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Archives for October 27, 2013

RE-LEAF: Check out these pumpkin picking tips

Debbie Frost

Debbie Frost

Posted: Sunday, October 27, 2013 5:00 am

RE-LEAF: Check out these pumpkin picking tips


Odessa American

Picking pumpkins can be great fun for decorating, carving and cooking. You can have pumpkins through Thanksgiving by using some of these guidelines when selecting the orange fruit.

If you want to have pumpkins you can both carve and cook with, look for “pie or sweet” pumpkins.

These are smaller than Jack-o-lantern pumpkins and the flesh is sweeter and less watery. These sweet pumpkins could be used uncarved in a group displayed with large pumpkins or they could be used as jack-o-lanterns.

When selecting pumpkins choose those that are completely orange, white or blue, but that have no green color on them. Green indicates immaturity and they won’t last as long. Select pumpkins whose skin is shiny and not easily penetrated with your thumbnail. They should also be blemish and puncture free. Small scraps and scratches are no big deal, but a puncture wound or cut is an open door for bacteria and subsequent decay.

Select pumpkins that have well attached, one to two inch long stems. Avoid those that are either broken or cut too short. When shopping for pumpkins, don’t pick them up by the stem, because the weight of the pumpkin can cause them to break off at the stem.

Don’t be afraid to pick a pumpkin with an odd or quirky shape. As long as there are no significant injuries or soft spots, there’s no reason not use them. Odd shapes don’t mean a short shelf life.

Pumpkins can be wiped down with a diluted bleach solution to extend their lifespan. A tablespoon of bleach in a gallon of water can be used to wipe the exterior to kill bacteria and reduce decay.

For lasting power, don’t display pumpkins on moist soil or moist organic matter. A dry bale of hay, upturned pot, wooden crate and any number of props make a good place to display pumpkins. A little air circulation will go a long way in preserving pumpkins.

Put a little extra color and re-leaf into your garden with pumpkins picked just right.

Frost is a local horticulturist specializing in regionally appropriate horticulture.


Sunday, October 27, 2013 5:00 am.

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Garden Tip: Hands off the roses!

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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Extension experts offer garden tips for fall

Posted: Sunday, October 27, 2013 3:15 am

Extension experts offer garden tips for fall

LINCOLN (AP) — Now that fall has arrived and cooler temperatures are becoming the norm, it’s time for Nebraska gardeners to determine what to harvest and when.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Office says some crops will need to be harvested before a frost, while others can withstand colder temperatures.

Warm weather crops that do not tolerate frost and low temperatures include tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, cucumbers and summer squash. Watermelon, pumpkin and corn also are sensitive to cool temperatures and can result in plant damage or death.

Crops that withstand a light frost between down to 30 degrees include beets, mustard, Chinese cabbage, radishes, collards, spinach, potatoes, Swiss chard, Bibb lettuce, green onions and leaf lettuce.

Crops that can withstand several freezes include cabbage, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, rutabagas, Brussels sprouts, and kale.


Sunday, October 27, 2013 3:15 am.

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Improvements to Easthampton’s Union Street topic of Monday meeting

EASTHAMPTON – Consultants with the Boston-based Cecil Group will present ideas for Union Street improvements Monday night, and planners hope resident will comment on the proposed designs.

The city received a $10,000 state grant in April to help planners look at the problems and issues on Union Street.

A meeting was held with residents in July and now the consultants are returning to present conceptual designs.

The focus is on pedestrian and bicycle safety, parking, landscaping, and vehicular traffic flow on Union Street.

Union Street is home to myriad businesses, including restaurants, a Rite-Aid Pharmacy, two gas stations and the Chamber of Commerce among its businesses. The city wants to create a more attractive and safer environment.

The city received the funding from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development from its Massachusetts Downtown Initiative program. The city received money from the same source years ago to look at similar issues on Cottage Street. 

The Massachusetts Cultural Council named that street a cultural district earlier this year, in part for its walkability. The city initially included Union Street in its plans for that district but then omitted it in part because it was deemed not walkable.

This will be the last meeting and workshop for the city, according to the flier promoting the event.

“With your perspective and inspirations, we will create a vision plan for the street and its edges. The meeting will build upon the key areas and topics discussed in the previous kickoff meeting, and review concepts, design suggestions, and enhancements proposed by The Cecil Group.”

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in Municipal Building.

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Backyard Landscaping Ideas – A Guide To Evergreen Trees And Shrubs – PR

Evergreen trees and
shrubs are generally more expensive than their counterparts, although many feel
that they are well worth the extra expense not only for their year-round
beauty, but also their reliability and longevity. Evergreens can range all the
way from broadleaved shrubs like rhododendron to the tall pines and spruces
that many people think of as simply “evergreens”.

