This week we visit Atlanta
Botanical Garden (ABG). Tiffany Jones, a gardener at ABG,
shows us around the Children's Garden. The corn, which is
doing very well, is Early Bird Corn. It is a yellow corn
that was planted in early May. She planted 6 rows of corn
because the more rows you have the better the pollination.
Pollination is much better with 6 rows of corn versus 1
or 2 rows of corn. That's because pollination wouldn't occur
as well. Insects and wind pollinate the corn. The corn wouldn't
fill out as much, you might get half an ear or the kernels
would only be on one side. The corn silks are actually pollination
tubes and they aid in the fertilization of the corn. Each
tube goes to an individual kernel and is responsible for
filling up the corn as it grows.
Growing weird and unusual vegetables is one way to get children
interested in vegetable gardening. Tiffany shows us a pole
bean called Asparagus Yard Long. These pods can reach 3
feet long. She planted it in early May and it's blossoming
in July. It's edible, they're delicious and unusual.
One problem with growing vegetables is pests and insects.
One can help keep them at bay without pesticides. Tiffany
uses Marigolds, scented Geraniums and types of Cuban Oregano,
because their strong odor deters bugs. Although they may
spray lightly, it greatly reduces pesticide usage. These
plants are beautiful, they add color and they help control
Tomatoes are a mainstay in most southern gardens. But for
many centuries Tomatoes were considered poisonous because
most parts, other than the fruit - the roots, the stem and
leaves - are poisonous. Tiffany shows Dr. Rick an unusual
Tomato called the Tomato Tree. It was planted in early May,
it is slow to produce fruit, but the plant is rapidly growing.
It could be used as a specimen plant in a vegetable garden
or even your yard.
You don't need a lot of room to grow Tomatoes. Tiffany has
Heirloom Tomatoes growing in a container. Heirloom Tomatoes
are old-time seeds, known for their quality, they have been
around for years and they don't have many disease problems.
She started the plant when it was 2-3 inches tall in a smaller
pot, then moved it to a larger pot. She has staked the plant
with Elespedisa, a hard wood available on the grounds of
ABG. It is hard to cut but makes a perfect staking apparatus.
You can have a small pot on a patio or apartment and still
get enough Tomatoes for a whole family. The plant shown
has already yielded 15 or 20 Tomatoes and the growing season
is far from over. Since it is in a container Tiffany pays
extra attention to fertilizing and watering. She waters
every day and uses a liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks. Although
the plant is in a terra cotta container, it might not be
the best pot. Because it is so porous it makes evaporation
more of a problem, but it looks good.
Another unusual plant in this garden is Cat Whiskers, Thosiphom
Staminenus. It is unique looking and it resembles a cat's
Many think sponges come from the sea and many do. Tiffany
shows us a plant that produces a sponge, the Luffa Gourd
Sponge. The plant has rather large leaves and a sturdy stem,
with tendrils all over that it uses for climbing and wrapping
around anything. The flower is a bright yellow, that when
fertilized yields an actual sponge. The pod will have a
thick skin, let it dry, then peel off the skin and the sponge
is actually within the skin of the gourd. One commonly sees
this sponge in stores on the cosmetics isle, they're used
for scrubbing in the bathtub. The Luffa Sponge Plant.
Peanut Butter doesn't come from the grocery shelf but from
a Peanut plant. We look at peanuts growing in the ground
and actually pull peanuts out of the soil. This segment
shows the plant and the peanut.
Kevin Mercer is the Youth Programs Coordinator at ABG. One
of his responsibilities is to take care of the Honey Conservatory
Hive, the Bee Hive. This shows the relationship between
insects and flowers and how they depend on one another.
There is a serious decline in pollinators across the country.
Kevin is able to raise bees, keep them growing and pollinate
the garden at ABG. The bees are contained in a glass area
and enter and exit in the back, staying away from people.
