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Archives for March 8, 2015

A day for dreaming at Outdoor Living & Landscape Show

Judy Riffle’s eyes grew wide as she studied the gleaming monster of a barbecue system.

“We wouldn’t have to cook,” she turned and told her friend Connie Thomas. “Our husbands could do it all.”

It was a day for dreaming at the Outdoor Living Landscape Show at Century II. Folks of all ages converged on Expo Hall to get a good look at flowers, hot tubs, barbecue equipment and decorative rocks, just to name a few of the products on display.

The show continues Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“I just came down to get a touch of spring,” Yvonne Drake of Junction City said as she browsed flowers and landscaping options at the show. “It’s beautiful.”

If the landscaping and flowers on display at Century II didn’t give folks a case of spring fever, Wichita’s weather this weekend will. Sunny skies and highs in the 60s were like magnets to draw people outside.

Roger Bowles gazed longingly at a landscaping layout that featured decorative stone pathways leading past tall trees.

“I want to get some ideas,” said Bowles, who lives in northwest Wichita.

“Let’s go back and walk through” the display “like they have,” his companion, Melodee Schaefer, said of another couple nearby.

Bowles has a pool in his backyard and wants to make some changes to the view.

“I’d like to have those trees all transplanted” to his yard, he said. “After you leave your yard the way it is for three or four years, you’ve got to change it.”

Jim Weber was taking a close look at patios on display at the show.

“I need to build one,” he said. “That’s why I’m out here.”

Riffle moved to Wichita from New Mexico last summer.

“I missed spring altogether,” she said. “I’m excited about it. I already want to work in the yard.”

After years in the New Mexico desert, Riffle is eager to learn all she can for her first flower and vegetable garden.

“I want to get to do all that,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

If you go

Outdoor Living Landscaping Show

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: Century II Expo Hall, 225 W. Douglas

How much: Tickets are $9, $7 for seniors, $4 for ages 5 to 12, free for children 4 and under, at, 316-219-4849 and at the door.


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Home and Garden show continues – messenger

All matters of, well, home and garden were covered at the Home and Garden Show Saturday at the Owensboro Convention Center.

Folks who attended saw designs for kitchens and bathrooms, for indoor and outdoor spaces and the latest in lighting, appliances and landscaping.

There were Realtors, lawn care services, flooring and insulation providers and more lined up throughout the convention center.

The Home Builders Association of Owensboro hosts the annual show which continues from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the convention center, 501 W. Second St.

Richard Stallings, executive officer of the HBAO said they usually see upward of 5,000 people over the course of the show.

While the week’s winter weather posed a challenge in setting up, they were able to “get ahead of it,” he said.

“The biggest challenge was getting set up with the conditions that we had,” Stallings said. “Yesterday (Friday) was affected by the weather, but I don’t anticipate that for the weekend, with the pretty weather outside and it’s clear. We expect our traffic to be good like it has been. We’ve been steady since we opened at 10.”

Larry and Diana Wheatley of Owensboro were out browsing and getting information from exhibitors.

They’ve been to previous home and garden shows but come back for “new ideas, fresh perspective on things,” Larry Wheatley said.

“It does give us ideas,” Diana Wheatley said. “Like the landscaping places, it gives us ideas for our yard and what possibilities we have for the backyard.”

As small-business owners, the show also gives them the opportunity to network with other businesses, Larry Wheatley said.

Jackie Morton and Joshua Roudebush made the trip from Evansville for the show.

They’re building a house “and we just thought we’d check out some of the latest and greatest stuff that’s available as far as building goes,” Morton said.

Having resources in one location is helpful, she said.

“You can walk around and talk to various people and get advice on various things all in one day,” Morton said. “You don’t have to make multiple trips.”

Nancy and Myron McLain of Owensboro had planned to come anyway, “but we’ve been shut in for several days, and we finally got our drive cleared enough and the alley was passable,” Nancy McLain said.

“We live in an old house, and we do sort of an ongoing remodeling and repair,” said Myron McLain. “So you kind of look and see what’s available and for ideas of what you could do. We try to go most every year that it’s here if we can. It’s just interesting to see materials and concepts and new products.”

Stephanie Salmons


Twitter: @StephReports

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Home Help: Low-maintenance landscaping ideas

Posted Mar. 6, 2015 at 9:33 PM

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Garden plots in Maine cultivate sense of community

Fresh and local. Two words that have defined the farm-to-table movement have permeated communities, as residents and home-gardening enthusiasts turn urban rooftops, vacant lots and public land into growing spaces. In recent years, the Pine Tree State has led the charge for community gardens that serve individuals without space to grow and organizations such as food pantries that struggle to provide fresh food to needy families. “I think a lot of folks are realizing they don’t have the resources they need in their backyard. … Lead is a problem with a lot of urban sites, and well-developed trees — though a good thing — can make it challenging to impossible” said Kate Garland, a horticulturist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Penobscot County.

