Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for February 9, 2013

They Win, We All Lose’ : Comments of the Week

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013 5:30 pm

Updated: 6:59 pm, Fri Feb 8, 2013.

‘They Win, We All Lose’ : Comments of the Week



Falling palm tree fronds, the fate of a plan to remodel Balboa Park, installing your own sidewalk and fallout from explosive statements (some of them incorrect) from San Diego Unified’s new CFO: These are the comments we’re highlighting this week.

Take a look:

David Douglas on “Judge Strikes Down Plaza de Panama Approval“:

The judge’s decision today (one that he clearly was reluctant and saddened to make) is one that we will rue as short-sighted and wrong. Opponents of the Plaza project had no viable alternative — ever. Their obstructionism was simply that. It might have once been nobly inspired, but somewhere along the way became simply and merely contrarian. They win, we all lose.

Now, we can continue for the indefinite future to celebrate an unsightly, noisy parking lot in the heart of the park, which I’m pretty sure the park’s creators never envisioned. There will be nothing done to remedy this, at least nothing that won’t be a stop-gap Band-Aid to make the place seem a little less dreary for the centennial, which is fast-looking like it will be an underwhelming embarrassment.

Posters above suggest Mr. Jacobs’ offer to spend his millions in fixing up other aspects of the park. That’s supposed to be the city’s job and obligation, and by extension, all of ours. As taxpayers, we almost routinely reject any notion that we should pay for what we want. We want a park to be proud of, but not with our money. Not apparently with Mr. Jacobs’ either.

Judith Swink on “The Loud Balboa Park Debate Slips Quietly Away“:

This is public parkland, owned by the city, therefore owned by the citizens, and two individuals should never ever have the ability to make unilateral decisions about park use and projects. The so-called public workshops were no more than lip service to a process that was hijacked by the project.

City employees had no choice but to go along. Planning commissioners, shamefully, bowed before the dangling offer of money, as did most members of the Balboa Park Committee, but at least a majority of the Park Recreation Board and all of the Historic Resources Board (all members are volunteer appointees) understood that this plan was inconsistent with the historical nature of Balboa Park, as underlined by letters from the State Historic Preservation Officer, the National Park Service (National Landmarks such as Balboa Park) and even Caltrans — among a long list of local organizations plus hundreds, perhaps thousands, of individual San Diegans.

Any plan that prioritizes vehicle traffic and parking and the convenience of the museums above maintaining and enhancing the historical appearance of the park does a major disservice to all of us.

Andy Kopp on ” The Cost of Do-It-Yourself Sidewalks“:

Google Earth confirms that only Mr. Anderson’s side of the street is suitable for a sidewalk. It also shows there is very comfortably four and a half car/SUV widths’ worth of street there.

Mr. Anderson/his neighbors/the city could easily extend the curb out approximately four feet, creating a four-and-a-half-foot -wide sidewalk while leaving plenty of room for street parking on the opposite side and two full lanes for traffic. There is only one (probable) water main pipe access cover on his side/section of the street but appears about five and half feet out from the current curb so it shouldn’t be an issue.

Extending into the street would alleviate the need to worry about the elm tree for sure, utility poles, and probably the gas and sewer lines as well. Neighbors could get on board with this, as their curbside landscaping wouldn’t be affected. It’s a fair bet that if the city would approve such a plan, Mr. Anderson could probably successfully crowd-source a lot of the funding from his extended neighbors, who are fortunate enough to have sidewalks already.

Something has surely gone wrong if, even as several different permits are necessary and prudent, the cost of those permits become prohibitively expensive so as to have a chilling effect on something as rudimentary as building a sidewalk — at such a point becoming a self-defeating enterprise.

