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Archives for January 5, 2013

Group Trying To Remake St. Louis’ Image

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– A grass roots effort to remake St. Louis’ image is gaining steam.  Several ideas have been submitted and voted on, and now the five most popular are about to enter the stage of being funded through Rally St. Louis.

“I think if you talk to a lot of people outside of St. Louis, they’re not sure what to make of our city or region for that matter,” founder Aaron Perlut said Thursday.  “We all understand the benefits of living in our region, but there are a lot of people outside that don’t and we’re hoping to paint that picture.”

Rally St. Louis is the brainchild of Perlut, one of the managing partners in the Elasticity public relations firm downtown.  It began a little over a year ago when he wrote an article for Forbes Magazine entitled, “St. Louis Doesn’t Suck.”

The Forbes post, and the efforts that followed, have drawn national attention.  The New York Times commented on the somewhat new, social media approach.

“Unlike the traditional, top-down civic betterment campaigns that are backed by the likes of chambers of commerce, Rally St. Louis is taking a bottom-up approach,” the paper  reported in November.

Rally encouraged people to submit their own ideas and vote on the ideas of others as to how to market the city.  And he discovered something very quickly.

“I realized the ideas weren’t going to be traditional marketing ideas, they were going to be community improvement ideas,” he said.

The best example is what is currently the top vote getter.  It’s not a snappy ad campaign.  It’s called “Food Roof,” a rooftop farm designed to provide organic produce in a coop fashion.

“To serve the thousands of downtown residents who live here, potentially to restaurants, donate some to charity.  St. Patrick’s Center is just a block away. Basically bring the farm to the people,” Mary Ostafi told us.

In her day job she makes sure projects for the HOK Architectural firm are environmentally friendly, but now she’s heading up the “Food Roof” endeavor as they begin to try and raise money.

“We started a downtown community garden last year and this project came to be as a result of that.  So when Rally StL came on board it seemed like a great opportunity to get more exposure to what we’re trying to do.”

Even something as simple as a mural is taken to a different level by those submitting ideas to the project.

The dilapidated Cotton Belt building, north of downtown, is slated to become a massive, 45,000 square foot work of art, aimed at welcoming those driving across the new Mississippi River Bridge.  What is currently a pile of dirt in the front is also slated for landscaping.

Tom Nagel, who came up with the idea, is thinking big regarding who might do the painting.

“We hope to attract national, local, international artists because the scale is just so magnificent that we’re really excited about it,” he said.

A National Soccer Hall of Fame, a local pickup soccer space, and a proposal to put blacktop basketball courts on blighted lots round out the top five proposals so far.  Next month, the process of funding them will begin.  Users on the site will be able to make donations to their favorite projects, with the promise of a refund if they aren’t fully funded.  The hope is that large companies and wealthy benefactors will get involved in some of the projects alongside the grassroots donors that are expected to chip in.

Rally St. Louis has already raised about $250 thousand in operating funds.   What all this will produce remains to be seen, but it’s clear it will be the product of a community consensus.

“The crowd is really speaking to what is popular,” Perlut said, “so we’ve kind of democratized the process and we’re really seeing what St. Louisans want to truly represent our community as a whole.”


Rally St. Louis site:

NY Times Article on Rally St. Louis

Forbes:  St. Louis Doesn’t Suck 

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Cheatham County Master Gardeners Ready for 2013

Beginning in December 2011, the Cheatham County Master Gardeners begin sharing articles with our readers through our local newspapers in Cheatham County. We hope these articles have been of interest and now we would like to hear from our readers.

Do you have an orchard or a vegetable garden you’d like to share information about. Perhaps you have a beautiful flower garden or a rose garden we could visit and tell our readers about through our articles. Do you have unusual landscaping that would perhaps give other gardeners some good ideas? Perhaps some of our readers garden organically and would be willing to share their ideas with our readers. Do you have a community garden you’d like to tell Cheatham County about?

