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Archives for September 20, 2014

Ideas on guarding your house against floods

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Fall planting can yield positive results for yards

Spring is the time of year when we consider new planting and landscaping ideas.

But fall offers several good reasons to get those plants into the ground.

“Fall is an excellent time to plant because the root systems are growing at a rapid rate,” said Carol Hallock, owner/manager of Rockingtree Landscape’s Floral and Garden Center in Sturgis. “There is a lot of crown development in the spring, and in the fall, the roots underground are growing.”

Trees, shrubs and perennials planted in the fall will have well-established root systems come spring, allowing them to flourish when the spring sun shines.

“You can plant anything in the fall,” said Hallock. “Even if the leaves are off, root systems can still grow if ground is over 38 degrees.”

There are a few exceptions in Hallock’s experience.

“Some things are happier planted in spring,” she said. “I would say aspen and anything in the poplar family seem to do better in the spring.”

Many nurseries and greenhouses are reducing their stock in the fall and as a result many items are on sale.

“Also, family trips and vacations are done so people have more time to plant in the fall,” said Hallock.

Here are some do’s and don’ts on fall planting and helping your plants weather the winter.


Hallock said there are two rules to follow when planting trees: Plant at the correct depth and mulch it with at least four inches of mulch. Mulch holds moisture in and help keep ground temperatures more stable during the freeze/thaw cycles of winter.

Also, water your new trees and shrubs at least once a month if there are prolonged dry spells in the winter.

“If you see someone playing golf in the middle of winter, it’s a good sign you should be watering your trees,” said Hallock.

Apply a systemic insecticide to the soil around your trees. The roots will take it up and through the entire tree and every leaf, protecting it for about a year from bugs such as aphids, borers and beetles. Also, apply the insecticide to healthy plants when they are actively growing.

Deer trunk protectors are needed to protect new trees. Male deer like to rub their antlers on trees in the fall to remove velvet coating and to mark their territory for mating season.

“They just shred the bark,” said Hallock.

Different types of trunk protectors include a plastic wrap, metal mesh and rubber tubing, which should cover the tree from the ground to three- to four-feet high. Remove the protectors in the spring, said Hallock.

Finally, plant spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils and tulips. “Things that bloom in the spring need to get in the ground right now,” said Hallock.


Avoid planting trees that grow best in acidic soils.

“We have alkaline soils,” said Hallock. “Things like maples you need to be more selective about. Either don’t plant them or commit to giving them soil amendments.”

Plants also shouldn’t be watered if the temperature is below 40 degrees or if there is snow or frost on the ground.

In addition, don’t use systemic insecticide on anything you are going to eat, like apple and walnut trees, and don’t apply it if the soil is saturated, too dry or frozen.

Hallock also said to wait until the spring or after the leaves fall off in late fall to fertilize.

Finally, don’t deadhead (remove dead flower heads from) your roses. “(Let) the rose hips form; it allows more energy into the roots system,” said Hallock.

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Third Street Promenade steps successfully into its 25th anniversary

When Barbara Tenzer started leasing out Santa Monica retail space in the mid-1980s, she wondered how a beach town with such agreeable weather and appealing neighborhoods could harbor a downtown blighted by vagrants, dodgy bars and ubiquitous vacant storefronts.

“Why,” Tenzer recalled thinking, “is it so deserted and sad and lonely?”

Those descriptors soon became passé, and much of the credit goes to the Third Street Promenade. The three-block-long pedestrian zone, which this month celebrates its 25th anniversary, was initially a ploy to lure locals back to their downtown, but it surprised even its most ardent boosters by eventually drawing millions of visitors a year.

The popularity of the promenade, with its outdoor dining, movie theaters, topiary dinosaurs, buskers, upscale shopping and apartments, helped make Santa Monica and environs a robust hub for high-tech and entertainment companies, with thousands of high-paying jobs.

“The promenade turned Santa Monica into a community with both a beach and a quality urban environment,” said Denny Zane, a transit activist who as Santa Monica mayor cut the ribbon on the promenade in 1989.

The anniversary has prompted Zane and others involved in the promenade’s creation to ponder this urban planning gamble that paid off spectacularly.

