Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Garden Talk: January 6, 2005

From NGA Editors

Best Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners

Are you sometimes overwhelmed by the number of vegetable varieties available? Wouldn't it be great if you could know, before you plant, which varieties will perform best in your area?

Researchers at Cornell University have created an interactive database that does just that. The Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners citizen science project allows home gardeners to enter the name of the vegetable variety they have grown, indicate their geographic location, rate its performance, and write a detailed review. Presently there are more than 2000 vegetable varieties in the database that you can browse through.

To participate in the Cornell University's Vegetable Variety database, go to their Web site at:

Fish Emulsion Stops Damping Off

If you've ever started seeds, you've undoubtedly experienced having seedlings suddenly keel over at the soil line. This condition, called damping off, is typically caused by two different fungi: Pythium and Rhizoctonia. Researchers with Agri Food Canada have found that fish emulsion can be an effective preventative.

Canadian researchers grew cucumber and radish seedlings in a peat-based, potting soil mix. One group was treated with a 4 percent fish emulsion solution. Another group received the equivalent dosage in inorganic fertilizer. Both groups were inoculated with disease spores and left to incubate 1, 7, 14, and 28 days in plastic bags. Cucumber and radish seeds were then sown in the bags for each treatment. The bags that were incubated with fish emulsion for 7 days or longer had a 70 to 80 percent protection rate from damping off disease. No disease control was found in the bags treated with inorganic fertilizer.

This research suggests fish emulsion is not only a good plant food for young seedlings because of its highly soluble form of nitrogen, but it also helps create an environment that suppresses damping off disease.

For more on this research, go to the Canadian Journal of Pathology Web site at:

Antique Roses for the South


Antique roses continue to be the rage across the United States. However, most information on the best varieties to grow is geared towards gardeners in cooler climates, such as England. Gardeners in the south often have to learn by trial and error which varieties will thrive in their area.

Now a new book from William Welch, Antique Roses for South (Taylor Publishing, 2004; $29.95), helps southern gardeners decide which antique roses to buy. Welch combines his horticultural knowledge as a professor at Texas A & M University with his lifelong passion for growing roses. His book covers the history of antique roses, tips on growing them, and a special section on rose crafts. The main lists more than 100 antique roses, sorted by class, with sources for each. Welch includes lists for the rose varieties that are easiest to propagate, most disease resistant, and most fragrant.

For more on Antique Roses for the South, visit the Taylor Publishing Web site.

Sweet Road Salt

?Tis the season for ice and snow in most parts of the country. As any gardener knows, rock salt used on roadways is effective at deicing the pavement. However, it also harms lawns and roadside plants. Now a new material that is a by-product of alcohol distilling is being used in some communities in the northeastern US as a safer alternative.

A Hungarian scientist at a vodka distillery first discovered Magic Salt. He noticed the retention pond that collected the sugary leftover mash from the distilling process never froze in winter.

Researchers processed the mash into a brown syrup that, when mixed with rock salt, enhances its effectiveness, allowing road crews to use less salt. Magic Salt helps rock salt adhere to the pavement and not bounce off the road. Magic Salt also melts ice at lower temperatures than the traditional l8 degrees F. of straight rock salt. Although rock salt with added Magic Salt is more expensive, its producers claim less is needed to keep roads clear, and it is less harmful to the environment.

For more information on Magic Salt, contact the Innovative Municipal Products (U.S.) at



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