So, in 2013, we will have pens, pencils, note pads and cameras ready. We would love to cross Cheatham County from Kingston Springs and Pegram to Chapmansboro, Pleasant View, Ashland City and Joelton and find out how our residents are making a difference in all parts of the county.

We look forward to hearing from you, our readers. Please contact Sue Proctor at sue.proctor

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Water Conservation Ideas Offered for Texas Legislature

Water Conservation Ideas Offered for Texas Legislature

Published January 05, 2013 11:35am by
Texas Tribune

Using less water is the cheapest way to meet Texas’ long-term water needs. The state water plan envisions nearly a quarter of Texas’ future water supplies coming from conservation. So what could and should Texas lawmakers do to promote the idea of saving water?

This is a tricky question, because conservation is generally the domain of local authorities. The nature of water supplies varies tremendously from place to place. Some towns may have fairly stable reservoirs, while others draw from diminishing aquifers. So local groups maintain day-to-day management of their water supplies, including ordering restrictions at times of drought (as many Texas cities have).

But environmentalists and some lawmakers say the state has a key role to play in promoting conservation. Blanket statewide watering restrictions seem politically infeasible, given the unpopularity of mandates. But other options abound. State Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, has filed a bill to create a sales-tax exemption for water-saving appliances sold over Memorial Day weekend, and environmentalists’ other ideas (not yet in bills) include requiring farmers to put meters on their water wells and preventing homeowners’ associations from barring drought-resistant landscaping. Improving how Texas measures water use and water savings is also high on the agenda of the Water Conservation Advisory Council, a group that brings together representatives of numerous state agencies.

Texas has passed water-conservation bills in the past. In fact, Texas and California rank first among all states in water efficiency, according to a September report from the Alliance for Water Efficiency. Texas accumulated points for laws such as requiring water utilities to audit their water losses and limiting the amount of water that toilets and urinals can use. (A 2009measure by state Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, tightened the limits, some of which take effect in 2014.) The Legislature created the Water Conservation Advisory Council in 2007; last month it produced a report filled with recommendations for the Legislature.

But Texas, with its fast-growing population, needs to do more, water experts say. “Even though we’re requiring [utilities to have water conservation plans and] we’re requiring reports on implementation, at the end of the day there is just not enforcement of any of those things,” said Carole Baker, executive director of the nonprofit Texas Water Foundation. Requiring more consistent implementation of water conservation plans is one area where the Legislature could act, she said.

Texas has worked on standardizing its water information. Senate Bill 181, passed in 2011, requires the state to develop a consistent method for tallying water use and conservation, for example by breaking data into categories like residential single-family use, multifamily residential use and agriculture. Senate Bill 660, also passed in 2011, clarified requirements for reporting on water conservation.

Larson has also filed a bill for the upcoming session requiring utilities to better project future water shortages by assessing how long their current supplies can last. 

The nonprofit Environment Texas offers a range of conservation-related proposals for the next session. Among them: ensuring that homeowners’ associations allow drought-resistant landscaping; prodding cities to adopt plans to limit per-capita water usage; and requiring farmers to put meters on their wells.

The metering proposal would not go down well with farmers. “My members will oppose being required to put meters on the wells,” said Billy Howe, the state legislative director for the Texas Farm Bureau. His group would support state funding to help farmers switch to less water-intensive technologies, through research or other means.

Proposals by Environment Texas to limit the use of fresh water for hydraulic fracturing during droughts and require new power plants to study less water-intensive cooling technologies, would probably meet industry resistance as well.

Water conservation is also likely to enter the broad debate over funding for water projects during the session. Lawmakers are discussing whether to allocate $1 billion or more from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to create a revolving fund for water infrastructure projects, such as building desalination plants or pipelines. Environmentalists want conservation projects to be prioritized when the funds are doled out. 

