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Archives for May 27, 2014

Any ideas on how to kick our trash problem?


Don’t Understand Messy People

I once had a co-worker, a heavy drinker, who always scoffed when bars announced happy hours, two-fers or bottomless pitchers.

“It’s always amateur night at those things,” he would drawl, meaning that his favorite watering holes would be clogged by unfamiliar faces, not always friendly.

That’s kind of how I looked upon free days at the local landfill.

The lines would be longer than normal and some people would not understand what could and could not be disposed of in the landfill, so there would be delays. Some tempers might get short. So, up until a couple weeks ago, I’d never been to one.

You have to know some history about my hauling routine.

Back in the 1980s, when the dump — it was more a dump in those days — cost a dime per pickup load, I would make a couple trips a week. I lived in a rural setting and maintained an irrigation ditch. I even made a little money on the side or did favors by hauling away other people’s crap.

In the 1990s, when the rates were raised to several dollars, I continued the routine with my little green Toyota pickup. It cost more, but at least the lines were shorter.

When I bought a new Ford Ranger in 2000, I was initially reluctant to subject it to the potential scratches, flat tires and dings from rocks. But as time dragged on, I became a regular again. One summer, I hauled more than 50 loads of gravel from a house we’d purchased.

Then, the South Side Landfill closed in May 2008 because of state environmental regulations.

This led to the worst illegal dumping in Pueblo history. I started a campaign to try to encourage all of us to take personal responsibility for the appearance of our community. A lot of you believe this should be the city’s job, so I called it the “Not My Job Corps.”

Limited success.

When the landfill was reopened by Waste Connections in December 2008, rates for my typical load jumped to $40 from the $5-$8 I was used to paying.

About then, I opted for the more traditional home pickup service.

Now, I make about one trip a year to the dump — in ever-newer pickup trucks — and then only under the most dire circumstances. On the plus side, I can usually get in and out quickly, because hardly anyone else is ever there.

So, how was it that I found myself in a line that snaked down Hog Farm Road and out onto Colorado 78 a couple Saturdays ago?

My wife and I practice what I like to call Guerrilla Gardening. We’ll spend a Sunday cleaning up some public place, bag the refuse and usually pay to have it hauled. This is why I pay for two totes.

Recently, we did some random landscaping in a most inspired way — more like Gorilla Gardening — and created a Very Large Mess.

The VLM sat there for two weeks in a highly visible, public location. Untouched. Apparently unnoticed.

Because I was tired of looking at it, and I knew a free day at the landfill was approaching, I loaded it into my truck the night before.

As I drove home, I was getting a sinking feeling because on nearly every block of the South Side, someone else’s truck with a load covered by a blue tarp was sitting in a driveway.

Bright and early the next day, my suspicions were confirmed. Pickups and trailers of all shapes and sizes were lined up for a mile. Police were even on hand for crowd control.

Like most of the others, I endured the hour-plus wait in line stoically. I became reacquainted with all of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s greatest hits while exercising patience.

With the help of a worker at the event, I unloaded the VLM in about 30 seconds. (Hint: Put a tarp under the load as well.)

OK, Pueblo, here’s the point: Your town still looks trashy.

There is still a lot of illegal dumping.

Locking up every dumpster in town is not the best option.

There is apparently a great need for disposing of VLMs on a more regular basis.

Someone ought to do something. Any ideas?

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Inspiration will be in full bloom at OC Spring Home Garden Show

If you go

When: Noon to 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: Anaheim Convention Center, Hall C, 800 Katella Ave., Anaheim

Cost: Free, parking is $12

More information: 800-358-SHOW or home



Need inspiration for all of the home and garden projects filling up your summer calendar? Check out the OC Spring Home and Garden Show this weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Hundreds of exhibits and displays will feature home improvement, remodeling, decorating and landscaping ideas, including Thompson Building Materials’ backyard display. Foodies can catch some tips and inspiration from watching cooking demos from “Fit Chef” Katy Clark and Susan Irby, the “Bikini Chef.”

Get there early each day and you … Click here to login or subscribe and see more.