Catherine Hockmuth on “Five Things the Schools Chief Said Without Saying Them“:

I didn’t know much about the CFO before this interview, and now what I know isn’t encouraging to me. Are people really so excited about the “breath of fresh air” and “candor” that turns out to be more bluster than anything? I don’t actually feel I know more about his qualifications or his ideas (the interview just cites what he says about his record) other than that he’s somewhat loose with details, which is not what I think would be a great quality in a CFO. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that this was just an isolated incident of poor judgment and I certainly won’t join in the chorus calling for his dismissal. I believe in due process. I’m also hoping to hear from Kowba and the school board what they liked about him. What made them think he’s what we need to get the schools’ finances in order and more transparent?

I’m not bothered by people concerned about waste in schools. Every system has waste and we should try to reduce it where we can. What worries me is that we’re depleting our schools of resources and have been for years. That’s why the classrooms are dirty, why some teachers’ phones don’t work and why our classrooms are increasingly crowded. Dobbs’ statement on that was amusing only in that the CFO’s opinion on the merits of class size is kind of irrelevant. Besides, anyone with any sense at all must concede that the number of students in a classroom greatly impacts the time teachers have to spend with students individually. If we don’t care about the latter, well, that concerns me a great deal.

Margaret Sohar on “The High Costs of Blindly Cutting Budgets“:

Having personally suffered an unfortunate consequence related to the reduction (? elimination) of tree-trimming services, I can attest to the seriousness of the risks involved in not maintaining the trimming of the palm trees. A palm frond crashed down on my parked car in the Bankers Hill area, shattering the back window of my hatchback.

The force of impact must certainly be greater because of the distance from which these fronds fall. This experience has given me cause for concern regarding the potential for head injuries, especially to children.

I also agree that in addition to the city restoring this crucial service, along with other basic maintenance services, someone in an official capacity must take responsibility for oversight of the quality of service performed.

Comments have been lightly edited for typos, spelling and style.

Want to contribute to discussion? Submit a suggestion to Fix San Diego.

Dagny Salas is the web editor at Voice of San Diego. You can contact her directly at or 619.550.5669.

Like VOSD on Facebook.

Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.


Friday, February 8, 2013 5:30 pm.

Updated: 6:59 pm.

| Tags:

Southern California,

San Diego,

San Diego County California,

San Diego Metropolitan Area

Article source:

Home show reflects economy

Bill and Louise had never visited the annual home show in the Lancaster County Convention Center before this weekend.

The Wrightsville couple nevertheless fit the 2013 show-goer profile to a T.

They’re not reassured by the state of the economy — or the world.

They’re well settled in the house they’ve lived in for 55 years.

But they’re not beyond investing in their home to make it more comfortable, attractive and enduring.

“We have to have a place to live,” said Bill, who declined to give his last name. “We might as well enjoy it.”

That could have been the theme of the day Friday at the Suburban Pennsylvania Spring Home, Hot Tub and Landscape Show at 25 S. Queen St.

The free event produced by Syosset, N.Y.-based American Consumer Shows continues Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

First-day traffic was steady at midday Friday despite off-and-on rain.

American Consumer Shows’ Larry DeMarco reported “a dramatic uptick” of about 30 percent in attendance this year at the company’s expos nationwide.

People might simply be relieved to get past the presidential election and the fiscal cliff, DeMarco speculated.

He noted with more certainty that the folks the shows draw “are not really do-it-yourselfers.”

But because of the lingering effects of the recession, relatively few of them seem to be upgrading to larger properties.

“More people are putting money back into their homes” than trying to sell them, said Patrice Colegrove of Mid-Atlantic Waterproofing in York.

“It seems to be the era for that,” added Colegrove, who was handing out miniature cinder blocks made of foam.

She acknowledged that the service she was pitching is a necessity: “If you’ve got water in your basement, you need to fix it.”

Same idea when the paint is peeling off your walls.

“A lot of people don’t want to, or can’t, venture on that ladder,” pointed out University Painters’ Jonathan Frank, who said his franchise in Millersville has seen growth of 35 percent a year since launching in 2008.

But other vendors said people are increasingly shopping for value-added products, such as triple-pane windows or solar panels.