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Video: Virtual Tour of the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College

Submitted by Cuyamaca College

A new video tour of the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College provides a preview for first-time visitors of all that the garden offers – and some valuable water conservation lessons that will benefit both college students and gardeners.

The video, available on the Water Conservation Garden’s website at, features the garden’s ambassador, Ms. Smarty-Plants™, as tour guide. It takes viewers through the various areas of the six-acre garden, from the Bird and Butterfly Garden to the Bamboo Patio Exhibit and the Amphitheater. Ms. Smarty-Plants™ illustrates water conservation tips, such as showing how a redesigned backyard using drought-tolerant techniques went from using 28,000 gallons of water per year to 6,000 gallons a year.

The 12 ½-minute video was created as one part of a $535,000 state grant to a consortium led by Cuyamaca College that is creating curriculum for water and wastewater technology programs at community colleges across the state. Simi Rush, program manager for the California Waterworks grant, said the video is designed to highlight best practices in water conservation and to teach college students in the program.

“This garden is a wonderful nonprofit organization with a lot of aesthetic appeal, but it also serves as a teaching organization,” Rush said. “We are pleased to assist in showcasing their work through the virtual tour as a global resource.”

Cuyamaca College is partnering with five other California community colleges in the state grant issued late last year. The curriculum in water and wastewater technology that the colleges create will be made available to all of California’s 112 community colleges looking to start or upgrade their job training programs in the field.

The other colleges participating in the grant are: College of the Redwoods (Eureka); Santa Rosa Junior College (Sonoma County); Gavilan College (Gilroy/Salinas); College of the Canyons (Santa Clarita/Valencia); and Santiago Canyon College (Orange County).

The Water Conservation Garden, which opened in 1999, is designed to showcase water conservation through a series of themed gardens, how-to displays and programs on drought-tolerant landscaping. The garden is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Admission is by suggested donation.

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A gardening list for the new year

A couple days later, another arrived. Undoubtedly, these went to gardeners throughout the country, and while the garden season is still far away for residents of northern climates, Floridians should be placing orders in the next few weeks if seeds are to arrive in time for vegetable gardens to be planted about March 1.

It is time for some family discussion about what to plant in the garden this year and also some thought about the garden layout. It is important to rotate crops so they are not in the same spot as last year.

I have found it helpful to make a list of items I hope to get done on my farm in the coming year, including the landscape and vegetable gardens.

The lists make an interesting collection for review and are useful to help recall when trees, hedges and ornamental shrubs were planted. These lists also help budget for items to be purchased, and they allow one to focus on sections of the landscape that need attention. A list of this nature results in a planned landscape and helps prevent spot purchases of plants that don’t fit landscape goals.

Time is another factor in all this planning, and a list of priorities not only assists with budgeting monetary resources, but also time allocations for projects that encompass more than a day or two.

After you have managed your property for several years, you probably will find recurring activities that always occur at certain times of the year. For example, I always try to plant my spring vegetable garden the first weekend in March. In order to prepare for this, I know the soil should be tilled the third Saturday in February. Potatoes usually are planted on the Martin Luther King holiday, and hedges are pruned Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. A routine like this will make your annual calendar more manageable, and will ensure things get done and that they get done at the right time.

There are, of course, exceptions to planning, and this includes planned purchases. A few years ago, in the middle of the year, my wife purchased a Yellow Jasmine vine at one of the Master Gardener plant sales. It was a good, quality plant at a good price, and the plant was on the University of Florida’s recommended list of vines. It would be a good addition to our garden. When we arrived home, she wanted to know where we would plant it. Since this vine needs a trellis and we didn’t have one, the question really was not where the vine would be planted, but when we were going to get a trellis. It wasn’t on the wish list for that year, and so we purchased a small, inexpensive trellis. Without this vine purchase, I probably wouldn’t have thought about a trellis, but in the years since, it has become a nice addition to our landscape.

