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Archives for April 11, 2013

Plans to open, operate New Orleans riverfront park in Bywater, Marigny remain …

Several months after a new $30 million riverfront park in Bywater and Faubourg Marigny was supposed to have been finished, it is still uncertain just when it will open, who will operate it, how it will be paid for and what types of events will be allowed to be held in it. Even its name, once seemingly decided, may be in question.

That was the message from a public forum held this week by an advisory committee created a year ago to give nearby residents a voice in how the park, stretching 1.3 miles along the river from Elysian Fields Avenue to Mazant Street, will operate.

The committee offered a long list of suggestions about when and under what conditions events such as concerts should be allowed at the Mandeville Street Wharf, at the park’s upriver end, but it was unclear just who will make the final decisions.

Landrieu administration officials have indicated for more than a year that they would like to assign management of the park to the French Market Corp., but a deal has yet to be concluded.

Ann Duplessis, interim executive director of the French Market, told the crowd of several dozen Marigny, Bywater and French Quarter residents that she wanted to hear their ideas and would try to see that they are implemented. But she said she could not give them any definite information. “It really is a good thing that we have none of the answers tonight because it means none of the decisions have been made,” Duplessis said.

In the absence of Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant, who is overseeing the project for the Landrieu administration, or any of the park’s designers, it was left to Lucas Diaz, director of the Neighborhood Engagement Office, which oversaw creation of the 11-member advisory committee, to speak for the city at Tuesday night’s event.

Diaz said the park — which less than a year ago officials were promising would open by the end of 2012, and as recently as January were saying would partially open this spring — would open “sometime in the next 12 months.”


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Wednesday afternoon, Grant issued a statement saying the city is working to open the park “as soon as possible,” but indicating that it is likely to be a year away.  “The Mandeville shed, Piety Street Wharf and downriver park improvements are currently 85 percent complete,” Grant said. “Landscaping and seasonal plantings are being placed this spring. The remaining work on the project is related to the construction of the Mandeville crossing bridge, which has undergone redesign to simplify it and better accommodate underground utilities. It will be constructed later this year. The entire park is anticipated to be open to the public in spring 2014.”

New Orleans City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, whose district includes the park and the surrounding neighborhoods, said she also has had a hard time getting information about the park, even though she is a board member of both the New Orleans Building Corp., under whose auspices the park was designed and built, and the French Market Corp.

Palmer said she has been asking for a maintenance budget for the park for a year but has yet to see one. One of the chief worries expressed by some neighbors is that the new park — unlike Woldenberg Riverfront Park, a few blocks upriver, which is controlled by the Audubon Commission — will not be well-maintained or policed.

Duplessis said that so far, identified sources of potential revenue are not great enough to cover the park’s projected operating costs.

Palmer said she is not satisfied with plans for access to the riverfront park, primarily via a pedestrian bridge over the floodwall and railroad tracks between Elysian Fields and Mandeville Street, and another bridge several blocks downriver at Piety Street. She said she does not accept claims by the Port of New Orleans, Army Corps of Engineers and Public Belt Railroad that it would be unsafe to allow ground-level access through the floodwall even when the river is low.

Although the New Orleans Building Corp. board and administration officials seemed to have informally decided many months ago that the facility should be known as Crescent Park, Palmer said she wants to hear residents’ suggestions for names. She also said neighbors are not well represented on the French Market Corp. board and will need a greater voice in the park’s management if that agency ends up running the park.

The neighborhood advisory committee recommended limiting special events at the Mandeville Street Wharf — expected to be the principal site in the park for concerts, festivals and other events — to two days per month and requiring them to end by 6 p.m. on weekdays and 8 p.m. on weekends. It also called for setting noise limits, measured by decibel readings in nearby neighborhoods.

Palmer said the group needs to come up with a better definition of “event” and also called for bringing in sound and lighting engineers to advise on any restrictions. She said all the rules need to be in place before the park opens and the first events are held.

Tuesday night’s meeting focused on what activities will be allowed at the Mandeville Street Wharf. A second meeting April 30 will discuss plans for the downriver portions of the park, organizers said.

