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Archives for August 23, 2013

Bubba’s new front turning heads in Orange Beach

The new design includes a new sign

The new design includes a new sign

A fish market storefront now graces Bubba's facade

A fish market storefront now graces Bubba’s facade

The faux lighthouse has an authentic brick look

The faux lighthouse has an authentic brick look

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013 4:30 am

Bubba’s new front turning heads in Orange Beach



ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — If you pass by Bubba’s Seafood and think, “wow, that painted cracked brick look on the lighthouse is pretty cool,” you should think again.

“Isn’t that amazing?” Bubba’s co-owner Richard Schwartz said. “If you look at you can see spots that looks like the stucco fell off and the brick is showing.”

And the brick is real.

“What they did was take bricks and cut them at an angle so they would go around,” Schwartz said. “I’m telling you that is brick. I think that’s impressive.”

But the new façade on the front of is more than just the lighthouse. Schwartz and partner J Schenck also had a couple of store fronts added to expand the dining room and then extended a deck in front of the façade.

Schwartz said it all began when he sold the lot next door to the company that now sports Fat Daddy’s arcade, which opened for business this summer. A specialist named Maurice Gallagher was helping design the arcade.

“I met him after I sold Jake’s Steakhouse,” Schwartz said. “He was doing all the thinking work, design work for the Track people. Maurice Gallagher used to work for United Artists and he’s done a lot of stuff for them. We’re talking movie effects the whole thing.”

Gallagher took a look at Bubba’s and the plans Schwartz was considering and came up with some ideas of his own.

“He said ‘I can fix this up for you,’” Schwartz recalled. “I said what I’m going to do, I plan to enclose the porch and if I enclose the porch I’m going to need something outside, so we’ll talk about it.

“We talked for a little while and he told me what he would charge to do draw it up. About four weeks later he sent me the drawings. I’m very impressed.”

The results are stunning with a fish shop front, another store front and the stunningly authentic lighthouse.

“Maurice wanted to be there when we did it so he could draw it himself,” Schwartz said. “He had come down to work three weeks for the people next door. I was out there and he was talking to the stucco guys and he asked them if they could paint it, if they could do it.”

Gallagher’s services weren’t cheap, but Schwartz was willing to pay and follow the plan to a ‘T.’

“It was expensive but that’s what the guy does for a living,” he said. “Every time we were in the middle of construction and somebody would say ‘what do you want to do with this? I think it ought to be like this or this.’ And I’d say look at the picture and that’s what we want to do. I had to say that so many times.”

Down below the deck in the landscaping and even on the city-required sidewalk, the dominant color is blue to make it look like the front is surrounded by water.

“We put the sand out there,” he said. “He wanted to put sand out there and paint it blue. We did. All the pebbles out there we painted blue. “Then we put glue on the top of those and sprinkled glitter on there. The idea was if they drove up there and their headlights hit it, it would look like water. Shimmering water.

“We had to put the eight-foot sidewalk that goes nowhere that the city wants – eventually it will go somewhere – and I suggested we paint that sucker blue, too.”

The work included a redesign of the roof and some internal improvements that were due for the restaurant infrastructure.

“We had to do a lot of roof design and that’s really what added a lot of expense to it,” Schwartz said. “We did some work on the inside where we had some problems with the older building. It turned out very nice. I’m really excited about it. We’re very pleased with it and it sounds like from the response we’ve had the people are very pleased with it.”


Friday, August 23, 2013 4:30 am.

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4 home sanctuary ideas

Between noisy neighbors and misbehaving kids, your home can feel more like a madhouse than a personal sanctuary. If you’d like to reclaim some peace and quiet, here are four DIY projects to give you a calm place of your own.

Green House

For green thumbs looking to extend the growing season, a greenhouse is a must. Fortunately, a greenhouse can also be an affordable and easy project for those with a little DIY know-how. The Door Garden has an simple step-by-step guide on how to build a basic hoop-style greenhouse for around $50. Rather than rely on glass, which can be expensive and difficult to install, these greenhouses rely on clear plastic sheeting, which makes construction a snap.

If you do want a traditional glass-based greenhouse, many people have turned to old windows as an affordable DIY option. By heading to a salvage yard, or turning to a contractor with a surplus of old windows, you can stitch together a bunch of frames into a makeshift greenhouse.

