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Archives for October 24, 2013

Gardening tips

Gardening tips

Gardening tips

A TALK called ‘Twelve Months of Colour’ will be given by Neil Lovesay at Whitchurch Canonicorum Village Hall on Monday, October 28.

It will discuss how to get the best out of your garden during the winter months, and there will also be a plant sale and refreshments. Admission is £3, and for more information, contact the village Hall.

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Garden Tip: Hands off the roses!

By Heather Prince

October 24, 2013 1:50PM

Varieties such as Knock-Out, Oso-Easy, and Flower Carpet are all winter-hardy and can be left alone. | Courtesy of Heather Prince

Leave the last blossoms of the season on rose plants. Some varieties will form beautiful hips for fall and winter interest.

Do not cut roses back in fall. Pruning or deadheading encourages new growth that may or may not harden off before frost hits. It is best to leave canes up during the winter as cold damage begins at the tips. The longer the cane the better chance you have of living stems in spring.

Some roses need winter protection, but many do not. If you have hybrid tea, floribunda or grandiflora roses, they do best with protection.

First, clean up the area around the rose, disposing of any diseased leaves. Make sure the plant is well watered until it loses its leaves and goes dormant.

When the ground has frozen (usually after three hard frosts or mid- to late December), apply a mound of compost, shredded leaves, mulch or topsoil over the base of the rose. You may find a ring of chicken wire works well to keep material contained. Remove any protection in spring, once temperatures are consistently above freezing. Shrub roses do not need winter protection, especially if they are grown on their own roots.

Varieties such as Knock-Out, Oso-Easy and Flower Carpet are all winter hardy and can be left alone.

Garden Tip is courtesy of Heather Prince, The Growing Place, 630-355-4000,

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Gardening Tips: 5 Things To Do This Fall!

Gardening Tips: 5 Things To Do This Fall!


Published on Wednesday, 23 October 2013 14:06

Written by EarthwormTec

Here are some gardening tips to help you prep for fall from EarthwormTec, an environmentally-conscious business seeking to reduce food waste via composting and sustainable garden practices. 

Given the busy spring and summer season, we all might be getting a little tired right about now when it comes to our yard work. However, if you can muster up the energy to get out there you might save yourself a lot of work when next Spring arrives. Besides, the weather (especially, in Connecticut and the rest of the Northeast) has been absolutely gorgeous this October…what a perfect time to go out there and dig our fingers in the dirt!

Here is a top 5 list of Gardening Tips we recommend you try to do this month so you’ll be smooth sailing next Spring:

  • Do make sure you are cutting back spent flower heads from infamous flowers known to re-seed (such as Brown-eyed Susans or Morning Glories).

These particular flowers are dropping a tremendous amount of seeds at this time of year. The seeds are also very winter hardy and come Spring, you will be throwing out your back pulling out all those new shoots.

You can also cut back some of your spent perennial flowers / shrubs in the Autumn or leave them if you want some winter interest (picture snow resting or icicles forming on your favorite evergreen Azalea, like ours below). Ornamental grasses are also very serene in the winter when the feathery seed heads are covered with snowflakes.

Some gardeners use “Preen” in the soil to stop seeds from germinating but at Earthworm Technologies we don’t condone the use of any chemicals in your land. Instead, we encourage you to use organic products or implement more preventative / sustainable methods. (Keep in mind, if you use Preen in any planters where you grow annuals from seed, you will be hindering the germination of those “good” seeds, as well as the bad ones you don’t want. Preen is not selective).

  • Do harvest those seeds from your favorite annuals in the garden so you can enjoy them again next year.

Many annual flowers can be harvested – Zinnias, Marigolds, Cosmos and Celosias are among the easiest to harvest seeds from.

Make sure the flower has completely faded, turned brown and crumples in your hand – this is a good indication that the seeds will be ready to harvest. Pluck them too early and they’ll be too green (not ready) and won’t germinate for you.

Want to know another trick: We actually harvest some of our favorite Rudbeckias as we are walking around the garden. We then dig some seeds into the soil of our favorite spots and leave them there to overwinter. Poof – green shoots in the Spring!