Annual color is another piece of the landscape puzzle that requires some planning. Last fall, I was in a local nursery and admired the colorful pansies that were on display. Thinking about how well they perform in cool weather, I spoke to the nursery owner about them. He told me they were already sold to a local landscape contractor. An Apopka nursery placed a special order, and the plants were being held until the owner could pick them up. “By the way,” he said, “this Apopka nursery has a new pansy color selection you’ll find interesting — orange and blue. You might think about getting some for the office.” It is my opinion that only a few annuals, planted en masse, make an affordable, yet colorful statement for the landscape. It is important to locate these in just the right spot for visibility and full enjoyment. Over the course of the year, it probably will be necessary to change these out two or three times, so they become another part of your annual planning list. The Extension Service has an old, but very good, publication on annuals — CIR569 — that will be useful in your planning. Of particular interest is the chart indicating planting and removal dates — a perfect item for your landscape-planning calendar. Call the Extension Service at 671-8400 if you would like to receive a copy.

In this season of reflection and planning, creating a list for your landscape and gardening efforts will help budget your time and money while giving you a schedule for getting things done. When it comes time to welcome in 2014, you’ll be able to pause and reflect over your list and take satisfaction in all you got done in a productive 2013, and you will have a foundation for planning your landscaping hobby for next year.

David Holmes is Marion County extension director. Contact him at david.holmes@

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FarmGirls: Gardening in the New Year

Marilyn  Donelle Simmons

Marilyn Donelle Simmons

Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013 3:20 pm

Updated: 3:41 pm, Sat Jan 5, 2013.

FarmGirls: Gardening in the New Year

By Marilyn and Donelle Simmons

Waxahachie Newspapers Inc.

The FarmGirls are very excited about the New Year. Our mission for several years now has been to educate people about gardening. We actually started out teaching mostly landscaping and quite simply extended our passion for gardening through education.

Our gardens eventually have evolved from predominantly perennial and fresh cut flower gardening to community supported agriculture and vegetable gardening.

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Saturday, January 5, 2013 3:20 pm.

Updated: 3:41 pm.

| Tags:




North Texas,

Fair Park,

Kitchen Garden,

Raised Garden Beds,

Organic Horticulture,

Organic Gardening,


Marilyn Simmons,

Donelle Simmons,

Waxahachie Daily Light

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Get back to your roots: Learn the perfect way to spread plants around the …

As gardeners, we’re bound to be more aware of a plant’s stems, flowers and foliage than we are of its roots. And yet roots are their most vital part.

They imbibe water from the soil and take in nutrients that are vital to its survival. But even at this time of year, when almost all activity is happening underground among those roots, I’m fairly oblivious to them as I walk around the garden. That is until I begin to consider taking root cuttings.

If you’re thinking of propagating plants, the methods that usually spring to mind are sowing seed, dividing up your plants or taking cuttings from stems and shoots. It seems unlikely somehow that roots – and nothing but the roots – could actually make new plants.

I have no formal horticultural training whatsoever and the first time someone told me about taking root cuttings it seemed a bit far-fetched.

Dig for information

Alan Street, the person who introduced me to this unlikely process long ago, is a good friend now.

He works for Avon Bulbs, one of the top merchants in the country, and his knowledge is encyclopaedic.

We first met at one of the Royal Horticultural Society shows at the RHS’s halls in Westminster. These are sort of mini-Chelsea Flower Shows, with exhibitors from all over the British Isles putting on inspiring displays and selling their wares.

I was trying to find out about exhibiting,  which we did for the first time the following year. Not long after that, our nursery, Glebe Cottage Plants, was invited to exhibit at The Chelsea Flower Show. What a thrill!

I was interested in an outstanding Japanese anemone and Alan turfed one out of its pot. He showed me its roots and the little shoots that were beginning to form along them and told me they would produce new plants if those roots were cut into small sections and placed on the surface of compost, then weighted down with grit.

