Washington State University Extension

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written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

As a garden writer, I occasionally receive garden catalogs and information about new garden products in the mail and I like to share the more interesting tidbits with you. Here are some that have been accumulating over the past few months.

HozeAround: I get mad when the hoses we haul out to deep water our trees end up rolling over and damaging plants in beds near the hose bibs. Decorative hose guides just don’t seem to do the trick of protecting the plants. Perhaps HozeAround is the answer. Basically these gadgets are pieces of powder coated spring steel that are looped at one end and straight on the other end. The entire device is 28 inches long. Directions instruct to stick the straight end into the ground to a depth of 18 inches. Multiple HozeArounds are placed along the edge of the border and then the hose is easily thread through the loops. For more information go to

ScareCrow & CatStop: Some gardeners are already aware of the The ScareCrow®, a motion activated sprinkler that’s designed to act as an animal deterrent around gardens, lawns, and water gardens. The sprinkler goes off when animals approach, hopefully scaring away pesky cats, dogs, herons, racoons, and deer with movement, sudden noise, and a spray of water. It operates on a nine volt battery and only uses two to three cups of water each time it’s activated.

Contech, the maker of The ScareCrow®, also has a product called CatStop® specifically aimed at deterring cats in the garden or a children’s sandbox. Instead of water, this motion activated gadget uses a burst of ultrasonic sound to startle and frighten cats away. Because the cats don’t like the sound, they avoid the area in the future. It’s not disturbing to humans because it’s a frequency that most of us can’t hear. It too works on a nine volt battery and monitors up to a 280 square foot area. You can order the ScareCrow or CatStop directly from Contech at or through various outlets.

Pot Pads: Have you ever moved furniture using mover pads? A similar product is now available for moving large pots on your deck or patio. A Pot Pad™ is a hard plastic dome with a non skid rubber flat base. The rubber base grips the bottom of the pot and allows you to easily move around heavy pots on hard, flat surfaces.

Unlike mover pads, the Pot Pads™ are designed to be left under the pot to keep it raised off the deck or patio surface, allowing for drainage and aeration and helping prevent wood rot on decks. The hard plastic is durable and according to Allsop Home & Garden will “never disintegrate, chip, crumble or leave unsightly marks on your deck surface.”

The Pot Pads™ are packaged in sets of four (four are recommended per pot) and come in four different colors (brown, lime green, red, bright blue). Each of the pads is approximately 2″ wide x 3/4″ thick. The pads can be ordered on-line directly from Allsop Home & Garden at or through various garden supply companies.

Published: 1/1/2011 11:08 AM


written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

I’m sitting here today and looking at a thermometer that says it’s 54 degrees outside. I’m not fooled. It’s still winter. We shouldn’t be too eager to get out and about doing our garden chores. Instead, let’s open our 2010 seed catalogs and start planning. I’ve already received a score of catalogs, especially those that specialize in vegetables. Rumor has it that because so many more gardeners are growing veggies than ever before, there could be a shortage of the most popular and the newest varieties. So let’s get busy and get our seed orders in.

One of the first catalogs to arrive at my house was from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They offer 1400 open pollinated heirloom vegetables and flowers. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds was started in 1998 by a seventeen year-old young man, Jere Gettle. This young seedsman’s desire was to preserve heirloom seeds. He started modestly, sending out 550 catalogs on newsprint and working out of his own room in his Missouri home. The next year he sent out 7,500 catalogs and was able to get money to build his first store in the Ozark Hills near Mansfield, MO.

This year Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds printed 250,000 catalogs to meet the demand. In just 12 years this seed business offering only heirlooms has grown like “Jack’s beanstalk.” In 2009 they started another seed store “bank” in Petaluma, CA in the historic 1920

s Sonoma County National Bank building. Gettle points out that “millions of people are gardening for the first time, and possibly more young families are gardening than at any time since the Great Depression.”

One of their new tomato offerings is ‘Reisetomate,’also known as the‘Traveler Tomato.’ Gettle says this one is “far-out and groovy ” and I agree. From the distance this looks like a large bunch of cherry tomatoes, but closer inspection reveals that they’re all fused into a big, lumpy mass. “Reise” means “travel” or “journey” in German. It’s believed that the origins of this tomato can be traced to Central America where the natives carried them on trips and ate the tomatoes along their journey. Each lumpy portion of the ‘Reisetomate’ tomato can be broken off and easily eaten without needing to stop and use a knife. The flavor? Gettle says they’re rather sour, strong, and acid. “The perfect tomato for those who love raw lemons.”

Baker Creek has many other very interesting old vegetable and flower varieties. Want to get a copy of their catalog? Go to for a free copy. Gettle says to hurry with your order, as some seeds will only be available for a few more weeks due to demand.

Published: 1/23/2010 3:05 PM


written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

Last week I shared a few terms that can be confusing when you order seeds and plants from a garden mail-order catalog. Here are a few more to consider when checking out the catalogs that should be arriving in the mail very soon.

Own-Root/Grafted: An increasing number of rose plants are being offered as “own-root” roses. In the recent past, most of the hybrid roses offered to gardeners have been grafted. In this process buds of a desirable variety were grafted onto a vigorous, hardy root stock that differed from the desirable variety. Now, some rose growers are propagating roses vegetatively, so the roots and the top of the plant are genetically identical. No grafting is involved.

