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Archives for May 23, 2014

Easy DIY Projects for Fun Summer Moments

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Posted: Friday, May 23, 2014 8:53 am

Easy DIY Projects for Fun Summer Moments

State Point

Explorer News

With warm weather here, now is the time to tackle those seasonal do-it-yourself projects. By getting a jump start on your home improvement projects list you’ll ensure a summer full of family fun.

The experts at True Value know that the best summer moments are earned. Here are a few DIY project ideas and tips from the True Value DIY Squad to help earn the satisfaction of a job well done.

Yard Clean Up

Can you see it now? A sunny day, cool grass and a perfectly landscaped yard you completed in the spring. Small landscaping projects such as edging and mulching can make a huge difference in the way your yard looks. Edging offers functional benefits by separating the garden from the rest of the yard, and keeps plants healthy in the gardening bed. Mulch improves the soil quality by allowing more water and air movement through the soil.

“Even if you live in a warm climate, your grass is likely looking brown or tan, rather than green,” says Danika Herrick, blogger for Gorgeous Shiny Things and a member of the True Value DIY Squad. “Yard improvement doesn’t have to be daunting. Simple weekend projects like edging, mulching or even fertilizing give your lawn the nutrients and updates it needs for strong roots and a lush green appearance that will last all summer long.”

Backyard Gatherings

Extend the dining experience outdoors – everything tastes better alfresco with family and friends. If you haven’t had a chance to fire up your grill this season, dust it off and then take a close look at all of its components to make sure everything is in proper working order.

Check hoses for cracks or damage, inspect burners and gas tubes and tighten any loose screws and bolts before firing it up for a well-earned backyard cookout.

Family Memories

Perhaps the greatest benefit of getting ahead of the game with do-it-yourself projects is earning extra family time in the summer. With a focus on DIY yard work now, your yard will be prepped for fun activities that will allow the whole family to get involved. Time spent with the family on an epic water balloon battle or even backyard movie nights maximizes use of the yard, keeps the family entertained and makes memorable summer moments.

For more DIY advice and weekend project inspiration, visit www.TrueValueProjects.com, www.Facebook.com/TrueValue and www.Pinterest.com/TrueValue.

With a bit of effort now, a summer of outdoor fun and relaxation can be yours.

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Article source: http://explorernews.com/features/article_70c70cb6-e292-11e3-988d-0019bb2963f4.html

Garden visitors easy steps to keep snakes away

Yikes! Snakes in the garden? I don’t think about it much since I’ve never actually seen a live snake in my yard, or neighborhood for that matter, and I have lived in the High Desert for well over 30 years. I have seen them in Big Bear and numerous other places, but not at home. Certainly I hear about them frequently enough, but until a couple of conversations with associates at work, I hadn’t actually taken the idea as seriously as I should have.

One workplace associate, who lives in the Baldy Mesa area of the High Desert, was out in her tomato garden when she noticed that her dog was acting strangely. Upon further investigation, she discovered that the source of the problem was a snake stuck in the netting she had placed around the tomato plant to keep out hungry squirrels and bunnies. She noticed it had a pattern in its scales, but knowing snakes well enough, she determined it was a gopher snake — not a rattler. Just the same, it could have just as easily been a rattlesnake. She carefully snipped the netting to loosen its grip on the snake and it eventually slithered away. If this had been a poisonous species, getting as close would not have been so wise.

Another associate recently mentioned that she has snake issues on her property out in Pinon Hills. She said they need to keep all of their trees and shrubs trimmed up so that there are no branches and leaves laying close to the ground. It would also be good to put a mesh fence around her raised bed gardens.

What can you do to keep snakes out of the garden? This website — http://coopext.colostate.edu/4dmg/Pests/snakesin.htm   — offers the following ideas:

Construct a snake-proof fence around your garden. A snake-proof fence can be made of heavy galvanized screen, about three feet wide with a quarter-inch mesh. The fence should slant away from the garden at a thirty-degree angle and be buried six inches below the soil surface. Remove or closely mow any vegetation that may be near the fence.