So I bought a plant, took it home, tried it and it worked. You can produce scores of new babies from just one plant, either in a pot or in the ground.

Making the cut

There are two different kinds of root cuttings but they both operate on the same principle that roots themselves can make new plants. It all begins to make sense when you think of what happens in the garden.

Ever tried to move an oriental poppy, digging down to a great depth and -making a really thorough job of it, only to find it reappearing the following spring with even more vigour and determination than ever before?

It doesn’t need any deep knowledge to realise these beauties need no trace of leaf or crown to regenerate ad infinitum, so they make perfect candidates for this method of reproduction.

Similarly, acanthus are almost impossible to eradicate once they have made themselves at home. Attempts to remove them usually result in a forest of stems replacing each one that was carefully dug out.

Bundles of joy           

Japanese anemones, cultivars of anemone hupehensis or anemone x hybrida, are notoriously prolific once established, so much so that, when they have overrun a garden, bundles of their roots are often proffered as gifts to those just starting or moving into a bigger garden.

Perhaps it’s just as well that these donations are usually great woody chunks that seldom settle down.

It is the young, slender roots that therefore stand the best chance of -establishing themselves. To take oriental poppies as an example, either dig around the plant to expose a few thick, young roots or lift the whole clump. Shake off some of the earth and sever the best roots close to the crown of the plant.

With vertical cuttings – poppies, anchusa, verbascums and acanthus – just cut the roots into chunks of about one to two inches long, depending on their volume. The skinnier the cutting, the longer it needs to be. Then push the cutting into the compost so that its top is flush with the surrounding compost.

Cover with a layer of grit, water well and be sure to keep the cuttings in a warm, bright place. New leaves will appear around the top of the root, then new roots will develop. Grow them on in the greenhouse or a cold frame and then plant them out in their permanent positions when established.

As a means of increasing some of our favourite herbaceous plants, nothing could be simpler or more exciting. And you can do it in the middle of winter.

Have we left it too late to plant garlic?

Is it too late to plant garlic? Can I use leftover cloves from the kitchen to do so? Simon Clare, Gillingham, Kent

CAROL: December 21 is traditionally when you plant garlic. Now is fine but order special bulbs to break into individual cloves. If soil is too wet, push cloves into compost in individual modules, grow on and plant out later.

Can we spring into action and prune?

Some of our trees were damaged in recent storms. Is now a good time to prune them or should we wait until spring? Harun Malek, by email

CAROL: Winter is the best time to prune, especially with deciduous trees. You can see where to cut damaged wood and sap is at its lowest ebb. Remove any dead, damaged or diseased wood and aim for a balanced shape.

You answer..

Last week Emily Gabitas wanted to know the difference between hardy and half-hardy annuals and what she should grow in her glass porch.

CAROL: Half-hardy annuals will not stand sub-zero temperatures. You need to plant them outside when danger of frost is past. Hardy annuals are much tougher – sow them in the ground.

Barbara Withers, of Brighouse, West Yorkshire, says: Ask neighbours which annuals do best. We grow loads from seeds. Half-hardy annuals are slower to get going but seem to take off rapidly later and grow fast.

Pat Abrams, by email, says: Half-hardy annuals are a bit trickier but in autumn and spring we sow hardy annuals into borders and pots outside. If you sow in autumn, you get bigger plants earlier. 

?? Can you help Brinley? What tomato variety should I use for a show exhibition? Brinley John, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire

What we’re doing this week here at Glebe Cottage

A new start: Although the view from the window is austere, it’s also inspiring.

And if it’s going to be transformed in spring and summer, I’ve got to get out there and start with the big clear-up straight away. If you’ve got hellebores it’s a good idea to cut their leaves off now. We’re going around doing just that.

These are evergreen leaves and sometimes it seems a shame to cut them back, but if they’re left they can harbour disease and spread it to other hellebores. It’s just one of the many jobs that come around throughout the year.

