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Archives for January 12, 2014

Join revitalization of Warren neighborhood – Trib


I am so happy that the houses are finally coming down, with the Moving Ohio Forward Grant money from the state of Ohio. I want to personally thank the MM demolition and landscaping company, special shout out to Flip and Dante, the excavating crane operators and the entire crew. I watched them take down three houses on Washington Street, which were beautiful once upon a time, but they had become havens for prostitutes and people up to no good. I spend countless hours picking up beer bottles, trash and used contraceptives to protect the children who catch the bus in the mornings on the corner of my street. Since the houses have come down it has changed the landscape of our neighborhood, and for that we are thankful.

I am proud to be a resident of Central City Warren Neighborhood, a.k.a. the “Garden District,” and look forward to the next few years of development by the residents of our neighborhood. This is the end of the second season for the community garden and finishing up our community pocket park. Both of these land reuse projects have brought pride back to our neighborhood by providing new and innovative ideas for our children to enjoy.

It could not have been done without support, and we thank the Trumbull 100 for their mini-grant to our community garden, special friends like Helen, Marie and Kenny and Robin for their gift to the project, even though they do not live in the immediate area. We appreciate R.J. Wean Foundation for their support of our neighborhood’s vision for itself. Our neighborhood has generated so many good reuse projects, and we are working toward changing the image of Warren as a whole. The city of Warren is made up of many parts, with many different needs; we are choosing to focus on ones that we can do for ourselves with a little financial help. I am happy that instead of focusing on what is not being done or being done wrong, we are moving forward on what we can do with a little bit of imagination and lots of elbow grease. Finding ways to repurpose land and resources has been both fun and very rewarding. Hopefully, this will develop strong neighborhood leadership that will share our values and concerns, and will communicate them in the necessary forums and keep us informed of important decisions that affect our city. We are glad that the city is moving forward so that we can continue working toward changing the reputation of the entire city of Warren, starting with “Area 51.”

Look for us to do our part of revitalization of Warren, and we are inviting some and challenging others to become a part of the solution.

What’s in your neighborhood?

— Joan S. Sullivan, Central City Neighborhood Association, Warren

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More planning than digging as Marconi looks at 2014

First Selectman Rudy Marconi has a lot on his desk for 2014, from working on further Schlumberger land sales to finding a new fire chief. —Macklin Reid photo

First Selectman Rudy Marconi has a lot on his desk for 2014, from working on further Schlumberger land sales to finding a new fire chief. —Macklin Reid photo

Continuing efforts to recover some of Schlumberger’s $7-million purchase cost by selling off parts of the property is a major priority for First Selectmen Rudy Marconi in 2014.

Other tasks on his to-do list include hiring a new fire chief, and finishing work on the proposed town blight ordinance.

He anticipates step-by-step progress toward a bike path envisioned as eventually connecting the trail at the Recreation Center site to Branchville, by using the Rail Trail, and will continue working with the state on plans to smooth Main Street traffic flow, with more turning lanes.

On the budget, Mr. Marconi expects town boards will collaborate in an effort to hold taxes to about a 2% increase. And he’ll unveil a request for a new $3-to-$4 million radio system for police, fire and emergency services.

The year 2014 will be distinguished by Ridgefielder Tucker West representing the United States in luge competition in the Winter Olympics, Mr. Marconi noted. It will see the 100th anniversary of the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association, as well as the 50th anniversary of two distinguished arts organizations, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art and the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra.

The anniversary of the orchestra’s founding is near the end of the year, he said, so the organization plans to celebrate 2015 as its 50th year.


The 45-acre Schlumberger property consumes attention.

“We closed on this property in 2012,” Mr. Marconi said. “We need to continue to work on that.”

A town meeting has approved a $1.24-million sale of five acres to developer Steve Zemo, so the selectmen are focused on trying to sell 10 acres off Sunset Lane for residential development.

“We have solicited bids and are currently negotiating with at least one and as many as possibly four different bidders for the 10-acre parcel,” Mr. Marconi said.

The selectmen are continuing talks about selling parts of the former scientific research campus as a storage site for an art collection, and Schlumberger’s environmental clean-up in the area continues.

But some residents, most persistently Chuck Hancock of North Street, have lobbied to get townspeople more opportunity to discuss the plans, offer ideas, raise objections.

“Any time a resident is concerned and feels there hasn’t been enough transparency is a concern to me,” Mr. Marconi said.

“But at the same time I responded to Mr. Hancock that what was proposed as a vision for the use of the property over two years ago continues to be exactly how the property is being divided and sold.

“Suffice it to say at this point I will be asking the Board of Selectmen to consider Mr. Hancock’s request that we slow things up — I don’t know how much slower we could go — and get a little more input from residents,” Mr. Marconi said.

“That doesn’t mean the Board of Selectmen would agree that we stop negotiations, because this what we told the public we’d be doing from the beginning,” he said.

Blight law

The proposed blight law has been months in the works — and a draft was headed for a public hearing Wednesday.

A town meeting would be the next step to be considered.

It’s the second time in Mr. Marconi’s tenure as first selectman that the board has worked on a blight law, though the previous effort never got to a town meeting.

