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Archives for August 16, 2013

Festival fun abounds in Lower Burrell, New Kensington – Tribune

If you go

What: Rock the Block Party

When: Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: JFK Playground, beside city hall, 11th Street, New Kensington

What: Kinloch Day

When: Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Kinloch Fireman’s Playground, beside Kinloch firehall, New York Avenue, Lower Burrell

Daily Photo Galleries

Thursday – August 15, 2013

Wednesday – August 14, 2013

Tuesday – August 13, 2013

By Liz Hayes

Published: Friday, August 16, 2013, 1:46 a.m.

Updated 4 hours ago

Children in Lower Burrell and New Kensington have something to do this Saturday thanks to the grassroots efforts of two revitalization-minded community groups.

New festivals will be making their debuts at the Kinloch Fireman’s Park in Lower Burrell and the JFK Playground in New Kensington.

Both start at noon Saturday.

Kinloch Day is the culmination of a summer effort to restore the playground off New York Avenue. The small parklet was threatened with closure because it had fallen into disrepair and disuse, but a group of neighborhood residents intervened to restore it.

A lot of donations and elbow grease have resulted in a new or repaired pavilion, playground equipment, and landscaping.

Melanie Nanni, one of the residents spearheading the Kinloch Unites effort along with Alison Conway, said they wanted to celebrate their success and maintain the momentum they’ve created.

“I think everyone has realized it’s not just about the park, it’s the community,â€� Nanni said.

Nanni said the park has given children somewhere to play through the summer.

“We have gone from not being able to get anybody at that park, to at least eight kids being down there everyday,� she said. “It really has revitalized these kids.

“We thought, ‘We need to celebrate this,’ â€� Nanni said. “Alison came up with the idea of doing the festival.â€�

The event will include a variety of activities geared primarily for children, including a presentation by John Lege, “That Guy with the Birds�; a bounce house, pony rides, magician Nick Gentry, and Monsterz marble creator Chad Parker.

Nanni said there also will be things to interest adults, including bingo, raffles, a pie-eating contest and oil changes.

“Hopefully there will be a lot of stuff to keep people’s attention,â€� Nanni said.

Nanni said the Kinloch Unites group has more plans in store for the playground. Ideas include a community garden, a free lunch program and activities during winter snow days when students don’t have school.

New Kensington festival

The Rock the Block party at JFK Playground grew out of a Facebook post, said Troy Owen, a New Kensington resident who runs the city’s Liberty Tax Service branch.

Owen said someone posted a “remember when� comment on the social-networking site, which blossomed into a discussion of childhood memories growing up in New Kensington and Arnold in the 1980s and ‘90s.

People also lamented that some of the community events and spirit they appreciated as children seemed to be lacking. That sparked Owen and several others to step in.

“Maybe nobody’s done anything because we’re the adults now and it’s on us to do this,â€� said Owen.

The block party will include an “Old School� talent showcase, in which participants are encouraged to incorporate ‘80s and ‘90s pop culture into their acts.

The talent show will be followed by the Chris Miller 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, named in memory of the Valley High School graduate and basketball standout who was shot to death in an Arnold alley in 2004.

Owen said they also will be raising money through T-shirt sales and other activities for a scholarship in Miller’s honor.

Folks also will be on hand to raise money for the Maiyanna Foundation, which benefits Maiyanna Clemons-McCarthy, 3, of Penn Hills, who was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive type of tumor in her brain stem. She is the daughter of Valley graduate Mycah Clemons.

Other activities will include games, clowns, food vendors, music and other children’s activities.

“We’re hoping for a pretty significant turnout,â€� Owen said.

Although they had begun planning the event before the city’s annual Independence Day block party and fireworks were canceled, Owen said they hope it serve as an alternate summer party for residents.

“We’re looking to have a really good time,â€� he said.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or

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Lots of ideas for re-creating recreation in Osterville





GETTING CONSENSUS – One of the four groups of residents at a design workshop July 12 on the Osterville Bay Fields vote on their preferences for improvements. Community Services Director Lynne Poyant, at back, led the group’s discussion.

About 40 Osterville residents shared plenty of ideas for improvements they would like to see at the Osterville Bay Fields during a design workshop Aug. 12.