  • Do put those annoying dead leaves in your yard to good use – why pay good money to have them hauled off?

You are actually paying someone to get rid of something that is organic and very beneficial in your garden.

Either mow the lawn yourself (including the leaves) or tell your lawn guy to do it and let the natural decomposition process take over for the next few months…allowing the nutrients of those dead leaves to seep back into your lawns (the leaf mulch will also be a nice added buffer for your planters during the winter months).

  • Do clean up those leaves and twigs in your flower planters!

Especially if you have any rhizome-type flowers (i.e. Irises). Some insects will overwinter or lay their eggs in the piles of leaf debris (especially moths and iris borers). They’ll continue to incubate there and eat their way through your plants in the Spring.

  • Do compost all the dead leaves, flowers, twigs, branches, etc. (as long as they’re not diseased) that you are not currently using – you’ll thank us in the Spring!

You can have a very simple compost setup in your lawn for leaves / twigs. If you want to go a step further you can even compost those old Fall pumpkins, squashes and any of your family’s raw veggie and fruit scraps that are currently going in the garbage, with a small worm bin.

Don’t want to have worms composting in your house? No problem…If you live in Fairfield County, CT or Westchester County, NY – you can join our organic vermicomposting program and we’ll make it easy for you to be “Green” without all the hassle, for the nominal cost of a weekly Starbucks visit. In return, you also get 10lbs of pure organic ultra-compost free to use in your outdoor garden or on your indoor plants.

If you’re not in the area – we might have extra product to ship out to you. If you’re interested in any of these services or products, please contact us here and sign-up your email for our blog updates.

About EarthwormTec: Earthworm Technologies (“EwT”) offers an innovative, comprehensive Eco-friendly solution to the enormous food waste problem we have in America. We guide you in separating your pre-processed food waste scraps (i.e. raw veggie / fruit scraps, coffee grinds and filters, tea grinds and filters, breads, uncooked pastas, etc.) as well as newspaper / cardboard products. We then offer a weekly hauling program to pick up this waste. Utilizing an in-depth double composting process with the eventual help of thousands of our hardworking little earthworm helpers, we divert all that mineral-rich food waste scrap away from poisonous landfills and instead convert it into a superior organic and highly beneficial microbial quality soil amendment which we can then offer directly back to you as a lawn / shrub / trees / flower beds treatment program.

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Popular Landscape Design Photos On Pinterest

The landscaping ideas to be found on Pinterest are almost endless, but there are some photos that are pinned over and over. Here are more of the most popular designs on the photo sharing social site.

Click on images to see larger versions.

Hardscapes are just as important as the plants that accompany them. This herringbone pattern walkway was a favorite of 771 Pinterest users.

herringbone pattern walkway hardscape


From Drummers Garden Center Floral, take a look at this corner landscape design. Have you thought of pinning landscape designs? Almost 200 users have pinned this to their boards.

corner landscape design


Outdoor rooms, like this one, are hot. The fire pit is an inviting centerpiece of this backyard.

Back patio greenery along perimeter, bench and fire pit

Check out the water features and fireplace in this outdoor room. This photo has been pinned 176 times by Pinterest users.

Water feature, backyard fireplace



Traditional is still popular. This more understated backyard landscaping was appealing to 130 Pinterest users.

landscape design


A modern take on a landscape staple, look at these bushes arranged in a checkerboard pattern in this landscape. More than 60 Pinterest users liked it.

bushes checkerboard landscape design


Incorporating stones and crotons, this landscaping idea was saved by more than 200 users.

croton and stone landscape design


Combining several elements, this cozy outdoor room with raised beds is also a favorite of more than 200 Pinterest users.

raised beds, landscape fireplace hardscaping


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This Futuristic Indoor Garden Is Also A Groovy Fish Tank

Good news for all you aspiring urban farmers: there’s now a new way to grow a pesticide-free garden right inside your tiny apartment. Two law school students with a passion for renewable food sources and one aquaponics expert with experience in farming have designed the Aqualibrium Garden, an indoor method for cultivating food all year round.

