The people's voice of reason


I do not know about you, but the Zika virus has me nervous. And the first thing I want to do is to fumigate my yard, besides emptying any and all standing water. This means for me that I have to check after my sprinkler system comes on daily for water that may have collected in magnolia leaves and other receptacles. I was reading an article published in a gardening magazine, that we should be very careful when spraying insecticides in our urban yards. The United Sates bee populations have diminished greatly, so we do not want to add to more of their demise. It was suggested that even organic products such as insecticidal soaps can be deadly. Avoid dusts which attach to the bees' hairy bodies which they then carry back to the hives which can be deadly. It is best to spray or fog the landscape only late at night or very early in the morning when the bees are not active. Also another safety idea is to avoid spraying the actual blooms heads that the bees visit. It would be the better practice to find insecticide which is targeted toward certain pest. There are bee friendly products that are on the market today. To learn more about bee safety, the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service would be the experts on this subject.

Late last fall, I planted curly leaf Kale, Collards, and giant red stemmed Swiss Chard in the flower garden at my farm. We ate all of the collards, but now the Kale and Swiss Chard have filled in a swath of about 8 feet by 5 feet in the mid part of the bed. I had no idea these edibles were such great fillers. Now that it is in the 95+ degree range, these plants have not missed a beat. You may want to try my idea of placing edible along side Phlox, Zinnias, Cannas, and other flowers.

Micronutrients have been in the news and also in many national heath letters. These are actually seedlings or sprouts of radishes, broccoli,sunflowers, cress, alfalfa, and others. I have spent $4.00 per pack at Fresh Market or other grocery stores for these very healthy additions to salads or sandwiches. They can be grown very cheaply in pots, plates, tins, in window sills or out of doors. Microgreens are not like sprouts, which are grown in jars without soil. Although you can grow microgreens hydroponically, their flavor is best grown in soil.

Of all the myriad of shrubs that grow in God's green earth, my favorite are the hydrangeas. If one desires landscape size hydrangeas, the Limelight cannot be beat and has a long bloom time. Two recent varieties that I have run into to on my garden shopping forays are:

1. Hydrangea Incrediball Blush --very hardy and is a show stopper with huge blush colored blossoms for sunny situations. These grow about 5 feet high, and can survive very tough winters. They age to a gray green and are simply stunning.

2. Hydrangea Gatsby Pink --these have massive blooms with a sculptured dark green leaves, turning burnt orange in the fall. The conical shaped blooms have an appearance of the Oak leaf hydrangea. The moisture requirement is moist well drained soil, and they can take full sun or partial shade. These are recommended for our Zone 8.



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