“We’ve been working on this for several years,” Mr. Marconi said.

Main Street traffic

The Main Street traffic redesign aims to reducing congestion — no easy task.

“This is a project that has been ongoing for the last three years with the State of Connecticut,” Mr. Marconi said. “For overview, the hope is to create traffic lanes allowing cars heading north from the fountain, when they get to the center of town there will be a left-hand turn at Catoonah Street and a separate right-hand lane to allow those cars to bypass cars making a left onto Catoonah Street.

“What delays traffic now is, if you have more than two cars waiting — or one car — making a left on Catoonah Street, traffic is stalled completely, to the south, sometimes missing an entire rotation of the traffic signal lights.

“Additionally, heading south, when approaching town hall, there will be a left-hand turn into Bailey Avenue, with a direct travel lane through on the right side, thereby eliminating the necessity of cars having to stop to wait for the left-hand vehicles to make their turn.”

Governor and Catoonah streets will be “nominally” widened to three lanes, so traffic onto Main will have two stacking lanes, one for turns in each direction. The third lane is for cars turning off Main onto the side street.

“In addition to the lane realignment, the parking area in front of the Addessi and Ridgefield Hardware block will be constructed of a different material than asphalt — possibly Belgian block — to differentiate the parking area from the travel portion.

“The loading zone is being eliminated completely, and other arrangements will need to be made with stores, and the delivering companies,” Mr. Marconi said. “That’s up to them. But trucks will no longer be allowed to park in the middle of the street.

“We attempted a multitude of solutions, all of which met with rejection by one or more of the parties.”

And another cross-walk would be added, going from near Town Hall and Century 21, across the street to Neumann Real Estate, creating a fourth crossing at that light.

“And, finally, given the removal the elm tree at the intersection of Prospect and Main Streets, we will be asking the DOT to review the realignment of that intersection, and the synchronization of that traffic light with Catoonah and Governor, allowing for a smoother flow of traffic,” Mr. Marconi said.

“Of course, the project would take into consideration all the amenities — landscaping plantings, sidewalk improvements, drop curbs for handicapped accessibility,” he said. “Some of the landscaping would be the removal of some of the overgrown trees that need to taken down and replaced.

The work is to be done with federal and state money — but not soon.

“We’ve probably got a good two or three years prior to the work beginning,” he said. “We’ve already discussed the work taking place during the evening hours.”

Bike trail

Mr. Marconi cited another long-term project should make some progress: “The Bike Path, the beginning of which is evidenced with the installation of the walking bridge over the Ridgefield Brook at Route 35, adjacent to the Parks and Recreation Center.”

The planned route would go from the footbridge down Route 35 to Copps Hill Plaza with a sidewalk, cross to Farmingville Road, then go through the Great Swamp to an area near the Goodwill trailer, and through the Schlumberger property to the connect to the Rail Trail.

Connecticut Light Power, which owns the Rail Trail, will change policy to allow bicycles to use it. “They have agreed to that, considering the town is willing to sign an agreement on liability,” Mr. Marconi said.

“There is no intention at this point in changing the current surface,” he added. “It’s stone dust.”

The idea is to do the project over several years, without using town tax dollars.

“We have groups that have organized already to begin soliciting of funding contributions, as well as exploring grants,” Mr. Marconi said.

“This next calendar year, we’d hope to have our sidewalks completed — from where it currently ends, it would extend south to Copps Hill Road,” he said. “And perhaps some work on the Rail Trail in addressing safety concerns along some steep embankments.”

Fire chief

Finding a new fire chief to replace Heather Burford, who led the department for seven years and left for a job in Florida,  will involve several levels of review. There be the screening of applications, a questionnaire step with applicants’ responding in essay format, then interviews by a panel of fire chiefs from other departments. They’d recommend some candidates for interview by town department heads, and the volunteer department.

The decision will be made by the Board of Selectmen.

“You’re going to be looking at two to three months,” Mr. Marconi said. “Kevin Tappe, our acting chief, will continue to oversee the operations of the fire department.”

Charter revision

The recently appointed Charter Revision Commission starts its process tonight, Thursday, Jan. 9, with a “kick-off public hearing” at 6:30 in town hall.

“This will be the first of several public hearings,” Mr. Marconi said. “Each department, commission, has been asked to review their specific area of the charter and to make any recommendations that they may have.

“It is the responsibility of the Charter Revision Commission to collect, digest and in the end file a report to Board of Selectmen, with its recommendations for any changes,” he said.

“The Board of Selectmen then reviews and votes on what to send forward to the public to be voted on in the November 2014 election.”

Tight budget

Mr. Marconi wants to keep budgeting tight, he said.

“The unemployment rate in Ridgefield  continues to hover at the 5.8% level; normally about 2%. So we need to keep that in mind,” he said.

He recalled that Finance Board Chairman Dave Ulmer suggested that if town and school requests were held to about 3% spending increases, the finance board could look for non-tax revenue in the fund balance and try to present voters with a tax increase in the 2% range.

“I feel we need to continue to be conservative in our spending,” Mr. Marconi said.

The selectmen’s budget meetings start  in February.