There’s a corresponding move toward self-sufficiency, according to Matt Kemper, a sales agent for J.K. Mechanical Inc. in Willow Street.

Kemper said the company’s biggest sellers in that vein are geothermal energy systems, which prompted a lot of inquiries Friday.

People want to “enhance their comfort and save money,” added Kemper, who laughingly called himself a “comfort consultant.”

Indeed, said Ben Kauffman of Penn Dutch Furniture in Glen Rock, a bit of luxury has a place at the recessionary table:

“One thing we’ve seen since the recession, there’s a lot of custom work being done,” even though it’s pricier.

People aren’t keeping up with the Joneses, Kauffman added. “They don’t want what the Joneses have. … If they’re going to spend a couple of grand, they want it like they want it.”

Matt Breyer said customization and high-tech materials have taken on new luster, too, in the landscaping industry.

“There’s always opportunity in every market,” added Breyer, of Breyer Construction Landscape in Reading.

And exceptions to every economic motif.

“I’m actually going to be building a new home,” not renovating an old one, said Willow Street resident Frann Moyer, who was gathering ideas on solar installations, among other things.

“I want to go as green as possible,” Moyer said.

Janet Smith, Mountville, said she had the double goal of picking out new flooring for her home in Mountville and keeping her spouse, Karl, busy installing it.

“We do it ourselves,” she said. “My husband’s retired, and he likes to be a handyman.”

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by
blog comments powered by Disqus

Article source:

Leaf through inspiring books

IF you’re still scratching your head as to what to do with your garden this year, whether trying veg in pots for the first time, creating a wildflower meadow or completely re-landscaping your outdoor space, there are new books coming out which should provide you with plenty of ideas.

Here are just a few of the many gardening titles on offer this year:

:: The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart (Timber Press, £14.99, May 2): This intoxicating and eclectic new book on the hidden botany behind your favourite booze would make a fabulous gift for gardeners who enjoy a tipple. The quirky guide explains the chemistry and botanical history of more than 150 species, showing how they form the bases of our favourite cocktails and also offers 50 drink recipes.

:: Christine Walkden’s No-Nonsense Container Gardening (Simon Schuster, £20, February 28): She may now be a regular on The One Show and Radio 4’s Question Time, but Christine Walkden is a gardener first and a presenter second. In her typical down-to-earth style, she shows you how to recycle tin cans, fruit crates and baskets and turn them into portable growing containers, grow your own lunch in a tub with dwarf varieties and cultivate abundant flowers for cutting and fragrance. Well illustrated and with tips from personal experience, this book will suit the fairly new gardener looking for new ideas.

:: Royal Horticultural Society Grow Your Own Crops In Pots by Kay Maguire (Mitchell Beazley, £16.99, available now): As growing your own fruit and veg continues to gain popularity, this book is one for people who perhaps don’t have room for a vegetable plot or who simply want to have a go at growing produce in pots on the patio, close to the kitchen. Featuring everything from bags of potatoes to grapes on the vine, and delicious combinations such as tomato with basil, the book guides the reader through techniques and tips, as well as sound advice for growing each type of fruit and veg.

:: A Book Of Garden Wisdom by Jenny Hendy (Lorenz Books, £5.99, May 31): If you like to hark to days gone by and restore some traditional methods of gardening on your plot, this delightful book of folklore, organic gardening, hints and tips featuring traditional techniques for sowing, planting and harvesting, as well as age-old methods for controlling pests and diseases, feeding the soil and caring for tools, should fit the bill.

:: RHS Chelsea Flower Show: A Centenary Celebration by Brent Elliott (Frances Lincoln, £25, April 4): Chelsea Flower Show’s centenary couldn’t go without a commemorative book and this offering, by the RHS historian Brent Elliott, explores how the show evolved, how it has formed part of the social calendar and how it has reflected and shaped tastes in garden design and planting over the years. There are short pieces by significant nurserymen and nurserywomen, designers, organisers, visitors and patrons describing what Chelsea means to them, with chapters on the early shows, shows between the wars and decade by decade to the present day. It’s illustrated with images mainly drawn from the RHS Lindley Library archives, many of which are published here for the first time.

