Garden Talk: June 23, 2005

From NGA Editors

New Ornamental Elderberry

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For those who love the look of the Japanese maple but have a hard time getting one to grow in their climate, the new 'Black Lace' elderberry (Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace') is a good substitute. 'Black Lace' quickly grows into a shrub 6 feet tall and wide. It produces lemon-scented, 6-inch-diameter pink flower clusters in spring and bunches of blackish red berries in summer. The real eye-catcher is the fern-like, lacey black foliage. The rich, chocolate color holds throughout the summer.

'Black Lace' not only gives a striking appearance when grown as a specimen shrub in the landscape, but the berries are attractive to birds, making it an excellent wildlife plant. It's hardy in USDA zones 4 to 7 and grows best in full sun on well-drained soil.

For more information on 'Black Lace' elderberry, go to Wayside Gardens.

Bug Blaster

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While a well-known insect control technique involves spraying strong blasts of water on plants to knock off insects, most traditional water nozzles just aren't very effective at providing complete coverage. Now a California landscaper has developed a more efficient water nozzle to blast insects and disease spores off plant leaves and branches. The Bug Blaster spray nozzle features a 360-degree flat spray design. The spray easily reaches under leaves and into the center of shrubs to remove insects where they hide.

The Bug Blaster can control adults, larvae, and eggs of aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and whiteflies. It also removes dust and disease spores, such as sooty mold, to lessen the need for fungicides. For best results keep the Bug Blaster spray wand vertical and move it in a sweeping motion throughout the plant. Spray every 3 to 5 days for 2 weeks. In tests at the University of California, Riverside, researchers found Bug Blaster worked as well as many chemical treatments in controlling whiteflies.

The Bug Blaster nozzle fits on a regular 3/4-inch-diameter garden hose wand, or you can purchase a specially designed Bug Blaster wand that's angled to reach inside the shrubs.

For more information, go to: Bug Blaster.

CDC Recommends New Mosquito Controls

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It's summertime and mosquito season is upon us. Gardeners are always looking for ways to minimize exposure to insects, not just because they are a nuisance but also to protect against diseases such as West Nile virus.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has officially recommended using two new mosquito repellents to help ward off these pests. Repellents containing picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are now recommended alternatives to DEET. Picaridin is purported to be as effective as DEET but less irritating to the eyes and skin. It has been used as the active ingredient in insect repellents in Europe and Australia for years.

For those gardeners wanting to use a more natural insect repellent product, oil of lemon eucalyptus is a plant-derived compound that repels insects as effectively as DEET, but it isn't as long lasting. It also should not be used on children younger than 3 years old.

For more information on these products and the best way to use insect repellents, go to the Centers for Disease Control.

Seeds of Kokopelli

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If you're interested in saving seeds of your favorite heirloom vegetables but don't know how, here's a great resource that can help. The Seeds of Kokopelli, by Dominique Guillet (Les Presses de Provence, 2002), describes more than 2,500 heirloom vegetable varieties and provides information about their history, culture, and nutrition. For each family of vegetables there is detailed information on pollination and seed collection, even a section listing which species of that vegetable can be crossed with another.

This 440-page book with 457 gorgeous color photos is the result of the work of the Kokopelli Seed Foundation. The organization has been going strong in Europe for the past 12 years. They send organic seed donations, conduct seed production workshops, and help create seed banks in Third World countries. Their goal is to help local people grow and preserve native crops.

For each book purchased, $10 goes towards a seed donation to one of their projects, and you'll receive five complimentary packets of European heirloom organic seeds, such as 'Ronde de Nice' summer squash.

For more information about the Seeds of Kokopelli, go to: Kokopelli Seed Foundation.

 
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