Make your garden and landscape unattractive to snakes by eliminating any shelter or hiding places that may seem inviting to them. Remove logs, boards, rocks, and other debris that may be lying on the ground. High grass and other vegetation should be mowed closely or removed in order to control insects and rodents that are attractive to snakes. Firewood should be stacked at least one foot off of the ground.

Another website (http://www.allaboutlawns.com/grass-types/keeping-snakes-out-of-your-garden-and  off-the-lawn.php) includes these suggestions:

Keep your garden and lawn inhospitable to snakes. It is impossible to keep snakes from passing through your garden, but it is possible to make sure they don’t stop and make a home there.

Watch out for mulch piles. Snakes enjoy snug, warm environments for reproducing and living. If you have a big mulch pile, snakes (and rodents) may try to make a home there. Try to make sure you mix it up as often as possible. You can also build the pile in a wire cage so that air and water circulates through it, making it more inhospitable for long-term living.

Trim small trees and shrubs. Gardeners encourage that you make sure that the lower limbs on small trees and shrubs should be a couple of feet above the ground. If branches dangle to the ground, snakes and rodents will make a happy home at the foot of your garden trees.

Cut your lawn. Tall grass can become a home for snakes. Happily, most lawn grass will have trouble getting tall enough, but landscaping grass like fountain grass or pampas grass will provide a perfect home for snakes if not trimmed or controlled properly.

Whatever you choose to do to keep snakes away, it is still a good idea to approach the garden with care, and look carefully before you reach into a tomato plant or any other plant. You never know what might be lurking in your cozy garden environment.

Happy gardening!

High Desert resident Micki Brown is a drought-tolerant plant specialist with a master’s degree in plant science. Send questions to be answered in the column to HorticultureHelp@aol.com.  

Article source: http://www.vvdailypress.com/articles/snakes-47012-garden-steps.html

Into the garden, go A special section filled with ideas for making your home …

What’s a growing trend for 2014? Restoring and sowing “balance” in life – and the garden, according to the Garden Media Group.

While to some that may mean practicing yoga near the euonymus, to many it also means making more thoughtful choices for this year and beyond.

Homeowners still want their outdoor spaces to look beautiful – lush plants, inviting furniture, chic accessories – but they also want to invest their time and money into high-quality, eco-friendly products with a smaller carbon footprint, the group reports.

And they want that outdoor space to do double duty – a place for solitude but also for socializing. Balance, remember?

Among the gardening trends highlighted by the group:

• Composting: Recycling food scraps to create compost is the new recycling.

• Growing fruit: There’s much interest in planting things like raspberries and blueberries for crafting cocktails and smoothies, hops for home-brewing and grapes for homemade wine.

• Bee-friendly gardening: Environmentally aware consumers are interested in planting native, pollen-rich flowers, trees and vegetables to provide safe shelters.

• “Fingertip” gardening: Gardens are going high-tech with mobile apps and technology. Suntory Flowers’ Virtual Container Designer app is one example.

Locally, Jeffrey Salmon noted another interesting trend in landscaping: Homeowners are requesting smaller flowering trees – patio-size trees – rather than big shade trees.

“People want to keep the sun in the yard,” said Salmon, president of Arbordale Nurseries Landscaping, 480 Dodge Road, Getzville.

Other landscape trends: Planting edibles into the landscape – using blueberries as a landscape foundation plant, for example. Salmon also noted a decline in plastic edging. It’s being replaced by natural products – perhaps local stones from places such as Medina. People want local, natural products, he said. Plants, stones, mulch.

“I think Buffalo people have accepted that we don’t need to truck the mulch from five states over. We can use the stuff here,” Salmon said.

Miniature fairy gardens continue to be hugely popular. And water gardens are evolving and maturing – with homeowners putting more thought into their placement and maintenance.

“People want them to be easier to care for,” Salmon said.

