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Dealing with the Weather
If you got struck by the latest big hail storm in Fort Collins, please accept my condolences! The damage produced by that storm is some of the worst I've ever seen. Regardless of the amount of damage, the strategy for caring for your plants after hail is the same: clean up the debris to prevent mold and fungi and then wait. Some plants were so completely defoliated (leaves removed) that their chances of survival were nil. However, plants can sometimes surprise you. I've spoken to many of you in the "hail zone" and several have expressed that it's just like spring, watching the plants return - sometimes even resurrecting from the roots! 
It's been a couple of weeks since the storm and by now you should be able to tell what will survive and what isn't going to come back. If you need help figuring out which plants are going to bounce back and which one's might rebound but aren't worth waiting for and should be replaced, contact me and I'll stop by and take a look. Many times container gardens can be refreshed with just a few new plants. Perennial plants in the garden may not produce flowers this year but even a bad storm isn't typically fatal.

In July, we usually have some very hot weather and your container gardens may need extra water. If you have a drip system on your container gardens, set your timer to water one additional start time/cycle. For the timer I install, there are programming instructions on my website. 

On the other hand, if we get a good day of rain (like this past Saturday), don't forget to turn off your sprinkler system for a couple of days. Not only are you then not flooding your plants, you can save some money on your water bill! Just be sure to set an alarm to remember to turn it on again; I use the alarm clock on my phone to remind me.

Besides dealing with the weather, we all have to deal with weeds and other "volunteer" plants in the garden. So here's another issue of this year's newsletter topic: Weeds and Wildflowers.
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knotweed
Knotweed
 
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Spurge
Weeds: Prostrate Knotweed and Prostrate Spurge
Two weeds which are difficult to tell apart but equally annoying are Prostrate Knotweed and Prostrate Spurge. Both are very low growing plants (1” or less) but can spread in a radius of 1 to 3 feet. Both will thrive in dry places, even emerging from a crack in the sidewalk or growing on rocks. Both plants produce tiny, pink flowers along the stems and have tiny leaves ~1/4 to 1/2" long each. Prostrate Knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) has leaves which alternate on each side of the stem and the stem seems to be jointed. On the other hand, the leaves of Prostrate Spurge (Euphorbia maculate) grow directly opposite each other along the stem and may or may not have a small purple spot on each leaf. The stem of Spurge will exude a milky sap when broken. In a natural situation, these plants are useful for controlling erosion on compacted soils but they are highly undesirable in lawns and flower beds. A thick layer of mulch and healthy turf grass helps to discourage weed seed germination. If you use an herbicide to control these weeds, be sure to pick up the dried out plants promptly and try not to shake them in order to remove the seeds as well.
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Wildflower: Salsify
Salsify is a wildflower which is more noticeable after it goes to seed because the seed head looks like a gigantic Dandelion puff ball. Salsify (Tragopogon dubius) grows wild along roadsides and in ditches. Reaching between 1 and 3 feet tall, this biennial plant has yellow flowers which bloom in the morning but the flowers close by noon. It is well suited to difficult climates because it grows a very long taproot which is edible and tastes somewhat like an artichoke.  Native Americans also found this plant to be useful – the milky juice which exudes from both stem and leaves can be used to treat indigestion. If you have a lot of them growing in your yard, or somewhere nearby where you won’t be trespassing, try this recipe. The roots are UGLY… they are tan to dark brown and are covered with root hairs – whoever originally decided to try to eat this root must have been really hungry!

Pan-Roasted Salsify Root
4 large or 8 small/thin salsify roots
Juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1–2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A sprinkling of chopped parsley or thyme


    Peel the salsify roots and place them in a shallow pan with water to cover, lemon juice, black pepper, bay leaf, and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender (about 20-30 minutes, simmering, based on the thickness of the roots). Remove the salsify roots from the liquid and let cool slightly, then cut into small pieces. Heat some olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until hot, then add the salsify pieces along with a sprinkle of coarse salt and a grinding or two of fresh black pepper. Cook until golden brown, then toss in the chopped fresh thyme at the end.
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Salsify Roots
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Want to know more about weeds? Here are my sources:
 
Gift, Nancy, and Sheila Rodgers. Good Weed, Bad Weed: Who's Who, What to Do, and Why Some Deserve a Second Chance (All You Need to Know about the Weeds in Your Yard). Pittsburgh, PA: St. Lynns, 2011. Print.
 
Whitson, Tom D., and L. C. Burrill. Weeds of the West. Laramie, WY: Western Society of Weed Science in Cooperation with the Western United States Land Grant Universities Cooperative Extension Services and the University of Wyoming, 2009. Print.

Jones, Charlotte Foltz. Colorado wildflowers: a beginner's field guide to the state's most common flowers. Billings, Mont.: Falcon Press Pub., 1994. Print.
 
"The Root Vegetable Chronicles: one of the ugliest vegetables around (but still tasty!)." eggs on sunday. N.p., 3 Feb. 2009. Web. 29 Apr. 2014. <http://eggsonsunday.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/the-root-vegetable-chronicles-one-of-the-ugliest-vegetables-around-but-still-tasty/ >.