Bloom's Best Perennials and Grasses
Adrian Bloom is a world-renowned English perennials expert with over a half century of experience as a nurseryman. The son of the late famed plantsman, Alan Bloom, he is also a hands-on gardener who has spent decades developing his own gardens in England, as well as display gardens across the U.S. You can tap into this wealth of knowledge in his new book, Bloom's Best Perennials and Grasses: Expert Plant Choices and Dramatic Combinations for Year-Round Gardens (Timber Press, 2010, $34.95). Filled with stunning photographs, this volume contains descriptions of more than 400 perennials and grasses, including cultural information, suggested companion plants and hardiness zones. Out of this bounty, in a section that will be especially helpful to novice gardeners, he chooses twelve tried-and-true plants that can be used to create a solid foundation for a garden with multi-season interest. With additional information on preparation, planting and maintenance techniques, this book will be an invaluable resource to anyone interested in creating a beautiful, thriving flower garden.
Clever Gardening Technique
Saving Tomato Seeds
If you are growing some open-pollinated tomato varieties that did especially well for you, save some seeds from the healthiest plants for next year. Tomatoes are a good choice for beginning seed savers because they are self-pollinating, which means that plants grown from seed will generally "come true" or produce plants just like the parent plant. Many of the delicious, older "heirloom" tomato varieties are open-pollinated.
Start with a ripe tomato from the variety you want to save. Cut the tomato in half and scoop the seeds and pulp into a bowl filled with a cup or two of water. Let this sit at room temperature for 4 days, each day skimming off the pulp and seeds that float to the top and discarding them, and giving the mixture a stir. The seeds that sink to the bottom are the viable seeds that you'll want to save.
After four days, remove the sunken seeds, rinse well, drain, then spread them out on a sheet of newspaper to dry for a couple of weeks. Once they are well dried, simply roll up the newspaper and seeds together and store in a sealed container, such as a canning jar, in a cool, dry, dark spot over the winter. When it's time to start your seeds again in the spring, just pull off a little section of newspaper with the seed attached and plant it, paper and all.