As for flowers, “I think tropicals are going to be a big deal again this year. Mandevilla seems to be one of the hot plants; it has been the last couple years, and it is again this year,” said Mark Yadon of Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 S. Forest Road, Williamsville.

Container gardening also remains a popular option – including ready-made.

“You will see a lot of multiple types of plants – maybe three different plants – in one container, which makes it easy. You can just take that combination and pop two or three of them into a window box and instantly be done. Or put it into a basket or container of your own, and you have it already mixed for you,” Yadon said.

“We’re finding that more people want stuff done for them. We’re selling a lot more mixed containers that are ready to go out the door rather than people buying their own components and making the container themselves,” Yadon said.

“It’s big. It’s instant. It’s now,” he said.

email: smartin@buffnews.com

Article source: http://www.buffalonews.com/life-arts/home-gardening/into-the-garden-go-a-special-section-filled-with-ideas-for-making-your-home-and-outdoor-spaces-even-better-20140522

Special Section on Outdoor Living: Into the garden, go

What’s a growing trend for 2014? Restoring and sowing “balance” in life – and the garden, according to the Garden Media Group.

While to some that may mean practicing yoga near the euonymus, to many it also means making more thoughtful choices for this year and beyond.

Homeowners still want their outdoor spaces to look beautiful – lush plants, inviting furniture, chic accessories – but they also want to invest their time and money into high-quality, eco-friendly products with a smaller carbon footprint, the group reports.

And they want that outdoor space to do double duty – a place for solitude but also for socializing. Balance, remember?

Among the gardening trends highlighted by the group:

• Composting: Recycling food scraps to create compost is the new recycling.

• Growing fruit: There’s much interest in planting things like raspberries and blueberries for crafting cocktails and smoothies, hops for home-brewing and grapes for homemade wine.

• Bee-friendly gardening: Environmentally aware consumers are interested in planting native, pollen-rich flowers, trees and vegetables to provide safe shelters.

• “Fingertip” gardening: Gardens are going high-tech with mobile apps and technology. Suntory Flowers’ Virtual Container Designer app is one example.

Locally, Jeffrey Salmon noted another interesting trend in landscaping: Homeowners are requesting smaller flowering trees – patio-size trees – rather than big shade trees.

“People want to keep the sun in the yard,” said Salmon, president of Arbordale Nurseries Landscaping, 480 Dodge Road, Getzville.

Other landscape trends: Planting edibles into the landscape – using blueberries as a landscape foundation plant, for example. Salmon also noted a decline in plastic edging. It’s being replaced by natural products – perhaps local stones from places such as Medina. People want local, natural products, he said. Plants, stones, mulch.

“I think Buffalo people have accepted that we don’t need to truck the mulch from five states over. We can use the stuff here,” Salmon said.

Miniature fairy gardens continue to be hugely popular. And water gardens are evolving and maturing – with homeowners putting more thought into their placement and maintenance.

“People want them to be easier to care for,” Salmon said.

As for flowers, “I think tropicals are going to be a big deal again this year. Mandevilla seems to be one of the hot plants; it has been the last couple years, and it is again this year,” said Mark Yadon of Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 S. Forest Road, Williamsville.

Container gardening also remains a popular option – including ready-made.

“You will see a lot of multiple types of plants – maybe three different plants – in one container, which makes it easy. You can just take that combination and pop two or three of them into a window box and instantly be done. Or put it into a basket or container of your own, and you have it already mixed for you,” Yadon said.

“We’re finding that more people want stuff done for them. We’re selling a lot more mixed containers that are ready to go out the door rather than people buying their own components and making the container themselves,” Yadon said.

“It’s big. It’s instant. It’s now,” he said.

email: smartin@buffnews.com

Article source: http://www.buffalonews.com/life-arts/home-gardening/special-section-on-outdoor-living-into-the-garden-go-20140522

Roses for a dry land: Species, old garden roses are tough, low-water

Which rose?

