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Archives for June 25, 2014

Riverfront gets half a vision

From the Astoria Riverwalk south, the city’s planning commission approved the civic greenway phase of the Riverfront Vision Plan Tuesday night, after a 4.5-hour meeting.

That part of the plan includes design review standards for structures built from 16th Street to 41st, and a proposed affordable housing complex near 30th Street.

But the second part of the plan – the portion with the most testimony during Tuesday’s continuation of the public hearing on the issue – was delayed until July 22, the next planning commission meeting. That segment addresses overwater structures with height and width restrictions and the potential for development between the riverwalk and the Columbia River.

The commission was pressured to divide the plan into two parts separated by the train tracks and make a decision on the less controversial portion because of one reason: granting funding.

“I’m going to be frank with you,” said Matt Hastie, of the Angelo Planning Group, the consultants working with the city and chosen by the Oregon Department of Transportation. Hastie told the commission that the funding for this phase of the plan’s code development, a grant awarded to the city in 2012, would be jeopardized in the next phase if the commission did not make progress soon.

The public hearing on the issue was closed at 10 p.m. Tuesday and a decision was made at 11. Next month, the commission will deliberate and decide on what to do with the portion of the plan that addresses everything north of the train tracks.

An estimated 80 to 90 percent of the phase is without overwater development, leaving only 10 to 20 percent of the plan to generate the most discussion and opposition.


The Astoria Planning Commission is currently considering a recommendation for the Astoria City Council on the codes written to enforce the first of the four-phase Riverfront Vision Plan, called the civic greenway phase. The four-phase plan was approved and adopted by the Astoria City Council in 2009. (The first phase initially only covered through 39th Street, but as the code was written, city officials say it became more logical to go two extra blocks.)

The vision however is not regulatory, City Planner Rosemary Johnson said. To enforce it, the city needs codes. And now that the plan is coming to life through those codes, controversy has bubbled up.

Johnson said that may be because when the plan was crafted five years ago, the city of Astoria had a committee, as well as a number of public input sessions with citizens and stakeholders. Surveys were also conducted. The Port, property owners and the general public provided statements about the plan before it was adopted, both verbally and in writing.

“When people were going through that, everybody who was at those meetings may have been verbal, saying, ‘no development, no development,’” Johnson said. “But we were taking everything into consideration because we had the stakeholders and all of that. They may not have been verbal at the meetings, but we had things from them in writing.

“So for some people it comes across that everybody wanted no development. But the city was taking all of the interests into consideration and had to balance the things that were coming in in writing and through the stakeholder meetings, along with the verbal ‘no development’ comments, which is what most of the people were hearing.”

She added, “We never had anything that said ‘prohibit development.’”

As the code is reviewed by the planning commission, development has been a big part of the discussion.

But Johnson said there are a few misunderstandings related to the controversy over the first phase. The only overwater development approved is for water-dependent and water-related marine-industrial businesses – not condos, restaurants or hotels. Some of the commissioners Tuesday, including Pete Gimre, expressed feeling OK about having restaurants in that area, which is something the commission will consider at the next meeting.

Additionally, overwater structures are only permitted between 35th and 39th Street, and must be 500 feet off the shore. A height limit is set at 28 feet. On land and within the 500-foot space, no structure can be higher than the riverbank, limiting development to items like piers, marinas and docks. Commissioners, such as Chairwoman Zetty Nemlowill, believed that the riverbank height restriction should also apply to the space between the train tracks and the river, another topic to discuss next month.


To compare sizes, the Cannery Pier Hotel is 500 feet from the shore and stands 46 feet tall. Pier 39 is 400 feet from shore and stands at an estimated 35 feet tall or higher, and “Big Red,” the former net drying shed, is approximately 350 feet from shore, and although it is the building considered to be the most “view blocking,” it is historic, Johnson said, so people enjoy looking at it. Both Big Red and Pier 39 are the only two buildings offshore in the civic greenway phase. Both would be permitted for restorations and repairs, but if renovations totaled more than 25 percent of the building, then the “guidelines” set by the plan would be implemented.

