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Archives for February 7, 2014

Plenty of weekend activities to fight the winter blues

We’re at the midpoint of the winter season, and so far it hasn’t been a great one for getting out and enjoying what the community has to offer.

So, we’d like to point out some the many entertainment opportunities available in the Cedar Valley this weekend. It’s a perfect storm of sorts, with several events that touch on a wide variety of entertainment tastes.

For starters, it’s an extremely busy weekend on the University of Northern Iowa campus.

Country music star Luke Bryan is in the UNI-Dome tonight. As of midweek, 21,000 tickets had been sold. Bryan was named country music’s favorite male artist at the November American Music Awards and was ACM Entertainer of the Year last year.

The UNI wrestling team is now 9-0 in dual meet competition and is ranked as high as fifth in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News. Saturday they take on Iowa State in an intrastate meet that will pack the West Gym.

The team then takes on Mid-American Conference foe Kent State in the West Gym at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“We’re looking forward to this weekend,” head coach Dough Schwab said earlier this week. “We’ve definitely circled this date.”

The UNI men’s basketball team will also be in action Saturday, hosting top Missouri Valley Conference rival Wichita State in the McLeod Center.

Another building on campus that will be seeing plenty of action is the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, where Beatles fans can reflect back Sunday afternoon during “Rain — A Tribute to the Beatles.” Performers will sing a full range of Beatles’ tunes during the crowd-pleasing tribute on the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964.

In downtown Waterloo, the popular Eastern Iowa Home Show is back, beginning today and running through Sunday at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center. Attendees will find ideas and products for home improvement projects, landscaping and gardening. Nearly 200 home improvement and landscape exhibitors will be present.

“The weather can definitely affect attendance, and we’d like a nice weekend, but the show will go on no matter what it’s doing outside,” said Barb Miller of Iowa Show Productions. “Iowans are hardy, and it will be warm inside the convention center.”

The KUNI Blues Blowout begins at 8 p.m. Saturday at Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo. It features Marcia Ball with special guests Big James and the Chicago Playboys. Proceeds benefit Iowa Public Radio.

The Waterloo Black Hawks are at home in Young Arena both tonight at 7 p.m., and on Sunday at 3 p.m.

The ugly weather this winter has made it too easy to stay at home. This weekend provides many excuses to get out. Take advantage of one, or more.

Article source: http://wcfcourier.com/news/opinion/editorial/plenty-of-weekend-activities-to-fight-the-winter-blues/article_dbce25de-d7da-5591-9579-0dad76d565ce.html

5 libertarian oligarchs who made fortunes off the government they want to destroy

Nobody’s criticizing all wealthy people, of course. In fact, a number of them showed uncommon good sense during the Perkins kerfuffle. The investment firm which Perkins cofounded tweeted that “We were shocked by his views … and do not agree.” Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen called him an unprintable name. (Well, okay: it isn’t unprintable. Andreessen called Perkins an “asshole.”)

Perkins’ defense of his initial comments on Bloomberg betray the shallowness of his libertarian thought. He insisted that his fellow tycoons are “job creators,” despite the fact that they’ve been paying very low taxes for more than a decade – and there are no jobs!

Perkins also insisted that society should “let the rich do what the rich do” and enjoy the expanded job opportunities that will flow from that. But on Wall Street the rich were allowed to do what the rich do and it robbed the economy of millions of jobs and trillions in wealth. Apple and other big tech manufacturers were allowed to “do what they do” and hundreds of thousands of jobs were shipped overseas.

Perkins defended the incivility of the San Francisco tech crowd by saying that “maybe have to put up with some techno-geek arrogance to get those sorts of folks thinking.” But what, exactly, are these geeks thinking about? One of the most stunning things about Silicon Valley triumphalism is the way it celebrates itself for what are, after all, a very mediocre set of inventions.

Truly smart tech companies are few and far between. Facebook? An accidental discovery by two guys who thought they were creating a college students’ app and still can’t design a decent user interface. Uber? An obvious idea with a nice user interface. Zynga? The less said the better.

Nor was Perkins himself the winner of some Darwinian free-market competition. He made his money the old-fashioned way: by meeting two brilliant guys named Hewlett and Packard and getting them to hire him. Perkins himself was never the entrepreneur or the innovator at Hewlett-Packard. He ran the research department, then became general manager of its computer division.

Hewlett-Packard itself would never succeeded without Uncle Sam. As Bloomberg News has reported, “Defense contracts spurred the growth of the instrument-maker Hewlett-Packard not long after its founding.”  (Today HP is one of the nation’s largest defense contractors.)

But guys like Tom Perkins don’t know how to say “thank you.” Instead, when they’re asked to people like him live in a “bubble,” they tend to answer as Perkins did, by claiming that it is “a bubble that has changed the world.”

Actually the government changed the world. So did brilliant inventors like Bill Hewlett and David Packard. Guys like Tom Perkins, while they may have been smart and/or hard-working, mostly caught a lucky break. But they’ve managed to rewrite their own histories as a libertarian fantasy, a Victory of the Supermen upon which all others must gaze in wonderment and awe.

