Garden Talk: January 3, 2008

From NGA Editors

New, White Cherry Tomato

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Cherry tomatoes are sweet and prolific and good for eating in salads or straight from the garden. They come in a range of colors including red, pink, orange, yellow, and now white.

‘Italian Ice’ cherry tomato produces 1- to 1-1/2-inch-diameter, ivory white fruits that are sweet, juicy, and mild. They are also beautiful, especially in a bowl of red, orange, and yellow tomatoes. The indeterminate plants need to be caged or staked, and they begin producing 65 days after transplanting.

For more information on ‘Italian Ice’, go to: Burpee Seeds.

Environmentally Friendly Road Salt Solution

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Winter for much of the country means ice and snow. One of the ways to help cars and feet grip better is to spread road salt on walkways and streets. More than 15 million tons of deicing salts are used on streets and driveways in the U.S. alone. However, any gardener knows these salts easily leach into the groundwater and can cause the grass to brown near paved areas. Instead of adding new topsoil and reseeding each spring, there’s another solution.

This new product claims to bind the salt so lawn grasses and other plants don’t take it up and aren’t damaged. Salt Buster is a child- and pet-friendly, nontoxic product made from naturally occurring humic and fulvic acids. When applied in fall, it protects the plant roots from the salts. When applied in early spring after snow melt, Salt Buster binds with the salts in the soil before the plant roots can absorb them. The salt is rendered harmless and gets flushed away by irrigation or rain.

For more information on Salt Buster, go to: GET MicroSolutions.

Unique Hibiscus Collection

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Tropical hibiscus are impressive plants with their evergreen foliage and trumpet-shaped, brightly colored flowers. A new line of tropical hibiscus will be available in spring that offers unique colors and features.

The Bahama Bay hibiscus collection features 18 varieties of this tropical beauty. The 8-inch-diameter, bi- or tri-colored flowers are more vibrant and floriferous than other tropical hibiscus varieties. Plants in this collection also are more rugged than many other varieties because they grow on their own root systems.

Noteworthy selections include ‘Nova’ Bahama Bay, with double, red flowers highlighted with white; ‘Amazon Queen’, with copper-colored flowers with swirling petals that open to reveal a bright red interior; and ‘Big Bird’, with yellow flowers with curved back petals and maroon throats.

In USDA hardiness zones 9 and 10, these perennial shrubs can grow to 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide in the landscape. In colder areas, grow them outdoors during warm months in containers and bring them indoors in fall whenever temperatures approach freezing.

For more information on the Bahama Bay hibiscus collection, go to: Hines Nursery.

Garden Design Program for Vegetable Gardeners

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Winter is the perfect time to pull out the seed catalogs and design your vegetable garden. While most of us use the old paper-and-pencil method, there are some online garden design programs that can make the process easier. One of the latest is geared towards vegetable gardeners.

GrowVeg.com is an England-based garden design tool that helps you plan your vegetable and fruit gardens. Using animated vegetables and fruits, the program helps you map out your garden and select, place, and rotate crops. Vegetables are color-coded by family, making it easier to plan crop rotation. The program can even remember past designs and warn you about planting the same family of vegetables in the same spot two years in a row.

There’s growing information, too. With a simple click of the icon, you can access growing information for that fruit or vegetable. By dragging the icon into the garden, the program automatically spaces crops properly.

The Web site also has growing guides and a blog for chatting with other users. By subscribing to the service each year, you’ll be able to access old designs, get e-mail reminders on gardening chores, and receive all the latest updates.

For more information on this vegetable garden design tool, go to: GrowVeg.com.

 
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