More from Anaheim – Anaheim Hills

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Marine council to update public on lagoon plan


Doppler radar

Theory: A different sort of Dopper effect

Stewart Simonson, a chemical engineer in Atlanta, spells out his theory on
his blog called, Dark Matters a Lot.
Simonson believes that Doppler radar, by measuring the weather actually
changes it, and puts the lagoon on a “slow microwave bake” of sorts.

Counterpoint: Lagoon investigators say this one’s barely a
blip on their radar, but that anything’s possible.

Although, it would take a
much more thorough examination to establish the Doppler link.

Most of the radars have been here for years.

Article source:

How to protect pets from yard dangers

Everywhere you look on the weekends you see people digging, planting and puttering in their gardens and lawns. While they may make for a pretty panorama, not every product or plant that goes in the garden is good for your pets.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Animal Control Center, experts field thousands of calls about pets that have had potentially hazardous contact with insecticides, weed killer and pet-toxic plants.

The best way to insure you aren’t potentially putting your pet in danger is to do a little research before you begin your lawn and garden projects, says Dr. Reid P. Groman, critical care specialist at Veterinary Specialty Center of Delaware.

Story: Big cats strut their stuff at Philadelphia zoo

Story: Lending PAWS to patients in Illinois hospital

“Do your due diligence,” Groman said. Here are some things to consider:

Cocoa mulch

Cocoa mulch has become increasing popular for landscaping the past few years. It’s made from cocoa bean shells, which gives it that enticing chocolate aroma people seem to love. And that’s just what attracts your dog to it.

Cocoa mulch contains caffeine and theobromine, the same ingredient that causes chocolate toxicity in dogs. It is not as toxic as baking chocolate but, depending on the size of the dog, how much it ingests and how much theobromine is in the mulch, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, muscle termers and elevated heart rate. In severe cases a dog can have seizures. It can be fatal.

If you know your dog has eaten cocoa mulch, call your vet right away.

Groman advises watering the mulch as soon as you put it down to help prevent ingestion. “Watering it well forms a crust on the mulch and makes it harder to eat and less palatable,” he said.

The ASPCA recommends considering less-toxic alternatives, such as shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark, but always supervise curious canines in yards where mulch is spread.


The plant that pops up most often when looking for toxic effects on pets is the sago palm, which is popular for gardens and patios. The entire plant is toxic – the leaves, nuts and seeds. Ingestion can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea and gastric ulcers.

“The most severe problem we see is liver failure that can be irreversible,” Groman said. “It carries a more guarded prognosis, especially if they go into liver failure.”

Other plants that can sicken pets include alocasia, aloe, amaryllis and African daises. Check out for a more comprehensive list.


Going green with a compost heap is great for Mother Earth, but not so much for your pets.

“If you are trying to do the right thing by the environment you need to be careful that the pets do not get into,” Groman said. “The overwhelming number of dogs won’t get sick, but when different plant matter decomposes there are mycotoxins that grow from moldy food.”

If your pet becomes ill from eating compost or garbage, you’ll know it within 30 minutes, Groman said. Symptoms include hyperactivity, panting and drooling. Your pet likely will end up staying at the vet for several days receiving supportive care until it improves. There is no cure.

Also, do not dump grease from your barbecue or kitchen in your yard.

“Dogs love it, but it makes them sick, and they can get pancreatitis,” Groman said.


While most insecticides are seldom toxic in small doses, snail bait, which contains metaldehyde, is extremely dangerous. Other dangerous products include fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with disyston or disulfoton, mole or gopher bait with zinc phosphide and most forms of rat poisons.

If you’re planting roses or other plants that require bone meal or any other meal-based fertilizer, make sure your pets can’t get to it. When they ingest it, it will become solid in their gastric system, which requires a trip to the vet immediately.

Read all the labels on fertilizers and pesticides before you purchase them. If you have any concerns, call your vet or visit

Groman suggests applying chemicals to your lawn before a soaking rain or watering your lawn thoroughly before you allow your pets to walk on it. Consider keeping them off the lawn for a couple of days.

If you spot any symptoms of illness, call your veterinarian immediately, Groman said. Also, keep all packages and other information for any product or plant you place in your yard indefinitely.

If you cannot reach your vet, call the ASPCA hotline, (888) 426-4435. There is a $65 consulting fee, but that call could save your pet’s life.

