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Spring time is coming.






HOME FIX-UP garden task


Short of space? That's not a problem for gardeners

Dean Fosdick | The Associated Press

March 8, 2008


If you're dreaming big about your garden this year, think small.


Many of the nation's leading nurseries are predicting big profits in 2008 by developing plants and vegetables for containers and space-deprived urban gardeners.


"Gardening is morphing into an outdoor-living accessory, an extension of your home," said Bruce Butterfield, research director for the National Gardening Association in South Burlington, Vt. "People are using their patios and balconies rather than get their hands dirty in the ground."



Smaller yards and busier lives have fueled a desire for gardening on a smaller scale, said Randy Schultz, a spokesman for the Mailorder Gardening Association in Albuquerque, N.M.


Gardening is also a hobby that grows more popular as people grow older. But as they continue to age, they tend to downsize. That generally means growing plants in pots or raised beds in sunny but protected corners.


Plant varieties are now being designed to grow in containers, and Schultz calls that "perhaps the fastest-growing segment of this market."


Lettuces, salad greens and herbs all grow well in pots or small raised-bed gardens, Schultz said. Cherry and bush tomatoes, chard, pole beans, peppers and eggplants thrive in tight spaces, too.


"Container gardens filled with red and green lettuces or a container that holds yellow tomatoes, purple basil and red peppers can be just as beautiful as a pot of flowers and much more delicious," said Kathy LaLiberte, director of gardening for Gardener's Supply Co., in Burlington, Vt.


Here are some plants and plant collections expected to be hot sellers in 2008:


Balconi red tomato (from Thompson & Morgan; tmseeds.com): An exceptionally sweet cherry tomato variety that trails well when grown as a basket plant and is decorative and productive. One plant can fill a 12-inch container.


Pepper Mini Belle (Thompson & Morgan): A dwarf, decorative plant that produces a large crop of small sweet peppers maturing to red, orange or chocolate color.


Musa Dwarf Lady Finger (from Logee's Greenhouses, Ltd.; logees.com ): A new, hardy edible banana variety that grows to 5 feet in height, manageable for patios or indoor sunrooms. Good for temperatures no lower than 60 degrees.


Petunia Shock Wave series. (Developed by Ball Horticultural Co., sold nationwide in catalogs and garden centers): Annual. Tiny blossoms in vivid colors. Long-blooming and well-suited for hanging baskets, mixed and solo containers.


Lettuce mini-green improved (Another Thompson & Morgan offering): Tennis ball-sized heads of iceberg lettuce bred so each is a meal for one person. Eighty-day maturity. Best grown in succession from spring through midsummer for a continuous supply of salad hearts.


Eupatorium Little Joe and Sedum Autumn Joy (Collection from Great Garden Plants; greatgardenplants.com ): Four months of color from a drought-tolerant pair of summer perennials. A collection that thrives in confined-space gardens. (Good for zones 3 to 9).


Blazin Lime Iresine (Ball Horticultural Co., will be sold extensively in catalogs and garden stores): Lime and cream variegated leaves good for mixed containers or garden beds. Does best in shade.

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