Extension’s Planttalk Colorado helps gardeners


SUN Columnist

Gardening season is around the corner, and home gardeners will find concise and reliable answers to frequently asked questions through a 16-year-old program called Planttalk Colorado.

The educational program offers multimedia resources delivered instantly through a website. Planttalk Colorado is sponsored by Colorado State University Extension, the Denver Botanical Gardens and the Green Industries of Colorado alliance.

Want to know the best time to divide perennials, which insects are beneficial or whether upside-down tomato containers actually work?

Just visit www.planttalk.org. From there, access hundreds of online resources that will help ensure gardening success. They include:

• The easy ability to “Ask an Expert” your personal gardening question;

• Written fact sheets on common topics;

• Audio recordings with gardening tips;

• Short YouTube videos providing gardening information, demonstrations and how-to information;

• Easy access to gardening blogs;

• Fact sheets available as podcasts and distributed through RSS feeds; and

• Information may be accessed in Spanish.

Best sources

“We’re providing unbiased, science-based information that’s vetted by three entities that are among the best sources of information in Colorado,” said Jim Klett, of CSU.

Planttalk Colorado began as a toll-free telephone service, the first program of its kind to offer Colorado gardeners instant access to reliable gardening information.

The program has evolved to deliver gardening information online and has had astonishing success with the web-based format:

• Website hits totaled more than 20 million as of February 2014.

• An average of 70,000 monthly users view or download Planttalk Colorado information on more than 600 gardening topics, according to 2012 data.

• Monthly podcast hits throughout 2013 averaged 21,950.

• Spanish Planttalk website hits average nearly 6,000 per month.

Diverse climate

“People have discovered the usefulness of Planttalk because successful gardening in Colorado’s diverse climate depends on consistent, accurate and research-based information,” Klett said.

Gardeners are encouraged to visit the Planttalk Colorado site with a number of marketing strategies, including placement of more than 30,000 tags on plants sold at garden centers.

Instant access

CSU Extension continues to provide research-based gardening information through other popular methods, including agents in CSU Extension offices across Colorado and well-trained Colorado Master Gardener volunteers. But Planttalk Colorado is different because it offers instant access to gardening information from anywhere, with easy-to-use media platforms.

“We’re proud that Planttalk has evolved to use technologies that allow people to find solid information that is specific to Colorado gardening any time and from anywhere they like,” Klett said.

Seed potatoes

Orders are now being taken for Colorado Certified Seed Potatoes grown at the CSU Experiment Station in the San Luis Valley.  Varieties being sold for only 50 cents per pound are Sangre (red), Purple Majesty (blue) and the standard Yukon Gold (white). Approximately 2 pounds will plant a 10-foot row.  To place your order, please call the Archuleta County Extension office at 264-5931.  Orders may be picked up May 7 and planted after May 11.

CPR and first aid

CPR and first aid certification classes are now being offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6-10 p.m. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931.

We will also schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations.  Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid, $55 for individual CPR or first aid and $35 for recertification with proof of current certification. The type of first aid information provided will vary by the needs of the audience.