Manny got his surgery

Recently, I wrote about what great pets greyhounds make and a fundraiser for Manny, whose leg was broken racing. Gail Rys, vice president and foster coordinator for Greyhound Pets of America – Delaware Chapter, emailed me to say Manny had his surgery and is doing well. His baby-blue cast should come off next week.

The rescue is still raising funds. Donations can be sent to 701 Cambridge Drive, Newark, DE 19711.

Going wild about baby animals

Rys also let me know that the recent column on leaving alone wildlife babies was a hit with her granddaughter, who took it to her preschool class and engaged her classmates in a discussion about it.

I also got a sweet email from a reader whose 5-year-old grandson found a nest of baby bunnies and literally stood over the nest, reading the advice in Delaware Pets from experts with the statewide Delaware Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators Educators about how to observe, but not interfere, with the bunnies. Can I tell you how much I love that?

Pleased to help

When I toured the new Gibney’s Doggie Kingdom at Faithful Friends Animal Society last week, I noticed Soggy Doggy mats everywhere. I wrote about them and other products I had tested shortly before Christmas. Turns out board member Jill Cantera, who directed the Faithful Friends renovation project, read that column and contacted Joanna Rein, who invented the water-absorbing mats, about buying some for the shelter. Rein responded by giving the shelter a wholesale price.

This column and section is sponsored by Concord Pet Foods Supplies.

Delaware Pets is written by animal-lover Deb Lucas. Email her you news, events, column ideas and the results of column topics to or call her at (302) 324-2852.

Pet-related events

  • Delaware Humane Association will hold a Cat and Kitten Adopt-a-Thon 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Concord Pet Foods and Supplies at the Shoppes of Graylyn, 1722 Marsh Road in Wilmington. Same-day adoptions of cats are available for qualified applicants.

  • Until Saturday, qualified adopters at the Delaware Humane Association will be eligible to pay reduced adoption fees for all black or mostly black animals they adopt. Dogs 7 months and older can be adopted for $50 and cats of any age can be adopted for $20.

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Trade bodies celebrate Chelsea success

By Matthew Appleby
Thursday, 22 May 2014

Trade bodies BALI, APL and HTA have been celebrating the medal-winning success of their members at last week’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Hugo Bugg's gold medal-winning RBC Waterscape Garden built by Landscape Associates.Pic: HW

Hugo Bugg’s gold medal-winning RBC Waterscape Garden built by Landscape Associates.Pic: HW

The Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) reported that members of the association built five of the gold medal-winning gardens at this year’s show.

They include Landscape Associates which helped Hugo Bugg to become the youngest ever show garden gold medal winner at the age of 26 for the Royal Bank of Canada’s Waterscape Garden, working with main contractor Himalayan Landscaping. The company also built silver gilt winner Patrick Collins’ A Garden for First Touch at St George’s.

The Outdoor Room built two gold medal-winning gardens, for Adam Frost’s The Homebase Garden – Time to Reflect in association with Alzheimer’s Society, and Jo Thompson’s London Square garden in the Fresh area. It also helped designers Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam’s win a silver gilt for the Cloudy Bay Garden.

Another gold medal went to Charlotte Rowe’s No Man’s Land ABF The Soldiers’ Charity Garden built by Brian Herbert Outdoor Options. Outdoor Options in collaboration with Living Landscapes also helped to secure a silver gilt flora for The Wellchild Garden.

In the Artisan Gardens, Frogheath Landscapes built gold winning DialAFlight Potter’s Garden with the theme of bringing to life a garden that had been abandoned for the war in 1914.

David and Harry Rich and landscape company Rich and Sons won silver gilt for Bord Na Mona’s Vital Earth The Night Sky Garden with a planting scheme echoing the feel of the Milky Way and two pools symbolises black holes, reflecting the sky and surrounding planting.

Landform Consultants built silver winning Chris Deakin and Jason Lock’s House of Fraser Fabric Garden. 

The Brand Alley Renaissance Garden designed by Paul Hervey-Brookes and built by Big Fish Landscapes won a bronze medal.

APL chairman Mark Gregory said: “We are absolutely thrilled to win medals at RHS Chelsea.  It is such an accolade for our members to win at such a high profile show. It just shows what superb landscapers we have and enforces the credibility of our offering through hard work and landscaping excellence.”

