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Archives for December 27, 2014

Helping birds survive winter in your backyard

Now is the time, before winter gets too serious, to do something for birds.

And maybe for yourself, too.

“One of the greatest benefits of feeding birds is that the homeowner can easily see what birds are using their land, and develop a greater appreciation of birds,” says Michael Ward, an assistant professor in the department of natural resources and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

So with that in mind, here are a few ideas to help birds withstand the winter weather — and maybe even provide some education and entertainment for the kids.

Hold off with the pruners: If you haven’t already cut back all your dead vegetation — don’t. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, those plants — particularly the tall ones that will poke above the snow — provide shelter for birds. Another idea is to create a brush pile to protect them. You can always tidy things up later — that’s why they call it “spring cleaning.” And looking ahead, Ward says landscaping a yard with native bushes and shrubs can make it a welcoming habitat for wintering birds. So plan next spring’s planting accordingly.

Repurpose your Christmas tree: Speaking of shelter, your Christmas tree can do double-duty till spring, providing protection as well as a food source. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension suggests placing the tree — stripped of decorations, lights and tinsel — on the south or east side of the house to afford cover from north and west winds. To secure it, put the stump in a hole or a bucket of wet sand, and tie a rope from the top to a building or nearby tree. Then redecorate the tree, but with strings of popcorn, cranberries or raisins. The UNL Extension also says to add apples, oranges, leftover breads and pine cones covered with peanut butter and then dipped in birdseed. For best results, push the edible ornaments well into the tree.

Coming home to roost: The Cornell Lab also suggests roost boxes. Birds will seek shelter in nesting boxes in the winter, resulting in overcrowded conditions (they’re used as nests only in spring and summer). Besides, these boxes are for nesting, not roosting. But a roost box can protect any birds that nest in boxes: bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and small woodpeckers. A good roost box keeps the birds’ body heat contained and has interior perches, and can be placed on a metal pole or wooden post. They’re available in stores, or you can make your own. The Washington Department of Fish Wildlife offers roost box-building instructions.

Kid-friendly adventures: Encourage the kids’ involvement in setting up a bird feeder and choosing the best food (good information on seed choices is available at Get a reliable field guide (the Sibley field guides are good and have versions for different geographical locations) or free app ( to identify the birds that use the feeder. Have the kids keep a journal and report their findings to or

Avian superfoods: High-fat, high-energy foods such as suet and sunflower seeds are preferable in winter. On a cold night, chickadees lose 25% of their body weight. And be consistent in your feeding, putting out seeds or suet (or seed-studded suet balls) regularly. If the birds come to rely on you for a constant supply of food, and you close up shop when a storm hits, they might not survive. Once they know food is always available, they’ll keep coming back — not only in winter but year-round.

Water is key: Just as birds need food, they also need water during the coldest days. Spring for a bird-bath heater to keep water from freezing. There are many models to choose from; check your local independent garden center or big box store. And be sure to keep the bird bath clean.

Embrace the circle of life: Raptors — hawks and falcons — have become more evident in urban settings, as people have stopped harassing them and there is abundant food. If you feed birds, know that some of your feathered friends could end up as that food. No reason to be upset; they belong here, and they need to eat, too.

“There is not much you can do to either increase or decrease hawks in your neighborhood,” says Ward, who also is an avian ecologist for the Illinois Natural History Survey. “As trees get mature and people continue to promote small birds, hawks will come. … (People) are concerned when a hawks eats a bird off of their feeder, but that is just a sign that the bird community is robust and not something to be particularly concerned about.”

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Rash of snow plow thefts hit NW Indiana – WLS

There has been a recent rash of snow plow thefts in northwest Indiana.

One of the victims is Joe Ladd of RAL Landscaping in Schererville, who said his truck was stolen. By the time it was located, the plow and lights were removed.

According to Ladd, police said there have been at least 20 such robberies in Lake and Porter Counties.

Ladd has some ideas where the plows may be found.

“There’s tons on Craigslist, there’s tons on eBay, and people don’t think to check them to see if they’re stolen,” he said. “They don’t check the serial number. They don’t check to see if it’s scratched off.”

