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Acer's Florist & Garden Center
Edition 15.24 Acer's Florist & Garden Center June 2015


Quotation of the Week:

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."~John Burroughs

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How deep should I plant my tomato plants?

Answer: Although it goes against conventional wisdom, tomato plants should be planted deeper in order for them to grow a stronger root system and produce more fruit. Set your plants deeply into the soil, burying them up to their first set of true leaves (strip off all other leaves below these).

For tall spindly plants, pinch off the bottom leaves (leave the branches) and lay them sideways in a trench. Carefully and gently bend the stem upward so that the upper few inches of stem and leaves are above the soil surface. Although the plant will look crooked for a few days, it will straighten up and roots will develop along the buried stem.

Tomato Hornworms

Tomato hornworms are the larvae of a large sphinx moth that is about the size of a hummingbird. In spring the moth lays eggs on the underside of tomato leaves, and the hornworm is quite small when it first emerges. However, they are big eaters and grow up quickly. Tomatoes leaves are their favorite, but they will also strip other plants if they are available. Usually, you won’t even discover this fellow until it is large - about 2 inches long and fat! They are quite distinctive, actually handsome with their diagonal white stripes and horns on the rear.

Don't be afraid of the hornworms. They look more frightening than they are. They don't bite or sting, just try to look big and ferocious. You can easily handpick to remove from your tomato plant and just throw them away. When they are younger, smaller, use Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) as an effective management technique.

Some gardeners have a different approach to the tomato hornworm. While handpicking a hornworm, look to see if you find little white cocoons attached to its back. If you do see this, that cocoon is a pupating braconid wasp, which is a garden friend predator. Capture the hornworm and keep it or all of them in a container, feeding them tomato leaves. You are creating a nursery for the braconid wasps that can be released into your garden! These wasps will also control the hornworm population.

Other natural predators are birds and the larvae of the green lacewing. Plant your gardens to create an inviting habitat for all of these natural predators, and you'll control this voracious eater of your tomato leaves. Luckily, they don't eat the tomato!


If you hate mosquitoes, you are not alone! In fact, window screens, introduced in the 1880's, were called "the most humane contribution the 19th century made to the preservation of sanity and good temper."

The pesky little insect has ruined countless hikes, BBQ's and campouts. This vector has literally killed millions of people throughout history, and still affects millions around the world today. As daunting as this sounds, there are steps you can take to co-exist and stay healthy.

What attracts the mosquito? After 30 million years of evolution, the mosquito has perfected its hunting skills. The mosquito uses three sensors to attract its prey:

  • Chemical sensors: Mosquitoes sense carbon dioxide and lactic acid up to 100 feet away. Unfortunately, we give off these gases as part of our normal breathing.

  • Visual sensors: Clothing that contrasts with the background enables the mosquito to "zero in" on you.

  • Heat sensors: Mosquitoes detect heat, so they can find warm-blooded mammals very easily.

The best thing you can do to control mosquitoes is to use a mosquito repellant and eliminate standing water around your home. A mosquito can lay up to 250 eggs at one time in still water, and they can hatch as fast as 7 days. Check your gutters frequently for collected water (especially if they sag and aren't level), along with birdbaths, buckets or boggy areas of the garden.

Burning citronella candles, using an electronic bug zapper, or spraying surfaces near entertainment areas with a mosquito barrier spray will also help kill, or at least repel, mosquitoes. We also highly recommend using Mosquito Dunks if you have areas of standing water that you can't drain.

Diligence is your best protection. Stay indoors at dawn and dusk hours, wear pants and long-sleeved shirts if possible, avoid any standing water, and repair broken screens.

Although it can be a constant battle, by incorporating the use of insect repellents and breeding prevention (eliminating standing water), mosquitoes and the diseases they carry can be reduced, making the outdoors more accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

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Vegetarian Spaghetti

What you need:

  • 1 (16 ounce) package spaghetti
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (26 ounce) jar meatless spaghetti sauce
  • 1 (16 ounce) can garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Step by Step:

  • Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté the onion, celery and garlic powder in oil until tender.
  • Add the spaghetti sauce, beans, tomatoes, sugar, salt, oregano and bay leaf.
  • Bring to a boil; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Remove and discard bay leaf.
  • Drain spaghetti; top with sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Yield: 6 servings


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