A substantial request Mr. Marconi anticipates is for “a new town-wide radio system for police, fire, emergency services” proposed by a Radio Communications Task Force, which has representation from the police, fire chiefs and emergency management departments.

“The last time we did this was 12, 13 years ago,”  Mr. Marconi said.  “This is an antiquated system.”

The new system may total close to $4 million, he said, which would use nearly all of what the selectmen like to allow for capital budget spending a given year.

“A $4 million request for radio communications improvements on the heels of a $5 million allocation for the library is not coming at a good time,” Mr. Marconi said, “and we may have to hold off on that for a few years.”

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Avocados worth the effort

I don’t know about you, but I’m an avocado fiend. I adore these delicious little fruits, particularly the rich, creamy Hass that’s widely cultivated in California and parts of the Southwest. And, like so many of us, every time I wrench a pit out of an avocado to get at the goodness inside, I mull over the thought of growing my own avocado tree. I’ve even sprouted a seed or two in my day, but I never really committed to the project, assuming it was too cold for me to grow avocados, and thinking it would be too much work.

Turns out, I was wrong.

While avocados can be a bit fussy (they really prefer to be grown in USDA zones 9-11, although you can grow them in greenhouses), it’s totally worth a try. Even if you don’t get your avocado tree to bear fruit (and we’ll talk about that more in a moment), avocado trees are actually rather gorgeous, and well worth keeping up as part of your landscaping. You can buy them at some nurseries to get a jump start, but the fun part is actually sprouting them from seed — though be warned, because commercial avocados are grown with grafting techniques, your tree might not behave exactly as you expect. If you want a reliable outcome, you’ll have to go with buying a tree from a nursery. Consider this more like a fun gardening experiment.

Start out with an avocado pit. Make sure to cut the fruit open carefully to get to the pit, and take it out without disrupting the layer of brown material on the outside of the pit. Run it under water to remove any remaining flesh, which could rot and damage the pit while it’s sprouting. Then, point the narrower end up (that’s where the tree will sprout) and the broader end down (that’s where your taproot will develop) and use a few toothpicks or prongs to pierce it, much like you’re setting up a Christmas tree stand.

Rest the edges of the toothpicks on a glass, bowl, or similar container and fill it with water. Make sure to let the top of the pit stay dry, while the bottom of the pit stays wet, and change the water every three to six days, keeping the pit in a bright, sunny, warm area of the house. It can take up to two months for an avocado pit to sprout, and while you’re waiting, make sure it doesn’t develop mold and mildew. If you’re having trouble with light levels, talk to your Dallas electrician about setting up a grow light.

You’ll know you have a starter when your seed starts to dry out and crack at the top, sloughing away the brown casing material. A small shoot will start to appear, even as a taproot develops at the base of the pit and branches out into a series of roots. Keep the avocado pit watered, warm, and well-lit for several weeks, until the young tree is about a hands-length tall. Cut the stem back to promote healthy growth (I know, it feels cruel, but do it anyway!) and then allow it to grow back to the same height before potting it up in rich, moist soil.

As your avocado tree grows, you can gradually transplant it into larger containers, and eventually into the ground. If you live somewhere warm and temperate, your avocado tree will likely be happy outdoors in a sheltered, sunny place. If you live somewhere cooler, keep your avocado in a wheeled container so you can move it indoors for wintering on a sun porch or in a sunny part of the house.

Avocado maintenance is actually pretty simple. Periodically pinch the leaves back to encourage the tree to develop a bushy form, rather than a leggy one. Generally, you can pinch the top two leaves to promote the formation of branches, rather than more leaves, and as the branches grow out, you can keep doing this to make your avocado even in form. If your avocado starts being nibbled on by aphids or other insects, wash it in warm water with mild dish soap, or consider applying neem oil, a good source of natural pest control.

Is your tree browning? It may be drying out, or it could be upset about being buffeted by winds. Looking wilty? Low water may be a problem, but it could also be drowning in too much water, so check the soil carefully. Houseplant food with a good balance of nitrogen and zinc is usually sufficient for avocados.

So, when will your tree produce fruit? It takes around five to seven years for a tree to fully mature and start bearing, and be aware that avocados are what is known as alternate barriers. That means that one year, they’ll set a large crop, and the next year will be smaller. The year following will have a large crop, and so forth.

Avocados are also not very good at pollinating themselves, although they technically can. The problem is that while the flowers are both male and female, the sex organs open at different times, making it difficult for the pollen to reach the female organs and fertilize them, even with bees or manual pollination. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a second tree around to help out; when the female parts are open on the first tree, the male flower parts on the second tree produce pollen to fertilize them.

These fruits are actually pretty special snowflakes in the flowering department. The trees are broadly broken into two categories. “A” avocados open their female parts in the morning of the first day of flowering, and their male parts in the afternoon of the second day. “B” avocados do the opposite. If you have one of each, they’ll fertilize each other, and the trees should both set fruit.