:: Abundance: How To Store And Preserve Your Garden Produce by Alys Fowler (Kyle Books, £16.99, June 1): If you’re growing fruit and veg then you may want to learn how to preserve it. Look no further than this guide from the former Gardeners’ World presenter, who covers everything from drying and pickling to cold stores and fermenting.

:: Wild Flowers by Carol Klein (BBC Books, £20, February 28): Master plantswoman and Gardeners’ World presenter Carol Klein celebrates the most exquisite flora growing wild in our woodlands, hedgerows, meadows and moors in this book and then returns to her own garden to see their cultivated cousins. This tie-in book sees Klein delving into the story of more than 30 of her favourite wild flowers, and sharing her practical expertise and suggestions on how to help their cultivated equivalents thrive.

:: The Rurbanite by Alex Mitchell (Kyle Books, £16.99, March 1): Do you live in the city but dream of keeping chickens? Do you look at derelict patches of ground on your way to work and see their potential as vegetable patches? If so, you’re a rurbanite. You have a passion for the countryside but no intention of leaving the city. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. You’re part of a growing band of people who want the best of both worlds. The author shares her passion, practical projects and incredible stories from seed bombers, rooftop beekeepers, guerrilla gardeners and urban farmers to inspire you to be in touch with your green side and change the cityscape for the better.

:: Gardening In Pyjamas: Horticultural Enlightenment For Obsessive Dawn Raiders by Helen Yemm (Simon Schuster, £12.99, April 11): If you find yourself padding about your plot in your nightclothes without really knowing what to do, this book will provide you with all the essential facts to nurture your growing passion. The Daily Telegraph’s much-loved columnist Helen Yemm strikes a happy balance between giving you enough information to get you going but not so much that it scares you or puts you off entirely. She dispenses invaluable advice, minus the mumbo jumbo, with refreshing humour and a clear understanding of her theme.

BEST OF THE BUNCH – Sempervivum (houseleek)

If you’ve covered these pretty rock garden stalwarts during the wettest weather to stop them rotting, then by early spring they should be the shining stars of the alpine bed, their sculptured rosettes making a shapely background for later-flowering miniature species.

They are excellent for growing in pots to create winter displays in an unheated greenhouse. These drought-tolerant succulents can be planted into a sandy soil mix to ensure sharp drainage. They’re very collectable, coming in green, red and purple. Some have red-tipped leaves, or are covered with hairs.

The cobwebbed houseleek, S. arachnoideum, is the best known, but ‘Commander Hay’ is a more impressive purplish-red show-stopper.

The flowers look like fat turrets which grow to 30cm (12in) tall and push up through the rosettes. They make perfect plants for the front of a hot, sunny rockery or in a sink garden or in pots. New plants grow easily from offsets.


:: Enrich soil with compost where beans are going to be grown.

:: Be careful not to damage any emerging bulbs when forking over border soil.

:: Place forcing jars over clumps of rhubarb.

:: Take cuttings from greenhouse chrysanthemums.

:: Continue to dig over borders and vegetable plots to prepare ground for planting.

:: Improve drainage on heavy soil by mixing in plenty of gravel or sharp grit.

Article source:

Farm roots, high sights: Rocky Ford ag scholar outstanding in field

It’s one of A.J. Brown’s many missions in life: to make certain his hometown of Rocky Ford is remembered for something other than cantaloupe (especially 2011’s listeria-containing melons, which actually came from a single farm in Holly, 90 miles to the east).

Maybe Rocky Ford will become just as well-known for chile peppers, a crop Brown has helped study at Colorado State University’s Arkansas Valley Research Center a stone’s throw from his family’s house.

“We grew this chile called Holiday Cheer.

It’s this little chile plant that grows up like a Christmas tree with colored bulbs on it. You take those chiles and stuff them with cream cheese and grill them and, oh!” he said.

