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Archives for November 16, 2014

Putting the garden to bed

Posted: Saturday, November 15, 2014 5:00 am

Putting the garden to bed

By Bob Beyfuss
For Columbia-Greene Media


Well, it is time for my annual “putting the gardens to bed” column. Here are some tips for your home landscape.

Lawns: This is not a good time to fertilize or try to plant grass seed but lime may be applied at any time. Bring a sample of soil to your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office to test and they will tell you exactly how much lime, if any, to apply. This is also not a good time to apply broad leaf weed killers for weeds such as dandelions, ground ivy and others. If possible mow fallen leaves into mulch or rake them off the lawn and use them to start a compost pile. Oak leaves in particular will suffocate grass. You can still mow the grass if it is very tall, but leave it at least 2.5 inches for the winter. In a few weeks the grass will turn brown as it goes dormant.

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Saturday, November 15, 2014 5:00 am.

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IT’S time to put the garden to bed for winter – and taking extra care will pay …

Dahlia tubers and summer bulbs

Ensure bulbs and tubers are free from soil and completely dry before storing, then spread out on slatted trays or use netting suspended from the ceiling if space is short – good air circulation prevents a lot of storage problems.

Check the bulbs regularly and cut out any rotting or damaged parts. Dust the damaged areas liberally with green or yellow sulphur powder, allow to dry and keep separate from the healthy bulbs.  

Garden products

Store unopened bags of compost under cover or, if they are left outside, raise them off the ground and cover with plastic so the rain doesn’t get in. Don’t use opened bags of compost for sowing seeds or cuttings next year, as microorganisms may have got into the bag. It’s best worked into the garden to improve the soil.

Store bottles of chemicals or liquid feed and packets of feed under cover in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. If well stored, they should remain fit to use for several years.If fertiliser or soluble feeds become damp, add them to the compost heap and mix well with the other ingredients.

Garden tools

Use racks to hang large or long-handled tools on shed or garage walls to save space. To prevent rusting, clean and oil metal blades before putting the tools away for winter. Clean and oil small tools, such as secateurs, and store them in clear plastic stacking boxes or in a “garden drawer” in a utility room indoors where they won’t rust or get lost.

Small garden sundries, such as gloves, balls of string, raffia and plant labels, are best kept in clear-plastic stacking boxes or in one of those multi-compartment storage units used by handymen for nails and screws, as they make it easy to keep a lot of stuff in a small space while keeping it readily accessible.

Outdoor storage

In small gardens without a garage or shed, consider installing a lockable chest or upright outdoor cupboard for storing essential tools, a small mower or a barbecue etc. These are available from DIY chains, the internet and catalogues such as that produced by Two Wests Elliott (01246 451077,  

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Markers to the past

Markers to the past

“(Recently) we met with the fourth grade teacher at Pine Tree Elementary, the dynamic Sally Smith. Sally, along with Penny Merrill, are most valued members of the CCL (250th) Committee. A decade or so ago, Smith’s students mapped the Conway Centre Cemetery (which should be called a graveyard). According to their research, the oldest stone belongs to Sarah Porter, wife of Conway’s first minister, Nathaniel Porter, who was our first resident pastor for decades as well as a founder of Fryeburg Academy. We found it immediately using the work of the students, at the original entrance to the cemetery facing Mill Street where the second church and parsonage were located. We were shocked. Not only were the two stones virtually inaccessible because of tree growth along the wall, but there lied Sarah’s stone in two pieces. There was no sign of remembrance whatsoever. The oldest stones are inscribed facing the original entrance with a rusted gate. Many are in deplorable condition.  Early prominent families’ tombstones have fallen, broken into pieces, been run over by tree growth or are buried in moss and half-sunken in the earth. These include the Eastmans, Twombleys, Lovejoys, Odells (emphasize first syllable), Walkers, Starks, and Farringtons. Some stones, such as Isaac Berry’s, are buried amongst clumps of gray birches and white pine. Some veterans have the wrong war markers.

“Judge Joel Eastman is notable,” says the pamphlet, “because he was one of the owners of the Smith-Eastman Toll Bridge, built in 1846, which spanned the Saco,” behind what is now the Conway Police Station. The 300-foot-wide bridge was burned down by vandals on July 4, 1975. (On July 5, 1976, as part of the Bicentennial, a bronze plaque was unveiled as a gift from the Bicentennial Committee, commemorating the old Smith-Eastman Covered Bridge that had been destroyed by the fire a year earlier.)

