Garden Talk: December 2, 2010

From NGA Editors

Tomatoes for Small Spaces

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More and more gardeners are producing crops of tasty, nutritious fresh vegetables in containers. Whether on a balcony in an urban setting, taking advantage of a sunny driveway in a shady suburban yard, or on a deck only steps from the kitchen simply for convenience, container planting expands food gardening horizons for many.

That's why it's great to see that one of the All-America Selections 2011 Vegetable Winners is a new cherry tomato hybrid that is perfect for growing in a container or hanging basket. 'Terrenzo,' bred by Pro-Veg Seeds Ltd., produces a prolific crop of 1 1/4-inch red fruits on a compact plant reaching only 16-20 inches tall. A determinate variety, 'Terrenzo' has a tidy, low-growing, trailing habit that makes it a natural for containers as well as small-space gardens, since plants can be spaced as close as 20 inches apart. Its sweet fruits are resistant to cracking, are produced in abundance throughout summer's heat and mature 56 days from transplanting.

For more information on 'Terrenzo' cherry tomatoes, go to: AAS.

Power up Garlic's Pungency

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Garlic's pungent odor may be great for warding off vampires, but it is also an indication of its healthfulness. Allicin is one of the main sulfur compounds in garlic that is responsible not only for its bite, but also for its reputed health benefits. Allicin is produced when the compound alliin in raw garlic mixes with the enzyme alliinase after garlic is chopped or crushed.

New research has shown that the type and amounts of fertilizer applied to garlic can significantly alter the amount of alliin that it develops. As described in the November-December 2010 issue of HortIdeas, field trials done in Germany showed that the concentration of alliin went up proportionally with an increase in sulfur fertilization and went down slightly as nitrogen fertilization increased. Researchers concluded that sulfur added to soils that were low in this nutrient would increase the concentration of alliin in garlic. They also suggested that keeping nitrogen fertilization moderate would increase alliin levels, in addition to making garlic less susceptible to fungal infection.

To read an abstract of this research, go to: ACS. For more information on HortIdeas, go to: HortIdeas.

Tools for Women

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One size fits all may be fine for some things, but not when it comes to garden tools. According to Ann Adams, co-founder of Green Heron Tools, most garden and agricultural tools were designed with the height, level of strength and grip size of the average male in mind, characteristics that don't fit the majority of women gardeners and farmers. This poor fit makes them harder to work with and often less safe and effective.

To help remedy this situation, Green Heron Tools seeks out tools, equipment, safety gear and apparel that fit the needs of women who are gardening, farming, pruning or raising livestock. While not always specifically designed for women, all the products are selected for features such as adjustability, light weight, the availability of multiple sizes and durability. All of the products are tested by volunteer women gardeners and farmers before being offered for sale.

Their Ergonomic Grips are a great idea. These attach to tools you already have to make them safer and easier to use. For easy holiday gift giving, Green Heron has combined products into special collections. The Weekly Weeder Collection would please many a gardener with its combination of Hori-Hori stainless steel soil knife, super-sharp Japanese weeding sickle and Bonnie Blooms garden gloves.

For more information on Green Heron Tools, go to: Green Heron Tools.

Ecological Pest Management Made Easy

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Want to know what biorational controls to use to deal with codling moths in your apples? How about under what trade names the microbial pesticide Bt is sold? Wondering if a pesticide is OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) approved for organic production?

All this information and much more is easily available with a few clicks in the Biorationals: Ecological Pest Management Datebase, part of the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service website. Biorational pesticides include target-specific microbial products; plant-based and other pesticides that have low non-target impact or break down quickly into non-toxic compounds; and new types of pesticides such as pheromones and particle film barriers. A tremendous amount of helpful information is literally "at your fingertips" with this great resource.

In addition, the website has a wealth of information on sustainable agriculture, including the organic production of horticultural crops, soils and compost, water management, pest management and marketing. And it's all available in Spanish as well as English.

To check out all the information at this website, go to: ATTRA .

 
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