Garden Talk: August 31, 2006

From NGA Editors

Gold Medal Flowers for 2007

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The European ornamental horticulture industry trade group, Fleuroselect, has been trialing and highlighting stellar annual and perennial flower varieties for 26 years. The flowers are grown in 30 trial gardens throughout Europe, where they are evaluated for their uniqueness, practical use, and quality. The highest award a plant can win from this group is the Fleuroselect Gold Medal. Many of these varieties are adapted to U.S. home gardens.

For 2007, 10 flowers will receive the Gold Medal Award. Here are three of the best:

Coreopsis grandiflora 'Presto' produces a perfect ball-shaped plant, 8 inches in diameter and height, with double yellow flowers that appear the first year. ‘Presto’ looks great as a bedding, container, or border plant.

Echinacea purpurea 'Prairie Splendor' is the first perennial echinacea to fully flower the first year after planting. The compact, 2-foot-tall plant is one of the first echinaceas to flower, often in June, and it continues producing flowers until frost. It makes an excellent border or container plant.

Zinnia haageana 'Aztec Sun' is a bicolor dwarf zinnia that features red and yellow flowers on compact 6-inch-tall plants. In addition to its striking color variations, 'Aztec Sun' is adaptable to cool weather and resistant to powdery mildew disease.

All the Gold Medal-winning varieties will be available through the mail and in garden centers next spring. For more information on these and other Gold Medal Winners, go to: Fleuroselect.

Beer Bait for Cockroaches

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It’s late summer and your house is loaded with fresh vegetables and flowers from your garden. While you try to keep up with the abundance of produce flowing into your home, other unwanted guests, cockroaches in particular, may be moving into your house as well.

Cockroaches are tropical insects that love warm temperatures and water. The German cockroach is the most common one found indoors in homes, restaurants, and any place where food is prepared and stored. Cockroaches not only destroy and contaminate food, they can stain fabrics and leave an unpleasant odor wherever they go.

The key to preventing cockroach infestations is keeping surfaces and storage areas clean. But if you do see some cockroaches, trapping them can be an effective way to rid your house of these insects.

Purdue University researchers recently did a study comparing the effectiveness of various cockroach attractants placed on sticky traps and installed in a simulated kitchen. The attractants trialed were peanut butter, bread soaked in beer, and three commercial cockroach attractant products. The bread soaked in beer attractant was the best, capturing more than five times the number of cockroaches per day than the other baits. Like slugs, it appears cockroaches can’t resist the taste of beer.

For more information on this research, go to: Environmental Entomology.

(Photo courtesy of Clemson University.)

Tracking Droughts

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Every year many gardeners across the country suffer through drought, and this year parts of the upper Midwest, mid-Atlantic region, and Texas have been especially dry. Now there is a Web site that can help you not only see where drought conditions exist in the country, but also see the short- and long-term forecasts for future droughts.

The Drought Monitor was created by the U.S. Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, in partnership with the USDA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This monitor uses multiple drought indices, weather outlooks, and local news accounts to determine drought conditions across the country. It features six- and twelve-week drought forecasts, a narrative describing droughts in various locations, maps, and links to other sites relating to drought prediction.

To check out the Drought Monitor Web site, go to: Drought Mitigation Center.

New Ergonomic Hand Tools

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There are many types of ergonomic tools on the market, however some are just regular hand tools with extra padding or support. Though they provide more comfort, they don’t give all the benefits of a truly ergonomically designed tool. The new line of tools from Radius features a laborsaving design that goes a step further. Based on their Natural Radius Grip system, the handle is designed at a natural angle to transfer arm strength right to the blade, so it reduces hand stress. The handle is made of a comfortable material that's easy to grip, even when wet. The aluminum and magnesium blades are ultra-lightweight, yet surprisingly durable.

For more information on the Radius ergonomic hand tools, go to: Radius Tools.

 
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