Friday, January 30, 2009

UGA Farm Economists Say ’09 Will Be Rough

University of Georgia economic experts at the 2009 Ag Forecast in Gainesville, Ga., used no flattering words to describe the current or future economic outlook for the U.S. and Georgia’s agriculture sector, still staggering from major blows received last year.

“It’s certainly a year filled with the most uncertainty that I can think of,” said John McKissick, director of the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. “Unfortunately, it really is a horrid situation. As we look through most of 2009, we still have a rough patch to go yet.”

UGA predictions say the recession could last through the fourth quarter of 2009, making it the longest since the Great Depression.

Production decreasesFor the first time in a long while, farmers will reduce production for what is called the meat complex, which includes beef, pork and poultry.

Beef cattle producers will continue to liquidate their herds. Their cost of production has increased from 80 cents per pound to $1.20 per pound. Milk prices will be down from record high prices last year, he said.

“The crop choices don’t look good at all, partly because of price expectations but mostly because of continued high cost of production,” McKissick said. “So the potential crop profit situation has completely changed from 2008.”

McKissick predicts a bidding war between corn and soybeans for limited farm acreage again in 2009 with soybeans winning out. In Georgia, soybeans will likely gain acreage. Peanut, corn and wheat acreage will go down.

“There is a lot out there that will and can influence the bottom line,” he said. “We can never dwell too much on food quality and safety, and its impact on demand. We see over and over again what that can do to an industry and consumer demand.”

Trade increasesAs the world’s population increases, the “percent of agricultural products in the world that move through international trade is going to grow, is growing, especially value-added commodities,” said Octavio Ramirez, head of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

Historical markets for U.S. farm commodities are shrinking, Ramirez said. Population decline in higher-income areas like Europe, Japan and Russia will lead to lower demand there.

“Where the growth is going to be is in low-income countries,” he said.

By 2050, populations in high-income countries will increase only 2 percent. Low-income countries will boom by 46 percent, adding 2.5 billion consumers in mostly Africa and Asia. Other population growth will occur in Latin America and the U.S. Europe’s population will decline.
“How many people currently in low-income countries that are lifted out of poverty will be the most significant factor affecting trade in the future,” Ramirez said.

The U.S. is in a good situation when it comes to feeding and clothing the world. Much of the world’s quality soil is in Canada and the U.S., where yields are high and water is available.

“People have been talking about how we’re going to run out of food for a long time, for 50 to 60 years,” Ramirez said. “Ag research has actually increased productivity faster than demand growth.”

Innovation neededBut the U.S. needs to continue to innovate, he said, creating technologies to increase yields and producers’ profits.

There are bright spots, McKissick said. Crude oil prices have dropped. After topping out at $140 a barrel, prices plummeted to $40 a barrel. This is good news for producers who saw much of their 2007 and 2008 earnings go to fuel costs. Fuel prices will move up over time, he said, but without dramatic increases.

The U.S. dollar has strengthened. This isn’t good news for U.S. exports because it makes them more expensive. But it is good for imports.

“There are a lot of challenges out there. But there are also reasons for us to be optimistic,” McKissick said to sum up the forecast.

The annual outlook is sponsored by CAES. Sessions were held this week in Dalton, Statesboro, Tifton and Macon, too.

(Author Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
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What's Your Vision for an Organic Future?

/PRNewswire/ -- Passionate about organic food and excited about change for the better? Beginning Feb. 1, Organic Valley -- a Wisconsin-based cooperative of more than 1,300 organic family farmers nationwide -- will launch a national social media site in which individuals can share and celebrate their passions for healthy, sustainable food at http://www.organicrising.com/.

Mad for organic milk? Crazy for CSA's? Pumped up about pasturing? Happy about humane animal treatment? Ecstatic for organic eggs? Proud of pesticide- free food? In the mooooood for butter? Like to grow your own?

Through March 31, 2009, Organic Valley is inviting individuals to post and share their vision for a healthier and more sustainable future through video, music, essays, photos and other creative media at the Web site.

