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 The Garden Supplies Advisor : Garden Supplies News Home : May 2005

May 3, 2005 10:59 - Slugs and snails and hanging tomatoes


I have recently added a new page to my site on the subject of slugs and snails. And before you ask, yes I have been suffering from their attention to the plants that I have just set out in my new perennial bed. So I have completed a review of all the common remedies currently available to gardeners and included them in my article. I have been interested to see how the slugs have attacked certain of my plants and ignored others. For instance, gaillardia and campanula have been severely damaged but penstemons and lupines have not been touched. Maybe there is a lesson here, but more likely the slugs will move on to the other varieties once they have devoured their favorites. That is if I don't manage to destroy them first. Anyway have a look at Slugs and Snails.

If you would like to be able to grow tomatoes with no mess, no weeding and only water once a month, you will have guessed that this is a press release for a new commercial product. It is a pouch containing artificial soil that you can hang anywhere according to the makers. Read all about it here.


May 4, 2005 10:19 - Lawn care tips


If you have tunnels under your lawn, how do you know whether the occupants are moles or voles, and why should you care? Is it necessary to rake out the thatch from your lawn every year? When is it essential to apply a pre-emergent weed control? These are just some of the questions which are answered by Jim Zoppo, a member of the Massachusetts Horticulture Society and host of the Gardening Show on WRKO, who advises that now is the time to get a jump on things. "By now people should have removed debris that may have remained on the lawn throughout the winter and given it a good thorough raking," Zoppo said. "At least." Read more..

Here is a story about a man who has a passion for gardening and a foolproof method of getting the next generation to share it. "Get a load of strawberry varieties and have a tasting day. When a child says, I like that one, give him a root of that variety to grow. Then you've got him for life." The name Bob Flowerdew may not be recognized by all but is well known in the UK where he is a regular contributor to BBC gardening programs. Read more..


May 5, 2005 10:27 - Square foot salads and sweet potato vine


As every gardener knows you are supposed to make regular sowings of salad crops throughout the season to ensure a continuous supply for your table. Sarah Robertson has distilled this to a fine art and suggests that all you need is a one foot square plot for each sowing. Using a combination of a mix of varieties and a cut-and-come-again approach, she is able to harvest an entire salad bowl of lettuce from her square-foot patch. Read more..

If you think that sticking four toothpicks into a sweet potato and suspending it in water sounds like some black magic ritual, you would be entirely mistaken. This is apparently a straightforward method of growing sweet potato vine. Melissa Swanson came across what she describes as a "brambly, nettle-colored bunch of greens" at a farmers market and decided to give them a try. To learn how to cook the vines, read more.

Here's a little reminder that it's Mother's day on Sunday.


May 6, 2005 10:04 - Bearded irises and a dead fig


Tulips, daffodils and hyacinths may signify the arrival of spring to many people, but not to Virginia Hayes who lives in Southern California. As she points out, these flowers do not appreciate the region's mild winters so springtime turns her thoughts in other directions. It turns out that her favorite signal that winter is finally over is the blooming of the bearded iris. Read more..

For more information on these plants take a look at my article "Choose the Bearded Iris for a Great Summer Show".

"I have a very large concrete flower pot that held a ficus tree on my front porch. The tree has died and I want to put new plants in the container. It sits at my front door in the corner (between walls that make an L shaped porch.) It gets full morning sun and afternoon shade. I would like to have a lot of color and something to give it height too. I will change the plants seasonally. Can you suggest anything?" This was just one of the questions posed to Nancy Brachey in her Q&A column. Others included a creeping fig and pachysandra problems. To reap the benefit of her advice, read more.


May 9, 2005 10:07 - Homemade pesticides and dirt


In my post for 25 April I mentioned the views of Darrell Blackwelder who is an agricultural agent in North Carolina on the subject of homemade pesticides. "Homemade remedies just won't do. Most of the homemade potions are actually more dangerous than the commercial pesticides" in his opinion. Here is a rather different view in this piece by Kathy Van Mullekom. Admittedly she is just talking about a tobacco-based spray which has low toxicity and is safe for bees, ants and ladybugs. This must not be confused with nicotine sulfate which is illegal and quite toxic. Read more..

I am always slightly surprised by articles which describe soil as dirt. While I know that this is strictly accurate, I do feel that the word dirt has rather unpleasant conotations for a substance with which gardeners are so intimately involved. We spend so much time cultivating, feeding and fertilizing our soil in an attempt to produce that perfect medium in which our plants can thrive, but still we just call it dirt! Enough of my rant - here's some useful advice about caring for your soil. Read more..


May 11, 2005 17:32 - Wildflowers, companion plants

and the Prince of Wales



When I saw the headline "Michigan wildflowers provide low-maintenance areas for your yard", I was immediately reminded of an article I read a few days ago in one of the gardening newsletters that I receive each month. The topic was planting a wildflower meadow but the author warned that if you are not careful you will end up with a meadow full of weeds rather than wildflowers. Thorough site preparation before you sow your seeds is the answer apparently and this point is emphasised by Nancy Szerlag in her piece. Read more..