City Manager Pro Tem and Community Development Director Brett Estes said that, while some people expressed concern about height allowances, the city is actually proposing a height reduction from what is currently allowed on the waterfront.

“There are no building height restrictions from 21st to 41st overwater,” Estes said. A 45-foot height limitation exists currently for structures overwater from 17th to 21st streets and a 28-foot restriction is in place from 16th to 17th streets.

While most at the meeting – with more than 50 attendees – were against the plan for one of two reasons (no development or no limit on development), nearly all asked the commission to keep the river views, not allow variances, and not permit construction between the Riverwalk and the river. The plan proposal limits development over the water, but there are spots in the civic greenway phase, Johnson admits, that could technically be developed, although she doubted many spaces are large enough to support an entirely overland structure. If the building went over the water even partially, it would be subjected to the riverbank height requirement.

Variances allow for exceptions, meaning if a property owner asked for permission and a granted variance to build a building higher than the 28-foot allowance, one could be granted by the planning commission with final approval from the City Council.

“I’ve seen through the county and through the Port the variance problem,” said community member Lori Durheim during public testimony, asking the commission to not allow variances. “And I fear in my heart that there will be pressure with the good ol’ boys or whatever, and they’ll build whatever the hell they want out there.”

The Port

A law firm representing The Port of Astoria and Pier 39 owner Floyd Holcom fired off a letter to the planning commission last week, asking for code revisions because they say the Riverfront Vision Plan is restricting the Port’s use of its East End Mooring Basin. The Port, the letter acknowledges, has big plans for that area that could include a coal, grain or cruise ship terminal, according to the 29-page letter – or a liquefied natural gas terminal.

Nemlowill took the Port of Astoria to task during the meeting over its newly voiced legal representation.

As a citizen, Nemlowill asked Port Interim Executive Director Mike Weston who paid for the 29-page legal document.

Weston said it was a group effort of the property interests from 31st street through Pier 39, including Holcom.

But Nemlowill wasn’t done yet.

She asked for clarification about if the law firm Jordan Ramis was paid by private or public funds. Weston said it was a combination of both.

“Do you think that’s OK?” Nemlowill said, saying it makes her seriously question the Port’s credibility as a representative of the public’s interest.

Weston said he believe it was OK, given that the plan would affect the Port’s development in the East End Mooring Basin.

But because of a confidentiality agreement, Weston added, he could not go into specifics of what the Port plans to develop there.

He did discuss a few possibilities, however, including a fisherman’s wharf-style structure, as well as trinket shops, restaurants and cold storage. He denied plans for a coal or LNG terminal. Most citizens at the meeting voiced opposition to those ideas.

Weston also asked for the commission to hold off on their decision until the Port could come up with a master plan. Lawyer Tim Ramis, representing the Port, said those plans usually take a year. While Commissioner Dave Pearson said he would be interested in seeing the Port’s master plan for that segment of the river, he felt the Port was too late to the party, “in the final two hours of a six year process.”

Citizen Linda Oldencamp said the city should be able to move on with the Riverfront Vision Plan, in the works for more than five years. The Port, she added, should develop its master plan around it.

“The Port is saying, ‘We have rights to development on the East End Mooring Basin and we have visions for that area that this proposed code would, they say, prohibit development,’” Johnson said Monday. “We’ve had to juggle the two opposite spectrums of the interest. The one side wants nothing higher than riverbank, and the other side, the Port, wants to develop the East Ending Mooring Basin and that whole area. We’ve gone back and forth and the commission has at one point looked at one story above the riverbank, but with that, they were reducing the width of buildings, requiring decking going out around buildings so people could get out and around it, and we looked at a lot of different options there.”

In the end, they decided against a one-story height. Additionally, the city’s comprehensive plan, developed in 1982, has language in it that says the city will encourage major development by the Port in that area.

Nemlowill said that was something hard to ignore when voting on the plan.

Pier 39

Pier 39 owner Holcom said you don’t tell an artist they can only paint with yellow. “Let’s not say what we can’t do; let’s say what we can do,” before saying entrepreneurs and investors shouldn’t be limited when they are bringing contributions to the community. He was in favor of no overwater restrictions between 30th and 40th Street.