In Colorado, where the stunning landscape is also challenging and water consumption is a perennial concern, knowing which roses will fare well with the least amount of water can be the best way to narrow the field

People assume that all roses take a lot of water but the truth is that a lot of the species roses, as well as a lot of the modern shrub roses, really require less water than traditional hybrid tea roses, says Matt Douglas, owner of Denver’s High Country Roses.

“Many roses, primarily the species roses, can be incorporated into landscaping in nearly xeric conditions,” he says. “These include the Rosa glauca and the Rosa woodsii. The drought-resistant woodsii is not considered the most beautiful, but it fits the bill for low water needs.”

His personal favorite is Rosa glauca, or redleaf rose.

“It’s a fantastic shrub; once a year it blossoms with tiny pink buds,” Douglas says. “It can grow up to 6 feet and will survive in nearly waterless conditions once established.” A similar rose is the Austrian copper, which produces an orange flower, blooms once a year, and does well in this climate.

Rosa glauca also is a designated rose for Plant Select, the cooperative program administered by Denver Botanic Gardens and Colorado State University in concert with horticulturists and nurseries throughout the Rocky Mountain region and beyond. Plant Select (plantselect.org ) identifies and distributes the best plants for landscapes and gardens from the intermountain region to the high plains.

“This is a great resource for anyone who wants to identify plants that will thrive here,” Douglas says. Another Plant Select-designated rosebush is “Ruby Voodoo.” It’s “a double-bloom, very fragrant, modern hybrid that is a good choice for a first-time rose gardener,” Douglas says.

For history lovers, High Country’s repertoire includes five varieties of Fairmount roses. These are roses found in east Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery and propagated about 20 years ago. At its 1890 founding, Fairmount (fairmountheritagefoundation.org) was the largest developed landscape of its time west of the Mississippi.

High Country Roses owner Matt Douglas says roses will do well in dry conditions if you choose well-adapted varieties.

These rose varieties, known for their wonderful fragrances and beautiful hips in fall, include the Ghislaine de Féligonde, an old-fashioned rambler that forms a large shrub with few thorns. It blooms in apricot and ages into a pale yellow. The highly popular Fairmount Red, closely related to a hybrid perpetual, blooms in crimson magenta with cabbage-style blooms. And the Fairmount Proserpine, of unknown origins, offers a deep fuchsia double bloom with a tight knob of center petals.

Both the Jeremiah Pink and JoAn’s Pink Perpetual live up to their names with gorgeous pink blooms. JoAn’s is a repeat bloomer, growing up to six feet tall.

“Old Garden Roses are classified as those that existed before 1867 and are known for their hardiness and fragrance,” says Patricia Carmody, executive director of the Fairmount Heritage Foundation. “We know that landscape architect/Fairmount Cemetery designer Reinhard Schuetze planted 380 roses of all kinds in 1891, the first year of planting at Fairmount. A lot of other roses were planted by families and took over some of the monuments, so we divided some and moved them to our Rose Garden/Gazebo area.”

The Fairmount Arboretum houses one of the largest known collections of Old Garden Roses in North America.

“We have 400 rose bushes here, many of which still need to be identified,” said Carmody. “Some have study names given to them from a survey done in the 1990s. One rose is called the Mae Fair, found planted next to the grave of a woman named Mae Fair.

Fairmount’s goal is to propagate more of the roses found on its grounds to preserve their genetics. Funds from its rose sales, and its upcoming tour in June, will go toward that project.

And the tour should be a barn-burner this year, Carmody said. “With all the moisture we received this past winter, everything is really popping.”

Grow with the (low) flow

If you really want to grow without much water, buy a rose that blooms only once in the spring, when moisture is at its highest, advises Sharron Zaun, a Boulder gardener and member of the Rose Society. “After it blooms, you can enjoy it as a shrub.”

Old garden roses are good choices, she says; try Banshee, which is very tall and exceedingly fragrant with pink, double blooms, and purple fall foliage. Other good, tough choices:
Rosa arkanasas and Rosa hugonis, a.k.a. the Father Hugo rose, a once-blooming, extremely hardy plant with yellow blooms.