Plans for the new park were developed as part of a proposed $300 million overhaul of several miles of riverfront wharves between Jackson Avenue and the Industrial Canal, envisioned during former Mayor Ray Nagin’s administration. The “Reinventing the Crescent” project aimed to give the public access to parts of the riverfront that have long been off-limits because of warehouses and cargo-handling activities.

Besides the Marigny-Bywater park, the overall plan called for creating a similar park in the Lower Garden District, redesigning Spanish Plaza at the foot of Canal Street, expanding the Moonwalk opposite Jackson Square, and building a hotel at the foot of Julia Street and an amphitheater at the foot of Race Street, among other projects.

Whether any of those projects will ever come to fruition is unknown. The New Orleans Building Corp. decided to use the $30 million that the Nagin administration committed to the overall project to pay for the park in Bywater and Marigny, where the city already had legal control of the wharves.

The park is being built on wharves and a narrow strip of land on the river side of the floodwall and the New Orleans Public Belt railroad tracks. It will feature a more than mile-long path for walking, jogging and cycling, plus a dog run, play areas and extensive landscaping. Some earlier planned features, including a nondenominational sanctuary or pavilion at the Piety Street Wharf, have been deleted for financial and other reasons.

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Downtown Greenway art proposal is unveiled

GREENSBORO — Two Massachusetts artists propose to turn a vacant lot on the Downtown Greenway into public art that celebrates tradition while creating a new gathering spot.

Mags Harries and Lajos Héder of Harries/Héder Collaborative unveiled their design on Wednesday for the West Smith and Prescott streets cornerstone, which has a theme of tradition.

The greenway’s public art panel chose the Cambridge, Mass., couple for their expertise in creating public art across the nation and internationally. In January, they came to Greensboro to seek the public’s ideas.

“We are hoping that this will be seen by folks as an invitation to come have fun here,” Héder told those gathered at the Greenway at Fisher Park Apartments near the site.

Called “Meeting Place,” their design depicts an open tentlike structure measuring 30 feet in diameter with seating, a small grassy stage, an organic orchard and native woodland vegetation.Continue Reading

The structure’s mesh roof will feature stainless steel script copied from letters written by city namesake Gen. Nathanael Greene to George Washington. Greene wrote his observations from Guilford Courthouse during the American Revolution.

Charlie Headington, a local gardening consultant, will plant the vegetation and orchard of cherry, pear, persimmon and plum trees. Local fabricators will create other elements.

Visitors will wander the site, which covers nearly a half-acre, on paths of crushed stone and gravel.

“Meeting Place” is the second of four major art installations to mark corners of the four-mile, paved recreational path developing around the city center. The project will be financed with $200,000 in private money raised for the greenway.

The first cornerstone, a towering metal sculpture called “Gateway of the Open Book,” stands on Lee Street.

Greenway Project Manager Dabney Sanders said she expects “Meeting Place” to be installed by year’s end.

Over the next five years, the nonprofit economic development group Action Greensboro and the city will use $26 million in federal and state money, local bond money and private donations to create the 12-foot-wide Downtown Greenway lined with landscaping and public art.

Those who gathered Wednesday agreed the community would use and appreciate “Meeting Place.”

“The neighborhood adjacent to this site is very active, so I think it’s going to be a great asset to that particular neighborhood especially,” city resident Joe Wheby said.

To Harries, the site can function in a variety of ways, such as an outdoor classroom with the orchard as a teaching tool and a place to celebrate the area’s tradition of music.

“Just come out with your instruments and jam together,” Harries said.

Before Harries and Héder showed their design, city officials cut the ribbon for the greenway’s third section along Smith Street between Eugene and Spring streets.

City Engineer Ted Partrick Jr. also showed the design for the greenway’s next phase. It will run from the intersection of East Lee Street and Murrow Boulevard, north under Summit Avenue, and end at the intersection of Fisher Avenue and North Greene Street.

To accommodate that 1.4-mile section, the city will narrow the three lanes on each side of Murrow Boulevard to two lanes, Partrick said.

The city doesn’t have funding for that section yet, Partrick said, but will complete the design so it can be built when the money becomes available.

Contact Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane at 373-5204, and follow @dawndkane on Twitter.

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Kitchen tour shows marriage of décor, landscaping, architecture

The 2013 Kitchens in the Vineyards tour coming up April 27 will open five distinctive Napa Valley homes to visitors hoping to gather home décor, landscaping and architectural ideas.

