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Deb Babcock

Stories by Deb

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Planting seeds — now or in the spring?

To seed or not to seed? With apologies to ol' Will Shakespeare, that is the question asked by many high-country gardeners each fall.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Growing plants without soil

Growing plants hydroponically avoids one of the biggest problems with indoor plants: over-watering or forgetting to water and then drowning our plants when they start to wilt and wither on us.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Happiness is … getting dirty

Gardeners always have known a certain joy when getting their hands and feet in the soil. But now scientists have made it official that getting dirty is good for your soul.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Creepy, crawly and worth keeping around

Observe the bugs in your garden before taking any action against them. You just might discover that those creepy, crawly things in your garden are your friends.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Dividing perennials in the fall

Now is a good time to propagate many of the perennials in your garden if they’ve become overgrown, if you just want to have more of a particular plant, or if they seem to have lost some of their hardiness.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Extending your garden season

With fall upon us, now is a great time to enjoy your garden and think about ways to extend the season as we move toward freezing temperatures.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Mushrooms of the Routt County forest

If you look closely while hiking the forests around Steamboat Springs this fall, you might notice a pretty wide variety of mushrooms that are poking their heads through the leaf litter and conifer needles at the base of our alpine trees, perhaps because of all the wonderful moisture we've gotten this year.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Do something good for your garden, your pocketbook and for Steamboat

Now that many of our spring and early summer flowers are finished blooming, it's time to clean up around those beds by deadheading spent blooms (unless you want them to reseed your garden in places) and removing dead foliage.

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Gardening with Deb Babcock: Dealing with plant damage from hail and hoppers

Between grasshoppers and the hail storm we experienced a couple weeks ago, gardens in parts of Routt County are in a shambles. Plants and trees have been stripped of their leaves and many plants were so beaten down or chewed up it appears they might not recover from the damage.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Privacy amid the development

Now that things seem to be getting back on track with the economy locally, more development is occurring in neighborhoods throughout the county. And more development often means less space and privacy in our yards and outdoor spaces. Trees and shrubs in your yard and garden can help you achieve a sense of privacy and personal space.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Planning a wildflower garden

Recreating a wildflower palette in your yard isn't as simple as strewing a packet of wildflower seeds on top of your soil, as most gardeners who've tried this will tell you. But the rewards of a wildflower patch are worth the work involved to create this informal, natural landscape.

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Gardening with Deb Babcock: Thistle harmful to environment and animals

When I was a little girl, I had to be careful going outdoors barefoot in the summer because our yard had sharp plants in it that I called "pickers." Now as an adult and a Master Gardener, I've learned that these weeds are thistles and they are not simply a problem for tender feet, they're actually harmful to our environment and our animals.

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Gardening with Deb Babcock: Growing rhubarb in Routt County

Rhubarb is a cold hardy plant that thrives in our mountain environment. It grows best in a southern exposure with minimal shade.

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Gardening with Deb Babcock: Which vegetables grow best here?

Even though our growing season is pretty short here in the Yampa Valley, there are many vegetables that can be grown from seed. This includes most root vegetables, many leafy vegetables, some herbs and a few others.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Which perennials will thrive here?

The United States Department of Agriculture updated its map of the country's planting zones two years ago — the first update since 1990. The map, originally published in 1960, looks at every state, including Hawaii, Alaska and the territory of Puerto Rico, and classifies them into planting zones by 10 degree differences.

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Gardening with Deb Babcock: Simple steps to a healthy lawn

The melting snow has given way to lushness here in the Yampa Valley that many homeowners would like to capitalize on and maintain throughout our hot, dry summer.

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Gardening with Deb Babcock: Fertilizing your garden plants

If your soil has been well-tended by the addition of compost and mulches, there may be no need for supplemental fertilizer. This is especially true with ornamentals since you also can recycle the spent plant materials back into the soil providing all the necessary nutrients for the next growing season.

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Gardening with Deb Babcock: The complicated life of aphids

Almost all of the trees and shrubs that grow here in the high mountains, as well as many plants, can become infested with aphids.

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Gardening with Deb Babcock: Naturalize bulbs for unexpected color

The entrance to the house of my friends, Kathleen and Rocco, was left in its natural state. There are some gambol oak, serviceberry and chokecherry trees and native grasses, but what I especially love about their entrance in the springtime is a merry drift of daffodils that pops up through the grasses.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Itching to work in the garden?

With hints of spring in the air, many of us who enjoy gardening are itching to get out and start working in the garden. Should we? Not yet, unless you want to do a little clean up and pruning of trees that haven't leafed out yet. It's too early to start digging around in the soil.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Currants a great garden shrub

If you’re looking for a great shrub for your Steamboat Springs area garden, look no further than Ribes spp, commonly called the currant bush.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Moths in the house

I like to relax by reading in the evenings before going to bed, but some nights, I spend more time chasing down and swatting moths attracted to my reading lights. Is this happening at your home, too?

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Can we really grow pumpkins here?

Pumpkins are warm weather plants that grow best at elevations below 5,000 feet. They need a long growing season with warm and sunny days. However, you can extend our short growing season by starting seeds indoors.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Use garden pesticides safely

The pesticides we use in our home gardens are designed to be specifically deadly to some pests, but improper use of the product can harm other creatures as well as the environment.

Deb Babcock: Selecting trees for your landscape

When selecting a tree for your Steamboat area yard or garden, there are several considerations to take into account for a successful experience.

Deb Babcock: Fall is the best time to plan a wildflower garden

Of area hiking trails, the one on Rabbit Ears Pass in July is the most colorful and diverse I've found in terms of the wildflowers that proliferate there. In a single field, you'll find spires of bright red Indian Paintbrush surrounded by the blues of lupine, yellows of sunflowers, white yarrow and delicate pink-veined Richardson's geranium.

