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Avant Gardener – 092313

Hosts Derek and Carolyn Fell report from Cedaridge Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, noting that nights have turned chilly and frost is expected at any time. Derek explains that they have been harvesting a very good crop of Dr. Martin’s Lima beans which are noted for extra large size and a satisfying meaty flavor when cooked. A crop of sweet potatoes has been disappointing, however, because a ground hog kept eating the tops of the vines, and this has restricted the size of the tubers and the yields. Derek tried trapping the culprit by baiting a Havahart trap with carrots but the groundhog ignored the tasty treats in favor of the sweet potatoes and some soy beans it also took an fancy to. He explains to Carolyn how to grow sweet potatoes from offsets that will sprout all around a tuber suspended in a glass of water. Derek’s guest this session is Johanna Kitson, head gardener at the Four Arts Garden, at Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach. Derek describes it as the most well-designed tropical garden he has seen in North America, and Johanna explains the design philosophy for each theme area, including a Chinese Garden, a Moonlight Garden planted with all white flowers, a Palm Garden, a Bromeliad Garden and other tropical areas. The garden is at Four Arts Plaza, palm Beach which is just across the Flagler Bridge and the first turning to the left. Answering emails, Derek explains that azaleas can be pruned up to August 15 and still have time to produce flower buds for the following season; he tells how to rotate crops in a garden to reduce the risk of pests and diseases, and why it is important to cut back ornamental grasses after fall frosts. He also recommends daffodils and crocus for planting in fall to grow through turf in a lawn or a ground cover of ivy as they are the only spring flowering bulbs with sufficient energy to penetrate turf or tough ivy roots.