Garden Talk: November 6, 2008

From NGA Editors

New Colored Bergenia

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Bergenia is a beautiful, low-growing perennial with dark green or burgundy evergreen leaves and vibrant pink flowers in spring. Now, there is a new selection that adds even more color to this popular perennial.

‘Lunar Glow’ starts off spring with bright, creamy yellow leaves; the foliage keeps its golden color until fall, when it turns an attractive burgundy red. The leaves contrast nicely with the pink flowers. ‘Lunar Glow’ bergenia is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, grows well in part shade on well-drained soil, and looks best as a massed planting along a border or on a bank.

For more information on ‘Lunar Glow’ bergenia, go to: Terranova Nursery.

Instant Weather Reporting

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Looking for the perfect holiday gift for the weather geek in the family? The Weather Direct Wireless Weather Station will delight any weather guru and will be of interest to all gardeners who are looking for the best local weather information.

The Weather Direct Wireless Weather Station features the time, date, indoor and outdoor temperatures, daily high and low temperatures, sunrise and sunset times, and the current forecast for more than 40,000 locations in the United States and Canada. The 5-inch-wide by 5-inch-tall device runs on 2 “C” batteries and doesn’t require a computer or wireless setup. The range is 330 feet, allowing you to place the monitor anywhere it’s convenient in your house.

For more information on this nifty gift idea, go to: Ambient Weather .

Grapes May Help Lower Blood Pressure

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Eating grapes has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Now, it seems that grapes are useful for lowering blood pressure as well. Researchers at the University of Michigan fed rats a combination of dried table grape powder, hydrazine (a hypertension medication), and salty foods. The dried grape powder made up 3 percent of the rat’s diet.

After 18 weeks it was found that, in general, rats on a dried grape powder-enriched diet had lower blood pressure, better heart function, and less inflammation than rats on the other diets. Even though rats on the high salt/grape powder and high salt/hydrazine diet still developed high blood pressure, their systolic pressure was lower in the grape powder group than on the control group on only a high salt diet.

Researchers believe it’s the flavonoids and anti-oxidants in grapes that have the beneficial effect on high blood pressure and heart health.

For more information on this research, go to: WebMD.

Does Buying Local Foods Really Save Energy?

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Buying locally produced foods is the trend for those of us interested in reducing our carbon footprint and our impact on the environment. The theory is that buying local foods reduces energy use compared to buying food shipped across the country. Most produce is shipped, on average, 1500 miles from farm to market. Most people assume that the fewer miles produce travels to market, the less fuel used. However, researchers at Ohio State University’s rural sociology program believe the impact on the environment may be less clear cut.

There may be some variables that make buying local less efficient when it comes to energy consumption. One of the factors involves economies of scale. A fully loaded tractor trailer can haul 38,000 pieces of produce. The energy savings of a loaded freight car on rail is even more. Compare the energy consumption per unit with that of dozens of pickup trucks hauling small loads of produce to farmer’s markets and individual stores. Although the energy savings advantage is still in the local farmer’s favor, is may be less than you’d think.

Another factor is the amount of energy used by the consumers of the produce. While going to a farmer’s market offers many social and community building benefits, one stop shopping at a grocery store probably uses less gas than making multiple stops at various markets or going to a farmer’s market or local farm to purchase just a few items.

The researchers still were in favor of supporting locally grown produce, but cautioned against assuming huge energy savings.

For more information on this paper, go to: Ohio State Extension.

 
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