Here's another headline that I saw today "Companion plants key to gardening success". Now when I see a reference to "Companion plants" I think of the practice of growing certain plants together because either they assist each other's growth or act as natural pest controllers. For instance plant carrots and leeks together in the vegetable patch. Leeks repel carrot fly and carrots repel onion fly and leek moth. Plant French marigolds with your tomatoes because marigolds are known to repel greenfly and blackfly. But I jumped to the wrong conclusion as you will see when you read more..

Another piece that caught my eye reminded me of the old song about the girl "who danced with a man, who'd danced with a girl, who'd danced with the Prince of Wales". The Scotsman reports that "the granddaughter of the late Queen Mother’s gardener is hoping to impress judges at this year's Gardening Scotland show in Edinburgh".


May 16, 2005 09:48 - Heirloom seeds and container gardening


If you are one of those people who believe that store vegetables aren't real and that the tomatoes taste like water, you are likely to agree that there really is nothing like just going out into the garden and picking your own food. But if this article is to be believed it is not just a question of growing your own, but selecting the right varieties to produce the best flavored vegetables. With commercial seed merchants reducing the number of varieties in their catalogs, it is becoming harder to find some of the older varieties. But help is at hand in the shape of the Seed Savers Exchange. Read more..

What has become more than just a passing phase, does not require home ownership or even a large backyard? Answer: container gardening. All you need is a container and a place to put it. Add good drainage and sunlight, and you are well on your way. Read more..


May 18, 2005 10:00 - BEAUTY WITHOUT CARE?


BEAUTY WITHOUT CARE - That's the dream of every gardener. And that's why the versatile peony has so long been a favourite throughout the world. No plant provides so much beauty with so little care. And, best of all, once planted, peonies give a whole lifetime of delightful foliage and massive late spring-early summer blooms. It is not at all unusual for quality peonies to bloom year after year for many decades. In some Asian temple gardens, there are peony hedges which have provided continuous beauty for over one hundred years.

The Chinese perfected the peony more than a thousand years ago, but in recent years it has been improved still further by the careful work of skilled hybridizers. Thus, today's fine Lifetime Peonies are even more hardy and beautiful than ever before!

Properly planted, Lifetime Peonies will bloom faithfully every spring, even if entirely neglected. About the time your tulips open, the big flower buds appear and your peonies begin to bloom. One soft petal after another slowly breaks away from the tight, round bud until each massive bloom is as large as 6 inches across and spreading its heavenly fragrance. You'll enjoy these great varieties year after year:

Right Now, you can get 5 Lifetime Peonies for JUST $29.99!
(one each of five stunning peony varieties)

Lifetime Peony Collection


May 20, 2005 10:19 - Banana peel, tea leaves and the moon


Is gardening folklore all a load of old bull or are there a few grains of truth hidden away in those ancient sayings that have been handed down through the generations? Using banana peel to fertilize roses and planting vegetables by a waxing moon are just two examples of gardening lore that is remembered and still practised today. But is there any scientific proof that any of these old ideas actually work?
The answer appears to be that some do and others don't. Banana peel contains traces of several minerals and so will benefit the soil but the case for moon planting is less well established. I did once make a half-hearted attempt to test the moon planting theory myself. Unfortunately for someone leading a normal busy life the dates for planting always seemed to coincide either with pouring rain or a prior enagement. To test some more old ideas including tea leaves, ants and the right time of year to prune your plants, read more.

An LNDS unit is not another example of ancient gardening lore, but if I tell you that it stands for "Lindsey`s Nutrient Delivery System", I doubt that you will be any the wiser. To learn what it is all about, read more.


May 23, 2005 10:11 - Bird feeders and pruning problems


According to the National Gardening Association one in three households who are gardeners also buy wild bird feed. Good news for the birds you might think but apparently this is not the case. Moldy, wet and vermin-contaminated feed left in bags, caked onto feeders or spilled on the ground is being blamed for massive songbird die-offs from Alaska to Maine. Salmonella is the most common bird-feeder disease, and it isn't unusual for the bacteria to be picked up by pets, primarily cats and dogs, after they've eaten infected birds. Then it can be passed along to their handlers, that means you and me. To learn how you can help to combat this problem, read more.

Articles on how and when you should prune your trees and shrubs appear regularly in the gardening press. They tend to follow a standard pattern discussing which plants should be tackled at what time of the year and the detailed techniques to be used in each case. For a change here is an article which has a different theme and warns of an unexpected complication that you may encounter. Read more..