The town’s Community Services Department and the Osterville Village Association sponsored the session that brought in three landscape architects from the project consulting firm of Vanasse, Hangen, Brustlin Inc. The architects, Jeff Basser, Kathleen Ogden and Nia Rogers, along with Community Services Director Lynne Poyant, led four roundtable group discussions centered around maps of the outdated, rundown 4-acre park-playground near the village center.

The participants were encouraged to use plastic overlay pieces shaped as playing fields and courts and other elements to help them envision how the park might look.

The architects first described their observations of the site and areas that might need upgrading. Basser, a project manager, stressed that they had “no preconceived plan,” but asked the participants to consider such factors as handicap access and whether the community building should stay or not.

 “We’re not touching the school,” he said. “The community building could go away.” Some residents have pushed for various uses for the former Osterville Bay school building, but those were not discussed Monday.

Many of the groups’ suggestions for uses were similar, which were summarized at the end of the two-hour workshop. All groups wanted to keep the playground, the tennis and basketball courts and the ballfields, but perhaps convert some for multiple uses, such as soccer and lacrosse on the field and tennis and street hockey on the courts. A field for Little League baseball also was brought up.

 Suggested new uses included a band shell, a combined walking and biking path (for small children) through the park, a spray pool or splash pad, fitness stations, barbecue grills and picnic area, volleyball or badminton courts and public bathrooms.

 The groups were split on keeping the community building. Poyant’s took votes on all the proposals and were unanimous on most, but split 50-50 on the community center. Another group suggested new uses for the center building, such as a youth center and indoor courts and even a coffee bar.

Kathy Pina of the recreation commission was adamant that there should be more emphasis on the young people. “What do we have for the kids? Nothing,” she said. “It’s time to start thinking about the kids, not just the adults. What it was before, it needs to be today.” Most participants agreed that the park should have facilities for all ages – from toddlers to adults.

Some groups discussed native landscaping and fencing all around the park. Someone suggested signage to tie the park into the downtown area. The limited parking was discussed and one idea was shared parking with nearby Our Lady of the Assumption Church, where the meeting was held. Others brought up lack of visibility of the playground and problems with litter.

One thing all agreed on was the “fields,” as they are called, are in need of refurbishing.

Community Preservation funds might be employed. Community Preservation Committee chairman Lindsey Counsell said one requirement of the CPC is that approved projects must be maintained. Money would be put in the capital program for things such as trash pickup, he said. A maintenance budget will be part of the final proposal, the architects said.

Recreation Commissioner Joe O’Brien made the group aware of the high cost of demolishing the community center, but he said it might be worth it to allow other uses.

The next community session will be Monday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m., and may be moved to the village library for more room. At that meeting, the architects will have four alternative plans to share and get more input from the residents. A third meeting is scheduled for Sept. 9 and a final one for Sept. 23.

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Colorado Springs committees to study improvements to South Academy, North …

South Academy Boulevard and North Nevada Avenue in Colorado Springs are separated by a distance of roughly five miles as the crow flies, but are inextricably linked because of community concerns over the future of the corridors.

South and Central Academy – once prime shopping districts – have seen several retail losses over the years as stores and restaurants bolted to newer parts of town. In 2011, a city study concluded that hulking power lines should be buried along a six-mile stretch south of Maizeland Road, and recommended pedestrian and bicycle pathways, landscaping and many other improvements.

Nevada, north of Garden of the Gods Road, was declared an urban renewal site in 2004, and much of its west side was transformed from a cluster of dingy motels and cluttered businesses into the University Village Colorado shopping center. The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs also is making improvements along Nevada’s east side – such as the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences now under construction – and envisions others.

Now, city officials and community leaders are again gearing up to study the two corridors with the goal of producing substantive plans to revitalize South and Central Academy, while adding to the progress on Nevada and leveraging the growth plans of UCCS.

The goal: “Create more viable parts of the community,” said Springs developer Fred Veitch. “In both cases, they (South Academy and North Nevada) have, until recently, been in decline. Both need to be addressed, and proactively.”

Like other city and civic leaders before him, Springs Mayor Steve Bach has targeted three areas – downtown, North Nevada and South Academy – as so-called economic opportunity zones. The idea is to determine their highest and best land uses, while identifying jobs-generating strategies for the areas, among other goals.