In April, Organic Valley will randomly select five participants to win a year of free Organic Valley Half & Half.

"The simple joy of tasting local and organically-grown foods from our vibrant earth is enough to remind most of us what's important for a healthy and sustainable future," said Sarah Bratnober, marketing director at Organic Valley. "We've created http://www.organicrising.com/ as the ideal forum for likeminded souls to honor the planet by sharing their visions."

Organic Valley is complementing the "Organic Rising" initiative with an educational campaign on the benefits of a healthy, organic breakfast. Full details can be found on http://www.organicrising.com/. On-site and at select retailers, Organic Valley will provide coupons for ideal breakfast items such as half & half, brown eggs, soy, orange juice, buttermilk and Organic Prairie sausage links.

Organic Valley Family of Farms: Independent and Farmer-Owned

Organic Valley is America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and is one of the nation's leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents 1,322 farmers in 34 states and one Canadian province, and achieved $432.5 million in 2007 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods, including organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce and juice, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. The same farmers who produce for Organic Valley also produce a full range of delicious organic meat under the Organic Prairie Family of Farms label. For further information, call 1-888-444-MILK or visit http://www.organicvalley.coop/, http://www.organicprairie.coop/ and the cooperative's farmer website, http://www.farmers.coop/.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How To Have Healthy, Fresh Fruit Trees

(NAPSI)-You may love the idea of picking fresh oranges, apples or peaches right off your own fruit trees. If so, you should consider these tips to help ensure any fruit tree you buy is healthy and will reward you each year.

Preparing Your Garden

Fruit trees require adequate patience and preparation, from providing the right location and fertilization to proper pruning and pollination. The best locations are in full sun and will have well-drained soil. You should also protect them from strong winds. If space is limited, you might want to consider smaller trees that can be planted close together. Some dwarf trees can even be kept indoors in pots when the weather's really cold.

To provide proper pollination, consider the availability of natural pollinators in your area, such as wild honeybees, which have been in decline. Also, some varieties will produce fruit when pollinated by pollen from their own flowers ("self-fruitful"), while others require pollen from another variety ("self-unfruitful"). Combine different types of fruit trees that blossom in different seasons for fruit almost all year long.

Identifying a Healthy Tree

Once you've determined the right conditions, now you want to select a healthy tree. Keep in mind that many plants are prone to disease that can have devastating consequences. For example, Citrus Greening Disease is threatening all citrus fruit trees throughout the U.S. and could potentially affect the entire citrus industry. Trees infected with this disease produce misshapen fruit that remains green even when ripe. This disease will eventually kill the tree.

Knowing the Source

Because of diseases such as Citrus Greening, some plant purchases are restricted. The entire state of Florida is currently under federal quarantine and no citrus trees can be shipped from the state. Other states, such as Louisiana, have specific counties under quarantine. There are federal fines for shipping plants from quarantined areas, even when purchasing online.

Learning More

As with any plant, be prepared by doing your homework. Your state's agricultural cooperative extension office is a great resource to help ensure that you get trees from the right source. To get the facts on citrus plant quarantines, visit www.saveourcitrus.org.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Make this a Garden Season to Enjoy

(ARA) - The catalogues are starting to pile up and the list of landscape improvements grows longer each day. Don’t let this overwhelm or discourage you. Instead spend a bit of time planning now for better results in your garden. You will be amazed how much fun you can have while achieving your landscape goals under budget and within your schedule.

Take some time to look through those catalogues. It is a great way to gather ideas and get some feedback from everyone who uses or enjoys the landscape. You might find if they are invited to help with the planning they might just help with weeding. And no one is too young.

"Break out the crayons, paper, pencils, ruler, old catalogues and make garden planning a family event,” says nationally known gardening expert and author Melinda Myers. “Younger children can glue pictures of their favorite plants on a piece of paper while older ones can do the measuring, sketch the garden and help with the planting diagram." And if you are the sole gardener and caretaker, don’t worry. The same process works and you get to make all the decisions.