Bees in a colony have tasks similar to people. Some bees
are worker bees, their job is to keep the hive clean. One
bee in the colony is taking a larva that has not developed
to the bottom of the hive where it will be worked out through
the back. There is a hierarchy in the colony. The newer
bees, those just born, have different jobs than bees around
for 2-3 weeks. The newer bees clean up the house, the older
bees will forage, bringing back nectar to the hive. The
bees communicate with one another through what Kevin calls
the "waggle dance." This dance helps them tell
others where the best nectar is located, what to expect
when they get to that flower that's producing sweet nectar
and where the food is located. Bees have an average life
span in peak honey season of about 6 weeks long. The lower
level of the hive is where the brood or offspring is produced.
At the top of the hive the honey is stored in the honeycomb.
Honey is made this way. The bees forage for nectar, they
bring that nectar back to the hive, they then regurgitate
it or pass it on. The honey is stored in the honey stomach,
there enzymes mix with the nectar, then the bee regurgitates
it to one of the honeycombs. The bees can fill a honeycomb
in a matter of days. The bees fan their wings to evaporate
any water or moisture out of the honey and what is left
is honey. And as we know it has an excellent, sweet taste.
Ron Gagliardo is the Curator of Tropical Collections at
ABG. There are numerous large terrariums at ABG and oftentimes
people want to know, how would I build one at home? There
are different uses for a terrarium in ones home. They are
suitable for a pet, a frog, lizard, snake or spider, for
example. It may be one wants the enjoyment of building a
complete enclosed ecosystem that can be closely monitored.
These could be built in any number or size of container,
anything from a Mason Jar to a five hundred gallon aquarium
and anything in between. Ron shows us some of the pieces
necessary for building an aquarium and how they might go
together. A terrarium attempts to duplicate an ecosystem
in an enclosed container. It contains plants and air and
water, soil, all the different components of a normal ecosystem.
For the soil he mixes fine charcoal, milled Spaghnum Moss,
fine Fir Bark, Orchid Bark and Peat Moss. Mix these together
in a one to one to one mixture, this is the substrate. Next,
add appropriate plant material, shade tolerant, tropical
house plants like Caladeas, smaller Bromeliads, plants in
the Aerum Family - like Caladium - all do well. Tropical
Mosses like Sellaganilla will creep across the bottom of
the tank and make nice ground cover. For a flowering plant
use African Violet relatives like Persea, although it requires
ample light. Ron uses props like cork bark, rocks or stones
or pieces of tree limbs. A terrarium is enclosed so it's
important to ensure proper drainage under the soil mix,
thus he adds a layer of charcoal in the bottom. The above
mentioned soil mix is very acidic and will last a long time
under very wet conditions. Since it is well drained you
can add Ephephytic plants like Bromeliads directly into
the substrate. Once the substrate is placed in the tank
the design then becomes a personal choice or preference.
Ron adds Sellaganilla, Creeping Moss in the front, it grows
horizontally across the surface and makes a little canopy.
He then adds the Caladium, it's a little taller, has larger
leaves that act as a backdrop, thus he places it in the
corner, at the back. For hardscaping he adds Cork Bark,
but pieces of tree limbs or rocks or pebbles also work.
A small Bromeliad is added, it won't get much larger so
he places it in the center of the tank. The Persea, since
it flowers is placed front and center. He places a carpet
of moss all over the floor of the tank. Long Fiber Spahgnum
Moss is used to top dress. Ron then sprinkles with water,
it will help settle soil particles around the roots of the
plants. Excess water will accumulate in the bottom of the
tank but it won't keep the plants too soggy because of the
charcoal layer. We want to keep the tank humid and moist
so a plastic lid is added. It's important to have holes
in the lid so the tank doesn't overheat. The only thing
missing from the ecosystem is light. There are several ways
to light it, put it in a sunny window sill or use a florescent
light, either way the tank will require 8-10 hours of light
per day for the plants to flourish.
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