Or maybe it’ll be winter canola, which the station is growing to see which variety’s seed will make the best biodiesel.

Brown, 19, is hooked on questions.

“It’s amazing to be part of the research that goes into the textbooks,” he says. “You learn things that other farmers don’t really know.” For instance, the promise of canola — not quite a cost-effective crop at the moment, “because down here there’s only one press,” he says. But the potential? Big as the Arkansas Valley sky.

Brown, whose initials stand for Ansley Joseph, is the 2012 winner of the annual Colorado Garden Show Inc. full-ride scholarship, a grant that pays for tuition and room and board, plus a laptop. The nonprofit organization also awards four one-year scholarships, plus grants for community gardens and landscaping projects,

Get connected to our Colorado at Home blog for ideas.

each year.

The funding for those grants comes from admission and booth fees at the Colorado Garden Home Show, kicking off Saturday and running through Feb. 17 at the Colorado Convention Center, and a similar fall show.

Brown won’t begin at CSU until this fall. He graduated from Swink High School with 32 hours of college credits, then started classes at Otero Junior College, where he’ll get an associate degree this spring. He plans to get a bachelor’s and a master’s in soil and crop science in the three years he’ll spend at CSU, and then probably a doctorate.

When he’s not at school or working at the research farm, Brown does one stereotypical thing for an ag student. He bonds with his truck, a 2002 Ford F-250 diesel. “If I weren’t going into ag, I would be a diesel engineer. Me and my buddy Ethan, we’re always brainstorming how to make that engine run cleaner and greener.”

He also gives the sermon every third week at Holy Cross Lutheran/St. Andrew’s Episcopal church, a combined congregation in La Junta.

Obviously, Brown has smarts and dedication. But that’s not all that makes him a standout, says vegetable crop specialist Mike Bartolo, Brown’s boss for four years at the research farm.

Brown doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, Bartolo said. “The most tedious and hard work we have is an onion variety trial. And A.J. says, ‘All right! We’re thinning onions today!’ He’s got that kind of an attitude.”

More important, “he has this amazing talent to relate to people,” Bartolo said. “He is so eager to learn. And people just gravitate toward him and want to be around him.”

And then? Look out.

“I’m kind of an arguer,” Brown said. “My mom always says I’d be a good lawyer. But my role, I think, is just being able to remind people of what farming is really like.”

Right now in Colorado, farming is dry. Disturbingly dry. A major part of the chile research Brown helped with involved seeing what effect drip irrigation had on chile yields and quality (the short answer: The chiles liked it). But Brown also sees the effects of drought all around him, including grass hay, the crop his family grows on five acres.

“Corn prices were going up, so farmers wanted to do corn, and they thought the drought couldn’t get any worse. So now they’re all hurting,” he says. Meanwhile, hay prices are going through the roof.

That’s precisely the type of tough decision he wants to help farmers of field crops navigate — what to grow when, how to chart the right course between market prices and weather conditions.

Specifically, his farmers. Because another thing that sets Brown apart is his commitment to his roots.

“I really want to come back and try to help. I don’t want to leave the Arkansas Valley. I know it’s hurting right now, and I know how many of my classmates don’t want to come back.

“But I think it’s the most beautiful place in the world.”

Susan Clotfelter: 303-954-1078, or

COLORADO GARDEN HOME SHOW More than an acre of flowering garden displays and 650 companies showcasing their home-improvement and landscape products. Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th St. Saturday-Feb. 17; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays and noon-8 p.m. Monday-Friday. Admission $12, kids 12 and under free; discounted tickets at Tickets West outlets in King Soopers or with a non-perishable food item.

Article source:

Great Gardening by Sally Cunningham

Valentine’s Day may be the biggest event in the late winter calendar, but what really gets the gardener’s heart going is the chance to be somewhere warm, humid and green. Unless you work in a greenhouse, or you are flying to a tropical destination, there are only two ways to do this: Go to the Buffalo Erie County Botanical Gardens any time of year (the “Night Lights” show is especially exciting this month) or book your dates for a flower show.

