Tag Archives: CSU Resources

Sign up for CSU’s Source for Garden-fresh Ideas

source-screen-shot-resizedIt’s a little embarrassing to admit I had to read a national green industry newsletter to learn about a unique program in my own backyard.

Even though I’m a CSU graduate and a master gardener volunteer with CSU Extension, I was left out of the loop of current events at the university.

By signing up for CSU’s informative Source newsletter, I’m making sure that doesn’t happen again.

You don’t need to be a CSU alum to get this expertly produced eNewsletter delivered to your inbox. It’s a great way to stay informed about what’s happening with all aspects of the campus, plus learning about cutting edge research along the way.

For example, you’ll be able to read about the unique collaborative partnership between the Horticulture and Landscape Architecture program and Philips Lighting. This feature story might sound ho-hum at first, until you realize the program is all about brewing more craft beer.

According to Source writers, CSU’s Horticulture Center is one of just a few facilities in the country using Philips Horticulture LED Solutions for lighting. This state-of-the-art lighting system is being put to use to grow crops of hops in a faster growing cycle for year-round production.

Craft brewers are taking advantage of the availability of fresh hops to brew batches of wet-hop beers five times a year, instead of just once. More hops means more beer for local brewers and beer lovers.

Bill Bauerle, professor of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, and students in the fermentation program explain more about the program in this CSU-produced video.

There’s plenty of other news related to the Horticulture Department on the Source website. Use the site’s search engine to read about the new Horticulture Center and its plant research and testing.  Or scroll to the bottom of the page to click on links to the College of Agricultural Sciences.

I found many stories and other items that would be of interest to master gardeners, such as Colorado’s water issues, global environmental sustainability, and creative new research programs for the future.

The twice-weekly newsletter is sure to expand your thinking about what it means to be part of CSU’s growing community.

By Jodi Torpey
Denver Master Gardener

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CSU Webinar Helps Solve Garden Mystery

Deformed tomato leavesEvery summer is different in the garden, but this year I found something I hadn’t seen before with two container tomato plants. The new leaves on these  plants was stunted and twisted into odd shapes.

Like many gardeners, I’ve seen plenty of tomato problems in my garden over the years. Early blight, late blight, blossom end rot and insect damage have cropped up from time to time, but these twisted leaves had me stumped.

I looked for images of similar problems online and checked my Tomato MD app, but I couldn’t find anything else that looked like that deformed growth.

In a great gardening coincidence while I was finishing my Colorado Master Gardener continuing education requirements, I clicked on a Small Acreage Management (SAM) webinar, and the mystery was solved.

These SAM webinars are posted on YouTube, so any gardener can watch them for free. The one that helped me diagnose my tomato plant problem is called “Herbicide Carryover and Fall Garden Care” led by Darrin Parmenter of CSU Extension in La Plata County, dated Sept. 4, 2013.

Herbicide carryover can happen when gardeners use herbicide-treated hay, straw or grass clippings as mulch or compost in their gardens. Herbicide carryover can also occur if gardeners apply manure from livestock that ate treated pasture or crops. Tomatoes and members of the tomato family are especially susceptible to herbicide carryover.

I’ve used well-aged horse manure in my garden for years and there’s never been a problem until this season. It turns out that herbicide carryover from horse manure is the top pathway because herbicides can pass through horses so quickly.

As soon as I understood the problem, I started a remediation program to improve soil microbial activity in the two containers with the affected tomato plants. I’ve cultivated the soil to increase oxygen, added a different kind of organic matter to increase beneficial soil organisms and used a home-made organic mulch. I’m also keeping the soil evenly moist and using a liquid fertilizer once a week.

According to Darrin in the webinar, the tomato plants may recover if there’s enough vegetative growth. I’m certainly going to be more thoughtful with how I amend my garden soil in the future.

By Jodi Torpey
A Colorado Master Gardener

Master Gardeners Plant Flowers and Ideas

CSU's annual display at the Colorado Home and Garden Show starts with a plan. But it's the master gardener volunteers who take the plan from paper to planting.

CSU’s annual display at the Colorado Home and Garden Show starts with a plan. But it’s the Master Gardener volunteers who take the plan from paper to planting.

Master gardeners fill each garden bed with soil, cover it in mulch and add the larger plants. Space is reserved for garden details, like a concrete bench, fire pit, lawn chair and table.

