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Archives for December 17, 2015

Wichita health coalition: Eat locally produced food

The group that put bike lanes through the streets of Wichita has turned its attention to food.

The Health Wellness Coalition of Wichita wants to encourage people to eat food produced locally, particularly fruits and vegetables.

It also wants to increase the amount of produce grown locally.

Rebecca McMahon, an extension agent for horticulture at the Kansas State University Research and Extension, took an inventory of food found at grocery stores, farmers markets and home, community and school gardens in Sedgwick County.

“The accessibility, I think, is the biggest factor here locally,” she said. “Consumers perceive that local fruits and vegetables are not widely available.”

Consumers perceive that local fruits and vegetables are not widely available.

Rebecca McMahon, a researcher for Kansas State University Research and Extension

Overall, the study found the county could grow enough produce to feed all its residents and not just the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed right now, but at the serving rate residents are supposed to consume.

Right now, about 2 percent of vegetables and a tenth-of-a-percent of fruit consumed in Sedgwick County come from within the county.

Even though many fruits and vegetables can’t grow in Kansas, if just 5 percent was local, it would keep about $54.6 million within the county each year, according to the study.

$54.6 million Could stay in the locally if 5 percent of Sedgwick County’s food came from within the county

The Health Wellness Coalition of Wichita asked people who work in public health-related fields to develop next steps.

Those who gave feedback thought the most important step would be for the coalition to investigate existing laws and policies that hinder local fruit and vegetable production. Those include neighborhood association policies on landscaping, city ordinances about community gardening and regulations governing federal subsidies for commercial farmers.

McMahon said commercial farmers rarely switch to fruit and vegetable production. If anything, existing farmers sometimes devote one acre to produce.

Instead, she said, locally-grown produce usually comes from new farmers with small acreages.

The most limiting factor to growing produce, according to the report, is water.

But the report says the county could produce more locally than just fruits and vegetables.

We export beef, grains and soybeans from the state, which far and away meet the needs of local consumption. But we don’t produce enough pork, lamb, oats, turkey, dairy products, chicken or eggs to feed ourselves.

Other study highlights

The study also found that:

▪ Sedgwick County residents spend a little more than $1 billion on food annually.

▪ Less than 1 percent of the land in Sedgwick County is used for fruit and vegetable crops.

▪ Three quarters of the land in Sedgwick County could be used as farmland.

▪ Sedgwick County has enough cropland to grow 98 percent of the fruits and vegetables residents are supposed to consume based on nutritional guidelines.

Sedgwick County has enough cropland to grow 98 percent of the fruits and vegetables residents are supposed to consume based on nutritional guidelines.

“When you have more access to those locally produced fruits and vegetables you actually consume more,” McMahon said.

▪ Sedgwick County has 10 farmers markets with local food.

And while farmers markets are a local strength, McMahon said the demand for more farmers markets outweighs the supply of local vendors who sell food at each market.

▪ Food banks and emergency food assistance have strong support from local growers with 50,000 pounds of produce donated annually.

▪ Grocery stores have some local fruits and vegetables, but with an inconsistent supply and a small share compared to out-of-state food.

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Bothell landscaper a composting guru

Not one to turn down a chance to talk about microbial compost and mulching, Ladd Smith, a landscaper with a sense of humor, will be the first speaker in the master gardener speaker series.

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Gardeners worry new boulevard rules will go too far

City councilors want to give people more flexibility when landscaping their boulevards, but a handful of gardeners and other interested parties are worried that retooling the city’s boulevard ordinance could put the kibosh on existing gardens and landscaping.

The Sioux Falls City Council’s Land Use Committee got started Tuesday on updating a longstanding rule that only grass and trees be planted in public right-of-ways. The committee gave the public a chance to weigh in on what a new boulevard ordinance should look like.

Hundreds of Sioux Falls residents are in violation of the rule, something the city is aware of but has chosen not to address in recent years. Once a new ordinance is adopted, that’s likely going to change.

“At the end of the day, whatever we come up with it will be enforced,” said Theresa Stehly, a critic of the city’s existing boulevard rules. “And when people are given notices that they have to rip things out, they will not be happy. This is the worst-case scenario, but I’ve watched stranger things evolve out of council action, and after you’re voting on this it’s too late.”

Committee chairman Rick Kiley said while the intention is to explore options for boulevard landscaping in addition to grass and trees, maintaining the functionality of the right-of-way and a level of safety that drivers, bicyclists and pedestrian traffic expects will be a priority. That might mean designating safety zones near intersections and driveways and placing a height restriction on what can be placed in the right-of-way.

Sioux Falls Planning Director Mike Cooper agreed that any changes to the rules will end an era of no-enforcement of the boulevard rules. And no matter what the new ordinance looks like, some existing boulevard landscaping throughout town likely will remain outside of what’s allowed, he said.

“The enforcement action, I think that’s going to be important going forward because, whatever we end up with, there are going to be people that are still going to be out of compliance,” Cooper said. “So how do we deal with those in terms of moving that forward.”