Veitch said Bach asked him several weeks ago to head a task force to study the areas. Since downtown already has the Downtown Partnership and other advocacy groups, Veitch said the task force is focusing on South Academy and North Nevada.

Two committees composed of volunteers from the business community and civic organizations, city planners and Colorado Springs Utilities, among others, have been created to focus on each corridor. The panels held their first meetings this week and will meet regularly, Veitch said.

The Nevada committee is being chaired by City Councilman Don Knight and Rob Oldach, chief operating officer at Colorado Springs-based CSI Construction. The South Academy panel is being chaired by Councilman Merv Bennett and Tiffany Colvert, a broker associate with NAI Highland Commercial Group.

One of their first tasks: Establish boundaries for the areas along Academy and Nevada that will be studied. From there, the committees will begin identifying issues central to each corridor.

While Nevada already has been designated as an urban renewal site, the committee’s work is intended as a broader initiative to create a long-term vision for the area that creates synergy with UCCS’ plans, Veitch said.

South Academy will be a bigger challenge, he conceded. The area lacks an anchor, and caters to a diverse mix of neighborhoods. In order to be successful, the committee must reach out to ethnic groups and other residents along the corridor to gain their input, Veitch said.

Each committee will develop a strategic action plan with specific recommendations to improve each area, Veitch said.

He said he hopes that projects will be identified and work started by 2015. Costs associated with any improvements – and how they’d be funded – are unknowns at this time, he added.

Any recommendations must be sharply focused “and not just a white paper that says ‘this is an opportunity’,” Veitch said.

“He’s (Bach) talked about jobs and job creation and economic vitality,” Veitch said. “I think this is an attempt to reach out and say ‘what does that mean?’ And here are areas of town that I think are opportunities to do something and create something that actually does it and not just put a pretty plan together.

“What can we create that the community wants to see, that the community supports and leverages our assets to make this a better place to live and work?”

Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228 Twitter @richladen

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How to create a rock garden

Live somewhere dry? Want to save water? Just want to mix it up a little in the garden? Have you considered installing a rock garden? Rock gardens can make great DIY projects to spruce the garden up whether you want to change the look and feel or prepare your home for sale and give it a fresher look to appeal to potential buyers.

Let’s get one thing straight: rock gardens are far from boring, contrary to popular belief. They can include a variety of plants and design elements including rocks of different colors, shapes, and sizes, along with garden art. Rock gardens pair beautifully with fish ponds, bird baths, stone and ceramic planters, and similar garden features, and they can make a fantastic transition from the deck or patio to the larger garden, or between parts of a garden. They’re also perfect for gardening on slopes, because they tend to take well to terracing and other vertical landscaping tricks.

From large to small, rock gardens obviously revolve around the inclusion of a rock underlayer, using porous rocks that hold water well while allowing it to drain. In addition, the rocks create part of the landscaping, serving as their own garden features in the midst of plants that can include succulents, trailing or creeping groundcover, upright flowers, and low shrubs. One of the big advantages to a rock garden is the low maintenance: the underlayer helps to keep weeds down, and the garden should only need watering about once a week because the rocks will help hold water.

Not only that, but covering an area that’s difficult to mow and maintain with a rock garden will make your life a lot easier. Plus, it can help your garden look better and it can provide a fantastic transitional space with a gazebo or another central feature to appeal to visitors. It’s a win-win for everyone, including the plants.

You’ll need to start by establishing the base layer of the rock garden, which should include a mound starting with sand and pebbles for drainage, with soil over it. You can sculpt the mound however you want to add texture and visual interest, but remember that you will need to reinforce the sides to prevent collapses, and if you plan to add one or more terraces or raised areas, those will need to be supported too. You can use concrete masonry units, bricks, and rocks for reinforcement, although particularly high mounds will need higher concrete retaining walls.

Once your base is established, you can start to lay out your rocks. This isn’t a haphazard endeavor; placement is very important since the rocks make up such an important part of the look and feel of your garden. You should start with the largest first, because they’ll be the focal visual points. Get creative about placement and then start working with smaller and smaller rocks along with pavers and accent pieces to get the finished look you want.

