Gardening in the news

News about plants - from old trees storing CO2 to the 'case of the poisoned plants.'

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Typically, we gardeners don't think of our favorite activity as something likely to make the nightly news. But we'd be wrong. Frequently, a number of environmental issues connected to plants hit the headlines. And this week so have some lighter garden-related stories that may make you smile. (Anyone for growing asparagus on Mars?)

I like to keep up with the environmental news as it relates to plants. And the best way to do that, I've found, is to read Science Daily.

The article Plants Can Make Golf Courses Greener By Filtering Pesticides explains how a study identified 10 plants that were attractive and did a great deal to help remove pesticides from soils.

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The clear winner? An old favorite, blue flag iris. Other top performers included eastern gama grass and big blue stem.

Ancient Oak Trees Help Reduce Global Warming will make you feel good.

The article reports: "Researchers at the Missouri Tree Ring Laboratory in the Department of Forestry discovered that trees submerged in freshwater aquatic systems store carbon for thousands of years, a significantly longer period of time than trees that fall in a forest, thus keeping carbon out of the atmosphere."

Everyone loves towering old trees. And what a delight to learn that all along they've been environmental do-gooders and keeping it a secret from us.

Since I've been following the issue of weeds and climate change, I took note of one more study on the subject: Elevated Carbon Dioxide Boosts Invasive Nutsedge Plants. The title says it all.

And what about the couple living in water-thirsty Sacramento, Calif., who've been threatened with a fine for not watering their lawn? I can't believe I read that.

This isn't exactly humorous, but any fan of British mysteries – from Ruth Rendell to vintage Agatha Christie just has to smile at the headline on this news story from England: Sir Richard Tucker the judge, his 'moody' gardener and the case of the poisoned plants.

Grow green beans on the Red Planet? Maybe. At least the soil's right for several veggies popular on Earth, reports Pete Spotts, the Monitor's space expert. Several other newspapers, including one in New Zealand, also reported on the findings. Other possible choices for gardening on Mars might be asparagus and turnips.

There goes the theory that Mars's surface wouldn't support life. Of course, we gardeners know that there's more to successful growing than the soil. But it's still a fascinating development.

Maybe our grandchildren might be digging their trowels into community gardens on Mars in ... how many years? That sounds more like something we'd read in a Ray Bradbury novel than in Agatha Christie.

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