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Deb Babcock

Stories by Deb

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.

Tease photo

Deb Babcock: Creating Steamboat potpourri

Mixture can help keep aroma of summer last all year

Because our gardening season is so short in the Steamboat area, consider using scents from your garden in the form of potpourri to make the aroma of summer last all year.

Deb Babcock: Consider lavender for aroma, color

When I lived in Michigan, my garden along the front walkway was filled with lavender plants that reached chest-high and provided wonderful aroma every time I walked by … especially when I ran my fingers through the branches and released some of the oils in the flower and foliage. But here in the mountains of Colorado, my lavender plants seem to just eke through the season, never getting any bigger or taller than perhaps 12 inches high.

Deb Babcock: Fertilizing your garden plants

You might not need as much fertilizer as you think

Should we fertilize our garden plants, and if so, when and how? If your soil has been well-tended by the addition of compost and mulches, there may be no need for supplemental fertilizer. A soil test is the best way to determine the fertility of your garden soil.

Deb Babcock: Asparagus is worth the wait

A member of the lily family, edible asparagus takes two to three years to become established, but then can be harvested for as many as 15 years. It’s a relatively pest-free plant and is easy to maintain in our mountain community.

Deb Babcock: Wildflowers are a way to beat the short season

There are an abundance of local varieties that grow well in Steamboat

With an abundance of water this spring, and cool weather making the growing season a little later than usual, we can expect a profusion of wildflowers all coming out at the same time this year.

Deb Babcock: Fill empty garden spaces

Annual plants last for only one growing season. During this time, they grow, flower and produce seed, which completes their life cycle. Many local gardeners find that annuals add a wonderful splash of constant color, while the perennials come and go throughout summer.

Deb Babcock: Special alert on cherry trees

Late in summer 2010, just as local home gardeners were bringing in cherry harvests, we discovered a problem with some cherry produce in Routt County. In certain areas, ripe cherries were found to be infested with white, maggot-like larvae from the western cherry fruit fly. This has been particularly noticeable in cherries from home gardens in Old Town Steamboat Springs but could spread to a wider area. Once a cherry has been infected, the fruit is no good.

Deb Babcock: Itching to plant your garden?

June 11 is the magic date to begin preparing plots for spring

The magic date is June 11. That’s when this area experiences the average date of the last killing frost. Of course, this is a 30-year average and will vary from year to year. Also, you might have protected areas near your home that allow for early planting.

Tease photo

Deb Babcock: Exotic air plants brighten homes

In order to break up the seemingly extra-long winter this year, I took a break last week and visited St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Most of the island is a national park, which allowed us to get our hiking legs back exploring the interior mountains and vegetation along the shoreline. One of the plants that I saw in abundance, and one we can successfully maintain in our homes in Routt County, is an air plant, also known as tillandsia.

Deb Babcock: Flowers pretty enough to eat

Some flowers can add flavor and aroma to salad dressings and more

The aromas, colors and textures of some flowers and plants are so tantalizing, they seem good enough to eat. Luckily for us, many flowers are edible. They not only make a beautiful garnish, but many flowers enhance food with flavor and fragrance, too.

Deb Babcock: Solutions to problem areas

For high and tight spaces, use trailers and climbers

For high and tight places in your home, though, climbing vines and pretty foliage trailing from a hanging basket enliven a humdrum space. Tall windows, high ledges and narrow nooks often are problem spaces that trailers and climbers can turn into a refreshing point of interest.

Deb Babcock: Freshen up home with houseplants

Adding aroma and color to your home through the use of houseplants is a wonderful way to freshen your interior spaces, especially during these grey days of winter. For aroma, look for a houseplant with white or light-colored flowers.

Deb Babcock: Care for your sick houseplants

If your houseplants are looking a little sickly lately, maybe it’s time to perk them up with some new soil, a larger pot, some trimming or other care. The first step is to carefully check the plant and the pot it is sitting in.

Deb Babcock: Propagating your houseplants is easy

Some of my favorite houseplants are ones from friends who gave me pieces of stem and leaf from plants in their own homes. Propagating houseplants is easy to do and a great way to increase your houseplant collection or make gifts for friends. One way to propagate houseplants is by placing a piece of stem and leaf in water or potting mixture to root.

Deb Babcock: How will the arctic weather affect our plants?

Driving down the road into town last week when it was 40 below zero, I felt sorry for the poor horses and livestock and wild animals that had to stay outside in this frigid weather. Then I began wondering about some new trees and perennials I put in the garden last year. I’m sure many of us are wondering how our gardens will survive when temperatures drop below the norms for our Zone 4 area.

Deb Babcock: They’re not dead, just dormant

Now that most of our gardens are asleep under a blanket of snow, you might wonder how your plants make it through a long, cold Steamboat Springs winter. Especially one as cold as this year’s has been.

Deb Babcock: Interior decorating with houseplants

Homeowners often use furniture, artwork, wall treatments, rugs and more to create areas of interest, focal points and screens in rooms. Houseplants are another interior decorating tool that serves the same functions while also adding color, aroma and freshness.

Deb Babcock: How and when to fertilize houseplants

Indoor plants need fewer nutrients during winter months

During winter months, with their short daylight hours, your houseplants need little to no fertilizer unless they reside under artificial lights or the plant instructions require fertilizer during more dormant periods.

Deb Babcock: Winter a good time to make plans

Winter in Steamboat Springs is a great time to think about what you might want to do in the garden next year to enhance your enjoyment of it.