You have a lot of potential sources for rocks. Many nurseries and garden stores sell them, as do hardware and home supply stores. One potential source for low-cost or even free rocks is a masonry company, which may have offcuts, discards, and excess that they sell to the public. You can also collect them, but be aware that there are sometimes legal limitations on collecting rocks from the natural environment. You may not be permitted to take rocks and other items from state parks, for example, and there may be a daily limit on how many you can take from other areas in the interest of protecting natural resources.

Now it’s time to plant! For serious xeriscaping, otherwise known as low-water gardening, few things are better than succulents. These hardy plants thrive in low water environments and they look great, putting out flowers in addition to lush leaves in a variety of colors. Consider hitting a specialty succulent garden to check out your options, because they will have a range of beautiful plants you can purchase including trailing, upright, and bedding varieties.

You don’t need to stop there, though. Most rock gardens are landscaped with small, understated plants that interact with the rocks and allow them to shine, instead of overpowering them visually. You can use annuals and perennials in a range of colors that bed, creep, or grow upright, and consider planting bulbs for more visual interest. When they pop up in the spring, they can help relieve the dull look of the garden in winter.

Evergreen plants are another great choice for a rock garden. You don’t have to use them across the whole garden, but as accent pieces, they can ensure that there’s always an interplay of rocks and fresh greenery throughout the year.

Consider the best balance of plant types, colors, and styles for you. While you’re planting, make sure to group plants with similar water and sun needs together so they’ll stay healthy. Once established, your rock garden should thrive on a weekly watering in the warm months, biannual fertilizer, and periodic weeding and trimming to keep your plants looking neat.

Katie Marks is a writer for Plumbing Networx. This article originally appeared at


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Landscaping Made Easy with the Best Gardening Materials

Fujian, China — (SBWIRE) — 08/15/2013 — Green Roofs have become extremely popular over the years. A green roofing system helps in covering the roof of the building partially or completely with vegetation, grass or various other small plants. A good roofing system offers a waterproofing membrane with additional layers like the roof barriers, irrigation and drainage systems. These are also known as living roofs which actually are beneficial in absorbing rainwater, lowering the air temperature, combating heat, providing insulation and many more.

At Greening Solution customers can find a variety of Gardening Materials and Green Roof Systems that they can use for landscaping backyards, rooftops, for usage in parking lots, tunnels and all other exteriors where they feel greenery can be incorporated. There are plastic grass pavers for making the parking lots stronger, greener and durable. These grass paving grids are made up of HDPE which is the high molecular polyethylene material with features such as fiber and age resistor. These plastic grass pavers are mostly used in various pavements and are usually seen as the green grass protection mats.

There are various grass reinforcement products such as the gravel grids which best Plastic Grass Pavers suit the high traffic areas such as parking lots, driveways, cycling or pedestrian trails, camping sites, home gardens, etc. The ground reinforcement products such as the driveway grass pavers are also used in heavy traffic areas. These pavers bring out a great pattern of green layers on the ground. The site provides useful information on how each of the grass reinforcement and ground reinforcement products should be installed. Outdoor spaces would look extremely impressive with the help of these gardening products. Be it backyards, porches, patios or huge landscapes surrounding big buildings and offices, there are products right here for all kinds of landscaping needs.

To know more about gardening products from Greening Solution, visit website

Greening Solution, based at China is a site owned by Leiyuan Grass Paving Grid Industrial Company Limited is engaged in research and production of various plastic gardening materials for landscaping and roofing. They offer the most advanced equipments such as Green Roof System Materials, Grass and Ground Reinforcement Products, Plastic Grass Pavers Grid, Storage and Drainage Board for Green Roofs, Drain Cover, Vertical Greening Materials and Plant Containers.

Media Contact
Leiyuan Industrial Company Limited
Address: #6-501, Zhonglianhauting, Quanzhou, Fujian, China 362000
Phone Number: +86-595-2278-8697
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Our Town: Roswell Garden club does more than lunch

If you’re having a bite in a Roswell restaurant and wind up near a group of women with soil smeared on their shirts and caked on their sneakers, there’s a good chance you’re next to ladies of the Roswell Garden Club. The organization’s 40-plus members pride themselves on being a club that’s not afraid to get down and dirty in the name of community beautification.

