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WHAT'S BLOOMIN'

Gardening column: Ecologically savvy? Try these tips

Friday, November 9, 2012 - 12:01 am

I went in search of “need to know” tips for savvy gardeners and homeowners who want to be up-to-the-minute ecologically:

•This tip will come in handy for next season's garden: Don't water your plants (especially vegetables) or drink from a garden hose that is vinyl-covered and has had water sitting in it (especially if the sun has been directly on it) for any length of time. Tests made of the water in the hose under these conditions have been found to contain lead 18 times above the federal standard. Instead, buy a hose that is made of polyurethane or rubber. Some are even being labeled “drinking water safe” or “lead free.”

•Plants are one of the best ways to keep household air clean and fresh. Tests have proven that houseplants not only produce oxygen from CO2, but they also absorb benzene, formaldehyde and/or trichloroethylene. Also further testing has shown that one plant per 10 square yards of floor space (ceilings of 8 or 9 feet) would mean that two or three plants in a living room of 20 to 25 square yards should keep the air uncontaminated.

•If you maintain that you have a black thumb and can't have houseplants because you kill them, here is a list of plants that like low light and minimal attention, and allowing them in your home might just cure you of the black-thumb disease — and while you are being cured they will clean the air you and your family breathe:

•Areca palm.

•Reed palm.

•Dwarf date palm.

•Bamboo palm.

•Boston fern.

•Janet Craig dracaena.

•Australian sword fern.

•Rubber plant.

•Weeping fig.

•Philodendrons.

•English ivy.

•Peace lily.

•Spider plant.

•Snake plant.

•Recycling is one of the best ways to preserve and protect our environment. This is not only true for all those things on our local recycle list, but should be practiced by gardeners as well. I'm not at all for hoarding — I've watched those shows, cringed and headed for my attic where I bag and box and donate rather than become a hoarder. But sometimes items that no longer work for one purpose can be used for another, such as:

•Old tube socks with the feet cut off can be used to protect arms when pruning prickly plants.

•That old high-wheeled lawnmower that quit working, if renovated by removing the motor, can become a perfect tote for those large potted plants, bags of mulch and other heavy items.

•Keep one of those empty (clean) detergent jugs with the push-button dispenser filled with water and handy for washing dirty hands while digging, potting and planting. What a neat tip this is for places like the potting bench or the vegetable garden.

Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to jaf701@frontier.com. You also can read her What's Bloomin' blog at www.news-sentinel.com. This column is the writer's opinion.