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Garden Ramblings, Issue #055
March 15, 2009

 

March 2009


Monthly Musings on the Garden Scene

 

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If you prefer, you can view this month's issue online where you can also subscribe if this copy has been forwarded to you by a friend.

If you are reading the text version you will need to go online to see the videos.

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In this issue:

- Letter from the Editor
- Roses Make A Wonderful Hedge
- Hanging Tomato Planters
- Pests And The Organic Gardener
- Special Offers
- Tailpiece

 

 

 

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Hi

Welcome to the March issue of Garden Ramblings. We have three articles by guest authors this month.

Our first guest is Juliet Sadler who tells us that "Roses Make A Wonderful Hedge". Certainly the idea of fragrant flowers coupled with sharp thorns to deter intruders is an attractive proposition. And if you want to follow her advice she also includes information on suitable varieties.

Turning from flowers to vegetables J Ruppel gives us the lowdown on "Hanging Tomato Planters". When these first appeared I thought of them as novelty gadgets, but it turns out that growing tomatoes this way can have several practical advantages.

In "Pests And The Organic Gardener" Janette G. Blackwell tells us of her personal battle against slugs and snails. She has some helpful suggestions on how to protect your plants from these pests including a rather unusual use for cat food.

As usual there is a Special Offers section with all the bargains that I've managed to find this month.

The video this month is "My Flower Garden".

Enjoy the issue.

Hugh

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My Flower Garden

 

 



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Roses Make A Wonderful Hedge
by Juliet Sadler

Roses can make a wonderful hedge either mixed in with a normal hedge or as an attractive flowering boundary. An upwind rose hedge that has strong, fragrant flowers can perfume a garden, filling the air with their heavy scent, and bar intruders with their wicked thorns. R. eglanteria is such a plant with small, single, pink blooms, blush centres, and a plethora of bright red hips that last well into winter. It will take some shade and can be trained to climb. Rugosa roses are among the toughest of all garden roses. They originated from the orient centuries ago but it was not until the 1970's that breeders began to create many new exciting varieties by crossing them with garden roses. Rugosa roses are dense and robust in form, very thorny, and the leaves are roughly textured and deep veined. The flowers are usually large, opening wide; they may be single to fully double appear fragile - somewhat like crinkled silk.

Most of them repeat flower well later in the summer. Plump rose hips appear following the flowering period and foliage turns an attractive bronze in late season. Rugosas make wonderful hedges but also look good as specimen plants in mixed shrub borders. They are able to grow under very poor conditions with the ability to withstand sea spray, which makes them popular in northern climates and coastal areas. Rosa 'Hansa' belongs to this group; it makes up an impressive hedge. Large early summer flush of intensely clove-scented crimson flowers, repeats occasionally in summer with a smaller flush in autumn.

The flowers are produced in such fabulous profusion that the plant can have a tendency to sprawl under the weight of its own massive thorny canes. Another with beautiful flowers is 'Agnes' with fully double, rich yellow and amber blooms of the old-fashioned type; this one will reach a height of 8-ft (2.4m). Rugosas are very disease resistant and do NOT therefore require nor appreciate being sprayed with chemicals, which terns the leaves yellow. An impenetrable barrier can also be created with- Cerise Bouquet, R. sericea pteracantha, R. pimpinellifolia and hybrids, R. paulii, R. Macrantha and many of the species roses.

Climbers and Ramblers for growing into Trees, over Bushes and Hedges and smothering unsightly features: Almost any rambler is excellent but the best are: Albe`ric barbier, Bobby James, Ce`cile Brunner Clg, Dr W.Van Fleet, Fe`licite` et Perpe`tue, Francis E. Lester, Kew Rambler, Long John Silver, May Queen, R. filipes, 'Kiftsgate', Paul's Himalayan Musk, R. mulliganii, R. banksiae lutea, R. banksiae lutea, R. banksiae banksiae, R. wichuraiana ramblers and Wedding Day.

 

 

About the Author
Learn about grass types and grass care at the Plants And Flowers site.

 



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Hanging Tomato Planters Let Anyone Have a Tomato Garden
by J Ruppel

Tomato gardening is just about the favorite type of vegetable gardening going. Almost anyone will enjoy fresh tomatoes. But many are without access to a garden, so in order to get those fresh tomatoes they need to try something a little non traditional. The most popular is a hanging tomato planter.

Let's look at the advantages.

If you live in an apartment or townhouse, and still want to enjoy fresh tomatoes, probably the easiest way is to use a hanging tomato planter. Hanging planters can be put on a porch, or a balcony, or even a patio. They make it easy to get to your tomatoes even if you have a vegetable garden. And it's become increasingly popular over the last several years to grow tomatoes upside down, which has a lot of the same advantages as the traditionally hanging planter. Let's look a the pros and cons of using growing tomatoes in a hanging planter.

No Staking - The tomatoes are hanging from the planter, you have no need to stake them, or bother with any other types of support other than the planter hanger. For some indeterminate types of tomatoes, you may find you need to trim them to keep them off the ground, but no stakes. This is a real advantage, and it makes getting to the tomatoes that much simpler when they are hanging free in the air and not lying hidden on the ground.

Soil Borne Pests - With the tomato plants hanging in the air, you have almost no problems with slugs and other soil borne pests.

