Western Mountains and High Plains

May, 2006
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Lily-of-the-Valley
The sweet fragrance emitting from the nodding, bell-shaped flowers of lily-of-the-valley is unforgettable. It grows into an excellent ground cover in well-drained soil and partial shade. As the spring bulbs are blooming, the sturdy green shoots of lily-of-the-valley are pushing their way up through the soil. By mid-May, dainty stalks arch over the foliage and bear racemes of white buds. As the buds open, lily-of-the-valley releases a delicious fragrance, one of the essences of the spring garden. Lily-of-the-valley is an easy-to-grow ground cover and spreads quickly by underground stems or rhizomes. At times it can grow so strongly that it becomes invasive. Put it to work underneath shrubs to create a living mulch, or keep it within bounds with metal edging.

Clever Gardening Technique

Space-Saving Way to Grow Potatoes
You can grow potatoes aboveground if you don't have the space in a garden plot. Use a plastic circular compost bin that has 2- to 3-inch holes punched out along the sides. Place the compost bin on an area of soil amended with compost. Lightly firm the soil where the bin is placed so it won't topple over. Add layers of straw and compost in the bin up to the first row of punched out holes. Set potato seed pieces close to the holes and continue layering with straw and compost, setting seed pieces in each layer. The potato plants will form tubers as they grow and send out potato vines through the holes and over the top of the bin. Later in the season, harvest potatoes with ease by sticking your hand through each layer, or undo the bin along one side and the potatoes will easily fall out.

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