Garden Talk: March 12, 2009

From NGA Editors

New Mildew-Resistant Phlox

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Tall summer phlox (Phlox paniculata) are a midsummer treat is any perennial garden. The flowers are showy and are available in a range of colors, including pure white, pink, lilac, and red. However, powdery mildew can decimate phlox just when it's starting to bloom. Now comes a short and colorful new mildew-resistant variety that's sure to please flower gardeners. 'Blushing Shortwood' only grows 24 to 30 inches tall. It has blushed pink flowers that open in midsummer and continue into fall. This bicolor cross between the 'David' and 'Shortwood' varieties is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8 and grows best in a location in full sun with good air circulation.
For more on this new mildew resistant phlox variety, go to: Bluestone Perennials.

To Till or Not Till in Compost

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Most gardeners know that compost applied to perennial beds helps the soil and plants in many ways. Usually the added compost is tilled into the soil before planting. Now research from the Washington State University at Puyallup questions whether that's necessary. Researchers applied a 3-inch-thick layer of compost to silty loam soil test plots. Some of the plots were tilled to a depth of 7 inches, while others were left with the compost on the soil surface. Red osier dogwood shrubs were planted throughout the test area. After six years of measuring growth rates and fertility levels, researchers concluded that the difference in growth rates in shrubs in the tilled and untilled sites was minimal. Both treatments improved soil quality and leaf coloration. The tilled-in sites did have slightly higher levels of carbon and nitrogen in the soil. Researchers concluded gardeners shouldn't get too concerned about tilling in the compost when applying it to perennial plantings.
For more information on this research and to obtain a pdf file of this report, go to: Washington State University.

Community Gardens at all USDA Facilities

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New research from the National Gardening Association shows there are more than 1 million community gardens in the United States and up to 3 million people would like to garden in a community garden if it were possible. Well, the USDA is making an effort to help out those would-be gardeners. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the goal of creating a community garden at every USDA facility worldwide. "The USDA community garden project will include a wide variety of garden activities including embassy window boxes, tree planting, and field office plots. The gardens will be designed to promote "going green" concepts, including landscaping and building design to retain water and reduce runoff; roof gardens for energy efficiency; utilizing native plantings; and using sound conservation practices," says Vilsack.
For more information about this movement, go to: USDA.

New Early, Sweet Melon

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Melons are a favored summer vegetable. While most gardeners are familiar with the traditional cantaloupes, there are now other exotic melons making it into farmer's markets, grocery stores, and gardens. One of the most flavorful is the Christmas or Piel de Sapo melon and a new, early-maturing, All-America Selections winning variety is 'Lambkin'. This variety features 2- to 4-pound oval fruits with attractive light yellow skin with green mottling and a thin rind. The white flesh is sweet, aromatic, and juicy. The vigorous hybrid vines grow 6 feet long, but the fruits mature early for an exotic melon (65 to 75 days), making it possible to grow this variety even in short summer areas. Another plus is this melon stores longer than cantaloupes.
For more information on 'Lambkin', go to: All-American Selections.
 
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