“This is a beautiful time of year to see a wide variety of home styles from sleek contemporary to enchanting New Orleans Garden District,” said Julia Jervis, chair of the Kitchens in the Vineyards tour. “One house will be awash in white wisteria.”

The home and garden tour of kitchens, dining rooms and entertainment areas as well as gardens benefits the annual local chamber music festival, Music in the Vineyards. The self-guided tour takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27.

“We all like to see how other people live,” said Jervis, noting that throughout the tour’s 16 years, there have been no repetitions because of the generosity of the owners willing to open their homes.

This year the tour includes:

• A luxurious Howard Backen-designed estate in the hills high above Crystal Springs Road with bird’s-eye views of the valley, an extensive open layout, multiple alfresco dining areas and an entertainment pavilion with an infinity pool.

• A valley floor home, with New Orleans-inspired décor and a landscape that includes a cabernet vineyard, rose gardens, citrus plantings, pillared terraces and a lap pool.

• A “Villa Toscana” with a salon featuring European paneling and floors acquired from the de Young Museum, vast vineyard views, a pool and a Winged Victory-inspired sculpture.

• A remodeled classic California ranch-style home set on five landscaped acres.

• An extensively remodeled contemporary home with an entertainment area that includes pool, swim-up bar, waterfall and meditation room.

Jervis said a team of designers, florists, chefs, cookbook authors and 200 volunteers all donate their time and talent to make the event a success each year.

Each home is styled by designers and florists who create springtime table settings. At the homes, visitors will also find tastings of dishes prepared this year by a variety of local restaurants.

“I think anybody who goes on this tour will come away with lots of new ideas and recipes from all the foods they’ve tasted,” Jervis said. “The recipes will be printed in their program.”

Also on hand will be local authors signing copies of their books. This year featured books are “Michael Chiarello’s Live Fire: 140 Recipes for Cooking Outdoors from California’s Wine Country” by Claudia Sansone; “Plum Gorgeous” by Romney Steele; “Mac Cheese, Please!: 50 Super Cheesy Recipes” by Laura Werlin; “The NapaLife Insiders Guide to Napa Valley” by Paul Franson; “The Gathering Table” by Ronda Giangreco; “American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of the United States” by Linda Murphy; and “Cooking for One” by the Culinary Institute of America.

In addition, a raffle of prizes includes gift certificates to interior design shops, a one-night stay at the Westin Verasa in Napa, and a cooking class at The Apple Farm with Chef Karen Bates in Anderson Valley. Raffle

tickets are $10 each or 12 for $100 and can be purchased in advance or on Saturday’s tour.

The annual tour is limited to 750 people. Tickets for the self-guided tour cost $65 and are on sale now by calling 258-5559 or going online to

Inspired by New Orleans

One of the homes on the tour is the Jim and Lee Meehan residence, which reflects the life they once lived in the New Orleans Garden District as well as their current life in Napa Valley.

The couple describes their five -acre property, which includes 50 redwoods, 500 roses and 5,000 cabernet vines, as a “lagniappe” estate and vineyard. Lagniappe is a French Cajun word meaning “something a little extra,” they explained.

They bought the property in 1998 while still living in New Orleans and moved here in 2001.

Their former home wasn’t destroyed by Hurricane Katrina because of the elevation of the Garden District; the only damage was to the roof. The storm did cause many of their friends and neighbors to move away, which makes it harder to keep in touch, they said.

“We like a New Orleans lifestyle. You can’t get that city out of your system. We try to go back once or twice a year,” Lee Meehan said, adding that they’ve made a happy transition to this area and have found wonderful, friendly people here.

They enjoy their farmhouse with multiple French doors to terraces overlooking vineyards, the western hills and Mt. St. Helena. A guest house of native stone, features a cabana and wine-tasting room and blends with their home.

Their three-acre vineyard, planted in cabernet sauvignon grapes, has been farmed organically since 2003 and was certified organic in 2006.

“The kind of life we live here is certainly different from the Garden District,” added Meehan, who is on the “last stages” of writing a novel about an incident that happened in New Orleans.

