Garden Plot: Seed catalog season offer discounts, giant tomatoes and pictures

Burpee brags they’ve turned out a truly titanic tomato

‘Tis the new season of seed catalogs, which must mean that Burpee has a new bragging tomato — and this year’s model looks to be the size of a child’s head. The new “Steakhouse Hybrid” is lauded as “the world’s biggest beefsteak,” with individual fruits weighing three pounds apiece. (Somebody cage that monster before it climbs the Empire State Building!)

Perhaps even more impressive for those who grow herbs is a new basil called “Bam” that’s said to never bolt and produce flowers, even in the hottest of summers.

Also new is a special metal “cradle” designed to keep your melons nicely up in the air. Wait a minute, did I just say that? Ahem.

And you’ll get $10 off your order if you mention my name — honest. Just use the code “Mikey” when you place your order online or at their toll-free number: 800- 888-1447.

Get your lawn off drugs — and save $25

It’s time for new seed catalogs and their enticing discounts, such as $25 off an order of $50 or more from Gardens Alive that makes it easier than ever to get off that toxic-chemical treadmill.

Gardens Alive pioneered the use of corn gluten meal as an all-natural pre-emergent herbicide weed and feed for crabgrass prevention in lawns. And they recently developed a non-toxic iron-based herbicide, called Iron-X, for control of broadleaf weeds such as dandelions.

They also offer a full line of organically grown seeds and plants, as well as lots of non-toxic controls for pests such as moles, ants, fleas and clothes and pantry moths.

Oh, and don’t forget to ask for that $25 off your order. Use the discount code 0163916 when you place your order online or at 513-354-1484.

A free catalog that’s more like a beautiful book

Some companies put out very nice-looking seed catalogs, but only David Austin Roses puts out a book – a 120-page, saddle-stitched paperback that reads more like a love letter to classic roses than a list of ones for sale.

Perfectly beautiful images of Austin’s famous English roses adorn the pages, with some of the more incredible varieties getting an entire page. For example, the repeat-flowering “Princess Alexandra of Kent,” whose huge pink blooms are “never clumsy, despite their size.” Its award-winning fragrance opens with the scent of tea, changing to citrus as the flowers age, “eventually taking on hints of blackcurrant.”

And that’s just one of the hundreds of roses showcased in this book-alog, which you can get just by asking. Email your request to, or call them toll-free at 800-328-8893.

Beware the lure of DIY deer repellent

This especially harsh winter weather has our abundant local deer population eating more of our landscape than ever to try and stay warm. And while spraying your favorite plants with deer repellent is the best answer outside of an 8-foot-tall fence, making your own repellent is NOT.

WTOP listener Freddie in D.C. just e-mailed to say that he was interested in trying a DIY deer repellent recipe he saw in a local community newsletter that “involves 18 raw eggs and five gallons of water.”

It would also involve you having to abandon your home afterwards, Freddie. To be effective, deer repellents require putrescent egg solids (that means rotten eggs). The best repellents have such a strong stench of sulfur that made correctly would be a human repellent. You’d never get the smell out of your house, garage or wherever.

Stick with commercially made sprays, which also contain sticker-spreaders to help them adhere to the leaves of the plants to be protected and are specially processed not to clog up sprayers.

Buy Boric acid at a big-box store

Tom in Laurel writes: “I enjoy your Garden Plots on the radio and WTOP website and find the information very informative, especially your recent suggestion of Boric acid power for indoor pest control. But actually finding Boric acid locally has become a bit of a task. I checked with my local CVS, Rite Aid, and Giant pharmacies – none had the product in stock, although Giant did offer to special- order some for me.”

That’s an excellent point, Tom. Boric acid used to be available in pharmacies, primarily for use as an old-fashioned eye wash, but today you’re much more likely to find it in a big-box store, labeled for use against ants, roaches and silverfish.

A quick check found it on the shelves of both Wal-Mart and Home Depot, in their pest-control section.

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