The Aqualibrium Garden is a series of stackable chambers that functions as both garden and aquarium. Once the crates snap together, they create an aquaponic system for growing edibles at home. Aquaponics is a symbiotic system where water circulates from the fish tank below and up into the soil of the garden. The fish, snails, or crawfish supply nutrients (read: poop) that fertilize the soil and aid in plant growth. The plants, which are warmed by a built-in LED grow light, subsequently filter the water, returning fresh H2O back to the fish tank. (And if the idea of keeping both fish and plants alive seems daunting, there is a hydroponic option allowing gardeners to simply add nutrients to the water.)

“People in urban environments typically don’t have the necessary environment for growing their own food,” says Joshua Rittenberg, CEO of Aqualibrium. “Right now, there is no product on the market that allows for substantial food production using either aquaponics or hydroponics that is designed for urban living and is cost-effective.”

If the clear polycarbonate modular system designed by Rittenberg and his partners looks like it belongs in a sci-fi flick, that may be because the team was inspired by the futurist and sustainable designer Jacque Fresco. They channeled some of Fresco’s design principles, such as the curved shape. “The dome is the most stable structure we have,” Rittenberg says.

This is good news for those who want to expand from their windowsills and plant foods that require a larger footprint. With the Aqualibrium, the founders list foods as big as eggplant as a possibility for your garden.

The modular unit also makes assembly and disassembly–or even just transport up a fifth-floor walk up apartment–an easy task. But convenience is only on aspect of the appeal. Rittenberg and the team are thinking bigger: “This will allow individuals to begin to take ownership over food production,” he says. “GMOs, pesticides, and all the negative issues currently associated with mass-produced food are causing a growing number of Americans to demand more locally sourced food. This product is as local as it gets. It’s sitting in the living room.”

Check out the Aqualibrium Garden’s Kickstarter campaign, and snag one for $300, here.

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Landscaping, greenery and big plans for middle school outdoor spaces

Every school day at lunchtime, middle school students eat, get outside and have the opportunity to visit with their friends for the remainder of the 45 minutes allotted for lunch. Sunshine, fresh air and physical activities reinvigorate them for the return to the classroom, ready to tackle more brain-busting academic challenges.

Or, so it should be.

But, up until recently, students had nowhere to sit and chat with their friends or read a book. And they still lack the playground amenities needed to play, move and exercise. Plans are in place, according to principal Andrea Meiers, to remedy that and to install a number of other features requested by students.

“The number one request by the students was for trees,” Meiers said. “When it was hot outside, the kids were huddling up next to the building and, of course, that interfered with classes going on.”

Thanks to Sylvan Nurseries, which supplied trees at cost and their expertise for free, a number of trees were planted along walkways, with more yet to come, including some bigger trees which will supply that welcome shade.

“We wanted to take it slow and have a long-term plan to guide us,” Meiers said. “That’s where Derek Curry from Creative Greenscapes came in. He took the students’ wish list and made a master plan for us to use. That way, we won’t run into having trees in a place we later decide to put the kickball field, for example.”

Money was already being raised and set aside to improve the grounds around the school when administrators started polling students on what they wanted about a year ago. The school formed a team of consultants from the seventh-grade class who, in turn, surveyed the entire student body in order to come up with a plan. Using the student-directed ideas, a long-term plan for the grounds was developed. With the blueprint provided by Curry, plans were finalized and the work has gotten underway.

Using money saved from the middle school snack cart profits, annual magazine sales, Pizza Hut nights and assistance from Emma’s Kitchen, the school has added seating to a patio outside the library, in addition to planting the trees. According to Meiers, that’s only the beginning.

It will take a lot of work and time to accomplish some of their goals, but Meiers hopes to check several items off the wish list before next fall, including the addition of soccer fields, a volleyball pit and foursquare courts. A kickball diamond will be added later. Typical playground equipment will be a part of the installation further down the road.