And don’t forget to say nice things about the hedges.

2. John Mackey

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, is one of the nation’s most visible “free-market libertarians.” Mr. Mackey said this about government, and specifically about Obamacare, last year on NPR:

“In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production but they do control it and that’s what’s happening with the health care program with these reforms and so I’d say the system is becoming more fascist.”

Presumably that means that the privatization of government services – an effort which includes every major defense contractor in this country – is a “fascist” scheme. We haven’t heard Mr. Mackey make that argument, however.

The “fascist” government Mackey despises provides a number of services which have helped make him become very wealthy. The USDA, for example, certifies that the food sold in his stores is organic. Without that certification, Whole Foods customers would have no way of trusting Mr. Mackey’s claims about his food. His business probably wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without it.

And that’s not all. Government built and maintains the roads and rails which bring Mr. Mackey’s goods to each of his far-flung stores.  Government regulators ensure that his stores’ food is grown, prepared, packaged, and shipped in a manner that is safe and disease-free.

Without government, John Mackey would still be running a little hippie store in Austin.

Mr. Mackey believes that business, not government, is best suited to addressing society’s ills. He points to his corporation’s own health plan as proof, claiming that it’s superior to Obamacare. Actually, it’s quite similar to Obamacare. Like the president’s plan, Mackey’s offers employees a choice of private-sector insurance options.

But the benefits are much worse in Mackey’s program. As Consumer Watchdog points out, Whole Foods employees have “astronomical” deductibles and copayments. If corporations can do the job better than government can, why is Mackey’s plan so much worse?

While government is evil in Mackey’s eyes, he’s a great believer in the existence of “heroic business.” And yet, Mr. Mackey doesn’t exactly practice what he preaches. Consider this quote from Mackey: “Business is based on cooperation and voluntary exchange. People trade voluntarily for mutual gain. No one is forced to trade with a business.”

Really, Mr. Mackey? Whole Foods is well-known for buying out all its competitors in a city or region. Some of the competitors it closed down this way include Wild Oats, Wellspring, Bread Circus, Mrs. Gooch’s, Food for Thought, and Fresh and Wild.

A former Whole Foods employee described what happened after Mackey’s corporation shut down the competing Wild Oats store or in his town: “Within one year of this merger … prices on many items went up by 15-20%.  At the time our cat food was $13.59 a bag, today it is $16.59 and mostly due to the lack of competition in the market (another nearby WFM in another region has a lot more competition and the food is at its original $.59).”

For a believer in the “free market,” Mr. Mackey certainly seems to do everything he can to suppress it. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission was forced to step in on antitrust grounds over Whole Foods handling of Wild Oats stores. Whole Foods finally settled and agreed to sell off the remaining Wild Oats locations, but by then the damage to the “free market” had already been done.

Mr. Mackey, who is 60 years old and has no children, reportedly views himself as a “daddy” to his employees. If so, he can be a Scrooge-like one. Despite the corporation’s PR campaigns claiming otherwise, Whole Foods pays at or near the minimum wage for many positions in its stores.

Among other things, that means that this anti-government zealot is being subsidized by government programs so that he can keep underpaying his employees. Here’s how that works: Anyone who earns 130 percent of the Federal poverty line or less (currently about $25,400 for a three-person household) is eligible for food assistance. That’s $12.21 per hour for a full-time employee.

The employment website Glassdoor.com lists salaries for a number of Whole Foods positions. Jobs that start in the $8/hour range or below include assistant bulk buyer, cashier’s assistant, bakery assistant, cashier, customer service representative, and associate. There are dozens of jobs whose average pay is less than that.

Why don’t both parents work? Sometimes it’s because there’s only one parent at home, with two kids to raise. That’s no way to treat the grandkids, Pop.

One more thing: Mackey doesn’t think the climate change is real, either. So he doesn’t just think he can do government’s job better than government can. He also thinks he knows more about science than scientists do. Sounds more like an ego problem than a difference in ideology.

3. Peter Thiel

Whatever his shortcomings, John Mackey can also be an engaging and interesting personality. Internet tycoon Peter Thiel, on the other hand, shows all the signs of being a rather unpleasant individual. He doesn’t think women or minorities – excuse me, I mean “welfare beneficiaries” – should be allowed to vote, for one thing. Since 1920,” Thiel fulminated in an essay, “the extension of the franchise to (these two groups) have (sic) turned ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.”

Give him points for honesty: “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,” writes Thiel.  That’s not an unusual point of view in one strain of libertarian thinking. But it’s unusual to hear it stated so plainly.

In his rather comically grandiose essay, Thiel compares the criticism his undergraduate newspaper received at Stanford to the “carnage” of “trench warfare on the Western Front in World War I.” Thiel, who made his fortune at PayPal with Elon Musk, has shown none of his former partner’s genius for technological and business creativity.