“Man” Cave

Long the refuge of the domesticated male, man caves are a great way to create a place where you can kick back and relax. Fill a garage with an old couch, a TV and a little insulation for the winter months and you have yourself the perfect retreat from the stress of family life. But increasingly, women are looking to set up a “man” cave of their own in the home.


If your man has already claimed the garage as his own retreat, worry not. Many people are turning to tiny structures, like the ones built by Tumbleweed Homes. These 100 to 200 square-foot structures are the perfect size for a sanctuary or a home away from home. And because they are so small, they often don’t require a special building permit, making them an easy addition to a back yard. For those looking for a truly DIY option, the company also sells blueprints, allowing you to put together one of these quaint little cottages on your own at a much lower price.

Bird-Watchers Paradise

A easy hobby to pick up, bird watching is a great way to relax while gazing out the back window. If you’re a bird lover looking to transform your yard into a avian sanctuary, you can turn to simple backyard additions like bird baths, houses and feeders. But to step things up a notch, you’ll want to invest in a little landscaping to help attach the right kinds of birds. For instance, by adding small trees to your yard, you can start to draw robins and jays. Fruit-bearing shrubs like elderberry and sumac will attract thrushes and tanagers. And taller canopy trees will bring in birds like warblers and woodpeckers. Take a look at a few websites that specialize in bird-related landscaping and see what will work in your area.

Of course, once the birds start flocking to your yard, you don’t want to miss a moment. By attaching a weather-proof camera — like the Hero GoPro — to your feeder, you can keep track of your feathery friends even when you’re not around.

Bathroom Spa

Upgrading a shabby bathroom to give you a spa-like experience at home doesn’t have to cost a fortune or even require a ton of DIY know-how. While a low-flow fixture can shave a few bucks off your monthly bills, those looking for a more luxurious morning ritual should consider upgrading to a more immersive experience, like the Blue Ocean Shower Panel. The panel features multiple shower heads and multidirectional mist jets for a fully immersive showering experience.

For longer soaks, DIYers can turn to plug-and-play hot tubs. Unlike the hot tubs of old, these ones don’t require a plumber to install, making them truly do-it-yourself options. Simply fill them up and plug them in to a typical wall socket, and you’re ready to relax.

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Developer Ron Druker proposes 11-story South End building

Judged against its current surroundings, Ron Druker’s
proposed building in Boston’s South End fits in about as well as a spaceship in a cornfield.

The 11-story office and retail building at 80 East Berkeley St. is designed to be modern and bold, and it would tower over the low-rise industrial and residential buildings that surround it.

But within three years — about the time it would take to build it — this corner of Boston is slated to be transformed. Scrubby lots will be replaced by several large-scale buildings with more than 1,400 new homes, restaurants, shops, and a Whole Foods grocery store.

“Our building will be contextually compatible with the new zoning and all of the proposals under consideration in the neighborhood,” Druker said of his $150 million project.

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“We intend to be the gateway to a new part of the South End.”

Redevelopment of this part of the neighborhood between Washington and Albany streets was painstakingly planned during three years of community meetings held by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The process resulted in new guidelines to allow buildings as tall as 200 feet. Now, Druker and several others are following through with proposals for major developments.

Some projects have already been issued permits and construction has begun.

National Development is building
Ink Block, a multibuilding complex with 471 residences, a Whole Foods supermarket, and shops at the former Boston Herald headquarters.

Work is to start soon on 380 homes and stores at 275 Albany St., and another developer is seeking approval to build 560 apartments at 345 Harrison Ave., currently occupied by the Graybar Electric building.

Each of those projects would feature multiple buildings between five and 20 stories, meeting many of the goals of the planning study, which called for “opportunities for a broad range of business development, including retail, office, manufacturing, and related commercial uses.”

Druker, who hopes to start building next year, is the only developer so far to propose an office building. During a community meeting Wednesday, his plan did not sit well with everyone. Several people complained the building would overshadow their homes and create more traffic problems. Others praised the proposed design and said the building would bring welcome activity to a dead spot.

Druker previously developed Atelier 505, a residential and retail complex on Tremont Street in the South End, and Heritage on the Garden, residences and stores on the edge of the Public Garden, among other projects.

