In the Garden:
Upper South
October, 2007
Regional Report

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Many new garden products are designed to be enviromentally friendly.

Gadgets, Gizmos, and Goodies

Sometimes, it's a good thing to stick with the familiar, the reliable, the tried and true. Other times, there may really be a better mousetrap that's worth checking out. Recently, I had an opportunity to see some of the gardening world's "newest and best" products and plants at the trade show held in conjunction with the Garden Writers Association annual meeting. With 80-plus vendors, many with multiple items, it's impossible to mention each one in a single column. So, for now, I'll tell you about some of the gardening supplies that particularly caught my eye, and set a few aside for mentioning with Christmas gift suggestions later. Also in the future, I'll pass along information about some of the plants that made my heart race.

Getting Potted
Tired of lugging around heavy containers that require multiple bags of expensive potting soil? Ups-A-Daisy, (http://www.ups-a-daisy.com) offers one solution to this back- and budget-breaking dilemma. This plastic disk, which comes in several sizes, can be set inside a round tapered container to raise the bottom. This doesn't work with plants that need to fill an entire container with their roots, but with pots of mixed annuals, it should work quite well. The disks are also useful for making decorative displays of stacked pots.

Better Than Rocks (http://www.betterthanrocks.com) is a non-woven plastic mesh made from 100 percent recycled plastic. Fill up to one-third of a container with the long-lasting mesh to both improve drainage and lighten the pot. The mesh comes in various sizes and can be cut to fit any type of container.

Magnimoist (http://www.magnimoist.com) is a container insert designed to improve the potting soil's moisture-holding capacity. It is composed of kenaf plant fibers and a 100 percent recycled binder. The fibers deflect water back into the dry soil above during watering. When the soil is fully saturated, the fibers become porous, releasing only the excess water. Various sizes are available, and the fiber can be cut to fit. This product should make a much-improved substitute for coco fiber.

Over the past 25 years the nursery industry has increasingly switched to growing plants in soft-sided, fabric containers as these pots produce superior plants. High Caliper Growing, which produces pots for wholesale growers, now is selling Smart Pots (http://www.smartpots.com) for home gardeners. Smart Pots are made of a tough fabric that allows aeration through the porous walls, providing excellent drainage yet reducing heat stress by allowing heat to escape. Plants grown in Smart Pots also develop superior, highly fibrous and branched root systems, resulting in improved growth, rather than encircling roots, which inhibits growth. Smart Pots work well for a wide variety of plants, including vegetables.

Go Away, Spot
And Bambi and all those other critters. Actually, with all the problems that gardeners have with animal pests, there weren't many vendors addressing the issue. For those with an average-sized yard, the Wireless Deer Fence, (http://www.wirelessdeerfence.com) is a possibility.

The Liquid Fence Company (http://www.liquidfence.com) offers repellents for deer, rabbits, moles, voles, geese, snakes, dogs, and cats. I can vouch for the deer and rabbit repellant, as it happens to be the one that I use. Like most similar brands, it is based on rotten eggs and garlic.

Repellex (http://www.repellex.com) has a range of products including their original formula for repelling deer and rabbits based on blood meal, garlic, and hot pepper. They also offer an organic animal repellent for fruits and vegetables that is made with food-grade ingredients, including essential oils. The Repellex Bulb-Saver Animal Repellent & Fungicide can be sprayed on bulbs prior to planting. The liquid dries and forms a taste and odor barrier that deters squirrels and burrowing pests. In addition, Repellex has a line of organic pest controls for weeds, mosquitoes, ticks, ants, beetles, aphids, whiteflies, and mites.

Feed Me
There's no doubt that the basis of healthy plant growth is a high-quality soil filled with nutrients and beneficial organisms, so it should come as no surprise that there were lots of options presented at the trade show. Bradfield Organics (http://www.bradfieldorganics.com) offers a comprehensive line of organic granular fertilizers designed for different purposes, including roses, tomatoes, and vegetables, in 5-pound packages, plus lawn and garden fertilizer and corn gluten in 20- and 40-pound packages.

Espoma (http://www.espoma.com) is another organic line of granular fertilizers with a wide range of products. They're readily recognized by the word "tone" in their names, such as Flower-tone or Garden-tone. Besides fertilizers, they also offer the Earth-tone pesticides, soil conditioners, microbial products, and lawn foods.

Fish fertilizer is nothing new, but Multi Bloom's (http://www.multibloom.com) all-purpose formula, and Mega Green, designed for lawns, should be considered because they are made exclusively from United States farm-raised catfish protein. With no fishy odor, they contain macro- and micronutrients, minerals, amino acids, and peptides that are slowly but readily absorbed by the leaves and roots without any burn. Both products are available in a bottle with a sprayer that attaches to a hose.

One of the most popular additions to the fertilizers available to gardeners in recent years is Worm Poop from Terracycle (http://www.terracycle.net). Terracycle's products are the first in the world to be made from waste (worm poop) and packaged in waste (used soda bottles). The fertilizers are the liquid waste resulting from feeding premium organic waste to millions of worms. In addition to the fertilizers packaged for different garden purposes, Terracycle is now researching and testing solid fertilizers, potting mixes, seed starters, lawn fertilizer, tree and shrub spikes, weed and pest controls, deer repellent, natural cleaning products, drain cleaner, bird feeders, a recycled wine barrel composter, pots made from crushed car parts, handbags made from used juice pouches, and fire logs made from a waste byproduct of bio-diesel production.

The increasing awareness of the importance of soil health to plant growth has spurred the introduction of products that contribute to the biological activity in the soil. Espoma has three Bio-tone formulations that combine fertilizer with beneficial bacteria, humates, and mycorrhizae. MicroLeverage All-Purpose Natural Plant Food (http://www.microleverage.com) is a highly concentrated and balanced natural product rich in probiotics that is based on quality humified compost. Alice's Garden All-Purpose Plant Food (http://www.agorganic.com) is a vegan liquid concentrate that combines organic essential nutrients with minerals, trace elements, humic acids, and seaweed extracts.


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