These rose growers feel that own-root roses are more winter hardy and have a better chance of surviving severely cold winter temperatures. If killed back to the roots by cold temperatures, the regrowth from the roots of own-root roses is genetically the same as the top of the shrub. Regrowth from the root systems of grafted roses will be totally different from the original.

Rose growers also believe own-root roses are much longer lived than grafted roses, don’t suffer from graft incompatibility, don’t experience as much winter injury, don’t have as many virus problems, and don’ t send up root suckers. The downside is only a limited number of varieties are available as own-root roses. It also takes longer to grow own-root roses into salable sized plants, so their initial expense tends to be higher. It just might be worth it, if the plants last longer.

Bolting: Certain cool season vegetable will “bolt” or go to seed quickly when warm summer weather arrives. The warmer temperatures signal the plant that it’s time to produce flowers and then seed. It’s a common occurrence for lettuce, spinach, beets, cabbage, broccoli, cilantro and basil to bolt. While you can still safely eat the plants after they bolt, they often deteriorate in flavor and quality. They also stop growing.

Bolting is a common problem for area gardeners because we often seem to go from cold spring weather into warm summer weather with a very short spring with moderate weather. For gardeners in areas with climates similar to ours, plant breeders have developed “slow bolting” or “slow to bolt” varieties that don’t bolt as quickly in response to warm temperatures. Area gardeners who want to grow these cool season crops prone to bolting, should look for the slow bolting varieties.

It’s also a good idea to plant these crops as early as recommended in the spring. (Even slow bolting varieties will go to seed when it gets hot in the garden.) You may also want to try planting them where taller crops will provide them with shade for part of the day.

Bulb Size: If you aren’t used to buying tulip and daffodil bulbs via catalogs, you might be surprised to find out that size does matter. The bigger the bulb’s circumference for a specific variety, the better the bloom. For example a 14 to 16 cm. tulip bulb can be expected to produce about 4 to 6 flower buds, a 12 to 14 cm. bulb to produce 3 to 4 buds, and a 10 to 12 cm. bulb only 2 to 3 buds. When ordering the extra large bulbs as listed in a catalog, they will be 12 to 14 cm. in size, medium ones will be 11 to 12 cm., and small ones 10 to 11 cm.

Daffodil size is also measured in circumference. Your top size “double nose bulb” (indicated by DNI) are 16 cm. or larger, DN II bulbs are 14 to 16 cm., and DNIII bulbs are 12 to14 cm. DNI’s produce two, sometimes three, flower stalks. A daffodil graded as a “Number 3 Round” and referred as a “naturalizing or landscaping” bulb is smaller and will produce only one flower.

Published: 1/2/2010 2:39 PM


written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

It’s probably wishful thinking, but the new gardening season will be here before we know it. However, we still have a some down time that we can take advantage of by planning our gardens and ordering seed. The Mailorder Gardening Association offers a catalog glossary to help gardeners interpret the gardening “language” you may not understand. Not a bad idea, so here are some that I often get questions about.

Determinate(D) and Indeterminate(I): This is a term used to describe the different growth habits of tomatoes. If a variety is labeled as “indeterminate,”it means the plant will keep growing as long as it stays warm. Indeterminate varieties are the vigorous vine types that are hard to contain. Large cages or trellises will work best in keeping the vines off the ground. Determinate varieties of tomato grow to a certain size and stop. They are more compact and easier contain. Most of their fruit ripens around the same time. The fruit of indeterminate varieties ripen over time as the vine keeps growing.

OP or Open-Pollinated: You’re likely to see this term used in catalogs that focus on heirloom vegetables and flowers. It means these varieties have been left to nature for pollination to occur. If the seeds are saved from these varieties, they’ll produce plants and fruit that is identical to the parents. This is how heirloom vegetables can be handed down from generation to generation. Using the right techniques, you too can save their seed from year to year, without needing to buy the seed again.

Hybrid: Hybrids are in a way the opposite of open-pollination. They are varieties that have been created by controlling the pollination between two different varieties. This isn’t genetic tinkering on the cellular level, but is controlled plant breeding. Hybrids are the result of cross breeding two varieties. When the seed of hybrid plants are saved and planted, the progeny will likely not be identical to the parent hybrid plants.

Quarantine: Some catalogs will note that they can’t ship certain plants into the state of Washington. It may seem like discrimination against Washington gardeners and our venerable state, but it isn’t. They can’t ship into our state because they’re abiding by Washington State Department of Agriculture Quarantines. The quarantines are aimed at preventing certain diseases, insect pests, and weeds from entering our state. This is especially important because of the importance of agriculture to our state’s economy and the impact these pests could have on our commercial agriculture, especially the wine grape and tree fruit industries.

If it’s an ornamental tree, shrub or perennial, the nursery may simply not want to go to the trouble or expense of having the plants inspected for evidence of an infestation of certain insects pests. The Japanese Beetle is one of these insect pests. WSDA requires that each shipment of plants from any of the 34 quarantined states must be “accompanied by an official state or federal certificate certifying that the regulated article has been treated by WSDA approved methods and procedures to ensure that all Japanese Beetles have been eradicated. ” These quarantines are made with careful consideration to protect, not only Washington agriculture, but also Washington gardeners and their plants.