Holcom, who referred to himself in the third person and spoke for more than 30 minutes, also said he resented not being invited to the public hearing Tuesday night and therefore not given the chance to be a part of the community as the largest property owner in the civic greenway. The second largest owner is the Port, he said, and the third is Safeway who also did not have representatives at the meeting. “I’d like to hear what they have to say,” Holcom said. City officials said Holcom had been given notice and attended the last public hearing when Tuesday’s continuation was announced.

Holcom also said there were many factual errors in the staff report and encouraged the planning commission to ask Estes and Johnson to again work on the document before giving it to the Astoria City Council. But Johnson said Monday she believes the law firm is misunderstanding the city’s plan.

“The letter states we’re taking all viable use away, that Pier 39 is going to be nonconforming and a lot of these other limitations on uses are going to be prohibitive to them,” Johnson said. The allowable uses proposed in the civic greenway, she added, is not taking away viable uses, because public piers, marinas, terminals and transfer facilities are still allowed.

“Most of the uses that the Port has indicated would still be allowed,” she said. Pier 39 would only be considered nonconforming if it was expanded.

The land area

The portion of the plan that was approved Tuesday, which Johnson said has not been strongly opposed or largely controversial, sets standards and guidelines for residential structures, such as a Mill Pond-style but more compacted neighborhood between 30th and 32nd streets. Other structures built must be set back away from the street and step back additionally if higher than 28 feet in the 16th through 29th streets stretch.

The plan is set to, “create open spaces and recreational opportunities adjacent to the river’s edge,” Johnson said. It also lays out landscaping and design review.

“What we wanted to do was find codes that would reflect these visions. The one thing (consultants) did was establish a design review criteria for any structure.”

It was based on the Gateway design review, a city guideline for the Uppertown neighborhood put in place by the city in the past. The Gateway plan, from 16th to 29th streets, contains guidelines – not requirements or standards – that are reflective of waterfront buildings and the residential character of the uppertown neighborhood.

They are now set as standards in the riverfront plan for single family homes and duplexes. They remain as “guidelines” for commercial structures.

“When you have a standard, you don’t have to go to a commission if you do points 1, 2, 3 and 4, then it’s an automatic approval,” Johnson said. “A

guideline is subjective and you can go to a commission and say, ‘I’m complying with most of these, and therefore this project should be OK.’”

In addition to design standards, vistas and views are addressed and protected in corridors since development is allowed on land. That is where the setbacks and stepbacks come into play.

Buildings higher than 28 feet, have to step the next floor back 10 additional feet, to creates less of a mass of a building, Johnson said, “so you don’t have a tall building up against the rivertrail or up against a street end, and it gives you a broader vista looking up at the sky, and a broader vista looking out at the river,”

A building can only go up to 35 feet high if there is a stepback.

That code section and those height limitations have been commented on in the past, and therefore addressed and tweaked. Now, Johnson said, that section seems to have gotten to a place where people are comfortable with it. The controversy comes from the overwater structures.

The Planning Commission discussed those issues Tuesday night.

After the public session

Nemlowill was the first to speak on the issue after the public hearing closed.

She said she felt the plan was balanced. She stated she would not like to see variances allowed on the bank height requirement, or the 500-foot from shore requirement. She agreed with the plan that no eating and drinking establishments over the water should be allowed. She also wanted language removed that would allow homestays in the clustered affordable housing within the phase, and any language that allowed development on land between the river and the Riverwalk.

Commissioner McLaren Innes called the plan “livable” but felt there were also provisions that needed to be put in place – “as much protection as possible” to preserve the river views.

Plants were also brought up as an issue by nearly all the commission members, with proposed trees like cedars that can grow well above the height limitations. Citizen Cindy Price said as a master gardener she would like to advise the commission that some of the shrubs listed could grow to 28 feet alone. Some of the trees proposed, like a sugar maple, could grow to 90 feet tall.

Commissioners asked city staff to revise the list with an expert.

