Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for March 17, 2015

5k for local mother, rare disease a success

First place runner, Andrew Ellis, wins a prize for landscaping from the raffle. Photo by Ruth Tess

On Sunday, March 8, Amadita Lopez, a SHS junior enrolled in Running Start, was finally been able to reap what she had sowed. 24 people supported the Silent Bleed Superficial Siderosis (SS) Pajama Fun Run and the 5K raised $534.

As a follow up of the previous Monroe Monitor Valley News article, “Local teen organizes fun run for mother battling rare disease,” published on Feb. 3, I was able to personally attend the SS 5K run for Amadita Lopez’s mother, Renee.

Her mother was diagnosed with a rare disease called Superficial Siderosis and Amadita took the matter into her own hands by organizing a 5K run, with benefits going to help support the SS research. Her family and friends were able to support her by participating in the 5K, buying raffles and selling smoothies.

“This was the first time organizing an event all by myself,” she said.  “It was very successful, and next time, I hope it will keep growing bigger. Without everyone who came out, it wouldn’t have been successful so I’m thankful for people coming out, donating money and putting  ideas out to plan. Especially the people from church, mayor of sultan, and the Eagles club.

“Planning it was very difficult because I was in the orca program, and I had to take advanced science and math as four classes,” she continued. “Planning the 5K and finals were at same time, and I was teaching a class for Sunday school.”

Amadita was still been able to collect donations from her community members.

For more information on Superficial Siderosis, visit To comment on this story, write to 

Article source:

Men’s garden club meets Wednesday

The Greater Bridgeport Men’s Garden Club is meeting Wednesday, March 18, at the Sterling House, 2283 Main Street, Stratford, at 7 p.m.

Members meet on the third Wednesday of each month to discuss various gardening issues, share in plant swaps,  speakers, view DVD’s, share ideas and more.

The club welcomes new and beginner gardeners and anyone with an interest in gardening, plants and landscaping.

For details call Joe 203-339-2701 or Art 203-261-9771

Article source:

Monticello library seeks help designing outdoor space – Times Herald

Posted Mar. 17, 2015 at 10:46 AM

Article source:

Composting 101: how to turn waste into ‘black gold’


The following post is part of’s Blogging a Better Birmingham series, featuring community groups that are working to uplift the city through acts of service. If your group would like to be involved, email Edward Bowser at

It’s a hard truth to swallow, but the U.S. is the No. 1 trash-producing country in the world, producing about 40% of the entire world’s garbage. In fact, on average American families throw out between 15 and 25 percent of the food and beverages they purchase each year. Not only does this add up to wasteful spending, but all this organic waste becomes the number one least recycled material in the U.S.

Composting this waste will significantly reduce the amount of trash that ends up in landfills each year, while also creating super rich soil, ideal for healthy gardens and landscaping. By learning the basics and investing a little time, composting can become an easy part of your daily routine. 

One of the best aspects of compost is that it is cheap, in fact, it’s almost free. All you need is a little bit of effort and the organic waste you’d otherwise be throwing in the garbage. The process involves breaking down organic waste and turning it into a dark, nutrient-rich soil.

Most people create their compost by using a container of some sort, or by forming into a heap. The material begins to decompose because of certain (naturally) occurring bacteria and fungi. Additionally, small creatures, such as earthworms, and millipedes help to move the decomposition process along. It’s important to use approximately equal amounts of “greens” (ie: food scraps, grass clippings, leaves etc…) and “browns” (ie:  straw, dead leaves, small branches etc…).

What is Organic Waste?

Organic waste is anything that was or is still living. This includes:

  • Garden/yard waste: grass clippings, dead leaves, small branches, sawdust, hay, flowers
  • Food waste: vegetables, fruit, coffee, egg shells, tea
  • Other: shredded newspaper, paper, vacuum dust, cardboard

Almost any organic material is suitable for composting. The pile needs a good mix of carbon-rich materials, (or browns), and nitrogen-rich materials, (or greens). Browns primarily come from yard waste such as dried leaves, tree clippings, or wood chips. Greens are grass clippings and kitchen scraps like melon rinds, lettuce, etc.

What Should NOT Go in the Compost?

  • Meat and bones, dairy products (basically anything that will rot or attract rodents)
  • Large branches or logs
  • Diseased plants
  • Magazines or bleached paper
  • Bread, rice, pasta, or cake
  • Weeds

What are the Benefits to Composting?