His plan for 80 East Berkeley St. fits within the new zoning limit of 150 feet. The property sits on the corner of East Berkeley and Washington streets, where the residential South End meets parking lots and buildings from a bygone industrial area. It is currently occupied by an auto detailing business.

Druker and architect David Manfredi, of Elkus Manfredi Architects, outlined plans Wednesday for a 308,000-square-foot building with ground-floor retail spaces. One or more of those spaces could house restaurants, with seating spilling onto the sidewalk.

No office tenant has been signed, but Druker said the building is designed to attract a technology or “creative economy” type of company whose employees would be drawn to nearby retail, entertainment, and cultural amenities in the South End.

He said the building would include 5,900 square feet for start-up companies. “Our hope is to spawn new ideas in the building,” Druker said, adding that it could serve as a magnet for companies looking for alternatives to Kendall Square in Cambridge or the South Boston Innovation District.

The project would also result in new landscaping and street trees, although several neighbors urged Druker to add more green space to the project. The building would also contain two levels of underground parking with about 200 spaces.

The BRA has set a Sept. 30 deadline for public comments on the proposal. It will then go to the authority’s board for a final vote.

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Pink Robots at the Gate

Now, Santa’s Battle Wagon and a team of 12 robot reindeer occupy a patch of lawn near the pool, while a 50-foot-tall, 54-ton robot made partly of junked electronics diverts attention from the tasteful desert landscaping.

And forget about playing a few sets on the tennis court.

“Now it’s elf village, with post-apocalyptic extraterrestrial nuclear elves,” Kenny Jr. said, leading a visitor on a walk through a landscape resembling the set of a Tim Burton film. Wearing a beige shalwar kameez and a long, untrimmed beard (he became a Muslim a decade ago), Kenny Jr., 39, had the gleeful smile of a child given a very large sandbox to play in.

Georgia Eisner, his older sister, recalled how, years before he took over the backyard, he would appropriate her possessions as material for his art while she was away at boarding school. “It was clear my typewriter ended up in one of his structures,” she said. “My shell collection disappeared. He glued it to the wall.”

Remembering her exasperation, she added: “I would think, can’t I have a normal brother who plays sports? He was the weirdo that was always off playing by himself and talking about outer space.”

Kenny Jr.’s ideas come in a geyserlike rush, he explained, inspired by vivid dreams of aliens and distant planets. His main challenge is keeping up with them. “The amount of energy that goes through me is absolutely, utterly relentless,” he said. “Think of it as the floodgates are unleashed and the flood doesn’t ever stop. It’s been that way my whole life.”

For several years, his creative energy has been channeled into Robo Lights, the ever-expanding holiday display he began in 1986, at age 12. Last year, 20,000 people visited the sprawling installation, which features Santa’s Pink Robot Store and a manger scene with baby Jesus wearing a Sumo-style topknot and wise men bearing gifts of toy microwaves.

Twin Palms, the estate Frank Sinatra owned one block over, grows paler as a neighborhood attraction every year.

In October, an indoor version of Robo Lights will be on display at the American Visionary Art Museum, or AVAM, in Baltimore, said Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, the museum’s director and founder. Kenny Jr.’s work will be part of an exhibit on technology called “Human, Soul and Machine: The Coming Singularity.”

“Kenny is one of a handful of people who continue to fascinate me,” Ms. Hoffberger said. “There’s a lot of sci-fi work out there, and it tends to look alike. His work looks like no one else’s.”

LIKE A ONE-MAN RECYCLING CENTER, Kenny Jr. collects old phones, cassette tapes, wood, the innards of slot machines, garbage can lids, pool filters, a neighbor’s wrecked glider, an air compressor from a commercial building — anything he can get his hands on, basically — and using multiple cans of Touch ’n Foam sealant, gives form to his visions.

His sculptures have a Seurat-like quality: a pink Clydesdale looks monumental from a distance; up close, its hooves are revealed as boxy computer monitors, its noble head a printer and fax machine glued together, its mane a tangle of power cords.