“We had modest goals,” said John Jalili, the retired city manager who helped bring the promenade to fruition. “None of us said the efforts we are making now are going to transform this area into a tourism mecca.”

lRelated Hard times for business in the San Fernando Valley
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There are downsides to the success. Local businesses such as the Midnight Special Bookstore have been squeezed out by rising rents. Traffic congestion is chronic, although downtown boosters say they hope the arrival of the Expo Line light rail in 2016 will help.

Santa Monica was a very different place in 1965, when civic officials first blocked off three north-south blocks of Third Street between Wilshire Boulevard and Broadway, a quick walk from the pier. East-west traffic was allowed to cross Third at intersections with traffic lights. Local businesses covered most of the $703,000 cost of creating a plaza-like environment on what became known as Third Street Mall or Santa Monica Mall.

Santa Monica thus became one of the first cities to copy an idea pioneered by Kalamazoo, Mich., which closed a downtown street to vehicles in 1959. The city also built six downtown parking garages.

But the timing was lousy. Air-conditioned shopping centers were popping up around the country. Civic leaders decided to launch their own. In 1972, the Santa Monica Redevelopment Agency selected a site at the south end of the mall, just off the 10 Freeway.

Developers enlisted a little-known local architect named Frank Gehry, who designed a three-level, 120-store mall with layers of parking.

When it opened in 1980, Santa Monica Place was an enormous success and a planning failure.

“It stole all the customers from the Third Street Mall,” said Alexander Garvin, a New York urban planner who has written about the promenade.

The mall had long been in decline. It was dangerous, especially at night, when transients bedded down in doorways and alleys that stank of urine. Faded mom-and-pop shops mingled with Woolworth and J.J. Newberry. Santa Monica Place finished off the street economically.

Desperate to revive it, civic leaders and property owners joined forces with Zane and Herb Katz, councilmen from two ends of the political spectrum — with Zane speaking for the anti-gentrification renters and Katz for moderates more inclined toward growth.

With an eye toward luring evening diners and movie-going fans from Westwood Village, Zane introduced an ordinance prohibiting theaters anywhere but downtown; movie screens on the promenade became a huge draw.`

The city created the Third Street Development Corp. and brought in urban planning and design consultants. They held workshops where the public was invited to write about or sketch ideas for street signage and landscaping.
Twitter: @MarthaGroves

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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Cultivating gardens and friendships in Shelton: ‘Working for the earth is good …

At the Olde Ripton Garden Club meeting at on Sept. 8, members greeted each other warmly after some had been away for summer vacations.

They dropped off plants for the “plant swap” and mulled over the identities of flowers on the “plant mystery” table. And before the official meeting got started, they caught up with each other’s lives and gardens.

Fran Hope and Dorothy Mills examine a plant on the “Mystery” table at the September meeting of the Old Ripton Garden Club in Shelton. (Photo by Susan Hunter)

Fran Hope and Dorothy Mills examine a plant on the “Mystery” table at the September meeting of the Old Ripton Garden Club in Shelton. (Photo by Susan Hunter)

Being a garden club member is “a great way to meet people,” said Judith Wise, a seven-year club member and its former secretary.

“I enjoy doing this for my town,” said Wise, whose club responsibilities include making holiday wreaths and sprucing up the Huntington Green.

“Working for the earth is good for your soul,” she said. ”Seeing things grow is rewarding.“

Wise said she’s learned a lot at the club, and now feeds the hummingbirds that visit her own “eco-friendly” garden.

Linda Tura, a 10-year member, said a friend suggested she join the group after she retired from her teaching career. “I love to garden,” she said.

Tura said the club has shown her how to deal with the challenges of gardening in Shelton, with its rocks and ledges, sandy soil, and the deer that “nibble” at her begonias.


New member is introduced

Renée Marsh, garden club president, opened the meeting by introducing Richard Burns, a new member.

Burns said he spends his days keeping up the large garden that his late wife Ruth Burns started “years ago.” “I enjoy gardening,” Burns said.

Marsh went on to discuss the current theme of the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut — “Be kind to pollinators.”

Each month this year, the club will highlight such native pollinators as bats, flies, wasps and moths, as well as bees, birds and butterflies.

Club members will also focus on planting native plants and how to get rid of invasive plants, she said.


