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Archives for May 1, 2013

The Rotary Club of Maple Valley Helps to Welcome a Special Family to …

President of Homes For Our Troops

President of Homes For Our Troops

Left to Right, Kirk Lantier, Sean Henderson, Ammon Lang, Kiri Lang, Sandra Hixson-Matthews, and Timothy McHale, President of Homes For Our Troops

Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 10:38 am

Updated: 10:40 am, Tue Apr 30, 2013.

The Rotary Club of Maple Valley Helps to Welcome a Special Family to Washington State

By Sandra Hixson-Matthews


Incoming president, Sean Henderson and past president Kirk Lantier were among those who helped to welcome a young family to the state of Washington on Saturday, April 27th in Port Angeles. Marine Cpl Ammon Lang, his wife Kiri and their two young sons will be moving to our state as soon as their special home is completed. The home is special because it will be a single story specially adapted home built for the Langs with features designed to meet Ammon’s specific needs. Cpl Lang has specific needs due to injuries he suffered while serving in Afghanistan on June 11, 2011 when he stepped on an undetected IED, resulting in the traumatic amputation of his left leg above the knee and the eventual surgical amputation of his right leg below the knee.

What does this have to do with Maple Valley Rotary you ask. Well, for that we need to go back about a year. Maple Valley Rotary holds an annual action in the late fall. The proceeds of this auction are what fund most of the works of the club throughout the year. There is a special auction item every year which we call the “Fund a Need”. The fund a need item is carefully chosen and presented during the live auction as a paddle item, meaning that attendees simply raise their bidding paddles to donate funds designated specifically for that item. The incoming president is always the auction chair and when Sean Henderson asked members for ideas for his fund a need, Rotarian Storm McNeil, himself a retired Marine, reached out to three agencies who had programs to help our wounded veterans. He connected with an agency called Homes for Our Troops who work with donors, sponsors, and volunteers to build special homes for veterans who return home with severe, life changing injuries received in the line of duty. When Storm got Jennifer Reed of Homes for Our Troops on the phone and explained that Maple Valley Rotary was looking for a project to support, her response was that they had just identified a soldier for the next house and that he had just chosen Washington state. When he took the recommendation back to the auction committee, it was immediately approved and thanks to our generous donors, we raised $22,950.00 specifically for the outfitting of the kitchen in the home. Maple Valley Rotary was the first financial donor to the project. In addition to the fund a need proceeds, Ken and Cheryl Dunham are donating the sheet rock and installation for the home, Malone’s nursery are donating the landscaping, and Sam and Shelley Emmons are donating a play system for the yard.

Yesterday was the ground breaking ceremony in Port Angeles where the home will be built. Each of these homes cost approximately $400,000.00 so the fund raising to finish is not complete. If you would like to donate dollars or in-kind items, please contact me at and I will put you in touch with the right people. Maple Valley Rotary can accept donations earmarked for this or any other project by simply stating where you want your donation to go. You can also find out more about this project at

The fund a need item has been identified for our upcoming auction on October 19th. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend, and stay tuned for more information.

© 2013 VOICE of the Valley Online News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013 10:38 am.

Updated: 10:40 am.

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Advice for eager spring gardeners

Larger view

As the weather finally starts to warm up, gardeners in Minnesota may be eager to get their hands in the dirt.

The waiting may be the hardest part. “Across the country, commercial vegetable growers and home gardeners are trying to gauge the impact of a cold, wet spring, balancing the itch to plant with the knowledge that flirting with spring’s whims can bring heartache,” according to NPR.

But it does no harm to daydream and gather ideas until it warms up for good. The Good Earth Garden Center in Little Rock offers advice about what to consider before planting; optimum maintenance; how to pick plants; and these five landscaping tips:

• Create focal points near your front entrance.

• For visual interest, vary the colors and textures of landscape plants.

• Have pockets of annual or perennial color. A few large areas of color stand out better than many small areas.

• Avoid the runway effect created by putting plants in straight rows (unless you have a formal landscape).