Plans call for a pea gravel area with a jungle gym, monkey bars and swing sets. The students also want a greenhouse and garden area that could become an important part of the curriculum for science and agricultural courses. Another project that made the plan, but will take additional fundraising and possibly many years to complete is a gazebo and an amphitheater. These are all part of the master blueprint and while realizing those items may take time, having them on paper helps in several ways, according to Meiers.

“Before, when we had fundraisers, the kids knew the money was for them, but they didn’t really see where it went,” Meiers said. “Now, we can show them the plans, and they can see the work being done outside.”

There are still more tables and benches to be added to the outdoor lounging areas, but those are in hand and will be installed soon. The school has several fundraisers coming up, most notably, their annual magazine sales.

“That’s our biggest fundraiser,” Meiers said. “Hopefully, people will be more willing to pitch in knowing what the money will be used for.”

The school is also working with Emma’s on a coffee promotion. In the past, Emma’s has earmarked the profit from certain items to the school and that’s likely how they will handle the coffee, Meiers said. Recognizing the donors in a meaningful way is also on the school’s to-do list, she said. Having made a good start on the plans, Meiers is hopeful the momentum will carry them through.

“We are very excited to be making progress on improving the grounds and creating a space for not only our students, but our community, to enjoy,” she said.

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Far Rockaway resilient design winner announced

This afternoon, The New York City Department of Housing and its partners announced the winner of the FAR ROC Design Competition for Resilient and Sustainable Development. The designed team from White Arkitekter, a Swedish firm, took the prize for their beach front design “Small Means and Great Ends.” The winner was announced by Steve Bluestone of The Bluestone Organization and Ron Moelis, Chairman and CEO of L+M Development Partners, just a few days before the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.

The competition challenged participants to create a resilient design model for an 81-acre site in Arverne East in the Rockaways. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), this area is at a particularly high risk of flooding. The Rockaways suffered heavy flooding and damage during Hurricane Sandy and the design entries must meet coastal flood zone guidelines.

White Arkitekter’s design emphasizes small “interventions” that combine to disperse wind and water. A wide, V-shaped boulevard divides the area into three neighborhoods: an dense central section with apartments and businesses, a area with larger single family homes towards the west and a mixed neighborhood to the east.

White Arkitekter/via
The zigzag boardwalk disperses storm water and creates pockets for landscaping or leisure. Out in the water, a series of detached breakwaters will slow the energy of storm waves, the proposal explained:

“Detached breakwaters have no connection to the shoreline and let currents and sediment pass between the breakwater and the shore to form reduced wave energy. This encourages the deposition of sand on the lee side of the structure. By doing so detached breakwaters stimulate the buildup of sandy material that generates a drawdown or a lower water level which dissipates the forces of the sea in storm conditions.”

The judging criteria looked at each proposal’s resiliency, marketability, sustainability, contextual sensitivity and replicability. You can see White Arkitekter’s full proposal here, along with the other runner-ups.

Four finalists were selected from among 117 design proposals. Each finalist received a stipend of $30,000 to further develop their design ideas. White Arkitekter wins an additional $30,000 and may have the opportunity to negotiate with the site’s developers to see if the design could become a reality.

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Old, Unused Newspaper Boxes Clutter Some Bethesda Sidewalks

Empty Gazette and apartment finder boxes near the Woodmont-Battery Garage

An empty Washington Examiner box on St Elmo Avenue

Empty newspaper boxes at the corner of Norfolk Avenue and Cordell Avenue

A typical batch of newspaper and apartment guide boxes at the Bethesda Metro plaza

A batch of empty newspaper and apartment guide boxes sit on Norfolk Avenue, with a tattered Gazette edition from 2007 as the only outward sign the vending machines were ever used.

As residents, business owners and local officials begin a visioning process for the future of downtown Bethesda, one minor but consistent gripe has been the boxes, viewed by many as needless clutter in the age of online publishing and declining print newspaper sales.

“Sometimes we have some stragglers,” said Tim Gibson, distribution director for The Washington Examiner, which closed its local news section in June.

