vegetable or shrub that likes a boost of NPK and other good stuff. Plus there will be a few very hardy Bailey Nursery potted roses for sale - leftover from the April 1 educational SymROSEium. 
That's me - getting ready to prune 'Gourmet Popcorn'
Once your roses are spring pruned, the garden season of blooms and enjoyment really begins (at least in my garden book). See you on the 29th!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Fertilizer Spreaders from CO-Horts

Spring lawn fertilization is as normal as checking for leftover change in the public phone booth change slot ...oh no, wrong century. That's what we did as kids, if you're under twenty, ask your parents about phone booths - also known as "payphones." It's rare to see one in today's world. But it is reassuring to know that fertilizing the lawn each spring is one garden chore that will probably never go away. Unless we keep moving toward Jetson style living. There I go again, showing my age!

Lawn in early April
Back to lawns and a very timely CO-Horts blog from Alison O'Connor, the Larimer County Extension Horticulturist, and knowledgeable turf expert among many other gardening topics. This is from her popular series - "Hort Peeve and Pleasure." This one is on fertilizer spreaders. Check it out on the link below. She'll give you the quick answers on fertilizer spreaders and if hand crank or push spreaders are recommended. And do you go with a drop or centrifugal type? The answers await.....

"Hort Peeve and Pleasure: Lawn Fertilization"

Happy fertilizing!