Mike White works for a Schererville funeral home. A plow and truck used to clear the parking lot were recently stolen. He thinks several people are involved in the thefts.

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‘This Old House’ renovated my childhood home

Anthony Tieuli

The Garrison Colonial, built in 1966.

My parents unbolted the front door of my childhood home in Lexington only for parties. Otherwise, people entered the 1966 Garrison Colonial via a side door. This door, located on a tiny porch that led into the mudroom, was closer to the garage but still outside, so we raced on rainy days.

We mostly used the tiny porch for entry and egress. Yet it contains a special memory: Every spring for 45 years, my mother’s annual hanging impatiens contained a bird’s nest — the mother studying our comings and goings like a British Palace guard, and we monitoring her babies’ progress like neonatal nurses.

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The compact mudroom led into the kitchen of the four-bedroom house — spacious for those days. But as a kid, all I really cared about was my bedroom, with its Beatles posters and gold clanking glass beads covering the doorway during those preteen years — lest anyone enter undetected. And I felt special that the laundry chute was in my room (used, at times, to plunk my German shepherd’s toys down to tease her, annoying my mother).

This was home from my formative years through college; eventually, I bought a house in neighboring Bedford, and my older sister raised her family in Andover.

My parents remained three more decades and updated twice: the kitchen in the ’70s, augmenting the original brown cabinets with white and oak doors (a mismatched combo, but a popular solution back then), and in the mid-1980s, as part of a large renovation project. They removed bedroom number four to create a two-story entry-hall ceiling. They made the dining room a marble guest bathroom/coat closet and created an expansive dining room out of the living room. Among other changes, they created a colossal great room.

Mindy Pollack-Fusi

Mindy Pollack-Fusi’s parents in the great room before the house was renovated.

Continue reading it below

Designed with high ceilings and a wide sliding-glass door, the contemporary great room also contained an oversized custom-made wall unit with a bar, big television (probably only 32 inches, but huge back in the day), and a sound system with then-trendy toddler-tall speakers. My parents loved to sit in that room reading and listening to symphonies. The ficus in the sunny corner grew to nearly 12 feet high.

When my sister and I visited through the years with our spouses and children, we all gathered around the 24-foot long, L-shaped off-white leather couch in this enormous room. The last all-family event was Father’s Day 2011, when I cooked omelets to order. Soon after, my folks sold the house to downsize to The Commons in nearby Lincoln. Buyers Jeremy and Jody Kieval shared their plans to expand for greater comfort for their young family.

No one could have predicted what happened three years later.

Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff

General contractor Tom Silva with Mindy Pollack-Fusi in the great room.

PBS’s “This Old House” chose the Kievals’ expansion for its 35th anniversary season. Just completed, it will premiere on WGBX Jan. 8 and on WGBH Jan. 17. Jeremy shared the news via e-mail last spring, writing: “PLEASE disregard the negative stuff. Got to have some entertainment value.” Hmm.

Despite my parents’ updates, I guess their house was still a midcentury treasure needing major modernizing.

Early on, my father and I ventured over to see the plans. I’ve returned a few times since.

That tiny mudroom porch? Replaced by a bumped-out grand farmer’s porch spanning the entire front — making that front door no longer superfluous. In fact, it’s painful visualizing warm nights and martinis out there next summer — for another family.

And, thanks to the bump-out, the Kievals enter directly from the garage, no fighting the elements like we did. Lucky them.

My bedroom? The now-illegal laundry chute was removed for a hallway into the two-bedroom children’s suite above the garage — complete with bathroom and washer/dryer. A cozy guest room occupies what’s left of my bedroom.

Those mismatched kitchen cabinets and old faux white-brick floor? Thankfully, gone — although, sadly, the door upon which we marked our daughters’ heights in the ’90s lies among the others in a dump somewhere. The new kitchen is nearly double in size, though I, like viewers, must wait for the “This Old House” big reveal to see the final look of what I’ve heard is an amazing “cook’s kitchen.”

Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff

Mindy Pollack-Fusi with general contractor Tom Silva and master carpenter Norm Abram on the new porch.