The demonstration gardens are like a blank canvas. Volunteers cover the planting beds in mulch and add the larger trees and shrubs. Space is reserved for special garden details, like a concrete bench, fire pit, lawn chair and table.

Racks (and racks) of plants wait for their cue. Sometimes plants fit perfectly into the design, other times last-minute changes need to be made to adapt to floppy flowers or clashing colors.

Racks (and racks) of plants wait for their cue. Sometimes plants fit perfectly into the design; other times last-minute changes need to be made to adapt to floppy flowers or clashing colors.

Master gardeners put their heads together to make sure the garden plan comes together. Mike Archer and Laura Roiger confer on plant placement while Linda McDonnell starts planting.

Master Gardeners put their heads together to make sure the garden plan comes together. Mike Archer and Laura Roiger confer on plant placement while Linda McDonnell starts planting.

Planting at the show's display garden is almost as difficult as planting a garden at home. The main difference is plants are planted in their pots. But no containers can be showing!

Planting at CSU’s display garden is almost as difficult and messy as planting a garden at home. The main difference is plants are planted in their pots here. But no containers can be showing!

Plants have to be kept fresh, so there's no drooping before the show. Anne Beletic takes time to make sure the spring flowers have that just-bloomed look.

Plants have to be kept garden fresh, so there’s no drooping before the show. Master Gardener apprentice Anne Beletic takes time to ensure the spring flowers have that just-bloomed look.

When visitors stop by CSU's demonstration garden at the show, they probably don't think of all the hours and hands that go into creating it. What they can count on is inspiration and reliable information to take home and put to use in their own gardens.

When visitors stop by CSU’s demonstration garden at the show, they probably don’t think of all the hours and hands that go into creating it. However, what they can count on is reliable information and inspiration to take home and put to use in their own gardens.

By Jodi Torpey
Denver Master Gardener

Take a Soil Test to Start the Gardening Season

soil sampleWhen it comes to growing a garden, if a little fertilizer is good, a lot is better. Right?

Not really. Fertilizer applications should match the needs of the soil and plants. Too much fertilizer, especially applied to smaller areas, can create more problems. One proven way to avoid overfertilizing is to invest in a simple soil test. It’s a tool that gives the most accurate method to tell the fertility of a garden, lawn, field or pasture.

“It’s important to get a soil test to know how your garden will grow over the season,” says Tegan Deeney, a lab tech with CSU’s Soil, Water and Plant Testing Lab in Fort Collins.

“I tested my soil when my pumpkin plants started dying when they were only two inches tall. My soil test showed there wasn’t enough nitrogen nitrate in the soil, and there was a simple fix.” She says a lot of pumpkins grew that year after she amended the soil with the recommended nutrients.

“The earlier you test, the better. You won’t run into the issues of trying to amend the soil around plants,” she adds.

Instead of guessing what your soil needs, a routine garden and landscape soil test will give you the specifics. For the $35 fee per sample, you’ll get results on soil pH, EC (Electrical Conductivity measures the available nutrients in the soil), organic matter, nitrate, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, boron, lime, and texture estimates.

In 2015 CSU’s Soil Testing Lab evaluated 2700 soil samples from horticulture alone. That total doesn’t include research soils or soil samples from farmers.

A soil test uses samples collected from the yard, garden or field. Soil sample collection kits are available from CSU Extension offices or some garden centers. CSU’s Soil Lab website has soil collection forms, instructions and a list of participating garden centers. For more information contact the lab at 970-491-5061.

A typical sample uses only two cups of soil that’s a combination of 5 to 15 samples (depending on the size of the area). Here are the basic steps for collecting a sample:

1. Use a clean, rust-free trowel or spade.
2. Collect samples at a depth of 6 inches; dig straight down, not at an angle.
3. Take at least 5 samples of soil from the area and combine in a clean plastic container.
4. Remove about two cups of soil and allow to air dry.
5. Place the sample in a CSU soil container or a sandwich-size plastic bag.
6. Seal and label with name, address and location of the sample.
7. Send the sample to the testing lab.

The turnaround time for results is about two weeks. Results will be mailed to you or include an email address for a faster reply. The lab results will tell you which nutrients your garden needs or if there’s an overabundance of nutrients.

With all the time, money and effort it requires for successful planting and growing, it makes sense to invest in a simple soil test. Consider it a gardening investment, almost like buying a plant insurance policy.

By Jodi Torpey
Denver Master Gardener