You don’t have to be a gardener to go to a flower show. In fact, sometimes the people who aren’t gardeners have the most fun. That’s because they aren’t compulsive about taking notes, scrambling to catch every speaker and determined to memorize every plant name.

Those non-gardeners or light-hearted gardeners just breeze along, snapping pictures or smelling the roses (and hyacinths and narcissus), feeling good in the springlike atmosphere.

Or, like my husband at the Philadelphia Flower Show – produced for 100 years by the wealthy and long-established Pennsylvania Horticultural Society – they walk the show for the overall beauty, a little shopping and then – faster than some of us – enjoy a beer and oysters or knockwurst (or a zillion international delights) at the train station across the street. (Every show has somewhere nearby for sitting and sipping and studying the program. Watching the gardeners with their armloads of treasures is equally diverting.

Seriously, though, if you are a gardener and have never been to a flower show, you are missing social, shopping and educational delights. Our own Plantasia, produced by the Western New York Nursery Landscape Association, may not be the Philadelphia show in size, scope and displays, but it offers a solid lineup of speakers and demonstrations and there is a lot to learn, free with admission.

Nearly all flower shows have classes, and sometimes nationally prominent speakers and recently published authors.

For the first-timer: Find the speaking schedule online or get one as soon as you arrive, and build your day(s) around the must-see programs. (Unlike other lecture situations, speakers in these shows are mostly not insulted – I can speak for myself among them – if you choose not to stay for the whole talk. We know you have shopping to do, and not every topic is for everybody.)

Second tip: Walk around the whole show once, fast, to decide where to allocate your time. Don’t get bogged down in miniature terrariums when your passion is new annuals or garden design.

The shopping is a pleasure in every garden show. In Plantasia, local garden centers and independent vendors pack the prettiest examples of their product lines and plants into 10-foot spaces, in the hopes you’ll buy now and come to their shops during the season.

In the Toronto, Philadelphia and Southern or West Coast shows, you’ll see national and international products represented – items you might not see at home. Our garden centers send staff to these shows to scout for products they should be carrying; tell your garden center folks what you loved. It’s a lot easier to judge a tool or statue with your own eyes than through a catalog, and to try on flower-decorated Wellies or garden hats in person.

What will you shop for? Beyond garden tools and props, you’ll see hardscape or landscaping products (from pavers to pergolas), some outdoor furniture, gardeners’ clothing, usually books, and always jewelry (because, after all, the majority of garden show visitors are women.)

The plants are the best part of it for some of us, as you can see and take home potted herbs, tropicals, forced bulbs, spring-planted bulbs, and some forced perennials for planting when the weather warms. (You can bare-root some plants from Canada, but in most cases you’d be better off just bringing home ideas.)

So go to the show, to feel spring in the air, or for serious learning and shopping.

Article source:

Gardening Tips: Your February gardening questions answered

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013 11:07 am

Gardening Tips: Your February gardening questions answered

By Matthew Stevens

RR Daily Herald


Q: When is the best time to put down a pre-emergent herbicide for crabgrass control?

Subscription Required

An online service is needed to view this article in its entirety.

You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



Or, use your
linked account:

Current print subscribers

You must login to view the full content on this page.

Or, use your
linked account:

© 2013 Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thank you for reading 10 free articles on our site. You can come back at the end of your 30-day period for another 10 free articles, or you can purchase a subscription and continue to enjoy valuable local news and information. If you need help, please contact our office at 252-537-2505.

You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



Or, use your
linked account:

Current print subscribers


Friday, February 8, 2013 11:07 am.

Article source:

“Ask A Master Gardener”

Ronnie E. (Conetoe) asks: What is the best temperature and method to store fresh pecans?