Helpful hints are offered

Throughout the meeting, Marsh and others shared information useful to gardeners.
Members may visit, she said, to find out about the Highways Bee Act, pending legislation that aims to spur landscaping alongside highways to benefit pollinators.

Olde Ripton Garden Club President Renee Marsh examines a black walnut that came from leaves on the “Mystery” table with Donna Kay Pensiero, the club’s corresponding secretary. (Photo by Susan Hunter

Olde Ripton Garden Club President Renee Marsh examines a black walnut that came from leaves on the “Mystery” table with Donna Kay Pensiero, the club’s corresponding secretary. (Photo by Susan Hunter

Now is a good time to plant mums in city gardens in Shelton, she said, and there were suggestions on where to buy the best bulbs and where to find discounts for garden club members.

The Garden Conservancy sponsors “open garden days” when private gardens may be visited, Marsh said, and gardeners should report sightings of the mile-a-minute weed to the UConn Extension Center.

Marsh has been a garden club member for four years, and joined after she saw an announcement of a club meeting in the Shelton Herald.

“I have a technological background,” she said, and the club now has a website — — and other promotional materials.

Marsh is a Connecticut master gardener with a “strong horticultural background” and has connections with the UConn Extension Center and Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.


Beautifying the community

Marsh does volunteer work for the Shelton History Center, where the club maintains an herb garden. “Civic beautification is a big part of what the club works on,” she said.

Club members maintain the gardens near the sign at Shelton High School, and beautify the Huntington Green, library, community center and post office.

Each holiday season, they make 22 wreaths for Shelton’s municipal buildings, fill the urns outside the library, decorate the wall along the Huntington Green, and decorate a room at the Osborne Homestead Museum in Derby.

Linda Hooper writes down plant identifications at the “Mystery” table during a recent Olde Ription Garden Club meeting. (Photo by Susan Hunter

Linda Hooper writes down plant identifications at the “Mystery” table during a recent Olde Ription Garden Club meeting. (Photo by Susan Hunter

Club members also run a garden therapy program at the Crosby Commons assisted living facility, where they conduct programs on flower arranging and making potpourri.

The club gives a high school scholarship. It conducts an annual fund-raiser plant sale in May at St. Paul’s Church in Huntington, and proceeds go toward buying wreath-making materials and plants for city gardens.

Being an active club member “takes a lot of work,” Marsh said.

Renée Protomastro, club vice president, agrees. “We lug water,” she said. “It’s a real labor of love. We love Shelton and making it look better. There’s a lot of work we do behind the scenes that may be invisible.”


Recruiting new members

Marsh said the club is trying to recruit new members. “We try to educate people on horticultural and environmental issues,” she said, including the impact of chemicals on plants, and organic gardening.

“We’re trying to bring new life to the club,” said Protomastro, including new members and new activities.

Topics for upcoming meetings range from a talk on the life of Frances Osborne Kellogg, and a fall holiday decoration workshop to a discussion of “foolproof hydrangeas,” a workshop on hanging baskets and a talk on how to keep colorful plants in a garden all year long.


Open to women and men of all ages

Women and men of all ages are invited to garden club meetings that take place on the first Monday of the month at 10 a.m. at Plumb Library, 65 Wooster St. There are currently 41 garden club members.

“We’re trying to get more kids involved,” Protomastro said. “We’re not looking for expert gardeners, just those who love the outdoors. Every level of gardener is welcome.

“We really have a good time together,” Protomastro said. “We’re proud of the heritage of Shelton and its open space. We feel an obligation to continue that.”

For information on club membership, call Marsh at 203-926-0021 or go to



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Temple Beth Sholom earns sustainability certification

Temple Beth Sholom’s commitment to the community includes an undeterred commitment to the environment.

Headed by Millie Estrin, the temple’s sustainability committee has embraced so many eco-friendly practices that Temple Beth Sholom earned its EarthWISE certification.

The EarthWISE program is a free business environmental assistance program of Marion County. EarthWISE staff helps businesses recycle, save energy, reduce waste and much more. To earn certification, a business meets criteria in six areas. Temple Beth Sholom is one of more than 100 EarthWISE businesses and organizations in Marion County.

The 110-member synagogue has multiple recycling stations to collect paper, plastic, cardboard and fluorescent lightbulbs. Most items are reused — the backside of paper, for example, is used for taking notes — before being placed in recycling bins.

