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Deb Babcock

Stories by Deb

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.

Deb Babcock: Try these gifts for gardeners

If you have a gardener on your holiday gift list, here are a few ideas to show that person you care. For some gardeners, tools are the ideal gift. "Probably my most favorite tool is the spading fork. The handle is the right length for leverage, but more importantly, the tines help break up each lift of the heavy clay," said Carol Booth Fox, a local master gardener. "The tines cultivate as they dig and slip between the stones in the soil. Indispensable!"

Deb Babcock: Extend the usefulness of your tools

Caring for equipment can keep it working for many years

Late autumn seems to be the time of year that kayaks and inner tubes get put away; it's when skis are taken in for wax and a tune-up.

Deb Babcock: Prepare your garden for winter

If you haven't yet gotten out in the garden to clean up after our last good frost, now might be a good time to do so to avoid a huge, messy clean-up project next spring.

Extend your garden season

It's been a really, really short gardening season this year for those of us without greenhouses.

Deb Babcock: Get rid of moths in your house

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

Deb Babcock: Preserve your privacy naturally

With all the development occurring in the Steamboat area, current homeowners may be wondering how to preserve their privacy.

Deb Babcock: It's a good time to pick berries

The birds and bears should be well fed this fall before going south or into hibernation for the winter. Berries on chokecherry, serviceberry, currant, raspberry and other fruit-bearing shrubs are loaded right now with ripening fruit.

Deb Babcock: Plant stevia for a sweet garden

Tropical herb's leaves can be used as a sugar substitute

Todd and Joan Allsberry were kind enough to allow a group of local gardeners to visit their beautiful garden in early August, when they showed us the thoughtful layout and amazing array of plants growing there. The trip was arranged by CJ Mucklow and the Routt County Cooperative Extension office and was available to anyone interested in taking the trip out to the Allsberry's Strawberry Park home.

Deb Babcock: Plant something scent-sational!

Whenever the aroma of lilac wafts by, I'm reminded of my grandmother who wore that scent.

Deb Babcock: Roses for the high country

Claire Fraser, a volunteer at the Tread of Pioneers Museum, recently rescued a red and gold climbing rose from a building about to be demolished at Seventh and Yampa streets after receiving permission from Realtors Mark Stein and Pam Lindal.

Deb Babcock: Climbers for mountain gardens

At Creekside Cafe & Grill last week, we had breakfast outside on their patio next to an arbor covered with honeysuckle, or Lonicera, vines just ready to burst into colorful pink and orange blooms. It is a beautiful display of foliage and flowers, perfect for the wrought iron archway leading into the patio seating area. And once the flowers bloom, the aroma is heavenly.

Deb Babcock: Another gem for Botanic Park

New structure will feature restrooms, meeting space, office

If you walk along the Yampa River Core Trail, you can't help but notice a construction project under way at the south end of the Yampa River Botanic Park adjacent to the Fish Creek Mobile Home Park. It's a much-needed and anticipated amenity for what many consider the crown jewel in our tiara of parks throughout the Steamboat Springs community.

Deb Babcock: Knowing the pH of your garden soil

We often hear the soil in our Yampa Valley gardens is somewhat alkaline, as opposed to the acidic soils of places such as Georgia and the Carolinas, where acid-loving azaleas and rhododendrons flourish. What exactly does that mean, and what should we do about it?

Deb Babcock: A flower for night owls

One of the first and showiest wildflowers to bloom in the springtime here is the evening primrose (Oenothera caesitosa). It's prolific along hot, dry expanses such as the Mad Creek and Red Dirt trails off Routt County Road 129 in early spring.

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Deb Babcock: Petunia 'Dreams'

If you're starting to think about ways to add color to your garden, patio containers or window-boxes, think about a beautiful flower that really caught everyone's attention last summer. Hanging baskets around town, the annual beds at the Lincoln Avenue Post Office and the flowers at the entrance to the Depot Art Center all were overflowing with the annual Petunia "Dreams" pink grandiflora.

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Deb Babcock: Trillium - a herald of spring

Mark your calendar now for an early season hike along the North Fork of the Elk River (check out this hiking trail on a Forest Service Map or in the "Hiking the Boat" trail guide by Diane White-Crane). If your timing is right, you might catch a glimpse of the beautiful low-growing trillium that lasts just a few weeks here in the mountains.

Deb Babcock: Use landscaping to conserve energy

The rising cost of our own home heating fuel this past year gives cause for all of us to focus on energy conservation. Proper landscaping can make a significant difference in the amount of energy needed to keep your home comfortable - summer and winter.

Deb Babcock: Currant news

Looking for a great shrub for your Steamboat Springs area garden? Look no further than Ribes spp, commonly called the currant bush. It's a great Zone 3 to 5 (we're USDA Zone 4) plant that grows well both in the garden as well as in a patio container, for those with little or no garden space.

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Deb Babcock: This weed makes a dandy salad

At the risk of annoying everyone who hates dandelions, I have to say that I think they're pretty. And for a lot of people, dandelions are pretty tasty, too.

Deb Babcock: Protect your evergreens from beetles this spring

Drive most anywhere in the mountains of Colorado, including in the nearby Routt National Forest and Zirkel Wilderness area, and you'll note more and more dead evergreens.

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Deb Babcock: Can we grow tomatoes here?

At last week's conference on growing food locally, panelists and audience members discussed what produce could be grown in the Steamboat Springs area on a commercially viable level, focusing on foods that restaurants and retailers could offer the local and visiting public.

Deb Babcock: Growing vegetables in Routt County

With the record snowfall we received this winter, many gardeners have been wondering if spring would ever arrive! We're ready to begin planting and enjoying some color in our gardens.

Deb Babcock: Foodies unite this Saturday

A recent trend in healthy living has revolved around eating foods that you know where they were grown, how they were grown and/or who grew them. Families, food stores, restaurants and others have all started taking a closer look at what they prepare and serve with an eye toward eating healthy but also toward reducing the impact on the environment by trying to buy local products rather than food that is shipped to Steamboat Springs from hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Deb Babcock: Grow your knowledge

Three workshops can help you learn more about local gardening

Gardening in the high country environment of Steamboat Springs brings some different challenges, especially to gardeners used to less harsh environments and longer growing seasons.

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Deb Babcock: Extend the growing season with a greenhouse

One way to extend the growing season here in the Steamboat Springs area is to set up a greenhouse. It can be used for starting seeds early, protecting your most tender plants, and for preserving certain vegetables, such as tomatoes, in an environment that allows them to mature on the vine.