“These species roses occur in the wild, all over the world,” Zaun says. “We have native roses in Colorado, along the streams, and we have taken these species to breed.”

All roses will grow in Colorado’s clay soils, but they do like good drainage, she notes. “Add an organic material such as compost to nourish your roses and help them retain water. Consider planting them in raised beds, which also helps with drainage.” For the best results, she says, choose a rose bush that is on its own roots, not a grafted rose.

And remember to think roses beyond the growing and blooming season. One of the reasons Rosa glauca is so prized is that after the bloom, its silvery red foliage is lovely all summer long. The hips — where a rose holds its seeds — are orange.

“I can look out my bedroom window in the middle of November and see these orange hips against the gray landscape, and it’s beautiful,” Douglas says.


How to move a rose

A garden is an ever-changing work of art. Trees grow taller and provide more shade. A neighbor puts on an addition that makes your favorite rose struggle for sun. Or you want to relocate a rose to where its charms can be more easily enjoyed.

Loddie Dolinski, a senior horticulturalist for the Denver Botanic Gardens, who is in charge of moving several roses to a new rose ellipse garden, has felt your thorny dilemma. Here’s her advice on how to move a rose.

The best time is very early spring. But Dolinski knows that you can’t always do it at the best time. If you can’t, do it in the best way.

First, cut the rose back. “Down to about a foot tall is best,” she says.

Dig up as much of the root ball as you can, slowly and gently, with the soil fairly moist so the job is easier. Pot up your cut-back, dug-up rose with good, fresh potting soil. If the roots are too large to fit in the pot, you can prune them back so that they’ll fit easier and won’t be damaged (a clean cut is better than a bad scrape).

Store your potted rose on the north side of a building to minimize temperature fluctuation. Water and check on it frequently; pots can dry out fast, especially in drying winds.

In the new location, dig a hole at least twice as wide as the root ball. Plant at the same depth as in the original location or an inch deeper. Dolinski says don’t go overboard on amending the soil in the new location, but do be sure to place a graft two inches below the soil surface. Water well; then put a layer of mulch or compost on top (not touching the canes).

Keep an eye on it until it sprouts new leaves. If shoots come from below the graft, prune them out.

Susan Clotfelter, The Denver Post


Rose-growing primer

Matt Douglas of High Country Roses serves up his best tricks for keeping your roses in tiptop shape:

  • Be choosy. Always be sure to select the right plant for the right climate. Roses shouldn’t have to struggle to live. A stressed plant automatically needs more attention and more water.

  • Location, location. Pick a spot for your roses that will ensure enough sun, but not so much sun that it will dry them out. Aim for about six hours of direct sun each day.

  • Drink in the morning. Water early! It’s important for the growing day and also helps with disease control. One cause of fungal disease in roses is wet leaves at night.

  • Sparing sips. The biggest mistake rose lovers make is overwatering. Roses are happiest when they get wet, and then dry out, Douglas says. Avoid “wet feet” on your roses; make sure they get water and then have time to dry.


    FAIRMOUNT CEMETERY’S OLD GARDEN ROSE TOUR

    June 14 starting at 9 a.m. with guides Panayoti Kelaidis and Peggy Williams. $25; advance ticket sales only. Fairmount, Heritage and Old Garden Roses will be for sale before and after the event; the tour is about two hours long, with a presentation in the gazebo followed by a walking tour. fairmountheritagefoundation.org/rose-tour/ or 303-322-3895.

  • Article source: http://www.denverpost.com/homegarden/ci_25801554/roses-dry-land-species-old-garden-roses-are

    Landscaping giants ValleyCrest and Brickman to combine

    The nation’s largest landscape services business, ValleyCrest Cos. of Calabasas, has agreed to merge with another industry giant, Brickman Group Ltd. of Maryland.

    The new company, which has yet to be named, will be a landscaping behemoth with more than 22,000 employees and annual revenue of about $2 billion.