Evergreen landscaping trees are the only choice you have to have an elegant looking
garden even when the winter comes and the snowflakes start to cover every
garden. These trees are of high worth because of the year-round plant life it
offers and because it has constant ornamental characteristics in which it
provides the garden with much fascination and style. Of course this is only
possible when the trees are placed properly. This will also result in keeping
high spirits during winter because as you witnessed other plants and trees lose
their leaves, the evergreen trees on your garden just standout dominantly
giving your garden a green appearance as compared with the brown twigs and
branches of the others.

selecting trees for your privacy hedge there are a few things to consider such
as how high you want your hedge to be, how wide of a space you have to fill and
the reason you are planting a hedge. Boxwood shrubs are one of the most popular
choices for privacy hedges since it is very versatile. They work good as a
hedge because of their dense foliage and unique growth pattern. They grow best in
sunlight with partial shade and need to be watered quite regularly. Boxwood
shrubs are easily to trim into the shape or design that you prefer. There are a
variety of shrubs to choose from depending on the size of your space and the
foliage colors of each variety.

a good idea to prune evergreens in the late spring just before the new buds
appear. And in the late fall give them a good deep watering to help prevent the
branches drying out and cracking under the weight of snow or the force of wind
during the winter. As you can see, there are a lot of varieties of evergreen
trees that accomplish many different tasks in a home landscaping design.
Hopefully this article will help you choose the one that will work best for
your home and help you care for it properly too.

Pickering writes on many consumer related topics including home improvement.
You can find evergreen landscaping,
evergreen landscaping
and evergreen landscaping design
by visiting our website 

Contact Info



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News from around Wisconsin at 5:58 p.m. CDT

Peaches and pears grow in an orchard across the street from Larry Adams’ home in one of Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhoods. A garden has been planted a few lots down, and another parcel serves as a nursery for a landscaping business his nonprofit is nurturing.

Adams, his wife and Walnut Way Conservation Corp., their community development organization, have been buying homes and other properties on surrounding streets, creating a local renaissance by renovating buildings, expanding urban agriculture and encouraging others to do the same.

The couple’s success has inspired Milwaukee leaders, overloaded with abandoned and foreclosed properties, to turn land over to residents who want to grow gardens, create parks and establish food-related businesses. The goal is to revitalize neighborhoods and cut costs while improving residents’ access to healthy food.

Many cities have looked to urban agriculture as a way to use open space and improve residents’ diets. Milwaukee borrowed some of those ideas, such as New York’s licensing of food carts that sell fruits and vegetables. The city also is updating zoning and other regulations for urban agriculture.

But the most attention-grabbing part of Milwaukee’s plan is selling tax-foreclosed properties, perhaps for as little as $100, to people who promise to produce food. The goal is to create radical change by focusing resources — at least initially — on one neighborhood, and to have residents lead the way. In other words, they want to make it “Home GR/Own.”

The seeds have been planted in Lindsey Heights, a neighborhood just northwest of downtown. Adams’ home is less than three miles from City Hall, but economically, the areas are worlds apart. The median household income here is $22,838, half that of downtown, and the unemployment rate is six times higher at nearly 24 percent, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

Venice Williams runs a community garden that serves as an incubator for food-related businesses on the Lindsey Heights border. She sees Home GR/Own as an opportunity for many gardeners to get land and strike out on their own.


Concerned residents sent a flurry of emails to Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna last month after two men showed up armed with assault rifles near the city’s farmers market, according to a new analysis.

A few emails supported the men’s Second Amendment rights, but most were from residents who threatened to stay away from future public events if firearms could be present, the Post Crescent Media reported ( ).

“As long as there are people with guns walking around this city, my family will not be,” wrote Adam Fredrick, of Appleton.

The men were carrying AR-15 assault rifles legally near the market on Sept. 7. Police detained them at gunpoint and handcuffed them before eventually releasing them without tickets.

“If these idiots are this paranoid perhaps they should stay home and protect their fortress and not wander around on the streets,” Mary Rutten, of Appleton, wrote of the men. “I do not want to live like this where people feel they have to carry guns to protect themselves at a public and/or family event.”

Other writers were worried about how the incident might affect the city’s reputation. Some asked Hanna to figure out creative ways to keep the city safe for families without violating state law.

Hanna noted that open-carry laws are governed by state statute and can’t be altered by city ordinance. He added that he’d like to see the state law changed, but acknowledged that the chances of that happening are remote.


The health care overhaul law has made insurance available to 500,000 Wisconsin residents who don’t already have it, but many are not aware of their standing.

Groups working to teach the uninsured about their options say they are having trouble finding and reaching those in need, the Post-Crescent Media reported ( ).

Some experts blame a lack of money and coordination.

“We just don’t have the resources to get out and really do the job we need to,” said Bobby Peterson, executive director of ABC for Health, a public-interest law firm in Madison that helps connect families around the state with health care.

Wisconsin’s community health centers received a $1.7 million federal grant to help enroll residents, and six other organizations got about $1 million more to target specific groups. But coordinators say that’s not enough to cover the cost of finding the half-million affected people and explaining complicated issues such as deductibles and premiums.