Once the family has had their input or you created your wish list of plants it is time to make sure your plan is realistic. Check to see if the plants selected will grow in the heat and cold of your region. Make sure they can also tolerate the soil, wind and moisture conditions. Matching the plant to the growing conditions means an attractive landscape and productive gardens with less work. Catalogues, your local Extension service and the Internet are great sources of information. This is great way to fight the winter blues.

Now it’s time to focus on the foundation of the garden, the soil under your feet. Preparing the soil with proper fertilization helps the plants you select grow and thrive. Start with a soil test to find out what type and how much fertilizer and soil amendments you need to add. The soil test results can save you time, money and insure you do the best for your plants and the environment. Over fertilizing wastes money, damages plants and can harm the environment.

While waiting for the results you can keep everyone involved with garden planning. Gather a cup of soil from your garden. Remove any sticks and stones and place it in a clean quart straight sided jar. Fill the jar 3/4 full and add a teaspoon of non-foaming detergent and shake. This is a great way to burn calories or use excess energy our young gardeners often have. Then allow the soil to settle.

You will begin to see layers of the different particles. Check the jar again in two days. The bottom layer is the heavier sand particles, followed by the medium sized silt and last the clay. This exercise will give you an idea of your soil structure. Compare what you found to the university lab results. "I have used this with young gardeners and it is amazing how excited they get about the soil in their garden. Even the more seasoned gardeners seem to enjoy this activity," says Myers.

Now select a fertilizer suited to your plants. "I prefer low-nitrogen slow-release fertilizers like Milorganite," says Melinda. "It is goof proof and safe for gardeners of all ages and experience to use. The organic source of nitrogen does not promote excess growth at the expense of flowers and helps to build stress tolerant plants. The non-leaching phosphorous is good for the environment and non-staining iron encourages a deep green color. Plus one product is good for all your gardening needs."

Incorporate Milorganite into the soil before planting your flower and vegetable gardens as well as landscape plants. The slow release nitrogen won’t burn the developing roots or interfere with flowering.

Give flower and vegetable plants a mid season boost. The organic source of nitrogen in Milorganite will not burn heat and drought stressed plants. And be sure to water thoroughly and only as needed to keep your plants looking good throughout the season.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Are You Paying Too Much for Natural Gas?

If you are one of the 1.4 million natural gas customers in the deregulated Atlanta Gas Light service area, you could experience sticker shock in the next two months. The Georgia Public Service Commission says natural gas customers can expect a 24 percent increase in their heating bills this winter.

February is typically Georgia’s coldest month, which means heating bills are the highest in late winter.

What can you do to ease the economic impact during the coldest time of the year? Start by reviewing your bill, especially if you pay by bank draft or if you are on budget billing. If you are on a variable-rate plan, you can change your rate plan or marketer at no charge once every 12 months.

For a comprehensive list of marketers and rate plans, visit the Web site www.psc.state.ga.us/gas/pricecard.asp.

If you are on a fixed rate, check when that rate is scheduled to end. If you locked into a rate last summer, chances are good that you are paying 20 percent to 30 percent more per therm, or gas unit, than rates that are currently being offered.

Historically, summer is not the best time to lock into a fixed rate. Locking in during September or October can save you the most money. You should start looking for a new rate plan about two months prior to the expiration date of your fixed rate.

For one-on-one assistance with bill management, call your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office at 1-800-ASKUGA1. Or, go to the Web site www.fcs.uga.edu/ext/housing/naturalgas.

By Jackie Dallas
University of Georgia

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Manure Info, Anyone?

Animal Manure Management Finds Internet Home

The University of Georgia and its partner universities and organizations are using new media to help get the word out about solutions to a long-time issue – animal manure. They’ve combined resources and given animal manure management a home on the Internet.

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that, nationwide, 257,000 livestock and poultry operations on 15 million acres of cropland need plans to manage their 780 million tons of animal manure.

