Garden Talk: July 2, 2009

From NGA Editors

New Curly-Leaved Begonia

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Rex begonias are known for their large, highly textured, colorful leaves. This tropical, moisture-loving plant makes an excellent houseplant; outdoors, it’s commonly grown as an annual in all but the warmest parts of the country. Now there’s a new variety of this shade-loving plant with even more dramatic foliage.

‘Curly Fireflush’ rex begonia has deep green leaves with red-brown edges, highlighted by tiny red hairs covering the leaf surfaces. The leaves curl to form a spiral, giving the plant the effect of motion. This variety also produces small, light pink, fragrant flowers, but the big draw is the foliage.

For more information on ‘Curly Fireflush’ begonia, go to: Terra Nova Nursery.

New Targeted Herbicide Applicator

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Removing weeds is not a fun chore. While there are many options for managing weeds in the lawn and landscape, some gardeners turn to an herbicide as a last resort for hard-to-kill weeds. Fortunately, there’s a new application device that will not only save you money, it will also make the application more effective and safer than using normal sprayers.

Jerry’s Weedstick is a 2-pound, ergonomically-designed plastic tube with a cup applicator at the bottom. When filled with a liquid herbicide, it allows you to target the poison right to the individual weed in question, avoiding other plants. It delivers just 3 ccs of herbicide with each squeeze of the trigger, so there’s less risk of over-application. It’s estimated that using that Weedstick can reduce the amount of herbicide you use by up to 80 percent.

For more information on Jerry’s Weedstick, go to: Jung Seeds.

Royal Vegetable Garden

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Not to be outdone by first lady Michelle Obama’s new vegetable garden at the White House, Queen Elizabeth II of England has, for the first time since World War II, had gardeners install a vegetable garden at her Buckingham Palace residence. England, like America, is experiencing an upsurge in interest in edible gardening. Vegetable seed sales are up and there are waiting lists for community (allotment) gardens. And there is a growing interest in eating fresh, local, organically raised food.

The new Buckingham Palace vegetable garden is 24 feet by 30 feet and will include a variety of vegetables including ‘Stuttgarter’ onions, ‘Musselburgh’ leeks, ‘Red Ace’ beets, and ‘Fly Away’ carrots. The plants will be raised organically and the produce will be used in the royal kitchens at the palace.

For more information about Queen Elizabeth’s vegetable garden, go to: Daily Telegraph

Salt-Stressed Broccoli More Nutritious?

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Broccoli is a nutritious, cool-season crop and a popular ingredient in many recipes. It’s loaded with vitamins and antioxidants (cancer-fighting compounds). Now researchers in Spain have found that adding a little salt to the water you apply to growing broccoli plants boosts nutrient levels in the vegetable.

In trials researchers irrigated broccoli plants with 40- or 80-millimolar concentrations of table salt (1/3 to 2/3 teaspoon per quart of water). They found that plants watered with the 40-millimolar concentration had higher levels of calcium and the antioxidant glucosinolates in the leaves and florets, and lower levels of nitrates (thought to be harmful to health). The only downside was the overall yields were lower in plants irrigated with the salty water.

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

 
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