Garden Talk: March 2, 2006

From NGA Editors

Iowa County Mandates Purchase of Locally Grown Organic Foods

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While many people agree that eating locally grown organic produce is a good idea, one county has put its money where its mouth is. Organic food producers in the Midwest got a big boost recently when the Woodbury County, Iowa, Board of Supervisors made Woodbury the first county in the United States to mandate the purchase of locally grown, organic foods.

The law requires that food service contractors for the county purchase locally grown organic foods as long as they are competitively priced and of good quality. The resolution potentially will shift almost $300,000 a year in food purchases to local farmers. If enough organic foods aren’t available for purchase, local non-organic foods will be given preference to meet the demand. “Local” is defined as within a 100-mile radius of Sioux City, Iowa.

This law not only boosts the local farm economy, it provides fresh, healthy food products to recipients of county food services, such as residents of the juvenile detention center and jail.

For more on this landmark legislation, go to: Woodbury County Local Food Purchase Policy.

New 3-in-1 Blueberry

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Blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow. The bushes are small and attractive, and given the right soil conditions they can yield a pail full of delicious berries. If you have room for only one bush or are considering growing one in a container, try the new Jacques 3-in-1 blueberry.

Jacques 3-in-1 blueberry has early, mid- and late-season varieties grafted onto one plant. This allows you to extend the blueberry harvest season for up to 12 weeks. This 2- to 3-foot-tall and wide bush grows well in large containers or in the garden, and it's hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8. For best growth, keep the plant well watered and amend the soil with an acidifying agent such as sulfur.

For more information on the Jacques 3-in-1 blueberry, go to: Hartmann's Plant Company.

Hardy Tree Rose

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Tree or “standard” roses make lovely focal points in the landscape, and they lend a formal touch when grown on either side of a doorway or along walkways. While great strides have been made in breeding hardier shrub and landscape roses, tree roses have not been reliably hardy in areas colder than USDA zone 5. In those areas you either have to fuss over protecting them outside in winter or bring them into a protected area.

Now all that has changed. Bailey Nursery has just introduced a tree rose that is hardy to USDA zone 4 without protection. The ‘Northern Encore’ tree rose features 2-inch-diameter, soft pink, single flowers on a 4- to 8-foot-tall plant. The rose is disease resistant and flowers all summer. Unlike grafted tree roses, ‘Northern Encore’ is the same variety from root to shoot, so if it dies back, any shoots from the rootstock will be the ‘Northern Encore’ variety.

For more information on this new hardy tree rose, go to: Jung Seeds.

Iris Pot Covers

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Container gardening is hot, and the use of decorative pots is even hotter. In some cases, the pots have become even more important than the plants inside them. One growing trend is matching the pot color with the color of flowers or foliage. Although a great idea, this can get expensive if you have lots of plants. Here’s an alternative.

Iris pot covers are Italian-made, colorful fabrics that stretch over and fit snugly around pots. They're available in a variety of colors including fuchsia, turquoise, lilac, and beige. The synthetic fabric is machine washable and mold resistant. Covers come in small, medium, and large sizes, with saucers that fit under the pot. They fit on 4-, 6-, and 8- to 10-inch-diameter pots. Simply stretch the cover over your pot and saucer to create an instant designer container to match your beautiful flowers.

For more information on these new pot covers, go to: Kinsman Company.

 
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