Meanwhile, BALI members totted up five golds, seven silver gilts and seven silvers, plus a silver flora at the show.

Wins included: The Outdoor Room which built the gold medal-winning Homebase garden and London Square, plus the silver gilt-winning Cloudy Bay garden.

Outdoor Options which built gold medal-winning ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and silver gilt-winning WellChild.

Landscape Associates, with Himalayan Landscaping, which built the gold medal-winning RBC Waterscape Garden.

Bartholomew Landscaping, Bowles Wyer and PC Landscapes each received silver-gilt for their Show Gardens – Positively Stoke-on-Trent, The Brewin Dolphin Garden, and The Extending Space gardens respectively.

Silver medals were awarded to designers Chris Deakin and Jason Lock and contractor Landform Consultants for the House of Fraser garden, Fabric, to Indoor Garden Design for The World Vision Garden, to designer Helen Elks-Smith and contractor Wycliffe Landscapes for the City of London Corporation Oak Processionary Moth Garden, and to Mark Wallinger for the Cave Pavilion in support of the Garden Museum.

Affiliates Silvadec, IOTA, Robin Tacchi Plants and Harrod Horticultural also won accolades.

In the Great Pavilion, The Perennial Garden won a silver-gilt, helped by BALI contractor Streetscape, and BALI training provider Sparsholt College Winchester won gold and best discovery exhibit for The Paper Chase, which looked at the plants linked to paper and the cycle of use and re-use. 

Capel Manor College was also rewarded for its exhibit, Small is Plentiful – the story of community food production across London – with a silver flora.

HTA member Hillier Nurseries Garden Centres won a 69th consecutive Chelsea gold medal for ‘The White Garden’.  Hillier also displayed RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year 2014 Hydrangea ‘Miss Saori’.

Gold also went to David Austin Roses which launched Olivia Rose Austin’ (‘Ausmixture’) at the show, a soft pure-pink named after the 19-year-old daughter of David Austin junior.

Harkness Roses also won gold for its modern rose garden and Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants won gold for its stand where they launched three new plants Eryngium Neptune’s Gold, Gaura Freefolk Rosy and Trollius Dancing Flame.

Other golds went to Norfield Nurseries for its Japanese maples and Peter Beales Roses which launched its flagship addition to the Modern Classics range rosa “Frilly Cuff”.

Suttons Seeds, which provided the vegetable varieties for The South West In Bloom Garden at Chelsea this year won best gold winner in the Grand Pavilion, therefore winning the Diamond Jubilee Award, while Walkers Bulbs who launched the daffodil ‘Georgie Boy’ named after Prince George also won gold.

Scotts Miracle-Gro Company took home a silver-gilt flora for their Miracle Gro’wers Discovery and Learning Garden where school children had grown plants from seeds, plugs and cuttings to create a productive vegetable garden and flower garden.

Burncoose Nurseries also won Silver Gilt Flora for its ‘101 Plants from China’ display and Kelways Plants also won Silver Gilt Flora for its peonies and irises.

All Chelsea medal winners can be found at




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Auction or bankruptcy in Catlin Gardens’ future – Times Herald

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SLATE HILL — Catlin Gardens, a romantically themed wedding venue on Route 6 that fell behind on mortgage payments and now owes its lenders $3.8 million, could soon be headed to the auction block.

In late March, Acting Orange County Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bartlett appointed a referee to sell the property to repay its debts. Now, all the referee must do is schedule a date for the sale, which will be held in the Orange County Courthouse.

If the property is sold, couples who have put down deposits for weddings may lose those deposits and have to find a new venue to recite their vows, said Lewis Wrobel, a bankruptcy attorney.

John Stack, one of the owners of Catlin Gardens, said in an email that the catering hall will continue to stay open for business while it restructures its financial situation.

“We are confident that we will be continuing our business and growing it well into the future,” he said.

Stack’s prepared statement did not respond to further questions, and did not address the security of customer deposits.

Bankruptcy possible

Robert Krahulik, the catering venue’s attorney, said Catlin has been “working hard” on refinancing its debt, a move that would likely cancel an auction.

