University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Winter News Article


TOP TIPS FOR 2008
 
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
 
                  
Just as many think back this month on news and events from this past year, recall some of our top gardening tips and ideas towards making your garden and landscape even better this coming year.  Some of these from our Green Mountain Gardener articles included new annuals, perennials, storing vegetables, and gardening more environmentally friendly.
           
Early last year we described several of the newest introductions from seeds, winners in the All-America Selections program.  These included two flowers and a vegetable.  Viola 'Skippy Plum-Gold' has unique small flowers, and many of them.  African Daisy (Osteospermum) 'Asti White' has a unique combination of pure white flowers with blue centers.  Eggplant 'Hansel' has tender and non-bitter fruit, few seeds, and can be harvested small.
           
There were several new perennial flowers highlighted in our articles this past year, beginning with the Perennial Plant of the Year, Rozanne perennial geranium.  This hardy geranium, not to confuse with annual geraniums (Pelargonium), begins bloom with iridescent purplish-blue flowers on bushy plants in mid-summer.  These keep blooming until fall.  Plants are hardy and require little care.
           
One of the trendy new groups of perennials, with quite a few new cultivars and exciting colors each year are the coneflowers (Echinacea).  Some of those we featured included low ones like 'Kim's Knee High', double ones such as 'Razzmatazz' with rose-pink pompom flowers, orange ones such as 'Orange Meadowbrite' and 'Sundown', rosy red ones such as 'Twilight', yellow ones such as 'Sunrise', and even green ones such as 'Green Envy.'  One of my favorites, new in my trials this year, is the rich orange 'Tiki Torch'. 
           
If you stored or froze vegetables this past year, don't forget to check on them and make sure they are stored properly.  If you didn't store any, you can still do so with a more limited selection of local crops in local markets.  Tips were provided this past year on proper harvest, and the four main storage groups different vegetables require.  These include cold and moist for many, such as carrots and peas.  Cool and moist should be used for snap beans, cucumbers, potatoes, and tomatoes.  Use cool and dry for garlic and onions.  Warm and dry is needed for hot peppers and winter squash. 
           
If you have some extra freezer space, this storage method for vegetables is generally easy.  Tips were provided on proper times for "blanching" most before freezing, simply scalding them in hot water or steam for a short time to stop them from maturing.
           
Several articles this past year had an emphasis on "ecological" gardening.  If our climate does get warmer, positive impacts such as longer growing seasons and negative impacts such as more pests were discussed.  The National Phenology Network was given as a resource to help you monitor from year to year the development of plants, and change of climate, on your own.  Other articles dealt with the positive impacts of soil and organic matter on reducing carbon dioxide in the air, many simple ways to garden more "green", using recyled garden products as well as recycling home products into the garden, and tips to choose perennials "ecologically" for lower maintenance and longer life from them.
           
A couple articles dealt with health topics, such as on Lyme disease and how to avoid it while gardening.  Check regularly for bites, especially for the characteristic "bulls eye" rash.  If any doubt, check with a physician as treated early with antibiotics Lyme disease can be checked.  Permanent damage may occur if treated too late.  Certain precautions can avoid you being bitten.
           
The benefits of healing gardens, both for mental and physical health, were covered together with some ideas to help you create your own.  These included using water for its serenity and sounds, planning with the senses in mind such as with plants soft to touch or fragrant, horizontal vistas and curving paths and bed edges.
           
Some of the many other articles from this past year included topics such as water gardening, fountains, roses and their scents, the various values of and reasons why you should landscape, gardening tips from designers, and deer resistant perennials.  More on these and other topics can be found online either by season or topic (perennialsperennials.info/articleS.htm).


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