10 Tips for Spring Gardening on the Cheap

“If you’re as eager for gardening season as me, and equally conscious of your budget, these 10 garden money savers will lift the pressure off your wallet.” (

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Eat Your Yard – A Magical Idea

I bumped in to Nan Chase at the Blue Ridge Book Festival last May. The Asheville author was discussing her book, Eat Your Yard.

Riding the crest of the Eat Local movement, she has produced an attractive, helpful book to help backyard farmers. But instead of ripping out the sod to grow squash and beans, Nan takes an aesthetic approach—mix food-producing plants into the landscape.

Like most all good ideas, this isn’t a new one. Back in 1962, my parents had the good fortune to buy a house built by Mr. Hayes, a “master gardener” before his time. Inside of three short years, he had turned a flood-prone corner lot into an attractive living space with a small ranch house and remarkable landscaping. He began with good quality dirt and fertilizer, then added an array of interesting trees and shrubs. The finishing touches were an array of amazing flowers and edibles.

That first year we enjoyed a bounty of tomatoes staked among the peonies, mint in the shade of the back porch, sage near the carport, and a plank fence loaded with gourd vines for fall decorating.

The following spring brought strawberries from the patch that hugged some old-fashioned yellow roses. Along the fence came shoots of asparagus spears and rhubarb which my mother proceeded to harvest and cook to death. We kids, of course, hated the soupy results.

Mom, who preferred house plants to landscaping, eventually let the asparagus and rhubarb succumb to neglect. Un-pruned rose canes choked out the strawberries. The mint and sage were regularly assaulted by the lawn mower. And of course we never bothered to plant more tomatoes. Within a few years, Mr. Hayes’ Garden of Eden had gone to seed and ruin.

But over the years I haven’t forgotten what he started and how magical it was to have a yard with food tucked around every corner. Recently, I tried sweetening our heavy clay soil with lime and mixing in sand for a “well-drained” asparagus bed. That effort brings a few stalks to the spring table, but I do have a healthy stand of rhubarb, sage, chives and rosemary. My small raised bed produces spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and… well, you get the idea. I’m pretending it’s 1962 all over again.

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Money Available for Water-Friendly Landscaping Projects

As property owners make plans for their gardens and landscaping this spring, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) is offering a helping hand. The MCWD Cost Share program is offering grants to those who want to help protect clean water by installing raingardens, shoreline or streambank plantings, pervious concrete driveways or other stormwater best management practices (BMPs).

Grants are available to any public or private property located within the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, including residential homes, apartments, businesses, schools or cities. The deadline for most residential projects is May 31.

Polluted stormwater runoff is the biggest threat to water quality across the state and nation. In a natural environment, most rainwater soaks into the ground or is captured by trees or other plants.  

But in developed areas, rainwater runs off roads, parking lots and rooftops and carries dirt, fertilizer, pesticides and other harmful material into lakes, streams and wetlands. The poor water quality that results affects recreation, fish and wildlife, and reduces property values.

“In a sense all landowners have waterfront property, even if they don’t live on a water body,” said Joe Barten, MCWD Cost Share Specialist. “You can do your part to prevent polluted rainwater from entering local lakes and streams. We’re hoping these grants are an incentive to take action.”

The MCWD’s Cost Share programs help property owners make improvements that prevent runoff from occurring. Raingardens are bowl-shaped gardens that collect rainwater and infiltrate it into the ground. Because they typically involve native plants, they require minimal maintenance and beautify the landscape. Pervious pavement allows rainwater to pass through the material and into a drainage system below.

Native shoreline/streambank plantings filter and absorb polluted runoff, prevent erosion by anchoring the soil, deter geese and enhance your yard’s appearance.

The grants can pay for up to 50 percent of these projects, with certain funding limits.

To learn more about the options or to apply for a grant, visit or contact MCWD Cost Share Specialist Joe Barten at 952-641-4523 or

Headquartered in Deephaven, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District covers approximately 181 square miles, including Minnehaha Creek, Lake Minnetonka, the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes and Minnehaha Falls.

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Conserve water when gardening, landscaping

Spring is finally underway. For many in New Jersey, this means the start of new gardening, lawn and landscaping plans. The spring planting season also coincides with the beginning of the area’s months of peak water demand.