Hass is probably the most famous A variety, but there are a number of others, including Pinkertons. Bacon and Fuerte cultivars, meanwhile, fall into the B category. (Yes, there’s an avocado cultivar called “Bacon.”) Get one of each, and you’ll be getting happy avocado fruit! Once a tree starts fruiting, unless it’s damaged or diseased, it can keep going for decades…or hundreds of years, as attested by some truly ancient but still productive Mexican avocado trees.

P.S. If you’re running out of ideas for that bumper avocado crop, here are some tips.

Katie Marks writes for

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Gary workshop teaches benefits of rain barrels – Post

By Sue Ellen Ross
Post-Tribune correspondent

January 10, 2014 2:16PM

Students and volunteers at Banneker Achievement Center joined principal Sarah Givens and Gary Community School Corporation superintendent Cheryl Pruitt last fall in planting trees as part of a rain garden at the school. | Anthony KaDarrell Thigpen/For Sun-Times Media

Visitors to the recent Rain Barrel and Rain Garden Workshop at the Douglas Environmental Center in Gary gained more than just information about recycling water and building a rain garden. They also learned exactly what to plant in those gardens, and received a rain barrel for their home.

“We encourage everyone to use these rain barrels (to recycle rain water) and you don’t have to limit yourself to only one,” said Grayling Brown, member of the Student Conservation Association.

“There’s a big benefit involved here — saving money on water bills as we maintain our gardens and landscaping.”

The SCA is a national non-profit with hundreds of teams throughout the U. S. working on projects dedicated to good stewardship over land and communities.

Other topics discussed included the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Goals, presented by the Gary Storm Water Management District; Benefits of a Rain Barrel to Homeowners; Basics of a Rain Garden; Introduction to Native Plants; and Storm Water Pollution Prevention for Citizens, all presented by members of the SCA.

“People need to know about their environment and what they can do to help,” said SCA team leader Jessica Zimmerman.

The GLRI’s mission includes a partnership with the Gary Storm Water Management District and the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, as well as the SCA. The grant funding the projects is from the Environmental Protection Agency to address water quality in the Great Lakes region.

The goal is to decrease the amount of water entering the storm sewer system, as well as improve the quality of water that does enter the MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System.)

As part of the grant, the Miller section of Gary was chosen for the development of 12 rain gardens. The Miller MS4 drains directly into the Marquette Park Lagoon.

The gardens were installed this past fall by SCA members on city-owned property that accumulated excess water during storms and snow melts. After the program is completed and evaluated, plans call for other gardens of this type to be planted throughout the city in the future, according to Zimmerman.

“This (project) was a pilot program, to be a template for other towns and cities,” she added.

A variety of native plants were placed within the gardens.

“These plants have a very deep root system, and they need very little care, as they thrive mostly on their own with no special fertilizers or chemicals,” Zimmerman said.

Gloria Allen lives on a small hill near one of the rain gardens located on Miami Street.

She said that representatives from SCA came through the neighborhood, explaining how, when and where the garden would be located. All the neighbors were pleased with the project, she added.

“This (landscaping) is wonderful, a beautiful way to greet people to our neighborhood,” she said of the planting. “And it’s practical, because there’s always water collecting at the bottom of the hill.”

The rain gardens in Miller are located at 7526 Ash Ave.; 300, 500 and 542 N. Miami St.; 100, 700 and 800 Montgomery St.; 6910 Forest St.; 735, and 760 Morgan St.; the intersection of Forest and Morgan Sts., and Banneker Achievement Center.

The Banneker Achievement Center development involved students, who aided in the design and picking out which trees would be planted, according to Sandy Rodriguez, project manager.

“The young people are our future,” she said. “We need to teach them and emphasize good stewardship and concern for this earth that has been entrusted to us.”

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Prison Gardens Help Inmates Grow Their Own Food — And Skills

Last week, we reported on the correctional industry’s enduring practice of punishing certain inmates with a bland, lumpish food known as “the loaf.”

Fortunately, there are also more encouraging stories to tell about prison food.

It turns out there’s a pretty vibrant movement of prison vegetable gardens across the country that provide inmates with satisfying work, marketable skills and fresh food to eat. From Connecticut to Minnesota to California, correctional authorities are finding all kinds of reasons to encourage inmates to produce their own food inside the walls.

Recently, we got a rare glimpse behind those walls — of those gardens — at the San Quentin State Prison outside San Francisco, thanks to this video from Planting Justice. The Bay Area group works with less-advantaged communities on food by building gardens and creating jobs in urban food production.

In the video, filmed in December, we see inmates at San Quentin building five raised beds for vegetables in the prison yard of the medium security unit. The inmate Charles’ excitement about the prospect of a homegrown tomato is pretty palpable. It’s the first vegetable garden inside a California state prison.

Planting Justice helped oversee the garden project in partnership with Insight Garden Program, which has been helping inmates at San Quentin rehabilitate and get training in flower gardening since 2003.

Those gardening skills are being put to use once the men leave San Quentin as well. In the past three years, Planting Justice has hired 10 former inmates to work on landscaping jobs, according to the group’s website. They get an entry-level wage of $17.50 per hour.

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, more than four in 10 offenders return to prison within three yeas. By contrast, Planting Justice says the recidivism rate for the men who go through the garden program is 10 percent. Programs in other states have had similar successes — apparently, gardening behind bars seems to help people steer clear of crime once they get out.