Resistance: Some types of vegetables are susceptible to certain plant diseases. Plant breeders have endeavored to create varieties that are resistant to the diseases most troublesome to a particular commercial vegetable crop. It’s important to point out that resistance is not immunity. Listed after the variety name, “V” indicates resistance to Verticillium Wilt, “F” to Fusarium Wilt, “N” to Nematodes, “T” to Tobacco Mosaic Virus, “A” to Alternaria alternata (crown wilt disease), and “L” to Septoria Leafspot. In our area, I would look for varieties that are at least “VFN,” that is resistant to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, and nematodes.

Published: 12/26/2009 3:24 PM


written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

Last week we discussed mail-order catalogs from purveyors of tomato and pepper seeds. It was no surprise to find catalogs that focus on the top crops of home veggie growers, but there are some specialty companies that are more unusual. One of these is a company that specializes in beans. The Vermont Bean Seed Company sells 109 different varieties of beans in twelve different categories. Beans!

Belying their name, the Vermont Bean Seed Company is located in Randolph, Wisconsin. They may offer all sorts of beans, but they also “strive to find the best and most unique vegetables and flowers for your gardening experience.” Their beans include a wide range of beans from the predictable green bush and pole beans to French filet beans, soy beans, broad beans, lima beans, flat podded beans, dry shell beans, cowpeas, and dry beans. These include yellow and purple podded varieties.

Intriguing to me are the unique and unusual bean varieties. One bean that gardeners rave about is the “yard long bean.” Vermont Bean Seed Company (VBSC) offers ‘Liana’ a yard-long bean “valued in the Orient for its sweet, succulent tender pods.” The beans are one-quarter inch in diameter and up to 36 inches long. It’s a vining bean plant that can grow over ten feet tall, so a trellis is definitely needed. The VBSC dry bean offerings are very impressive with a number of heirloom beans of different colors and patterns. One of these is ‘Peregion,’ an Oregon heirloom with beautifully colored beans in varying shades and swirling patterns of brown. These beans are very productive and have great flavor.

If ornamentals are your preference, VBSC also carries several different types of scarlet runner beans that are often grown more for their pretty flowers than for their edible beans. The ‘Painted Lady’ has pretty red and white flowers that are attractive to hummingbirds and ‘Sunset Runner’ produces uniquely colored salmon-pink flowers. The runner beans can be trained to a trellis or a fence for creating an attractive temporary screening.

Along with extensive bean offerings, VBSC also sells other vegetable seed and “supplies that are sure to make your gardening experience easier and more enjoyable.” You can reach them at or by calling toll free at 1-800-349-1071.

One of my favorite specialty vegetable catalogs is Irish Eyes Garden Seeds who specialize in organically grown garlic and seed potatoes. Last summer, I had the chance to visit this company tucked away in the Kittitas Valley near Ellensburg. Garlic gardeners will be delighted to find that they offer an amazing number of garlic varieties, including both hardneck and softneck types.

One of their best selling garlics is ‘Spanish Roja,’ a rocambole hardneck touted as “a gourmet garlic famous for flavor.” It produces purple streaked bulbs with seven to thirteen easy to peel cloves. According to Irish Eyes it came to the Northwest before 1900 and is often called ‘Greek Lilac’ by this region’s gardeners. Another best seller is ‘Early Italian Purple,’ an artichoke softneck that’s well adapted to summer heat, producing large white and purple striped bulbs with lots of small cloves. If you like your garlic hot like me, you might want to try ‘Lorz Italian’ another artichoke softneck with very strong hot flavor. Yum!

Irish Eyes also offers a good number of organic seed potatoes along with organic early season vegetable seed. They do sell out of some types of seed and potatoes each year, so they recommend ordering early so you can get what you want. You won’t be able to order garlic at this time of year, so get on the mailing list for their fall catalog. They can be reached at 509-964-7000 or at

Ronniger Potato Farm is another specialty vegetable mail-order company. As you can imagine from the name, potatoes are their main game. They divide their potato offerings into four main groups… early season, mid-season, late season, and fingerlings. My personal favorites are the red-skinned varieties. I recommend ‘Sangre’ a very dark red-skinned variety developed at the University of Colorado. It produces plentiful small red tubers. If you’re like me, you might also enjoy ‘Viking Red’ with a bright red skin and good flavor for baking or boiling, plus it grows great in hot climates. Ronniger notes that it sizes rapidly, going from “golfball to baseball size overnight.”

Ronniger also sells soft neck and hard neck garlic, onion seed, and Jerusalem artichoke tubers.

This is another company that you should check out and order from early, because they sell out of their popular varieties very early. Ronniger Potato Farm is located in Austin, Colorado and can be reached at 877- 204-8704 or at

Published: 1/3/2009 9:16 AM


written by

Marianne C. Ophardt

WSU Extension Faculty

for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

It may be only the start of winter, but my garden seed catalogs have already started arriving. Since gardening trends indicate that more experienced gardeners along with novice gardens are interested in food gardening, I thought I would take the time to review some great vegetable specialty catalogs.