Aside from helping to drastically reduce garbage issues, compost significantly improves overall soil quality. It loosens clay soil while also improving the water retention of sandy soil. Adding compost to your property generally improves soil fertility and also promotes healthy root development of plants.

Check out 5 Myths About Compost

How do I Start Composting?

1.) First choose the desired location for your compost. Most often this is in the backyard of your home’s property or on a porch or deck of an apartment. There are many different container options from which to choose, including retail compost bins (available at most home and garden stores) or an easy DIY version. This can be made using a large rubber garbage can, preferably one with a lid. Drill anywhere from 30-40 small ventilation holes through the sides and bottom of the bin.

2.) Find a medium-sized container with a lid in which to store your green kitchen scrapes (you probably already have something around the house you can use for this). Remember, if done correctly, you should never have to worry about your compost smelling foul or being unsightly. Begin filling it while preparing dinner tonight!

3.) Add your first layers of browns and then greens to the compost bin and continue to alternate the materials. Keep the compost damp, but not wet, and mix the contents up occasionally with a shovel or simply by tipping the (sealed) container over and rolling it around a few times. Within 3-6 months, your compost should be ready for use.

Article source:

Earth-Kind landscape school will be April 10-12 in Dallas

Attendees will learn landscape design, plant selection, planting and management skills

DALLAS — The Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service will present its Earth-Kind Landscape Design and Management School April 10-12 in Building E of the Texas AM Research and Extension Center, 17360 Coit Road in Dallas, said program coordinators.

Program times will be from 6-9:30 p.m. April 10, from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. April 11 and from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. April 12.

“During this unique educational experience, attendees will learn how to design, plant and manage a landscape that is beautiful and low-maintenance, as well as heat and drought tolerant,” said Dr. Steve George, AgriLife Extension landscape specialist at the center.

Earth-Kind landscapes combine the best of organic and traditional gardening and landscaping principles to create a horticultural system based on real  world effectiveness and environmental responsibility. (Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service photo by Kathleen Phillips)

Earth-Kind landscaping combines the best of organic and traditional gardening and horticulture principles to create  beautiful and environmentally responsible landscapes. (Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service photo by Kathleen Phillips)

George is the lead course instructor and also will conduct all of the post-course landscape design consultations included in the program. He is the creator of the Earth-Kind Environmental Landscape Management System, which “combines the best of traditional horticulture and organic gardening to create stunning, low-maintenance landscapes that provide maximum protection for the environment,” he explained.

“This course will be presented in a very time- and travel-efficient format, and will consist of an in-depth classroom program, outdoor laboratory session and a field trip to tour Earth-Kind plant variety trials,” he said.

An extended, personalized design consultation will be given a few weeks after the program ends, George said.

He said no prior design, plant, or landscape management knowledge is needed, and those attending the school will learn how to:

— Design, plant and manage a beautiful, low-maintenance, environmentally responsible landscape.

— Work with Mother Nature to protect homes and communities.

— Reduce irrigation use in landscape beds by 70 percent, and almost totally eliminate the use of fertilizers and harsh pesticides on the plants, as well as greatly reduce the amount of pruning needed.

“During the field trip portion of the program, we will tour the latest Earth-Kind field trials on herbaceous perennials, landscape roses and crape myrtles,” he said.

Program topics will include basic landscape design principles; destination gardens, landscaping with low-maintenance Earth-Kind roses; selecting the right landscape plants and turfgrass; choosing and working with a retail nursery; and Earth-Kind environmental soil management and irrigation techniques.

George said those attending will receive “a wealth of landscape knowledge and leave with a working plan for landscaping an area of their own choosing.”

The cost is $295 per household and includes all class materials and programming.

“Class size is limited, so you will want to enroll as soon as possible,” George said.

For more information and to get an information sheet for enrollment, contact Kimberly Betancourt at 972-952-9211 or


Print Friendly

Article source:

Masterful Gardening: Landscape for life by bringing nature back to your garden

Because our modern American life style, with a house, a yard and 2.28 vehicles per household, keeps us mostly separate from nature, we tend to forget that humans are entirely a part of and dependent on the natural world.

While we can’t naturalize the built environment, we can bring nature back to our gardens and our yards.

