Northern & Central Midwest

March, 2006
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass
Karl Foerster feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster') took me by surprise. When I first saw it, I thought its straight column form was something I could never use in a landscape. Well, I was wrong. This striking element is a wonderful accent plant and the perfect choice for a narrow, sunny bed. It grows 4 to 5 feet high and only about 2 feet wide. The blue-green foliage is topped by tawny feathery plumes in midsummer. All it needs to thrive is reasonable to poor soil and at least 6 hours of sun. Divide it every three years or so.

Clever Gardening Technique

Homemade Drip Watering
This idea may sound simplistic, but in an era when we are so concerned with conserving water, my homemade system is an inexpensive way to put water right at the roots of plants. When planting vegetable transplants like tomatoes, broccoli, and peppers, bury beside the plant a half-gallon plastic milk or juice bottle that has been punched with small holes. Keep the top on to prevent critters from falling in, and simply remove the top to fill the jug with water. It will slowly seep out to the plant roots. You can also easily fertilize plants by adding fish emulsion or manure tea.

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