To help deal with the manure challenge, UGA professor Mark Risse and his colleagues from universities in Washington and Nebraska created the online Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center, now housed on eXtension’s Web site (www.extension.org).

eXtension is a nationwide clearinghouse of research-based information on topics ranging from animal manure to financial crisis to science, engineering and technology for youth. Land-grant universities across the nation, including UGA, contribute scientific information to the site.

“As we get fewer and fewer resources, we’ve got to be able to work together like this,” said Mark Risse, a UGA Cooperative Extension engineer and animal waste specialist.

The Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center is designed for one-stop shopping on issues surrounding animal manure. Risse’s goal is to help people indirectly involved in animal manure, whether they deal with policy issues, help animal producers or deliver technical services – and whether they live in Alaska or Florida.

Currently, the site averages 10,000 to 20,000 hits a month, and 2,000 people subscribe to the monthly newsletter.

Of the 200 to 400 people who listen to their monthly webcasts, each in turn helps about 200 producers each year. That brings the Web site’s impact, through those listeners, to between 40,000 and 80,000 people annually.

The number of hits the site gets doesn’t equal success for Risse.

“I’m less concerned with numbers,” he said. “Success is that people are finding what they want on our site.”

So far, people are finding what they need, and they’re asking for more.

The Web site’s reach stretches internationally, too. That was something Risse hadn’t considered, but it isn’t what amazes him most.

“Our biggest surprise is the Environmental Protection Agency and policymakers make up 25 percent to 30 percent of the audience for our webcasts,” Risse said. “Our stakeholders find that very good, because they know and trust the information on our site.”

The EPA and others aren’t just listening in. They’re using the center to distribute information. The EPA approached the center about doing a webcast in December. That session had their “highest attendance ever,” Risse said. As the EPA discussed its new regulations for confined animal feeding options, 400 people listened.

Risse and his colleagues use both webcasts and research briefs to address issues and deliver answers to problems livestock producers may have. They pull from their own research or from expertise from the nation’s top animal specialists. They also have databases of “Frequently Asked Questions” and an “Ask the Expert” platform on the Web site.

The site prides itself on “connecting experts with those [who] need the information. Animal producers are getting information from the person in the country who knows the most about it,” Risse said.

For more information on the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center’s Web site, visit www.extension.org and click on the Livestock and Poultry Learning Center link.

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Study Identifies Best Air-Purifying Plants

Martha Stewart says houseplants add to a home’s d├ęcor. But they can also purify indoor air, say University of Georgia experts.

“This is an area that’s been largely ignored, and the health issues are potentially astronomical,” said Stanley Kays, a horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “We spend as much as 90 percent of our time indoors breathing indoor air that often contains a diverse range of volatile organic compounds, many of which are toxic.”

House plants can absorb those VOCs. To determine the best air-purifying houseplants, Kays, CAES postdoctoral research associate D.S. Wang and CAES horticulturist Bodie Pennisi evaluated 32 plant species.

Best air-purifiers

Of the species tested, purple waffle plant (Hemigraphis alternata) best removed VOCs from the air. Other species with superior filtering abilities were English ivy, purple heart, foxtail fern and wax plant.

In the study, the plants were tested for their ability to remove benzene, toluene, octane, trichloroethylene and a-pinene, all considered toxic. Plant specimens were placed in sealed glass containers. The VOC levels within were monitored over a six-hour period.

Poor indoor air quality can trigger allergies and asthma and cause fatigue and headaches.
“More than 300 volatile organic compounds have been identified as indoor contaminants,” said Pennisi. “This doesn’t include dust and inorganic gases.”

Toxic compounds come from common sources

These compounds can come from carpet, wood panels, paint, people, pets and various other sources. Benzene and toluene come from newspapers, schoolbooks, electric shavers, portable CD players, liquid waxes and some adhesives.

VOCs also emanate from home electronic equipment, furniture, carpet and construction materials.