“The property needed extensive work so we’ve spent the last 13 years doing projects,” she said. “We were asked a few years ago to do this tour and didn’t feel that our property was ready. When the committee came by they said ‘This is the kitchen of the vineyards.’”

What the Meehans love most is the kitchen, the heart of their home. “When you look out from the kitchen you are looking at vineyards,” Lee Meehan said.

Six French doors lead outside and a bank of windows allows light in and frames their view of the vineyards. The Meehans said they like to bring guests into the kitchen as they prepare food. Their guests always ask them where they’ve hidden their refrigerator and dishwashers, which can’t be seen.

They have high praise for their architect, Don Gross, who designed what they consider their dream kitchen.

“Don Gross did the property design as well as the kitchen,” Jim Meehan said. “He does an excellent job. It is an easy kitchen to have friends over. He made it sleek.

“After he finished the kitchen project, Don came over and cooked us a meal — not hot dogs on the deck. He uses the Thomas Keller cookbook. The meal was equivalent to eating at the French Laundry. Then he played jazz on our baby grand piano. He’s a unique individual.”

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Spring could give tender plants the cold shoulder

Wait before you plant warmth-loving flowers such as coleus, zinnias and marigolds outdoors. You can continue to add new trees, shrubs, perennials, berries and groundcovers to the landscape this month. In the vegetable garden it is still too cold to plant heat-loving seeds such as tomatoes, squash, corn or peppers. This is a good week to seed cool season crops such as lettuce, radish, cabbage, carrots and broccoli.

Question: Is it too late to prune my roses? I see lots of new leaves but my roses are getting very big and out of control. – T., Sumner

Answer: There is still time to prune back the roses even if you see new growth sprouting on the old canes. Always remove the three D’s — anything Dead, Diseased or Damaged when you decide to prune a plant. After that the decision of what to amputate and what to leave alone is often a matter of personal taste. If you want larger flowers and shorter plants, prune back your roses to stumps 1 foot tall. If you want a more carefree and bushy rose just shorten the entire plant by about one-third.

Q. I have a new house and some really big shrubs. When can I cut back things such as rhododendrons, azaleas and other things that look as if they are going to bloom? How do I know what to keep and what to get rid of? Help! – P.Y. Email

A. Wait. Breathe. Enjoy. Rhododendrons, azaleas and other spring flowering shrubs can be trimmed after they flower. The line to remember is “pruning after blooming.” I suggest you just sit back this spring and see what pops up. Take pictures of shrubs when they are in flower as this will make it easier to identify them. Attend classes at your local nursery, visit the library for garden books and start talking to the neighbors about what you like growing in their gardens. Learning about plants and landscaping is a lifetime process. This means that no matter how old we get, we remain very young gardeners. Use this month to introduce yourself to your new landscape by removing weeds and debris, spreading mulch and trimming the lawn. There’s plenty of time to get snippy later.

Q. When daffodils are done blooming, do I need to deadhead or remove the flower head? Also, is it true if you cut off the leaves of a daffodil it will never return? – E., Tacoma

A. No, you do need to remove the spent flowers of daffs, tulips or other spring-blooming bulbs, but many gardeners do this to keep the garden tidy. Yes, it is true that daffodils and other bulbs make flowers for next year by sucking all the green from their foliage. If you remove the leaves before they have turned yellow you starve the bulb and it will come back a puny runt or not at all. This is a good week to visit the nursery and buy a perennials such as euphorbia, hosta or daylily to position right in front of the fading daffodils. Growing spring bulbs in the back of a bed and perennials in the front is a great marriage of convenience.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at

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Direct Deposit of Warrensburg awarded for landscaping, charity

— About a year ago, brothers Lou and Dean Ackley took over a long-vacant Main St. storefront as a new location for their well-established Direct Deposit Redemption Center.

A dingy, deteriorating building got a facelift and its parking lot some fresh pavement.

But most of all, the premises was beautified with extensive floral displays, featuring bright colors and rich textures that change with the season.

Direct Deposit, located near the entrance of the Warrensburg hamlet, immediately perked up the downtown scene. Town residents and public officials appreciated the dramatic upgrade. The business gained the reputation as one of the most attractive redemption centers in the state.

This week, Lou and Dean Ackley received official recognition for their redevelopment and beautification efforts, as the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce named Direct Deposit Business of the Year.