Conventional gardening and lawn care often work against nature. Our native insects can’t live on or eat the exotic plants, trees and bushes we plant. The birds depend on insects for food and are jeopardized when their food source is diminished. Pesticides used in the garden or on the lawn kill insects, or poison the insects that in turn poison the birds and other creatures that eat them. Over-fertilizing results in excess nutrients being washed away to pollute rivers and streams.

Conventional gardening practices can damage the environment’s ability to provide all the natural benefits that support life on earth – including us.

Today gardeners are taught to follow principles (such as integrated pest management) that put concern for the intimate and essential relations between plants and the earth, between plants and other plants, between plants and animals foremost. Sustainable landscaping uses practices that take advantage of natural processes at work around us. Sustainable landscaping is a common sense approach to gardening and lawn care, and following its principles often costs less than conventional gardening methods.

A sustainable landscape starts with the soil. Healthy soil is the foundation for growing plants of all kinds. Soil is so important to life that the UN has declared 2015 the International Year of Soils.

Sustainable gardens and lawns use water as a resource. Rain gardens and other designed plantings provide proper drainage for stormwater and help prevent flooding and pollution.

Plant selection is critical. Choose the right plant for the right place. Plants must be suitable or adapted for the site. A plant in its natural habitat (Pennsylvania is not the natural habitat of a plant from Japan or Brazil) will need less care and cost less to maintain. And by selecting native plants, you can help replace valuable habitat for insects, birds, and butterflies.

With landscaping materials, think: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Respecting and repairing our relationship with nature is the premise for a course called “Landscape For Life” being offered locally by the Penn State Extension, the York County Conservation District and MAEscapes. The course, six 2-hour sessions, starts at 6:30pm on Wednesday, March 18.

Gardening today is more than having flowers in your front yard or a well manicured lawn. By integrating natural processes in what we plant and what we grow, we can all landscape for life.

Article source:

‘Back to Eden’ gives tips on organic gardening, water conservation

Carolyn Rodgers

Carolyn Rodgers

Carolyn Rodgers answers questions during the 30-minute long QA session after the free screening of “Back to Eden.”

Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 4:30 am

‘Back to Eden’ gives tips on organic gardening, water conservation

By Charlene Belew
The Duncan Banner

Well over 50 people filled the Palace Theater for the free screening of “Back to Eden,” a documentary that focuses on organic gardening, water conservation and sustainability throughout the process.

“Back to Eden,” is a 103-minute documentary that speaks about responsible, organic gardening. The film focused on a variety of aspects, from soil, soil preparation, fertilization (both naturally and chemically), proper irrigation, weed control, pest control, crop rotation and pH levels.

The film focuses on a variety of places that have taken the “Back to Eden,” viewpoint in their garden and shows what this style of gardening is compared to that of today’s, which is often times overwhelmed with harsh chemicals and sterile soil.

Gardeners throughout the documentary discussed how viable it is to use compost with a layer of woodchips and mulch on top of it – specifically chips of different sizes. According to those in the documentary, having good soil covered by woodchips increases the livelihood of the soil and, in turn, keeps it from drying out.

The film refers to the soil as “a living organism,” and talks about how “sustainable permaculture” makes it possible to increase the output of gardens while only giving back “the good stuff.”

Those in the film related the soil and plant life back to the human body, saying that air, water and food is essential to surviving.

By adding natural fertilizer, such as a minuscule amount of manure and a healthy amount of mulch, compost and woodchips, larger, more harmful things such as heavy equipment and machinery and chemically based fertilizers that leave soil sterile is eliminated.

The film also discussed how using these practices can eliminate over-use of water.

After the film, Max Galloway, Robbie Bowles, Dana Stanley and Carolyn Rodgers took the floor to answer questions during a 30-minute period.

Rodgers, who is a guru when it comes crapemyrtle care, spoke about reuse water and how when she showers, she saves the soapy water to water her own plants.

“With our water situation, we certainly need to implement things that will help us,” Rodgers said after the movie.

We have sent a confirmation email to {* emailAddressData *}. Please check your email and click on the link to activate your account.

We’ve sent an email with instructions to create a new password. Your existing password has not been changed.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015 4:30 am.

Article source:

Get top tips for gardening

Get top tips for gardening

First published

in News

A TALK entitled ‘Late Winter and Early Spring Colour for your Garden’ will be given tomorrow.

The lecture will be given at Sabden Bowling club in Pendle Street East from 7.30pm to 9pm.

