Garden Talk: May 10, 2007

From NGA Editors

Veggie Gardening More Popular Than Flower Gardening

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If we believe the English are trendsetters in the gardening world, then we all better tune up our veggie beds. Vegetable gardening has always been the poor cousin to flower gardening in England and America. Other than in times of need, such as during the Depression and World War II, flower gardening has always been more popular than vegetable gardening. But in Britain this trend is changing.

The prestigious Sutton Seed Company, which sells nearly one-third of all household vegetable seeds in the United Kingdom, expects a 30 percent increase in vegetable seed sales this spring. Other English seed companies report a corresponding 32 percent decrease in flower seed sales. For the first time since World War II, vegetable seed sales are outpacing flower seed sales. Horticultural trade experts speculate the reason more Brits are growing their own food stems from a desire not to be beholden to large supermarkets, awareness about healthy food and the environment, and dissatisfaction with industrially grown foods.

It’s not only home vegetable gardens that are expanding. English allotment or community gardens are full, and plots are nearly as hard to get as a place in a good school. Also, it’s not primarily middle-aged men who are growing vegetables, as in the past. There’s a new wave of 30-plus, upscale gardeners driving the sales.

For more information about this British vegetable-gardening trend, go to: Guardian Unlimited.

Best Ground Covers for Roadsides

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With an increased concern about the use of herbicides and pesticides on lawns, many gardeners are looking for alternative plants to grow along roadsides or on slopes. To help gardeners make the right selection for their situation, Cornell University has created an all-star database of ground covers for use along roadsides and in “difficult” spaces.

For five years, Cornell researchers trialed more than 100 herbaceous ornamental ground covers and evaluated them for tolerance to road salt, weed suppression ability, maintenance requirements, and season-long aesthetic appeal. For example, they found creeping red thyme and dwarf goldenrod had good tolerance to road salt. Lady’s mantle, lamb’s ears, and peppermint had good weed suppression characteristics and tolerated harsh roadside conditions. For each plant there’s growing information, susceptibility to pests and diseases, and best uses in the landscape.

For more information and to view the All-Star Ground Cover database, go to: Cornell University.

Fragrant, Deep Purple Climbing Rose

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Climbing roses can make dramatic statements, and a new variety with unusually colored, strongly fragrant flowers promises plenty of drama. ‘Night Owl’ combines deep, rich violet, nearly black flowers with a strong, clove-like scent that can perfume a whole garden. Looking like a midnight-purple version of the classic ‘Sally Holmes’ climbing rose, ‘Night Owl’ grows 10 to 14 feet tall and readily reblooms. Each flower has 8 to 10 petals with a yellow center. ‘Night Owl’ is disease resistant and hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9.

For more information on ‘Night Owl’ climbing rose, go to: Weeks Roses.

Efficient Tool for Watering Trees and Shrubs

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Water and fertilizer is essential for healthy tree and shrub growth, however just sprinkling water and fertilizer on the soil surface around plants can be wasteful and doesn’t get the moisture and nutrients to where the plants need it. Root feeding is an effective technique often used by commercial arborists to water and feed large trees. Now home gardeners can do it too.

The Root Feeder Irrigator is an environmentally friendly way to water, fertilize, and care for your plants. The lightweight, durable injection system has a steel tube that’s easy to insert 14 inches into the soil around a tree or shrub. The tube has five jets to water the plant roots without any runoff or erosion. It’s great for areas with drought or watering restrictions. You can also apply water-soluble fertilizers and soil amendments..

For more information on this tool, go to: Grocor.

 
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