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Archives for March 7, 2014

Spring Tips for Safe Gardening

Stephen Walden, president of Bosse Tools, with one of the company's new ergonomic shovels.

Stephen Walden, president of Bosse Tools, with one of the company’s new ergonomic shovels.

Gardening is a dangerous pastime in America. Experts in nurturing native plants don’t always understand how to protect their joints and muscles while they work.

To avoid major injury and enjoy working outside, gardeners will need the right tools and an understanding of safety fundamentals.

At the Master Gardeners meeting Monday, guest speaker M. Franz Schneider explained how force, frequency, posture and compression can take their toll on voracious gardeners. Schneider is an ergonomist and CEO of Humantech.

“There are things we can and cannot do,” Schneider said.

He said that by lessening force and frequency, and removing compression, gardeners can remain healthy and enjoy all their favorite activities for years to come.

Avoiding these injuries isn’t a secret, and Schneider offered a few basic commonsense tips to enjoy the spring and summer without problems.

Use the right tools. A number of new companies now offer ergonomic tools that make gardening easier, and lessen the risks of back and muscle injury. During his presentation, Schneider showed the audience a catalog page with common gardening tools from 300 years ago, tools that look much like the ones we use today. These tools are being replaced by modern inventions, such as the ergonomic shovels by Bosse Tools that were developed from a successful Kickstarter project.

Other smart tool choices include pruning shears with springs, wheelbarrows with big wheels and added pivoting handles, and any other tools that allow gardeners to use bigger upper arm muscles, instead of forearm muscles.

Use smart strategy when working in the yard. The yard can be filled with dangers, such as the overturned rake or a sharp object hiding in the wheelbarrow filled with mulch. Even a gardener’s lack of protective eyewear or proper footwear can cause an unneeded injury. Remember to always put up tools in their proper place once you’re finished with work and defend yourself against injury.

Posture makes a big difference. Gardeners don’t need to kneel or bend over when gardening. Sitting on a stool won’t protect sensitive backs from bending, so they aren’t the best choice. Some modern tools already exist that make gardening from a standing position possible, and they should be a gardener’s first choice.

Speaker Franz Schneider, with the Lafayette County Master Gardeners who are planning this year's state conference, to be held in Oxford. Pictured with Schneider are Sandra Summers, Donna Gottshall, Nina Patrick, Donna Long, Dicki King and Fran Woodard

Speaker Franz Schneider, with the Lafayette County Master Gardeners who are planning this year’s state conference, to be held in Oxford. Pictured with Schneider are Sandra Summers-Schneider, Donna Gottshall, Nina Patrick, Donna Long, Dicki King, Fran Woodard and Colleen McChesney.

In his presentation, Schneider said the dangers people face at home are unexpected: unintentional deaths at home from injury, poisoning and falls equal a number that’s five times larger the number of deaths attributed to motor vehicle accidents.

He said two out of three injuries at home start with a hobby, such as gardening, woodworking or car maintenance.

His wife, Sandra Summer-Schneider, is a Lafayette County Master Gardener. Summer-Schneider joined the Master Gardeners in 2012, and the couple have lived and worked on three continents, and have moved around the United States, spending time in the subtropics, the mountains and in the high desert in Sante Fe, NM. They’ve spent seven years in Oxford, as their stop in the South, and hope to next make their way to Africa.

– Gretchen Stone is associate editor. You can contact Gretchen about this story at

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Drought-wise gardening tips

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Gardening Tips: Spring cleanup in the perennial bed

Posted: Friday, March 7, 2014 11:58 am

Gardening Tips: Spring cleanup in the perennial bed

By Matt Stevens

The Daily Herald, Roanoke Rapids, NC


It has been a cold and wet winter, but now the calendar says March — spring is no doubt just around the corner. There are a few other signs of spring, the slow-emerging daffodils and warm forecast for this weekend and next week. Many gardeners are undoubtedly tempted by this upcoming weather and there are some things you can be doing outside to prepare for spring.

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Friday, March 7, 2014 11:58 am.

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Garden column: Tips to start your warm-season garden – Florida Times

Buying locally grown produce is a popular trend that helps support local farmers plus gets food on the table soon after it is harvested.

Think about if you could grow just a few items in the landscape for a source of instant food from landscape to table in a matter of minutes. Placing home-grown food on the table at meal time provides a great feeling of satisfaction and also gives bragging rights that “I grew this in the garden.”