Growing community

Traditionally, a community garden is a piece of public land divided into plots cultivated by people who want to use the space to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. Many times, they are on abandoned lots and create a sense of partnership among gardeners working different plots within the space. “They create great learning environments for new gardeners or people who haven’t done gardening before,” Dan Muth, co-coordinator of the Bangor Community Garden, said. “Usually in that environment, everyone is willing to help.” Some gardens have a defined organizational system with a steering committee or board of directors. Others, including the Bangor garden, partner with large organizations such as Cultivating Community, a nonprofit that manages the community gardens for the City of Portland. Similar to the differences in supervisory structure, funding for gardens differs throughout the state. In Bangor, the garden’s budget exclusively comes from membership fees. In exchange for the fees, gardeners are assigned a plot to garden in — or two, if they wish. The fees are used to pay for hoses, the garden’s water bill and maintenance of common areas. Members of Bangor’s Community Garden also are required to help maintain the overall space. However, in Portland, city officials determine the funding needed each year to maintain the city’s 350-plus community plots.

For the common good

The number and location of the hundreds of gardens throughout Maine is difficult to track, Garland said. However, she said she’s confident the number has increased in recent years. Interest is so high in some places that there is more demand than space allows. For example, in Portland, more than 150 people have been waiting for several years to get one of the 350-plus community garden plots, according to Laura Mailander, urban agricultural specialist for Cultivating Community. “People are so committed to local food in Maine, and I do think we lead the country in having that ethic of wanting to know where our food comes from,” she said. Garland echoed that sentiment, saying many Mainers, especially those in Portland, where the soil contains high amounts of lead, are unable to have successful backyard gardens and turn to alternatives such as community gardens. “I think it’s due to the interest in locally sourced food but also knowing where your food comes from, and a lot of folks are realizing they don’t have the resources they need in their backyard,” Garland said. Many are enthusiastic about using their local gardens for the common good. In Yarmouth, the community garden has distributed more than 25,000 pounds of food to people in need. In Bangor, along with paying a $25 fee, community gardeners also must commit to working a few hours a season on the community plot that supports Maine Harvest for Hunger.

Looking to grow

This year’s community growing season promises to be robust, as many existing gardens look to expand. Now in it’s fifth year, the Bangor garden has plans to expand again this year. It has added nearly 50 additional beds per year since its inception five years ago. Plans also are in the works for a new garden in Portland and the city’s first rooftop space, which will include a greenhouse and several raised beds. “We’re not meeting the demand, but we’re hoping to get there soon,” Mailander said. “We’re really committed to adding a community garden every year.” But community gardens in Maine also are going beyond the typical fenced-in vacant lot turned mini farm. Bangor offers residents the chance to create edible landscaping throughout the city’s downtown area. Last summer and fall, chard could be seen growing among flowers in Norumbega Parkway and tomatoes were planted on Main Street. While Garland said there isn’t a map of all the gardens statewide, it is in the works. Information to be included in the database would relate to where community gardens and food pantries are located. “There’s a significant amount of food mapping work being done, and community gardens are going to be part of that collective data,” she said. However, it is a daunting task because of the nature of gardens. “Community gardens can be very small, grass-roots projects or they can be loosely organized, so it’s hard to track all of that,” Garland said. Eventually, however, she said she hopes the map will be as comprehensive as possible and allow people to add their own information. “A community garden is anywhere folks are gardening together,” Garland said. “We’d want to include anywhere people are building community and place.”

Starting a community garden

Anyone with a yearning to create unused space into a community garden can do so with a little planning and determination. The UMaine extension program offers the following tips for organizing a community garden: 1. Organize a meeting of interested people and determine what type of garden is needed or wanted. Consider whether to include individual or group plots. 2. Form a planning committee of people who want to devote time to organizing tasks, such as finding and obtaining land, writing guidelines, finding sponsors and communicating with participants. 3. Find a sponsor that can help the garden with expensive items, such as irrigation or fencing. Consider recreation departments, civic groups and churches. 4. Choose a site that will have a minimum of eight hours of sun per day during the growing season. Make sure the site also has ample parking space, access to water and offers good drainage. 5. Prepare the site working to till, adjust soil as need and lay out plots and paths. 6. Consider creating a space just for children, which can help promote family time and encourage the development of lifelong gardeners. 7. Determine the garden’s rules and put them in writing. Talk about things like fees and how the money will used, who will maintain common areas and whether pets will be allowed. 8. Work together to create a community, and make sure whoever the coordinator is has contact information for all participants. Find a way to exchange messages and post updates or notices.

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Garden Q&A: Greens add beauty, variety – Tribune

Question: I’d like to grow some unusual greens in my garden this year. I always grow lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard and arugula, but I’d like to try a few new varieties. Do you have any favorites?

Answer: Greens are among my favorite garden crops. Because many varieties are fast-maturing and prefer the cooler temperatures of spring, they are among the very first harvests of the year. For many of these plants, it only takes a month or two to go from seed to salad when the weather cooperates.

Here in Western Pennsylvania, I plant seeds of many types of unusual greens as early as mid to late March, and I continue planting until the weather warms in late June. Then I sow more greens in the late summer for fall harvests. Hot weather is bad news for most greens because it either makes them bolt (go to flower) or turn bitter, though there are some greens that prefer warm weather (including Malabar spinach, orach and New Zealand spinach).