For the many events and luncheons held at the synagogue, the sustainability committee purchased reusable and compostable dishware and utensils. Plastic utensils, when used, are collected, cleaned and donated to the Union Gospel Mission for yet another use. Food waste from the events is composted.

As lightbulbs burn out, they are replaced with new energy-efficient bulbs, which save money and energy. The kitchen lights turn on by motion sensors to further conserve energy.

They have replaced an old hot water heater with a new model that delivers hot water much more quickly and eliminates the need to run water for a long period before it gets hot.

The synagogue’s eco-friendly practices extend outside the building.

The landscaping is filled with native or drought-resistant plants. No watering is done to the plants or the lawn in the summer and no chemicals are used to maintain the landscaping.

In the past, Temple Beth Sholom participated in two other community gardens, but this year, members established their own community garden on the synagogue’s grounds. The string beans, eggplant, squash, carrots, lettuce, cabbage and other food is all being donated to the Marion-Polk Food Share.

“I’ve talked to other members of churches and they’ve said if we can do it, they can do it,” Estrin said. “I am hoping our practices encourage others to follow suit.”

Estrin, who was a committee of one for many years, was delighted to find about three years ago that wonderful, knowledgeable people were stepping up to join the sustainability committee. The current members are Burt Bogart, Larry Konick, Nathaniel Darnell, Agnes Opgenorth, Lee Cowan, Judith Havas, Colin Winkler and Estrin.

“They come with expertise and commitment and have enabled us to move forward in our efforts to make Temple Beth Sholom a sustainable community,” Estrin said.

Learn more

For more information about the EarthWISE program visit: or call (503) 365-3188.

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Woodlands Landscaping Solutions spotlights water-wise methods

THE WOODLANDS, TEXAS (September 19, 2014) – Woodlands Landscaping Solutions, a free garden event, spotlights outdoor water conservation with booths, demonstrations and a plant sale on Saturday, September 27, 2014, from 9 a.m. to noon at 8203 Millennium Forest Drive in The Woodlands.

An annual offering of The Woodlands Township, this year’s water-wise event focuses on methods that reduce water use while maintaining appeal in the landscape.

According to Montgomery County Master Gardeners, resilient landscapes begin with healthy soil, and ongoing composting demonstrations will reveal the secret to achieving healthy soil and the role that mulch plays in conserving water. Gardening experts will share tips for delivering water to parched landscapes with the basics of drip irrigation and small-scale rain water harvesting.

At the Master Gardener Plant Clinic, “the doctor is in.” Sickly and pest-damaged plants should be brought in a plastic baggie to receive a free diagnosis and prescription for treatment.

Gaining in popularity for charm and ease of care, habitat gardens tap into nature by enticing hummingbirds, butterflies and songbirds. This event gives residents the opportunity to learn the essentials from the Texas Bluebird Society, Butterfly Enthusiasts of Southeast Texas and Wild Birds Unlimited.

The plant sale will feature water-thrifty perennials, vines, shrubs and understory trees from Nature’s Way Resources. Chris Wiesinger, the “Bulb Hunter” will offer heirloom bulbs for southern gardens. Proceeds from Veggie Village’s sale of culinary herbs and vegetable plants will benefit Interfaith Food Pantry’s Donation Garden.

Woodlands Landscaping Solutions is hosted at 8203 Millennium Forest Drive, just off Research Forest Drive, on Saturday, September 27, 2014, from 9 a.m. to noon. Free to the public, the outdoor event is a program of The Woodlands Township, sponsored by Montgomery County Master Gardener Association, Waste Management, The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. , Nature’s Way Resources and Hilton Garden Inn. For information, call 281-210-3800 or visit

Photo: Native and well-adapted plants grow with the flow, handling the rainfall and temperature extremes of Southeast Texas. Find the plants and learn water-wise methods at the free gardening event, Woodlands Landscaping Solutions on Saturday, September 27, 2014, 9 a.m. to noon, at 8203 Millennium Forest Drive in The Woodlands, 77381.

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Easy gardening tips

Wonder Woman
Domestic Goddess
Home Improvement



No you don’t have to eke out time from your busy schedule and trudge to the nursery or consult the neighbour’s maali to begin your own garden – be it over a sprawling outdoor, in small pots or on the terrace.