“Most of these compounds are readily absorbed into our bodies,” Pennisi said. “Bad indoor air can result in new house syndrome and sick building syndrome that can cause a diverse cross-section of ailments in those exposed.”

High levels found in homes tested

Before testing the plants, the researchers conducted tests for VOCs in three older, upper middle-class homes in Athens, Ga. Older homes are often more drafty than newer homes, which are built tighter to better insulate them.

“The results really shocked me,” Kays said. “All three homes had surprisingly high levels of organic compounds in their air. These were older homes. So if the levels are high there, then it’s probably widespread in newer homes.”

To reduce the VOC levels in your home, UGA researchers recommend adding a cross-section of plants, one per 100 square feet of living space. Using active charcoal filters in heating and air conditioning systems helps, too.

By Sharon Dowdy
University of Georgia

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Scientist Names Top Five Invasive Plants Threatening Southern Forests in 2009

U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) Ecologist Jim Miller, Ph.D., one of the foremost authorities on nonnative plants in the South, today identified the invasive plant species he believes pose the biggest threats to southern forest ecosystems in 2009.

"Cogongrass, tallowtree, and Japanese climbing fern are among the fastest moving and most destructive nonnative plant species facing many southern landowners this year," said Miller. "Rounding out the top five invasive species that I’m very concerned about would be tree-of-heaven and nonnative privets. While our forests are besieged by numerous invasive plants, these and other nonnative species present serious financial and ecological threats to the South and its forests in 2009."

Nonnative species often out-compete native forest plants and may degrade forest productivity, wildlife habitat, recreational values, and water quality. Invasive species also greatly increase expenses as public and private land managers work to combat their spread and deal with their effects (such as increased wildfire risk and severity).

Nonnative plants can be introduced and spread by wildlife or through other natural means. Humans also spread invasive species by planting them in their gardens and yards and by seeds hitchhiking on their clothes. Additionally, tractors and mowers used in multiple locations without being cleaned often spread nonnative plants.

In an effort to inform forest managers, landowners, and others about where the most threatening invasive plants are in the South and to help them prepare for these threats, Miller collaborated with SRS Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) scientists to develop maps showing the spread, county-by-county, across the Southeast of more than 30 of the most serious nonnative plant species. The invasive plant data were collected on FIA plots throughout the southern United States in cooperation with State forestry agencies. In partnership with the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species Science and Ecosystem Health, SRS researchers recently posted the maps and occupation levels online.

Maps posted at http://www.invasive.org/fiamaps/acres.cfm show the number of acres in a county covered by each nonnative species. Maps posted online at

http://www.invasive.org/fiamaps/percent.cfm show the percent of subplots analyzed in a county that have each invasive species. A spreadsheet found at
http://www.invasive.org/fiamaps/summary.pdf shows the total acreage of 33 invasive plant species in 12 Southeastern States (data for eastern Oklahoma is missing as SRS FIA just
completed this part of the State’s inventory this month). Users can access the maps and spreadsheet via http://www.invasive.org/fiamaps/. Current plans are for researchers to update the information annually.

Miller hopes government agencies, forest managers, natural resource professionals, landowners, students, and others will use the information to help combat the spread of nonnative plant species in southern forest and grassland ecosystems.

Details on the five invasive plants mentioned above can be found online via: http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/gtr/gtr_srs062/. The Web page features Jim Miller’s book titled Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests: A Field Guide for Identification and Control, published in 2003. Request a copy by e-mail at srspubqueue@fs.fed.us or by calling 828-257-4830.

Based in Auburn, AL, Miller is a scientist in the SRS Insects, Diseases, and Invasive Plants of Southern Forests unit.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Home Gardeners Can Reap Huge Financial Rewards Growing Veggies

/PRNewswire/ -- A recently completed cost-analysis by America's leading home gardening company reveals major savings for people who grow their own vegetables.

According to W. Atlee Burpee & Co. (www.Burpee.com), a well-planned garden will result in a 1 to 25 cost-savings ratio, meaning $50 in seeds and fertilizer can produce $1,250 worth of groceries purchased at a supermarket. "And all you need is a small, sunny plot to enjoy these big savings," says Burpee Chairman, George Ball.

