Here are 13 bits and pieces of garden related information that can prove useful to you now and in the future. Put them in your mental toolbox of things to know.
1. Big Box stores like Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart and True Value, Costco and close to a hundred other retailers are in the process of phasing out or have completely removed bee-killing neonicotinoids from their shelves. Ace Hardware has not joined its competitors their stand against neonicotinoids.
2. According to Doug Tallamy, Professor of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at U. of DE and author of Bringing Nature Home, oak trees support 557 species of caterpillars (food for birds). Cherries, birches, willows and poplars are good, too. Asian ornamental species don’t support the insects that support our birds and viable food webs.
3. Major chemical companies like Bayer often make organic alternatives to their more toxic chemical products. Check for an organic version before you buy the chemical product.
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4. Outstanding perennials to grow in a seaside garden: Globe thistle (Echinops), yarrow, Russian sage and sea holly.
5. Plants that reseed, like cleome, echinacea and monarda, establish in spots that suit their needs. Nature tends to grow the right plant in the right place. They offer a low cost, low maintenance way to fill a spot in your garden with concentrated color.
6. Salvia and sage are two names for the same plant. It is an aromatic plant that grows in full sun or dappled shade. There are more than 900 varieties which range from tender to hardy evergreen. With deadheading some varieties can bloom from April to November—spring until frost. Salvia mixes well with other plants; it is suitable for various garden styles. It is deer and rabbit repellent but loved by hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators.
7. How to grow sedum: Sedums do best in lean soil. Don’t fertilize them; instead, give them some compost once or twice a year. Their soil should be well draining, but hold water; compost will help sandy soil hold water. Give them full to part sun. A few woodland varieties prefer dappled shade. (Read plant tags.) Most sedums are drought tolerant but do best with weekly water. When in doubt, err on the dry side.
8. Mycorrhizal inoculants are agricultural amendments (usually in powder form) that contain beneficial microorganisms to promote plant health. Mycorrhizae establish a symbiotic relationship with plant roots. They improve nutrient uptake by increasing nutrient availability to the host plants. They additionally provide resistance against pathogens.
9. Seed viability: Parsley seeds are viable for only one year, basil for many years. Generally, properly stored annual flower seeds are viable for 1 – 3 years, perennial seeds for 2 – 4 years. For individual vegetables, herbs and flowers google/search online by entering the words, seed viability plus the plant name.
10. When you have exhausted other options and need to use glyphosate, Precision Roundup Gel is available. The container looks like an oversized deodorant applicator. The label tells us that it is so precise one needs only touch the weed with the gel. It should be more efficient than using a Roundup soaked Q-tip or paint brush to apply the chemical.
11. Growers Trust Spider Mite Killer is a 100% organic spider mite killer which consists solely of food grade plant based oils. It works by blocking spider mites’ breathing holes and suffocating them, deactivating eggs to prevent hatching and disrupting female mites’ reproductive process. It is a contact killer, so 2 to 3 applications may be necessary. It is also effective on other mites, aphids, thrips, chiggers and mosquito larvae.
12. Entertain the neighborhood or grand kids with a nature scavenger hunt. Ask them to find two differently shaped leaves, something fuzzy, a big seed pod, a cloverleaf, dandelion flower, a pinecone, something red (or any other color), a leaf that smells good, a pretty or shiny rock, a Y-shaped stick. Key on whatever is available in your neighborhood. End your list by asking your hunters to find something amazing, then, follow up with show and tell about that special item.
Reach Debbie Menchek, a Clemson Master Gardener, at firstname.lastname@example.org.