Garden Talk: September 14, 2006

From NGA Editors

Juice May Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk

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Alzheimer's disease is deadly for many older Americans, but it appears diet can be protective. Recent research suggests that we can reduce our risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease by drinking fruit or vegetable juice three times a week.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University studied more than 1,800 dementia-free, older, Japanese-Americans in the Seattle area for 10 years. Ethnic Japanese in Japan have much lower Alzheimer rates than the same ethnic group in the U.S., so researchers theorize the difference is related to diet and lifestyle. After controlling for other factors, researchers found that those who reported drinking juices three or more times per week were 76 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who drank less than one serving a week.

Researchers suspect that polyphenols -- nonvitamin antioxidants that are particularly abundant in teas, juices, and wines -- can delay cognitive loss. More research is planned to confirm these preliminary results and find out which juices have the greatest impact.

For more information on this research, go to: Vanderbilt University.

Winter-Hardy Pansies

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Large-flowered pansies are great cool-weather flowers that gardeners in the southern and western U.S. often enjoy throughout the winter. In colder climates, however, such as the Northeast and Midwest, these annuals eventually succumb to winter’s cold.

Now a new variety of pansy is available that can survive the winter -- even in zone 4 -- and rebloom in spring. ‘Snow Angel’, which flowers in white, yellow, or blue, is best planted in well-drained soil in a protected location that receives lots of sunlight. In fall, ‘Snow Angel’ plants look limp after a light frost, but they perk up once the sun thaws them out. After a deep freeze, they will go dormant for the winter. With the warm weather of spring, they will begin growing and will burst into bloom before daffodils and tulips.

Check local garden centers for ‘Snow Angel’ pansies this fall. For more information, go to: Simply Beautiful.

Easy Way to Collect Yard Waste

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Fall is garden cleanup time. As the flowers, vegetables, and herbs fade, it’s time to pull up or cut back the plants. Gardeners either compost the plants or send them to a recycling center. Many municipalities across the country require homeowners to use large paper bags to collect their yard waste. The problem with paper bags is they’re hard to keep upright to fill -- especially if you’re working alone -- and the bags can be torn by debris.

A new plastic insert can keep the bags upright, stable, and protected while you fill them. The Yard Bag Chute is made from corrugated polypropylene. The lightweight, one-piece chute is 36 inches tall and open at both ends, and it fits all standard yard bags.

To use, simply turn the chute upside down, slide the paper bag over it, and turn it right side up. Once the bag is full, grab the chute by the two handles and pull it out, leaving the yard waste in the bag. The plastic chute protects the bag from ripping and tearing.

For more information on this handy product, go to: Yard Bag Chute.

Hospitals Offer Organic Food

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Not only is a stay in the hospital stressful, hospital food has a notorious reputation for being tasteless and of poor nutritional quality. That may be changing, however. A new agreement will give more than 2,000 hospitals in the country access to organically grown foods. The contract between MedAssets -- a leading purchaser for the health care industry -- and United Natural Food Incorporated -- a large wholesale distributor of natural and organic foods -- is the first between a major health care buyer and an organic food distributor. It reflects the growing understanding of the benefits of serving nutritious, fresh, organic foods in institutions such as hospitals.

The steps taken so far include purchasing milk produced without bovine growth hormone and poultry and meat produced without antibiotics; supporting local communities by hosting farmers’ markets and sourcing local produce; and serving fair trade coffee, organic produce, and locally grown foods.

For more information on this important agreement, go to: News Target.

 
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