In the height of summer, water usage in Monmouth County alone reaches 80 million gallons a day or more in the peak demand periods. Much of this increase comes from outdoor water usage in the summer months.

The demand for water in Monmouth County has been steadily increasing over the last 100 years, yet the current water supply in New Jersey has been essentially the same for decades.

Consumers can take steps early in the season to save both water and money on their water bills before the peak months are in full swing. According to Rutgers Cooperative Extension, using smart irrigation and landscaping practices, home and property owners can decrease their outdoor water usage and help conserve the water supply.

Keep in mind that it’s not necessary to water the lawn every day. Watering just two or three times per week for about 45 minutes per area allows the soil to absorb the water and encourages deep root growth, which makes lawns more drought-tolerant. An easy way to check if the lawn needs water? Just step on the lawn. If the grass springs back, it doesn’t need water. Make sure to water lawns and gardens early in the morning before the heat of the day starts.

Homeowners and other property owners with sprinkler or irrigation systems can adopt a number of practices to not only conserve water, but use it more efficiently.

At the beginning of spring, have your irrigation system inspected and tested. Check piping for leaks, breaks or collapsed lines. Sprinkler heads should be operating correctly and adjusted properly so that the correct areas are watered. Make sure sprinklers aren’t aimed at driveways, streets or other paved areas.

Another good idea is to adopt an odd/even watering schedule that corresponds to your street address. To conserve even more water, skip watering on the 31st of the month and on July 4, which is considered the peak water-demand period of the year.

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Conserve water when gardening & landscaping

Spring is finally under way and for many people in New Jersey this means the start of new gardening, lawn and landscaping plans. The spring planting season also coincides with the beginning of the area’s months of peak water demand.

In the height of summer, water usage in Monmouth County alone reaches 80 million gallons a day or more in the peak demand periods. Much of this increase comes from outdoor water usage in the summer months.

The demand for water in Monmouth County has been steadily increasing over the last 100 years, yet the current water supply in New Jersey has been essentially the same for decades.

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Garden Clubs Contribute to MFA Art in Bloom

Get Daily discounts and offers on sporting events, plays, concerts, museums and other events around town

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Top tips for avoiding injury and strain while gardening

(BPT) – Fresh packets of seeds, the dirt between your fingers, and the smell of freshly churned earth – gardening season has officially begun. Whether you’re a seasoned green thumb or a newbie to home planting, gardening is a great activity that provides both physical and mental health benefits.

Enthusiasm for gardening is high. Nearly half (49 percent) of American homeowners have gardened in the last 12 months, or 164 million people, as stated in a 2012 report on

In addition to burning calories while enjoying the peacefulness of Mother Nature, gardening also rewards you with fresh fruits and vegetables that help cut your grocery bill. But one unwelcome part of taking up gardening as a hobby is the potential for strain and injury.

To get the most out of your time gardening, consider these tips for avoiding physical discomfort:

1. Start with a few stretches

You wouldn’t go for a jog or attend a workout class without warming up, so why would you garden without taking a few moments to stretch first? Before grabbing your tools and heading to your yard, spend five or 10 minutes doing stretches focusing on your arms, legs, back and neck. You’ll be moving and turning a lot, so be sure to stretch and loosen muscles to avoid strain when you’re out tending your garden.

2. Avoid bending and lifting the wrong way

Chronic back pain is an issue for many Americans both young and old. Just because you have back issues doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy gardening. Consider installing raised garden beds, which allow you to garden without having to bend over. Additionally, container gardens can be placed on tables or deck railings for easy access. If you don’t suffer from back pain, avoid back injury by bending and lifting the right way. Remember to maintain good posture, minimize quick twisting motions, bend at the hips and knees only, lift items in a slow and controlled manner, and enlist help if necessary.

3. Protect hands and wrists

Gardening can be physically demanding, and the repetitive motions of weeding, hoeing, raking or shoveling can be problematic for the hands and wrists, particularly if you suffer from arthritis. Minimize irritation by wearing a supportive glove, like Imak arthritis gloves, commended by the Arthritis Foundation for Ease-of-Use. These specially designed gloves provide mild compression that helps increase circulation, which ultimately reduces pain and promotes healing. Washable and made from breathable cotton, the gloves are great for the garden enthusiast. Plus the extra protection helps gardeners avoid painful blisters.

