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HOLIDAYS, A BUSY TIME

FOR A SMALL GARDEN

EARLY JULY BLOOMS, MEAN A COLORFUL SUMMER

  BY

Anna May Kinney

  

The way it worked out this year, many people wound up with two four-day weekends in a row. Things were buzzing around here, friends from distant places, many who I have not seen for years, arrived for a visit. Plus all the first time people who came out to see my little piece of heaven, this was an exciting and exhausting month.

Now that my two biggest visitor weekends are over, and the early flowers have faded, I look forward to the slower pace of summer. Soon the garden will be colored with summer blooms and people will begin trickling in on weekends, it will stay slow like this right until the second week of August, when it picks up again, but nothing ever compares to June 24th and July 1st.

         The summer blooms are already beginning to open. In fact, there have been miniature dahlias opened since July 7 and this morning; July 10 the first large white dahlia has shown it’s face. Having early dahlias means a summer full of breathtaking color.

Building up the beds by adding more sand for drainage and additional compost has truly made a difference. Where this was not done, some of the plants did not make the early spring flooding, the ones who did are quite a way behind and struggling along.

These weaker plants are more susceptible to slug damage and I have to keep them weeded and replace the wood ash around them after every rainfall. 

          Dahlias aren’t the only flowers that have appeared early this year, my three colors of sunflowers have large buds almost ready to pop open and the cosmos are already showing some of their blooms.

          For their second year in the ground the Astillbe are putting on quite a feathery show, and this will be the first year for the double hollyhocks, sweet peas and melvas.

          Wanting to start more perennials from seed, and needing something that would climb and offer a rich color around the new picnic arbor, I invested in a package of Melva (Melva sylvestris) seeds.

Started in April, these plants took off like nothing I ever saw. Four weeks after being set out doors, they have huge elephant ear style leaves and are already three feet high and bushy. They are supposed to produce large velvety maroon flowers, I’m totally fascinated with these attractive plants; I will let you know how they do, maybe even some pictures.

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THIS WEEK’S QUESTION

This week’s question came from a lady in New York: “My sister and I have been having a disagreement, she read somewhere that carrots were originally white, I don’t believe her, is this true?”

          Some experts believe that the first carrots were white, and that the carrots color changed as people continuously saved seed from the darker, sweeter specimens, eventually they became yellow, which in time turned to the orange color that we are familiar with today.

          Over the last few years there have been darker and darker types of carrots developed through cross breeding. Some of these carrots make all kinds of health claims. There are quite a few varieties now available that claim to contain a higher percentage of beta-carotene than the average everyday light orange carrot.

          Texas A & M researchers have developed a variety of carrot that is maroon, claiming that a single eight-inch long carrot supplies twice the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A.

          Besides being a good source of vitamins, this carrot rates high on appearance.  As you slice through the deep burgundy outer layers, the center of each carrot is a rich orange; this variance has made it a favorite within the gourmet community.

By the way, if you are interested in growing your own white carrot, Nichol’s Garden Nursery is offering a white carrot seed called White Belgium. You can find it at www.gardennursery.com

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 BIOTECH NEWS FOR JUNE/JULY

As everyone knows there is a conference on genetically engineered foods taking place this week is Saskatchewan. This time the biotech industry has invited the protesters inside in an attempt to convince the skeptics of the safety of GE foods.

With the heavy protests and regulations going on around the world, many North American farmers are stepping back this year, planting fewer GE crops in fear that they will be stuck with a harvest that no one wants to buy. This has prompted the biotech industry to spend millions of dollars on massive ad campaigns, trying to convince consumers that bio-engineered crops are safe. Thankfully, there are clear signs that this is not working.

San Francisco has become the latest U.S. city to make a stand against genetically engineered foods. Members of San Francisco’s commission of the Environment have proposed a resolution that calls for the labeling of all GE foods, as well as a moratorium on all genetically engineered foods until they are thoroughly researched for all possible risks. The proposal encourages schools to serve organic lunches and for favoring vendors who serve organic foods for city events.

Others cities which have passed such resolutions are Berkeley and Santa Cruz, California; Austin, Texas and Boston, Massachusetts. Portland, Oregon is currently working on a ballot measure.