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Deb Babcock

Stories by Deb

Deb Babcock: Let worms do the work for you

When the ground gets hard around the Steamboat area and there’s no easy way to take food scraps out to the compost pile, consider worm composting indoors.

Deb Babcock: Colorado Native Plant Society a helpful resource

Although Steamboat Springs does not have a local chapter of the Colorado Native Plant Society, this organization offers some valuable benefits to local gardeners via newsletters, workshops, field trips and the Internet.

Deb Babcock: Indoor whimsy with clay vessels

Each year around Christmas, you start seeing advertisements for one of the funniest gardening plants: Chia Pets.

Deb Babcock: Plant Select — a cooperative effort

Plant Select® is a cooperative program of the Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension and the Green Industry.

Deb Babcock: Garden-worthy evergreens

As you look out into the garden at this time of year, it’s easy to see where you might want to add some winter interest and green color outside the regular growing season.

Deb Babcock: Trademarked and patented plants

While it’s unlikely the “Patent Police” are patrolling the gardens of Routt County to make sure we’re not illegally propagating plants, it behooves us to know which of our plants we’re allowed to propagate and which ones it is illegal to reproduce.

Deb Babcock: Protecting your trees this winter

Our really cold, windy winters and intense daily sunshine here in the mountains can damage the trees in our gardens, especially young ones that haven’t yet developed a thick, rough bark.

Deb Babcock: Mushrooms of the Routt County forest

If you’ve been hiking the forests around Steamboat Springs this fall, you might have noticed a wide variety of mushrooms that are poking their heads through the leaf litter and conifer needles at the base of our Alpine trees despite this year’s low amount of moisture.

Deb Babcock: Mulch helps plants make it through the winter

Well, we’ve had our first frost and the plants are retreating into their shells, so to speak, to weather our cold winter. While plants that grow here generally are pretty hardy and designed to withstand our cold winters, we can make the winter easier on them by providing a blanket of mulch.

Deb Babcock: Mountain Ash a local favorite

One of the prettiest shrubs you see in the autumn forest across Routt County is the Mountain Ash (Sorbus scopulina) with its scarlet foliage and brilliant orange-red berries. It’s a favorite of many local gardeners.

Deb Babcock: Horseradish thrives at altitude

Horseradish is a herb from the mustard family and thrives in high altitude climates such as ours. Horseradish has nothing to do with horses nor with radishes.

Deb Babcock: Sell your excess produce

So you had a great year in the garden and have more fruits and vegetables than you possibly can eat. What can you do with the excess?

Deb Babcock: Fireweed an end-of-summer reward

One of my favorite end-of-summer wildflowers is the beautiful pink plumes of fireweed, also known as rosebay willowherb and part of the evening primrose family, found throughout the mountains around Steamboat Springs.

Deb Babcock: Planting over hardpan

In answer to almost every question about plants asked of Master Gardeners, one part of our reply often deals with improving the soil.

Deb Babcock: Keeping trees healthy during a drought

With water restrictions in place throughout Routt County because of the drought this year, many gardeners are wondering how their trees will fare without much rainfall.

Deb Babcock: Use herbs for a sweet, savory garden

Just outside my kitchen is an herb garden I’ve been cultivating for several years now. It’s heaven to be able to step out and snip some fresh basil leaves for a salad or a few stalks of chives for a pasta sauce.

Deb Babcock: Lawn care in drought conditions

Many of us Master Gardeners, as well as the Routt County Extension Office staff, have been getting a lot of questions lately from local homeowners asking what they should do about their parched lawns during this hot, dry and windy summer.

Deb Babcock: Long-lasting blooms

Have you ever noticed that if you don’t watch it, some of the perennials in your garden bloom and die before you really get a chance to enjoy them?

Deb Babcock: Tough out a dry season

With the growing season starting out so warm and dry, we might be in for a year that is tough on our plants. This will be true especially if the lack of rain continues and we adhere to requested water restrictions by limiting the added moisture we give to our garden.

Deb Babcock: Use tough native plants for tough conditions

When choosing plants for your garden here in Routt County, you’ll have the best luck if you choose plants that already are comfortable with our soil, climate and short growing season.

Deb Babcock: Stop by the community garden

More work is being done this spring and summer to improve the Community Roots Garden site. A garden cleanup project is from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday and volunteers are being sought to help out for a couple of hours.

Deb Babcock: Cherry fruit fly update

Two years ago, some gardeners reported that they had bugs in their cherry harvest. So master gardeners looked into the problem last year to spread the word about how you can help prevent the cherry fruit fly from infecting your tree.

Deb Babcock: Protect your home from wildfires

Recent restrictions on agricultural burns in the Yampa Valley have a lot of us thinking about the potentially hazardous season ahead of us because lack of moisture from this winter’s low amount of snowfall.

Deb Babcock: Building a raised vegetable garden

Many of us gardeners start out with flowers and shrubs in our gardens and then think that maybe some vegetables would be a nice addition.

Deb Babcock: Help track down rare plants

You can make a real difference in helping to keep some of our rarest plants in the Yampa Valley from becoming endangered or extinct.

Deb Babcock: Anatomy of a flower

One of the hardest parts of trying to help someone with a gardening problem is identifying the plant with the issues.

Deb Babcock: Plants will filter the air in your home or office

Feng shui is a popular and very old Chinese concept of being in harmony with your environment.Indoor plants in your environment can add to this positive energy flow in a number of ways.