Commission member Shawn Fitzpatrick said he wasn’t sure that the document was quite ready. He said he would hate to see the City Council be handed this document and later face lawsuits. He said he didn’t feel the Port and the city could afford a lawsuit from property owners.

“It’s important to come up with something that works and I think we’re getting close, but I don’t know that this is it,” he said.

He told Nemlowill he was in favor of continuing the meeting so the plan could be “fine tuned.”

A short time later, Hastie interjected and the commission unanimously approved the southern portion of the plan.

The next section of the Riverfront Vision Plan, which is already in the initial code-writing stage, stretches from the Port to Second Street. The other two areas of the plan to be approached in the future are the Urban Core, downtown through 16th Street, and the Alderbrook area, known as the neighborhood greenway.

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Environmentalists Respond to Sen. Feinstein Rebuke of Water Policy

In response to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s rebuke last month that environmentalists “have never been helpful to me in producing good water policy,” the Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC) and the Pacific Institute recently published a new report claiming that “drought-plagued California could stretch its available water supply as much as 30 percent by making more effective use of existing resources.”

In addition to glaring mathematical errors, the report fails to respond to Senator Feinstein’s concerns and just rehashes the left’s demands that agriculture eliminate growing vegetables, only landscape with native plants, and individuals learn to drink recycled “toilet water.

The NDRC’s report offers no new solutions to California’s historic weather cycles of extreme drought and torrential rainfall. The report claims that “water efficiency, water reuse, and storm water capture can provide 10.8 million – 13.7 million acre-feet of water in new supplies and demand reductions.” Despite the addition of revealing projected savings of 10.1-14.2 million acre-feet of water, the unrealistic NRD recommendations are:  

  • Expect 55% of water savings from farmers who should avoid planting high water usage crops, such as vegetables. But given that California produces 48% of America’s vegetable crop, this solution would seem to be a non-starter;
  • Expect 29% of water savings from businesses and individuals changing their landscaping to native plants. But UC Irvine’s prestigious “Center for Hydrological Modeling” seemed to debunk this common belief when they reported on May 17th: “People often think it’s best to plant native species because it’s believed they use less water. This study shows that native species don’t necessarily use less water.”
  • Expect 12% of water savings from individual “water reuse.” Breitbart California reported last month that Gallup polling found recycling “toilet water” might have more appeal. But the annual energy cost increase to produce 85 gallons of “toilet to tap” water per day to meet the average family of four’s consumption is about $400-$425. To an elitist this may sound modest; but it is about equal to the average annual cost to provide clothes and shoes for a child to attend school.
  • Expect 4% of water savings from storm water recapture. This concept has merit, but environmentalists want to increase taxes with a fee on commercial and residential property owners. But few believe that California, as the highest taxed state in the country already, would spend new tax money on water storage.

With a 100% rating in 2010 from the powerful California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV), Senator Feinstein had been one of the most strident supporters of the environmental movement. She had opposed logging, coal, and fracking; while supporting expanded EPA regulation, Kyoto Treaty, and Cash for Clunkers. That is why it was shocking to her green allies when she almost single-handedly led the effort to pass S. 2198 by unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate on May 22nd.

Passing the 16-page drought bill on a voice vote was considered a “remarkable political feat” for California’s senior Senator, because she used her political clout to eliminate all committee hearings, public reviews, and Senate floor debate. Feinstein abandoned Bay Area Democrats by crossing the aisle to engage Republicans in closed-door negotiations to pass a bill to override what the environmentalists considered settled law.

In response to press inquiries, Senator Feinstein argued, “You can’t have a water infrastructure for 16 million people and say, ‘Oh, it’s fine for 38 million people,’ when we’re losing the Sierra Nevada snowpack.” When asked about the risk of opposition from environmental groups, Feinstein said, “Well, that’s really too bad, isn’t it? I would be very happy to know what they propose… I have not had a single constructive view from environmentalists of how to provide water when there is no snowpack.”

Realistic conservation and efficiency are always good ideas to investigate, but the NRDC report fails to respond to the concerns of Senator Feinstein and the 22 million Californians that are paying a price for the environmental movement’s three-decade refusal to allow providing any new surface ground water storage as a cushion against future droughts. 