And speaking of grandiosity, Thiel tells us that “the founding vision of PayPal centered on the creation of a new world currency, free from all government control and dilution” – and presumably controlled instead by the likes of Peter Thiel. He waxes equally excessive about Facebook and other Internet companies, touting their inability to overthrow democracy and replace it with a newer and “freer” (at least for Peter Thiel) digital regime.

But Thiel’s expansive vision doesn’t end with regime change. “By starting a new Internet business,” he writes, “an entrepreneur may create a new world.” (By now, Star Trek fans may be noticing a growing resemblance between the essay’s author and a certain semi-omnipotent recurring character.)

Thiel is honest about one thing, if only inadvertently, when he writes that “the prospects for a libertarian politics appear grim indeed.” That’s true. His brand of politics is extremely unpopular with the general public. But he fails to take that thought to its logical conclusion: democracy is the free market of governance. When Thiel rejects its judgment he contradicts his own political philosophy.

But Peter Thiel has a much bigger problem than that. He clearly believes that he and his fellow Internet success stories are a brand of Nietzsche ubermenschen.  “The fate of our world,” he writes, “may depend on the effort of a single person who builds or propagates the machinery of freedom that makes the world safe for capitalism.”

In other words: there’s an app for that.

But Thiel, along with the other boys in his treehouse, made his millions by relying on taxpayer-funded and democratically-managed assistance every step of the way.  Like Facebook and the other big tech corporations, PayPal was built on the government-created Internet. It is accessed by computers whose core technology was funded by government research. The vast majority of its customers are able to read its instructions because of government-funded education.

4. Elon Musk

As the old brain-teasers used to say, “one of these things is not like the others.” Elon Musk differs from the other people on this list in one very important way: He’s a smart guy who actually invents things. They are real things, useful things, tangible things. Where the other Silicon Valley libertarians merely imagine they’re real inventors like Ford and Edison, while doing nothing more than making trivial front-ends for existing technology, Musk really seems to be what he appears: an inventor and entrepreneur in the old-school style.

Unfortunately, he also hangs around with the wrong crowd. Some of their silly ideas seem to have rubbed off on him. We don’t know if that happened when he was working on PayPal with Thiel, or even earlier when they were part of the same conservative circle as undergraduates at Stanford.

Whatever it was, the tendency for ideologically-based hypocrisy has not entirely eluded Musk. As Mother Jones reports, Musk was able to save Tesla Motors – and his sizable ownership stake in it – with a low-interest government loan. “Shortly after paying off his $465 million loan,” Josh Harkinson writes, “Musk proclaimed that government should no longer provide such assistance.”

A carbon tax would have been better, Musk argued (ignoring the fact that such attacks appears to be politically impossible right now). The market, Mosque then tweeted, “will achieve best solution.”

Unfortunately for Musk, a market-driven economy have never invested in the pure research necessary to develop personal computing technology and the Internet. And without those two platforms, Musk would never have had the financial resources to launch Tesla. So, when Musk tweeted that “”Technically, I ‘got rich’ from Zip2 PayPal w zero govt anything,” he wasn’t demonstrating anything except his own ignorance of the economics and history of his own field.

I met Musk once and was quite impressed with his brilliance. Unfortunately, brilliance too easily leads to hubris. It’s like the old saying goes: it’s not what you don’t know that takes you down. It’s what you don’t know you don’t know. Silicon Valley libertarians, take note.

5. Jeff Bezos

And speaking of hubris: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos went on 60 Minutes and told the country that in a few years his corporation will deliver its products by drone. All that claim did was reinforce the stereotype of the Silicon Valley libertarian as someone who doesn’t understand the social realities of the world around him.

Anyone who thinks an unmanned aircraft filled with valuable goods will routinely survive a descent path into the most heavily-armed nation on Earth has got another think comin’.

For some people, the drone claim was a surprise. But it was part of what has become a routine pattern for the admittedly brilliant, if ruthless, leader of Amazon: allow the taxpayers to develop a costly new technology (first computers, then the Internet, then drones), adopt it for your own profit-making ends, then cling to a belief system which says that government played no part in the success of people like yourself.

Much of Bezos’ libertarian worldview has been a matter of private speculation rather than public advocacy, noted in biographical profiles but much less visible in public donations and proclamations. The one exception is education, where Bezos has invested large sums of money in libertarian and neoliberal efforts to replace public education as we know it with a privatized, for-profit, anti-union nexus of corporations.

Whether or not Mr. Bezos is aware of it, the fundamental pattern undermining our educational system is a simple one: first, starve school districts of needed funds. Second, lament their declining performance. Third, claim that something called the “free market” can bring the innovation necessary to rescue it. Fourth, make greater sums of money available for private corporations than you were willing to do for public education.

It’s not clear how much of this Mr. Bezos understands. But, as Lee Fang reported in The Nation, he has aggressively pushed a destructive privatization agenda on our educational system through the Bezos Family Foundation.

Bezos also put a capstone on his hypocrisy by donating $100,000 to defeat an initiative which would have imposed a mild additional income tax on high earners. The computing technology which is made Mr. Bezos wealthy was developed using taxpayer funding which began in the 1950s, when the top federal income tax rate was 93 percent. Today it is 39.5 percent.