• Nov. 29, 2014: 6-8 p.m. Schouler Park treelighting, featuring a brass ensemble, Santa, Angel and Elf Walk to Eastern Slope Inn, where there will be a storytime, tree lighting, hot cocoa and s’mores. 
Presented by Eastern Slope Inn, White Birch Books, Fields of Ambrosia, North Conway Village Association, the MWV Band and the Mount Washington Valley Radio Group.

• Dec. 6: 2:30-6:30 p.m.: Conway Village: Pictures with Santa at Northway Bank; Storytime at Conway Public Library; Parade in Conway Village; Tree Lighting; 
Holiday on Ice Skating Show at Ham Arena; Open Skate at 6:30 p.m. at Ham Arena.

Presented by MWV Skating Club, Conway Family Dental and DW Electric. Register to be a part of the parade by contacting Jessica Whitelaw, 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

• Dec. 31, 2014: Fireworks – Schouler Park: Ring in the New Year with selectmen, special guests and citizens.
• Jan. 24-25, 2015: Winter Carnival, throughout Conway: 
Enjoy a weekend of events highlighting all the winter activities enjoyed in the Town of Conway.

• May 16, 2015: Education Fair at Pine Tree School
browse the projects developed throughout the
school year from over 10 different schools in the area. Register your project with Penny Merrill or Sally Smith at Pine Tree Elementary School.

• May through October: Revolving Historical displays at Salyards Art Center in Conway, presented by Conway Historical Society. Also, Guided Tours of Conway Homes.
• Ribbon Cutting : Thursday, May 21, 2015
 2 p.m.: Abenaki Historical Site, Intervale.

• July 4 – July 11: White Mountain Art Show at the Conway Public Library.

• Firemen’s Muster: Date TBD.

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Unique Seattle ’60s house rocks Space-Age vibe

  • Exterior of 7001 Brighton Lane S. Photo: Courtesy Edward Krigsman/Windermere Real Estate

This house was “completely built, furnished and landscaped in 10 days” for the 1963 Seattle Home Show, according to a story in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer on March 3, 1963.

“The model house, known as ‘Vista ’63,’ is being designed to give Home Show visitors an idea of how materials, construction methods, equipment, design, decorations and landscaping can be combined to produce a pleasing home,” the story says. “According to its designers, it is a ‘house of ideas’ rather than a home of the future for the public.”

Architect Ken Koehler designed the home, which W. R. Wood Construction Co. built, Howard-Williams furnished and Malmo Nurseries landscaped. The address is 7001 Brighton Lane S., and it’s for sale for $948,000.

The listing ties the house to the Space Age, reporting:

The kite-shaped footprint and graceful, triangular elevations of Vista ’63 caused visitors to liken the building to spaceships that were currently under production by the US government. Indeed, the main living level commands starlight views into galaxies far away, beginning with the viewing deck that wraps around the building to the south.

It adds that the master suite “floats above the residence and is reminiscent of the lunar landing module of an Apollo-era spacecraft,” while the two-car carport “is supported by angled legs inspired by engineered spaceship struts.”

The house is 3,942 square feet, with four bedrooms, 2.75 bathrooms, two fireplaces, vaulted ceilings, a family room, a den, the original Low-Fi Rangaire intercom and starry sky acoustic tiles, a deck, balconies and views of Mount Rainier and Lake Washington on a 10,296-square-foot lot.

Click through the gallery above to check it out. 

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Haverhill couple say ‘I do’ to log cabin overhaul

What’s more romantic than candlelight?

For Caleb and Danielle “Danny” Ward of Haverhill, it just may be a new electrical system. They threw the switch before they tied the knot.

Continue reading below

With wedding costs ever higher and interest rates low, more couples are buying homes together first. About one in four married couples between the ages of 18 and 34 purchased their first home together before their wedding date, according to
. And folks in the wintry climes of the Northeast and Midwest are less likely to have cold feet about the purchase, according to a 2013 Coldwell Banker Real Estate survey

The purchase of the Wards’ log cabin love nest was not a partnership they entered into lightly, and it took a lot of heart, soul, and elbow grease to make it their own.

The transformation of their home from worn-out and weed-choked to lovely and landscaped intrigues those familiar with the area.

