Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Italian Connection

Sweet Tomato and I went on a cruise last summer to ports in the countries of Italy, France, Greece and Croatia.  While in the port of Taormina, Sicily, we went shopping at a local farmers’ market for fresh vegetables and fruits.  It was not that the food on the cruise ship was poor (it was in fact ‘over the top’ good), it was just that we wanted to sample local fruits and vegetables at the various ports of call.  Being always on the lookout for different varieties of tomato seeds, I purchased some tomato seeds at this farmers’ market. 

The seeds were Marglobe and San Marzano 2.  I have grown various types of San Marzano for years with good results.  I have never seen or heard of the Marglobe, but it looked pretty, and I am a sucker for good looking tomatoes.  Here is a picture of the seed packet for San Marzano 2, followed by the tomato’s description from the Semiorto Sementi web site (translated from Italian). A big deal is made of regions for tomato growing. This “regional purity” extends to wine, cheese, ham, etc, etc.

From the various ecotypes of S. Marzano widespreadin the Agro Sarnese-Nocerino, Semiorto. Theproceeds from this selection has improved uniformityin yield and quality of the product. The reliance by the Ministry of Agriculture of the conservation purityof this variety testifies to the reliability and validity of the variety. The plant is a permanent development, vigorous and rustic, with good foliagethat protects the fruit from the strong insolation. The fruits are elongated, cylindrical-rectangular, weighing 80-90 gr. and very uniform. Thick flesh and firm, with reducedinternal lodges. Varietiessuitable for both the fresh marketand for the industry. Tolerant to Verticillium and Fusarium.

The Marglobe, while pretty, must not have near the history or importance as the San Marzano.  Here is a picture and a very short description again from the Semiorto Sementi web site.
Table tomato, medium early. Vigorous plant with good leaf coverage. Seafood round shape, smooth, large size, excellent consistency and uniformity, intense red color when ripe.
Right now both plants are about 1 to 2 feet in height with thick foliage and looking healthy.  I will keep you abreast of how the plants grow and the tomatoes fare.

Monday, July 22, 2013

If you like container gardening, you may be ready for containerscaping

National Garden Bureau members have indicated that "containerscaping" appears to be the next step after container gardening. Container gardening has been popular for several years and now the goal is to have those containers look cohesive and well-organized. Containerscaping is the next level beyond basic container gardening. It can apply to balconies, decks, patios, front porches and even the yard.

There are even garden centers that are offering containerscaping services. These companies define containerscaping as container design and installation service for potted plants.
Containerscaping is the next level beyond basic container gardening.
It can apply to balconies, decks, patios, front porches and even the yard.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

National Garden Bureau announces its 2014 "Year of the" plants

National Garden Bureau has announced the three plants for its 2014 “Year of the” program.
Petunia is the plant for annual flowers; for vegetables/edibles, it is the cucumber, and for perennials, it is the echinacea. The non-profit organization selects crops that are easy to grow, genetically diverse with a lot of new varieties to choose from.
For 2014, the National Garden Bureau has selected petunia as
the annual flower for its "Year of the" program. Shown is
Surfinia Summer Double.
 Photo courtesy of the National Garden Bureau 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Program showcases All-America Selections perennial winners

All-America Selections is launching a perennial program that features six plant winners that have been tested and trialed in more than 25 different trial locations throughout North America. All of the plants have been proven to have outstanding garden performance.

The plants in the program include:
1. Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit,’ 2013 AAS Winner
2. Gaillardia ‘Arizona Apricot,’ 2011 AAS Winner
3. Gaillardia ‘Mesa Yellow,’ 2010 AAS Winner
4. Echinacea ‘PowWow Wild Berry,’ 2010 AAS Winner
5. Rudbeckia hirta ‘Prairie Sun,’ 2003 AAS Winner
6. Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherokee Sunset,’ 2002 AAS Winner
Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit,’ 2013 AAS Winner
Photo courtesy of All-America Selections









The right trees can lower your utility bills

Planting the right shade trees in your landscape can help keep you cooler and lower your electric bills. Shade trees can reduce heat gains by 40-80%, depending upon the trees' placement and density. In the right spot, a tree is a better energy saver than interior window blinds or curtains.

Shade trees can reduce heat gains by 40-80%.