In 2012, Nourishing the Planet, a blog of the Worldwatch Institute, put together this list of five urban garden prison projects. It notes that not only do the garden programs help with rehabilitation, they also often save states and local government thousands of dollars.

And one prison garden in Missouri was reportedly so bountiful, it had extra produce — 163 tons’ worth — to donate to food pantries, shelters, churches, nursing homes and schools in 2013.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

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Good fences help to foster good gardens – Tribune

Vegetable gardens and groundhogs do not mix. These vegetarian mammals can turn even the most peaceable gardener into a vigilante, as the groundhogs take a single bite out of each ripe tomato and chomp lettuce and broccoli plants down to the nub.

As agile climbers and proficient diggers, groundhogs are able to scale a fence just as swiftly as they can burrow beneath one; readily foiling any attempt to keep them out of the veggie patch.

Excluding groundhogs from the garden without resorting to bullets or traps does require a bit of finesse, but it’s perfectly doable. If you are looking for a late-winter project to thwart groundhogs during the coming garden season, here’s a fencing solution tested by the Humane Society of America and determined to be the most effective groundhog-resistant option. I know several gardeners who have used it, and they all confirm that it works like a charm.

Start with enough 6-foot-tall PVC-coated welded wire fencing (with 1-inch-by-2-inch or 2-inch-by-4-inch openings), or galvanized PVC-coated hexagonal wire mesh, to surround your garden, plus 3 extra feet to construct the gate base.

Hammer a 4-foot-tall studded metal fence post — also called a T-stake or T-post — every 6 feet around the garden’s perimeter, positioning a pair 3 feet apart to flank the gate opening. Be sure the wing-shaped metal bracket on each post is fully underground and the fence clips are facing the garden’s exterior. Three feet of each fence post should remain aboveground.

Attach one end of the fence to one of the gate posts by pressing it into the post clips or using plastic zipties; allow 18 inches of the fencing to extend out from the bottom and another 18 inches above the top of the posts. Continue securing the wire mesh by moving from post to post.

Bend the excess lower fencing to form an “Lâ€� against the ground (the base of the “Lâ€� should be to the outside of the garden). Use landscape pins to firmly secure this on-ground portion every 1 or 2 feet. This thwarts the groundhog’s excavating endeavors.

Then, bend the surplus top fencing very slightly toward the outside of the garden, essentially creating a sideways “U� with the opening aimed away from the garden. As the groundhog climbs, his weight folds the “U� and he drops to the ground — outside the fence.

To craft the gate, use a wire cutter to remove the bottom 18 inches of the fence and size the gate’s width so it overlaps the opposite post by a few inches. The gate can be held closed by a double-ended snap clip at the top and the bottom. Cut a separate piece of 3-foot-by-3-foot fencing and use landscape pins to secure it flush to the ground under the fence.

Tunneling under or scrambling over this fence is a near impossible mission. Groundhog-plagued gardeners rejoice!

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners� at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden.� Her website is

Send your gardening or landscaping questions to or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

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Tips for Teachers for Teaching Aquaponics in the Classroom


Photo courtesy of The Aquaponic Source


Teachers are continually looking for innovative ways to reach and engage their students. Many are turning to in-class projects, such as aquaponics. The process of doing aquaponics in the classroom can be easier than one might think and it provides students with information and hands-on experience that is hard to beat.

“Teachers who engage their students in the world of aquaponics are teaching them so much,” explains Sylvia Bernstein, president of The Aquaponic Source, and author of the book “Aquaponics Gardening: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together” (New Society Publishers, October 2011). “The students are learning about a sustainable way to grow food, as well as how food production works.”

Aquaponics is a sustainable way to grow food that combines raising fish and plants symbiotically. Students who are exposed to aquaponics in the classroom will learn scientific and agricultural principals that can be applied for the rest of their lives. Here are some tips for teachers who may want to get started teaching the system in their classroom:
• Find funding. Cash-strapped schools and teachers may feel it is difficult to start up a new project like aquaponics. Get creative in order to secure funds for the necessary equipment. Speak with the Parent Teacher Association, apply for a grant, or create an online fundraising effort. Once you explain to people the benefits of having students involved, raising the funds should be simple.

• Purchase the equipment. Once funds are secured, the next step will be to purchase the necessary equipment, which includes fish, plants, aquarium, and worms. Be sure to speak with an expert for advice on this, so that each purchase can be tailored to your plans.

• Get students on board. Talk about the program with them and get them excited about what will be taking place. The more they are involved in the process, the more likely they will be to enjoy it and get more out of the whole experience.

• Monitor the progress. Once you have the system up and running, keep track of the progress and tout its success. Let others at the school, as well as the parents, know about it. The more people you can expose to this sustainable form of gardening, the better.

• Eat the food. Give students the ultimate lesson by letting them eat the food that they helped grow. Plan a day where the food will be prepared and everyone can participate, in order to get the full experience.

“We work with numerous teachers to help them with classroom aquaponics,” added Bernstein. “We always get great feedback in return, and we know the many benefits that the students are receiving. This is a winning curriculum for everyone!”

