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A better handle

Published May 19, 2007

The curvy handle of the Plus Hand Trowel from Vigoro offers multiple gripping positions and even lets you use two hands, if necessary, to dig out a stubborn root or rock. The cushioned knob is a good place to push or pull while you dig. It's 14 inches long; $9.97 at Home Depot.

Spread it around

Five reasons to mulch your containers, from the May/June issue of Cottage Living magazine: It keeps plants healthy by limiting the splash of mud, which can carry soil-borne diseases onto leaves. It makes cleaning simple: It's easier to pick dead leaves out of mulch than out of mud. It deters slugs and snails. Mulches with strong scents (such as eucalyptus) or sharp edges (crushed shells) discourage digging pets. And mulch enhances the appearance of even a modestly priced container.

Rare, not forbidden

Try something rare and exotic. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, visit the annual rare fruit and herb sale at the Manatee Civic Center, sponsored by the Manatee Rare Fruit Council. Here's your chance to see and buy unusual tropical and subtropical fruiting trees and plants: guava, macadamia nut, pomegranate, soursop, lychee and many more, and to talk to growers and enthusiasts. Fruitalizer (fertilizer for fruit trees), cookbooks, jams, teas and other plant-related items will be for sale too. The civic center is at Haben Boulevard and U.S. 41/301 in Palmetto. Details are at

Something new

Here comes the bride: It's Blushing Bride, a new hydrangea from Endless Summer. It starts out pure white and matures to a faint pink blush. It blooms on old and new growth, so you'll have blooms all season long. Blushing Bride likes partial shade and moist soil and grows upright, 3 to 6 feet tall. A nice idea for an evening garden. Look for it at garden centers.

On a water diet

Think your landscaping is waterwise and Florida-friendly? Tampa Bay Water wants to hear from you for its annual water-wise awards. Visit the Web site ( to fill in the application and upload a photo of your landscaping. Get busy; the deadline is 5 p.m. May 31. The application provides a good checklist of smart planting and irrigation techniques for the rest of us to follow in these days of drought.

Cover your tracks

Keep your shoes on: Stash plastic grocery bags by the door to cover your muddy shoes in case you have to go inside before you are through gardening for the day, suggests Scott Meyer, editor of Organic Gardening magazine.


[Last modified May 18, 2007, 10:48:46]

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