My mother feels unsettled hearing about the changes and chaos as “her” house is redone — particularly a photo I shared of workmen eating lunch in the preserved but disheveled great room. My sister is excitedly curious. My father is intrigued, yet after learning that “This Old House” host Kevin O’Connor
disparaged his brick grilling fireplace, he expressed surprise at first, then said resignedly, “Things change.”

And me? I feel privileged watching my childhood home transformed — but with mixed emotions. So far, the one thing I find perplexing is swapping our gorgeous marble guest bathroom for a small home office — particularly because the replacement powder room’s avant-garde black wallpaper feels jarring — but perhaps my decorating ideas are as obsolete as an all-marble bathroom.

Knowing this personal viewpoint would be revealed here, I recently asked master carpenter Norm Abram
and general contractor Tom “Mr. Lexington” Silva
for insight into the “negative stuff” Jeremy referenced. I figured my jab deserves a jib-jab.

I found out our house was tired, worn out, old. Gee, after 45 years, so are my parents, my sister, and me. We could use a refurbishing, too.

I also learned it was “underinsulated.” No wonder we were always freezing; maybe it wasn’t just Dad keeping the thermostats so low!

I understand now why we mostly ate Thanksgiving out when I was young and why my parents came to my house in later years: The oven could barely fit a turkey, according to “This Old House.”

And on and on.

Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff

Stars Norm Abram (left) and Tom Silva of “This Old House” showed Mindy Pollack-Fusi around in the kitchen while it was under construction.

But I also learned from Abram that this era of home is still very popular and “well worth the effort: At that time period, they held up well.”

Silva, with his typical humor, explained one reason why laundry chutes probably became illegal: “We used to slide down ours.” Then again, with a second-floor laundry room, he said, “You can carry it now.”

And my parents’ designer wall unit in the great room that witnessed the myriad of special events held before it? “Carefully dismantled in large pieces,” said Silva, and sent to a recycling store. I won’t see the new one until I tune into the show.

With my heart starting to sink, I asked after the 12-foot tall ficus tree in the great room that the Kievals had nurtured even during construction. I found it yellowing by the dumpster. And I looked over toward the trees that grew up in our front yard — now removed for new landscaping that will allow for more light and curb appeal. I’d seen enough. Time to leave.

Mindy Pollack-Fusi

The writer back when the space had its original brown cabinets.

Now we need to wait 15 episodes to see it all completed, but with every new photo, video, or TV ad for “The Lexington Project,” I grin as if I’m the diva, instead of my former house. Still, I suspect it will be like watching home movies with a horror twist: different actors — and suddenly a bunch of guys entering with crowbars and sledgehammers!

Jeremy has soothed what pain lingers, reminding us they had “vision to alter an already great house, rather than tearing it down.” Good point. And they’re thrilled with the results.

Perhaps my husband and I will drive by the house in warm weather and wave to the Kievals as they sit on the farmer’s porch. Or maybe if we’re lucky, we’ll be on the new homeowners’ party list and get to enter through the front door! But one thing I know for sure: Next spring we’ll drop off a hanging impatiens. Time for a new nest.

Fifteen episodes on the Lexington Colonial project will begin airing on WGBX at 8 p.m. on Jan. 8 and on WGBH at 5 p.m. on Jan. 17. The program can also be viewed at

Watch the trailer:“This Old House — The Lexington Colonial House”

Related: My First Home: Saying goodbye to your childhood home (Pollack-Fusi)

Mindy Pollack-Fusi is a Globe correspondent and a college-application essay coach in Bedford. Send comments to

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Top 10: Provo and Payson LDS temples gain momentum

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth part in our 10-part series counting down the top news stories of 2014.

UTAH COUNTY — Between an Angel Moroni and a long-awaited dedication date, new LDS temples in Utah Valley have excited county residents and made headlines in 2014.

This year, the Provo City Center Temple saw considerable progress, with most of its exterior construction completed and stained-glass windows installed. In March, the pinnacle emblem of Mormon templedom was erected: the Angel Moroni.