A wise man once said: If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Many a time in life, “wise words” are scorned at… after all, in today’s day and age, where our homes are reduced to only a few sq ft of carpet area, few of us can afford garden space, much less fuss over it. Right? No, wrong. Go online, and you’ll find a garden waiting for you.

Greens and humans have always shared a strong bond. We have sought ways to stay close to nature and now, thanks to the budding e-business of nurseries, all the paraphernalia that you need to set up a garden -plants, planters or ideas – can be delivered right at your doorstep. In fact, once you start to shop for plants online, you will find that the digital platform caters especially to the busy bees living in condominiums and flats or those seeking “low maintenance” options. Several websites feature a “functional range” – plants that help purify the air in homes and offices. And we have no less than a NASA report corroborating this: Apart from releasing oxygen, indoor plants also help clear a significant amount of toxins from the air. You’ll also find plants for all seasons and occasions on these websites.

Responding to the latest social trend of gifting plants to friends and family, several websites now showcase predesigned gift packs – you can simply choose and order or get customised “green gifts” if you wish. These websites not only give you botanical information about every plant but also suggest greens depending on the occasion or the space in question – indoor or outdoor. Another upside of online shopping is that you are saved from carrying heavy planters from the nursery to your home. Here is a pick of the best online stores that promise a good start to your e-garden experience…

From personalised hand-made gifts to fertilisers and pots – this website is a one-stop garden shop. Plants are categorised neatly into sections such as seasonal, flowers, indoors, outdoors, ornamental, purifying, insect repellants, hardy plants, vaastu and plants with religious significance, and so on. You will also find interesting and informative trivia, or some handy tips – “mint (pudina) plant helps keep mice away and the tulsi plant wards off lizards.”

If you don’t get time to water your plants regularly or take short holidays every now and then, this website offers the perfect solution – self watering pots. Made with advanced German technology, these pots have a self-irrigation system that takes care of plants for up to 6-8 weeks ensuring the right supply of water throughout
If you’re looking for accessories such as garden gloves, a hose, watering cans, bird nests, bird feeders or other decorative articles, this website offers good variety. It has a product range that offers budget-friendly options as well..

Know Your Weeds Seeds

If you are buying plants online, make sure to read the fine print about the size of the plant on-delivery. Photographs can be deceptive and sometimes what is delivered at your doorstep is a mini version of the large fabulous plant you remember to have clicked on.

Make sure to purchase from reliable online sources (such as those mentioned above), otherwise you run the risk of getting an unhealthy plant that may spread disease to your healthy greens.


The great thing about buying plants online is the selection that pops up with every click. Owing to space constraints, even the best garden centres and nurseries cannot stock the variety that a good online nursery can. Most of the websites, such as Amazon and FabFurnish, tie-up with on-ground nurseries to build up a good stock of the local, native species as well as the international and exotic plants.

How To Grow A Garden In Your Balcony
Websites are also teeming with ideas on how to create a more interesting green space. You need to measure the space physically and study the layout carefully. Does it get more sun or shade? Is there something you wish to cover up or conceal, such as a wall, fence, or utility box? Is there something you wish to preserve or incorporate, such as the view of a nearby tree or surrounding landscape? Choose your plants and planters accordingly. Don’t let a small space daunt you -create a vertical garden instead. Nuzair Ahmed from the Delhi-based Exotic Green suggests – ‘Try the multi-level iron stands to layer up, or train a vine up a wall or fence. You could also use window boxes or other wall- or fence-mounted co n t a i n e r s .’Ma tc h i n g p l a n t s a n d containers will make your green space more appealing – choose the colour, design and size of the planter depending on the plant you wish to pot.

Expert Advice from Exotic Green, a Delhi-based garden centre

Choose a plant according to your requirements be it an occasion or a particular corner of the house. Research well before you order online.

Always pick indoor plants that work with the light in your home. Go for the hardy ones if you keep busy. Native and seasonal plants are easier to maintain, and require less watering �V they are ideal if you are a novic since they will give you least trouble.

Start small: Even a single plant can make your

Try not to bite off more than you can chew. Of course, small is a relative term it could be a small green patch or only a couple of pots.

There are no hard and fast rules to mixing and matching plants. Breaking the rules can result in delightful surprises.