Deb Babcock: Collecting, storing and planting a garden from seed

Propagating flowers and vegetables by seed is very satisfying as well as a great way to inexpensively fill in bare spots in your garden.

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Deb Babcock: An old-fashioned favorite — hollyhocks

An old-fashioned favorite, the large white, pink and purple funnel-shaped blooms of hollyhocks (alcea rosea, can be seen in gardens throughout Routt County this summer. Towering as high as 8 feet tall, these spires of crepe-like blooms can grow in most any soil, including our clay.

Gardening with Deb Babcock: Here we go again with grasshoppers

In areas around Elk Mountain, along Routt County Roads 44 and 129 and along Twentymile Road, the grasshopper infestation is as bad as I've seen it in my more than 13 years here.

Deb Babcock: Call on a Master Gardener for help

If you visit the farmer’s market Saturdays or have gone on the Strings Garden Tour any of the past few years or read this column regularly, you’re probably aware that Routt County has a cadre of knowledgeable gardeners in our community who are here to share their expertise with local home gardeners.

Deb Babcock: Peace and serenity in a moonlight garden

When the sun goes down over the Sleeping Giant and the moon rises above Mount Werner, a certain serenity descends upon our valley.

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Deb Babcock: Plants that soothe what ails you

Many current drugs that we know as conventional medicine originally were derived from plants.

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Deb Babcock: A profusion of color

The most beautiful profusion of wildflowers I have seen this spring so far was all along the Soda Creek Trail up on the road to Buffalo Pass last week.

Deb Babcock: A great shade-loving plant

Master Gardener Camille Fischer, who went through the county Extension’s Master Gardener program with me in 2000 and since has moved away, came to Steamboat from the same part of Michigan I did where we had mild temperatures, tons of humidity and rain … and hostas that grew to enormous sizes. She did some research on growing hostas in Routt County and shared her findings with us.

Deb Babcock: Adding annuals to your garden

Now that we’re nearing our official planting date for Routt County gardens, many of us are searching for annuals to add instant color and interest to bare spots in the garden as well as on the porch, patio and deck.

Deb Babcock: Gardening for the birds

Many gardeners design their home landscapes specifically to attract certain birds. This is accomplished through plantings as well as birdhouses, birdfeeders and sources of water.

Deb Babcock: Controlling invasive weeds

Often, we gardeners call a weed anything that we don’t like in a location we planned for something else.

Deb Babcock: A great vine for all your senses

If you’re looking for a vine that will cover a fence, arbor, trellis or other support system, consider hops (Humulus lupulus). The hop plant vines grow fast reaching a height up to 25 feet by midsummer.

Deb Babock: Capturing the outdoors in ink

With such short, but spectacular, summers here in the mountains of Colorado, we need to make the most of the days we have in the garden. Perhaps one way we can extend our enjoyment of the plants we grow is to capture them in pencil and ink.

Deb Babcock: Good for your garden and town

If you’re at all like me, you didn’t get the garden fully cleaned up before the snow came last fall. That means when it melts, we’re going to have a bit of work to do before it looks presentable.

Deb Babcock: How to plant a tree

Certain trees are better for windbreaks than others. Some trees are much better at providing shade. Others are great attractors for birds. Some flower and produce fruit. Others flower without producing fruit. Some have trunks and branches with wonderfully vibrant color and shapes that look great against the white snow.

Deb Babcock: Pairings that complement your garden

As we drool over the beautiful flowers in the garden catalogs that are cramming our mailboxes, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by choices. One way to narrow down what you might want to add to the garden this year is to consider planting pairings that will look good together in different areas of your garden.

Deb Babcock: Keeping plants healthy

Most of us know that our houseplants need air, water, sunlight and nutrients in order to grow.

Deb Babcock: The benefits of lady bugs

Whitney Cranshaw, one of Colorado’s foremost entomologists, or bug experts, was in Routt County in late February to teach the garden insect portion of our local Master Gardening course. Always entertaining, Whitney spent a good portion of the morning discussing lady beetles, one of our favorite garden insects.

Deb Babcock: Planting greens a great addition

The other night I attended a cooking class at City Cafe put on by chefs Nicolette and Olivia.

Deb Babcock: Add interest to your indoor decor with the polka dot plant

One of the prettiest colored-foliage plants that is growing in popularity for the indoors is the polka-dot plant, Hypoestes phyllostachya. It’s a compact, bushy plant that prefers bright light and as much humidity as you can generate.

Deb Babcock: A bold-leaved plant for your home

Dieffenbachia maculata, commonly called Spotted dumbcane, is a popular home or office plant that is readily found in local garden centers in a variety of leaf patterns. With a spread of 2 to 3 feet and heights of as much as 8 feet, it makes its presence known in most any room you place it.

Deb Babcock: Can we grow tomatoes indoors?

At the grocery store last week, I bought tomatoes even though I knew they wouldn’t add much flavor to our salad, just some color. Why are tomatoes from the store so tasteless in the winter?

Deb Babcock: Curious flora that feed on fauna

Some people say we gardeners are consumed by our plants. I don’t think they mean it literally, but there is a group of bizarre plants that obtain nourishment from consuming animals ... not necessarily gardeners.

Deb Babcock: New Master Gardener class starts Jan. 31

Want to learn about gardening in the high country? Or brush up on your knowledge of plants that grow at our altitude? Sign up for the 2013 Master Gardener class that starts Jan. 31 and runs through April 11.

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