And as the Payson Temple nears completion, Utah County residents were excited to receive the LDS Church announcement earlier this month that the temple will be dedicated in June.  


The Payson Utah Temple, announced in 2010 with construction beginning in late 2011, will be dedicated June 7, with a cultural celebration held June 6. From April 24–May 23, the temple will be open to the public.

Payson City is also awaiting bids from eight external firms to develop a master plan for the 1,000-acre undeveloped land that surrounds the temple. City officials are hoping the property value in the area will boost, and are planning to zone the area for high-end, executive homes that will also attract more commercial business.

The new temple will serve approximately 22 LDS Church stakes from Spanish Fork to Nephi, comprising approximately 78,000 members of the church. Those members are currently served by temples in Provo and Manti.

Payson Mayor Rick Moore told the Daily Herald he is looking forward to the upcoming dedication of the city’s new temple and the excitement surrounding it.

“I am excited to see it coming,” he said. “It is good to finally have a date. I am looking forward to it.”

It will take plenty of preparation for the city to be ready for the open house and the traffic it is expected to create.

Moore said the city is working with police departments from throughout the state who have recently gone through temple open houses and dedications to prepare Payson for its own dedication.

“We know it is going to be a big challenge, but it will be well worth it,” he said.


The Payson Utah Temple and Provo City Center Temple will be the third and fourth temples in Utah County, which will help alleviate demands on the Provo Utah Temple, which is operating at capacity, and the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple in American Fork.

Construction at the second Provo temple continues, and according to an LDS Church website, the temple now has its drywall up and interior walls are being primed and painted.

The interior of the temple is being designed with a Victorian style that characterized the former Provo Tabernacle, and some say will be similar to the Manti temple.

Andy Kirby, the project manager for the City Center temple, said the interior will feature several rooms, and patrons will experience sessions that progress from room to room.

There are two A rooms that hold 96 seats, one large B room, and the Celestial Room. The temple will handle 100 people starting a new temple session every hour. There are also five sealing rooms used for marriages.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime project,” Kirby said. “It’s a symbol of rebirth. It’s an honor to work on it. Some of the most beautiful parts of the temple will be covered up.

“We have challenges every week. We have problems all the time, and we’ve been inspired as to what to do. This is an icon to pay homage to our pioneers, and to the dedication of the church to rebuild it.”

Provo City Public Information Officer Corey Norman said the city is anticipating the effect of the temple on its downtown area.

“We’re clearly excited about the way the temple is going to affect our downtown commerce and the way people move about downtown,” he said. “We’ve coordinated closely with the church to make this as seamless as possible with downtown visitors increasing in the area.”

Norman said business owners in the Provo downtown area are also excited.

Work continues on the temple site’s outside gazebo and grounds, with gazebo construction keeping the Victorian style of the temple.  

The 5,290-square-foot, two-story pavilion, located approximately midway between 100 and 200 South, will serve as a waiting area for non-temple patrons and a place for wedding parties to take pictures. It will connect to the underground parking via elevator.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expects the Provo City Center Temple to be a busy wedding temple, with all of the photo areas that will be provided.

When it comes to landscaping, both temple patrons and the community will get more than the lush flower gardens, trees and grass that will be planted at the site.

A 17-foot bronze, four-tiered Victorian fountain with ornamental nozzles will grace the grounds near 100 South. The finial at the top is replicated from a stair newel post from the tabernacle’s interior banister that led to the pulpit and stand. Scalloped shingles matching the original 1800s design will be used on the roof. The top of the fence posts will feature beehives.

Public gardens with benches, shrubs, trees and grass will be open 24/7 on the north end of the property, similar to the old tabernacle park.

“This is an urban temple,” said Gary McGinn, Provo’s community development director. “They are going to landscape the heck out of it.”

Local observers will note the great strides construction crews have made during the past few months. The site is beginning to unfold just how much of a showpiece and a welcoming edifice the new temple will be.

Completion is still more than a year out — no date has been set by the LDS Church. It is anticipated the temple will be completed by the end of 2015.