    Each serves large-scale clients such as corporations, universities, hospitals, housing communities, hotels and resorts. They also landscape and maintain parks and other grounds for public entities.

    The transaction is expected to close by the middle of the year. Upon completion, Kerin will be chief executive of the new company. Roger Zino, now chief executive of ValleyCrest, will be vice chairman.

    ValleyCrest is dominant in California and Florida, Zino said, whereas Brickman was established and grew biggest in the Northeast and Midwest. The two companies do compete in some of the same markets, however.

    “We have known and respected one another for many years,” Zino said, “and have always shared a commitment to superior customer service, a relentless focus on employee safety and support of the environment and communities in which we live and work.”

    Brickman is currently owned by New York private equity firm KKR, and ValleyCrest is currently owned by affiliates of MSD Capital, the investment vehicle for computer magnate Michael Dell and his family.

    After the merger, KKR will have majority ownership of the combined company and MSD Capital will retain a significant minority ownership interest. The new company will maintain offices in Calabasas and Rockville, Md., Zino said.

    ValleyCrest was co-founded in 1949 by Burton Sperber, who was still active as chairman of the company when he died in 2011.

    Sperber had a passion for horticulture and preferred to be called “head gardener” even as his company grew into a national firm.

    Benefiting from the post-World War II building boom in Southern California, Sperber’s privately held company grew steadily as it did landscaping for residential developments, schools and freeways.

    What initially began as a small nursery with three employees had grown to more than 150 locations around the world, with 9,000 employees and nearly $835 million in annual revenue at the time of his death.

    ValleyCrest did work at the Grove shopping center in Los Angeles, the Bellagio hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park in Florida and Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

    roger.vincent@latimes.com

    Twitter: @rogervincent

    Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

    Article source: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-landscaping-deal-20140523-story.html

    Local chiropractors offer tips for painfree gardening

    “Good gardening habits involve much more than sunblock, gloves and a hat. Following these 10 simple steps will help avoid gardening-associated strains, spasms, injury, and fatigue,” says Dr. Brenda Slovin.

    Spring is here, and with the warmer weather, many people are breaking out their gardening tools. However, if you suffer from arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis or other painful musculoskeletal disorders, idyllic thoughts of working the soil and bringing forth the sweet smell of new growth may seem like a thing of the past.

    Drs. Slovin, celebrated Norwalk Chiropractors, offer ten timely tips to keep you pain-free in your garden this spring and throughout the summer.

    1. Know Your Limitations. Remember to work in short sessions, and keep your physical limitations in mind. Avoid gardening while in the same position, such as kneeling, sitting, or stooping, for more than thirty minutes. Take “stretch breaks” at least twice per hour. This will help reduce stiffness and help you to really enjoy your time in the garden.

    2. Stretch Out Before You Start. Gardening can be a serious workout, so be sure to warm up before you dig in. Doing a series of gentle muscle-stretching exercises before going out to your garden can help reduce stress and strain on joints and muscles, which also reduces your chance of injury.

    3. Use Tools Designed To Make Gardening Easier. Painful joints and aching backs can keep you sidelined from gardening. With a plethora of inventive new gardening tools available, your garden can continue to be a source of pride and joy. Padded kneeling stools, ergonomically-designed garden tools to reduce the strain on hands and wrists, long-handled rakes to reduce bending, potting benches and lawn carts all help keep you in the gardening game and pain-free. A few other tips include keeping your pruning shears sharp to make cutting easier, wearing a carpenter’s apron outfitted with small gardening tools, and keeping your tools as lightweight as possible.

    4. Sit Instead Of Stooping Or Kneeling. One of the worst things you can do when suffering from any type of hip, back or knee pain is to spend time kneeling on hard surfaces. From driveways to hard ground, this is a sure way to end up in a great deal of pain. Instead, try using a stool that is padded on top and bottom. It is perfect for low-profile seating while you garden. And, when kneeling is unavoidable, you can turn it upside down and it becomes a comfortable kneeling bench. Also, remember to change positions often.