It’s not surprising that I receive two catalogs from seed companies that specialize in tomatoes, since tomatoes are the number one favorite crop of home gardeners. In fact, I think tomatoes are the heart of any vegetable garden. This thought is echoed by “Totally Tomatoes” who offer lots of different tomato varieties including heirlooms and improved hybrids. New to their catalog is ‘First Light’ which they say ranks as “one of the best tasting tomatoes ever” that produces five to seven ounce fruit with excellent full flavor and a crisp texture. A bi-colored fruit, it’s ready to pick when the bottom half turns red but the shoulders are still green.

Definitely winning for the most distinctively named variety is ‘Wapsipinicon Peach.’ This tomato produces fuzzy yellow peach-shaped 2″ fruit. Along with their distinctive name and unusual appearance, they won the Seed Savers Exchange heirloom taste test. Totally Tomatoes are crazy about tomatoes but they also offer a complete line of sweet and hot peppers and cucumbers along with a few other veggies.

Of special interest to me are the number of ornamental peppers they offer for gardeners who are interested in edible landscaping. One is ‘Black Pearl,’ a 2006 All American Selection that can be grown as an ornamental for its dark purple to black leaves and edible very hot black-purple fruit that turn red at maturity. New to their catalog is ‘Purple Flash’ another pepper with black leaves, but these are layered with “flashes of electric purple” They note that the peppers are a glossy black but “too hot to be palatable.” I believe them, but I’m sure this will be a challenge to some folks.

Totally Tomatoes is located in Wisconsin and can be reached by calling toll free at 1-800-345-5977 or on-line at They also offer tomato growing supplies, as well as canning equipment.

Another tomato catalog that tomato gardeners will want to look over is from Tomato Growers Supply Company. They offer a zillion different tomatoes and place them in different groups including early-season, mid-season, late-season, oxheart, beefsteak, paste, small-fruited, bicolor, black, green , orange, white, yellow, and special collections. They also offer a number of sweet peppers, hot peppers, eggplants, and six varieties of tomatillo. Tomato Growers Supply Company is located in Florida and can be reached toll free at 1-888-768-3476 or on-line at

If peppers are your vegetable specialty, you can find almost any pepper you might be looking for from The Pepper Gal located in Florida. Pepper Gal offers peppers… hot, sweet, and ornamental peppers from A (Aji Cristal, a Chilean hot pepper with a citrus flavor) to Z (Zimbabwe Bird, a very hot pepper with tiny triangular pods). Amongst these sweet and hot peppers you’ll find some organic seeds, heirloom varieties, ornamental pepper varieties, and pickling varieties.

If you’re a hot pepper connoisseur, you probably know that the hotness of peppers is measured in Scoville Heat Units. Sweet peppers have a rating of 0 units, Cayenne peppers a rating of 6,000 to 50,000 units, and Habanero and Scotch Bonnet peppers a whopping and fiery rating of 350,000 units. You can find the entire range of hot peppers from Pepper Gal. They also offer some seed of other veggies including hardshell gourds, pumpkins, herbs, tomatoes, and tomatillos.

It’s a relatively small catalog, but it’s packed with “pepper” related items. Pepper Gal offers hot pepper clothing and accessories; pepper, tomato, and herb posters; and cookbooks, especially cuisines that use hot peppers. You can reach them at 954-537-5540 or on-line at

Next week, we’ll look at catalogs that specialize in garlic, potatoes, and beans! Who would have thought there would be seed catalogs that would specialize in beans? Not me.

Published: 12/27/2008 12:12 PM


written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA


ve been so busy lately, I haven

t had the time to see what interesting things might be amongst my “growing” mound of garden mail. Today I took the opportunity to look for the more intriguing tidbits of news to share with you. So here goes…

NEW SHRUB OFFERS FLOWERS, FRUIT, AND FOLIAGE: Black Beauty (Sambucus nigra ‘Gerda

) is a new elderberry plant from English plant breeders being marketed by Spring Meadow Nursery, Inc. This shrub is being promoted for its intense dark purple leaves and its rich pink blossoms. The flowers bloom in early summer with a “pleasant lemony” fragrance. They

re grouped in masses that reach a showy diameter of 10 inches! Late in the summer the flowers develop into dark purple berries that birds love to eat. If you can keep the eager birds away, the berries can be harvested for making elderberry wine.

This shrub is not only pretty, but it

s also hardy to USDA Zone 4. It

s fast growing, adaptable to most soils and can be grown in full sun or partial shade. It has few pest problems, needs moderate moisture, and can be used as a decorative shrub in the perennial garden or as a hedgerow plant. It grows both 6 to 8 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide, but can be maintained as a smaller plant with pruning… or it can also be trained into a small tree.


m not particularly fond of most dark purple-leaved plants but this colorful, carefree elderberry is worthy of consideration. Spring Meadow is a wholesale grower that markets to retail nurseries around the country. Check to see if the nursery where you shop has Black Beauty available.

