Garden Talk: September 13, 2007

From NGA Editors

Organic Tomatoes Rich in Antioxidants

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People choose organically grown produce over conventionally grown produce for a variety of reasons, such as minimizing pesticide exposure and preference for the taste. New research supports the idea that organically grown produce is better for your health, as well.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have completed a 10-year study evaluating the flavonoid content of tomatoes grown on organic and conventional farms. Flavonoids are touted as antioxidants that may help prevent illnesses such as cancer and dementia. Researchers tested dried samples of tomatoes grown organically and conventionally, and found the flavonoids quercitin and kaempferol were 79 percent and 97 percent higher, respectively, in the organic tomatoes. Also, the flavonoid levels increased over time, suggesting a potential greater long-term advantage of eating organically grown tomatoes.

Plants produce flavonoids in response to stress, and researchers theorize that organically grown crops have more insect and disease stress than conventionally raised crops, resulting in the higher levels.

For more information on this research, go to: Journal of Food and Agricultural Chemistry.

Unusual Double-Flowered Tiger Lily

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Tiger lilies (Lilium lancifolium) are easy-to-grow, 4- to 6-foot-tall, hardy bulbs that typically produce downward-facing flowers in midsummer. While most have single flowers, an old, unusual heirloom with double flowers is available again and gaining popularity.

Lilium ‘Flore Pleno’ is a striking, double-flowered tiger lily. The orange flowers are flaked with dark chocolate speckles similar to other tiger lilies, but ‘Flore Pleno’ features an additional layer of petals. Also, it doesn’t produce stamens so there’s no messy pollen to rub off when putting together indoor bouquets. The flowers open from midsummer until frost, and the tall, stately plants are beautiful in the back of a perennial border or against a house.

Tiger lilies are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9. They grow best in full to part sun on slightly acidic, well-drained soil. Tiger lilies don’t require as long a chilling period in winter as other lilium species, so they're a good choice for southern gardeners.

For more information on this heirloom tiger lily, go to: Wayside Gardens.

Floating Planter for Ponds

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Barley straw has been shown to emit a chemical that’s effective in controlling algae in water gardens and ponds. There are many purely functional barley straw products on the market, but a new planter delivers the algicidal properties of barley straw in an ornamental package.

The Barley Straw Planter consists of a sturdy foam ring that contains the barley straw, and a hidden foam core that keeps the ring afloat. You can place terrestrial plants, such as houseplants or annual flowers, in the center of the donut hole and float the planter in your water garden. Plant roots are protected from nibbling fish by the foam core.

These planters come in three sizes: 3-inch, 9-inch, or 11-inch diameter rings. They treat ponds of 500 to 4,000 gallons. The planters keep the pond water clear for up to six months.

For more information about these Barley Straw Planters, go to: Summit Chemical.

Make Your Own Garden Cart

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Many gardeners fondly remember, and may still own, the original Model 26 Garden Way garden cart. This revolutionary cart made hauling soil, mulch, and other materials much easier than using a wheelbarrow. Although Garden Way has long been out of business, a number of similar garden carts are on the market. But if you're handy and want to save a little money, why not build your own!

Herrick Kimball is passionate about garden carts, and he’s written a book, Anyone Can Build a Whizbang Garden Cart, that guides you in the process. Kimball estimates the cost of materials -- some salvaged, some new -- is about $200. His carts are lighter in weight than commercially available ones.

Kimball is so zealous about helping people build their own garden carts that he has created a blog where he answers questions and clarifies points in the book. To check out Kimball’s blog and get more information about the book, go to: The Whizbang Garden Cart Blog.

 
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