    5. Go Low-Maintenance Whenever Possible. Perennials are typically much less high-maintenance than annuals, simply because they do not require yearly replacement. Also, adding mulch around your plants will lessen your water use. Speaking of watering, make sure your garden has a nearby water source. Hoses can be heavy and dragging them across the yard can cause painful strains. Also look for larger sprinklers that cover a wide area so you do not need to bend over to move them quite so often. Drip irrigation systems are also a huge plus.

    6. Garden In Raised Beds Or Containers. This will help minimize painful stooping while planting and weeding. Also remember to keep your raised flowerbeds reasonably small so you can reach the center plants without painful stretching. Container planting can also be incredibly beautiful and gratifying – all without the stooping, stretching, digging and lifting associated with traditional gardening. Try placing your container garden on wheels so you can easily move it to just the right spot.

    7. Dig Smart. Digging is hard work, no matter how you approach it. But digging smart will help keep aches and pains at bay. Position the shovel blade level and parallel to your hips. Lean your weight forward onto the shovel and let the weight of your body push the shovel into the dirt. Be sure to use your knees when lifting the dirt out of the ground.

    8. As In Digging, Lifting Smart Will Help Keep You Pain-Free. The first rule of lifting smart is to use common sense. Some things are just too heavy to lift by yourself. For example, a small bag of soil might be no problem, but a 50 pound bag is another story entirely. When lifting in the garden, it is essential to break the habit of bending at the waist. Instead bend from the hips and knees, lowering your body to help leverage the load.

    9. Keep Utility Scissors Handy. It is all too tempting to try to tear plastic bags of soil, fertilizer or grass seed open with your fingers. This can cause unnecessary strain on sensitive joints and tendons. Instead, keep a pair of large-handled utility scissors on hand to cut these bags open.

    10. Keep Your Cell Phone Handy. If you enjoy the solitude of gardening alone, be sure to always keep a cell phone with you. Should you run into any trouble or suffer an injury of any kind, call for help immediately. Even if you typically garden with someone else, always have at least an emergency whistle on hand.

    Says Dr. Erik Slovin , “Gardening is really great exercise, but moderation is the key in keeping it safe and pain-free. Recognize your limitations, and take a proactive approach to good gardening habits. By doing so, you can protect your health, enjoy the relaxation of a glorious garden, and even increase your energy while reducing stiffness.”

    For more information on how to stay pain-free and active this spring and summer, contact Slovin Chiropractic Center 203-840-0000.

    Article source: http://www.thehour.com/blogs/green_outdoors/local-chiropractors-offer-tips-for-painfree-gardening/article_885d0df4-e1b0-11e3-a796-001a4bcf6878.html

    How to control crape myrtle aphids and spider mites: this week’s gardening tips – The Times

    common during dry summer weather, with insecticidal soap, a light horticultural oil (Year Round Spray Oil and other brands) or Malathion.
    http://media.nola.com/home_impact/photo/15011820-thumb_square_large.jpg005/22/201405/22/2014

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    What caused these holes in my tomato crop? Dan Gill’s mailbag

    Follow these simple steps to a beautiful, blooming garden, even in the heat of summer




    Tips for growing great tomatoes – starting off right

    What would spring be without a refresher on tomato growing success? Even veteran gardeners can experience challenges in growing these beauties to perfection. To be sure, I’ve had my share of challenges along the way. But over the years, I’ve honed my skills to master even the greatest challenges Mother Nature can throw my way. So here are a few of the non-negotiable steps you should employ now and every season to improve your tomato growing talent and get your plants off to the best start possible.

    • Location is key. Pick a sunny spot that gets at least six hours per day. More is better so find the sunniest spot that works. Your plants will be fuller, fruit will form faster and taste best the more sun they get. Next, don’t plant too closely together. Keep your plants separated by at least 2 feet in all directions. It’s amazing how large they will get, and they need room to grow while receiving adequate light and air circulation. Your plants will be much healthier for it.

