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A few facts and figures about gardening

Feb.07: Every time I run across something I find interesting (here's hoping you do, too) about the gardening world, I store them for future use.

Who knows, maybe one day I will use them at the end of one of my columns. So I thought I would make a whole column this time out of nothing but these bits.

Did you know?

  • Every time a mosquito bites us as we get older, our bodies respond less and less to it, gradually as time goes by, until one day we have no reaction to the bite at all.

  • Say you're at a picnic, a dastardly yellow jacket lands on your arm or, worse yet, on your perfectly selected plate of food. You better think twice before swatting it. Why, you ask? Because the dying insect releases an alarm (a pheromone) that brings its kin to its defense and rescue.

  • Need to know the temperature, but there's no thermometer around? Well, crickets can tell you. That's right, crickets. All you have to do is count a cricket's chirps for 15 seconds, then add 40 to that number.

  • (By this time, I bet you're thinking I'm rowing my boat with only one oar, aren't you?)

  • This is one about the grass in your lawn. Never cut the grass more than a third of its height at one mowing. This weakens the grass by forcing it to draw extra nutrients from its roots.

  • Hellebores don't bloom until their fifth birthday. Shoot, they don't even start to look good at all until they're at least 3 years old.

  • A few reasons why your wisteria isn't blooming. How old is your vine? It takes time to become established. It can take your wisteria more than seven years after it's planted to bloom. Maybe it just doesn't like where you planted it. Is it in heavy soil or shade? We must fertilize, that's for certain, but if the fertilizer has too much nitrogen in it, well, it will cause the plant to kick out more leaves and maybe no flowers in zone 5, which is our zone. If we have a severe winter the cold freezes the buds. This can also mean no flowers.

  • There are 30,000 registered varieties of daffodils and 50,000 registered named varieties of daylilies, 6,000 varieties of asters, 100 species of lilies and several times that number of varieties from which to choose.

  • If you are planting carrot, parsley, celery or morning glory seeds, pre-soaking cuts several days of germination time.

  • Never smoke while planting pepper or tomato plants, as you can infect your plants with tobacco mosaic virus. Wash your hands first.

  • Rosemary seeds can take up to three weeks to germinate.

  • Aphids are attracted to and love nasturtiums.

  • A woodpecker's tongue can stretch out to almost three times the length of its bill.

  • To keep raccoons from eating your corn, plant pumpkins, squash or cucumbers in the same row, along the feet of the corn. They don't like the prickles on the vines (they have very sensitive paws).

  • Plant a hedge of marigolds around the edge of your garden. African or Aztec marigolds (Tagetes erecta) and other species help control nematodes (tiny soil-dwelling worms).
    Some say the marigolds repel them. Others say they kill the nematodes. It seems the marigold gives off a chemical called methyl bromide (which is a noxious pesticide).

    Researchers have determined that all marigolds have some effect on the nematode.

    The French marigold (Tagetes patula) will indeed kill them. All the nematode has to do is bite the marigold's roots. They give off ozone and this kills the nematode.

I will leave you with this quote from Prince Charles (H.R.H. Prince of Wales): 'A garden to delight the eye, warm the heart and feed the soul.'

Author: Nancy Wiersma writes a gardening column for the Daily News.

Shed home   15.02.2006.

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