The Ackleys will be presented with their award at a Chamber banquet set for Thursday May 23 at Lizzie Keays Restaurant on River St. in Warrensburg.

Such floral displays aren’t new to Dean Ackley, as he formerly was groundskeeper for Warren County for a half-dozen years, tending floral gardens and landscaping for both the county Municipal Center and the county Fish Hatchery up through 2005.

Dean Ackley said April 8 he enjoyed the landscaping and floral work.

“We believe that making your business look attractive doesn’t cost much but it attracts customers and makes the town look better,” he said. “All it takes is imagination and a little work.”

The landscaping initiatives aren’t the sole reason that Direct Deposit is being honored. Additionally, the Ackleys have reached out to community groups to assist them in their fundraising efforts. Sports teams, school organizations and charities have all benefitted from their coordinated efforts of channeling redemption donations to dozens of groups. These efforts by the Ackleys include collecting labels and box tops for the local schools, and pull-tabs for the Ronald McDonald House in Albany.

Warrensburg Chamber president Lynn Smith praised the Ackleys for their efforts.

“Their colorful displays serve as a wonderful welcome for both residents and visitors coming into town — and their charitable work helps so many people in the region,” she said.

Lou Ackley said he appreciated the Chamber’s Business of the Year award.

“It’s quite an honor to be recognized like this by your peers,” he said. “We’ll be keeping up our efforts.”

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Gardeners get tips from experts at workshops

Spring is in the air, and the thoughts of many have turned to gardening.

A pair of recent workshops took place to help prepare area green thumbs for planting season.

Those attending “The Ins and Outs of Growing Vegetables” at the Chikaming Township Center in Harbert on Saturday, April 6, heard a lot about dealing with plants as well as unwanted things that show up in a vegetable garden such as pests, mildew and raccoons.

Although spring wasn’t quite in the air on March 21, it was on the minds of the group gathered at Bridgman Public Library where the focus was on community gardening, rain barrels and native plants.

Reports on the two events follow:


The March 21 program in Bridgman, co-sponsored by the Bridgman Library and the Berrien County Conservation District, began with the news that the Bridgman Community Garden was awarded a $4,145 grant from the Berrien and Calhoun Conservation Districts. Funded by the People’s Community Gardens of Southwest Michigan, the grant will enable the garden to expand from 16 to 48 beds, including three raised beds for those who have difficulty bending or need walkers or wheelchairs.

Garden Coordinator Teri Sue Wines invited all to help construct the new beds on Saturday, April 20. She said plots in the garden are $10 for the season that runs from May 13 to November 1.

Collecting rain water in barrels was the next topic, beginning with the fact that one inch of rain water collected from a 1,000 square-foot roof area can yield 600 gallons of water collected in a rain barrel.

Berrien County Conservation District Administrator Nancy Carpenter continued with the “whys” and “hows” of rain barrels. In addition to helping the environment by reducing runoff, rain barrels can save money, provide a source of non-chlorinated water and be a convenient “faucet” in remote sections of a garden.

Carpenter discussed the use of downspouts, bug screens, hose links and pedestals for the barrels.  She cautioned that the water collected should not be drunk and should be used to water the soil only, not the plants themselves.

The district sells re-purposed food container barrels from $75 and recently added oak barrels from $165.

The focus then shifted to the use of native plants in landscaping presented by Chad Hughson, owner of Hidden Savanna Nursery in Kalamazoo, who told the group he was there to get them “ready for spring, if it ever comes this year.”

Although he holds a degree in chemical engineering from Michigan Tech University, Hughson said he never really entered that field, choosing instead a full time occupation managing his 33-acre nursery located on a former Christmas tree farm that has been restored to its pre-settlement oak savanna/dry prairie habitat.

“Using native plants increases bio-diversity,” he told the group, native plants attract insects and spiders and that moves up the food chain to attract birds and other wildlife. He cited a study that showed a single baby chickadee was fed 1,000 insects by its parents before it began to fly.

Houghson said he encourages the use of native plants because it fosters environmental diversity and stability, reduces or eliminates the use of chemicals, conserves water and preserves the land’s natural heritage. Beauty was another reason on Houghson’s list which he illustrated with slides of several species found in his “yard.”