Now is a great time to plant and grow warm-season vegetables. Some gardeners get an early start planting around March 1, but mid-March is usually a safer date to plant warm-season vegetables.


The first step to successful gardening is to select vegetables that you like to eat. Don’t waste your time planting eggplants if your family won’t eat them because a single plant can be prolific. Warm-season vegetables and herbs to grow now include basil, beans, Cuban oregano, cucumbers, cilantro, eggplant, lemon grass, lemon verbena, Mexican tarragon, okra, peppers, pumpkin, southern peas, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes and watermelon.

If you have limited space, get the most bang for your buck by forgetting space hogs like watermelons/cantaloupes, sweet corn, sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Instead, try cucumbers (select compact varieties or have them go up a trellis), eggplant, herbs, okra, peppers, squash and tomatoes to economize space and to receive multiple harvests.


Sunlight and water are two critical requirements for a successful garden. Fruit-bearing vegetables need six to eight hours of full sun, whereas leafy vegetables can get by with four to six hours of sun and some will tolerate light shade.

Morning sun is preferred to reduce disease problems, and a little shade in the heat of the day is a plus. Position the garden close to a water source because supplemental water is a must. Although we get a lot of rain, it’s a feast or famine scenario.


If you are planting in the ground, the first step is to prepare the soil. Remove sod, weeds, or any debris and then cultivate or turn the soil to a depth of 6 to 12 inches. At the same time, add organic matter to enrich the soil. If using composted animal manure, add 25 to 100 pounds per 100 square feet.

Do not add fresh manures to the garden because they should be composted for 90 days for above-ground crops to 120 days for below-ground crops before harvest. Instead of manures, compost is also a great organic amendment and can be added at the rate of 1 pound per square foot. In addition, mix in 2 pounds of a 10-10-10 or comparable fertilizer per 100 square feet.

Organic fertilizers are gaining in popularity because most include some beneficial microbes that encourage root development, plus plants have exhibited increased resistance to some diseases. The fertilizer rates vary based on the analysis, so refer to the label for the amount to add.

Another option is to use a slow-release fertilizer (like Osmocote) to avoid adding additional fertilizer (side dress) to plants throughout the growing season. If drainage is a problem, make rows 12 inches higher than the existing soil to help the plants survive standing water. Rake to make sure the soil is fine and free of clumps.

Don’t add lime without first knowing the soil pH. Use a garden trowel to take a slice of soil about 6 inches deep from 10 to 12 spots in the garden, mix together, air dry and place a pint of soil in a container.

Call your county extension office to see if they test soil for pH, or consider sending the sample to the Soils Lab in Gainesville for a more comprehensive test for just $7:

Vegetables like a slightly acid soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.3.


Many vegetables can be purchased as transplants, which give you a head start on the growing season, while others are best directly seeded into the garden.

Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and many of the herbs are typically purchased as transplants. Place transplants level with the existing soil, no deeper. The exception is tall, leggy tomatoes, which should be planted a little deeper.

Sweet potatoes are planted from cuttings (slips), but all the rest can be directly seeded in the garden soil. Check seed packs for specific planting information. For example, okra must have warm soil (70 degrees) to germinate and should be planted half an inch deep and 2 inches apart, later thinning to 12 to 18 inches apart. This isn’t included on the packet, but okra has a hard seed coat, so try soaking the okra seed in water for a few hours to overnight before planting.

Select varieties that are proven for our area. For a list of these varieties, refer to the vegetable gardening guide at


At planting time, side-dress with 4 ounces of 10-10-10 per 10-foot row or refer to label rates if using a fertilizer with a different analysis. Apply fertilizer in bands 1 inch deep and 2 to 3 inches away from the seed row or plants.

If a slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote was incorporated during garden prep, you can skip side dressing. Otherwise, plants will need extra fertilizer several times during the growing season to encourage continued production.

Water new plants frequently for short intervals to get them established. It’s best to use low-volume irrigation, like a soaker hose or a drip tubing, to keep water off fruit and leaves.

Once plants are established, water less frequently but for longer intervals. Once seeds have germinated, apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch to conserve water and reduce weeds.

