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Deb Babcock

Stories by Deb

Deb Babcock: Cool tools for your garden

Walk into any gardening or hardware store and chances are you’ll be confronted with rows of weird-looking gardening implements. How do you choose the best tool for the job? Here are nine cool tools that should serve the majority of your needs.

Deb Babcock: Hardy plants for a dry season

If the snowfall remains as light through the rest of the season as it is now, we may be in for a dry summer in 2010. Therefore, as you look at the plant catalogues for new flowers to place in your garden, consider some of the more drought-tolerant varieties that have proven hardy here in our zone 4 mountain environment.

Deb Babcock: Aspen decline truly SAD

The acronym for a condition affecting local aspen trees is so apt for what probably is the most popular of all the deciduous, or leaf-bearing, plants of the Rocky Mountain West. Sudden aspen decline, or SAD, is a phenomenon that already has affected more than 17 percent of the aspen trees in Colorado.

Deb Babcock: Preserving diversity among plant life

Did you know that in the past 100 years, about 75 percent of the genetic diversity of crops in the world has been lost to plants that have been developed for genetic uniformity?

Deb Babcock: Can we grow tomatoes here?

On Feb. 20, the Routt County Cooperative Extension Office and its master gardener program will offer a repeat class on vegetable gardening. Last year, about 100 people attended to learn about which vegetables can be successfully grown here in the Yampa Valley.

Deb Babcock: Participate in a community garden

Want to grow vegetables but don’t have the appropriate land, space or resources? You’re in luck because an opportunity to use a plot of land within Steamboat Springs city limits to grow vegetables and learn about growing food locally is about to present itself to residents.

Deb Babcock: Sensual gardening

A garden affects all of our senses, even though we often are not aware of it. Most of us enjoy the beauty of the colors, shapes, the play of light and shade, and the graceful movement of grasses, leaves and foliage as plants sway in the wind.

Deb Babcock: Cool houseplants

Unlike those of us who can reach for a fleece or an extra pair of socks when we’re chilly, our houseplants have to suck it up and shiver in the cold and drafty areas in our homes. Some plants simply do not handle cool temperatures well, even when protected inside our home from the outdoor weather.

Deb Babcock: Thyme in a bottle

If you’re itching to work with plants but the ground outdoors is as frozen as the Fish Creek waterfall, consider planting a bottle garden. Tropical plants, ferns and other plants requiring high humidity are perfect for a miniature garden located inside a bottle.

Deb Babcock: Kissing under the mistletoe

It’s hard to believe that the romantic characteristics we attribute to mistletoe are given to a parasitic plant, but it’s true. Mistletoe (phoradendron flavenscens) is an American native plant found growing on all kinds of trees, including pine, spruce, apple and oak. The European mistletoe (viscum album) is another variety of this holiday decoration.

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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 at holiday time? The fast-growing, spectacular amaryllis plants that grow about an inch a day and the beautiful white, red, pink and now plum-colored poinsettias are so decorative.

Deb Babcock: Picking the right Christmas tree

It just doesn’t seem like Christmas unless you have a lighted, decorated Christmas tree to admire through the holiday. Families in the Steamboat area tend to purchase already-cut trees or make a family excursion into national forest areas to find a perfect specimen.

Deb Babcock: Your garden in winter

At the annual meeting of the Yampa River Botanic Park, Karen Vail was the featured speaker and discussed the various microclimates we can create in our gardens to accommodate various plants, expanding the range of things you can grow here.

Deb Babcock: You can count on geraniums

One indoor plant Steam­boat Springs gardeners can count on is the geranium. No matter how much abuse we heap on this plant, it seems to thrive and flower all year round. That’s partly because it’s so sunny here in Steamboat. Geraniums love sunlight.

Deb Babcock: Force bulbs to grow indoors

Flowers can provide winter color and fragrance

Many of the local garden centers are promoting bulbs this month to plant for color next spring. As you consider whether to pick up some bulbs for the garden, consider purchasing a few to bring fragrance and color inside your home during the drab winter.

Deb Babcock: Protect trees from winter sunscald

Before the weather turns wintry, take steps to protect your trees from sunscald and other common problems that occur during our fierce winters.

Deb Babcock: When to prune shrubs

Ordinarily, a shrub shouldn't need pruning if you've selected the right-size plant for a particular site. But sometimes it's necessary to prune for the health of the plant, to control its size, promote new growth with better flowers, or correct damage caused by weather, disease, animals and other harmful agents.

Deb Babcock: Lawn care for the fall

Quite often by the time the kids go begging for treats in downtown Steamboat Springs on Halloween, we've experienced some snowfall and certainly much cooler weather. So before winter kicks in and you lose the opportunity to give your lawn a head start on next spring's growth, take time to care for your lawn this fall.

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 heartiness.

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Deb Babcock: Mushrooms in your lawn?

Some Steamboat area residents are complaining about mushrooms popping up in their lawns this fall. As Bill Sauter said to me the other day, "It's not that I don't like them, but they're slippery when I go to mow the lawn and step on one."

Deb Babcock: The lowly potato

Potatoes have roots going back 7,000 years to the mountains of the Andes in South America. Farmers back then admired the ruggedness, nutritional value, and storage attributes of this tuber.

Deb Babcock: Protect your plants this winter

The hardiness of our garden plants depends on nature and nurture. Part of its hardiness is genetically controlled and part of it is a "learned" response to our much harsher environment.

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Deb Babcock: Keeping color in your garden

The intense mountain sun seems to fade the color in our gardens as summer moves toward fall. With just a little planning, however, local gardeners can enjoy vibrant late summer/autumn color right up through the first frost.