Continue reading it below

“I think [deliverymen] are looking for an excuse to take a look around,” Caleb said. “You see people slow down when they drive.”

It’s easy to see why: A lush lawn and planting bed grace their bucolic 4.7-acre spread. (The log cabin bird feeder only adds to the charm.) But three years ago, the property with the winding path close to the Boxford town line was laden with hundreds of feet of poison ivy snaking through the trees, and a peek in the window would have shown an old-fashioned wood stove and outdated, dusty furniture. Indeed, after the former homeowner moved, the cabin, built in 1984, sat vacant for years — adding more than a few challenges to the Wards’ workload.

Mark Lorenz for the Boston Globe

Danny and Caleb Ward put on an addition to their log cabin, remodeled the inside, and added new landscaping.

“We inherited all of the issues you get with a house that’s been pretty much vacant for a few years — vacant besides bats, bugs, and mice. … We were trying to see the potential in it,” Caleb said.

Danny said this was the first house she and her mother found. “It looked too good to be true. It was within our price range, had five acres. It was big enough. But we’re not contractors; we thought it was too much,” she said. “It was Caleb and my dad who convinced us to take a second look.” The outside work wasn’t as daunting. Caleb was once a foreman for a landscaping company in Vermont.

The inside presented quite a few challenges, however, several of which are unique to log cabins. Besides attracting bees that like to bore into wood, log cabins have walls without the traditional sheetrock, requiring caulking and leaving no place to hide wiring. The same goes for updating the heating system. (Solutions? Call the exterminator. Add wireless switches. And work with the plumbing system you’ve got, reconfiguring it so most of the exposed pipes are in the basement.)

Next? Gut and renovate the basement. Remove the wood stove. Renovate bathrooms. Get rid of the giant gun safe. . . . The list (see sidebar) seemed endless.

Natural lighting can be a challenge in a log cabin, but the Ward home features a lovely bay window in the front, light streaming through the backyard into the kitchen window, and a spacious master bedroom illuminated by a skylight and a large window with a sweet stained-glass sun.

Caleb Ward

Before: The bar area.

The Boston Globe

After: The shelving on the back wall was a double window. It’s since been closed off, allowing for an addition and adding another bedroom.

“Most log cabins are very square or rectangular, and this one’s very asymmetrical,” adding to the ways sunlight can hit it, Caleb said. “We really enjoyed that it wasn’t cookie-cutter.”

The Wards have lived there for more than two years, but like nearly every homeowner, they still have a to-do list. Many of those discussions revolve around starting a family. For now, a converted breezeway serves as a spot for their nieces and nephews to color and play video games. The guest bedroom where Danny stored her handmade Mason jar favors and lanterns for their Sept. 27 nuptials will someday become a nursery. In addition to renovating the cabin, the Wards put an addition on the back for Danny’s parents, Rick and Nancy Dumond, to use part of the year.

For the Wards, first-time home buyers, having room to grow was ideal, and they were sold on the pastoral location. “We just loved the neighborhood and having cows across the street [and] an equestrian center up the street,” Danny said. And it’s the perfect setting for Caleb, who grew up in Vermont — a country boy at heart.

They met when she was attending grad school at Dartmouth College, and their first date was a hike. For Danny, the choice of venue for their wedding was easy: the log cabin at Cochran Wildlife Sanctuary
on the Phillips Academy, Andover campus. “That was something that since I was little, since I went to Phillips, that I thought about doing. I absolutely love the space, and it was kind of one of those things where we live in a log cabin, we may as well get married in one,” she said.

Mark Lorenz for the Boston Globe

A bedroom was part of the addition to the home.

Nancy and Danny are both crafters, and made the “rustic chic” wedding decorations and favors for the wedding. The bridal registry was practical; it featured mostly outdoor plants.

Danny’s creativity is one of her best attributes, Caleb said. “Danny and her mom are both big on HGTV. They have all of these great ideas” to decorate, and make things themselves or repurpose some of the house’s older materials — like doors, lights, and fans — to cut costs.

But it’s apparent from the bond between Caleb and Rick that the women aren’t the only DIY-ers. Over the course of a year, with help from family friends who are contractors, the two not only renovated the house, they built their relationship as father- and son-in-law. Rick had retired as an electrical engineer. Caleb decided it would be more efficient and productive to work on the cabin than continue landscaping. During the course of the construction, they launched their own handyman company, Simple Fix
. “His easygoing nature and hard-work ethics are what you’d want from any employee, let alone a son-in-law,” Rick said. “Caleb never complains about the hours or type of work. . . . [He] is like the son I never had.”

