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Monday, July 30, 2007


The place to post and read lawn and garden information.

#1. Elegant and Easy Outdoor Water Gardening

The element of water brings an unmatched beauty to any outdoor space -- movement, color, and ambiance. Water gardens are highly prized for the relaxing sound of the flowing water, and the sense of being at one with nature.

Elegant and Easy Outdoor Water Gardening

The element of water brings an unmatched beauty to any outdoor space -- movement, color, and ambiance. Water gardens are highly prized for the relaxing sound of the flowing water, and the sense of being at one with nature. While many water gardening enthusiasts spend countless hours and thousands of dollars achieving this serene effect, you can have a water garden in your own outdoor space with minimal time and effort. Water spouts or simple re-circulating pumps paired with watertight containers bring all the benefits of a full-sized water garden into any size space, whether it's your backyard, a deck or even a balcony.

The first step is to find a suitable container to hold water. This will be the basis of your new mini water garden. Lotus pots (planters with no drainage holes), whiskey barrels, or any kind of container with a wide mouth will work. Recycled wine barrels are a great solution for those who like a rustic look. They're recommended over any other type of wood, because they're already watertight and as such, require no liner. They can be found at most garden centers. Japanese hand-carved granite basins can lend a striking Zen look (find them at

Once you've chosen your container, make absolutely sure it's watertight. Carefully check it for holes or cracks. To be absolutely sure, try filling it with water, sitting it on your porch or deck and watching for any leakage. Any holes found can be patched up with plumber's putty or silicone. If you've found a great terracotta pot, spray it with some polyurethane before using as terracotta absorbs water.

Your next step is deciding whether you'd like a simple water garden -- just a container filled with water and some aquatic plants -- or if you'd like to add a little interest with a water spout or pump. Bamboo water spouts are an excellent choice for use in water gardens -- you simply place the pump in the water (make sure it's resting on the bottom or on a brick or pile of rocks and not dangling), and set the spout up on the side of the container. If you'd like a 'bubbler' effect, place the pump at the bottom of the container and make sure the tubing is long enough to reach the surface. Stack rocks around the pump and tubing, so that they're just above the surface of the water. Position the tubing so it's mostly hidden by the rocks, and you've got instant gurgling water sound.

Now you're ready to populate your container with some stunning aquatic plant life. Consult the experts at your local garden center for help in choosing plants -- the climate where you live and the size container you've chosen will dictate which plants will work best. Although water lilies and lotus are beautiful, they're not recommended for container gardens -- they grow much too large. Two or three small potted plants and a few oxygenating floaters will look beautiful and won't fight each other for space and sunlight.

Small container water gardens are extremely simple to care for. Place it where it will receive 6 hours of sunlight every day at minimum, and top it off with water every few days to make up for evaporation. Once the plants have begun establishing themselves in their new mini ecosystem, you can add a fertilizer tablet made especially for water gardens (ask about them at your local garden center). If you'd like to add fish, it's best to wait 4-5 weeks after you've created your water garden so that the conditions in the water have been allowed to stabilize. Stick with hardy varieties that don't grow quickly, such as guppies or gambezi, also known as ‘mosquito fish'. Gambezi come with the added benefit of eating mosquito larvae, hence the nickname.

Your new water garden will bring a sense of tranquility and connection with nature to its home in your outdoor space. Place it in an area where you can enjoy its beauty and the soothing sounds of flowing water.-------------------------------------------------------

# 2.What's Eating My Potatoes?

Potatoes are a fun crop to grow, especially when it comes time to dig for those buried treasures. Unfortunately, there are numerous pests that are also fond of potatoes. Here are the most common and what to do about them.

Colorado Potato Beetle

In spite of the name, these insects can be found in most states. Both the adults, which are yellowish with black stripes, and the larvae, which are dark red or orange with black spots, feed on potato foliage. Check the undersides of leaves for their orange egg masses and rub them off. Dispose of beetles in a can of soapy water. Bacillus thuringiensis 'San Diego' kills the young larvae it's harmless to beneficial insects, animals, and humans.

Flea Beetle

Flea beetles are tiny, black or brown, and pesky. They chew small holes in plant leaves and can do serious damage fast if they attack young plants. To foil these pests, cover young plants with fabric row covers as soon as you set them out. Keep flea beetle populations low through crop rotation and by maintaining high soil organic matter.


These tiny insects can transmit virus diseases. They suck juices from the leaves and stems of potato plants, stunting their growth. Insecticidal soap sprays are an effective control.


Wireworms are the larvae of the click beetle. They're a problem when potatoes are planted in a section of garden that was recently in sod. Fully-grown wireworms are 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches long, slender, and brownish or yellowish white. They tunnel into plant roots and tubers, spoiling them. If your soil is heavily infested, contact your Extension Service for advice on solving the problem.


You may have a disease problem in the potato patch one year and none at all the next. The weather plays a big part in the health of a potato crop. Moisture and temperature conditions may trigger certain diseases, which will spread rapidly through the potato rows. But there's no need to simply sit back and let the weather determine the fate of your crop.

To protect your crop, rotate the potato plot each year. Plant healthy, certified seed potatoes. If you have severe disease problems, consider using a standard potato dust or spray regularly throughout the season. These are chemical mixtures that prevent some diseases such as late blight. They thwart some pests, too, such as the Colorado potato beetle. If you use a potato dust or spray, read and follow the directions carefully. To be effective, most standard dusts must be applied to the potato foliage every 7 to 10 days, beginning when the plants emerge from the ground.

The fungus that causes common scab lives in the soil for many years. It's not active when the soil pH is below 5.4, so if you have a serious scab problem, take a soil pH test. You may want to lower the pH by adding wood ashes to the potato bed. Avoid lime, which raises the pH.

Early Blight

Early blight injures foliage and reduces overall yields. Affected leaves develop small, dark brown spots that often grow in size until the entire leaf dies. Gardens in central, southern, and eastern states are most susceptible. Planting certified seed and mulching with hay can prevent this disease.

Late Blight

Late blight is caused by the downy mildew fungus (Phytophthora infestans), which triggered the Irish crop failures of 1845 and 1846. The first sign of the disease is water-soaked areas on the leaves that turn brown and black. The disease often strikes during cool, wet weather and may spread rapidly if the weather warms up. Plants can die in a severe case, and potatoes can be seriously affected, especially in storage. Plant certified seed and use a potato dust to guard against late blight.

Mosaic Virus

Aphids can spread mosaic viruses, which cause potato leaves to curl and appear almost two-toned (light and dark green). Mosaic occurs throughout the United States and reduces the harvest, but it doesn't kill the plants. 'Kennebec' and 'Katahdin' varieties have some resistance to certain kinds of mosaic. See "Aphid" above for control measures.

SOURCE: National Gardening Association



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