For the coming year, 2009, Burpee is planning a new seed packet offer, appropriately termed, The Money Garden. Each Money Garden packet will contain packages of six easy-to-grow varieties capable of producing $650 worth of vegetables. The Money Garden will have a special $10 price and will be available on the company website (http://www.burpee.com/product/id/112011.do?KickerID=100535&KICKER ) exclusively.

The Money Garden packet will include the following varieties: Bell Peppers, Beefsteak Tomatoes, Sugar Snap Peas, French Green Beans, Butterhead Lettuces and large Nantes-type carrots. If purchased individually, the six items would retail for $20.

Crucial to attaining enormous savings is succession planting, Mr. Ball says. "Too often home gardeners plant an item such as lettuce early in the season and then leave the site fallow after harvesting a month later." Much of the success in The Money Garden results from extending the season from early planting to late harvesting, according to Mr. Ball. Burpee will help gardeners learn "staggered sowing" and the best vegetables to plant in succession in their locale and when to start for maximum results. Also, which varieties actually do better in colder weather. The Money Garden can be cultivated in a relatively small garden of approximately 200-225 square feet.

To make it easier for home gardeners to plant The Money Garden, Burpee plans to post information on the company website, www.Burpee.com. A toll free Money Garden hotline has been established, 1-800-333-5808, to answer questions customers may have about planting their Money Garden.

It should also be noted, Mr. Ball points out, that in addition to cost savings the taste of homegrown vegetables is vastly superior to store-bought and their nutritional value far exceeds vegetables that line the shelves of supermarkets a week or more after being picked.

To arrive at the 1 to 25 ratio, Burpee planted a series of test gardens during 2008 at its main research facility, Fordhook Farm, in Bucks County, PA. "A hundred dollars will produce $2,500 in groceries", Mr. Ball concludes, "that's $2,400 a family can save in five months."

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Top Ten 2009 Gardening Trends

(ARA) – Americans craving authenticity and fretting over a bleak economy have reinvigorated the trend to grow-it-yourself (GIY). From blueberries to houseplants, GIY is the new mantra as folks turn "back to the future" to simplify their lives while gardening for the greener good.

"It’s a resurgence of gardening for the greater good -- for the earth and our wallets," says Susan McCoy, trend spotter and president of the Garden Media Group (GMG). "The most exciting movement seems to be that gardening is popular again, particularly among younger homeowners," she adds.

GMG’s gardening trends for 2009 reveal a resurgence in perennials, growing native plants, creating "blended" gardens using vegetables and herbs in flower beds, cultivating with best practices, planting to attract wildlife and going local.

"The urgent commitment to environmental sustainability and the basic desire to make our homes our havens is reflected in all gardening trends for 2009," predicts McCoy.

What’s in: Eco-boosting
What’s out: Conspicuous consumption
One simple way to be an eco-booster is to create natural habitats for wildlife with native plants that attract birds, bees and butterflies. Look for eco-friendly plants like the line of native plants from American Beauties (www.ABNativeplants.com) or the Knock Out family of roses (www.TheKnockoutRose.com), which are drought- and disease-resistant, and require little care or chemicals. Go organic with peat-free soil from The Organic Mechanics Soil Company (www.OrganicMechanicSoil.com) that supports sustainable practices and feeds plants from the soil up.

What’s in: Grow-it-Yourself (GIY)
What’s out: Having someone do it all for you
Tranquil moments may be few but the recent rise in gardening reconnects us with nature, family and friends as we share our bounty. With the increase in demand for year-round fresh fruits and vegetables, local farmers markets are seeing an upsurge in business, community gardens have waiting lists, and plant swaps are on the rise.