Gardeners should evaluate the history of their site in terms of soil, moisture and existing native and invasive species, Houghson said, adding the need to set goals and expectations in terms of size, appearance and maintenance.

“Some native plants will outlive everyone in this room and even my three-year-old son,” he said.

In response to one listener who said she felt overwhelmed by all the information he had presented, Houghson advised, “Start small. Take a patch and do a little at a time or maybe start with a trouble spot.”

The Berrien Conservation District will hold a native plant sale at the Bridgman Library, 4460 Lake St., on Saturday, June 4, from 1 to 4 p.m.  Deadline for advance orders is Friday, May 17.


Guest speaker Ron Goldy, Michigan State University Southwest District vegetable extension educator, tailored his comments during the April 6 event at the Chikaming Township Center in response to questions from the community submitted in advance. Adding to his professional expertise were the home gardening experiences shared by audience members.

In response to a question about what companion plants work well together, Goldy said there is no scientific knowledge about what plants go well together but said there was a lot of anecdotal evidence, a lot of it centering “around herbs because of their essence” He said stressing plants would increase the essence, fostering stronger companions.

As for corn crop predators, Gould said raccoons are the most destructive culprits. He explained that birds are mostly interested in the top tassels and deer are “browsers. They eat a little here and nibble a little there. Sometimes I wish they would just finish the whole stalk.”

He suggested using multiple rings of electric fencing, powered by a car battery, to thwart the raccoons.

“Raccoons come with a lot of friends. They soon learn that what is on the other side of that fence is worth the little shock from the fence so put it at nose level,” Goldy said.

Goldy said the best time to spread fresh manure is the fall prior to planting to make sure it is properly aged. He also stressed the importance of proper compost practices.

“The thing that concerns me most with home growers is their use of compost. It’s okay if you can guarantee that every single inch of that compost gets up to temperature for the length of time needed to kill the bacteria and diseases. Otherwise you may be just incubating last year’s diseases,” Goldy said.

Goldy said one of the worst diseases is phytopthera capsici, which both attaches to the roots and the fruits of a plant.

“The best way to control it is through rotation but it is hard to practice good rotation in the limited areas of many home gardens,” Goldy said, suggesting sectioning a home garden plot into quadrants.

“It’s the best you can do in a small area.  You are moving soil on your feet and are the biggest disseminator of disease,” he said, adding that compost might be best put on flowers and other crops, not back on the vegetables.

Goldy said he warns people asking about heirloom gardening to “know what you are getting into. They are heirlooms for a reason,” including susceptibility to disease, short harvest times and soft fruit that doesn’t ship well. The positive, he says, is their wide range of colors and flavors.

Goldy said the bean plants he remembers from his childhood that could be picked all season don’t exist any longer. He said today’s beans are bred to be harvested in concentrated periods and picked mechanically.

He recommends planting several bean crops a season, one after the other. 

“I just pull up the whole plant and sit in the shade to pick the beans. Otherwise you are just picking tough beans. No one wants tough beans.”

The event was organized by The Planting Field, Chikaming Township’s Community Garden Program, in cooperation with the township’s Park Board and the River Valley Garden Club.

The Planting Field Community Garden offers 20- by 20-foot garden plots for a $40 donation per season. The garden is located in the Chikaming Township Park and Preserve on Warren Woods Road between I-94 and Lakewood Estates.  Persons with questions should contact Marianne De Angelis, (269) 469-0305.

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Gardening tips: Try some, see what works

  • The average last frost for this area is on April 20. This is not the frost free date but a date to ‘take a chance” on planting garden plants. Because average means 10 days either side of the April 20t date you can plant tomatoes and peppers if you cover them at night.

    One of the main reasons I love to get my hands dirty in the garden is because of the wealth of knowledge others share with those just starting their first flower and vegetable garden.

    Here are a few that have been shared with me:

    • Soak seeds 2 hours in 1 quart of water with a teaspoon of peroxide.

    • Scatter rabbit food (alfalfa pellets) in your garden for nitrogen and phosphorus.

    • Spray leaves with warm water and Epsom salts.

    • Place a teaspoon of Epsom salts in a glass of water and pour around pepper and tomato plants.

    • Plant bush beans far apart to let air movement around each plant.

    • Plant bush beans close together for support.