Deb Babcock: Caring for your cactus

You’d think that with our very dry environment here in the Steamboat area that desert cactus would thrive in our homes, where it is protected from the brutal cold of winter.

Deb Babcock: Find your garden’s zone

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently updated its map of the country’s planting zones — the first update since 1990.

Deb Babcock: Report links aspen illness, drought

Scientists: High temperatures, low precipitation cause of decline

Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) is likely the tree most coveted by homeowners in Routt County and the one most enjoyed by visitors and residents who love to hike the aspen-covered mountains surrounding our beautiful valley. Sadly, there have been stands of these trees that have been dying off in certain parts of the mountains, mostly at lower elevations.

Deb Babcock: Hanging on to your poinsettias

OK, the holidays are over, but you still have a pretty poinsettia plant hanging on to dear life. It seems a shame to discard the plant just because the leaves start to drop.

Deb Babcock: Jade requires minimal care

If you’re looking for a houseplant that is easy to grow, looks good and requires minimal care, consider the jade plant (Crassula ovata, formerly C. argentea). With its thick, glossy dark-green leaves, this plant is a beauty that can grow as tall as 4 feet and as wide as 4 feet.

Deb Babcock: Caring for your holiday plants

Don’t you love the beautiful colors, shapes and aromas of plants that seem to be available just during the holidays? The fast-growing, spectacular amaryllis plants that grow about an inch per day and the beautiful white, reds, pinks and now plum-colored poinsettias are so decorative.

Deb Babcock: Colorful Christmas cactus makes its debut

One of the most striking plants that we see during the holidays is the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera Buckleyi).

Deb Babcock: Decking the halls with holly boughs

When the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock on the day after Christmas in 1620, one of the plants that pilgrims certainly were happy to see was American holly (Ilex opaca), which no doubt reminded them of the popular holiday plant from home.

Deb Babcock: Houseplants filter air naturally

It seems every winter that half of Steamboat Springs seems to come down with what a lot of locals call “the crud.” I would describe it as a rattling, persistent cough that just hangs on forever.

Deb Babcock: Keep time with the flower clock

A couple of weeks ago, the beautiful composition called “L’horloge de flore” (A Musical Flower Clock) by French composer Jean Françaix was on my car radio. It made me curious about flower clocks and Carl Linnaeus and Françaix.

Deb Babcock: Considerations for a greenhouse

When it turns cold at the end of the gardening season, many of us who want to continue working with plants dream of having a greenhouse in which to work in warmth.

Deb Babcock: Tillandsia a plant living on air alone

Looking like strange, not-of-this-world beings, Tillandsia air plants can be quite spectacular and a focal point of a houseplant array.

Deb Babcock: Repot growing houseplants

If your indoor plants have been neglected while tending to the outdoor garden, fall recreation and other autumn activities, you might have missed the growth spurts that have taken place inside. If your indoor plants have used up all the nutrients in their soil or have outgrown the pot and become root bound, it’s time to move them into a new pot.

Deb Babcock: Protect plants from winter

Plants that are native to our region typically survive our winters because they evolved in response to the climate and weather patterns of our mountains.

Deb Babcock: Aspen trees a favorite in Steamboat Springs

Aspens are fast-growing but relatively short-lived (20 years) trees attaining heights of up to 50 feet. Cold hardy but with poor drought resistance, aspens grow best in sunny locations at elevations of 7,000 feet or higher. They prefer moist, well-drained soil and good air circulation.

Deb Babcock: Routt County woodland oddity

Nearly every year hiking in the forests around Steamboat Springs, my attention is captured by a plant that is unusual for its strange coloring and composition. It is shaped like a stalk of asparagus but looks like a weird form of mushroom.

Deb Babcock: Plant garlic now for bigger bulbs

Spaghetti sauce, Caesar salad, shrimp scampi and many other favorite foods have a common ingredient that can be easily grown here in the mountains: garlic. To obtain the largest bulbs next summer, plant your garlic cloves now.

Deb Babcock: Plant Select tested plants for altitude

Demonstration garden at Yampa River Botanic Park

Each year, a few plants are chosen as the best of the best for gardens in the high mountains of Colorado through a cooperative program of the Denver Botanic Park and Colorado State University in conjunction with greenhouses and nurseries throughout the Rocky Mountain region and beyond.

Deb Babcock: Leave berries for the wildlife

As with all the berries you see in the wild, unless you’re absolutely sure what they are and that they are safe to consume, don’t ingest them.

Deb Babcock: Bring garden colors indoors

Vegetable and fruit gardeners have learned how to preserve their garden bounty beyond the short harvest season through canning, freezing and other methods. Flower gardeners can do the same thing, too, for their colorful flowers, grasses, seed heads and foliage.

Deb Babcock: A garden is where I want to bee

Whether or not it’s doctored up with a little additional flavor or aroma like the lavender honey I enjoy, all honey will take on the aroma and flavor of the plant on which the bees feed.

Deb Babcock: Know berries before you eat them

Now that some shrubs and perennials are done blooming, many plants will soon be producing gorgeous berries in hues of white, orange, red, purple, blue and black. The beautiful berries on the shrubs we see on hiking trails and in gardens and parks around the Steamboat area are some of the most delicious you’ll ever taste, but beware: some are also the most deadly.

Deb Babcock: Try sedums in hard-to-grow areas

We all tend to have an area in the yard or garden where nothing seems to grow. It’s too steep, has poor soil, doesn’t get rainfall or is baked by the relentless sun or windblown dry. For me, it is a south-facing slope that only seems to attract weeds and sparse grasses — until I planted sedums.