“Everybody kept telling us we did such great work,” Caleb said of the addition, which features a stunning vaulted ceiling and picture windows that look out onto the back yard. “So we started our own business.”

Some of their work involves fixing homeowner mistakes — recently a botched bathroom remodel.

“They do everything from retiling bathrooms to changing light bulbs for little old ladies. You’d laugh, but someone just paid him to change light bulbs and hang pictures,” Danny said of her husband.

When he’s not working on people’s homes, Caleb, an amateur photographer, hangs his pictures of wildlife and landscapes. He plans to shoot more of them now that the wedding went off without a glitch.

Although the same can’t be said for the purchase of their first home together, the Wards contend that the challenges have only brought them closer together.

“Even with the home inspection, there were definitely a lot of unanticipated problems,” Caleb said.

In that way, home renovation is a lot like marriage. There can be obstacles, but for many it’s a journey worth taking.

The first six months of the renovation “were definitely the toughest for us. It was one problem after another, and at some points we were like, ‘What were we thinking?’ ” Danny said, smiling. “But I’m really glad we did.”


■ Install paver patio

■ Landscape

■ Clean and repair backyard pool

■ Gut and renovate basement

■ Build addition

■ Rework space over addition to put in bedroom

■ Remove wood stove in basement (keep mantel)

■ Replace furnace

■ Have home fumigated and pests exterminated

■ Call in professional to install new electrical system

■ Renovate basement bathroom

■ Put kitchen island on wheels

■ Replace breezeway carpet

■ Move fan from living room to breezeway

■ Put up display shelving behind the bar in the living room

■ Add blown-in insulation to attic


■ Put on a new standing-seam roof

■ Update upstairs bathroom, building out wall for a walk-in closet in adjoining master bedroom

■ Replace more windows

■ Update furniture

■ Add vinyl-shingle siding to back of house

■ Cut down more trees out back

Advice before you sign on the dotted line …

Planning on buying a home with your significant other? Lawyer Hugh Fitzpatrick, the founding partner of New England Title and Fitzpatrick Associates PC, offers this advice on protecting yourself and your assets. These tips may not be romantic, but they are points worth considering:

If you don’t need both incomes to qualify for the mortgage, have one person purchase the home and the significant other rent for the time being — with an option to buy at a later date. Document this.

If you purchase the home jointly, you need a document that spells out your financial relationship and addresses any contingencies in case you break up.

Making renovations? Keep a ledger documenting what work was done and who contributed what. Have each person sign off on every entry.

Carley D. Thornell is a writer born and based in Boston. Send comments to

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NATURE NICHE: Use leaves as mulch, or create compost

Barra is the Environmental Education Specialist for the
Montezuma Audubon Center and the Seneca Meadows Wetland Preserve
and Environmental Education Center. She can be reached at

Posted: Friday, November 14, 2014 5:00 pm

NATURE NICHE: Use leaves as mulch, or create compost


Finger Lakes Times


Tree branches are looking pretty bare this time of year. Leaves have fallen and have been (or will be) raked up. Dogs, kids and youthful adults have had their fill of jumping in piles of crunchy dried leaves, so now what do you do with all those fallen leaves scattered around the lawn?

One thing that you can’t do is burn them. It is illegal to burn leaves anywhere in New York state. According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website, burning can be harmful because of potentially dangerous compounds in the smoke, and the chance that an outdoor forest fire could be sparked from burning leaves that are blown out of the fire pit area.

Another bad disposal method is dumping leaves into the lake. These leaves may not litter your lawn anymore, but as they decompose they’re releasing a boost of unnecessary nutrients into the water. These nutrients lead to increased growth of aquatic plants and algae, which means you’ll be battling “sea weed” during the summer months.

Leaves are an excellent source of necessary carbon for those who have a backyard compost bin. Add your leaves to kitchen scraps, grass clippings and garden weeds. Mix all this together and wait for the perfect compost to use in your garden or landscaping.

Leaves also make great mulch. You can use them whole on your garden, though whole leaves tend to create a mat which may smother smaller plants if they are not carefully placed. You can use leaves to mulch any winter crops you might have. Winter mulched carrots are often said to be much sweeter than grocery store or carrots harvested throughout the rest of the year. Try grinding up your leaves by passing over the piles with your lawn mower a few times. Leaves mulched very small can be left right on your lawn or added to any gardens or landscaped areas you have.