FOUR NEW SPECIAL CLEMATIS: Another nursery, Hine Nurseries, Inc., are marketing a series of clematis that have been bred by world-renowned breeder, Raymond Evison, as part of England

s Royal Horticulture Society

s Bicentenary celebration. The four clematis are being unveiled at the Chelsea Flower Show in England and at the Philadelphia Flower Show here in the US.

As part of the English celebration, the four clematis have been named after the four Royal Horticulture Society gardens. What is the Royal Horticulture Society? Incase you don

t know (I didn

t either), the Royal Horticulture Society is the United Kingdom

s leading garden charity.

The four clematis are Wisely, Rosemoor, Harlow Carr, and Hyde Hall. Not having been particularly partial to clematis in the past, I changed my opinion of this vine when I saw some awesome specimens growing in gardens around our area last year. (The ones that I had seen long ago weren

t spectacular.) Hyde Hall is a compact, free-flowering plant that

s “ideal for growing in a container or a small garden. The five to seven inch diameter flowers are off-white with a pink tinge on the sepals. It produces a large number of flowers in early summer. It

s hardy to Zone 4 and can reach a height of eight feet.

The other three clematis each reach heights of ten feet. Wisely is a blue-flowered Jackmani type with vigor and a long free-flowering habit, blooming from summer to fall. Rosemoor has large reddish-purple flowers from late spring to fall. Harlow Carr has four deep purple-blue sepals from summer to fall.

THE LITTLE GUY: Most gardeners who use home garden pesticides are familiar with the “big guys”, such as Ortho, Scotts, and Lilly Miller, but fewer know about a relatively new home garden pesticide marketing company, Monterey Lawn & Garden Products. They offer both organic and traditional pesticide products for home garden use. What

s unique about Monterey is that they generally offer full strength agricultural and horticultural products so that their “customers get more bang for their buck.” For example, their “Remuda Full Strength” contains 41 per cent glyphosate for non-selective weed control. This is the same formulation as the trademark “Roundup” at a more competitive price.

I found it exciting that their “Grass Getter” product contains sethoxydim, a selective grass killer known as Poast, that can be used for control of grassy weeds over the top of bedding plants, ornamentals, ground covers, shrubs and vegetables. It controls annual grasses in addition to controlling Bermuda grass and quackgrass. However, it must be used on quackgrass while it

s still relatively small early in the season.

Also exciting is their “Turflon Ester” containing triclopyr. They indicate that this product can be used to control Bermuda grass and broadleaf weeds, including oxalis, wild violet, ground ivy, and clover, in cool season turf grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass and turf-type perennial ryegrass. Caution must be taken with this product because it will turn some types of grasses, such as bentgrass, brown. While it

s not likely this product will totally kill out the Bermuda grass that has invaded your lawn, it will suppress it with time.

If you lean towards the use of organic materials, Monterey also offers their “Quik-II,” an herbicidal soap product that kills the tops of weeds in as little as four hours. It‘s not systemic though, and perennial weeds can regrow from the roots. They also offer “70 Per Cent Neem Oil,” a compound made from the neem tree in India. It works as a broad spectrum insecticide, miticide, and fungicide.


s other products include a variety of herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. Last year I talked about how spinosad, a fermentation product produced by a soil bacteria, was an up-and- coming insecticide, but it wasn

t readily available to gardeners yet. It

s the very newest in agricultural chemistry. Monterey has now packaged spinosad for home garden use. Monterey

s spinosad product is called “Monterey Garden Insect Control” and it can be used on outdoor ornamentals, lawns, vegetables, and fruit trees for control of caterpillars, leafminers, thrips, borers, and other insects. Look for the Monterey line of products at specialty nurseries and garden stores.


re going to use new types of pesticide products, why not apply them with a newly designed garden sprayer? Ralph E. Chapin founded the Chapin company in 1884 and started manufacturing garden sprayers that were considered the industry standard for many years. Over the last 100 years, sprayers have not deviated greatly from the original “milk can” design, albeit they changed from metal to molded plastic.

In 2004, the Chapin company has radically redesigned the garden sprayer to make pesticide application easier and safer for gardeners. Their new top-of-the-line sprayer is their SprayNGoPlus. Like the other Chapin sprayers, it has an anti-clog filter exclusive to the Chapin line. There is also an in-cap measuring cup and the sprayer is translucent so you can see the amount of material that you have in the tank. This is particularly helpful when you

re out in the garden spraying, plus the pump is on the side instead of the top.


s their spray nozzle that impresses me. First of all it can be adjusted to four different positions without getting your hands wet with the mixed pesticide material… a much safer situation for a gardener. It also has a spray shield on the nozzle that provides for greater accuracy in placement of the spray material. The SprayNGoPlus model has a special ten foot coiled hose with a swivel attachment to the sprayer… meaning you can reach further than you can with most sprayers and your not as likely to get the hose tangled. There

s also an ergonomic spray trigger to make spraying easier on your hands.

Based on these features I would definitely consider getting the new SprayNGoPlus or the SprayNGo with a few less whistles and bells. If you don

t need a sprayer for applying pesticides, Chapin also notes that their sprayers can be used for watering plants, general household cleaning, outdoor cleaning, wall paper removal, and pet bathing. Of course, you wouldn

t use the same sprayer that has already contained pesticides for these jobs. The Chapin sprayer would also come in handy when you

re trying to keep a pig cool at the county fair… although why a city girl like me knows this bit of advice is a story for another day.