Where will the innovations of the future come from if the government doesn’t have the resources needed for investment – either in new technologies, or in the bright young minds of the future who will someday invent them? Government is how we create a better world, Mr. Bezos. It won’t just be delivered to our doorstep by a drone.

Article source: http://www.salon.com/2014/02/07/5_of_the_worst_wealthy_libertarians_tom_perkins_is_just_the_tip_of_the_sward_partner/

DEXTER: Dexter A&W Drive-in owner hopes renovations will pay off in 2014 …

Dexter Leader News





Coley O’Brian, owner of Dexter’s AW.

View and purchase photos

DEXTER — Coley O’Brian, owner of Dexter’s AW on Dexter-Chelsea Road and Main Street, said recently that he has plans for further improvements for visitors to one of Dexter village’s most prized local businesses.

Last season, O’Brien altered the building and grounds of his business for both aesthetic and practical reasons.

PHOTOS: Dexter’s AW receives renovations

Those cruising into or out of the village near the viaduct toward the end of last season might have noticed new awnings and, at night, more brilliant lighting illuminating Dexter AW like a beacon.

“I was worried about the orange,” O’Brian said of the building improvements, which included a new wavy awning skirt around the bottom of his building’s roof, which is painted orange along with structural support beams holding that awning up, which were also refurbished.

In addition to the new lighting, O’Brien commissioned L-n-J Landscaping to building a brick patio with picnic table seating and a railed overlook into the downtown and Mill Creek Park.

“The problem we had to address with the awning was that it went straight across at the law point (of the skirt that replaced it), so vehicles like box trucks were constantly hitting it because that low point went all the way across,” O’Brien said.

A family friend had the idea to replace the awning, according to O’Brien. Some rough ideas were submitted to the AW All-American Foods, which has state headquarters in Westland. The corporate franchise architects turned those rough ideas into blueprints and O’Brien was tasked with hiring a company to put those plans into action.

O’Brien said he was at first concerned about going from the highly noticeable and unique teal color that once adorned his building, but he says he pleased with the end result in terms of the color palette as well.

Eventually, more lighting will be added to illuminate the building’s roof above the new skirt. Continued…

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The idea behind the design of the brick patio was to provide almost an extension of the recently completed and award-winning Mill Creek Park, which is just across the street.

“I like to think of it as almost a little extension of the park,” O’Brien said. “We wanted to mimic some of the stonework the village used, and with the extension to Hudson-Mills that just opened, we think it’s a great opportunity for our business.”

He added that there is a possibility of talks opening with the village this year on the possibility of having a sidewalk installed so pedestrians can more easily cross Dexter-Chelsea Road at the nearby intersection.

“That also seems to be a good fit with the theme locally of promoting and supporting pedestrian traffic,” O’Brien said. “Sometimes it’s rough getting over here from the village for people.”

There are also some new events and menu programming coming in 2014, including a monthly feature of a limited-time-only beverage, main meal item and side item beginning when the seasonal business opens its doors again March 1.

Being the parent of a three and a six-year-old, O’Brien said he also has some fun planned for children as well.

“I came up with this idea last season of having kids drives up in little electric cars — like a cruise for kids, where they drive around the parking lot, park and a car hop comes out and serves them and their parents,” O’Brien said.

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  • See Full Story

DEXTER — Coley O’Brian, owner of Dexter’s AW on Dexter-Chelsea Road and Main Street, said recently that he has plans for further improvements for visitors to one of Dexter village’s most prized local businesses.

Last season, O’Brien altered the building and grounds of his business for both aesthetic and practical reasons.

PHOTOS: Dexter’s AW receives renovations

Those cruising into or out of the village near the viaduct toward the end of last season might have noticed new awnings and, at night, more brilliant lighting illuminating Dexter AW like a beacon.

“I was worried about the orange,” O’Brian said of the building improvements, which included a new wavy awning skirt around the bottom of his building’s roof, which is painted orange along with structural support beams holding that awning up, which were also refurbished.

In addition to the new lighting, O’Brien commissioned L-n-J Landscaping to building a brick patio with picnic table seating and a railed overlook into the downtown and Mill Creek Park.

“The problem we had to address with the awning was that it went straight across at the law point (of the skirt that replaced it), so vehicles like box trucks were constantly hitting it because that low point went all the way across,” O’Brien said.

A family friend had the idea to replace the awning, according to O’Brien. Some rough ideas were submitted to the AW All-American Foods, which has state headquarters in Westland. The corporate franchise architects turned those rough ideas into blueprints and O’Brien was tasked with hiring a company to put those plans into action.

O’Brien said he was at first concerned about going from the highly noticeable and unique teal color that once adorned his building, but he says he pleased with the end result in terms of the color palette as well.

Eventually, more lighting will be added to illuminate the building’s roof above the new skirt.

The idea behind the design of the brick patio was to provide almost an extension of the recently completed and award-winning Mill Creek Park, which is just across the street.