“We’re not a lunch garden club; we’re a working garden club,” said Debbie Vann, the current president. “We get out there and work, then we go to lunch looking really dirty.”

The grassroots group has been making Roswell a bit lusher since it was formed in 1951 as an offshoot of the Roswell Women’s Club.

“Some members wanted to do more with floral design and landscaping,” said Vann. “The first project we took one was fixing up the town square. We’ve put up the gazebo and two benches there, and we donate funds for the upkeep. If someone calls and asks us to help with a simple project, we will – and if we take it on, we take care of it.”

The club maintains and supplies the plants for gardens at Barrington Hall and Smith Plantation, two of the city’s historic homes. At Barrington, they restored a neglected boxwood garden, planted a vegetable garden, cleaned up the butterfly and hydrangea gardens and put in a pink garden to honor cancer victims. They also work on landscaping at the Roswell Adult Recreation center and were recently asked by the Visitors Center to take over care of their side garden.

But their energies aren’t restricted just to planting and weeding. On Oct. 12, they’ll sell jams, jellies and baked goods and provide free activities and crafts for kids at Smith Plantation’s Fall Farm Days. They’ll then move onto decorating the Smith house inside and out for the holidays and trimming the official city tree on the square.

Selling homemade goodies and hosting a spring plant sale enable the club to supports its endeavors and to make donations to causes such as Habitat for Humanity and the Ronald McDonald House. But it’s not all hard work; the group has monthly meetings the feature interesting speakers and often head out on garden tours.

“It’s fun!” said Carolyn Herndon, who joined in 2006 after seeing photos of the club in action. “I’ve made a lot of new friends. Anyone can join; no special knowledge, just an interest is required.”

Member Hilary Boyle joined the club a year after moving to Roswell from England in 2005.

“I love it because I have always been an avid gardener,” she said. “As a London native, it’s in my blood.”

The club’s friendship and comraderie were the draw for Vann.

“When I first moved here in 2002, I had quit working, and a neighbor invited me to a meeting,” she said. “It was a great way to get out and make new friends.”

Each Saturday, we shine a spotlight on a local neighborhood, city or community. To suggest a place for us to visit, e-mail H.M. Cauley at or call 770- 744-3042.

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Early August gardening tips

This has been a trying growing season to date with periods of excessive high temperatures to excessive moisture often causing growing problems. In terms of lawn care, some problems to be on the lookout for include fungus problems like Brown Patch, Red Thread and leaf spot diseases. Cooperative Extension can help identify some of these fungus problems. If isolated to certain areas in the lawn you might be able to treat with registered fungicides for some control following exact instructions on product label. If total lawn is heavily involved, perhaps a lawn care company might be needed.

When we face dry periods, if you water your lawn, always water before 5 p.m. so that the lawn dries before sun set as late evening watering fosters growth of fungus problems. This holds true for flowers, vegetables and shrubs as well.

Grubs in the lawn are a major problem this year as the Japanese beetle adults, who are munching on your raspberries, grapes, and other plants, will testify! These beetles are just one type of grub. Before you attempt any treatment, do a sampling to discover the extent of the grubs in your lawn. Simply dig out a one square foot section of sod in few spots and count the number of grubs present-if the number is less than eight, you probably don’t have to treat. But if more than eight grubs are counted per square foot, then treatment with a grub killing product is necessary to limit feeding damage to the turf. Please remember, as with all pesticide products, to read product labels very closely and apply accordingly.

In terms of home pesticide use, when chemical pesticide products are thought necessary to use, always read product labels to be sure you are purchasing the right products. Cooperative Extension can be of assistance with this. A big factor in this is to use registered chemicals as a last resort   for pest (insect, disease, weed, rodent) control and all other attempted measures have not given results. When using pesticides in the summer, it is crucial to avoid making applications when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. In terms of applying weed control products to lawns at temperatures above 80, the products can give off a vapor that can drift upward causing tree leaf damage or drift to nearby flowers or shrubs.

When purchasing pesticide products, especially liquid products, purchase the smallest amount possible to help limit winter storage problems. When applying weed control products, always dedicate a separate sprayer for application since you can never totally wash herbicides from sprayers and the residue remaining in tank could cause harm to plants that might be sprayed when applying other products.