Pine straw, pine bark, or leaves (oak, maple, etc.) are all good sources that can be used as mulch now and worked into the soil at the end of the growing season to increase organic matter. To cut down on weeds, try putting down two to four layers of newspaper (black-and-white print) along the rows, moisten the newspaper, then cover with an organic mulch.

Some plants get tall and need stakes for support to keep fruit off the ground. Add the stake at planting to avoid disturbing the root system. A good example is indeterminate tomatoes, which continue to grow in height and often reach over 6 feet tall.

On the cheap, you can make your own stakes using 6-foot-long, 2-by-2-inch pieces of wood. Place the stake close to the base of the plant and, as it grows, tie the stem to the stake using soft cloth or Velcro strips. Wire cages, bamboo poles, or a trellis will also work.

Cucumbers are vining plants and can be trained to grow up a trellis to save space, or select compact varieties such as Space Master. If you don’t have space for a traditional in-ground garden, try growing a few plants in containers or add a few edible plants to landscape beds.

Large containers or grow boxes are excellent ways to grow many vegetables like tomatoes, pepper, cucumbers, or eggplants.

Large containers require less watering, so don’t skimp on the size; in this case, big is better. Select a good soil-less media that holds moisture (peat) that includes some bark to help with drainage in case we get heavy rains.


Terry Brite DelValle is a horticulture extension agent with the Duval County Extension Service and the University of Florida/IFAS.

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Home and Garden Show winterizing tips

Home and Garden Show kicks off in G.R.

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Garden Tips: Is the soil warm enough to plant seeds?

It’s March, we are setting the clocks ahead this weekend and the daytime temperatures have reached above 50 degrees, but winter may still have a few last gasps before we can say spring has arrived and planting can start.

St. Patrick’s Day is a traditional day for some to plant potatoes and peas, but smart gardeners wisely check the soil temperature before planting their vegetable seed. If the soil is too cold, the seeds will sit there and may rot before sprouting and growing.

To check the soil temperature, invest in a soil thermometer. You can find one for about $10 to $15 at a local garden store or from an online garden supply company. Take the soil temperature in mid-morning by inserting the thermometer’s probe 2 inches into the soil for small-seeded crops (such as lettuce) and 4 inches into the soil for large-seeded crops (such as squash and beans). The probes of some of the soil thermometers have markings that indicate inches to make this easier.

Seeds of early spring cool-season crops can be planted when the soil temperature is 40 degrees or above. This includes lettuce, peas, kale, radishes, arugula and spinach. When the soil reaches 50 degrees, plant seeds of leeks, onions, Swiss chard and turnips. Wait until it reaches 60 degrees for planting beans, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots and cauliflower, and 70 degrees for cucumbers, squash, melons and corn. The soil temperature should be consistent for several days before deciding these optimum temperatures have been reached.

Seed potatoes are best planted when the soil temperature is 45 degrees or above and daytime temperatures are consistently in the 65 degree range and nighttime temperatures in the 55 to 65 degree range.

If you are anxious to plant, warm up the soil faster by covering the garden with a sheet of clear plastic. To keep the wind from wreaking havoc with the plastic, lay it out smoothly and then pull it taut, firmly burying all the edges in trenches.

If you choose to keep the plastic in place, you can plant seeds and transplants by making holes in the plastic, but weeds will grow profusely under the plastic. In addition, the clear plastic will heat the soil to plant damaging or stressful levels during the sunny, hot part of summer unless your garden plants are big enough to shade the plastic by then.

Clear plastic works better than black plastic for warming the soil because it allows sunlight in during day and then traps heat that builds, much like a greenhouse. I recommend warming the soil with clear plastic, but removing it before planting. Gardeners also find that the soil in raised beds warms faster, and situating your garden so it receives full sun and faces south will also help.

The last average date of frost for our area is May 1. Keep in mind that tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, beans, cukes, squash and melons will need protection if frost is in the forecast. Row cover fabrics can provide several degrees of protection.

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

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Sussex County-based Springfest: designer sheds and living in your garden

Springfest Garden Show at the Sussex County Fairgrounds is well known for showcasing flower-filled garden displays designed to inspire visitors with the latest trends and ideas for their own home landscape. Back by popular demand at this year’s show, held March 13 to 16, promises not to disappoint, with a whole new display of the latest trend in outdoor living. Lowly backyard sheds; whether ready made, stick built or a renovated tumble-down structures, are being transformed into architecturally charming garden structures, while adding functional square footage to your space-challenged home or just providing a plush, cozy retreat surrounded by gardens overflowing with flowers.