“I like to think of it as almost a little extension of the park,” O’Brien said. “We wanted to mimic some of the stonework the village used, and with the extension to Hudson-Mills that just opened, we think it’s a great opportunity for our business.”

He added that there is a possibility of talks opening with the village this year on the possibility of having a sidewalk installed so pedestrians can more easily cross Dexter-Chelsea Road at the nearby intersection.

“That also seems to be a good fit with the theme locally of promoting and supporting pedestrian traffic,” O’Brien said. “Sometimes it’s rough getting over here from the village for people.”

There are also some new events and menu programming coming in 2014, including a monthly feature of a limited-time-only beverage, main meal item and side item beginning when the seasonal business opens its doors again March 1.

Being the parent of a three and a six-year-old, O’Brien said he also has some fun planned for children as well.

“I came up with this idea last season of having kids drives up in little electric cars — like a cruise for kids, where they drive around the parking lot, park and a car hop comes out and serves them and their parents,” O’Brien said.

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Article source: http://www.heritage.com/articles/2014/02/07/dexter_leader/news/doc52f17ebb642f5854335351.txt

Master gardeners present edible landscape workshop

Jordan Cross gave up his Saturday morning to learn about edible landscaping at the Mussell Senior Center on Jan. 25.

He and about 60 others listened to three master gardeners from Santa Barbara and another presenter on composting during a workshop sponsored by the Central Coast Green Team and others.

“The foods we are exposed to and the variety tend to be very few compared to what is out there in the whole world,” Jordan recalled from the workshop. “If you grow your own, not just go to the grocery store, you get to choose from a wide variety of edible foods that are in our world.”

The idea for the workshop came from talks with the master gardeners by members of the Green Team (a local community group I happen to lead). The team is creating an edible landscaping demonstration garden at the Community Garden at Alice Trefts Park, 910 S. Oakwood Drive in Santa Maria. The purpose is to show that an edible garden can be as beautiful as an ornamental garden to encourage more people to grow their own fruits and vegetables. A beautiful, edible garden can even be planted in the front yard.

The overarching goal is to encourage people to eat more healthfully. Growing their own tasty, organic fruits and vegetables is one way to encourage better eating, especially as children learn that food picked at the height of its ripeness can be very tasty.

Jordan began working with the Green Team as part of a project for a class he was taking at Hancock College. He stayed on afterward.

“I really do care about trying to do my part personally to care and be aware of where our food comes from and thinking more locally and naturally,” he said. “This kind of project, while small and maybe not perfect, touches on that awareness — ‘hey, food can come from big industrial farms or right in our backyard or community garden.’”

Ce Ce Cruz-Arroyo joined the garden effort because she likes gardening and wants her grandchildren to like it, too.

“I want them to know about gardening and how to grow their own fruits and vegetables. As they get bigger and have their own families, who knows what it’s going to be like at that time,” Ce Ce said. “It’s a lifelong project really. It’s much healthier to eat fresh, to grow it yourself. People are more likely to eat foods they grow. They have more chances of eating different things they grow — not only corn, peas and green beans out of a can.”

University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners Diane Galvan, Karen McConaghy and Katy Renner defined edible landscaping, provided guidelines for a good edible landscape plan and discussed planting, maintaining, harvesting and storing edible landscape foods safely. 

Edible landscaping is the use of food plants as design features. Plants are grown for aesthetics and consumption.

Ce Ce enjoyed learning about the herbs and geraniums. Some geranium leaves and flowers are used as a flavoring in desserts, cakes, jellies, teas, cakes, butters, ice cream and other dishes.

Chuck Nagel from Engel and Gray gave a brief presentation on the city’s composting program and how using compost is beneficial to gardens.

Jordan enjoyed finding out about the amount of sources and materials that go into composting and how important it is for the soil. He also said the workshop helped him realize there is a lot that goes into planning and maintaining a garden.

The Green Team is seeking additional volunteers who would like to help with the demonstration garden.

Local food is an important issue.

“Talking about and being aware of it is half the battle. Don’t just go on automatic and go out to the grocery store,” Jordan said. “Ever since I moved here last summer, I’ve begun thinking and making choices of buying local and making less of an impact on the environment, being more conscious about where my food comes from.”

The workshop was cosponsored by the Central Coast Green Team, UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County, Central Coast Gardeners, Central Coast Geranium Society, Santa Barbara County Action Network, Engel Gray/Harvest Blend Compost and The Fund for Santa Barbara.

I’d like to invite all who are interested to join us in this effort. Contact me at jeanne@centralcoastgreenteam.org or visit www.centralcoastgreenteam.org for more information. We hope to demonstrate — you can have your beautiful garden, and eat it, too!

Article source: http://santamariatimes.com/lifestyles/columnist/jeanne_sparks/master-gardeners-present-edible-landscape-workshop/article_c425188e-8faf-11e3-89b7-001a4bcf887a.html

Great Big Home+Garden Show starts Saturday at IX Center

    CLEVELAND — The Great Big Home + Garden Show presented by Carrier will return to the I-X Center Saturday and continue through Feb. 16 with more than 1,000 home industry experts to engage with and 650 exhibits to explore.