Gibson said his staff picked up about 700 boxes in Maryland and Virginia throughout the summer and that there shouldn’t be any more boxes in Bethesda. We found one on St Elmo Avenue, in a batch of other empty boxes including one from the financially troubled Washington Times.

At the corner of Norfolk and Cordell Avenues is another batch of boxes, one from The Gazette business paper with a lead story titled “How the Deal Fell Apart,” published April 13, 2007. Another Gazette business paper box across from the Lionsgate condominium on Woodmont Avenue features the same edition.

Jean Casey, circulation and marketing director for The Gazette, said the weekly local paper relies on its delivery personnel and residents to call in unused boxes that need to be repaired, replaced or picked up. A freshly stocked Gazette box sits near Veterans Park, just two blocks from the long unused boxes at Norfolk and Cordell.

Casey said a manager will go out Thursday to investigate and make necessary changes.

Responsibility for picking up or repairing unused boxes falls to the publishers of those products. Jeff Burton, deputy executive director of the Bethesda Urban Partnership, said he works with the Washington Post legal staff to coordinate pick-ups or repairs for unused or broken boxes.

A Washington Post spokesperson said the company generally doesn’t keep boxes on the street it isn’t servicing those boxes and will respond if any unused boxes are flagged.

Of equal concern are the various “Apartment Showcase” and other free rental publication boxes that line the streets. Apartment Showcase is a publication of The Washington Post.

During the last monthly meeting of the Woodmont Triangle Action Committee a group of residents, business leaders and county officials brainstormed a list of successes, challenges, opportunities and threats for downtown Bethesda.

Among the ideas were cost-of-living, the perception that it’s hard to park, the lack of recreation space and those empty newspaper boxes.

At an Advisory Board meeting on Monday, Bethesda Urban Partnership Executive Director said he still gets complaints about the boxes. The nonprofit’s board has discussed the issue.

The Partnership is funded by the county to maintain the appearance of downtown Bethesda through landscaping, trash clean-up and other means.

Since his paper downsized, Gibson said his distribution staff has been real careful not to leave any boxes behind.

“When we were a newspaper and had local news, we actually had a great pick-up rate, because we are free. We tracked returns so we didn’t have any problems with boxes being empty or overflowing. That’s how in the past we used to do things,” Gibson said. “It’s just the nature of distribution. Having empty boxes on the street, first off, it’s a cost to us. We can use them in other places. It’s all money.”

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Museum is moving forward with Capen House plans despite lawsuit

On Wednesday morning, directors of Winter Park’s Albin Polasek Museum Sculpture Gardens gathered to break ground on the site that’s set to be the future home of the historic Capen House.

A day earlier, the city was served with a lawsuit that aims to keep the home, which traces its origins to 1885, from making its planned voyage across Lake Osceola to the museum grounds.

The suit was filed on behalf of a group of city residents calling themselves “Concerned Citizens for Historic Preservation” who live near the home. It also names as a defendant 520 N. Interlachen LLC, the entity formed by the home’s owners, John and Betsy Pokorny.

The couple wants to build a new home on the lot, and agreed to postpone demolition until the house could be moved.

The plaintiffs are represented by Orlando attorney Richard Wilson, who stepped in after Howard Marks stepped aside. Marks did not respond to requests for comment on why he left the case.

Wilson said the suit — which alleges the home’s historic designation was improperly removed, making it vulnerable to demolition — aims not only to keep the home on its lot at 520 N. Interlachen Ave., but to undo any changes made to prepare it for the move across the lake by barge.

Those changes are already moving along, said contractor Frank Roark. Landscaping and paving have been removed, and workers have been taking out electrical and plumbing connections.

Mark Terry, president of the Polasek board, said work would continue despite the suit. Under the museum’s agreement with the Pokornys, the house must be removed by year’s end. “If we don’t move forward,” Terry said, “we risk it being demolished.”

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper, while sympathetic, called the suit “baseless.”

“The lawsuit grew from frustration, and I understand that frustration,” she said.

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Students help plant rain garden for Trees Forever

By Luke Smucker

Posted Oct. 22, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

Pontiac, Ill.

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