Imagine all the possibilities: a creative art studio, a Zen getaway, a charming tea house, a mini-gym or perhaps a writer’s private oasis with an inviting candle in the window. How about a sleek modern hang-out spot, a wine tasting room, a woodcarving studio, a collector’s showcase or possibly a rustic, woodland outpost in a small clearing, deep in your woods. Popular in Europe where space is at a premium, these sheds can be equipped with most all of the cozy comforts of home: electricity, portable heat and A/C, cable and internet. Be sure to check your local building codes and then get planning! Have fun furnishing the interior and designing and planting the landscape to create your one of a kind abode.

Visitors to this years’ Springfest Garden Show will get a peek into three sheds with style, all professionally furnished by design gurus challenged to create the most imaginative spaces.

George’s Wine Tasting Cellar

Frances Delgado, chef, certified sommelier and event coordinator along with her husband George, one of the country’s premier mixologists, has been part of the world-wide wine enthusiast movement for over 25 years. The ‘Tasting Cellar’ Shed promises to have all the warmth and charm seen in their wine gourmet shop, George’s Wine Spirits Gallery opened in 2006 in quaint, downtown Branchville, NJ and would be a great entertaining space in anyone’s backyard! Fran and George will be hosting wine tastings daily in the stylish, intimate shed, complete with a bar and fully stocked cellar.

Photo Haven: A Photography Studio

Have you ever wished to retreat to your own backyard studio; to study nature, indulge in a hobby or just relax in a tranquil space? Then this special haven, created by Cheryl Williver, professional photographer, designer and owner of Images Everything Photography in Newton, NJ will transport you into Mother Nature’s own cottage, surrounded by inspiration and where every peek out the window is a ‘Kodak moment’! Cheryl’s award-winning work, encompassing home garden, and real estate photography, can be seen on her lively Facebook page where her enthusiastic followers look forward to her inspiring posts.

Made in the Shed: An Elegant Potting Shed

Every gardener’s green thumb will turn florescent with envy at the site of this elegant potting shed. Designer Jean Sikorski, has created a unique shed with one-of-a-kind antiques and treasures ‘professionally picked’ by Sherri Arnold, owner of Made in the Shade. Sherri’s charming shop, featuring antique lighting and furniture, along with custom ‘design your own chandeliers’ and lampshades has graced Main Street in charming Andover Boro for more than 15 years.

The exterior architecture of your shed is just as important in creating an inviting and functional space that fits comfortably in your landscape. At Brodhecker Farms in Newton, owner Phil Brodhecker says “Ready-made sheds can be customized with all manner of architectural features.” In fact, Phil has provided all three custom sheds for the Springfest display. They will be among a sampling of outbuildings that Brodhecker Farms will have on display at Springfest.

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Pepperell Garden Club presents — Design-less gardening

Do you enjoy looking at gardens? Do you enjoy flower cuttings in a pretty vase in your home? Do you have a garden at your home that you don’t have time to maintain, or maybe you can’t or don’t want to do the work of maintaining a beautiful garden?

Well, the Pepperell Garden Club may have the solution to your problem. Learn to create a low-maintenance garden that supports the environment and is beautiful for people and pollinators.

Dan Jaffe, propagator and stock bed grower for the New England Wild Flower Society, will present “Design-less Gardening: A Naturalistic Approach.” The lecture is geared for all levels of gardening. Using a slide presentation and hand outs, Dan will discuss nontraditional designs and adopting a new approach to garden design. He will focus on taking clues from your landscape to choose the right plants.

The lecture will be on Wednesday, March 12, at 7 p.m. at the Pepperell Senior Center on Nashua Road in Pepperell. Admission is $5, $2 to seniors, free to members. Refreshments will be served.

For info call Kathy at 978-433-8031 or visit

The Pepperell Garden Club is open to members and guests from all communities. Attend a meeting and bring a friend. There is always something to learn. Share the excitement and the beauty of gardening.

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Kimberly Jordan: New home, new garden

Online Contact Form
615-444-1358 (fax)
402 N. Cumberland St.
Lebanon, TN 37087

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What Snow Can Teach Us About Creating Better Public Spaces

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