Coastal and Tropical South

July, 2012
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

You see this wonderful vegetable with many names on the bin beside it at farmers markets and grocery stores, too. Native to Mexico, it is a worldwide favorite for its huge vine and plump fruits that can be stuffed with seafood and rice, chopped for stir fry, or boiled for soup. Light green and pear shaped, ripe merleton will sprout on the kitchen counter after a couple of weeks. Pot it up in a gallon container and plant in the sunny garden this fall with a fence or trellis. By the way, other names for this gorgeous green grenade-shaped gourd include chayote, mirliton, vegetable pear, and choko, but its botanic name is Sechium edule.

Clever Gardening Technique

Make Willow Water
Lots of people, especially my rose-growing friends, use willow water as a natural rooting hormone. It contains IBA and SA and together these plant hormones promote root development. Basically, willow water is a tea made by cutting young willow stems into inch long segments. Choose thin, young stems that have yellow or green bark and cut them into inch long segments. Put them in a clean jar or zip top plastic bag, cover with boiling water, and steep overnight. Or cover with tap water and let it stand for several days. Finally, strain the liquid and use immediately to soak cuttings that you want to root. You can store extra willow water in the refrigerator for a couple of months, but be sure to label it with a date. Discard and make fresh if too much time has passed.

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