What’s in: Blended gardens
What’s out: Segregated gardens
Plant mint and fragrant thyme varietals in between cracks of stone pathways and grow strawberries for a delightful edible groundcover around trees. Fruit-bearing shrubs and trees provide color, privacy and fruitful bounty mingling among veggies and perennials. Garden centers are reporting an increase in demand for fruit-bearing shrubs like blueberries and raspberries as ornamentals. Briggs Nursery (www.BriggsNursery.com) is introducing the first-ever pink blueberry, "Pink Lemonade."

What’s in: Locavore
What’s out: Big carbon footprint
Buying local is all the rage. Gardeners are aware of their role as naturalists and conservationists, and are looking for native plants that thrive in their own backyards. “Native plant cultivars are selected to perform better in specific areas under local conditions,” says Steve Castorani, from American Beauties Native Plants. “When you select a plant that is native to the local area, it will thrive with little to no water, fertilizer or effort.”

What’s in: Water
What’s out: Water
For the first time, water is in and out. Whether bringing in fountains, endless waterfalls, or fish ponds, the soothing sounds of water can turn any backyard into a private oasis. Costa Farms (www.CostaFarms.com) offers plants that drink responsibly like succulents, cactus, yucca and ferns, which are easy, conserve water, and add sizzle to your landscape. The Knock Out family of roses, from bright red to sunny yellow, is drought-resistant.

"Water features such as fountains are showing up not only in the garden but on tabletops, and sometimes more than one in the garden," says Jon Carloftis, a renowned garden designer. He likes the classic and contemporary options from Campania International (www.CampaniaInternational.com) to bring the sight and sound of water into gardens without a lot of fuss or maintenance.

What’s in: Outside inside
What’s out: Outside only
From bean sprouts on kitchen countertops to green walls laden with herbs and micro-greens, plants are decorating spaces as "art- in-motion." Tropical plants like bromeliads and orchids create instant beauty and give a boost of oxygen and clean the air.

"It’s easy to expand your home’s boundaries and add indoor charm to your patio, deck and garden using great indoor plants like ferns and palms. And ornamentals continue to be fashionistas beautifying containers, landscapes, mixed or mass planted," McCoy adds.

What’s in: Info lust
What’s out: Lack of knowledge
Lack of time and knowledge have been primary reasons people hesitate to garden. Not anymore. Novices and experienced gardeners hungry for inspiration, information, and instruction are packing master garden classes for instruction and gardening "how-to" tips. Gardeners are gobbling up information from friends, classes and workshops, local garden media, magazines, and the Internet and sharing their success stories with bloggers and friends

What’s in: Quick and simple
What’s out: Over-the-top and complicated
As time-starved consumers try to juggle busy schedules most seek quick and simple solutions to meet their gardening needs. Containers are no longer a trend but a garden staple in large and small spaces.

Select natural materials like cast stone and terra cotta containers and accessories that are perfect eco-friendly accents. "Big and bold is ‘in’ and square is the new round," says Peter Cilio, creative director for Campania International.

What’s in: Global colors
What’s out: Safe colors
The 2009 color forecasters predict a funky mix of colors that reflect a jambalaya of world cultures. Today’s main color influencers are our global connectivity, cultural unity, and environmental responsibility.

"Colors are bold, crazy, exaggerated, and in-your-face, almost like pop-art, and reflect a playful spirit in the face of world events," says Donna Dorian, former style editor of Garden Design Magazine.

Be uber-trendy with anything red this spring from the Carefree Spirit shrub rose and true red rhododendron "Trocadero" to tropical red Sun Parasol Crimson mandevilla.

What’s in: Worldly
What’s out: Cookie-cutter
Americans have embraced the world bazaar of vibrant colors, textures, sights and sounds. Asian, African, Indian, and Mid-Eastern influences are showing up in patterns, textures and colors.

"As we travel more, we tend to bring more of our memories home -- creating escapist retreats," says John Kinsella, brand director for terrain (www.terrainathome.com).

For a complete look at the GMG 2009 Garden Trends, visit www.GardenMediaGroup.com or subscribe to www.GardenPlot.Blogspot.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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