Interesting Tidbits

Photographs from Tony Avent lecture and Tomato Plant Sale 

Courtesy of Debra McCown, freelance writer

Gardening With Edibles Continues to Expand

(Winter 2013 Poll from Garden Writers Association Foundation)

A recently poll of 110 million households in the U.S. found that 28.7% of all households have a lawn or garden, 11% grow plants in containers, and 22.3% have or do both or a total of 61.9% (roughly 68 million). Among the 68 million households, 81.5% (~55.5 million) have grown edible plants (fruits/vegetables/herbs) since 2009. This is broken down by:

  • 35.3% grew edible plants in the ground
  • 15.6% grew edible plants in containers
  • 30.6% grew edible plants both in the ground and in containers.

For 2013 there is an expected 11.3% increase in households planning to grow edible plants.

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According to the poll, the principal reasons why some persons did not garden in 2012 were:

  • took too much time (40.9%)
  • lost interest (22.5%)
  • efforts were unsuccessful (19.0%)
  • moved to a location where gardening wasn’t possible (17.8%)
  • too expensive (12.6%)
  • too much work (6.4%).

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Top 5 challenges listed by gardeners were:
Time (35.7% ); Insect & disease control (30.8%); Wildlife control (26.0%);  Irrigation (23.6%); and  Cost (13.0%).

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Source for above information: Garden Writers Association Foundation (GWAF) (released March 2013)

‘Thailand Giant’ Elephant Ears A Tropical Wonder

‘Thailand Giant’ elephant ears (Colocasia gigantea) is rated as an annual and is not perennial in east Tennessee (USDA hardiness zone 8-10).  Get a head start by purchasing a young seedling from a mail-order nursery. When the plant(s) arrives, pot it into a 1 gallon sized pot containing good house plant media or compost rich garden soil. Treat as a house plant, moving it outdoors on warm days and back indoors when temps drop below 40° F. By mid-May it can be planted safely outdoors into a large wide-based container (10-15 gallon size) or in a compost-rich garden bed.

Thailand Giant grows best in full to partial sunlight (6- hours minimum). Keep roots moist, but not sopping wet. Over the summer it grows into a massive 8 to 9 foot tall plant with attractive grayish green foliage. In the garden individual leaves may swell to 4 to 5 feet in length and 3 to 4 feet wide if luxuriantly watered and fertilized. Feed with a water-soluble fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro™ or Daniels™ Plant Food, applied every two weeks until September 1st.

Clusters of large fragrant white flowers form early, but are mostly hidden within the enormous sized foliage. Its gigantic leaves and tropical presence are reasons for planting Thailand Giant. In a hot Tennessee summer it should be irrigated frequently, as much as 2 inches or more weekly if natural rainfall is unavailable.

In the fall, days before first frost, cut back the foliage, dig up the plant, and transplant into a large container. Store in a cool place (40 – 45 °F) over the winter and keep soil (potting media) relatively dry. The crown should remain dormant until it is watered in early spring to restart growth.

Plant is sold by Plant Delights—Tony Avent, our April speaker.

Photo credit: courtesy Plant Delights Nursery

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