Groundwork for June 9, 2013

Food, music and hayride tours will be featured at the annual Garden Fest at Burden on Saturday at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens in Baton Rouge, 4560 Essen Lane.

From 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., visitors will have an opportunity to take a hayride to the Botanic Gardens research area to taste tomatoes, watermelons, peppers and fruit crops and learn about the latest research conducted by the LSU AgCenter, according to Burden resident director Jeff Kuehny. Other garden tours will include the All-America Selections garden, the rose garden and the children’s garden.

Visitors are invited to bring their best tomatoes from their gardens and enter them in the outstanding tomato contest. LSU AgCenter experts will conduct a plant health clinic and diagnose problems with plant specimens brought by visitors. Soil sample boxes will be available.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the Louisiana Egg Commission will prepare and serve omelets from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and visitors can sample bloody Marys from Mason’s Grill from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The Louisiana Culinary Institute and the East Baton Rouge Parish extension office will offer samples of dishes prepared from vegetables produced at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The tastings will include recipes and nutrition information for each selection.

Baton Rouge Music Studios and Visit Baton Rouge will present the Red Stick Idol contest and music from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. In addition, the LSU AgCenter Dairy Store will have ice cream available for purchase.

The Garden Fest Cocktail Contest will be held from 11 a.m. to noon, when visitors can sample concoctions made from Louisiana rum. Food companies in the LSU AgCenter Food Incubator will offer samples of their new foods and beverages from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Admission to the event is $10 for adults, $5 for children 4-10 years old. Children under 3 will be admitted at no charge. Burden is on Essen Lane off Interstate 10. More information is available online at http://www.lsuagcentr.com/burden or by calling (225) 763-3990.

Flower popularity

LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens is one of 31 prestigious public gardens participating in the nation’s only flower popularity contest.

The American Garden Award is a unique opportunity for the public to view, choose and vote on a specific flower that they think has the most appealing garden characteristics. Some of the world’s most prominent breeders have chosen their best varieties to enter into this competition.

Each of the “contestants” is now displayed in the garden and visitors can view the plants in person and vote on their favorite. Join in the fun by voting in one of three ways:

  • Using postage-paid voting ballots at the garden.
  • Texting a code found on garden signage to a given polling number.
  • Going to http://www.americangardenaward.com and clicking on the voting button.

Voting is open through Aug. 31, and winners will be announced in September. In the meantime, these flowers, as well as some of the past American Garden Award winners are available at your garden center. Ask for them by name.

Q&A

My homeowners association sent me a letter for having weeds in my front flower beds. I weed but they come right back. Is there some way to kill the grass without having to replant the bed?

Grassy weeds can be selectively removed from a landscape bed planted with broad-leaved plants. Use a herbicide with the active ingredient fluazifop and spray twice for Bermuda grass control.

I purchased a new home in Ascension Parish and my neighbor told me I had torpedo grass in my centipede lawn. How do I get rid of it?

You don’t. The only way to get rid of torpedo grass is to kill the entire area with glyphosate herbicide and start all over. The second best method is to apply a herbicide with the active ingredient sethoxydim three times during the growing season. This will not kill the grass but will suppress its growth.

I sprayed some Roundup to kill weeds in my lawn and it killed everything. I followed the instructions. Now I have large dead areas. What’s going on?

Reading and following the label is the law and the smart thing to do. You missed the part of the label where it stated Roundup (and all glyphosate herbicides) is a nonselective herbicide. This means it kills everything green it touches. The upside is you can immediately replant some grass sod and you’ll have your lawn back in shape by early summer.

I’d like to plant some pots on my patio for summer color. Is it too late?

This is a great time to plant patio pots for summerlong enjoyment. There are too many selections for me to include here but some suggestions are herbs like basil, foliage plants like crotons and schefflera, Baby Wing and Dragon Wing begonias, melampodium, Profusion and Zahara zinnias, Blue Daze, Purslane, Little Ruby Joseph’s coat, coleus, torenia, polka dot plants (Hypoestes), Bandana lantanas, caladiums and sedums.

My backyard backs up to a newly cleared area which will be commercial. What is fast growing that will screen this view?

The fastest plant materials that will reach 20 feet are often not recognized as the best for home landscapes because of problems. The best I am willing to suggest is: river birch, spruce pine, tree ligustrum, bamboo (Phyllostachys), Leyland cypress and Savannah holly.

Got a gardening question? Write to Bob Souvestre, horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter, at Burden Center, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809, or email to bsouvestre@agcenter.lsu.edu, or call Master Gardeners at (225) 763-3990.