Garden Talk: June 14, 2012

From NGA Editors

Electric Garden Color

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If you'd like to add an electric jolt of color to your shade garden this season, consider the new Infinity® New Guinea impatiens from Proven Winners. 'Electric Cherry' (pictured) sports large, bright cherry-pink blossoms shot through with vivid lilac and accented with a small white eye as the flowers age. 'Electric Coral' displays vivid coral-colored blooms shot through with hot pink that develop a white eye. The glossy dark-green foliage is the perfect foil for these vibrant flowers. These sturdy, versatile plants grow 10-14 inches tall, with a 6-12 inch spread, and do well in both landscape and container plantings.

New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens x hawkeri) are more sun-tolerant than garden impatiens (Impatiens wallerana) and do best in a spot that gets morning sun and 4-6 hours of afternoon shade, although they will adapt to shadier sites and in northern climates will even tolerate full sun with adequate moisture. Give them fertile, well-drained soil that is consistently moist but not soggy. A dose of soluble fertilizer at half-strength every couple weeks will keep them thriving through the season. If plants get leggy, just trim back the stems to a leaf node, feed them, and you'll enjoy another round of blossoms.

For more information on Infinity® Electric Cherry impatiens, go to: Proven Winners. For more information on Infinity® Electric Coral impatiens, go to: Proven Winners.

Herbal Inspiration

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If you're looking for gorgeous photos and lovely watercolor drawings, along with lots of helpful information to inspire your efforts at herb gardening, look no further than the reissued edition of Herbs: The Complete Gardener's Guide (Firefly Books, 2012, $24.95). Written by Canadian gardener Patrick Lima, the book is a comprehensive guide that covers a wide variety of herbs, including annual and perennial culinary herbs, as well as herbs for teas, fragrance, medicinal applications, decorative use, and garden color.

Lima gives expert advice on planting, fertilizing, and caring for herbs and enlivens this information with interesting notes on the science, folklore, and artistry of herbs. A chapter on cooking with fresh herbs includes such mouth-watering recipes as Bean Dip with Garlic, Cumin, and Cilantro and Iced Herbal Lemonade. There is even a section on gathering wild herbs from woods, fields, and meadows.

All of this is accompanied by the stunning photography and watercolor illustrations of Turid Forsyth, which are enhanced by the large format of the book. Originally published in 2001, this new edition will be a welcome addition to the library of any gardener interested in growing and using herbs.

For more about Herbs: The Complete Gardeners Guide, go to: Firefly Books.

Fruits and Veggies May Help Smokers Quit

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Are you a smoker who is trying to kick the habit? Upping your consumption of fruits and vegetables may make it easier to quit and remain tobacco-free, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo Department of Community Health and Health Behavior surveyed 1000 smokers from across the country about their efforts to abstain from tobacco, following up their initial interviews with another 14 months later. They found that smokers who included the most fruits and vegetables in their diets were three times more likely to have been tobacco-free for the previous 30 days compared to those who consumed the least amount of produce. Those who ate the most fruits and vegetables were also more likely to smoke fewer cigarettes a day and to score lower on a test for nicotine dependence.

While the researchers who conducted the study can't say for sure why fruits and vegetables may make it easier to avoid smoking, they speculate on several explanations. These foods may help people feel fuller longer, so they don't confuse hunger with the urge to smoke. And according to Jeffrey Haibach, first author on the paper, unlike foods such as meat, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages that enhance tobacco's taste, ″Foods like fruit and vegetables may actually worsen the taste of cigarettes.″

Further study is needed at determine the exact mechanisms of this effect, but in the meantime, there is no downside to including more fruits and vegetables, with their many known health benefits, in your diet, especially as you work on the difficult task of quitting smoking.

To read more about this research, go to: University of Buffalo News Center.

From the Garden to the Grill

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The season of barbecues and cookouts is here, and many of us will be enjoying burgers and steaks, chicken and fish hot off the grill. But don't forget to add vegetables and fruits to your grilling repertoire as well. That's the message from Shirley Perryman, Extension Specialist in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Colorado State University. These foods are not only high in nutritional value and low in calories, they don't form the potentially dangerous compounds called HCAs that can occur when meat, poultry, and fish are grilled.

In a recent press release, Perryman offers suggestions for successfully grilling both vegetables and fruits. For example, she suggests drizzling vegetables with low water content such as carrots, mushrooms, asparagus, and summer squash with oil prior to grilling so they won't stick. She notes that while marinades can enhance the flavor of many grilled veggies, marinades containing added sugar will cause the vegetables to blacken when grilled. Both white and sweet potatoes can be steamed on the grill in foil packets, seasoned with a little olive oil, salt, and a scattering of chopped fresh herbs.

For a healthful dessert or to use in a tasty fruit salsa, try grilling fruits such as nectarines, peaches, bananas, apples, pineapples, and pears. Yum!

To read more about spicing up your summer grilling with fruits and vegetables, go to: CSU News & Information.

 
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