The free event is organised by the Sabden Horticultural Society and the talk will be given by Michelle Unsworth of So Plants Boutique Garden Centre in Longridge.

Article source:

Tips for Starting an Organic Garden

Backyard organic gardening can be easier than you think – if you learn the basics. (Photo by Stephanie Engle)

Backyard organic gardening can be easier than you think – if you learn the basics. (Photo by Stephanie Engle)

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Even though there’s still snow on the ground over much of the country, it’s about time to start thinking about the logistics of planting your garden later this spring.  And while you’re thinking about it, why not consider going natural?

Whether you’re an avid gardener or just starting out, the idea of creating a garden using organic methods can seem overwhelming at first. But organic gardening is less daunting than you may think if you understand some basic principles; it’s about creating a more holistic, natural ecosystem and can be done right in your own backyard.

What distinguishes an organic garden from any other is the absence of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Synthetic chemical pesticides come from petroleum and other chemical sources while most organic pesticides are derived from plant, animal, microorganism, and mineral sources.

According to Mathieu Ngouajio, national program leader for organic agriculture at USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), a successful garden begins with healthy soil texture and structure. Well-draining soil comprised of sand, silt, clay, and compost amendment is ideal. However, most backyards have a ratio that leans heavily to one side. Ideally, soil should have 50 percent pore space and 50 percent solid particles. To achieve this ratio, compost can be worked into the soil. The best garden soils have a loose, crumb-like structure that water, air, and plant roots can easily penetrate.

Soil fertility is the third component of healthy soil. The amount of nutrients in the soil, its texture, organic matter, and pH (the measure of alkaline), can all influence the fertility of soil. Organic gardeners often build the natural fertility by adding organic matter to preserve and improve soil structure and modify the soil’s pH balance.

An issue all gardeners face is unwanted pests. While some gardeners may turn to synthetic pesticides to tackle the issue, Ngouajio said that organic gardeners take a different approach—integrated pest management (IPM)—which combines biological, cultural, physical, and chemical strategies to control pests. IPM involves using the least environmentally harmful methods first and only using toxic methods as a last resort. IPM methods include using pest and disease resistant varieties of crops, rotating crops each year, cleaning tools, covering plants, and introducing predator organisms.

Weeds are another nuisance for gardeners. Natural remedies for eradicating weeds include pulling them out, smothering them with mulch, introducing plants that grow faster and stronger than weeds, and burning them using a weed flamer.

Learning the basics and working from the ground up—creating a healthy base, free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides—is the first step in creating a sustainable organic home garden. For more information on organic gardening visit the USDA Organic Agriculture website.

Article source:

Elmhurst Garden Club Designs Window Box for Chicago Flower and Garden Show

For the second consecutive year, Elmhurst Garden Club entered the Window Box Competition of the Chicago Flower and Garden Show at Navy Pier- March 14-22. Fourteen Chicago area garden clubs affiliated with Garden Clubs of Illinois entered the competition. This year’s theme is “Do Green, Do Good.”

The challenge was to transform a standard 36″ window box into a garden that incorporated color, design, texture, height and fragrance. The show focuses on sustainability and the ways gardening benefits us all. The design team decided that Kermit, TM Kermit the Frog copyright and trademark of The Muppets Studio, would be the perfect representative for being and doing green. Members revised the lyrics to It’s Not Easy Being Green to accommodate the theme. Recycled containers were used as planters.
“This is an excellent and novel venue to showcase the talents of our members,” said Georgia Dolan, Elmhurst Garden Club president. Marsha Pniewski served as team leader and designer of the themed window box. Members Bev Schripsema, Linda McDonald and Jan Foster helped implement the design.
Garden Clubs of Illinois ( has a booth at the Chicago Garden and Flower Show and is available to answer your gardening questions, purchase praying mantises from them for your garden, and match you to a garden club in your area. GCI offers four study schools (Gardening, Landscape Design, Flower Show School, and Environmental Studies) for its members.
Elmhurst Garden Club, with more than 100 members, is open to anyone interested in gardening. Annual dues are $35. Most meetings are held at Wilder Mansion on the first Monday of the month. Each month a program on some facet of gardening, floral design, ecology and conservation are presented. For more information about Elmhurst Garden Club, visit their website:

This item was posted by a community contributor. To read more about community contributors, click here.

Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune

Article source: