Garden Talk: August 30, 2007

From NGA Editors

Cloudy Apple Juice More Nutritious

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Next time you reach for a bottle of apple juice on the grocery shelves, look for the variety with a cloudy mixture. According to researchers at the Agricultural University of Wroclaw, Poland, cloudy apple juice containing pulp sediment is better for you than clear, pure apple juice. There are four times as many polyphenols in the cloudy juice compared to the clear juice. Polyphenols are health-promoting antioxidants commonly found in red wine and dark chocolate.

The pulp and pectin in the two apple varieties tested, Champion and Idared, contain the bulk of the antioxidants. These compounds are commonly removed in the making of apple juice to extent the shelf life and give the appearance of being a more pure product. Of course, researchers remind consumers that while cloudy apple juice may be more nutritious than clear, it's still best to eat a fresh apple instead of drinking just the juice.

For more information on this apple juice research, go to: BBC News.

Unusual Torch Lily

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The red hot poker or torch lily (Kniphofia) is a South African native perennial known for its dramatic midsummer-blooming, 5-foot-tall yellow or red flower spikes that emerge from the evergreen plants. While most commercial varieties of torch lily are selections of the showy Kniphofia uvaria, there are other species that make a more delicate statement.

Kniphofia thompsonii snowdenii only grows 2 to 3 feet tall and the flower spikes feature delicate 1- to 2-inch-long, soft orange, trumpet-shaped blooms. The flowers extend the length of the flower stalk and aren’t clustered at the end like most other torch lily species. The plant slowly expands by rhizomes to 3 feet wide at maturity. The flowers also open slowly, making them great for use as cut flowers. Like most torch lilies, Kniphofia thompsonii snowdenii grows best in full sun on moist, well-drained soil in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9.

For more information on this unusual torch lily, go to: Sunshine Farm and Gardens.

Renewable Peat Moss Substitute

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Peat moss is one of the most widely used soil amendments in home gardens. Although peat moss is still abundant in Canada where the bulk of it is produced, there have been concerns about the draining and mining of peat moss bogs and destruction of these habitats. Peat alternatives, such as coir, are available, but they don’t have the same qualities as peat moss. Now a new product is available that has some of the best qualities of peat moss, but uses a recycled waste product as the main ingredient.

RePeat is made from dairy manure that has been run through an anaerobic digestor. The result is a product that has similar porosity, water-holding ability, and cation exchange capacity as peat moss, with a more neutral pH and lower salt content. Digestors are set up on large dairy farms across the country, so the production is decentralized, reducing the transportation costs. The cost is comparable to peat moss, and bags of RePeat are available at selected garden centers.

For more information about RePeat peat moss substitute, go to: Organix.

Handy Tool for Cleaning Mowers

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One way of extending the life of your lawn mower deck is to clean out the dead grass that accumulates underneath after each mowing. Using a screwdriver or putty knife to clean out the grass can work, but it’s difficult to get into all the nooks and crannies. Now a new tool makes this job a little easier.

The Mower Grassbuster was specifically designed to remove caked-on grass from under the deck. The 2-inch-wide by 5-inch-long stainless steel blade is tapered and flexible. The tool conforms to the underside of a mower and the blade corners are curved to prevent scratching the metal.

For more information on the Mower Grassbuster, go to: Lee Valley Tools.

 
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