Published: 3/13/2004 2:30 PM


written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA


s that time of year… awards shows for the best movies, actors, television programs, and more. Critics give their “top ten lists” of the year It only seems fitting that I should give out my awards for the top garden catalogs that have found their way into my mailbox. Here are the “winners”.

BEST NEWCOMER – The only new catalog that I have received this year was from “Arena Roses – Garden Living Center”. It

s a winner and I

m so tempted to buy some of their roses, but alas my garden lacks the room for even one more rose. This catalog offers over 200 cultivars of roses and it has so many close-up photos of flowers it entices even a gardener with good restraint and no space for more roses.

Arena Roses is in Paso Robles, Calfornia. Their roses have all been grown organically and include hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, climbers, ramblers, English roses, old-world shrub roses, mini-roses, antique roses, and landscape roses. I

m partial to lavender and purple roses, probably because they

re a bit different from the pinks, yellows, and reds that fill my garden. ‘Barbara Streisand

is a beautiful lavender hybrid tea rose with a strong rose fragrance with just a touch of citrus. ‘ Heirloom

is “one of the best purple roses of all time” with a slightly ruffled bloom. Its color is deep lilac during cooler weather and more magenta in warmer weather.

The English, old-world shrub and antique roses garner this catalog its highest points. These blowsy blooms are spectacular and many promise unparalleled sweet old rose fragrances. I couldn

t pick my favorites, because they all appeared exceptional. Of course, I was drawn to ‘Florence Delattre

, a shrub rose with gray-violet blooms and a strong spice scent.

Arena Roses also offers “innovative and unique” garden merchandise and natural pesticides. I found their large selection of garden gloves especially impressive, along with their fine shovels and hoes. Two unique items that caught my eye are the rose stem strippers used to de-thorn cut roses and Wheeleasy, a folding wheelbarrow that quickly folds away for easy storage and that

s also designed to reduce stress on the lower back.
Arena Roses: Phone: 1-888-466-7434
Address: Arena Roses, 1041 Paso Robles Street, Paso Robles , CA 93446

MOST IMPROVED Catalog: “Totally Tomatoes” offers a comprehensive line of tomatoes and despite the name, lots of peppers too. Totally Tomatoes says they

re “devoted to the avid tomato grower.” New this year are color photographs of all the tomatoes and peppers they offer. One of their new tomato offerings is ‘Vintage Wine

with pale pink fruit striped with gold. The one-half to one pound fruit are “elegant, sweet, and tasty”. ‘Brown Berry

is a cherry tomato with unique brown skin and a sweet, juicy taste. Also new to their catalog is ‘Balloon

a novelty pepper shaped somewhat like an upside-down tulip with three to four square tipped wings. The wings have a sweet flavor but the seeds are very hot.
Totally Tomatoes : Phone: 1-888-477-7333
Address: 334 West Stroud Street, Randolph, WI 53956

BEST TOMATO, PEPPER, AND EGGPLANT CATALOG: “Tomato Growers Supply Company” continues to offer the most complete selection of tomatoes that you

ll find anywhere. They have so many varieties of seed available it

s overwhelming. In fact ,they have so many there isn

t room for photos and descriptions of all of them. In the back of the catalog you can find a listing of additional varieties of seed they have to offer. If you

re looking for a particular variety, especially an heirloom variety, Tomato Growers probably has it.

If you

re very limited on space, perhaps you might like to try ‘Micro-Tom

, the “world

s smallest tomato variety” developed at the University of Florida. The Plants grow to a height of only five to eight inches and bear tiny fruit the size of a “salad crouton.” It

s ideal for a small container garden. New to their catalog is a cultivar called ‘Ugly

. ‘Ugly

produces 12 to 16 ounce fruit that are ribbed and beefsteak-shaped. These have been popular in some supermarkets and are favored for their great old-fashioned tomato flavor. They

re not any uglier than most beefsteak types of tomato, but perhaps they got the name because they weren

t the typical round, perfect grocery store tomato.

Gardeners from our region might want to give ‘Heatwave

a try. This is a heat-tolerant variety that will set fruit best when the temperature is between 90 and 96 degrees. We often run into problems when a sustained period of hot summer weather prevents our tomatoes from setting. Of course we also run into problems early in the season when the weather may be too cool for most tomato cultivars to set fruit. Along with a heat tolerant cultivar, you can get extra insurance with ‘Legend

and ‘Oregon Spring V

developed at Oregon State University. Both set fruit under cool temperatures, contain few seeds, and have a good flavor.

Tomato Growers also offers an extensive selection of tomato “cousins”… peppers and eggplants. One rather unusual pepper is ‘Fish Pepper

. It

s an ornamental plant with green and white variegated fruit and leaves. The fruit turns orange-red when mature. It

s a pretty plant with very hot peppers. It received its name because it was “used to season fish and shellfish in African-American communities around Baltimore and Philadelphia back in the 1930

s and 1940

s.” If you like hot or sweet peppers, check this catalog out.