The Aquaponic Source offers a teacher’s curriculum guide, which features lessons to be taught sequentially. A teacher section and a student section are also included. The teacher section includes lessons, a materials list, background information, and an answer key. The student section includes a vocabulary list, lecture, activities, conclusion, and assessment. The information in the curriculum covers all aspects of aquaponics, including its history, sustainability, benefits, and more.

In addition to Bernstein’s book, she is owner of The Aquaponic Source center, located in Longmont, Colo., 15 minutes NE of Boulder. The center focuses on all things Aquaponics, and features a retail store, education center, and research and development lab. They offer free tours every Saturday at 1:00 and on-site classes, which teaches people how to be successful with aquaponics. The retail store sells all of the necessary supplies, including aquaponics systems and aquaponics plumbing kits. For more information, visit the site at:

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Gardening tips for yellow rose plants

Roses are the most cherished flowers all over the globe. They resemble friendship, peace, love and so many other emotions. Roses have different colors and each signifies a feeling or emotion. Red Rose signifies love and romance, Yellow rose signifies warmth and care, pink signifies elegance and likewise white rose signifies peace, purity and innocence. Roses are used for gifting, decoration and gardening purposes.

Roses are widely used for gardening and decoration of backyard and porches. Roses are delicate and beautiful to grow. But they are very difficult to maintain. Yellow roses are also very slender and fragile to grow. They need special attention and extra care. Yellow roses are sensitive to temperature and climate and thus need different requirements to grow as the season changes. There are many guidelines and gardening tips available for gardening of roses.

Gardening tips for yellow rose plants

Some guidelines and gardening tips that would help to grow yellow roses are discussed below:-

1.Watering the yellow roses – A must gardening tip is the watering routine that should be followed for roses. They should be watered regularly during dry seasons like the summer season. During monsoon, water the plant during the days when there is no rain or less rain. When watering the rose plants be careful and take a few precautions. Do not wet the leaves of the plants as that may cause a few diseases or infections. The water should always be sprinkled on the ground or mud and not on the plant directly. The plant should receive ample water through the roots.

2.Fertilizers and Pesticides – Roses are very delicate and are quite prone to getting infected immediately. Therefore, make it a point to use proper fertilizers and pesticides for the rose plant. Avoid using chemical based medicines as they can have harsh effect on the environment. Yellow rose plants need a good amount of compost as well. Use natural compost like vegetable waste, kitchen waste, cow dung, etc. A good gardening tip to grow yellow roses is to use natural fertilizers and compost for enhancing the growth of the plant.

3.Temperature Sensitive – Yellow rose plants are sensitive to temperature and climatic fluctuations. To protect the plant from these variations use different measures in different seasons. In the winter season, use barriers across the plants to avoid it getting exposed to the harsh winter winds. For summer season, water the plant regularly so that it does not dry and dehydrate. Yellow rose plants are fragile and personal attention should be given to the plants especially when the flower is budding. This is one gardening tip that should be followed for growing yellow roses.

4.Sunlight – Yellow rose plants need ample amount of sunlight to grow healthy and fast. When planting the plant do not plant it in a shady place. A good gardening tip to grow yellow plants is to grow the plant in an area where there is good sunlight available for atleast 4-5 hours a day. This should be the minimum requirement for growing rose plants.

5.Area – Roses need space to grow. You cannot just clatter a lot of rose plants in a small area and expect them to grow healthy. Rose plants should be separately grown as that would also minimize the chances of getting any disease or infection from other plants.

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What’s new in 2014? Cool colors, hot fabrics

With a new year come new trends in home design and decorating. Among them: paler walls contrasted with colorful furniture, and plenty of personal expression, design experts say.


Whisper-soft, ultra-pale shades of pink —described by designers as “blush tones” — are back. But the ’80s haven’t returned, says designer Brian Patrick Flynn says, at least not entirely.

“What’s different about blush this time around is what it’s paired with. In 1985, you’d find it paired with mauve and black with tons of shiny brass accents. Flash forward to today and blush is likely to be paired with preppy, masculine tones,” says Flynn, founder of Flynnside Out Productions.

His favorite blush paint is Barely Blush from Glidden, which he contrasts with navy blue: “The deep, rich personality of the navy actually washes out the blush, almost causing it to look white, and the overall effect is fresh and gorgeous.”

Speaking of white walls, Los Angeles-based designer Betsy Burnham sees those coming back in a big way.

“I used to think white walls looked unfinished,” she says. “But I’ve completely come around on this one, because white is the ultimate palette cleanser. It gives every space — even the most traditional — a modern edge, and sets the stage wonderfully for layers of color in upholstery, accessories, area rugs and art.”

But while wall colors are getting softer and paler, the opposite seems to be happening with furniture.

“Strong colors on upholstery are becoming more of the norm,” says Kyle Schuneman, founder of Live Well Designs, who spent a chunk of 2013 designing his first line of furniture, in collaboration with retailer Apt2B.

He opted to create sofas in bright blues and shades of orange because “a bright sofa is no longer just for a creative office waiting room,” he says. “People are bringing them into their homes.”