U.S. Rep Tom Petri, a Fond du Lac Republican who opposed the law, said the measure was inherently confusing, regardless of how much money was set aside to help explain it.

“I think there is bound to be a lot of confusion with the implementation of the law no matter how much money you spend advertising it,” he said in an email.


Rob Zerban (zer-BAHN’), the Democrat who lost to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan in last year’s election, is mounting a new challenge next year.

Zerban told The Associated Press this week he was getting back in the race. He made his announcement official Saturday at a rally in Kenosha.

He lost last year by 12 percentage points, 55 percent to 43 percent. But that was Ryan’s smallest margin of victory in eight races.

The 45-year-old Zerban is a former Kenosha County Board supervisor who used to run two small businesses. He blames Ryan for voting against ending the government shutdown, and for advancing a budget that cuts money from social-service programs.

Zerban says he supports green technology, immigration reform and same-sex marriage.

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Tom Eblen: How can lessons from Disney World help improve Lexington’s urban …

Beautiful landscapes enrich a city — well-tended flowers, trees, gardens and lawns. But when money is tight, it is easy to see them as frills, as costs to be cut.

What is the value of beauty? What is the cost of ugly?

The answer to both questions, says Katy Moss Warner, former president of the American Horticulture Society, is a lot.

Warner spent last week touring Lexington, speaking and meeting with people as an unpaid guest of Friends of the Arboretum and the Fayette County Master Gardeners.

Warner has a degree in landscape architecture and was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. But she said she learned the economic value of beautiful landscapes during the 24 years she spent supervising a staff of 700 as director of horticulture and environmental initiatives at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Disney spends millions each year on advertising and new attractions to lure new visitors. Warner said she struggled to prove the economic return on investing in landscape until visitor surveys revealed some interesting facts: 75 percent of Disney World’s visitors were repeat customers. Why did they keep returning?

“Atmosphere,” she said. “The beauty of the landscape. This is helpful information not just for Walt Disney World but for cities. If cities are beautiful, people will come back. Horticulture can drive revenue.”

At a lecture Wednesday, Warner said many people have “plant blindness” — they often don’t notice the plants around them or realize their value. We move so fast in our daily lives that we fail to notice “the subtle music that truly is the beauty of nature.”

Many cities think plants are nice, but not necessary. Study after study shows they are wrong, she said.

When a city’s public and private spaces are clean and well-landscaped, people tend to be happier, healthier and care more about their neighbors and community. Urban tree canopies reduce energy costs and calm traffic. Indoor plants filter pollution and make people feel better. Good landscaping increases property values.

In places that are ugly, barren or junky, where there is a lot of noise and artificial light pollution, crime goes up and private investment goes down. People understand, consciously or subconsciously, that they don’t want to be there.

“Schools are probably the most derelict landscapes we have,” Warner said. “We design them like prisons.”

But schools are a perfect place to teach children the importance of natural beauty with school vegetable and flower gardens, and planting trees as legacies.

Studies have shown that gardens make good learning environments, especially for students who struggle in structured classrooms. Warner said the most popular attraction at Disney’s Epcot is the vegetable and hydroponic gardens at the Land Pavilion.

Warner is a board member and volunteer for the non-profit organization America in Bloom, which helps cities learn beautification strategies from one another. At a Thursday workshop, she made a pitch for Lexington to participate.

The workshop at the University of Kentucky was attended by Vice Mayor Linda Gorton; three more Urban County Council members; Sally Hamilton, the city’s chief administrative officer; and more than 40 leaders in Lexington’s landscape, horticulture and sustainable agriculture movements. Earlier in the week, Warner met with Mayor Jim Gray.

This was Warner’s first visit to Lexington. She remarked on what a clean city it is for its size, in both affluent and not-so-affluent neighborhoods. She also was impressed by local food and recycling programs, and by good examples of historic preservation and adaptive reuse of old buildings.

In an interview afterward, I asked Warner what she would do to improve Lexington. Her observations were perceptive, especially considering she had spent only three days looking around.

“I think it’s a shame that so much of the historic fabric has been lost downtown, but those spaces offer an opportunity to bring back character through horticulture,” she said, adding that she thinks the Town Branch Commons plan is brilliant. “That could really be a signature for the city.”

Warner thinks Lexington also has a lot of opportunity for beautification by planting native plants, community gardens, installing rooftop greenhouses and by protecting existing assets such as the majestic, centuries-old trees that dot the landscape.

Lexington seems to have fewer walking paths and biking trails than other cities its size, Warner said, so there is an opportunity to create more of them to get people outside and closer to the landscape.

“As a community you also seem to have amazing talent, an amazing spirit, an amazing history,” she said. “I do believe that it takes the whole community to make the community beautiful.”

Tom Eblen: (859) 231-1415. Email: Twitter: @tomeblen. Blog:

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