    • Place tea bags around onion plants to keep away root maggots.

    • Plant dill around squash hill to keep away squash bugs.

    Tomato tips

    • Don’t plant early.

    • Do not smoke or handle tobacco before handling plants

    • Do not buy leggy plants that have flowers because the plants may remain stunted.

    • Tomatoes need wind movement for fruit production.

    • Blossom end rot can be prevented by abundant soil calcium and an even supply of water.

    • Abundant soil phosphorus for early and high yields.

    • Tomatoes can use shade during the heat of the day

    • Determinate Plants: bush plant does not need pruned, fruit ripens within a concentrated time.

    • Indeterminate Plants: climbing, needs cage, pruned, fruit ripens over an extended time.


    • Do not plant where you grew tomatoes or potatoes the year before.

    • Heavy users of phosphorus and calcium

    • Well drained soil

    • Full sun

    • Big bushy plants with few peppers means to much nitrogen.

    • Do not buy tall plants that have flowers because the plants may remain stunted.

    • For tomatoes and peppers, do not get the leaves or fruit wet.

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    Tim’s Tips: Choose soil carefully for garden beds

    April 10, 2013

    Tim’s Tips: Choose soil carefully for garden beds

    Tim’s Tips

    Tim Lamprey
    The Daily News of Newburyport

    Wed Apr 10, 2013, 03:00 AM EDT

    The temperatures keep bouncing up and down, which makes it hard to figure out what you can be doing in the garden and in your yard. Let me take a few moments to fill you in on what you can be doing now.

    Hopefully by now, the snow has melted in your vegetable garden. The vast majority of your vegetables will benefit from an application of lime in the soil prior to planting. Yes, you can add the lime after you have planted your early vegetables. Most vegetables will benefit from some compost added to the soil. This can be done when you turn over the soil prior to planting.

    You should also add some organic fertilizer to the soil prior to planting. The fertilizer will slowly release its nutrients and feed the growth of new roots into the soil.

    If you haven’t set up a vegetable garden and you have been thinking about putting in some raised beds, now would be a good time to do so. There are many companies that make raised bed kits for constructing your garden. One of the problems that I have noticed is that the kits are more flimsy each year.

    We have carried a line of raised beds for a number of years. A company called Frame It All makes beds using re-enforced plastic timbers. There are two rows of reinforcement running the length of the timbers. This reinforcement prevents the beds from bowing out when you add the soil. If your timbers bow out in your raised beds, the soil will fall out the sides and you will soon have a mess on your hands.

    Once you have the beds in place, don’t skimp on the soil. I have heard all the horror stories of people buying poor quality soil to fill the beds. The soil eventually packs down and turns into a poor growing medium for your plants. The result is a poor harvest of vegetables.

    The yields that we get from the soil are fantastic. Remember, once you fill those raised beds, you are going to be using that soil for years to come. Start off with good quality soil and you will be able to successfully grow vegetable in your raised beds.

    If you haven’t started to remove the winter mulch from your perennial beds and from around your rose bushes, now is the time to do so. The soil is warming up and your plants will begin to awaken from their winter nap. Once the mulch is removed, you should add some lime to the soil if you did not do so in the fall. An application of organic fertilizer will get the plants to begin to grow again.

    Speaking of rose bushes, you should be pruning out any dead branches that didn’t make it through the winter. You can also prune back your butterfly bushes and the Rose of Sharon. Your spring flowering shrubs should be pruned back after they are done flowering.

    Your blueberry bushes, grape vines, strawberry plants and raspberry bushes will benefit from an application of organic fertilizer.

    Well, that should keep you busy this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

    Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.

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    Time saving garden tips

    SOME days there’s just not enough time to get everything done let alone keep everyone happy and on those days the garden takes last place on the to-do list.

    To help anyone else who has my sort of time crunch, here are a few of my tips and tricks designed for the out-of-time gardener.

    Tip 1: Weeding has to be the least enjoyable and most time consuming task in garden maintenance. To avoid weeding I keep all of the soil in the garden mulched year-round. I even mulch my containers to avoid having to weed them which also help to prevent drought stress. I use wood chips for mulching which I obtain from my friendly neighbourhood arborist.