Deb Babcock: Know your berries before sampling

Hiking along the North Fork of the Elk River each fall, I can't help but sample the ripe raspberries lining the river side of the trail. Yum.

Deb Babcock: Grow a chocolate-scented garden

For a chocolate fix without the calories, consider a garden filled with plants that give off a chocolate fragrance.

Deb Babcock: Caterpillars in our gardens

All bugs have a purpose here on Earth. It's just that some bugs tend to - well, bug us more than others.

Deb Babcock: Home-grown raspberries

Yes, we can successfully grow raspberries in our mountain environment. In fact, one of my favorite hikes along the Elk River off Seedhouse Road is a particular treat for me in the late summer when the wild raspberry bushes along the river are loaded with this delicious fruit.

Deb Babcock: From sprout to spectacular

Some of the most beautiful and imaginative gardens in Steamboat Springs are created with flowering annuals. These undemanding plants become fully grown in just one season, giving gardeners an opportunity to experiment with color, texture, shape and design.

Deb Babcock: The ABCs of plant growth

Most of us know that our plants need water, sun, soil nutrients and warmth. But many gardeners give little thought to how the plant uses those elements to create foliage, blooms, seeds or root growth.

Deb Babcock: Beauty is often just skin-deep

In an effort to grow beautiful flowers, fruit and vegetables, we gardeners tend to coddle our plants. The second the soil is dry, wet water. If it looks like an insect is chewing on it, we apply insecticides. To control weeds, we use herbicides. And we apply fertilizers, and protective covers on cool nights, and all manner of protection to achieve a perfect, county-fair worthy specimen.

Deb Babcock: Taking the hop out of grasshoppers

Several local gardeners have reported small grasshoppers already crawling through their yards this spring.

Deb Babcock: What to do if a big chill is predicted

Fooled again, huh? It happens every year. The weather turns warm in May, the garden centers entice us with newly arrived plants, which we immediately place in the garden. Then, the nights turn cold, and we experience a frost.

Deb Babcock: Growing vegetables locally

With such nice weather lately, it's tempting to get outside and start planting vegetables in your garden right away.

Deb Babcock: Native plants offer edible options to gardeners

Have you ever wondered where the name of our valley and our river comes from? It's from the Yampa plant, or perideridia gairdneri subsp borealis.

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Deb Babcock: Can we grow tomatoes here?

About 100 people attended the Master Gardener program in February and March to learn which vegetables can be successfully grown in the Yampa Valley.

Deb Babcock: Happiness is ... getting dirty

Gardeners have always 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.

Deb Babcock: Raise your garden to new heights

One way to make gardening easier on your body and on the plants is to build a raised bed.

Deb Babcock: So many gardening catalogues

Instead of holiday shopping catalogues stuffing our mailboxes, gardeners now are receiving catalogues of the new offerings from garden centers and mail-order nurseries for 2009. Eye candy. And, wow, it's so easy to satisfy your garden sweet tooth.

Deb Babcock: Shall we plant greens? Lettuce.

At one time, it's my understanding, the Yampa Valley was a big producer of salad greens and supplied wholesalers throughout the Front Range with sweet, tasty salad fixings.

Deb Babcock: Planting seeds

The seed packets we purchase generally tell us when to sow our seeds, how many days to germination and how many days to maturity. However, in our Steamboat Springs climate, sometimes, it makes sense to hedge our bets on spring-planted seeds by sowing at least part of them indoors a couple months before taking the seedlings outdoors. With the excellent possibility of a spring frost as late as mid-June, the growing season here is quite short - just 59 days.

Deb Babcock: Patio gardening

Not everyone has a large outdoor space for gardening, especially those living in condominiums, apartments and densely populated neighborhoods. But that doesn't mean you can't have an outdoor garden.

Deb Babcock: Bromeliads: exotic, easy-care houseplants

For dry, indoor environments we find in Steamboat Springs area homes, bromeliads particularly are suitable houseplants. Although most bromeliads are epiphytic (they grow on tree trunks or rocks in nature), they adapt well to living in containers as long as you give them proper light, water and soil. This plant also is widely considered a wonderful air filter for homes and offices. It removes toxins from the air and replaces them with fresh oxygen.

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Deb Babcock: Common plant problems in Steamboat

All of a sudden, your lush, beautiful houseplant is looking like the shriveled, cobwebbed cake from Miss Haversham's wedding dinner. Is its decrepit appearance caused by lack of grooming, a forgotten sustenance or something more sinister?

Deb Babcock: Houseplants: Natural air filters

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: Control houseplant pests

Houseplant insects are so tiny that we often don't notice them when caring for our plants. It's only when they begin annoying us while reading and relaxing that we really begin to pay attention to them.

Deb Babcock: Interior decorating with plants

Furniture, artwork, wall treatments, rugs, and more are used to create areas of interest, focal points, screens and sun filters in the rooms of our homes. Houseplants are another interior decorating tool that serves the same functions while also adding aroma and freshness.

Deb Babcock: Watering your houseplants properly

Probably the biggest mistake we make with houseplants is over-watering them. Although different plants have different watering requirements, most plants do best when the soil dries out between waterings.

Deb Babcock: The best mountain plants in '08

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.

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Deb Babcock: Decking the halls with holly boughs

When the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, the day after Christmas, one of the plants the 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: Giving care for your holiday plants

Don't you love the beautiful colors, shapes and aromas of plants that seem to be available only at holiday time? The spectacular amaryllis plants that grow about an inch a day and the beautiful white-, red-, pink- and plum-colored poinsettias are so decorative.