It’s hard to resist those tropical beauties in the garden center each spring. We’ve all succumbed to the imposing leaves of elephant ear (Colocasia) and the striking colors of cannas. Trumpet-flowered Mandevilla grows nicely in a container and can cover a fence in never ending color, at least until frost. Then there are banana trees, which will probably never produce bananas for us, but make quite the statement in the garden none the less.
And who isn’t charmed by Brugmansia, or Angel’s Trumpet, with its foot-long trumpet horn flowers that obligingly hang upside down, so we can fully take in their heady scent.
These tropical plants add a touch of the exotic to our gardens, providing a taste of warmer climates for however long our summers may last. But they don’t come cheap and to grow a really impressive specimen takes years. Growing them as annual plants seems a waste of not just all the resources you put into buying and caring for the plants, but also the plants themselves. However if you want to enjoy your tropical plants for years to come, you will need to find somewhere safe to store them for the winter.
That can vary from plant to plant. Some plants will happily go dormant, grateful to have the winter off and a little downtime to regain their stamina. Others make excellent indoor plants, if you have a spot with enough sun and you can control the heat and humidity.
Get a garden program growing at your school with these tips
(BPT) – As a parent, you probably spend a lot of time trying to keep your kids clean and healthy, but sometimes a little dirt is just what the doctor ordered.
Research shows a direct link between children’s current and future health and their participation in gardening. In fact, kids who garden are more likely to stick with the hobby as adults, have a higher likelihood of excelling in group work and are typically more inclined to eat healthful fruits and vegetables when given the option, according to a compilation of research summarized by the Children and Nature Network.
School garden programs
While some children develop a green thumb at home, research by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program indicates a growing number of kids are learning about gardening in school — a tactic that’s proving to be a popular, effective way of teaching children important life and nutritional skills.
A survey by Tractor Supply Company, which sponsors the “Dig It” school garden program, found 75 percent of polled adults believe hands-on learning is more effective than memorization and 97 percent believe hands-on activities help kids develop a more positive outlook on learning.
Starting a program
If you’re a parent or teacher whose elementary school doesn’t yet have a gardening program, Tractor Supply offers some tips on how to get one started:
On Sept. 20, 2016, FAO’s Director-General José Graziano da Silva addressed the United Nations General Assembly celebrating the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition. and said:
“The 10 years running until 2025 will be a critical time for action to build healthy and sustainable food systems and end malnutrition in all its forms. The purpose of the Decade of Action on Nutrition is to continue to draw the world`s attention to the importance of combatting malnutrition”.
Knowing that CONTAINER GARDENING is one of the most effective tools for combatting malnutrition at home and in schools, the 71.000 members of this group are wondering if container gardening is really a part of the work plan of WHO and FAO, focusing their efforts on two main objectives: “One is assisting governments in building national policies and programs that advance nutrition. The other is to align the efforts of existing global initiatives and social movements towards common goals. To support concrete action on nutrition programs, both agencies will further organize special meetings to strengthen countries’ technical capacities to tackle new nutrition challenges”.
Am I blind or have I missed container gardening somewhere ?
It remains good to know that more and people on all continents are growing fresh food for daily consumption in a panoply of containers. It is a recognisable signal for governments and international aid organizations that this is the most direct road to solving the malnutrition problem, particularly for children.
Must Read For Anyone Interested in Growing Their Own Food
Today I was prompted by a few things to revisit a previous post I created to help our followers grow their own garlic.
First, I read yet another article on the dangers in our food supply. Sadly, not all our trading partners feel it is important to give us clean, safe and healthy foods. The power of the almighty dollar often outweighs the importance of good, quality food. This particular article cited the use of chemicals on foods that you would not want on your foods. Garlic was one of the key foods mentioned in th article. Further Googling and reading on the topic led me to another article where crops were grown on human waste. Gross! Growing your own food helps you identify where your foods are from. Would you grow your foods on human waste or use unsafe chemicals to treat or condition your foods???
In Maida Vale, West London, there is a garden centre that looks like a wedding venue. Clifton Nurseries has swoon-inducing greenhouses brimming with houseplants of a size suitable only for very large houses and, outside, neat parades of annuals leading to a chic cafe. Needless to say, it’s a bit smart to be my usual hangout.
However, I was on a mission: to learn the dark art of planting up containers that, come spring, are fit to burst with meticulously neat patches of different kinds of bulbs. I’ve been planting bulbs in containers for the past three years now, and have had measured success in spring.
But while my efforts lead to the occasional surprise crocus or half a dozen hardy tulips, the bulb lasagne – or process of planting a series of bulbs which bloom at different times to get the most out of one container – has always ended up, on my balcony at least, as more of a ready meal than a banquet.
So it was down to Paul Todd, one of Clifton’s gardeners, to take pity and show me how it’s done.
There’s always been something almost mystical about camellias which makes people fall under their spell. And, like rhododendron and Japanese maple lovers; enthusiasts go all starry-eyed and wistful at the very mention of their name. Perhaps it’s their exotic Far East pedigree that captivates hearts, but originating in a corner of the world loosely strung out between Nepal, Vietnam, Japan and Korea – they grow in a very unglamorous climate. With Britain’s four distinct seasons – much the same as large chunks of Europe – they suffer sun, rain and snow, much as we do, and that is why they are so perfectly at home here.
Fall is not the end of our gardens for the year. We do not need to shut them down, put away our tools and forget them till next spring. Fall is a lovely time to enjoy your gardens. Blooms and foliage abound, as does a new crop of cold weather vegetables. The warm days and crisp nights make for a third season of gardening.
Planning for a fall garden does require some time, especially if you are not familiar with the bounty of fall blooming plants and vegetables. It’s easy, whatever you choose to grow. Top of my list is asters, which do not begin to bloom until September primarily. There are many varieties for zones 4 through 6 gardens, which covers the Hudson Valley region. Seeking out local nurseries for plant choices will assure you that the plants you choose will grow here.
Second on my list for fall blooms must be mums in all their glory. Many are available that are hardy and do require some care so they grow well. First off, any nursery-grown plant should be transplanted into the garden as soon as you can after bringing it home. Dig deep and amend the soil in the hole which is at least twice the size of the plant. Gently break up the roots and plant the same depth as the plant was growing in the pot. This will assure an easier transition. Water well, and keep watered during bloom.
Bulbs are my third choice, and yes, there are bulbs that bloom in the fall. Easy to grow fall crocus and colchicums, small lily-like blooms, are trusted choices. Even planted in August, these hardy bulbs will bloom in a few weeks after planting.
So the above mentioned plants and bulbs are three simple ways to keep the bloom going long after most summer flowers have faded. Annuals are another great way to fill in those dead spots where other plants have finished blooming. They will continue to bloom until frost while many will survive until hard frost and first snow.