Summer pruning is a practice many gardeners follow. This season, with the ample moisture conditions earlier, seemed to cause several bursts of growth for plants. However, use caution in pruning at this time of year and lightly prune to keep some plants in bounds and avoid extensive pruning practices. Extensive pruning is best performed when plants are in the dormant state in late winter to early spring.

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Use lime to deter squirrels from tomatoes

How can I keep squirrels off my tomatoes?

A very simple old-fashioned way to discourage animals, including deer, from taking a bite out of your tomatoes is to sprinkle a little lime on the fruits. Use powdered agricultural lime. It washes off easily when you harvest. You’ll have to reapply after rains, so don’t overdo the lime because you don’t want to raise your soil pH too high. This method also can be useful on a short term basis to keep deer from eating foliage.

My hedge has gotten completely bare at the bottom over the years. How can I get it to fill in again? I shear it to a V shape twice a year.

Hedges must be wider at the bottom than the top, otherwise the bottom branches and leaves gradually get shaded out. Try to change the shape of your hedge over a few years by careful pruning. Unfortunately, the bottom of your hedge probably will not regenerate foliage.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at

Plant of the week

Red-Veined Dock

Rumex sanguineus

With a preference for damp soils, this dramatic foliage plant can be a terrific accent in mixed containers, borders, and along pond margins, but its best use is a container plant in water gardens and ponds. Lance-shaped leaves with striking burgundy veins provide excellent color and texture, so site it where the unique color can be appreciated close up. Dock prefers light shade and grows about 15 inches tall and wide and requires little care other than removing spent foliage and the insignificant flower spikes. This short clumping perennial is usually grown as an annual but, with USDA hardiness to zones 6-8, it can overwinter if given protection. In boggy soils it has been known to take over. — Marian Hengemihle

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Tips on Preserving Autumn’s Garden Bounty

The Autumn Equinox sends a signal to the backyard gardeners’ cerebral cortex, gently reminding us that the harvest season has arrived and that now is the time to be preserving and putting up food for the winter. Within just a couple of short months, the garden will once again die off for the year, becoming dormant and barren, giving the soil a time to rest. An avid gardener’s greatest bounty occurs at this time of year. The seasoned homesteaders and canners have it down to a science, putting up multiple jars of canned tomatoes, sauces, salsas, fruits, vegetables, jams and jellies. Hats off to those folks. Becoming skilled in this age old hobby requires knowledge of safety measures and temperature regulation to prevent risks of botulism and temperamental pressure canners. I would recommend taking a few classes through your local Extension Office before delving into the art of pressure canning. For beginners, it is best to stick to the basics such as hot water bath canning and freezing.

Freezing is an underutilized and excellent way to preserve your garden bounty – and it’s virtually fool-proof. Below are 5 suggestions:

1. For squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes or eggplant, fully cook or blanch and freeze them in a freezer bag for quick meal additions. For vegetables such as peppers, corn or onions, just chop and freeze them to later add to omelettes, quiches, stir-fries, or other meals. This will make meal preparation more convenient too!

2. With your harvest, cook large batches of soups or stews and freeze in freezer bags to thaw and heat in any amount you desire.

4. Make batches of sauces or salsas and freeze in individual labeled freezer bags.

5. Grill a large quantity of veggies at a time, cut into strips, and freeze in labeled freezer bags to have the taste of summer any time of the year.

Herbs are one of those garden glories that often get overlooked during the frenzy of harvest and canning season. Culinary herbs are not only flavorful, but are very nutritious and often highly medicinal. Common herbs and spices contain a plethora of medicinal qualities including antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. Fresh herbs of course should be properly identified and researched before being ingested medicinally.  There are many contraindications such as during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Consult an herbalist to discover an herbal regimen that suits your needs.

In the meantime, start preserving your culinary herbs! Most of the herbs are at their prime right now. Don’t miss the chance to preserve that beautiful fresh herb flavor to use in all of your culinary creations throughout the winter months.

Here are 5 simple ways to preserve your herbs


Either hang bundled herbs upside down with a string in a dry place, or dry a food dehydrator.  When the leaves are crisp and dry, remove from stems and store in labeled glass jars. Be sure to include the date. Once you have multiple dried herbs, you can create custom spice blends. Create a handmade label and give as gifts to friends and family.