One bold color to approach carefully this year: red-violet. “Red-violet is the Pantone color of the year for 2014,” Flynn says. “As a designer whose specialty is using color, let me tell you something: Red-violet is about as complex as it gets.”

“My trick for using it right is pairing it with black, white and brass,” he says. “It’s not all that overwhelming, since it’s balanced by the neutrality of the black and white, and made a bit more chic and regal with the brass.”


“For accessories, the trend seems to be getting away from color and going more into rich textures like horn, aged metallics and linens,” Schuneman says. “The absence of color is becoming chic for smaller items.”

One texture Flynn says will have a big moment in 2014: felt.

“Have you looked at Pinterest lately? It’s like every fifth photo you see involves felt! Ever since the handmade movement kicked in back in 2010, felt has been used in unexpected ways and in a modern fashion,” Flynn says. “What makes it such a favorite for designers is how easy it is to work with. It’s amazing for door upholstery due to its stiffness. It makes for awesome craft material, since it’s easy to cut and stitch, and it’s awesome for kids.”

An easy project for even the DIY-challenged: “I modernized the classic kindergarten felt wall in a boy’s room by covering a wall with batting, then literally upholstering it with white and blue felt, then cutting tons of felt into random objects and characters to give the kids something interactive and stylish.”


“The idea of personalization is becoming stronger and stronger,” Schuneman says. “People are wanting their homes to reflect a more unique perspective.”

So rather than assuming that everyone will be buying the same popular items, “stores are doing limited runs on items more often, like art in series or a special brand collaboration for just a season,” he says.

Burnham agrees. Homeowners are increasingly looking to “large-scale wall hangings” and other pieces of art to express themselves, she says, rather than doing it with bold wall color.

“Boy, am I sick of accent walls. I really believe that trend is out! I vote for art every time,” Burnham says. “If you’re looking for something to cover big, blank areas, shop on Etsy for macrame pieces. They add such wonderful texture to your walls, and artists like Sally England have brought them back into vogue.” 

She also recommends hunting for vintage posters that speak to you. Find them through online dealers and auction houses, and then frame them in a group. 

“While the vintage ones are a bit of an investment,” Burnham says, “they can be a lot more reasonably priced than large-scale paintings and photographs.”

Another way Americans are increasingly customizing their space, according to Flynn: Western-inspired décor.

“For years I’ve seen taxidermy make its way into mainstream design, yet reinvented in new ways. Lately, I’ve been looking to Ralph Lauren-like cabins of the Western United States for inspiration in my own home. I think a lot of cabin-inspired colors such as pea greens, hunter greens and camouflage-inspired prints will become super popular.”

Flynn’s cabin in the north Georgia mountains is currently decorated in pea green and accented with heavy, masculine fabrics, Western hats and antlers.


“Tons of new-construction homes have awkward bonus rooms” that homeowners aren’t sure how to furnish, Flynn says.

One suggestion: “Why not turn that space into an extra sleeping area that can accommodate multiple guests, but in a super-stylish, architectural manner? That’s where the art of built-in bunks comes in,” Flynn says.

“I turned a dated attic into a bunk room and play space for two young brothers by using one wall as floor-to-ceiling, mid-century-style bunks. This isn’t exactly cheap to do, but it’s well worth the investment since it maximizes space and adds an architectural focal point, albeit one that’s functional, to otherwise dead space.”

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What European garden designers really think of Britain


(Inge Nijs)

“I travelled a lot in England with my father [Jacques Wirtz, also a
landscape designer] when I was young. Back then, before the Channel tunnel,
exploring England still felt like an adventure. I see your tradition in the
perspective of the whole history of European garden design. Some places that
are not so well known in England, but which I am quite fond of, stretch the
perception of what English design is. I found that some of your older great
gardens – like Montacute, Athelhampton, Parham House – and also prehistoric
sites like Avebury, were fantastic, mind-blowing and also very modern to my

“Such places take English garden design far away from the herbaceous
borders, the cottage style, and the fascination with planting schemes.

“Then there is the work of Lutyens – we saw Marsh Court, Folly Farm,
Castle Drogo. I also stayed at Little Thakeham when it was still a hotel.
There, he cuts through his perspective with a pergola – a raised pergola.
This is so bold. So modern. I find it almost more modern than the New
Perennials planting wave… As a boy of 14 I fell in love, I was moonstruck by
Sissinghurst. The tall walls covered with purple and blue clematis. For me
this is all about elevating the human being from the banality of everyday
life into the illusion of a higher state of mind. This is what English
gardens did to me.”




“From a global perspective, British garden design still stands at the
very top of the industry. When I’m speaking at events in Europe or the US, I
know that simply being based in London and making gardens in the UK is
something that draws people.

“I think the British will always be obsessed with the roses and a
romantic idea for their gardens; it comes with their love and connection to
their landscape. The openness and accessibility to the country with the
rights of way and rambling are entrenched in your national psyche – which is
something I have no reference to in Italy, because you’d get shot if you
wandered around like that!