Answer: Lowering the moisture content of pecan kernels is an important step for maximum storage life of pecans.  Pecans should be stored at a moisture content of about 4 pecent. Shelled pecans stored at non-freezing temperature should be maintained in an atmosphere of about 65–70 percent relative humidity to hold the 3–4 percent moisture content. Humidity above these values can cause kernel molding and pecan texture deterioration (pecans become soft and rubber-like), whereas lower humidity will cause excessive drying. In-shell pecan kernels will darken under high humidity as a result of the tannic acid being dissolved from the shell lining.

Lower temperatures usually result in longer storage life of nuts. Pecan pieces have a shorter shelf-life than pecan halves. This time reduction is in proportion to the surface exposure of the pieces. Storage of nutmeat pieces should be limited to 1 or 2 months at temperatures about 32°F. The greatest benefit of storing at low temperature is retention of fresh flavor, followed by color, aroma and texture.

Because pecan meats absorb odors and flavors readily from the surroundings, a storage area free of odoriferous materials and commodities is necessary In-shell pecans can remain good for 4 months at 70°F, but can be stored successfully for 18 months at 32°F to 36°F. Storage life of in-shell nuts may extend to 5 years or more when stored at 0°F.   Learn more at:

Don A. (Leggett) asks: (While we’re on the subject of pecans), How many years will it take for a Stuart pecan to bear nuts? We live in the southeast and just planted one.

Answer: Stuart is a good disease-resistant variety of pecan for the southeast, although the variety Elliott might have been a better choice (smaller pecan but higher quality). Stuart takes a long time to bear pecans, at least eight to 10 years. If you take good care of it by watering, fertilizing, and controlling weeds, this time will be shortened somewhat. Elliott comes into production in six to eight years.

Brenda E. (Tarboro) Asks:  I have a delightful winter bloomer in my yard that a friend gave me when she thinned a shade bed in her garden a few years ago, and don’t remember its name?

Answer: The plant is a Lenten Rose, Helleborus orientalis, and, yes, they usually are blooming in February and March.  The evergreen foliage is glossy and grows 6”-10”and has blossoms of pink, white, lavender, green, or even burgundy that last for about 6 weeks.  As well, it is a shade loving plant that grows best in fertile, well-drained soil.  Rich organic matter such as that from decomposed leaves provide the needed nutrients. The Lenten Rose is also a plant that deer will not chew on, is drought tolerant and heat resistant, bugs don’t like it.

The name “Lenten rose” comes from its bloom time, near the Lenten season, although due to global warming they are tending to begin blooming earlier in January.  These “roses” are great plants to cut to bring inside where the blossoms will last about a 7-10 days — and the hearty foliage will last even longer.

Now, while the plants are blooming and the desired color can be selected, is a good time to thin them out and share with fellow gardeners or can usually be purchased this time of year, but they are somewhat pricey ($5-$6 dollars per quart size plant).  They do reseed and provide dozens of seedlings the following spring although they tend to slowly get started.  

These plants and many others are collected from among the Master Gardeners and are sold at plant sales in the spring; maybe even earlier.  Contact the Extension Office at 641-7815 to find out when the Master Gardeners will have any lenten rose plants for sale.

Katie S. (Tarboro) asks: I have number small mounds of soil beginning to develop in the turf in my back yard – what is causing this and what can I do?

Answer: The most likely culprit to cause soil mounding that matches your description would be earthworms.  Earthworms are clearly beneficial in soil for aeration, water penetration, thatch control, addition of bacteria, organic matter and other benefits. Most soils are probably lacking in worm populations and much has been written about the benefits of worms and using

them for soil improvement. Extremely high populations may disrupt roots or create so much upturned castings on the surface as to smother low growing blades and create a bumpy surface.

Learn more about this problem at:

“Ask A Master Gardener” is a weekly column providing our readers solutions to common problems concerning horticulture, gardening, and pest management. Trained Extension Master Gardener Volunteers have access to the research that provide answers.

Submit your questions by email to, or call the local Extension Center at 641-7815 and tell them you have a question for a Master Gardener; a volunteer will return your call with a solution to your problem, or write to “Ask A Master Gardener”, c/o The Daily Southerner, P.O. Box 1199, Tarboro, NC 27886.