    • Start with great soil. Starting with great soil and a healthy plant puts you well on your way to an abundant harvest. You can eliminate most of your tomato growing challenges with these two simple mandates. Well-amended soil, full of rich compost and other organic material, can be your secret weapon to having the best tomatoes around.

    To illustrate this point, last year I grew tomatoes in raised beds, amended with about 2 inches each of compost and composted cow manure. As an experiment, in a neighboring bed, I grew tomatoes in just topsoil – no compost or manure. Over the next three months, the composted tomato bed outperformed the competition in every way, in spite of my best efforts to nurture the non-amended tomato plants to perfection. The composted plants grew vigorously, free from pests and diseases. As the season matured, so did the plants. They were heavy with abundant, delicious large red tomatoes right up until frost. The plants in the other bed did OK but fell short in every category. They were not as lush and had more disease issues and ultimately less fruit.

    • Plant them deep. Planting seedlings deep, very deep, is a unique technique used for tomato plants. They’re one of the few vegetables that will grow roots along the stem if they’re in contact with soil. I leave about two sets of leaves showing above the soil when I plant new seedlings. This step will ensure a larger root area and a more vigorous plant.

    In the planting hole, I add a tablespoon or two of dolomitic limestone and mix it into the soil. This step can help ward off a condition known as blossom end rot in emerging fruit. Cover the plant and water it in thoroughly. You may want to provide some liquid fertilizer now for a quick boost. As an organic gardener, I prefer to use fish emulsion and sea kelp. This adds nitrogen and phosphorus to get the plants off to a good start.

    • Manage the water. Tomato plants like deep watering while keeping the soil consistently moist. A soaker hose is best for this because it allows the water to soak deeply into the soil, without saturating it to excess. Soakers are also great for not wetting the foliage above. Leaves that remain wet for too long can promote diseases that can be avoided by keeping water off the plants.

    • Add mulch. The final step for a great start is to add a 2- or 3-inch layer of mulch once the plants are settled. Mulch will help keep the moisture in the soil, prevent soil-borne diseases from splashing on plants and reduce weeds.

    These guidelines will get your tomato plants off to a great start. Like with so many examples in gardening and life, how you start out makes all the difference in the world with the success of the harvest.

    Joe Lamp’l is the host and executive producer of Growing a Greener World on national public television, and the founder of The joe gardener Company, devoted to environmentally responsible gardening and sustainable outdoor living.

    Article source: http://www.buffalonews.com/life-arts/home-gardening/tips-for-growing-great-tomatoes-x2013-starting-off-right-20140523

    Garden City Postmaster gives tips on maintaining mailboxes

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    With warmer weather here, the Garden City Postmaster is urging postal patrons to give special consideration to the condition of their mailboxes.

    Garden City Postmaster Travis Alexander is asking all homeowners to inspect and repair their mailboxes.

    “Repairing mailboxes improves the appearance of our community and makes delivering and receiving mail safer for our carriers and customers,” Alexander said. “The Postal Service makes this annual request because of the wear and tear that occurs to mailboxes every year. This is especially important after the effects of last winter.”

    He suggests several maintenance tips. They include replacing loose hinges on a mailbox door; repainting a mailbox that may have rusted or started peeling; remounting a mailbox post, if loosened, and replacing or adding house numbers.

    “If a homeowner plans to install a new mailbox or replace a worn one, he or she must use only Postal Service-approved traditional, contemporary or locking full/limited service mailboxes,” said Alexander. “Customers should be careful when purchasing curbside mail receptacles because the use of unapproved boxes is prohibited.”

    He added that customers can use a custom-built mailbox, but they must consult with his office to make sure they conform to guidelines related to the flag, size, strength and quality of construction.

    For more information on the use of names or numbers on mailboxes, or answers to any other questions, call Alexander at 734-421-3390.

    Alexander added that the Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of stamps, products and services to fund its operations.

    Article source: http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20140522/NEWS08/305220121/Garden-City-Postmaster-gives-tips-maintaining-mailboxes