“For centuries the British have been a nation at the vanguard of garden
design and planting. But it now feels like there is a chasm here that hasn’t
yet been bridged between herbaceous borders and roses and romantic gardens,
and how grasses and perennials are used in new ways. Not only in the scale
of the space, but also because the marine climate of Britain does not
provide the roasting summers or crisp winters that gardens of the Low
Countries or the East Coast of the US exploit to such effect.

“I feel that many garden designers are influenced too greatly by the New
Perennials movement and attempt to overlay it as some kind of template onto
spaces for which this approach is not necessarily the best. It becomes
fashionable; everything starts to look more and more the same. Perhaps
having 24/7 access to images from across the world has an effect of limiting
creativity; we no longer have the time and patience to engage with or become
immersed in landscapes, paintings and other things.”


The Netherlands

(Maayke de Ridde)

“I made a short trip to England in early November, so my observation is
influenced by that. At Houghton, Castle Howard and Chatsworth, the greatness
and splendour of British gardens was obvious again. But the walled garden at
Scampston, with its glorious plantings by Piet Oudolf, posed an interesting
question: can historic places be part of the present debate about the future
of gardens and parks? Since gardens and parks (and landscapes for that
matter) work with material that grows and decays, keeping them in good shape
is a design issue. Therefore, historic gardens should be included in the
current debate.

“The quality of Piet’s design is not only fantastic because of his
abundant planting schemes, but also for its new interpretation of the walled

“If we compare this with infill of the walled gardens at some of the
other grand houses, we see the difference in attitude. There also we have
well-kept gardens, but in a layout and with plantings that suggest that it
is all historic, when in fact the work is mostly relatively recent.

“The new naturalistic aesthetic, of which Piet is a great promoter, will
stay with us for some time, I think. Quite rightly – because it is
colourful, has visual interest and ecological merits.”



“I am a great fan of English planting and I do believe that English
gardening represents an art form comparable to poetry, music, painting and
sculpture. On the other hand, I think it is difficult for young English
garden designers to create something that is truly modern.

“The romantic British garden still has its influence: there are several
young Chinese landscape architects who are now making real money designing
so-called modern gardens that look like a pale imitation of some
20th-century masterpiece of English garden design. But the line between
masterpiece and bad taste is very, very thin. Somehow William Robinson’s
natural gardens have had a devastating impact in Britain, destroying the
creativity of generations of garden designers. (It’s similar to what
happened to architects after Le Corbusier.) Of course, this does not mean
that England is without talented garden designers who are under 40 years

“Six years ago, my wife, Benedetta, and I drove by motorcycle from Milano
to Dungeness, just to see Derek Jarman’s garden at Prospect Cottage.
Amazing. For me, that small garden without any framing is an exquisite form
of modernity. The force of that garden is twofold. First, Jarman’s aesthetic
sense of a self-healing landscape, in which rust becomes a positive and all
the found objects do not simply become older but ripen with age. Second, the
way the extraordinary power of violent nature is understood as a blessing,
not a problem.”



“Obviously I know and admire the work of Dan Pearson, Beth Chatto and Tom
Stuart-Smith – their marvellous knowledge of the textures, mixes and
refinements of plants, the way they fine-tune the leaves, forms, colours and
flowers of plants, all the thousands of possible combinations, making the
gardener a magnificent connoisseur of botany.

“Much has changed in English gardening since Edwardian times and Gertrude
Jekyll. There are some similarities and some differences resulting from this
evolution over time. Both traditional and the newer English gardens remind
me of the millefleur tapestries of the Lady and the Unicorn [at the
Cluny Museum, in Paris] and The Hunt of the Unicorn [in New York’s
Cloisters Museum]. In my opinion, this floral language represents a search
for the origins, the splendour and the primal variety of the world.

“Two British gardeners who undoubtedly changed the vision of gardeners
for ever are William Kent and Capability Brown. At Rousham, Kent showed his
admiration for the living landscapes he experienced during the 10 years he
spent on the Grand Tour, inventing landscape design in the process. As for
Brown, he was a genius and his work was immense in every way.

“These two both belong to the iconography of the soul of our
civilisation, and they continue to be a core inspiration in contemporary
British gardens.”



(Martin Pope)

“My main point is that even if naturalistic planting is a trend, you
should be very happy having the tradition of horticulture that you do,
because I think it’s easier to add ecological principles if you already know
the material well. Most landscapers in other countries do not understand
plants as well as you do in Britain. I thought the Olympic Park was a
brilliant project. It was quite modern but also reflected the historical
British interest of introducing plants from the whole world to British

“Are the British obsessed with romantic gardens? Stop worrying! I think
what is really interesting in the UK is the wide range of plants you can
work with. As long as you can encourage young gardeners, new directions will
occur, because some of those gardeners are in the queue to become the
designers of the future. I don’t see anything like the range of interests
among designers in the rest of Europe.

“Of course your heritage can be a burden, but I would not be worried
because there are so many different groups of professionals in the UK –
plants people, university people, lighting architects, water specialists –
who are really interested in gardens. That isn’t the case in many other
countries, I would say.

“I don’t think any other country exports their designers in the way the
UK does.”

READ: British designers on Dutch gardening masters

PICTURE GALLERY: Top 20 British Garden makers

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