    New home improvement features, appearances by home and garden celebrities, and returning favorites from the 2013 show are sure to excite and surprise visitors.

    “The Great Big Home + Garden Show is a must-see for homeowners wanting to check out the latest trends, be inspired or get advice from the area’s leading home improvement experts, said Show Manager Rosanna Hrabnicky. “With more than 1,000 experts under one roof, attendees will find what they need to turn their home and garden dreams into a reality.”

    Produced by Solon-based Marketplace Events, this year’s Great Big Home + Garden Show will stage a multitude of local exhibitors that allow visitors to shop for home improvement contractors, lawn and garden services and equipment, home decor and other products and services that will offer attendees ideas and inspiration to transform any home or garden.

    Show times are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. this Saturday and Feb. 15, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. this Sunday and Feb. 16, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, Feb. 14.

    Tickets cost $14 for general admission, $10 for seniors ages 65 and older (Monday through Thursday only), $9 apiece for group tickets (with a minimum of 20 in the group), $5 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children 5 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the I-X Center box office, online at www.greatbighomeandgarden.com and at Discount Drug Mart and AAA locations.

    For more information, visit www.greatbighomeandgarden.com, the Home and Garden Events Facebook page and @GreatBigShow on Twitter.

    Here are more details about the show.

New features and attractions:

    Perrino Builders Interiors returns for a second year to build the Idea Home that will inspire visitors with ideas for building, remodeling and decorating their own homes. A Vacation Home built by Weaver Barns will also provide extra inspiration. Landscaping surrounding the homes will be provided by Morton’s Landscaping.

    Belgard Hardscapes, Inc. will feature outdoor living spaces and add some flair to the restaurant located next to The Main Stage.

    Enjoy the show while making new connections at one of several Networking Nights planned throughout the show.

    Bring the children for a Home Depot Kid’s Workshop. As seen in your local Home Depot store, each child will get to build something and leave with their own orange workshop apron.

Returning favorites from 2013:

    The popular Garden Showcase will feature international-themed gardens created by some of Northeast Ohio’s top landscapers. These gardens will represent exotic locations from around the world and will be partnered with local restaurants that will offer samples during special tasting events from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

    The fully-constructed Dream Basement will showcase a large audio visual theater designed by Xtend Technologies and will be surrounded by colorful, lowmaintenance landscaping created by Morton’s Landscaping.

    The combined Main Stage and Loretta Paganini Cooking Stage will be bigger than ever to offer attendees the best of home improvement celebrity appearances with the opportunity to taste and enjoy culinary delights in one convenient location. A state-ofthe-art kitchen stage and vignette will be designed and built by Pepperwood Signature Homes Remodeling for consumers to tour between stage presentations.

    Show attendees can relax and enjoy fine dining among the beauty of the Garden Showcase in the Cambria Bistro, a full-service, white tablecloth restaurant.

    The Celebrity Designer Rooms will feature a variety of rooms custom-designed by a Northeast Ohio design business or exhibitor and inspired by local television and radio personalities.

    At The Petitti Gardening Stage, daily gardening seminars on landscape design, flora and furnishing outdoor rooms will be held by Northeast Ohio landscape experts. The Petitti Floral Mart will also feature numerous outdoor furniture and plants to purchase.

    Children can have fun in Playground World’s KidsZone, featuring a variety of safe, high-quality playground equipment and exciting giveaways for parents.

Celebrity appearances:

    Host of DIY Network and HGTV’s Yard Crashers and Turf War, Ahmed Hassan w i l l appear on The Great Big Home + Garden Show’s Main Stage on Saturday a n d Sunday. With more than 20 years spent mastering the business of landscaping and home improvement, Hassan’s specialty is residential design, where he leans heavily on his experience of plant knowledge, soils, irrigation and garden maintenance. Along with appearing on the Network, Hassan also maintains his own landscape consulting, design and installation business in and around Sacramento, Calif. He’s currently producing web and promotional videos for the green industry. Learn more at www.ahmedhassan.tv.

    The Great Big Home + Garden Show will also feature Frank Fritz, co-star of History Channel’s hit show “American Pickers.” The TV show features Fritz, Mike Wolfe and Danielle Colby as they search the American landscape digging in barns, garages and junkyards for hidden treasures. Describing himself as a modern day recycler, Fritz is a buyer and seller of antique collectibles with particular interest in old motorcycles, toys, cars and anything unusual. His store Frank Fritz Finds (www.frankfritzfinds.com) is located in Illinois. Sponsored by Absolute Roofing Construction, Frank will appear on The Main Stage Saturday, Feb. 15.

    The deliciously unique cooking personality you’ve seen on Food Network’s “ N e x t Food Network Star” and “Cupcake Wars,” Emily Ellyn, will appear on The Great Big Home + Garden Show’s Main Stage on Saturday and Sunday. Born and raised in Northern Ohio, Ellyn started the Retro Rad Cooking Movement and encourages everyone to dig through their mom’s recipe boxes, dust off their pressure cookers and crock pots, and take the old and make it new through retro recipe re-dos. Learn more at www.emilyellyn.com.