4. Protect the skin from the sun

One of the best parts of gardening is you get to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, but that can mean extended time in the sun so it’s important to protect your skin. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and light cotton clothing that covers exposed skin are good first steps. Always apply a water-resistant, broad-spectrum lotion that is SPF 30 or higher at least 15 minutes prior to going outside, as recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.

These simple tips will help position you for a full season of gardening delights. Without injury or other physical irritations, you’ll be able to savor the fruits of your labor in the beauty of the warm weather.

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Tips to prevent back pain when gardening – Femalefirst

30 April 2013

Now that winter is over, it’s time to get back out in the garden to prepare for another growing season. There is a lot of heavy work to be done at this time though, from a general tidy up after a few months of neglect to digging the borders or vegetable patch.

After a winter away from our gardening tasks, this is the time we subject ourselves to sudden bursts of strenuous activity and really put our backs at risk. It’s not a good idea to have serious bouts of digging or sweeping after long periods of inactivity or sedentary living, without first preparing our bodies for the tasks ahead.

These periods of heavy activity often entail poor posture with repetitive lifting, carrying, and twisting can easily lead to acute lower back pain, as a result of our backs not being used to or prepared for this sudden activity.

If we don’t prepare, then we are risking lower back pain and that déjà vu moment from last year of “My back is really hurting – I think I’ve overdone it in the garden”! We are now regretting those levels of enthusiasm and seeking back pain relief. Isn’t hindsight great?

If you have overdone things and you are now seeking back pain relief then go to Gardening back pain relief.

If you are reading this before you get out in the garden, then here’s a few tips to avoid gardening back pain that you might wish to consider before getting those gloves on.

Tips to prevent gardening back pain

Warm up
Do some simple stretching exercises to limber up before getting busy or take a short walk simply to loosen up those joints ready for the task ahead.

Pace yourself
Don’t try to do it all in one session, the key to avoiding back pain is to take regular breaks from digging or raking, and maybe vary your tasks to reduce the duration of repetitive movement. For example follow 30 minutes of digging with say some pruning.

Make sure you dig in front of you, level and parallel with your hips, use your foot to push the shovel into the soil, and lean into it from above so you are pushing down rather than out in front of you. Try to bend from the knees when lifting the soil, rather than your back. Make sure you take plenty of breaks to avoid back pain.

Try to maintain a straight back and pull your rake towards your body than to one side to reduce twisting forces on your back.

Decking treatments
Bending down to apply brush on treatments is guaranteed to cause low back pain. Invest in a proper decking roller (much quicker), or use a kneeling pad and try to brush in front of you rather than to one side.

Again use a kneeling pad and avoid bending down if you want avoid back pain. Dont continually do this, stand up, take a break, and do some back stretches.

If you are potting then try to do this on a work top or surface at a comfortable height and be aware that wet compost is heavy so try to ensure that you don’t have to move full pots or containers very far.

Again you may cause back pain if you are moving heavy weights such as a full pot or container over a distance. Be sure to use a wheel barrow.

Make sure you take on plenty of water, especially if it’s warm

The golden rule: If you want to avoid gardening back pain….then Don’t Overdo It!

by Taryn Davies
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Midday Fix: Spring garden tips from Lurie Garden

The Lurie Garden Spring Festival and Plant Sale
Saturday, May 11
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
The Lurie Garden in Millennium Park

Spring Garden Tips

Replace some annuals with perennials.

Attract wildlife to your garden by choosing plants that provide nectar and pollen to attract and feed wildlife, like Calamint.

Plant grasses for fall and winter interest.

Space perennials about 15 to 20 inches apart.

Do not plant deep!

Avoid hardwood mulch or use with perennials; opt for leaf mulch or natural clippings

Don’t over-fertilize. Only fertilize if plant is showing signs of nutrient deficiencies.

Water between late evening and early morning, use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to direct water to roots where moisture is needed.

Check plants weekly to control pest and disease issues.

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