Aliens, robots and monsters appear in Kenny Jr.’s work with obsessive frequency. But he maintains that his inspiration doesn’t come from comic books or B-movies. His robot sculptures are “instantaneously generated creations that go through my mind,” he said. “I know exactly what they look like, and I make them.” (An interest in the far-out is perhaps hereditary: Kenny Jr.’s paternal grandmother was a singer and bandleader whose 1969 album, “Into Outer Space with Lucia Pamela,” a jazzy account of her “trip” to the moon, is a cult classic for its wacky naïveté. Tony Kushner wrote a play about her called “Flip Flop Fly.”)

Kenny Jr. beamed into the larger culture briefly in 2010, when Conan O’Brien asked him to design the holiday set for his talk show. The host appeared delighted with the results (Godzilla wielding a candy cane; a Christmas U.F.O.), though it was hard to tell if the creator was in on the joke. In a backstage interview, Kenny Jr. answered Mr. O’Brien’s sardonic questions about “Mr. and Mrs. Sanmagnetron Claus” with deadpan sincerity, seemingly oblivious to the incongruity of a man in full Islamic dress designing Christmas decorations.

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Harford DAC reviews plans for housing, Ladew Gardens improvements

The members of Harford County’s Development Advisory Committee reviewed a preliminary plan Wednesday to create 21 residential lots on land in Forest Hill.

The lots would be part of a 150.42-acre parcel north of West Jarrettsville Road and west of Bailey Road; the parcel is zoned for agricultural use. The Fallstaff Limited Partnership owns the land.

The land is also near a Colonial Pipeline storage facility, and part of an underground petroleum pipeline operated by the company is under a small section of the parcel.

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An access road along the southern edge of the parcel serves as a route to the Colonial storage tanks, and the plan presented to members of DAC Wednesday shows six of the 21 lots are just north of the access road’s 50-foot right of way.

The plans, developed by Wilson Deegan Associates Inc., of Jarrettsville, also show the 13th lot in the northwest corner of the property, at the end of a residential drive.

Planners proposed putting the driveway across the underground route of the Colonial petroleum pipeline; Moe Davenport, chairman of the Development Advisory Committee, said the land over the pipeline must be developed in accordance with deed restrictions for the property.

Much of the property is within areas designated as a Natural Resource District by the Harford County zoning code, and DAC members spoke about efforts to protect the natural resources of the property.

Jennifer Wilson, representing the Department of Planning and Zoning on the committee, spoke about the need to preserve the parcel’s natural features, such as forests, wetlands and streams; she noted waterways on the property drain into a local trout stream.

“We just want to make sure they’re protected, and the plan indicates that for the most part,” Davenport said after the meeting.

No members of the public made comments during the hearing on the plans Wednesday.

Ladew Gardens improvements

Fritz Behlen, senior associate with Site Resources Inc. of Phoenix in Baltimore County, presented plans to build a new two-story, 25,200-square-foot maintenance building with a parking area at Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton.

The plans also include reconfiguring the entrance and exit areas off of Route 146 (Jarrettsville Pike) into one location.

“Our goal is to separate vehicle and pedestrian movements that happen on the campus,” Behlen explained.

Behlen said visitors to the 22-acre gardens, who are on foot, mingle with vehicle traffic on the grounds, including delivery and maintenance vehicles, tour buses and vehicles of people attending events such as weddings.

The gardens are part of a 200-acre estate purchased by Harvey S. Ladew in 1929. The gardens were opened to visitors in 1971, and Ladew Topiary Gardens Inc. operates and maintains the gardens and manor house, according to the Ladew website.

Behlen said planners propose to expand the parking lot and “create a better arrival zone for buses.”

The new maintenance facility will replace an aging building on the campus. The combined exit and entrance would include a deceleration lane on Route 146 leading to the gate, designed to slow traffic while making the entrance more visible to motorists.

Kevin and Nancy Bultman, who live across Route 146 from the Ladew grounds, expressed concerns about losing part of their view of the Ladew landscape for an expanded parking lot.

“I’m concerned that I’m going to see even more asphalt,” Nancy Bultman said.

The Bultmans are also worried about an increased level of traffic from vehicles entering and exiting in the same location, almost directly across the road from their home.

“From the state’s perspective, the site’s not going to generate any more traffic than it does now,” Rich Zeller, who represents the State Highway Administration on the Committee, noted.