The author welcomes feedback and will respond to reader comments.

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A Kickstarter for Michigan communities? MEDC crowdfunding effort targets …

Artists Mira Burack and Kate Daughdrill, who designed the Edible Hut in Calimera Park in northeast Detroit. 

LANSING, MI — Want to transform a neglected alley into a public path? Turn local land into an “edible” gathering space? Fix up a bike path or add sculpture art to an outdoor plaza?

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation on Wednesday announced what it called a “groundbreaking crowdfunding” initiative that will help communities, non-profits and business entities raise money for local public space projects and provide matching grants to up to $100,000 to those that meet their own goals.

“Innovative placemaking efforts help create thriving, sustainable and unique places where workers, entrepreneurs, and businesses want to locate, invest and expand,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement. “The ability to attract talent and grow businesses is greatly increased when we can take advantage of the unique downtown assets in each of our communities.”

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaboration between the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League and Patronicity, a Detroit-based crowdfunding site that seeks to do for local communities what Kickstarter did for the arts — providing tools to promote ideas and a space to solicit online donations.

“Kickstarter raised more than a billion dollars in its first five years for creative projects,” said Patronicity co-founder Chris Blauvelt. “How cool would it be to have that same sort of impact at the community level? Maybe not billions, but a million a year raised for local initiatives in Detroit and throughout Michigan? That idea got me inspired to start Patronicity.”

The open application process will begin on July 9. MEDC and partners will score each submission based on a number of factors, including community impact and local financial commitment, and winning projects will go up online.

There, anyone in the world can pledge a contribution dependent on the project meeting its full funding goal, which would also result in matching money from the MEDC, which plans to spend up to $720,000 on projects this year.

“Public Spaces Community Places is a new tool communities can use to help create vibrant public spaces with the potential to bring new vitality to the community and serve as a catalyst for additional economic activity,” MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney said in a statement. “This is a great way to leverage the pride residents and businesses have in their communities.”

Patronicity launched last year and help crowdfund a number of local projects, including an “Edible Hut” in Detroit’s Osborn neighborhood. A local group transformed a public park into a community space with a “living” gazebo. The roof is used to grow edible perennials.

For the new crowdfunding partnership, MEDC selected a “Green Alley” pilot project proposed by Midtown Detroit Inc.. The non-profit is seeking to transform an alley near Seldon and Second for a walkable path with rain gardens, historic brick, LED lighting, native landscaping and improved drainage.

Shinola Detroit has already pledged $100,000 for the $200,000 project. Midtown Inc. is seeking to raise $50,000 through online crowdfunding, and if it meets its goal by July 25, MEDC will pitch in another $50,000.

Like Kickstarter, contributors get something back for giving to the Green Alley project. A $25 donation is good for a postcard of the completed project, $1,000 or more will get you a sponsor plaque. But the effort will need broad support in order to move forward.

“What’s nice about crowdfunding is it’s democratic,” said Blauvelt. “You can get help, but you’re required to raise half your goal. It’s not just the project with the best grant writer, it’s the one that can show the community is behind them.”

The collaborative crowdfunding effort for local public space projects is believed to be the first of its kind in the country. More information is available at, a site launched by the Michigan Municipal League earlier this month.

“The League firmly believes in the crowdfunding movement as a way to not only help our communities, but by driving Michigan’s economy forward,” said spokesperson Matt Bach. “This will help communities, which are close to our heart, who want to improve a vacant lot, alley or public space but haven’t had the funding.”

Jonathan Oosting is a Capitol reporter for MLive Media Group. Email him, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter

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‘Elmira Blooms’ garden tour scheduled July 13

By Staff Reports

Posted Jun. 25, 2014 @ 5:00 pm


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Tour area private gardens

By Staff report

Posted Jun. 25, 2014 @ 1:04 pm

Holland, Mich.

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Joe’s Job: Busch Gardens Landscaper

WILLIAMSBURG — There are 30 full-time workers in the landscaping department at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg.

My crew was planting new flowers near the Festhaus.