To sow the seeds of the unique greens I list below, plant them directly into the garden according to the depth and spacing outlined on the seed packet for each variety. I often plant in blocks or patches, rather than in rows. This creates a beautiful patchwork of colors and textures in the garden. Cover the newly planted seeds with a light covering of loosened garden soil, and keep the soil moist until germination.

Greens are most productive when planted in rich soil that’s been amended with organic matter such as aged animal manure, compost or leaf mold. Select a sunny location for best production, and maintain an average soil pH between 6.5 and 7.0.

Most greens perform best when regularly harvested. Simply use a sharp pair of shears to snip off the foliage. Entire plants can be harvested, or you can harvest only a few leaves as needed in the kitchen.

• Corn Salad/Mache: It’s possible to grow mache year-round in Western Pennsylvania with the simple protection of a cold frame or cloche. Ready to harvest in a mere 40-50 days from seed, mache is perfect for both spring and fall plantings. The crunchy, mild-flavored leaves are succulent and dark green. I love to eat mache raw in salads or lightly braised or steamed.

• Claytonia/Miner’s Lettuce: A plant with many merits, Miner’s lettuce is among the first harvests of the season. The heart-shaped leaves of claytonia are extremely cold tolerant and will grow year-round under cloches or row covers. Though Miner’s lettuce prefers moist to wet soil, it does quite well in most gardens and is ready to harvest a little over 40 days after planting.

• Garden Cress: This green is ready to harvest in as little as two weeks. Also known as peppergrass, it adds a spicy flavor to salads and sandwiches. The plants are very quick to mature. But once they come into flower, the flavor turns quite bitter, so their shoots must be harvested quickly and frequently.

• Mibuna: The time from seed to harvest for mibuna is a speedy 30 days. This Asian green grows to about a foot in height. Mibuna has long, narrow leaves with a flavor that is mildly mustardy. You can harvest a handful of leaves every few days to enable each plant to produce several harvests. Mibuna can be eaten fresh in salads or used in stir-fries.

Seeds of these, and many other greens, can be purchased at local garden centers and from online/catalog sources such as High Mowing Seeds (, Territorial Seeds ( and Johnny’s Selected Seeds (

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners� at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. Her website is

Send your gardening or landscaping questions to or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

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City of Columbia offering gardening tips, demonstrations

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Lexington County’s River Bluff and Swansea high schools a lesson in disparity and complexity

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‘Renegade Gardener’ to bring tips – Pittsburgh Post

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“Design is design, gardening is gardening, dumb is dumb, and truth conquers all!”

That’s the motto of Don Engebretson, the “Renegade Gardener,” who brings his simple approach to gardening back to this year’s home show.

The Minnesota resident has appeared on HGTV’s “TIPical MaryEllen” and PBS’s “Hometime.” He’s also the author of five gardening books and is a member of the Garden Writers Association of America. He has been published in Better Homes and Gardens, Midwest Living, Landscape Solutions, Garden, Deck Landscape and The Seattle Times.

Spring through fall, Mr. Engebretson ( operates a landscape design and installation company specializing in residential landscape renovation and custom stonework.

He will appear in the first-floor Garden Pavilion at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; noon, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and noon and 3 p.m. Sundays.

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HGTV star Nicole Curtis shares tips at Fresno Home & Garden Show – KFSN

Spring is nearly here and that has local homeowners ready to design and decorate their indoor and outdoor spaces. Hundreds of people got some great ideas at this year’s annual Fresno Home and Garden Show. There are more than 450 booths there — from food to landscaping.

Saturday’s big highlight was HGTV star Nicole Curtis. A huge crowd came out to see the “Rehab Addict” host. The self-taught home rehabber and designer shared tips with the crowd and even invited all of the kids on the stage for a few questions. Curtis says she enjoys transforming a home.

“It’s always a good feeling to know that whatever we’re doing is preserving history, and the houses that I take care of, if I didn’t step in, they would end up in a landfill,” said Curtis.

The show continues on Sunday. Tickets for adults are $9.

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Pretty in pink: Alan Titchmarsh’s tips on growing camellias

The plants are about five years old, five or six feet tall and three feet across, and each summer I watch as the fat buds develop.

It is vital, especially in July and August, that the compost in the containers is not allowed to dry out. If it does, the fat buds which look so promising through the winter are likely to drop off just before they open.

I’ve rigged up water butts between the camellias so it is only a short walk with a watering can to soak each of them.

Right now they are a picture with their flowers of crimson, pink, white and deep red. 

I love the white and candy-striped Camellia ‘Lavinia Maggi’, the soft pink and perfectly formed Camellia ‘Ave Maria’, the pink and rosette-like Camellia ‘EG Waterhouse’ and that old favourite, the rich pink ‘Donation’.

So go to a garden centre now and choose a plant in flower that appeals to you. Plant it in dappled shade away from harsh, early-morning sun, which can damage the blossoms if there’s a frost.

Other than that they are remarkably easy to please. I love ’em! 

Don’t miss Alan’s gardening column in today’s Daily Express. For more information on his range of gardening products, visit

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