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Articles written by Carol Omeara


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  • Care of holiday plants

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension Boulder County|Nov 24, 2021

    Celebrating the dark days of winter includes bringing in a few houseplants, and stores are filled with holiday foliage. Pick up a poinsettia - they're a treat for the eyes - then look at some of the other festive indoor plants. Small pines, aromatic mini-trees, and flowering cacti are the perfect touch for your décor. When the tag says, "Place in bright indirect light," it means closely in front of, but not touching, an east or west facing window or one foot away from a south facing window....

  • Halloween mythconceptions

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension Boulder County|Oct 27, 2021

    Halloween horrors aren't always connected to the spirits of the dead, even though the ancient holiday is. Some of the spookiest creatures on the planet are products of human imagination trying to explain the workings of Mother Nature, or using Mother Nature to nefarious ends. A quick look at the history of some myths and misconceptions shines a light on frightful tales. The legendary witch hunts of Salem in 1692 may have root in a fungus, Ergot (Claviceps purpura), which invades rye and other gr...

  • Gardening is exercise

    Carol OMeara, CSU Extension Boulder County|Sep 29, 2021

    I recently underwent a health assessment which involved a lengthy questionnaire on how I care for myself. It was part of a getting acquainted process with a new medical company. Things went smoothly until the interviewer asked about any exercise I routinely do. I said "Gardening." She nodded and said she was interested in what I did for exercise, ignoring my input on my green thumb activities. I reiterated, "Yes – I garden. Every day. Vegetable gardening." Again, I got the nod without any n...

  • Lawns browning from heat

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension, Boulder County|Jul 28, 2021

    What a difference a high pressure ridge makes. After a cool, rainy warmup to the season, gardeners are shocked to face scorching hot temperatures that broil our gardens and lawns. The high pressure system parked overhead is pulling the heat up from the south and there is nothing our plants can do but weather the heat. When the heat switched on, lawns stressed, with Kentucky Bluegrass going dormant to escape the near-hundred degree temperatures. Brown spots in yards are blooming faster than the...

  • Patience is the key to planting

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension Boulder County|Jun 9, 2021

    Have you been bitten by the gardening bug and are now itching to plant? The cool, wet weather we've been enjoying has had gardeners impatiently waiting for the soil to warm and the skies to stop peppering us with hail so our plants can finally go outside. Now that the National Weather Service is saying we're in for warming up and drying out, be patient for a few more days to let the soil temperatures rise. Wet soil warms more slowly, because the sun's energy goes into drying it out; once that's...

  • Grow to Fight Hunger

    Carol OMeara, CSU Extension Boulder County|May 5, 2021

    Lingering impacts from a disrupted world are hitting our community, with hunger a growing problem. Last year, gardeners responded to the crisis by reviving the Victory Garden movement, growing and donating over 23 tons of produce to food banks and pantries across Colorado through the Grow & Give project. Victory Gardens have been cultivated throughout our history as a country, popping up when events take a toll on our collective well being. During economic crises, depression, and war, people...

  • Gardeners, get ready for planting

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension Boulder County|Mar 31, 2021

    Spring in Colorado brings out the best in gardeners, who've been pining for the warm, longer days of the growing season. We revel in the first hellebores and crocus to bloom and spend every warm day outside doing what few chores we can. Spring in Colorado also brings out the worst in gardeners, because in our zeal to Get Things Growing, we engage in soil preparation. And when the soil is this wet, tilling or turning it is the last thing you want to do. If you had taken advantage of the weekend...

  • Spring lawn care

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension|Feb 24, 2021

    The warm weather ahead of the bitter cold snap had many people thinking of spring chores. The recent storms with their snowfall were a welcome drink for parched landscapes, and one of the first plants to show their appreciation after the thaw is lawns. They'll green up, and to get a season of stress-free grass, a few chores now give you a dense, healthy yard this summer. First, tackle those pesky weeds. Timing is crucial for controlling annual grassy weeds, whose seeds fell to the soil in fall....