One of the easiest ways to capture an herbs essence is to simply cut fresh herbs with a pair of scissors and freeze them in ice cube trays. Use fresh herbs. Cut the leaves from stems. Fill ice cube trays with water, and then place herbs into each cube space. Freeze overnight. Place frozen herb ice cubes in labeled freezer bags. These work well for adding to soups, stews or sauces.

Herbal Vinegars Olive Oils

Simply place clean, dry herbs in a jar of either vinegar or extra virgin olive oil. Store in airtight, labeled jars. Hardy herbs such as rosemary and thyme may stay in the jars. Remove leafy herbs such as basil and parsley after 1-2 weeks of steeping. Be sure to include the date on your label. No need to refrigerate. Use within 6 months.

Pesto Recipe

Pesto is a simple way to prolong the freshness of herbs. Pesto can be made with any leafy herb.  The basic pesto recipe is:

2 cups of fresh herb (leaves only)                                   

¼ cup of nuts (any nuts will work. You can also use sunflower or pumpkin seeds)                                                             

¼ cup of olive oil.                                                                  

Pinch of salt                                                                      

1 tablespoon of lemon juice to preserve freshness                                   

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until you reach desired consistency.

Pesto can be made from basil, parsley, cilantro, chervil, dill, mint, lemon balm, as well as from lettuce, arugula, kale and chard. Pesto can also be made from wild edible weeds such as lambs quarters and chickweed. Freeze excess pesto in labeled freezer bags or in ice cube trays which can be stored in freezer bags when frozen.

Herb Butters

Create your favorite herb combinations. Remove herb leaves from stems. (Use stems later in a broth.) Chop herbs finely. Melt a stick of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté herbs gently and remove from heat. Pour the melted butter in baby food jars. Stir while the jar is cooling. Once the butter has cooled, place in the refrigerator. If you desire whipped butter, simply whip the melted herb butter in a food processor and store in baby food jars in the refrigerator. 

Happy Harvesting Preserving!


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Garden Tips: Learning from garden disasters, mistakes

You might think that a “garden expert” like me never experiences garden disasters or mistakes. Well, I do. Here are a few my learning opportunities for this year.

I planted two large plastic pots with dark purple and lavender veined Easy Wave petunias, chartreuse sweet potatoes, green variegated sweet potatoes and “Wasabi,” a new lime green heat-tolerant coleus. They were looking awesome until the hot weather. I was puzzled when the petunias in one pot started to wilt even though they were being watered regularly.

I discovered that the problem wasn’t a lack of water; it was too much water. The bottom of one of the 6-year-old pots had bowed outward, preventing water from draining. The petunias wilted because their saturated roots couldn’t function without air. Once I raised the pot up, the container was able to drain. The petunias succumbed, but luckily the other plants made it through. After planting replacement petunias, the container is looking almost as good as its companion.

Another problem has been my summer squash and cucumbers growing in two large pots. I filled the lower one-third of the pots with coconut coir fiber and the top two-thirds with a brand name potting mix. This mix contained fertilizer that was supposed to last for six months.

While the squash grew well early in the season, before long the oldest leaves started turning yellow. They then turned brown and died. I checked to make sure it wasn’t a drainage, watering or squash bug problem. Because the plants were still growing and putting on new green leaves, I wondered if the problem might be a nitrogen deficiency. However, the potting mix was supposed to have enough nitrogen for six months. The estimated timing of a slow-release fertilizer depends on temperature and watering practices. Knowing this, I applied nitrogen fertilizer. The new growth on my squash plants has rebounded and is looking healthy and green.

Another disappointment has been my tomatoes. I planted six tomatoes in my garden and one in a container. The one in the container is called “Beaver Lodge,” an early tomato that’s supposed to set fruit during cooler weather. It did set lots of fruit that have finally ripened. However, my other vines have been slow.

Tomatoes are a little like Goldilocks: the temperature for setting fruit has to be just right. They set fruit best when nighttime temperatures are between 55 and 75 degrees and daytime temperatures are between 70 and 90 degrees. The reason so many area gardeners like me are frustrated by a lack of tomatoes is that the temperatures have been too cool or too hot for blossoms to set fruit. The result is tomato blossoms dropping off without forming fruit.

— Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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