Spend just 10 minutes a day wandering around your greens say, early in the morning with a cup of coffee or right after work it will relax you, and some die-hard gardeners even claim that it helps the plants grow faster!


For more news from Wonder Woman, follow us on Twitter
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Time to Plant Garlic (With Growing Tips)

Garlic is rich in lore. It has been reputed to repel vampires, clear the blood, cure baldness, aid digestion over the ages. Today’s studies have shown is garlic antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral. And, it tastes great! Garlic has been around for thousands of years. It originated in Asia, was cultivated in Egypt and has been a Mediterranean staple for centuries.It is easy to grow and has few pest issues. All you do is throw them in the ground in the fall in late September/early October in our Zone 6 garden and by early summer, they are ready to harvest.

The clove puts out roots in the fall. Depending on how warm the winter is, there can be green shoots showing through the cold months. Garlic will be some of the first to start growing. The stems resemble onion greens. The garlic flower, or scape, has a cute little curl in it. It grows on hard neck varieties. They are great in salads. Harvesting them also gives you bigger bulbs.

You should choose the biggest cloves to plant. The bigger the clove, the bigger the harvest! Cloves like other root vegetables like loose soil, compost and steady fertilizer. Like carrots, radishes and beets, you can add sand to give a looser soil structure in your garlic bed. Compost and mulch well in the fall before cold weather sets in. Plant the cloves root side down, 1-2” deep, and 4-6” apart. For planting by the cycle of the moon, garlic should be planted during the waning cycle of the moon. For our Zone 6 garden, this is September 9-23 and October 9-22. After the greens sprout to 6”, add compost or fertilizer as a side dressing. Garlic does not need a lot of nitrogen so compost is a good choice.

Harvesting Garlic

Garlic is ready to harvest then the tops fall over and die off. They are ready to harvest about a week later. Typically this is mid-summer.

Be careful when you go to harvest. If you cut the bulb, it will not keep and needs to eaten soon. The garlic should be left in dry shade for 2-3 weeks or brought inside and stored in a cool, dry location with good air circulation. They can be hung or placed in a perforated bin to dry and store. Store-bought garlic has been treated with chemicals to keep them from sprouting so they are not a great choice for growing your own. A great option is to buy cloves from your local farmers market. You know they grew well in your area. Just separate out the bulb(s) into individual cloves and plant the biggest ones.

Distinguishing Different Types of Garlic

Garlic can be mild or hot. Elephant garlic is very mild and not really true garlic at all. It is a type of leek. It has a great garlic flavor and produces huge bulbs. The ones I am growing this year are from the previous year’s harvest. 

You can tell the difference in the two by looking at the flowers. Leeks and soft neck garlic have a onion type flower while garlic has a curly scape flower. There is soft and hard necked garlic. For storing, soft neck garlic is the ticket. It is also the strongest flavored. Hard necked is milder, easier to peel, more cold hardy and the first to mature.

Everyone knows of garlic in sauces and on cheese bread. A couple of years ago, we tried roasted garlic. It dramatically mellows the flavor. I just put a few heads in a small baking dish, add chicken stock to just about level to the cut heads, and let bake covered at 350 for 30-45 minutes, until soft. It is a great spread on French bread!

If your garlic dries up over the winter, I grind it into garlic powder. If you have great tasting garlic that doesn’t store well or you have a bountiful crop, another preservation option is pickled garlic. Just peel and cover your fresh garlic cloves in organic apple cider vinegar. You can add a couple of hot peppers if you want to add some extra zing!

Of course, you can also add garlic to the tomato sauce, pickles or peppers you are going to can. You can flavor vinegars or oils by popping crushed garlic into them. Many options for utilizing your garlic harvest!

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Lawn and order: Alan Titchmarsh tips on giving your garden a little TLC

Well, what a year for weather it’s been! After a soggy winter we had a baking heart to the summer, interspersed with thunderstorms and hail. If you thought it was a pain as far as your own life was concerned, think what it must have been like for your lawn!

If you walked on it in winter it turned to mud and in summer it went the colour of straw (if you were public spirited and did not resort to the sprinkler). Now autumn is on its way and the grass must be heaving a sigh of relief, except that it will be suffering from the after-effects of the vagaries of all that weather.