  • Restoring Rose Garden on gardeners' wish list

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension Boulder County|Feb 3, 2021

    With the change in tenants at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, there's a groundswell of interest in one thing close to gardener's hearts. Quiet and not-so-quiet news articles are calling for the tackling of a task that, while not a matter of national security, is something the green-thumb faction is following closely. Occupants of the White House have free rein to make changes to the grounds, provided it doesn't alarm the Secret Service. They're a skittish bunch, for good reason. Though there are...

  • Gifts for Gardeners

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension|Dec 9, 2020

    From simple pleasures to outright splurges, the season for giving is upon us. As you rush to buy gifts for your gardeners, stop to consider what type of green thumb they have. This will help you narrow down your choices in making that small purchase go a long way to happiness. Experienced gardeners are a little harder to shop for since we have the basics. But that doesn't mean we don't like a load of manure. A big pile of poo would have appalled my mother, but I think it's a very sweet gesture....

  • Pumpkin patches are perfect for outdoor fall fun

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension, Boulder County|Sep 30, 2020

    October is arriving, and it brings a chance for outdoor fun for the family. At this time in fall, we make the annual pilgrimage to pumpkin patches. Prowling in fields or rummaging through bins looking for the perfect Jack-O-lantern, we're all getting into the fall mood. Enjoyment is ripe for picking at many area farms, and local growers are holding their harvest festivals complete with orange, grey, white, warty, and giant novelty pumpkins. Hop on a hayride or test your skill at navigating a...

  • Donate to Help Others

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension Boulder County|Sep 2, 2020

    Kind hearted people see need in their communities and want to help, but a handful move into action to help solve problems too great for one act to overcome. The folks at Fresh Food Connect and Boulder Food Rescue felt the pull to take action years ago to combat hunger locally and throughout the state of Colorado. "We posed the question: if gardeners could participate in community hunger relief action, how can we make that happen?" says Helen Katich, CEO of Fresh Food Connect and co-founder of...

  • A confusion of summer squash problems

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension Boulder County|Jul 29, 2020

    Despite my best laid plans, each year the garden brings its own ideas to what will, or won't, be a success. I love the touch of chaos and curve balls it throws my way. But every year there was always one thing that I could depend on, and that's a plethora of squash. Winter keepers and summer sautés, patty pans and pumpkins, the rambling vines have always been eager to produce. There was the Year of 27 Spaghetti Squashes, the Great Zucchini Inundation of 2007, and we won't forget the Bodacious Bo...

  • Rose care

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension, Boulder County|Jun 3, 2020

    There is a point in summer when gardeners can't show fear. The growing season fills all of our spare time - we're running full tilt, harvesting, weeding, and watering; there's blooms to pick, mulch to replenish and insects to fight off. At a certain point I wonder why I always smell like plants, but it's not a bad scent and soon after washing I'm back in the plants again, getting covered in sap. The rush and frenzy can get overwhelming, so for stress relief, take time to stop and smell the...

  • Grow and Give offers free on-line vegetable course

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension|Apr 29, 2020

    Gardeners are good at sharing with others. We offer advice, give seeds and seedlings or leave zucchini on doorsteps of neighbors. In good or difficult times, gardeners rise to help with small kindnesses. These everyday things make us happy; it's how we sow community as well as gardens. We know that big things can come from a single seed, that an individual flower, combined with dozens or hundreds of others can turn a vacant lot into a paradise. These things the garden teaches us, along with the...

  • It takes a village

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension Boulder County|Apr 1, 2020

    It takes a village to raise a child. The popular Igbo proverb takes on more meaning today as our entire community is affected by the shuttering of schools, businesses, and stores. Pundits are predicting that we'll see the ripple effect of this echo through our lives for months, with hunger and need for basic necessities likely to increase. In short, the whole village needs each other. How can gardeners help? Elizabeth Black, member of the Boulder Culinary Gardeners group, sent a thoughtful note...