The business may file for bankruptcy, he said. A bankruptcy would stall the foreclosure, allowing Catlin to continue operating and hosting weddings and other events, he said.

A bankruptcy would likely help Catlin get through this year’s wedding season, Wrobel said.

“They can certainly buy a good amount of time by doing that,” Wrobel said.

Last June, a few months after the foreclosure was filed, Krahulik said Catlin’s financial problems stemmed from property damage caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Catlin Creek, a focal point at the venue, overflowed, damaging the gardens and grounds.

Mary Kay Martin, Catlin Gardens’ controller, said the business is “financially better off” than it’s ever been. Instead of using deposits as they come in, how the business ran before, it saves them until the event happens, Martin said.

The move has allowed Catlin to build up its operating cash, she said.

Behind on tax break

In addition to its delinquent mortgage, Catlin is behind on payments under its tax-break agreement with Orange County, according to the Orange County Industrial Development Agency, which granted the business a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes arrangement in 2009.

The last payment the county received from Catlin was in September 2012 for a January bill, according to a county spokesman. In April, the IDA unanimously voted to allow its attorney to compel Catlin to make payments, or else cancel the tax break arrangement.

Unhappy couples

Ian Lindars, an attorney from Fishkill, plans to file a lawsuit over the deposit he lost at Catlin. He and his fiance, Emily Kermani, signed a contract last February for a wedding this June, but after hearing about the foreclosure, they asked for their money back.

The Stacks refused, stating that the couple had signed a contract, Lindars said. He was upset that the owners never disclosed their financial problems and was concerned about the possibility of the Stacks losing the property in the foreclosure.

“In my opinion, they were agreeing to perform something they had no idea they were going to be able to perform,” Lindars said.

The couple set a date for July at a different venue. They had already booked a church on the same day as they had planned to have their wedding at Catlin Gardens, but it wasn’t available on the new date.

Lindars and Kermani also had to toss toasting flutes, gifts for the mothers and cake-cutting accessories, all already engraved with the date scheduled at Catlin.

“It made a stressful ordeal much more stressful,” Lindars said. “It put a damper on the whole wedding.”

Worry and aggravation

Another couple, Tim Smith of Highland and his bride, Leslie DeGroat, soon to officially become Leslie Smith, held their wedding ceremony and reception at Catlin Gardens May 18.

Like Lindars and Kermani, Smith and DeGroat had asked for their deposit back after hearing about the foreclosure. The Stacks refused, and Smith and DeGroat went forward with their wedding plans, not wanting to lose their investment.

In the weeks leading up to the big day, Smith saw that the landscaping, which had attracted the couple to the venue in the first place, wasn’t up to snuff. The fountains were dirty, tulips weren’t planted and trees needed pruning, Smith said.

Staff at Catlin Gardens addressed some of their concerns about the condition of the grounds a few days before the wedding, but not everything, Smith said.

He said the food at his wedding was great, but the aggravation and worry about whether or not the venue’s doors would be closed before his nuptials stressed him out.

“It was an enjoyable time,” he said. “Leading up to it was not an enjoyable time.”

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Get gardening tips from the expert

Get gardening tips from the expert

PEOPLE can get an insight into the dos and don’ts of seasonal gardening from an expert in a talk in the Vale.

Bishampton District Gardening Club is hosting a talk by Ken Whittaker, a horticulturalist and florist experienced in the field of Social and Therapeutic Horticulture, on Wednesday, June 4 in the village hall.

Mr Whittaker is a show judge and speaker and has been involved with many gold award winning exhibits at Chelsea, Tatton and Harrogate.

The talk is at 7.30pm and is free for club members and £2 for visitors.

For details, email or call 07854 362318.

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Instant Organic Garden: Tomato Tips

Tomatoes are the most popular vegetables grown in the United States. Their fresh taste is so much better than anything you can get in the grocery store that they’re almost always in every garden in the country. The problem is that while tomatoes are easy to find and easy to grow, sometimes your results are disappointing. They are susceptible to a host of insects, diseases and wilts. I’ve seen books that are entirely about problems with tomatoes.

The rise in interest in heirloom varieties makes the problem even greater since few are disease resistant. But with a little bit of knowledge and planning, tomatoes can be a winner in your garden every year.

