SHORT CUTS

New hardiness zone map

The Arbor Day Foundation has released a new Hardiness Zone map that takes shifting climate trends into account. This was the reason that the USDA updated its well-known zone map in 1990, and Arbor Day felt it was called for again.

The new Zone Map uses zone designations that match the traditional scheme used by the USDA, and therefore looks pretty familiar. For instance, Zone 6 is still the region that experiences annual lows in the 0 to -10°F range. However, due to somewhat warmer winter temperatures during the past decade, most zones have shifted slightly northward (though a few areas have actually gotten colder).

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To access the Zone Map online, go to www.arborday.org.

Sort of like salad dressing

Some home gardeners already use vinegar as a herbicide. But no one has tested it scientifically. Now, USDA scientists offer the first scientific evidence that it may be a potent weedkiller. The researchers found that 5- and 10-percent concentrations killed weeds during their first two weeks of life. Older plants required higher concentrations to kill them. At the higher concentrations, vinegar had an 85- to 100-percent kill rate at all growth stages. Household vinegar is about a 5-percent concentration.

Truth in advertising

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is on the lookout for misleading labels. The EPA says that some brand names violate agency regulations prohibiting false and misleading claims. These products include some with brand names that use terms such as “safe,” “safer,” “safest,” “natural,” “healthy,” “non-toxic” and “environmentally safe.” Violators could be forced to change the offending terminology or add disclaimers. The EPA is still considering public and stakeholder comments on the matter, but enforcement is being considered for 2003.

Greenery good for girls

According to the University of Illinois Champaign's Human-Environment Research Laboratory, a study by University of Illinois researchers Andrea Faber Taylor, Frances E. Kuo and William C. Sullivan has found that the greener and more natural a girl's view from home, the better she scores on tests of self-discipline.

Boys showed no link between test scores and nature near home, but for girls, on average, the greener the view the higher the scores. Maintaining trees and greenery at home may help support in girls the self-discipline they need to succeed.

For more complete research results, go to http://www.herl.uiuc.edu/girls.htm.

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