  • Spring brings new things

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension Boulder County|Mar 4, 2020

    A crocus is trying to bloom in a friend's yard, despite frigid days and snow squalls. She's enchanted by the little plant's effort and, like any gardener at this time of year, is watching its progress with excitement. She's not alone in her countdown to spring; many gardeners are pouncing on the slightest signs of green. We haven't broken out pompoms and megaphones to strut and cheer on the flowers we see quite yet – that would just rile up the neighborhood dogs and cause our community to c...

  • Twelve Days of Christmas for gardeners

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension Boulder County|Dec 25, 2019

    To celebrate the season, sing along with me (with apologies to the original version of the carol). In the final days of Christmas, the garden calls to me: Twelve seeds-a-sprouting – In late winter, change up your garden by starting your own seeds. You'll expand your varieties beyond the choices everyone is offered and have a garden custom fitted to your taste or pleasure. Eleven pipes- a-bursting – If you don't get your backflow preventers wrapped before the arctic blast in November, take tim...

  • Grab some (warm) air between snows to clean garden

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension|Oct 23, 2019

    The abrupt end to the garden season came with an unseasonable chill, smashing record lows and tying for largest temperature drop in one October day ever recorded. Plants that normally shrug off a light frost are struggling to find new life, while the tender plants were killed outright. While the sight of the dead are appealing the closer we get to Halloween, we can't leave those carcasses out there forever. Disease and insects find a nice home amongst the wreckage and for a garden to remain...

  • Goodness, it's gourds

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension|Oct 9, 2019

    I picked up a packet of gourd seeds last spring with the thought that some of the little, colorful things would look great in my fall décor. I imagined tucking them into nooks near pumpkins, by straw bales and corn stalks, even hot gluing them onto a fall wreath. I should have stopped daydreaming and read the seed packet instead. What these plants produced are not the four-inch, green-yellow-white table décor. Oh, no. I knew something was different when the first one swelled into a large, bulbou...

  • Pumpkin patches are perfect for fall fun

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension Boulder County|Oct 2, 2019

    October is arriving and with it the annual pilgrimage to pumpkin patches. Prowling in fields or rummaging through bins looking for the perfect jack-o-lantern, we’re all getting into the fall mood. Memorable fall enjoyment is ripe for picking at area farms, and local growers are holding their harvest festivals complete with orange, grey, white, warty, and giant novelty pumpkins. Hop on a hayride or test your skill at navigating a corn maze; you’ll find there’s fun for everyone at area patch...

  • Tomato taste finding a way back into love apples

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension, Boulder County|Sep 4, 2019

    Have you experienced the unbearable sadness of a lackluster tomato? Standing in front of the tables piled high with perfect, red, round fruit, we convince ourselves that we know how to pick one that will be a tasty prize on our salad. Sadly, finding a commercially grown tomato with moan-worthy flavor is like finding a needle in a haystack. “Tomato is a particularly complicated flavor; there are many genes producing many different flavors. But it’s also a product of the environment, soil, and...

  • Peppers have it made in the shade

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University, Extension Boulder County|Aug 14, 2019

    If you look forward to perfect peppers, but are disappointed when they get sunburn, there aren’t as many as you thought, or they aren’t as big as you’d like, chances are that you have sunlight to blame. High solar intensity and temperatures work against getting the most out of our pepper crops. Research on shading peppers is casting light on the benefits of cooling things off a bit on leaves and the root zone. Heat stress reduces the plant’s ability to photosynthesize and cool itself efficie...

  • A good time to deadhead

    Carol OMeara, Colorado State University Extension, Boulder County|Jul 24, 2019

    This summer has been glorious for flowers, thanks to wet, cooler weather for the first part of the summer. Gardens are showing off, and with a little help from those who tend them, the flowers should have a spectacular second show. Keep the bloom going with a simple, but necessary practice. Deadheading, as it applies to gardening, is the removal of flowers from plants when the flowers are fading or dead. If you’ve never done it, here are a few tips to keep it from being a long, strange trip t...

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