 Barra is the Environmental Education Specialist for the Montezuma Audubon Center and the Seneca Meadows Wetland Preserve and Environmental Education Center. She can be reached at


Friday, November 14, 2014 5:00 pm.

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Drought woes hit Tulare County schools – Visalia Times

Schools across Tulare County are changing routines and attempting to adapt to one of the most stifling droughts on record in California in similar ways as families dealing with wells going dry and farmers worrying about irrigating their crops.

The watering of sports fields has been cut at Springville district schools. Campuses in Porterville have started opening doors earlier on weekday mornings so students without water at home can shower. Other schools have started water conservation efforts.

With dry conditions continuing to parch the state, all Tulare County schools are impacted. But the effects vary at each school district, as well as the responses.

County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak has reached out to numerous lawmakers, including Gov. Jerry Brown, to inform legislators of the water crisis hitting county schools, said Rob Herman, public information officer with Tulare County Office of Education.

Earlier in the year, Vidak, along with other TCOE officials, sat down with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to talk about how county schools have been effected by lack of water.

Among the school districts heavily hit by the drought is Alpaugh Unified School District, in the southwest corner of Tulare County.

“Right now, it is what it is. It’s a world of hurt,” Superintendent Robert Hudson said.

Much of the landscaping is nearly dead at the district campus — which houses three schools — and students are often called indoors when the dry ground from barren farms is picked up by wind, Hudson said.

“We don’t water the lawns like we used to,” he said. “We don’t water much of anything, just things in between buildings. It’s very dusty. When winds pick up, dust picks up. It’s a very intensive situation.”

Ongoing construction on a new gymnasium at the campus makes the dust situation even worse, Hudson said.

“We’re hoping for a little rain,” he said. “We’re hopeful we can get the construction project done as quickly as possible. We’re hopeful for a lot of things. There’s a delicate combination of things that must be down to mitigate the dust — more crops, irrigation water, more access to water.”

Water has long been an ongoing issue at the district.

Over 10 years ago, the local wells that supplied water to the school district were found to have high arsenic content and the school switched to bottled water for drinking.

The drought has had less of an effect at Visalia and Tulare schools than at rural campuses.

At Visalia Unified School District and Tulare City School District, school officials have focused efforts on water conservation.

Both districts have worked with their city governments to reduce water levels to the recommended reductions, according to district officials.

Assistant Superintendent Robert Gröeber said VUSD now waters school facility fields only two days each week.

“We let them know because of our schedules, we can’t necessarily honor correct days, but we’ve cut down,” he said. “We only water two days in times that work with hours of facilities. We’re making the recommended reductions but not necessarily on the right days or times.”

The district follows all of the guidelines, which include not watering sidewalks and eliminating water runoff which drains down gutters, Gröeber said.

“We’re trying to be not only good neighbors, but good examples of water conservationists,” he said.

At the Sequoia High School campus, water usage is lower than at most traditional school sites, said Principal Adolfo Reyes.

The school has a smaller field compared to most high school sites. The school still tries to do its part to conserve though, Reyes said.

“We’ve limited [water usage] a lot,” he said. “We’ve cut back. … We restricted putting in gardens. We’re holding off on that.”

Tulare City School District Superintendent Clare Gist said the district’s schools have not been impacted by the drought. But school officials are focusing on awareness and conservation.

The district works with the city, and water runoff at school sites can be reported to the city, which then informs the school district, Gist said. The district has also stopped its recreational water activities.

“We used to have water activities but haven’t for last year and this year,” Gist said. “Kids can still have fun but we can do it in other ways.”

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LSU conference focuses on landscaping

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – A plant materials conference for nursery, landscape and garden center professionals is planned Dec. 5 at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden in Baton Rouge.

The session is presented by the LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association. It will feature presentations by LSU AgCenter experts and industry professionals.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the conference will conclude at 2 p.m.

Cost to attend is $30 per person. Attendance is limited to the first 70 individuals with paid registrations by Nov. 24.

More information and registration forms are available from Owings at 985-543-4125, 225-603-8096 or

The Botanic Gardens at Burden is off Interstate 10 at 4560 Essen Lane.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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