Tune into the seasons: This coming week is special for Glebe Cottage. Life in a Cottage Garden, our programme looking at a year in its life, has been re-versioned into four episodes, with each celebrating a season in the garden.

It starts on BBC2 on Friday at 8.30pm and is on for the following three weeks.

Using cameras at fixed points, you’ll be able to see how different beds and borders progress plus how seed is sown, germinated and is potted before finally taking its place in the garden.

You can share the triumphs and disasters as well as meet our cats and dogs, not to mention my husband Neil and our two lovely daughters.

The first programme features summer and, although it is based within that season, we’ll go backwards and forwards through spring, autumn and winter.

We’ll see the rich beauty of summer’s bounty – flowers galore – to brighten up this drab time of year and inspire you in your efforts in your own garden. There’s also a book of the same name that accompanies the series.

Offer of the week

There are few shrubs that can give as much pleasure during the cold dark winter months as Viburnum bodnantense Dawn. 

Clusters of pale pink, sweetly fragranced flowers are produced for up to 12 weeks from late October. It can grow to two metres, but can be pruned gently to size after flowering.

You can buy one Viburnum bodnantense Dawn for £9.99 or two for £19.98 and get another free. Call 0844 448 2451 quoting SMP18349 or send a cheque payable to MGN SMP18349 to Viburnum Offer (SMP18349), PO Box 64, South West District Office, Manchester M16 9HY. Or visit to order online.         


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Dallas County Wants to Start a Garden at the Jail, Complete with Butterflies

TheGardenLady.jpgAndrea Bithell, aka The Garden Lady, will be teaching Dallas County’s criminals how to grow things.Prison gardens have become something of a thing in recent years, sprouting in California, then taking root in an increasing number of jails and penitentiaries across the country. The benefits claimed by gardening advocates are numerous: reduced recidivism rates; skills that are transferable to life on the outside; food costs drop if the produce is used in the institution’s kitchen; hardened criminals are inculcated with an obnoxiously self-righteous preference for organic food.

The movement has finally made its way to Dallas County. Commissioners will hear Tuesday about plans to establish an organic garden to serve inmates enrolled in a gardening and landscaping course.

I have a call into the county for more information, but some details are provided in Tuesday’s agenda. The county would be teaming up with Oak Cliff Organics, which would plant a butterfly garden in one rectangular planter; a garden for food crops in another; and various types of flowers, herbs and cover crops in four circular planters.

The plots would be tended by teams of five or six inmates working under the supervision of two armed jailers. The garden work would be concurrent with OCO’s five-week curriculum, which instructs students on the finer points of organic garden design and maintenance.

The project is expected to cost the county $15,000 — $9,000 for supplies and $6,000 for OCO’s time and expertise. (See update below)

There’s no mention in the plans of what the county or OCO plans to do with the harvest though, given the size of the beds, it won’t be terrifically bountiful. But you never know. If the program proves successful and expands along the banks of the Trinity, Lew Sterrett-brand tomatoes may be hitting the grocery shelves someday.

Update at 3:27 p.m.: Sheriff’s department spokeswoman Carmen Castro emailed us back to say the garden has been pulled from Tuesday’s agenda so a few more details can be ironed out.

We will be unveiling the project in the near future. The gardening project is designed to bring in community volunteers to train inmates. Sheriff Valdez has envisioned having a rooftop garden for years.

Gardening can be therapeutic and help teach individuals a little bit of patience. Also, when you see a well-kept area, you identify it with a more serene environment and it can all help build a sense of pride as a whole.

Update at 4:30 p.m.: Castro wrote again to clarify that it’s the financial details that are still being hashed out.

I just wanted to clarify–The item was pulled because the financial aspect is still being discussed. The program is intended to be on a community volunteer basis.

The cost itself is at no cost to tax payers. Funds being looked at come from commissary, which is through the inmates and not the county general fund.