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5 resolutions for your home in 2015

HGTV and DIY Network shows make transforming a house from shabby to chic look as effortless as washing, drying and folding a load of laundry. Thirty minutes, you’re done.

Those of us who live away from TV magic know the truth in real time. Keeping a house in tip-top shape — painted, decorated, energy-efficient, organized and landscaped — is a tedious, never-ending process.

But it’s well worth the time, says Spencer Kamps, of Home Builders Association of Central Arizona.

RELATED: 10 gift-worthy home and garden books to match interests

“Like a car, homes require maintenance. If you don’t change your oil in a car, you will spend a lot more for a new engine. Maintenance is cheaper than repairs. If you don’t maintain your home, it will cost you more in the long run,” he warns.

“A home is a major investment worth protecting.”

Resolve to do just that in 2015. To help, we asked experts for resolutions for your home to make it organized, efficient, well-maintained and appealing.

We share five resolutions for a healthy home in the new year. The cost is reasonable and the rewards are priceless.

Plant edible gardens

Four years ago, Valley chef Aaron Chamberlin replaced the grass and bougainvillea in his yard with sorrel, beats, cauliflower, arugula, lemon grass, carrots, parsnips and more.

He ripped out an oleander hedge and planted 22 lemon trees that he expects will produce nearly 100 pounds of fruit.

Today, his yard in Phoenix’s Coronado historic neighborhood stands as an extreme example of urban gardening, a small but growing movement that calls for turning yards of grass, bushes, trees and flowers into edible gardens.

“Growing what you eat in your yard makes so much sense. It’s a practical use of the yard and a practical way to eat healthy. I eat the vegetables the same day I harvest them. Food does not get any more nutritious than that,” said Chamberlin, owner of St. Francis in central Phoenix and Phoenix Public Market Cafe downtown.

Have neighbors complained about his unconventional landscaping?

“People stop by on a regular basis and they are in awe,” he said. “They get what I’m doing and I hope others follow my lead.”

Like other edible landscapers, Chamberlin began modestly by planting an herb garden outside his kitchen door. He began reading gardening books — to date about 20 — and gradually expanded. He now grows 55 to 65 edible plants in his front and backyards.

If learning to garden from a book seems intimidating, consider taking a class from University of Arizona Cooperative Extension’s Maricopa County Master Gardener Program. Get more information at

Also check out, the website run by Greg Peterson, one of the Valley’s leading proponents of turning spaces around your home into edible gardens. Since 2001, he has used his average-size central Phoenix home as a working farm and classroom. You can download Peterson’s guide to starting your own edible garden, titled “My Ordinary, Extraordinary Yard.”

Along with the nutritional benefits, Chamberlin said edible landscaping helps manage the pressures of running two busy restaurants.

“I am a high-strung, high-stress kind of guy. That’s how I am wired,” he said. “I go out to my garden every morning with my coffee for about 30 minutes, and there’s nothing more calming. It’s a game changer and a great resolution for the new year.”

RELATED: Do a landscape inspection before buying a home

Add personality, shop local

White walls, beige carpet, leather sofa and bland blinds.

Who wants this all-too-familiar sterile look? Fewer and fewer of us every year.

“People are getting the benefit of making their homes more interesting, more personal. In a world of big-box stores, it’s easy for your house to look the same as everyone’s on the street,” said Ryan Durkin, owner of Modern Manor, a Phoenix shop specializing in midcentury furniture, lighting and accessories.

Adding personality to your home does not require a complete makeover. It can be as simple as adding new throw pillows to the sofa, framing childhood artwork, adding glass vases to a bookshelf or replacing generic furniture with vintage pieces.

Other tips include perking up the floor — the fifth wall — with new rugs or swapping out kitchen hardware.

Check thrift stores, garage sales, family attics and local home boutiques for decorative treasures.

“You know when you buy a piece from our store that it’s the only one. You will not be able to order five more, or see the same piece in your neighbor’s house,” Durkin said.

“You can curate your home to make it a reflection of who you are, what you like.”