    When wood chips are unavailable, I use leaves from my own trees or those found during fall in the nearby city park. The trick is to make sure that every last inch of earth is covered with a thick layer of mulch so weed seeds cannot germinate.

    Tip 2: Lawn cutting for some people is a form of therapy. For me lawn cutting is work. So I have eliminated the time most people spend cutting lawn down to zero. How? I killed all of the lawn in the front yard and installed planting beds interwoven with a bluestone patio and walkway. In the backyard, there’s a small patch of lawn that I refuse to cut, so my wife cuts it. The trick is to change the design of the garden to a less labour intensive style and if that does not work, then delegate.

    Tip 3: I like growing veggies but much of my garden is dedicated to hardy ornamentals, so I grow veggies in containers. Veggies grown in pots take half the time to plant and maintain because there are no veggie planting beds to maintain. I can also change my veggie selections each year and move them around the yard as desired. Yes I do need to obtain or grow new soil for my veggie pots each year but that is what compost piles are for. When planting veggies in pots, bigger and deeper pots are best to provide a deep, cool root run. A pot the size of a washing machine is ideal but hard to find. Try upcycling or repurposing a pot from some other sort of container. One tip for planting pots, do not add shreds of foam, broken pots or any other manner of shrapnel to the bottom of the pot for drainage. Adding shrapnel to the bottom of the pot is a myth and those pieces simply perch the water table higher and deny plants the full depth of soil.

    Tip 4: Solving pest or disease problems can be difficult, time consuming and often the problem persists from year to year. Some plants are important and worth fighting for, some are not. To avoid pest and disease problems I use the following pest and disease strategies: Firstly, avoid the use of chemical fertilizer because it forces soft lush growth that predisposes plant to pest and disease attack.

    Secondly, choose the right plant for the right place, not the right plant for the place I want it to grow. Thirdly, plants that have a chronic pest and disease problem are ruthlessly ripped out and thrown into the compost or green waste bin. A case in point, I recently found that thrips were overwintering on my hellebores. Thrips are tough, persistent and cannot be killed in one year by any means. So I dug out all of my hellebores and tossed them in the green waste bin. The tip: a good gardener knows how to kill plants as well as he or she grows plants.

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    Lawn and garden tips from ExxonMobil and Monsanto

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    Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 02:50 PM PDT

    Lawn and garden tips from ExxonMobil and Monsanto

    by BrianMcFaddenFollow for Comics

    click to enlarge.

    Originally posted to Comics on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 02:50 PM PDT.

    Also republished by

    Daily Kos.



    •  If Exxon starts taking tips from Monsanto

      (4+ / 0-)

      they’ll be suing the homeowners for using the oil without permission as well as trying to put some aside for future seasons without having to buy new oil every 3 months/6000 miles.  Homeowners will have to sue if they want Exxon’s filth to stop invading their yards and even then Exxon will simply claim it’s a natural process (or whatever allows Monsanto to have its genetically modified spores infect non-Monsanto crops and yet the farmers get to pay Monsanto for having their own crops infested).  These really are two of the most evil corporations…

      by ColoTim on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 03:07:30 PM PDT

    •  Just Two more TBTF?

      (0+ / 0-)

      I think not.  Make these petulant children clean up all of their do-do and fix all of their toys.

      There’s never any cops or the DOJ around when you need them (ahem).

      by OHBRAD on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 03:37:23 PM PDT

    •  Courtesy Fight Club:

      (0+ / 0-)

      by wheresjim on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 03:59:03 PM PDT

    •  It will be interesting to find out how

      (1+ / 0-)

      Exxon slithers out of responsibility for the millions of dollars worth of damage done to the Arkansas community they have destroyed.  No way the families will ever be able to live in their homes again or recoup the lives they planned.

      The company’s restitution to the homeowners, the EPA fine(s), the medical bills likely to be incurred including any long-term health effects, should be a real punch in the gut to the world’s most profitable company, and there shouldn’t be any delay.  

      Just to punish them for their laissez-faire attitude toward their industry’s regulations, ignoring previous warnings about this particular pipeline, and their belief that they can delay and just put off for long enough their day of legal judgment, affected people will become desperate enough that they will settle for a fraction of the damages they’re due.  Justice delayed is justice denied.

      “In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.” – H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 04:26:32 PM PDT


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