Garden Talk: September 25, 2008

From NGA Editors

Wild Ginger on Steroids

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Wild ginger (Asarum) is a favorite ground cover and woodland plant for shade gardens, especially those located under high deciduous tree canopies. Now from China comes a new cousin of wild ginger that features larger growth and buttery yellow flowers.

Upright wild ginger grows 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. (The botanical name of the new plant, Saruma henryi, is an anagram of Asarum.) It has fuzzy, heart-shaped leaves and produces small yellow flowers from early spring through late summer. It grows best in well-drained areas that receive light shade. Upright wild ginger is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8 and will self-sow in its second year of growth.

For more information on the upright wild ginger, go to: Sunshine Farm and Gardens.

Reduce Your Risk From Pesticides in Produce

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Many people worry about the amount of pesticides they're exposed to through a diet of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. Even gardeners who grow their own produce depend on food from the grocery store during much of the year. To help consumers avoid the fruits and vegetables with the highest risk of pesticide residue, the Organic Center has published a free pocket guide called Organic Essentials. The guide highlights the fruits and vegetables containing the highest risk of pesticide contamination.

The highest risk fruits include: grapes, cranberries, nectarines, peaches, strawberries, and pears. The highest risk vegetables include green beans, sweet bell peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, celery, potatoes, and tomatoes. If you’re concerned about pesticide residues, choose organic options for these fruits and vegetables.

For more information, go to: Organic Center.

Eat Your Weeds

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Lamb's-quarter is a well-known weed in many vegetable and flower gardens across the country. While many gardeners spend hours pulling and hoeing this weed, maybe they should start eating it instead!

Researchers at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina analyzed the health-promoting chemicals found in lamb's-quarter (Chenopodium alba). The plants have long been known to contain many essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, beta-carotene, potassium, and B vitamins. However, researchers found that lamb's-quarter is also very high in flavonoids and antioxidants -- chemicals that fight various cancers in the body. Another important finding: Lamb's-quarter collected from cultivated fields had higher levels of these health-promoting chemicals than samples collected from non-cultivated areas.

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

Easier Way to Plant Bulbs

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It’s bulb-planting time, and if you’re planning on popping in some daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and other spring beauties, a bulb-planting tool can lesson the strain on your back and legs. Short-handled bulb planters are fine for planting a few bulbs, but for bigger projects a long-handled bulb planter saves time and effort.

A new type of long-handled bulb planter from Holland makes it even easier to plant bulbs, especially in compacted soil. The planter has two 30-inch-long ash handles that allow you to make a hole and deposit the bulb, all in one step. Simply place a bulb into the cone-shaped reservoir created by the blades, drive the blades into the ground, and open. The blades separate loose soil and release the bulb into the hole. The soil falls back in as you pull the blade out. The hinges double as a step to push the planter into the ground. On hard-packed soil, use the bulb planter as a posthole digger first, with the blades separated, to pull out a clump of soil. Then deposit the bulb. No bending or stooping is required.

For more information on this new bulb planter, go to: Lee Valley.

 
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