    Returning as this year’s Main Stage emcee, Matt Fox will delight show visitors with his quick wit, home improvem e n t knowledge and special educational presentations. Fox is best known for creating and cohosting the first and longestrunning show to air on HGTV, “Room by Room,” as well as hosting and producing the public television series “Around the House with Matt and Shari.” Learn more from his website, www.mattandshari.com.

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©2014 the Norwalk Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio)

Visit the Norwalk Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) at www.norwalkreflector.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Article source: http://www.norwalkreflector.com/article/4111821?trending=

Release from Fantastic Gardeners Sydney

Fantastic Gardeners Sydney is one of the oldest and most professional gardening companies in Sydney and all the nearby suburbs and areas. The company started its work more than 10 years ago, and nowadays they can be easily described as one of the most popular choices for a gardening contractor in the area. Fantastic Gardeners Sydney started its work as a very small company, and thanks to their hard work and devotion, now they are growing bigger and bigger with each day. The company hires only well trained and experienced gardeners and landscape designers. Each employee of the company is being thoroughly vetted and has to pass a special company training in order to sign a contract. This is done to ensure that every employee will follow and provide the highest standards this company can offer.

Lately the company is trying to explore new horizons in order to satisfy a wider range of customers, so they decided to offer a new service – expert landscaping. The idea to start providing this service comes from the fact, that many people in the NSW area have big and spacious gardens, but they have no idea how to arrange the space and design them. This is why this company decided to hire and train their own experts, who will help the clients choose the best possible landscape design for their garden. The landscape designers of the company only show the best possible options, depending on the exposure and dimensions of the garden or backyard, and the customer chooses the option he or she likes the most. Then the professional gardeners from the company execute the service, so the customers can get the gardens of their dreams.

There’s a wide variety of benefits when you pick the services of Fantastic Gardeners Sydney. The company has a policy, which states, that every client they have must get a package of benefits, which actually define the first class of their services. This is why by getting your landscape design done by the expert gardening team of Fantastic Gardeners Sydney, you also get a 24/7 customer support team on your disposal, flexible booking and payment options, nature friendly working methods, which won’t harm the environment in any way, options to book even during the weekends for no extra fee, professional and friendly attitude on all stages, various promotions and discounts, and many more. As you can see yourself, this gardening company can provide you with absolutely everything you need for your first class garden care in Sydney. Even if something is not mentioned as a service in their website, you can always give them a call and get a FREE quote on absolutely everything you would like to be done in your garden.

When you book your landscaping services with Fantastic Gardeners Sydney, you get an expertly executed service. The gardeners of the company are punctual, and they always use first class, state of the art equipment, and the high quality results they provide are guaranteed. So, call them right away on 02 9098 1704 to check out what are the possibilities to turn your ordinary garden into a landscaping paradise! I’m sure the polite customer care associates at the company will give you all the information you need.

Article source: http://prwire.com.au/pr/41846/fantastic-gardeners-sydney-now-offers-expert-landscaping-services

This week’s gardening tips: lettuce, fruit trees and veggie planting edition – The Times

Hearths worthy of centerpiece status, even when they’re not ablaze. … Read the story»

Article source: http://www.nola.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2014/02/this_weeks_gardening_tips_lett.html

Gardening Tips For Raised Beds

Love gardening but don’t have the right place to indulge in your favourite hobby? Living in urban flats can actually ruin your love for gardening as you just can’t do anything. If you live in high rise apartments, which do not have a patio, then you are all the more disappointed.

But, with modern urban gardening tips, you can take care of this problem as well. You just need to get an urban bed ready to begin gardening. You can now plant small plants along your window sill or outside your home in the space provided.

Raised bed gardening is something that’s absolutely new and urban. It’s a classy way of growing plants like cucumber within your home space. If you have a garden that has dampened soil or bad soil, raised bed gardening is your way of growing what you want. It’s just a large container that gives out a garden like look and feel. Gardening in them is easy. Here are some tips that will aid you in gardening with raised beds.

Gardening Tips For Raised Beds

Soil for Raised Beds

Did you, while investing in high quality, soil check for something called organic matter? Well, buying high quality soil is not the end of a story. It’s just the beginning of something bigger. Your quality may be plain dirt with no organic matter. So, how will that help your plant? It may just not grow properly in that case. When you are choosing soil make sure you choose something that’s light and fluffy. Such soil will help the roots grow better and stronger. After all you need to develop the roots well to make the plant better.

Revitalise Soil Annually

Another gardening tip for raised beds it to revitalise your soil: this is necessary to provide for your plants. You can opt for easy to grow plants in that soil for sometime and then chop them. This would revitalise the soil and prepare them for growing the existing plants again.

Adding Compost to the Raised Bed

Be it spring or fall, adding compost to raised bed is an important gardening tip. You can end the gardening season by adding compost. It will help you clean out the garden during winters when the plants don’t grow and prepare the soil for the coming growing season. So, always ensure you have added compost to your raised beds.