Tomato Growers Supply Company: Phone: 1-888-478-7333
Address: PO Box 2237, Fort Myers, FL 33902

BEST WATERWISE & PERENNIAL Catalog: Gardeners who are concerned about having a pretty garden and saving water probably already know about High Country Gardens. High Country Gardens offers regionally appropriate plants for water-wise landscaping in the western U.S. Their catalog includes great pictures of pretty flowering perennials that can thrive on limited amounts of water. They also offer native turf grasses, ornamental grasses, water-wise roses, native and flowering shrubs, groundcovers, and lavender.

What really makes their catalog stand out is their detailed description of each plant along with information on its growing requirements, care and planting. They also have several suggested garden plans to provide you with ideas for your garden design, as well as lengthy sections on the general maintenance of their plants.

One intriguing native turf grass being offered by High Country Gardens is ‘Legacy

buffalo grass. It

s a vigorous, fast growing, soft-textured buffalo grass. According to High Country Gardens, ‘Legacy

withstands foot traffic, requires 45 to 75 per cent less water than regular Kentucky bluegrass turf, needs only minimal mowing, and is highly weed resistant. It

s planted by plugs once the weather warms up. However, it requires full sun, doesn

t do well in very sandy soils, and it turns brown during the cool weather of fall and doesn

t turn green again until the weather turns warm in mid-spring. It also can be aggressive, creeping into flower and landscape beds.

One of High Country Gardens

specialties are xeriscape lavenders. In their catalog you can find a nice selection of the well-known lavenders, as well as extra special ones, such as ‘Silver Frost

with powdery white leaves and extreme tolerance to heat. They also have a group of creeping thymes suitable for use as ground covers or for creating a “thyme lawn”.

High Country Gardens: Phone: 1-800-925-9387
Address: 2902 Rufina Street, Santa Fe, NM 87507-2929

Like the awards shows, I could go on and on and on. There are lots more catalogs that I

d love to tell you about, but that

s enough for today. If you don

t have these catalogs, get them as soon as possible. It

s time to start ordering your seed and plants for the coming gardening season.

Published: 1/31/2004 2:33 PM


written by

Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA

If you’re a gardener who mail orders flower and vegetable seeds every year, you’ve probably been receiving catalogs since the beginning of the new year. Me too! Isn’t great? Every company wants us to buy their newest introductions, but I always wonder how will they do in my garden ? Will they be as good as the catalog says?

All-America Selections (AAS) tests new varieties of flowers and vegetables and introduces the “select” winners each year. Tested in gardens across North America, the winners have performed well under a many different soil and climate conditions. However, great performance alone doesn’t win them AAS honors. They must also be significantly better than the currently available varieties of the same type of plant. This can be due to “earliness to bloom or harvest, disease or pest tolerance, novel colors or flavors, novel flower forms, total yield, length of flowering or harvest.”

Osteospermum F1 ‘Asti White’ is one of only three 2008 All America Selections. Osteospermums are also known as Cape Daisies, as well as African Daisies and Blue-eyed Daisies. As these common names imply, they are a daisy-like member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and are native to Africa. There are about 50 species of Osteospermums, but the ones available to us as annual bedding plants are usually hybrids.

Osteospermums are relatively “new” flowers, not becoming readily available to U.S. gardeners until about ten years ago. The flower colors were somewhat limited at first, but now you can find them in pink, purple, lavender, magenta, white, cream, yellow, gold, apricot, and orange. The center discs may be blue, purple or yellow. There are even cultivars with interesting spoon-shaped petals and some with variegated leaves.

The 2008 All America Selection ‘Asti White’ has pure white 2+ inch flowers with blue center discs. However, it’s not its pretty flowers that makes it so much better than the other Osteospermums. What’s remarkable is that it’s the first white one to be propagated from seed and the flowers stay open even when it’s cloudy. Usually, Osteospermum flowers close at night and when the weather is cloudy.

Osteospermum tend to be drought tolerant and do best when placed in a sunny garden spot with well-drained soil. The plants don’t like “wet feet” and are prone to root rot under wet conditions. However, while they do survive droughty conditions quite well, many osteospermum cultivars will stop flowering when stressed by drought or excessive heat in the summer. ‘Asti White’ is reported to be exceptionally heat and drought tolerant and is one of the reasons it won the AAS award.

The other reason for ‘Asti White’s’ AAS selection is its long bloom period. It should keep producing flowers all summer and fall if the plants are “dead-headed” regularly. (This is the removal of the dead flowers.) Regular watering and fertilizing will also promote season long flowering. The uniform, compact plants grow to about 20 inches tall and wide. They are great for the garden, but are also dandy for use in containers (6 inches or larger). (Remember they don’t like wet feet.)

‘Asti White’ has a sister, ‘Asti Lavender Shades’ with delightful lavender flowers. She performs similarly in the garden. You may want to give her a try too.

The other 2008 AAS selections? One is ‘Skippy XL Plum-Gold’ an F1 viola with gold and plum little faces. It won as a cool season bedding plant. The AAS vegetable winner is‘Hansel,’ an F1 eggplant with “miniature” finger-sized fruit produced in three inch clusters on three foot tall plants. You should be able to find all three of these AAS winners at nurseries this spring.