Not to worry; lawns are amazingly resilient and respond readily to kindness on the part of the gardener.  There are a few things you can do over the next month to put them back in good heart and make sure that they will carry on the good work next summer.

For a start, rake out all the dead grass (thatch) and moss that has accumulated among the living stems and leaves. Use a wire-tooth rake or hire a powered lawn raker, which will make the job much easier. Don’t set it too low at first but go over the lawn, backwards and forwards, rather as you would vacuum a carpet, and marvel at just how much dead stuff comes out.  

The lawn may look rather bare for a while but you are making space for the living grasses to expand while the weather is still favourable.

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Dig these fall gardening tips

Warm weather, continued care and robust plants have yielded a bounty of beautiful, fresh vegetables — and personal satisfaction — from your garden this season. As the weather cools and fall approaches, it is not time to hang up your hat, gloves and trowel for the year. Autumn provides optimum weather and ample opportunity to keep growing and harvesting delicious, healthy produce well into the season.

Some gardeners assume that when fall arrives and kids return to school, they’ll have less time to garden, and may experience less success from their garden plots. But cooler temperatures and fall conditions can actually make gardening easier and more enjoyable. Many of fall’s best-producing vegetables are also colorful, making them great additions to flower beds and containers.

If you loved summer gardening, you can keep your garden growing right through fall. Here’s how to make the most of fall season gardening:

Size up the soil

Most vegetable plants require full sun for six or more hours a day, and because fall provides a bit less sunlight than summer, you may need to relocate your plot to make the most of shorter days. If moving your garden isn’t an option, you can still take full advantage of sunshine by planting veggies in containers or by creating a raised bed in a sunny spot.

If you’ll be reusing your summer garden plot, remove any leftover debris. Don’t forget to pull up weeds before they go to seed. Fluff any compacted soil with a garden fork. Next, test the soil to see if any amendments are needed. Even if your soil is in good shape, adding a 2-inch layer of bagged compost or a balanced, natural fertilizer like Bonnie Plant Food can give plants a boost.

Be prepared for frost. Keep materials on hand to protect plants when frost threatens, such as floating row cover, a cold frame or a cloche. On frosty, cold nights, move container plants to a protected spot. Not sure when frost will arrive in your area? Check out the USDA frost map on the Bonnie Plant website.

Pick your plants

While crops like strawberries and tomatoes have faded to sweet summer memories, many plants thrive in fall. To ensure a successful harvest, it’s important to pick the right plants and give yourself a jump start by using transplants, rather than starting off with seeds. Planting six-week-old transplants ensures you’ll have the best opportunity to take advantage of fall’s shorter season, and you’ll harvest sooner than if you plant from seed. Producers like Bonnie Plants provide garden retailers with transplants intended to grow well during the specific growing season and are suited for your geographic region. Seasonally appropriate transplants ensure you’ll have greater success in your garden. An added bonus of fall planting is that many cool crops are also packed with nutrition and are among the healthiest vegetables you can eat.

Choose hardy crops that can withstand light frost and temperatures as low as 25 degrees. Hardy Bonnie favorites for fall include:

Broccoli — This versatile veggie is packed with vitamins K, C and A, and is a good source of folate.

Cabbage — A staple of Oktoberfest celebrations across the country, cabbage comes in several varieties, all of which are high in beta-carotene, vitamins C and K and fiber.

Kale — Some varieties of kale, like Winterbor Kale, actually taste better when kissed by frost. A prolific producer, kale thrives in fall gardens and is a good source of vitamins A, C, K and B6, as well as manganese.

Leeks — Prized by gourmets for their milder flavor, leeks are frost-tolerant in all but the coldest planting zones. The health benefits of all onions are well documented, and leeks also add a pop of bright color to culinary dishes.

Spinach —This nutrient-rich green does as well in fall’s cooler temperatures as it does in summer heat. Spinach will continue to produce throughout the season, providing a tasty source of vitamins A, C, K and E, as well as the minerals iron, potassium and magnesium.

The end of summer doesn’t have to herald the end of your garden harvest and enjoyment, or a return to the grocery store produce aisle. With the right fall crops, you can achieve a satisfying, healthful harvest throughout the fall. Visit to learn more about fall gardening and cool-weather crops.

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