I’ve learned that there are several elements to consider when growing tomatoes and my results have gotten better each year.

1. Soil

When dealing with any garden, the soil is the first step. Healthy soil means healthy plants, and healthy plants naturally resist diseases and insects. They can sustain damage with little or no loss of productivity, meaning that fertilizers or pesticides are less likely to be needed. Using our system of raised beds, weedless soil and well-balanced, organic fertilizers means you’ll eliminate a lot of tomato problems from the start.

2. Raised Beds

They’re great for about a dozen reasons – most important is that they allow for better drainage, warmer soil, no compaction of the soil and they are easier to work with.

3. Varieties

Choosing the right varieties is important. I suggest you avoid all the complexities and hassles of trying to start your own plants from seed and stick with transplants. With all the farmers markets and locally run garden centers, it’s easy to find the plants you want. There are three main styles – beefsteak/slicing tomatoes for a delicious sandwich, roma/paste tomatoes for stews and sauces, and cherry/grape tomatoes to pop into your salad. What you grow is based on your family’s preferences. One plant per person is all you’ll usually need and a single cherry tomato can produce enough for a whole family!

There are two other considerations – bush/determinant vs. indeterminate and heirloom vs. modern plants. Bush plants grow only so tall and then stop growing. They are best for small gardens with limited space. Indeterminate plants will just keep growing and growing and have a continuous harvest once they mature.

If you’re going to grow tomatoes where you’ve had disease problems before then you should use some of the many newer varieties that have disease resistance built in. Their labels will be clearly marked. Don’t worry, they’ll still taste great. If you’re starting with a new garden or brand new potting mix you can try your hand with the heirlooms – there is a wonderful variety of sizes, shapes, tastes and colors. Experiment with as many as you can fit in your garden and you’re guaranteed to have a lot of fun. Next year you can drop the varieties you didn’t like and try some others.

Always clean up any dropped leaves, dropped or rotted fruit and put your old plants in the trash, not in your compost pile.

4. Planting times.

Resist the temptation to plant the first day the garden centers get their transplants. Usually that’s about a month before the last frost and you’re likely to lose your plants to cold weather. Even if they survive they won’t thrive. Instead they’ll be unhappy and won’t produce like the same plants put in at the proper time. Those will take off running and never look back. If you have a spot with good sunlight and you have a raised bed, you can start a week sooner than your neighbors.

5. Plant spacing, air circulation, pruning – stakes vs. cages.

You’re well on your way to becoming a tomato master. You have the right soil in a raised bed, you’ve chosen the right varieties and you’re waiting until the perfect time to plant. Next comes the biggest issue, since all tomato plants need support. The question is “which to use, stakes or cages?”

The key is air circulation. The more you have the fewer problems you’ll find with diseases that curl your leaves and kill your plants from the bottom up, just as your fruit is starting to ripen. Wire cages and circles are fine, but the issue is how a tomato naturally grows. It has a main stem and puts out branches, but in the elbows of those branches it also puts out what we call “suckers.” These become their own main stems with their own branches and suckers and you quickly end up with a tomato jungle.

I recommend that you use tall stakes and prune your plants to a single main stem. Check every two or three days and pinch off the suckers that appear. It doesn’t take that much extra effort and the result is a happier, healthier plant with bigger fruit and fewer problems. I also suggest that as the plant grows, you remove the lower branches to expose the bottom 12″ of the main stem. This really improves the air circulation throughout the plant but the main benefit is in resisting wilts and other fungal diseases. The theory is that rainwater hits the ground where the wilt lives and splashes onto the lower leaves of the plant. The leaves get infected and when water hits them, it splashes up to the next level. That’s why you should throw away pruned leaves and branches and any dropped or rotted fruit.

In the past I’ve used eight foot pressure-treated wood stakes that I sink one and a half to two feet into the ground. If you’re a purist you could seal them with polyurethane or go with an untreated stake. Recently I’ve discovered some great stakes that are metal tubes covered with plastic that you can find almost everywhere.

6. Planting transplants.

It’s easy. Pinch or clip off the bottom few branches, pop the plants out of their pots and plant a little more deeply than they were originally growing. With a good drink of water they’ll be off to a fine start.