Supervisor Jason Camper got a horticulture degree from Virginia Tech and has been at Busch Gardens for 12 years. He heads up a team that’s responsible for 14,000 plants across the 250-acre park. 

For 24 straight years, the crew has helped Busch Gardens earn the title “World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park” and they take great pride in that.

“It’s a good service job and to be able to make everything beautiful for our guests is great,” said landscaping crew member Ashley Miller.

I was cleaning out beds near Machtower and trimming topiary behind the Festhaus.

“I love Busch Gardens.  I used to come over here as a guest, like 100 times a season. I’d just walk around and admire the flower beds.  So, now, I was able to get a job — so life is perfect,” said landscaping crew member Fred Bowman.

What kind of hours do they put in?

“In the summer?  Well today was 5 to 1:30.  But usually right now it’s 6 to 2:30,” said Linda Kovtun.

The next time you go to Busch Gardens or Water Country give a nod to the hardworking landscaping crews. 

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June gardening tips from UT Gardens

First Kiss Blueberry


First Kiss Blueberry

It’s not too late to plant colorful annuals in your garden like zinnia ‘Zowie! Yellow Flame’ and vinca ‘First Kiss Blueberry.’

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 10:06 am

June gardening tips from UT Gardens



June, the most popular month for weddings, is also all about being outdoors and enjoying nature. June’s a great month to enjoy the bounty of blooms in the garden.

Jason Reeves, research horticulturalist for the University of Tennessee Gardens in Jackson, said there are a number of things Tennesseans can do in June to benefit their gardens. One is to add annual plants to their beds.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014 10:06 am.

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Gardening tips: Grow your own salad bar!

By Martin Fish, Garden writer, broadcaster and advisor

It’s salad time again with the onset of warmer weather. For much of the year I must admit I’m not a huge eater of salads, but during the summer months when I’m able to pick it fresh from the garden I suddenly become a salad fan!

Freshly picked lettuce leaves, radishes plump and juicy, tomatoes warmed by the sun and a cool cucumber all taste so much better when harvested and eaten straight away.

When it comes to growing salad crops there is a large variety of different lettuces and salad leaves to choose from and these can be grown from late spring until the first frosts of the autumn.

The secret is to sow and plant little and often so that you have a continual supply over the summer, rather than a glut! Seeds can be sown directly into a small patch of garden where you need to keep the soil moist, or you can start the seeds off in small pots or cell trays and plant the seedlings out when the seedlings are a few inches tall.

At this time of the year garden centres and nurseries often have a range of small salad seedlings for growing on and these will establish and grow on very quickly in warm weather. Of course you can also grow a good range of salads and other vegetables in hanging baskets, wall mangers and planters that will keep you supplied with fresh produce.

Growing this way is ideal where garden space is limited and if you have a series of wall troughs, they can be screwed to a wall or fence at a convenient height. Lettuce and salad leaves are an obvious choice and if you grow the cut-and-come-again types you will be picking fresh leaves for a long period. By planting a mixture of coloured leaves the planter will also look attractive on a wall.

Other crops that you can grow in planters include, baby beetroot, short carrots, radishes, spring onions, tumbling tomatoes and a selection of summer and perennial herbs.

Most of these are very easy to grow as long as you water and feed regularly. With just a little planning and care you can easily be self-sufficient with fresh salad crops through the summer from your very own salad bar!

Jobs for the week

At the moment roses are flowering really well and have masses of flower buds that will open over the summer.

To keep them flowering remove faded rose blooms as soon as they fade. This not only keeps the plant looking tidy, it encourages more flowers to open. You can either cut them off with secateurs or simply snap off the dead head.

Young climbers will need support as new shoots grow. This can be in the form of trellis or netting for climbers such as clematis to scramble through or wires for climbing roses and wisteria.

Young leek plants can be planted into the vegetable garden now. I make a hole appox. 10cm deep with a dibber, pop in a leek plant and fill the hole with water to settle the roots.

