Garden Talk: April 9, 2009

From NGA Editors

New Purple Magnolia

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Spring is magnolia time in many areas of the country. These early-blooming trees are some of the first reminders of the colorful flowering trees and shrubs to come. Now there is a new, smaller-sized variety with flowers in a unique color.

From the new Mark Jury series in New Zealand comes ‘Black Tulip’. This deciduous magnolia tree grows just 25 feet tall, 10 to 15 feet wide, and produces stunning, dark purple-black, 6-inch blooms in early spring. The flowers are often compared to tulips for their color and shape. ‘Black Tulip’ is perfect for small-space yards, flowers within a few years after planting, and is hardy to USDA zone 5.

For more information on ‘Black Tulip’ magnolia, go to: Tesselaar Plants.

Versatile Garden Planter

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It looks like a long, black punching bag, but the Garden Soxx is really a new way to container garden. Garden Soxx is a tubular, mesh bag that has the texture of heavy-duty socks. It lets in water and air but is sturdy enough to hold soil and plants. Originally invented to be used in erosion control, the socks are now being used for gardening too. Each sock is filled with compost. The beauty of Garden Soxx is that you can cut holes in the bag and plant flowers and vegetables right into the compost. Drip irrigation systems are also available to keep the socks well watered. These socks are especially attractive for gardeners in urban areas with little access to good soil.

The Garden Soxx can be used individually as raised beds, as edging along a garden border, in window boxes or deck railing planters, or in containers. For more information on the Garden Soxx, go to: Filtrexx.

The Ultimate Gardener

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It's not often that we toot our own horn, but the new book The Ultimate Gardener (HCI Publishing, 2009), by NGA horticulturist Charlie Nardozzi, features fun, heart-warming short stories about people’s gardening experiences as well as some articles and tips on how to garden better. Garnered from articles submitted by gardeners across the country, each story tells of the trials and tribulations of gardening while offering some insights into the reasons why people love gardening so much.

The Ultimate Gardener is a great light read for those who love gardening and enjoy personal stories about gardens. For more information on the book, go to: HCI Books.

Fish Emulsion as a Fertilizer and Fungicide

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Although most organic gardeners have used fish emulsion as an effective fertilizer for crops, recent research suggests that it can also be used as a fungicide to fight diseases as well. Researchers at McGill University in Canada applied fish emulsion to sandy-loam soils at 1% and 2% (by weight) rates. The soils were infected with a common verticillium fungus that attacks a broad range of garden plants. After one day the verticillium fungal spores in the soil were reduced 39% to 74%. After three days the reduction was 87% to 98% and after six days close to 99%. Fish emulsion’s mixture of organic acids had an immediate deleterious effect on the disease spores and continued to work for up to a week killing the verticillium fungus. They also found similar results when applying fish emulsion to soils and monitoring damping off (Pythium) fungal disease on cucumbers.

For more information on this research, go to: American Phytopathological Society.

 
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