Published: 2/16/2008 2:06 PM


written by Marianne C. Ophardt WSU Extension Faculty for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA With the rather hectic pace of spring this year, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and look at my garden mail. Let’s take a look at some of the things I’ve been missing. One catalog that always catches my eye is the Jackson & Perkins Company rose catalog. On the cover of their most recent catalog is the newest addition to their ‘Simplicity’ rose line. This newest member of the family is ‘Fragrant Lavender Simplicity.’ As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a big fan of lavender and purple roses. This one also has pastel lavender blooms with a delightful citrus-like fragrance. ‘Simplicity’ roses are low maintenance rose shrubs meant to be grown as a hedge in a row or along a fence line. No detailed pruning is required, they’re just trimmed into a hedge form. They bloom prolifically from late spring to fall… and they’re both hardy and pest resistant. Jackson & Perkins started this family of hedge roses over 25 years ago with ‘Simplicity,’ a pretty pink hedge rose. Since then they have added white, yellow, and now lavender members to the line. I might just try this new one! Just for me Jackson & Perkins also have a hybrid tea ‘lavender twilight’ collection that includes three different lavender to purple tea roses. Other collections include the ‘romantic pastels,’ ‘radiant yellows,’ and a ‘passion for red.’ If you’re into roses that don’t need much care, you might also be interested in their groundcover roses. They note that their groundcover roses ‘offer a low-maintenance, flowering solution for slopes, banks, driveways, and rocky areas, quickly spreading a dense blanket wherever you need it most.’ The newest of their offerings here is ‘Yellow Ribbons’ a low-growing yellow flowering rose that’s supposedly dense enough to ‘crowd out weeds.’ While I’m pretty sure it’s growth probably won’t be thick enough to defeat field bindweed, Bermuda grass, or quackgrass, this might be a pretty way to tackle those more difficult sloped areas found in many area landscapes. If you haven’t received a catalog in the mail, you can call Jackson & Perkins at 1-800-292-4769 or find them on the web at Most of you also know I’m always interested in good gardening tools and gadgets… devices that can make gardening less punishing for you and me. There are a great many older and not-so-old gardeners that can benefit from well designed tools and gardening aides. That’s why I was very excited to see the Gardenscape Tools catalogue in the mail. The first intriguing item that I ran across in their catalog was the ‘Extended Wear Bionic Gloves.’ These gloves were ‘designed by a hand surgeon for comfort and fit, these ergonomic (gloves) … help protect and support hands while still allowing full dexterity.’ They’re made of stretchy breathable neoprene with special padding in strategic places where blisters or calluses might be a problem. These gloves sound like they might be the perfect fit for gardeners with arthritis, hand or wrist joint problems, or hand fatigue. They come in both women’s and men’s sizes. Also for those gardeners who need to restrain their wrist movement, there is the ‘Gardener Wrap,’ a wrist wrap that helps limit wrist movement and protects against impact and vibration. The wrap fits either hand, has breathable lining, and is washable… a must for use in the garden. Gardenscape Tools also offers a variety of quality hand pruners and loppers, but the extended reach bypass pruners attracted my attention first. These are bypass pruners that allow you to prune from a distance and are perfect for pruning roses without bending so low. They have a reach of two feet and are made of light weight tubular aluminum. They have a hand grip to trigger the cutting action and a ‘cut-n-hold’ feature that allows you to cut off a cane or flower and hold it in the ‘jaws’ of the pruners for easy retrieval. Kneeling in the garden is tough on the knees so Gardenscape Tools offers three solutions, the Gardener’s Gel Kneeling pad, Gardener’s Gel Knee Pads, and All Terrain Knee Pads. All three are specifically designed to make kneeling in the garden less punishing. A colorful and handy gadget for use in the garden are Tubtrugs made of low density polyethylene. These flexible carrying trugs with handles are much more exciting and versatile than the popular plastic garden buckets. They can be used for carrying plants, weeds, harvested veggies and fruit, compost, water, fertilizer, and so much more. There are two sizes and they come as a set, one holding 6.8 gallons and the other holding 11 gallons. They come in bright purple, green, red, orange, yellow, pink, and blue. The durable Tubtrugs are frostproof and UV resistant. Gardenscape Tools is a Canadian company that can be reached at 1-888-472-3266 or at All Terrain is a company that doesn’t sell plants, seeds, gadgets, or tools, but their products do have the gardener and outdoor enthusiast in mind. They sell ‘natural remedies that are environmentally conscious.’ One of their products that I would like to try is TerraSport, a non-greasy and sweat-proof lotion that provides broad protection from both the UVB (cancer causing) and UVA (skin aging) rays. Most of the sunblock lotions that I’ve tried end up stinging my eyes so badly once I have to quit working and go inside once I start to perspire. TerraSport supposedly causes less eye-sting problems. All Terrain also offers Lip Armor which conditions lips and provides UVA/UVB protection. To purchase All Terrain products go to or call them at 1(800)246-7328. They also have Deet-free insect repellents, skin care lotions, soaps for gardeners, and more. Garden Note: Gardeners should always protect themselves against the harmful effects of the sun. Wear a hat and put on sunblock whenever you go out to work in the garden. And don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water too!

Published: 4/30/2005 1:42 PM

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