Follow Martin

You can follow Martin on his Facebook page, Martin Fish Simply Gardening, or visit his new web site

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Tips for gardening on a balcony or rooftop



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    Even if you’re a seasoned green thumb on the ground, you’ll find that a balcony or rooftop garden presents different challenges:

    Size and scale: Although your garden space may be small, it doesn’t mean you should stick to small plants. Scott Endres, owner of Tangletown Gardens, suggests bigger, bolder plants that can hold their own, especially if you live downtown with big buildings, urban noise and the river. “Choose things that can compete with the scale of the surroundings,” he said.

    Toughen up: Your favorite garden flower may not be sturdy enough for the growing conditions on a balcony, which are often windy and hot. Endres suggests plants with tougher, fleshier leaves, such as mother-in-law tongue and succulents. Plants with big loose leaves, such as banana trees, will likely get shredded by wind. “That big leaf is like a big sail,” he said. “You can still create drama and effect. Canna has big leaves, but closer to the stem.”

    Don’t skimp on soil: Plants have less soil in containers than in the ground, which is why the character of the soil is more important. “Get good quality potting soil, the highest you can afford,” said Paige Pelini, co-owner of Mother Earth Gardens. “The plants will need every bit of nutrients available to them.” And plants that aren’t nourished properly are more susceptible to outside stresses, Endres said. Soil that contains water-holding polymers can help plants weather the hot, dry conditions on many balconies.

    Growing edibles: If you want to grow tomatoes on a balcony, they’ll need lots of water and attention. “Tomatoes can do well in the right container,” said Pelini. “But the drawback is they have to be watered daily.” If you’re heading out of town, even for just a weekend, you need to make arrangements for your tomatoes, or you’ll return to dead plants. “Either set up a drip irrigation system or have somebody come water your plants.” Peppers and eggplants are a little more forgiving of inconsistent watering.

    When choosing containers for vegetables, get the biggest ones you can fit in your space. “You’ll get more consistent temperature and more room for roots,” Pelini said. Herbs, such as basil and mint, are also good balcony crops. They’re easy to grow, expensive to buy at the grocery store, and they come in handy for summer favorites that will impress your guests, such as mixing up a mojito or a batch of homemade pesto.

    Kim Palmer

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      Balcony and rooftop gardeners battle wind and sun, but these intimate little landscapes offer sweet rewards. Many longtime gardeners are trading big earthen plots for patio pots.

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    Tim’s Tips: Control insect invasions in your garden

    June 25, 2014

    Tim’s Tips: Control insect invasions in your garden

    Tim’s Tips

    Tim Lamprey
    The Daily News of Newburyport

    Wed Jun 25, 2014, 03:00 AM EDT

    The cooler days appear to be having an effect on some of the vegetable plants. Quite a few customers have told me that their squash and cucumber plants are not growing very fast.

    The cooler weather does tend to slow the growth on these plants. You can encourage the plants to grow by making sure that the plants get enough water and you also need to make sure that you are applying fertilizer on a regular schedule.

    Many insects have made appearances in area gardens. Earwigs are doing damage to pepper plants, although, since earwigs generally feed at night, most people don’t see it happening. Flea beetles are also attacking the leaves of many different types of plants, and a very tiny caterpillar is doing major damage to the leaves of rosebushes.

    Slugs, which aren’t really an insect, are hurting hosta and many other plants, as well.

    If you have problems with your plants, take some of the damaged leaves off, put them into a clear plastic bag and bring the samples into the store. The type of damage that is occurring on the leaves will enable us to identify the culprit and find the right control method. Please don’t just take pictures of the damage. Photos are never clear enough to allow us to identify the problem.

    The dry weather means that ants have been busy tunneling in areas of sandy soil. The digging may be nothing more than unsightly in your lawn, but if they get into your vegetable garden, the tunnels can damage the roots of your plants. If you get more than a few anthills in your garden, you may want to apply an organic ant control to the soil.

    Many of you have shrubs that flower in the early spring — think azaleas, forsythia and rhododendrons. These plants need to be fertilized as soon as they are done flowering. This allows them to set their flower buds for 2015. If you have not fertilized your spring flowering shrubs, you are running out of time. Add this task to your weekend gardening list.



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