Here are three local shops to make it easy to add personality to your home:

Urban Southwest: 1016 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix. 602-980-8660,

Found: 7131 W. Ray Road, Chandler. 480-733-6863,

Modern Manor: 716 W. Hazelwood St., Phoenix. 602-509-7709,

Get an energy audit

Energy-efficient homes stay cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter and help save on utility bills.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but the companies that sell electricity offer advice to help homeowners spot the vulnerabilities and fix them. An audit will examine insulation, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning and look for construction issues and hot spots in the house.

Both Salt River Project and Arizona Public Service offer $99 audits.

“Audits really do pay for themselves. They save energy and money by making sure your home is energy-efficient,” said SRP spokeswoman Patty Garcia-Likens.

Visit and for more information on audits and energy-saving tips.


Make a conscious commitment to the principle of simplicity. That means it’s the year to declutter.

The best part of decluttering your home is the cost. It’s nearly free.

Unless you face a major emotional roadblock to letting go of belongings, there’s no need to pay a professional organizer to declutter. Instead, you just need to set a schedule for going room by room to cull possessions.

Avoid trying to tackle the whole house at once. Go slowly. Room by room, drawer by drawer.

Here are a few other tips from the pros:

Ask tough questions. Do you need 20 photos of each child’s birthday party? Is your grandfather’s hunting jacket really a family heirloom?

Employ a three-prong, straightforward criteria: Love it, use it or can’t live without it? Answer questions honestly and making decisions to discard or keep will be easier.

Create three piles labeled toss, keep and recycle. And follow through. Place the toss items in the trash or, to donate, put it in the car immediately.

Take breaks. Work in one- to two-hour increments. Decluttering can be emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting.

– When buying new furniture, think storage. A coffee table with the shelf underneath it or with baskets below makes it easy to hide essential clutter, like books and TV changers.


Painting remains one of the most cost-effective ways to give a room or entire house new life and character.

A quick visit to the local paint store will bring you up to date on current colors and remind you of lifelong favorites. Although there are no set rules, experts recommend selecting a color that’s appropriate for the room’s function.

According to color experts, red increases blood pressure, heartbeat, energy and appetite. Blues and greens inspire tranquility and are good choices for bedrooms and living rooms. Soft yellow is warm and welcoming, but school-bus yellow can be agitating.

If undecided on color, apply paint to a small section of the wall to see how the color looks in the room. Live with the color for a few days before deciding.

Painting can be time-consuming and laborious, so do it right the first time. Wash walls. Spackle any holes. Tape the baseboards with painter’s tape and film. Cover floors and furniture.

Paint the ceiling first, followed by the walls, the trim, cabinets, doors and baseboards.

Don’t go for the cheapest brushes. The fibers tend to fall out.

Reach the reporter or 602-444-4779.

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Stella Ursua works for a greener Long Beach

LONG BEACH For Stella Ursua, an acre or so’s worth of carrots, kale, strawberries, tomatoes and other produce growing in the middle of the city is but an example of her vision for a greener city.

The crops grow at a place called Lincoln Spring Farms, near the crossing of Spring Street and Atlantic Avenue within site of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. The catchphrase for such a place is “urban farming,” and Ursua herself doesn’t run the farm, she said. It’s an example of the kinds of activity her organization, Green Education Inc., seeks to promote.

“When you think about certain parts of Long Beach, we have what are called ‘food deserts,’ ” she said on a Monday morning at the small farm. “You have little corner stores that don’t have anything fresh … you show people this and you show that they can grow things in their own backyards or they can buy from a local farmer.”

Ursua became president of Green Education in 2012 and founded the Green Prize Festival last year. The festival was a fair-like event that included awards for several individuals and organizations honored for their pro-environment credentials. Recipients included Long Beach’s Jeannette Architects, which won the event’s green efficiency/green builder award; Rainbow Juices, which won the small-business award, and the Spring Street Farm Project — a collaboration between Lincoln Spring Farms and Kelli Johnson — won the urban farming/farmer prize.

Current farm director Jesse Frutos said students from public schools and Cal State Long Beach have visited Lincoln Spring Farms.

“I just want them to know how their vegetables are going and how easy it is to grow if you understand the soil texture and how it can be grown without GMOs,” he said, referring to genetically modified organisms.