Article source:

Clive Edwards, gardening tips

Article source:

Master Gardeners offer gardening tips

MYRTLE POINT — Coos County Master Gardeners will offer workshops designed for Master Gardener recertification as well as public education.

Events for all gardeners include:

• On Saturday, March 9, Ross Penhallegon will teach plant disease diagnosis from 9 a.m. to noon at the  Extension office, 631 Alder St., Myrtle Point. The event is free for Master Gardeners, $10 for others.

• Tuesday, March 12 , Tristan Huff will teach tree identification at 1 p.m with a local field trip (weather permitting). The class meets at the Extension office. The event is free for Master Gardeners, $10 for others.

For location directions, information and to reserve seating, call 541-572-5263, ext. 240, or email Rhonda Fisher at

Additional Master Gardener recertification events include:

• On Saturday, Feb. 9, Mary Anne Kreutzer will teach about rose pruning from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Bring a sack lunch.)

• On Thursday, Feb. 14, Ross Penhallegon will teach about tree pruning at Kathy Creason’s, 12:30-3 p.m.

All of the spring garden Series classes, Fertilize Your Mind classes and public workshops count toward Master Gardener recertification. Call 541-572-5263, ext. 240 for directions.

Article source:

Garden Scribe: Show house’s outdoor spaces suited to ‘island living’

Open for tours through Feb. 23, the American Red Cross Designers’ Show House presented landscape designers with several interesting and challenging outdoor spaces. I think they all handled the fundraising project’s “tropical island living” theme consistently in the outdoor areas at the house, one lot west of South Flagler Drive on Santa Lucia Drive.

First, the square lot is divided in two — east to west — by the wide three-story Key West-style home, leaving a long, rather shallow front yard. Keith Williams of Nievera Williams Design eschewed a traditional lawn in favor of pebble-covered beds that were planned to be low-maintenance and drought-tolerant.

Out back, Daryl McCann of Gregory Lombardi Design installed a “living wall” to hide unsightly fencing and provide privacy to the pool area. Because the backyard has almost no space for planters, the living wall brings in a lot of color by displaying plants vertically.

“Because there was such limited space for a terrace, we created a circle on the eastern end for relaxing,” McCann says. “We backed that by a curvilinear wall, so we had continuity throughout.”

On the tall walls, he placed swaths of salt- and wind-tolerant plants, such as agave, bromeliads, beach sunflower, dune sunflower, euphorbia and lantana in mosaic patterns.

Because the house is situated such a short distance from the Lake Worth Lagoon, Andres Paradelo of CV Design also chose salt- and wind-tolerant plants for the third-floor deck and the fourth-floor crow’s nest, accessed by an outdoor spiral staircase. I particularly loved the glazed ceramic planters hung along the railing.

“We used a lot of succulents, which also cuts down the watering,” Paradelo says.

According to CV Design owner Craig Garcia, his design team used black pebbles as a border material to show off the flooring materials — cast coral stone, real coquina and travertine marble — as well as the fire pit.

Karen Kirk of Island Living Patio tackled the west deck on the third floor. Her 25-year stint as an interior decorator paid off in this inviting nook.

“I take my design approach to outdoor living,” she says.

The pocket deck has two areas – one for seating and one for lounging around a fire pit. Aqua and fuchsia colors are complemented by the brilliant bougainvillea throughout.



What: American Red Cross Designers’ Show House, benefiting the charity’s Greater Palm Beach Area chapter. Offers self-guided tours of rooms and outdoor areas decorated by multiple design firms, plus a boutique.

Where: 123 Santa Lucia Ave., West Palm Beach

When: Through Feb. 23. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday to Saturday; noon-4 p.m. Sunday; tickets are $30. Saturday lecture series, 11 a.m. Feb. 16; $60.

For more information: Call 650-9131 or visit

Article source: