Avant Gardener – 060313

Derek and Carolyn discuss the planting and selection of sweet corns, an easy to grow vegetable that has undergone some major changes in the past 40 years when a whole new race of sweet corns entered the marked, called super-sweets and triple sweets. These are not only sweeter than heirloom varieties but hold their sweetness for up to 10 days if placed in the crisper section of a refrigerator. Carolyn explains that sweet corn is her favorite vegetable and how easy it is to freeze for enjoyment during winter months. Derek recommends Golden Bantam as an heirloom variety that must be cooked as soon as it is picked to retain its sweetness. He also discusses the merits of Silver Queen as a sweet white variety and the disappointing flavor of Country Gentleman, a white heirloom variety. Other sweet corn varieties recommended are Bodacious, a yellow and Honey and Pearls, a bi-color. The guest this session is Kathleen Gagan, a peony grower with a nursery in Bernardsville, New Jersey. She explains how to grow peonies and the difference between the three main groups – herbaceous peonies, tree peonies and intersectional peonies which are a cross between tree peonies and herbaceous peonies. The intersectionals have a plant habit similar to an herbaceous peony, but a flower similar in color range and size to a tree peony. In the email section, Derek answers a listener who wishes to grow edible soy-beans, another wishing to grow giant hardy hibiscus, a lady wondering how to overwinter gloriosa daisies (a type of rudbeckia), and a gentleman who wants a source for Superbissima giant-flowered petunias.