How much detail to put in the new ordinance could have a lot to do with how flexible it is. Cooper said stipulating what isn’t allowed in the boulevard rather than listing what is will be the simplest way to navigate toward an ordinance that invites boulevard beautification.

“If we take the approach of just saying what’s not allowed, that’ll be a shorter list,” he said.

Greg Neitzert, a candidate for the council’s northwest district, attended the meeting and agreed keeping the new rules concise will help bring more boulevard gardeners in line with the ordinance. The more descriptive and detailed it is, the more people will be negatively affected by the changes, he said.

“The more stringent you make it, the more people you will put into no-compliance … essentially making them criminals,” Neitzert said.

More public comment is scheduled to be heard at the committee’s January meeting, at which time city staff members are expected to present a list of potential recommendations that appease safety and functionality concerns.

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Gardening: Tips on Xmas cactus, hellebores and more


I have had this Christmas plant for many years, and it used to flower in December. For the past two years it has stopped flowering. I gave it plant food but still no flowers. I had it in the basement all year round facing south. How can I get it to flower again.

Florence, Vancouver


Your plant sounds like a Christmas cactus. It probably stopped flowering because of heat and blistering sun from the two years of long summer droughts we’ve had. In hot summers, they need to stand in a shadier spot.

Christmas cactus like warm but not hot places. They don’t object to occasional bright light, but long spells of strong sunshine make them sick.

Though the Christmas cactus is from South America, it’s not a true cactus. It’s a rainforest plant (epiphyte) used to growing on trees and rocks in humid air and partial shade. Their food comes from debris falling from trees, and their liquid comes from rain and mist on the foliage.

Regular fertilizer is OK, but they don’t need much; every couple of months in the growing season is enough. Christmas cactus roots are mainly hold-fasts, so foliar fertilizer diluted and sprayed on the leaves also works well.

They mustn’t sit in liquid or their roots could rot. So it’s best to wait till they’ve dried out for a few days, then water.



I need to move a hellebore. When is the best time to move it? Should I wait till spring?

Pat, Langley


The best time to move hellebores is right after the flowers die back. That’s usually in the spring. But that’s only good if we have normal rainfall in the spring. If next year’s summer drought starts early, will you be able to keep it watered often?

Hellebores hate being moved and take a very long time to recover. As I recall, Pat, you have sandy, gravelly soil that’s normally fast-draining unless you load it up with manure or compost.

If your hellebore is a Hellebore orientalis, these are the most drought-tolerant of any of them. But it may still need to be watered two or three times a week for several months after being moved. Grey water is fine for hellebores.

Adding some manure or compost to the hole would help both for nutrition and water retention. Bonemeal would also be useful.



I have a houseplant, which is supposed to be a split-leaf philodendron. It has lots of new leaves but only three have split. My last philodendron had masses of leaves that split. How can I nudge this one into action?

Lesley Morris, South Delta


Split leaf philodendrons don’t usually split much until they’re mature.

But also the right light level is important. If the light is too dim, they may not split. But direct, hot sun burns the leaves. The ideal window would have bright light, but your philodendron should not feel the sun on itself.

If all you have is south or west windows, you could position your philodendron farther into the room away from the window. The alternative may be choosing the least dim window you have and waiting for it to mature.


© 2015 Burnaby Now

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Deryn Thorpes tips for sprucing up the garden for Christmas – The West Australian

Deryn Thorpe’s new angel statue, positioned under an Indian cedar tree. Picture: Gerald Moscarda

Our garden is the backdrop to holiday entertaining — so I’ve been stocking up the herb garden and adding new plants to make it even more enticing.

Summer in my garden means basil and tomatoes, and I’ve planted an assortment of coloured cherry tomatoes to fruit in time for Christmas parties.

Gardens should feed both the soul and the tummy so I’m always looking for ways to make the garden more beautiful.

I’ve given the gardenias a good dose of liquid fertiliser to encourage healthy blooms, as I sit these in teacups and use them and variegated ivy to decorate the Christmas dining table.

The gardenias were infested with scale earlier this year — it’s hard to control as the ants spread it around the garden — but consistent sprays of white oil beneath the foliage (where the scale hide) has sorted that problem.

I’ve also been casting a critical eye over the garden’s decorative elements and gradually replacing terracotta pots with black terrazzo. The use of one style or colour of pots creates a cohesive design.

The bigger pots have dwarf fruit trees but I’ve added two smaller ones to the front steps and planted them with Wendy’s Wish salvia.

While buying the salvia at a garden centre I was captivated by a statue of an angel. It came home with me and is making a serene statement under my Indian cedar tree. I like the way its saintly white form stands out against the trunk, reminding me of Christmas for many years to come.

Deryn Thorpe visits homes for garden consultancy. Phone 0405 473 960, email or visit

The West Australian

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Chase Ezell December 17, 2015 No Comments

We cover gardening tips frequently.  Gardening is a great way to get reconnected with nature and reduce waste.  And, there is nothing better than the sweet smell of an aromatic garden in bloom.  No matter what shade of green thumb you have, the folks at Fix have been gracious enough to share this gardening tips infographic with us – Healing Scents: How to Plant an Aromatic Garden.

