Park News March 2012

Park Seed on TV!

Click here to watch the episode of 'Southern Accents' featuring Park Seed!Park Seed (in all our glory!) was recently featured on the PBS show Southern Accents.  Focusing on how we sort, store, and package seeds, the program gave audiences a glimpse of the famous Seed Room in our Greenwood headquarters, including the temperature- and humidity-controlled seed storage area.

Our own Doc Alston described the seed testing program at Park, explaining that each and every variety of seed we sell is tested at least once a year — and sometimes up to 3 times a year — for viability. Viewers also got a glimpse of some of our Bio Domes in action in Doc's greenhouses.

Park horticulturist Stephanie Turner explained the trial gardens, stressing that visitors are always welcome to come see the All-America Selection competitors and new experimental varieties growing in our gardens. She also mentioned that our Greenwood facility also houses our sister companies, Jackson & Perkins and Wayside Gardens.


If you missed the show and would like to watch, click here. Better yet, come see Park for yourself on Flower Day (June 23, 2012), when you can visit our facilities, tour the trial gardens, and so much more!

Flowers that Keep Your Vegetable Garden Healthy

You don't have to sacrifice beautiful flowers when you decide to grow a vegetable garden! Many varieties of annuals and herbs perform valuable work in the veggie patch, such as attracting pollinators and "good bugs," repelling "bad bugs," and even acting as trap crops to keep pests off the vegetable plants.

Flower partnersBees and other pollinators are necessary for your vegetable plants to set fruit, so invite them in for a closer look with flowering annuals that bear plenty of nectar. The colors yellow, blue, and white seem to work best attracting pollinators, so consider a stand of Sunflowers, Sweet Peas, Cosmos, Zinnias, and Mints among the rows of vegetables. Not only will this add bright color to the display, but several of these plants are fragrant and/or great for cut-flowers. It's a win-win!

Many insects are highly prized in the garden because they chase away or devour predators, and certain plants attract these "good bugs" so they can get to work. Plant the herbs Parsley, Dill, and Cilantro, as well as any flowering plant from the Aster family, such as Marigolds, Chrysanthemums, Calendulas, Zinnias, and Sunflowers.

Bee on BorageSome plants are effective at repelling a specific pest that might be affecting your crops. Catmint is one of the best "fighter" plants, discouraging aphids, potato beetles, and squash bugs from entering the vegetable garden. Borage (shown left) repels tomato hornworms, while Geraniums are a great defense against Japanese beetles. Sage is another multi-purpose plant, repelling cabbage moths and carrot rust flies.

A few flowering plants work well as "trap crops," attracting a pest to themselves rather than to the neighboring plants. 4 o'Clocks do a marvelous job of luring Japanese beetles to their stems. Nicotiana is a good insect attractor. And Nasturtiums are irresistible to aphids, keeping them off of nearby vegetables.

Add a little color, fragrance, and pest-fighting ability to your vegetable patch this year from a most unlikely source: beautiful flowering plants!

Attention Southeastern Gardeners! The Kudzu Bug is Migrating!

Nature never stands still, and a new pest has arisen to make trouble in the vegetable patches of some gardens in the southeast. The Kudzu Bug (Megacopta cribraria) is a smelly little guy much like a stink bug. It primarily feeds on kudzu, wisteria, and soybean crops, but has made its way onto other vegetable plants as well.

Kudzu Bug (image source: USDA)The Kudzu Bug was first identified in 2009, when it was found in just a few counties in Georgia. But within 2 seasons it had migrated into South and North Carolina, Alabama, and even near the border of Virginia and Florida.

The Kudzu Bug attaches to the stem and leaf petioles of vegetable plants and sucks their sap, causing the plants to weaken and turn yellow. Individual Kudzu Bugs may not do too much damage, but the problem is that when they are found in a garden, they are found by the thousand.

So what can you do? Keep your eyes peeled for this new pest, and if you find it, treat it promptly with pyrethroids. With a little planning, you can stop it in its tracks!

Your Garden — More than Just a Thousand Pretty Faces!

A wellWe all love our gardens for reasons that have nothing to do with practicality, but consider just a few of the advantages of maintaining a garden around your house:

  • Curb appeal - Realtors say that no home improvement repays its cost more effectively than plants.
  • Weather beaters - Using trees as windbreaks and natural shade canopies can save you energy costs; using groundcovers for erosion control on banks and slopes can prevent costly repairs.
  • Food - You don't have to be a farmer to add a few tomato plants among the Marigolds in that sunny patch of earth, and herbs can be as beautiful as the most exotic flowering plant. Fruit trees are all-season performers, with pretty blooms, fragrance, and often autumn color in addition to their delicious crops.
  • Quality of life - Do flowers really reduce stress and lift the spirits? We think so. And that may be the most "valuable" benefit of all.