Good to Know
Peonies have enough scent and color to share with friends
Peonies, with their large mop-like flowers, have been a part of the Virginia landscape since they arrived in 1757.
Depending on the variety, this herbaceous shrub may grow as tall as 4 feet and will die back to the ground each year. There are several varieties, including garden, tree and hybrid peonies.
The garden peony is an heirloom variety that loves full sun. “It won’t bloom if there isn’t at least afternoon sun,” said horticulturalist Mark Viette.
Tree peonies, he said, should not be cut back. “The branches will grow back without flowers if you cut them down. If you cut the tree peony too far you can kill it.”
Hybrid peonies are a cross between the garden and tree varieties.
Peonies do not require much care, Viette said, just full sun and some fertilizer. And if you find ants on your peonies, it’s OK, he said. “The ants like to feed on the sugary substance on the buds. It just means you have a nice, healthy garden.”
Peonies make great cut flowers. They should be cut in the morning before the flowers have bloomed, so they will last longer indoors.
They also make great hand-me-down plants, Viette said.
“You can dig a quarter or third of the plant and give it to someone else.”
It's almost time to enjoy the many benefts of the tasty tomato
Spring is an exciting time for gardeners eager to plant their favorite vegetable—the plump, juicy tomato. Fresh from the field, the very aroma of a tomato triggers thoughts of sunny days and summer meals.
Technically a tomato is a fruit, since it is the ripened ovary of a plant. But in 1893, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes were to be considered vegetables.
The tomato’s biggest claim to fame is its copious amount of lycopene. Research has shown that a diet rich in lycopene-containing foods may help lower the risk of some cancers and may help prevent strokes.
According to scientists, more lycopene is absorbed by the body from cooked tomatoes than from fresh tomatoes.
Hanover County is home to celebrated tomato crops and a tomato festival that draws more than 30,000 people each July.
Tomato, Corn and Onion Salsa
This recipe gets even better with fresh tomatoes off the vine and sweet corn from the cob. Give it a try!
Keep safety in mind throughout the mowing season
You don't have time, but the grass isn't going to mow itself. You tell yourself to just hurry up, but that can be a big mistake.
There are 37,000 Americans who suffer power mower-related injuries each year, resulting in about 90 deaths, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.
“Unfortunately, lawn mower and bush hog injuries are frequent occurrences throughout the spring and summer months,” said Dr. Eric Kramer, a Rockingham County emergency physician.
He said mowing accidents tend to result in two categories of injury—lacerations and amputations, or blunt trauma.
“The most common are wounds to fingers and hands as the direct result of people attempting to hand-clear debris from lawn mower grass chutes while the engine is running and the cutting deck is still engaged,” he said.
Blunt-trauma injuries occur when mowers and tractors upend while the rider is moving along a steep gradient, pinning them to the ground.
An estimated 9,400 children are injured by lawn mowers every year in the U.S., especially in rural areas, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
Lawn mowers are responsible for 12% to 19% of traumatic amputations among kids.
Lawn mowers are powerful machines and designed for one operator, noted Dana Fisher, chairman of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s Safety Advisory Committee.
“Adding an additional child rider makes it harder for the operator to control the machine, and could lead to the child falling off and being seriously injured,” Fisher explained.
Tips for safely mowing your lawn:
- Wear close-toed shoes, fitted clothing and ear and eye protection.
- Clear the area of all loose objects that could become projectiles.
- Disengage the blade before starting the engine.
- Make sure all guards and safety shields are in place.
- Never disengage any safety switches or devices.
- Never refuel the mower when its engine is hot or running.
- Avoid mowing wet grass.
- Turn off the engine before cleaning the area under the deck.
- Disconnect the spark or electric plug before troubleshooting or repairing the mower.
- Never leave a running mower unattended.
- When mowing on a slope with a riding mower, mow down the slope. When push-mowing a slope, mow across the slope.
—Virginia Cooperative Extension