Behlen said landscaping proposed for the new lot would shade the concrete and asphalt.

“Sometimes, it’s just a key placement of a tree here and there that makes the difference, also,” he explained.

The Bultmans stressed they are not trying to impede the project.

“I think, in the end, it’s going to look nice,” Kevin Bultman said. “It’s just a matter of coming on the same page.”

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Up front about the harvest


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Friday, August 23, 2013 1:06 AM EDT

Up front about the harvest

Jason and Jennifer Helvenston stand among the sweet potato vines in their front yard garden in Orlando, Florida, on August 6, 2013. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT)

After an embarrassing battle with a couple of gardeners, Orlando, Fla., officials have drawn up new rules governing homeowners who want to plant carrots and cucumbers in their front yards.

It’s the latest salvo — and probably the last — in a literal turf war over what Orlando residents can plant in front of their homes. It started last year, when Jason and Jennifer Helvenston were hit with a code-enforcement citation for digging up their College Park neighborhood front lawn and replacing it with lettuce, kale, radishes, tomatoes and more.

The perception of big government cracking down on veggies drew media attention and a gardener revolt.

City planners responded by drawing up rules that specifically allowed front-yard vegetable gardens, but critics protested outside City Hall. The rules were so strict that they would drastically cut the space available for food gardens, they argued. Commissioners sent the planners back to the drawing board.

The new version, expected to go to the City Council for final approval next month, is quite a bit more relaxed.

“We’re going to get to keep our garden,” Jason Helvenston said. “There are going to be very few gardens that will be illegal under this particular wording.”

The first version of the garden regulations would have allowed residents to plant vegetables on no more than 25 percent of their front yard; required gardens to be screened with fencing or shrubs, set back at least 10 feet from the property line or put in planter boxes; and limited vegetable plants to no more than 4 feet tall. Green-thumbed protesters objected.

Gardens are on the rise, partly because of the still-struggling economy, partly because of a “clean food” movement that objects to pesticides and the environmental footprint of factory farming. Gardeners argued that city officials should be encouraging residents to cultivate their own food, not limiting how much space they can use or how tall their tomatoes grow.

Planners revamped the new rules with help from landscape architects, horticulturists and the Helvenstons themselves.

The new rules would allow veggies to cover as much as 60 percent of a front yard. The 10-foot setback was shrunk to 3 feet, and the vegetable-height limit was thrown out.

Jennifer Helvenston credited the gardening army with changing minds at City Hall.

“I think we arrived at the right spot in the end,” chief planner Jason Burton said. “That input from around the world and locally helped get us to the point we are today, where we have an ordinance I think everyone can live with. I think it’s a positive thing.”

Burton said Orlando unfairly got a black eye over the garden war. Planners simply want to ensure the landscaping is well maintained — vegetable or otherwise — rather than out-of-control weeds or a garden gone to seed.

“People thought we were against front-yard gardens, and we really weren’t,” Burton said. “People are not always successful with gardens, and what happens is, people will do it for one season and suddenly it’s dirt forever. We wanted to make sure there was a level of permanent landscaping.”

Helvenston predicts one portion of the new code will have unintended consequences. The city added a 5-foot height limit on temporary structures, which was meant to govern such things as tomato cages. But Helvenston thinks it would prevent homeowners from placing swings or fountains in their front yards.

Gardeners are likely to be as happy as they can be with a set of rules. But the Helvenstons wonder: Why adopt any rules, especially if they are so limited that they will affect few homeowners?

“It’s a perfect example of how a government reacts to something and tries to do their thing but goes way too far,” Jason Helvenston said. “They didn’t really need to do anything but say, ‘Front-yard gardens are OK.'”

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How To Plant An Onion Garden

One of the vegetables which needs to be grown in your garden is onions. This beautiful pinkish purple vegetable is so essential for us today because of its raging prices. Today, we share with you easy onion gardening tips. These onion gardening tips are essential for you to follow, in order to get a good and healthy crop. As we know that onions are edible bulbs and members of the allium family.

These onion bulbs is composed of concentric layers which is very unique in nature too. They have either a pungent smell, taste and sometimes this vegetable can also be quite sweet. It depends on the variety of onion you are growing.