New Suntory Flowers video channel features easy plant projects

Suntory Flowers has added a new video channel with easy Saturday planting projects. The videos on the Before & After video channel show how to decorate entrances, porches, balconies, steps and planting in beds. Check out all 30 videos on the Before & After video channel.
Check out Suntory Flower's new Before & After
video channel for 30 easy planting projects.


Gardening can make you happy

A new survey published by Gardeners’ World Magazine reveals that 80% of gardeners are satisfied with their lives compared to 67% of those with indoor-based hobbies or no hobbies at all. The survey indicates that gardeners are also more positive.

People who spend more time gardening are likely to have a more positive outlook. Those who garden for more than six hours a week rate their wellbeing at 87%, which is 7% higher than those who garden less often.
A new survey shows that gardeners have
a more positive attitude than non-gardeners.
Photo courtesy of Burpee Home Gardens 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Be on the look out for rose rosette disease symptoms

If you have roses in your garden you should familiarize yourself with the symptoms of a disease that seems to be occurring more regularly. Rose rosette disease is caused by a virus that is transmitted by a tiny eriophyid mite. This mite is so small it cannot be easily seen. It is important to inspect rose plants on a regular basis looking for disease symptoms.

When a rose plant is infected with the disease highly unusual symptoms develop making the disease more  recognizable. Symptoms include:
* New leaves and stems are a bright, rich, red color.
* Leaves are distorted and twisted.
* There may be a proliferation of leaves.
* Stems grow slowly and produce an excessive number of thorns.
* There may be so many thorns that the stem is not visible and the thorns are often tinged red.

Other healthy roses can contract the disease from an infected plant. Roses exhibiting symptoms should be destroyed immediately.  Insect and mites pests should be controlled on healthy plants.
One of the symptoms of rose rosette disease
is stems that grow slowly and produce an
excessive number of thorns.
Photo by John Hartman, Univ. of Kentucky, Bugwood.org

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Deadheading can help keep flowers blooming

The primary reason flowers exist is to produce more flowers.  In general, once a flower blooms and dies it forms seeds for the next generation. Deadheading, which is simply removing the spent flowers before they set seed, tricks the plant into believing it needs to keep blooming to produce seed for the next generation. Different types of flowers require different deadheading methods, but the simplest practice is to remove the spent blooms.
By deadheading spent flowers before
they start to set seed, keeps plants
blooming longer.  

All-America Selections announces first 2014 winners

All-America Selections has announced its first winners for the 2014 gardening season. ‘Sparkle White’ gaura is a Bedding Plant Winner. Its long slender stems hold a large number of dainty white flowers tinged with a pink blush. 'Sparkle White' is can be used in mass plantings in full sun landscape beds, in groupings with other perennials or in larger containers. This season-long flowering plant has excellent heat tolerance and a more uniform flowering habit than other seed gauras.
'Sparkle White' gaura, AAS 2014 Bedding Plant Winner
Photo courtesy of All-America Selections
‘Mascotte’ bean is a Vegetable Award Winner and the first AAS winning bean since 1991. This compact variety is perfect for small-space gardens. ‘Mascotte’ is a bush type bean that produces long, slender pods that stay above the foliage for easy harvest. It also has white showy flowers for ornamental value during bloom time. The ‘Mascotte’ root system is ideal for patio containers and window boxes as well as in garden beds.
The French ‘Mascotte’ (like its English translation “mascot”) is a symbol of good luck and was chosen for the variety’s gardener-friendly habit.

Keep annuals and perennials blooming thoughout the summer

Simple gardening practices recommended by Michigan State University Extension can be done with annuals and perennials to prevent them from become top-heavy or leggy and allowing them to flower for a longer period.
* Pruning back top-heavy perennials will encourage branching, will delay blooming and will allow new side shoots to emerge.
* Pinching the stem tips of leggy annuals like begonia, celosia and coleus enables dormant buds along  stems to open and makes the plant look full and robust. A hard pruning of annuals like petunias causes plants to branch out with improved flowering.
* Removal of dead flowers from plants improves their appearance and prevents the plants from wasting valuable energy resources producing seed.
* Over-fertilization and over-watering may cause some plants to become leggy and topple over with heavy flowers. Individual stems can be supported with commercial wire stakes and a soft string tie.
To prevent annuals like the petunia from becoming too "leggy,"
pinch the stem tips so that side shoots and flowers develop.
 Photo credit: Rebecca Finneran, MSU Extension