Soil Borne Disease - In a planter the soil is replaced often, often with a soilless mix, so problems with diseases carried over in the soil are eliminated. One other source of problems with disease is that normally it's common that the water splashes the soil up on the leaves of the plant when you water and the disease gets to the plant this way. With the bulk of the plant hanging down from the planter the possibility of water splashing up is largely removed.

Improved Air Circulation - Since the tomato plants are suspended in the air, you get a lot better air circulation. This results in improved pollination, fewer disease problems and higher yields.

Weeds - Basically, with fresh soil and a small surface, weeds are pretty much eliminated. In addition, for an upside down planter the surface where the weeds would grow is opposite the surface the tomato plant sticks out of.

Location - The beauty of container gardening is that you can do it almost everywhere, like the porch, patio, or apartment balcony. It's great to have your tomatoes right outside the kitchen door even if you have a vegetable garden out in the back yard.

There are a few potential problems with hanging tomato planters. You want to make sure you are using the right varieties of tomatoes for the planter size you are using. They can be a little heavy, so there are some tips for filling them. In addition, some things like watering need special attention...

 

 

About the Author
See more about hanging tomato planters including upside down tomato planters at http://tomato-tips.com/more-hanging-planters.html

 



 

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Pests And The Organic Gardener
by Janette G. Blackwell

 

There's nothing like the glow of deep virtue that comes after the new organic gardener gives up poison sprays. You are increasing the health of your family, producing vegetables with a more delicious flavor, and making the planet a better place.

Then your tomatoes wilt, your cucumbers ditto, and large numbers of seeds you plant somehow never come up. For years I planted sunflower seeds, thinking of those golden-bronze-red beauties in August, but they didn't seem to emerge. I learned that, in fact, they had emerged but were eaten in the night by slugs that seemed to find them more delicious than all other mealtime possibilities.

In California the snails ate my baby seedlings; in Virginia it was their relatives the slugs. It was agonizing to wake up in the morning, go out to admire my baby plants - some of which I had nurtured for months in little peat pots - and find that THEY HAD ALL BEEN EATEN IN THE NIGHT. My babies! Gone! Dead!

Well. Mothers will go to great lengths to defend their young. When I gardened in California I had not yet become an organic gardener. I spread poison snail bait - and, guess what? The snails ate the poison bait, THEN they ate all my baby seedlings, THEN they died.

In Virginia the battle became organic. My husband used to say, "There goes the mighty hunter. Got your pith helmet on?" as I headed outside after dark with my flashlight and empty coffee can. I watched as slugs smelled/sensed my baby seedlings from afar and moved with amazing speed toward them. Into the can went the slugs, but I soon realized that I couldn't spend all night lying in wait. Then I found that slugs love dry cat (or dog) food better than anything else. I set little piles of dry cat food about ten feet from my seedlings - you of course want the slugs heading away from your babies - and went out several times an evening to harvest them. It worked.

If mighty hunterdom doesn't appeal to you, organic gardening boasts many other healthy, nonpoisonous ways to control diseases and pests. You can try diatomaceous earth, nematodes, vinegar spray, ladybugs, companion planting, and a host of other organic ways to deal with pests and plant diseases.

TOUGH PLANTS WITHSTAND PESTS BETTER

I think you'll also find that, while tender seedlings started in pots indoors are especially tempting to slugs, if you harden off the seedlings by leaving the pots out in the spring sun and wind for increasingly long periods, they are less tempting when planted out. Cutting off plant food a couple of weeks before you set plants out, while cutting back a bit on their water, also cuts back on the tempting new growth that slugs and snails can smell from yards away. And, because the plants are bigger and tougher, they are better able to survive what pest attacks do occur.

Fortunately the Internet is a treasure trove of wisdom - and gardening products - to help you grow organically. No matter what you try, you won't get rid of all the pests, but the struggle will keep your brain sizzling and your imagination glowing. And the rich, dark soil you create organically will make your healthy plants boom along ahead of the pests - once they get past infancy, of course.

 

About the Author
Janette Blackwell enjoys helping people find extra-good sites through her TOUR THE SITES newsletter. She'll also show you the 1000 BEST SITES FOR FAMILIES AND SENIORS, with bargains and freebies, delicious food and humor, free expert help on gardening and much more. Just go to TOURTHESITES.COM. http://tourthesites.com/ *************************************************************

Special Offers

This is the second month when I have little to report. It's not the right time of year for sales and bargains are few and far between. Otherwise it is back to the basic offers of free shipping and $$$ off when you spend $$$.

 

At Gardener's Supply Company look for the Outlet section at the bottom of the menu on the lefthand side of the page. There are still a few reductions in the gardening and landscaping sections.

 

 

 

Gardener's Supply Company

 

 

Dutch Gardens have finished their sales and are featuring their new perennials for spring, so free shipping is all that is on offer this month.

 

 

Dutch Gardens, Inc.

 

 

 

 

Gurney's Seed & Nursery Co are still offering Ka-Bluey Blueberry at 55% off and, as you see from the banner, you can still save $20 when you spend $40 or more.

 

 

Shop at Gurneys.com for your vegetable and flower seeds!

 

 

 

 

This month Nature Hills Nursery are just offering free shipping on all orders over $100.

 

 

 

 





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Tailpiece

 

Guerilla Gardener

 

 



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Please feel free to pass on this newsletter to your gardening friends. Do let me have your feedback and suggestions to: [email protected]

 

That's all until next month but in the meantime you can always look at my Blog Garden Supplies News

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