How To Plant An Onion Garden

The onion bulb size is related to the size and number of the leaves. Each leaf translates to a ring of onion. The larger leaves make larger rings. With the rising price of onions, it is time we start to plant our own little onions gardens. Here are some tips on onion gardening.

Location – One of the most important gardening tip you should keep in mind is finding a perfect location. Onions should be planted in a partially shade spot wherein which its gets only a little wind. Onions should not be planted in heavy soils.

Soil – The soil has to be perfect for planting onions. The bulb needs to be placed in soil which is lose in nature. If the soil is not lose, you need to loosen the soil with a fork and remove the weeds.

Surface – If you are planting onion plants in your garden, you first need to create a leveled surface. With the help of a rake create a level surface for your onion garden soil.

Firm the soil – A gardener needs to use his feet to firm down the soil. Experts say that this vegetable grows well in medium soil (not too hard nor too soft)

Onion bulbs – To grow an onion plant, one of the main gardening tips you should keep in mind is to choose onion sets which are firm and plump. Do not use soft or too small onions when you plant.

Holes in soil – You need to make rows of small holes in the soil. You can lay a piece of string on the soil as a guide to make sure you dig the row in a correct straight line.

Planting the bulb – When you are about to plant the onion bulb in the soil, make sure that your soil is first set. The onion sets should be planted with the tips pointing upwards and positioned about 10 centimeters apart from each other.

Post planting – Soon after you plant the bulb in the soil, water the soil with only a little water. Keep a track on the soil and water it only when necessary.

If you follow these steps you are bound to have a healthy onion garden.

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Duke Energy Faces Hefty Pollution Suit

Cramer’s Top Stock Picks: ETN XOM T MCD JNJ GTE LOW BBY TJX

Aug. 22, 2013

‘Mad Money’ Lightning Round: I Like Western Union

Aug. 22, 2013

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Aug. 21, 2013

‘Mad Money’ Lightning Round: Buy, Buy, Buy Vodafone

Aug. 21, 2013

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New Eco-Kid on the Block: Corn Countertops

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Aug. 21, 2013

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Garden Tips: These tools can make gardening easier, fun

I’m always looking for new garden gadgets and ideas that can make gardening easier or more fun. And I recently came across a couple of items that piqued my interest.

The first is a bit capricious: melon and squash cradles. These are 5-inch plastic cradles for propping up small (8 pounds or less) melons or squash to keep them off the ground, preventing rot. Their round, concave design keeps the fruit from becoming misshapen. There is a 3.75-inch spike on the bottom of each cradle that sticks into the soil.

The cradles come six to a package and are available at The cradles are reusable and nest together for compact storage. Online reviewers say they work well and the design is great, but they are not big enough for large melons and squash.

While the cradles are not costly, one gardener suggested trying inexpensive concave plastic food baskets found in stores. They wouldn’t be propped up by a stake, but they would keep the fruit from touching the soil. If baskets have a solid bottom, drill holes in it for drainage. Gardeners who grow giant melons, squash and pumpkins often protect the fruit from contact with the soil by placing them on boards or tiles.

Another gadget that could come in handy is the Kombi tool. Its website says it is a “shovel with an attitude.” As the story goes, the tool’s creator, Theodor Fugel, from Georgia was a frugal man who did not want to throw away his worn-out shovel. In 1987, he decided to cut out the bad areas of the shove blade. He ended up with a tool with several large, sharp teeth instead of a rounded blade. Friends and family liked his recycled shovel and asked him to make one for them, and the Kombi business was born.

The Fugel family offers six styles of the Kombi tools, including a hand trowel, at

Reviewers say the Kombi is an indispensable tool for the toughest digging chores. It works well for cutting through woody roots and dividing perennials. It also works well in heavy soil and as an edger. But make sure to wear heavy-duty boots and gloves.

Too many gardeners don’t wear good foot protection in the garden. I have suggested garden clogs and boots called Lawngrips, but I didn’t have experience with them.

One of our local Master Gardeners bought a pair after a twig punctured the bottom of his foot through an ordinary garden clog. He said that the Lawngrips are comfortable and offer better protection. The men’s and women’s styles protect feet with a steel toe and tough rubber sole. They are also designed for traction on wet grass. Find them at

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

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