Urban farming is but one of the environmentally friendly practices Ursua wants to highlight during Green Education’s next Green Prize Festival event. The first Green Prize Festival took place last April at Bixby Park. Ursua said she is currently planning its sequel, although she is working on moving the location to Cesar Chavez Park between downtown and the Los Angeles River to reach a new audience.

In addition to the festival, Green Education has worked with pro-solar nonprofit Grid Alternatives to install solar panels at Long Beach homes, Ursua said. She’s also working to obtain financing for a project she calls Green the Block. If achieved, the project would involve energy retrofits, environmentally friendly landscaping and community gardens for some 24 West Long Beach homes. Ursua estimates the project would require about $1.2 million.

“I believe this could be groundbreaking for Long Beach. This could be a flagship,” she said.

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Care of holiday gift plants

Posted: Friday, December 26, 2014 3:25 pm

Care of holiday gift plants

By Bob Beyfuss
For Columbia-Greene Media


I hope you were lucky enough to receive a pretty plant as a Holiday gift this past week. I gave my daughter an amaryllis bulb as usual this year. They are long lived, potted houseplants for us in NY, but they are hardy outdoors in central Florida. She has quite a collection of them in a shaded location in her backyard.  Remember that all Holiday gift plants are meant to be enjoyed as a prominent part of your décor for as long as they look good. Whether or not they live for many years depends partly upon the plant and partly upon how well you take care of it. Some plants are really not meant to last more than a few days to a few weeks.

For example, any arrangement that contains cut flowers will only last a week or two at most. It is important to make sure that cut flowers remain in clean water to maximize their longevity. Every few days you should remove the flowers and replace the water in the vase with clean, warm water. Let the warm water sit a few minutes in the vase before immersing the stems in it, to allow the oxygen to dissipate. Make a fresh cut on the flower stems about an inch above the base, preferably while the stem is underwater before returning them to the vase. Remove any leaves that might be sitting in the water as you do this. If you put the arrangement in a cool room overnight the flowers will last even longer.

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Friday, December 26, 2014 3:25 pm.

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Gardening Tips: Where does the plant to kiss under at Christmas come from?

Matthew Stevens

Posted: Friday, December 26, 2014 2:17 pm

Gardening Tips: Where does the plant to kiss under at Christmas come from?

By Matthew Stevens

The Daily Herald, Roanoke Rapids, NC


For the last few weeks, I’ve written about Christmas plants. I’ve touched on poinsettias, Christmas cactus and amaryllis. All of these are plants that grow in warmer areas of the world and are brought into our homes in December as decoration. Lots of local plants, such as holly and boxwood, are also often part of our Christmas decorations, in wreaths, arrangements and trimming. What all of these plants have in common is they are considered attractive inside and outside the home, and in the right situations are desirable year round. There is, however, at least one other plant closely associated with Christmas that is considered a weed outside of the Christmas season. This plant is mistletoe.

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Friday, December 26, 2014 2:17 pm.

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This week’s gardening tips: mow rye grass, plant bulbs, move your Christmas …

Mow rye grass regularly at a height of about 1  1/2 inches to keep it looking attractive.

Late December through early January is the time to plant those tulip and hyacinth bulbs that have been chilling in your refrigerator for six to eight weeks. Won’t it be nice to get that space back?

Keep garden beds free from weeds. A 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch will prevent most cool-season weed seeds from sprouting. It’s more effective to keep weeds under control with regular efforts than to try to correct a situation that has gotten out of control due to inattention.

After your holiday cactus plant stops blooming, move it into a sunny window for the rest of the winter. Allow the soil to dry slightly before watering. Keeping the soil constantly wet promotes root rot.

As we move into the coldest part of the winter, don’t forget to keep materials handy to cover tender plants during freezes.

Bare root roses become available in January. These should be planted in January or February while they are still dormant. Plant them into well-prepared, sunny beds with excellent drainage.

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Garden Tips: A grass that cheats gardeners out of native plants

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Richland woman, 91, has her first art exhibition

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