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July 28, 2000     Cape Gazette
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July 28, 2000

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CAPE GAZETI, Friday, July 28 - Aug. 3, 2000 - 63 GARDEN & FARM " Michael Short photo Boy, oh boy, the Bushes' Big Boys are big! Howard and Ethel Bush, shown here with their dog, Bonnie, have Big Boy tomato plants that top at nine feet tall, perhaps even taller. The couple, who live near Georgetown, love to garden and grow a garden full of eight-foot-tall P01e limas, sweet corn and other summer delights. Howard Bush said he didn't do anything special this year, other than an extra dose of Miracle Gro. "It was a little wetter this spring;' he said, saying perhaps the extra rainfall helped his tomatos, which his wife cans and makes tomato juice with. Howard does the gar- dening in his family and his face lights up when he shows a visitor the pods on the lima beans or the ever-bearing strawberries. "He is one of those kind that likes to keep on the go," she said. Red fire ants found at Milford Wal-Mart Consumers should Dr. Donald Eggen, Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) p'iant industries administrator, confirmed recently that the red imported fire ant, a harmful insect pest, has been positively identi- fied in plant material in the Wal- Mart store in Milford. Consumers are asked to inspect any plant material recently pur- chased from the store for small, aggressive, red stinging ants. Anyone finding a suspicious ant should contact the DDA plant industries section at 800-282- 8685. The Delaware Department of Agriculture has initiated inspec- tions of all other Wai-Mart stores in Delaware. The plant industries staff, in cooperation with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, plant protection and quarantine unit, are immediately implementing eradication proce- dures, for this infestation. Fire ants are not to be taken lightly, Eggen said. Red imported fire ants pose serious health, eco- nomic and aesthetic concerns. They are aggressive and will sting repeatedly. The sting produces a sensation similar to a bee, wasp or hornet sting. Fire ants attack in large num- bers when disturbed. inspect all plants They have been known to kill small farm animals and have caused millions of dollars in crop losses throughout the southern United States. Not all ants are fire ants. Red imported fire ants are small - 3 to 6 millimeters - and red to reddish brown in color. They build mounds that may reach 18 inches high and spread three feet across. Unlike ant hills, the mounds have no visible external opening. Care should be taken when exam- ining a suspected mound. When the nest is disturbed, the ants swarm out of the mound, cov- ering and attacking the enemy. Their sting is very painful and the venom from multiple stings may cause a variety of symptoms - nausea, dizziness and even death. To prevent another fire "ant infestation, Delaware plant estab- lishments should check each ship- ment of plant material received from the southeastern United States for the appropriate creden- tials and inspection certificates. Delaware Nursery Law requires that each shipment of nursery stock be accompanied by a Certificate of Inspection from the state of origin. As every gardener knows, good weather makes us want to travel As every gardener knows, good weather makes us want to travel And up from Central America and" beyond arrive the smallest birds on earth. With nearly 55 beats per second, their tiny wings move so fast that they actually hum. These are the ruby-throated humming- birds. Such speeds demand high energy foods such as nectar. With their long pointed bills the hummingbirds are able to make use of nectar sources unavailable to others. A favorite is not sur- prisingly another plant brought up from their very tropical home- lands, the pendulous flowering fuchsia. Named after the German botanist Leonard Fuchs, the fuch- sia is a half hard perrennial often treated as an annual. Its woody stems can either be upright or trailing. Trailing fuchsia make great hanging baskets. Fuchsia, like many tropical GARDEN JOURNAL Paul Barbano plants, is used to growing in the shade of canopy tres, so give them similar mottled shade in your own garden. Water well but don't drown them. This is important. Often during the hottest times of day the fuchsias will wilt as the roots simply can't keep up with the evaporation. But if you water them too much the soil will become waterlogged and they will drown. Better to move the plants into a shady spot and water only when needed. Since fuschia flowers at the tips of the stems, to encourage more flowers, it's necessary to pinch off the growing stems. Fertilize weekly with a good organic ferti b izer dissolved in water. There are literally hundreds of color combinations and varieities offuschia. Some notable ones are the pink and white ',pink cloud," the trailing white and light pink "angel's dream" and the pale scar- let and red-orange "falling star." "baby blue eyes" is a stunning red and dark purple upright fuschia. Fuschias are widely available at local nurseries and garden center as well as from mail order nurs- eries that specialize in i'uschia, such as D&B Fuschia, 360-891- 3940, and Delta Farm & Nursery, at 541-485-2992. Plant fuschia in a good netural garden, soil with plenty of com- post. You can start fuschia from seeds but they won't grow true to type. Cuttings from soft green wood will root easily in water. HUMMINGBIRD They do best with about four hours of direct sunlight but shad- ed from the midday heat. Test their soil by sticking your finger in about an inch and water only when dry. Fuschia is entirely edible, although not necessarily deli- cious. The flowers are useful for decorating cakes and salads. Some fuschia, such as the variety "Phyllis," will produce fruits that can be made into jam. Most fuschia are grown for their flow- ers. Upright fuschia can be used in borders and beds. To overwinter fuschia, let the plants dry out slightly in the fall. Do not let them dry out complete- ly. Cut back the stems to about six or eight inches and withhold all fertilizer. Bring them indoors and store in an unheated garage or cel- lar with some light. In the spring, reverse the process by repotting and increas- ing the water and sunlight. Set them out and wait for the ruby throated hummingbirds to return hungry after their 3,000 mile journey north. Paul Barbano wrirtes about gardening and farming from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Address questions or comments to him c/o the Cape Gazette.