7. Tie them up.

As your plants grow up their stakes you’ll need to tie them. Look for soft jute twine and cut off 9″ lengths in advance. You can loosely tie a bunch to the top of your stakes so you’ll have them handy. Wrap around your stake twice and then go under a branch and tie loosely. Resist the urge to tie up your plant too quickly. Let it grow up and strengthen in the breeze first. This will result in a stockier plant with a nice thick stem.

8. Companion plants and interplanting.

Certain plants when put together allow each to grow better, either from encouraging beneficial insects or confusing or repelling the bad bugs. Marigolds and nasturtiums are the best examples for tomatoes. Look for varieties that have a strong smell. Carrots and onions also do well with tomatoes. My experience has taught me that it’s better to mix things up in the garden rather than to have everything together. So I plant a tomato, a pepper and an eggplant and then another tomato instead of having all my tomatoes in a row.

9. Mulch, mulch, mulch!

Mulching is great for tomatoes. It keeps the moisture in the soil at an even level, keeps the weeds down, and stops water from splashing up to your plants. Pine needles and pine bark are good choices. A light layer of dried grass clippings is good, but don’t let it get too thick. I prefer to use compost as mulch. Weeds don’t grow in it and it has the same effects as other mulches, but it also fertilizes the soil.

10. Water

You want to water evenly and thoroughly. Uneven watering causes the fruits to crack and too much water affects the taste. So keep an eye on things and if it hasn’t rained and your plants look thirsty, give them a good soaking. It’s much better to water deeply every three days than lightly every day.

11. Fertilizing

I don’t recommend fertilizer while your plants are growing. What’s already in the soil should be fine. But spraying the leaves (foliar feeding) is great. You can use various solutions like fish emulsion, or you can make compost tea, which is also great for improving insect and disease resistance.

Eric Eitel is a farmer, father, personal trainer and owner of Instant Organic Garden Southern Maryland, a business that builds raised bed gardens for homeowners, schools, restaurants and businesses. He gives talks and teaches classes on how to make gardening easy.

Call Eric at 443-771-3003, email or check his website

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Former rock musician named Britain’s best small business after landscape …

Simon Watkins, Financial Mail On Sunday

16:03 EST, 24 May 2014


06:00 EST, 26 May 2014

A one-time rock musician who put down his guitar and picked up a spade has been named Britain’s best company in the Federation of Small Businesses’ annual awards.

James Lanwarne gave up his musical career 11 years ago and retrained in landscape design and horticulture. His company, Lanwarne Landscapes, was named small business of the year 2014, beating almost 1,000 rival entrants. 

The St Albans-based business blossomed in
the recession, benefiting from homeowners unable to move up the
property ladder and instead embarking on ambitious garden projects
rather than move house.

Path to glory: James Lanwarne, with wife Tanya, beat 1,000 rivals

Path to glory: James Lanwarne, with wife Tanya, beat 1,000 rivals

Lanwarne has carried out contracts worth up to £100,000 in recent years. Worldpay, sponsor of the awards, said its own figures showed the whole industry was booming  and projects getting larger, with the average landscape garden contract increasing in budget by 22 per cent over the past  two years.

Lanwarne, whose musical career dried up when his fledgling band, Choker, was dropped by its record label, said the company had managed to grow so rapidly thanks to ‘the unrivalled passion of the team’, including his wife Tanya, who is responsible for marketing, human resources and finance.

Speaking at the awards last week, Richard Reed, founder of the Innocent smoothies firm, said small businesses were ‘the backbone of the economy’.

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BBC to film new Chelsea garden design series

By Matthew Appleby
Monday, 26 May 2014

RHS and BBC combine to work on flower show programmes

The BBC and RHS have launched a competition to find the best aspiring designer in the UK.

The winner will design a show garden feature on the RHS stand at Chelsea 2015.

Professional garden designers are inelgible.

The competition will be the basis of a BBC2 TV series called Designs on Chelsea. The BBC will film the series around the country in summer 2014 and the final will be at RHS Wisley.

The RHS hopes the programme will show the careers available in horticulture. Producers are Robi Dutta and Will Knott.

Meanwhile, the RHS has appointed garden designer Adam Frost as an ambassador for the charity.

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