Recognition With a Garden Solution

11/23/2012 | Ken Lain, mountain gardener Outdoor Living, Uncategorized, Vegetable Gardening

Having grown up with my grandmother living in the bedroom across from mine, I have a fondness for May, the “Older American Month”. The theme of this year’s recognition is ‘Older Americans: Connecting the Community’.

Home Instead Senior Care, which allows older individuals to continue living in their homes instead of having to head prematurely to nursing homes, is owned by Susan Abbott. Aware that many elder citizens have gardened for decades and although their aging joints don’t allow them to garden any longer, they still enjoy a beautiful plant in bloom, Susan had an idea. Her thought was, ”For this year’s Older American Month, let’s give plants in bloom to those that have done so much for our community.” Well, Susan and her organization have arranged for blooming plants to be delivered to these at-home aging neighbors. I say let’s help her! Here’s how:

You may buy a flowering plant, not cut flowers, and deliver it to Home Instead Senior Care, 240 South Montezuma St. # 206, in Prescott. For the sake of convenience, Susan has agreed to use Watters Garden Center as a collection point for plant donations. To make your participation even easier, I have hand picked some blooming beauties that are very easy to take care of and have created a colorful and easy to spot display at the garden center. Just pick out and purchase the plant you want to donate to the cause; a personal note will be attached to each plant before it is hand delivered.

Plants must be dropped off or purchased by the end of next week so that they can be hand delivered the following week. Lisa and I will donate the first dozen plants, and hope that many of you will support this effort with your generosity. It’s these “little things” that make our community a better place to live. Many thanks to Susan for leading this project.

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Some good vegetable gardening advice is to plant different crops in the same furrows. For instance, my beans will take 60-65 days until harvest, but radishes take only 25 days to harvest so I planted a row of radishes in the same furrow with the beans. The radishes already have emerged and will be table ready well before the beans are ready to set blossoms.

The same technique works well with tomatoes and lettuce, or any pairing of vegetables that combines a plant with long days to harvest plant and a plant with a short number of days to harvest. This is a classic “Square Foot Gardener” technique, but I call it common sense gardening. Come see me for more detailed suggestions and instructions.

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One of the joys of each spring garden season is finding a new plant. It might be a new flower color I’ve never grown, a variegated leaf, or a newly invented plant. This spring has been an exceptional year for newly introduced plants; there are dozens making their debuts.

In this long line of introductions is the Miss Ruby Buddleia, definitely not just another butterfly bush. This week’s column photo shows this plant’s blooms, ‘though a newspaper photo does little justice to its true beauty. The blosoms of this compact butterfly bush are a stunning new magenta color surrounded by rich blue green foliage. The contrast makes for a striking addition to any garden. Initially, it’s the flowers that draw a gardener to this pretty plant, but the real beauty is its compact DNA, which makes it very easy to maintain.
Tall buddleias can grow to 12 feet high making them unwanted giants in some yards. This new variety is shapely and full without growing taller than the average gardener. It’s the perfect height to soften fence lines and south facing walls between windows, or for a container centerpiece in a courtyard. Few plants provide such a long bloom cycle through the heat of summer.

The negative thing about newly introduced plants is that it’s really difficult for retailers to get our hands on very many specimen plants. If you were thinking about adding a bush that really does attract more butterflies into your landscape, consider the Miss Ruby, but don’t wait. Seriously, there are so few of these newer plants that when local supplies are gone there will be no more than until spring 2012.

Facebook question of the week – OK, Ken….what can I use “organically” on my tomatoes, peppers,etc. for those pesky green worms that eat my garden? HELP ME! Lori, Prescott.

Answer: Have you noticed a magnificent moth floating through our gardens? It’s so big that it often is mistaken for a hummingbird. That is the mother of this humungous green caterpillar. She flies around pollinating garden flowers, and then lays her eggs on the vegetable garden plants. Several weeks later the eggs hatch into those blasted worms with voracious appetites, and they eat far more than just tomatoes. Last year I found a ‘Horned Tomato Worm’ eating a jalapeno pepper, not eating the plant but the pepper itself!

These monstrous green worms will arrive in 3-4 weeks. It happens every year, so we need to be ready for them. I am not an advocate for hosing down the environment with insecticides, either organic or not, but I swear by ‘Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew’. Do like I do and have it ready in the garden shed or garage so the garden arsenal is fueled when this pest arrives. Captain Jack’s is organic and can be used at two- week intervals to keep away the green menace. I have this spray at the ready and hose down the plants as foliage comes up missing in mid-summer. This saves time, money, and keeps insecticides out of the environment until absolutely necessary.

Captain Jack’s also is effective against thrips, sometimes called No-See-Ums. It is one of the few bug killers that actually works on these tiny flower eaters. They are annihilated by this organic bug killer!

Until next week, I’ll see you at the garden center.