Not only does it include information about the healing power of various garden staples themselves but it also includes DIY instructions and recipes for personal care healing.  Without further ado, consider yourself healed – naturally.

Source: Feature image courtesy of Daily Suze

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Garden tips: Keeping the colorful holiday spirit alive

If you have children or pets in your home, it may be a good idea to opt for artificial mistletoe rather than the real thing, which is poisonous.

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‘Art of Gardening’ shares the beauty, bounty of Chanticleer public garden

Pay no attention to those gray skies and crumpled brown leaves.

On the pages of “The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques From Chanticleer” (Timber Press), candy-colored tulips soar above soft yellow clouds of euphorbia, lime-green succulents bask in the summer sun, and grasses glow red and gold in the fading light of a perfect fall day.

Chanticleer, an innovative 22-year-old public garden in Wayne, Pa., has a reputation that outstrips its age and acreage. (It originally was the early-20th-century country estate of Philadelphian Adolf Rosengarten Sr. and his wife, Christine.) It’s one of 25 gardens featured in Tim Richardson’s “Great Gardens of America,” and earlier this year, the North American Garden Tourism Conference named it one of the “Top 10 North American Gardens Worth Traveling For.”

The book provides a great escape for a winter’s day: In addition to the beautiful color photos and history of the gardens, it also offers insights from the gardeners who design – and redesign – the series of interlocking gardens that make up the 35-acre whole.

We talked to co-author Bill Thomas, Chanticleer’s executive director and head gardener, about the garden behind the book. Following is an edited transcript.

Q: What is Chanticleer? How would you define it?

A: Chanticleer is a former private estate that’s open to the public. It’s a contemporary garden in an historic setting where we evolve every year and we’re working hard to make one of the prettiest and most exciting gardens in the world.

Q: Maybe I see too many British gardening books, but Chanticleer strikes me as unusual in that it doesn’t try to look aristocratic.

A: I would say, then, we’re meeting our goal. One of the purposes of the garden is to be educational, and we do find that many of our guests relate to it well. I think of it as often just being the size and the scale where people can go, “Oh! I could do this at home.” Or, “I could do a corner of this at home.” But also the feeling is, we’re not trying to impress people with, “Oh, we have money” or “It’s a fancy place.” We’re doing really the sort of gardening that … we would all do at home if we just had more staff.

Q: You have seven gardeners?

A: We have seven gardeners, and each one of them is in charge of an area – designing, planting and maintaining his or her area.

Q: Tell me about two garden areas that are really different.

A: The Chanticleer terraces are on the south side of the mansion that was built in 1912, 1913. There are terraces, limestone balustrades – of all the areas of Chanticleer, that looks like a wealthy person’s home or garden. We use a lot of tropicals in the summer months; we have lots of very lush, flowing containers.

The pond area is also a sunny spot; I think of it as a cross between a meadow and a perennial border. It’s more controlled than a meadow would, be but it’s way more exuberant and wild than a usual perennial garden would be.

Both areas are very colorful, both are fun to walk through, but one seems wild, one seems very controlled.

Q: I’m really intrigued by the Ruin Garden, with the stone structure built to look like the remains of an old house. I can’t decide if it’s emblematic of Chanticleer or a radical departure. You took down one of the original houses to build it?

A: Yes, in fact our founder’s home. It was Adolph Rosengarten Jr.’s home. I’m the second director. Chris Wood was the first. Chris established, I guess you could say, almost a tradition of Chanticleer being bold. That also derived from the board; the board established a policy early on that they would not get involved in the day-to-day design decisions; they would leave that up to the staff. Chris took that and ran with it. Chris loves some controversy, and Chris feels a garden should be controversial because, by being controversial, you get people to think.

Q: So he got rid of Adolph’s house?

A: Chris saw this house, which was a pretty house, in the middle of a garden that already had two large houses. Adolph’s house was not easily accessible by car. It wasn’t a great house to live in, because it was right in the middle of the garden. So (Chris) made the very bold move of making the (site of the) house part of the garden, following in a European tradition of having ruins in the garden – romantic structures, or follies. So I think it does fit. The Ruin was built to make it look like the house had fallen into disrepair, so it harks back to the history of the property but at the same time gave us something brand new, and it gave us a garden element.

Q: Is that your feeling, too – that gardens should be controversial?

A: I’m less likely to incite controversy, although at the same time, I want people to get thinking. We’ve been open to the public 22 years now, and we’ve done 44 designs (in the Teacup Garden alone). In your own garden, you’re probably not going to be changing that much, but it shows you there isn’t just one way to develop your own private garden. You can do it how you want, and there doesn’t have to be someone looking over your shoulder. You just really have to please yourself.

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Do It Now: In the garden, Dec. 19-26

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Kick Start showing progress – Heber Springs Sun

Posted Dec. 15, 2015 at 11:56 AM

Heber Springs, Arkansas

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