May 24, 2005 10:42 - The Chelsea Flower Show


We are nearing the end of May and the annual Chelsea Flower Show is being held all this week in London. Today is the preview day when members of the royal family and distinguished guests have a first look at the exhibits. For anyone who cannot visit the show in person there is extensive coverage on the BBC's website including panoramic views of many of the gardens. According to Anushka Asthana writing in the Observer newspaper the latest gardening trend to emerge from the Chelsea Flower Show this week will not feature seeds, plants or flowers: instead it will involve futuristic pods with built-in workstations. One example that she mentions is the Hanover Quay Garden designed by Diarmuid Gavin. Anushka's article is not just confined to outdoor workpods but also contains some suggestions as to how you can spend your money. If you have $100,000 to spare you could buy the most expensive tree in the world. The seven-metre, 200-year-old oak has been stripped and handcrafted by an artist. The boughs and bark have been strengthened with metal and a copper globe placed among the branches. If this does not take your fancy, how about a temple made from natural Chinese sandstone which is on sale at the show for $150,000, plus a $30,000 installation fee. The impressive structure was built in China then dismantled and shipped to Britain. The feature, designed by Stephen Parker, was made by British stonemasons After the Antique and is displayed in the Savills garden, which marks 150 years of the property firm.


May 25, 2005 10:30 - Favorite warm-weather pastimes and a tub garden


If you have often dreamed of having a garden pond with water lilies and fish swimming lazily about, but have been put off by the thought of all the hard work involved, you could try a mini-aquatic garden in a tub. A tub garden is a small commitment in terms of finances and labor. It requires neither special aeration nor filtration advises Sherri Wesson. To learn what equipment you will need and for full instructions on how to set it up, read more..

Spring is here, and with summer just around the corner, Americans are gearing up for their favorite warm-weather pastimes -- playing on the beach, gardening, taking in a ball game and visiting their local farmers market. A shopping destination for more than two centuries, farmers markets provide consumers with the opportunity to interact with local growers while buying fresh, seasonal produce. Millions of Americans have discovered that farmers markets -- with their earthy smells, hustle-and-bustle and variety of foodstuffs -- turn a typical weekly chore into a fun experience. In fact, in a recent survey, seven out of 10 people said they plan to visit a farmers market this spring or summer. Read more..


May 26, 2005 11:25 -

Enhance your landscape for free
and attract the birds and butterflies



The magic word "free" always seems to jump out at you from the page and this is just what happened to me as I scanned the news headlines today. "Enhance your landscape for free" is the claim but when you read on you discover that this is a crash course in plant propagation. In fact, for a newspaper article, this is quite a comprehensive look at the subject. Starting from a definition of sexual and asexual propagation methods or, in common terms, seeds and cuttings, Eileen Ward describes the different techniques to employ for each type. Stem, leaf and root cuttings are all covered as well as the different types of layering, not forgetting propagation by division. Read more..

For a quick reminder on what you need to do to encourage birds and butterflies into your garden here is a piece by Debi Neal-Warrick. In just a few paragraphs she covers the main points and mangaes to include a comprehensive list of plants and shrubs which will attract these welcome visitors. Read more..


May 27, 2005 10:17 -

More on moon planting and hay fever



It was just a week ago that I mentioned moon planting and today I have found a complete article on this arcane topic. "Planting by the moon is quite simple" says Arlan Wise. "All you have to do is know the sign the moon is in because water and earth signs are fertile, air and fire signs are barren. Plant when the moon is in: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio, Taurus, or Capricorn. Weed when the moon is in Gemini, Aquarius, Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius. The exceptions are Virgo, who is barren and Libra, which is a good sign for planting flowers." And in case you are not quite sure where the moon is now, the piece continues with day-by-day instructions for the coming week, including specific advice for today from 11:22 am until 2:10 pm. Read more..

As the "hay fever" season comes round again here is some advice on precautions you can take if you suffer from allergy symptoms. Basically this amounts to "give up your lawn and grow native plants". To learn the reasons why, read more..

On a rather more serious note a team of researchers at Aberdeen University in Scotland have found that gardeners who used weedkillers and other chemicals have an increased risk of contracting Parkinson's disease than people who had not come into contact with pesticides. This is a timely reminder to take precautions when using pesticides and is another good reason for adopting organic gardening practices. Read more..


May 31, 2005 11:21 - Treat these plants with respect


Cat-lovers will have been upset by the news that a Siamese cat died recently after eating some pollen from a bunch of lilies. This is not the first time that a cat has suffered this fate, but it serves as a reminder that while we can all enjoy the colors and scents of our plants and flowers, many are most definitely unsafe to eat. Poisonous plants are grouped into categories depending on the level of toxicity. In the group which poses the least danger are those that you would have to eat in quantity to cause any harm. These include anenomes, delphiniums, hellebores, iris, lobelia, nicotiana and wisteria as well as all forms of lilies. Others in this group that can irritate the skin are echiums, euphorbias, hyacinths and tulips.

Poison ivy is perhaps the most notorious of the plants that can cause severe blistering of the skin from contact with its milky sap. Wax tree and poison sumac are also to be avoided for the same reason. Plants that are dangerous if eaten in small quantities include foxgloves, lily of the valley, laburnum and yew. Just one leaf from an oleander is enough to kill a child, and the stems create a toxic smoke when burnt. Daphne and jasmine berries, rhododendrons and crocus bulbs are only slightly less dangerous.

For anyone with small children it is sensible to be aware of the danger that some of your favorite plants may pose.


April 2005 « 



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