Soil Amendments

This is your way of improving soil quality by adding soil amendments to soil. What is it that you want your soil to possess or do? Accordingly add the soil amendment. Add soil amendments to increase the nutrient content in your soil, to improve its physical structure or to just improve its structure. Make sure you use good quality amendments.

Cover Crop

Whenever you plan to garden using raised beds, make sure you follow this tip to add to its benefits. You will be able to replenish the nutrient content in your soil. If you have a backyard garden, using the cover crop will be beneficial. It increases the organic content of your soil.

Article source: http://www.boldsky.com/home-n-garden/gardening/2014/gardening-tips-for-raised-beds.html

Garden Tips: Learn to properly support tomato plants

For the past several years, I have been trying tomato cages for supporting my tomatoes, but these efforts have usually ended in failure. Last year, windy weather caused all my cages and plants to blow over. Since I am not an expert on staking tomatoes, I have been researching where I went wrong.

Tomato plants are a vine. When not provided with some type of support structure, they will grow along the ground. If left to sprawl like this, an indeterminate tomato variety can take up as much as 16 square feet of area. That’s a lot of space for just one tomato plant. Plus, many of the fruit that develop touch the ground, increasing the potential of fruit rot.

Maximize garden space and minimize fruit rot by providing vines with support and growing them upright. Before discussing caging, staking and trellising, let me explain the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes.

Determinate tomatoes are varieties with bushier, more restrained growth. Vines are shorter, growing from 3 to 4 feet in length. The main vines develop numerous branches, which stop growing when the plants begin to flower. With the flowers and fruit developing at the same time, commercial tomato growers favor determinant tomatoes for processing. The varieties, Celebrity, Oregon Spring, Bush Early Girl and Rutgers, are popular determinate garden tomato varieties. Many early season tomatoes are determinate varieties.

Indeterminate tomatoes are varieties with vines that keep growing until frost kills them. Their vines can grow from 6 to 12 feet or longer. They flower and fruit during a period of two months or more. While indeterminate varieties typically develop mature fruit later in the season, they tend to produce more tomatoes during the entire season. Many of the heirloom varieties have an indeterminate growth habit.

So where did I go wrong? I used tomato cages, the 3- to 4-inch types, commonly sold to gardeners. These cages will work fairly well for caging determinant tomatoes.

The indeterminate tomato varieties that I have been growing are too big for these short cages. They require taller, more substantial support in the form of a wire cage, sturdy trellis or strong stake, especially when living in a region that can experience strong summer winds.

Indeterminate tomatoes can be “caged” by constructing a 2-inch diameter cylinder cage with 5-inch hog wire, or use a heavy gauge wire cattle fencing panel to make a square cage with 18-inch-wide sides. The cage must be anchored to the ground, especially in windy areas, such as placing a length of rebar inside the cage and pounding it a foot or more into the ground. Place cages 3 to 4 feet apart in the garden.

Consider making your own cages like these for growing indeterminate tomatoes. Caged tomatoes are unpruned (less work) and tend to yield more fruit per vine than staked tomatoes, but the fruit is smaller. Next week, I will finish up this “Tomatoes” series with information on staking and trellising tomatoes.

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

Article source: http://www.bradenton.com/2014/02/06/4977140/garden-tips-learn-to-properly.html

Chelsea Fringe founder Richardson targets garden design’s public image

Friday, 07 February 2014

Journalist and Chelsea Fringe founder Tim Richardson has sparked a row by referring to some garden designers as “ladies who lunch”.

Writing in his column for the Society of Garden Designers’ Garden Design
Journal, Richardson said one perception of the profession is of
well-off, middle-class, middle-aged women who take up garden design but
do not need to work to survive.

He added that he does not think there is anything “necessarily wrong
with this model” and said the term is bandied about by “basically
jealous” designers who have to charge a professional rate.

But he called on the society to “get its house in order” and sort out
qualification and accreditation as well as publish professional rates
like the Landscape Institute.

At the Society of Garden Designers (SGD) Awards (24 January), attended
by Richardson, host James Alexander Sinclair made several barbed
references to the column.

SGD chair Juliet Sargeant said the diverse routes into garden design led
to a “rich mix of experience and background unique to the SGD” and
resulting in “an organisation of unparalleled character, creativity and
vibrancy”.

She added: “The SGD welcomes people who work flexible hours, ladies and
even those who eat lunch, provided that they are committed to providing
excellent service through continuing development and high professional
standards.”

Sargeant argued that garden designers and landscapers in general “suffer
from the misunderstanding that their work is simple, easy and unendingly
enjoyable, so they do not require proper remuneration” – something that
she said is at least beginning to change.

After the awards event, Richardson said: “Nearly everyone seems to
understand that I am not attacking ‘ladies who lunch’ – or indeed
‘women’ generally – but trying to initiate discussion about the reality
of the public and professional image of garden design.”

Article source: http://www.hortweek.com/news/1229797/Chelsea-Fringe-founder-Richardson-targets-garden-designs-public-image/