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Archives for February 20, 2016

Two existing businesses moving to Jasper Square

Buildings in on the Square in downtown Jasper don’t stay empty long.

With Libby’s Gourmet Ice Cream making their big move to the corner location along 6th Street, a spot opened up on the northwest corner. But, as of Friday, that spot has already been spoken for by Shelly’s Unique Boutique.

According to owner Shelly Seger, she has wanted to move to the Square for awhile. She opened her business specializing in upcycled fashion about three and a half years ago at 706 Main Street. Here is a story about her business.

Shelly Seger owns Shelly’s Unique Boutique.

The expansive business in its current location is stock full of consignment clothing in name brands as well as brand new jewelry and accessory items.

Shelly said she was concerned that the location on the square might be too small for her business. Ater touring the space, she decided there was plenty of room for her businesses upcoming changes.

According to Shelly, the new space will be roughly half the size of her current location, but she plans to refine her lines exclusively to those name brands that other local stores don’t offer.

“We will be smaller but better,” she said about the changes.

Moving sale signs went up on her current location today and she plans on beginning some renovations at the new location next week. She hopes to open there in late March or early April.

Ken Hurst and Lisa Lamont operate Made With Grace.

In another move, the father-daughter team at Made With Grace will be moving from their Clay Street location to the store next to the Astra Theatre at 519 Main St. with formerly housed the Bridal Boutique.

According to co-owner Lisa Lamont, she and her dad Kenny Hurst began renovations on the location in January as soon as it became available when the owner of the Bridal Boutique retired.

Made With Grace opened in November of 2014 at 407 Clay Street. They specialize in personalizing items through embroidery, etching and heat transfer. They also offer custom fruit bouquets. Here is a story about their business. 

Since opening, the business has continued to grow and expand its services.

Besides the extra foot traffic the location will garner, the business needs the extra space offered by the building. “It is a little over double the size of what we have now,” Lisa said. “It is mainly for the foot traffic. We can’t wait to be up there with all the other businesses.”

Lisa added that the move will more than double the workspace where she and her dad design and create many of their items as well as double the kitchen space for the hugely popular fruit bouquets (they are great by the way).

According to Lisa, with the move to the Square, the business is going to offer some new items. “But we aren’t going to reveal what that will be until we open,” she said.

This will be the company’s second move. They began at their home and expanded to Clay Street. “Things are going well,” Lisa said. “It’s very excited. We are both very excited. The feedback we are getting from our current customers and the new customers has been great.”

Made With Grace had wanted to open by March 1st in time for the concert at the Astra Theatre, but renovations on the new location have pushed the opening to late March or early April.

With the changes going on around the Square and a block in each direction, city officials and business owners hope it will only become more attractive to visitors as well as residents. Rundell Ernstberger Associates was hired in December to finalize planning for the updates. The necessary surveying and mapping are being completed now.

Ideas proposed for the area include more outdoor seating with corner nooks around the Square, wider sidewalks and more landscaping to create an attractive area to gather and hang out, and the addition of better parking and a bike path.



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Broadway George

You know Eddie George: Heisman Trophy winner. You know the Pro Bowl running back. But how about the landscape architect? How about the entrepreneur and MBA-holder? How about Eddie George: Broadway actor?

This is how I got here …

You never know exactly when you’ll leave the game. Like plenty of other guys, I just figured it would be a lot later than when it actually happened. But after nine years, I retired and my career was done.

I wasn’t prepared for it. I was in a place where I was really depressed with how it ended, why it ended. And I was left asking myself, “Who am I at this point in my life?”

All you can do is eventually ask yourself, What do I want to do?

This is a difficult question for anyone, but if you’ve been defined by football for nearly your entire life it can be next to impossible. But while I might not have been prepared mentally for leaving the NFL, I had, for a long, long time, been putting in the work to make sure I had a life after the league.

A couple years before I stopped playing, I founded my own business, The EDGE Group, which is a landscape architecture firm. Yes. You read that right. Eddie George: landscape architect. I had actually studied landscape architecture at Ohio State. I had really wanted to study building architecture, but because of my schedule between football and class, there was no wiggle room for me to get it done. I’d practically have to live in the studio. But landscaping offered the same creativity, critical thinking and design work.

I took this course my freshman year, and one of the projects I did for it was to take this area of campus that was desolate — a place that you just kind of passed through going from class to class. We had to turn it into a space where people would want to come and hang out and that was safe at night. I fell in love with the whole process, and the next thing, I applied to the engineering school to major in landscape architecture.

Football: NFL Draft: Closeup of Houston Oilers running back and No 14 overall pick Eddie George victorious on stage with NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue during selection process at Madison Square Garden.  New York, NY 4/20/1996 CREDIT: Manny Millan (Photo by Manny Millan /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X50613 )

When I left school in 1995 to enter the NFL Draft, I was 17 hours shy of my degree. I trained during the offseason at Ohio State anyway, so I decided that I would be proactive and take classes one spring semester. You know what? I fit right back in. I didn’t feel awkward or out of place because I was on a mission. I was there on my own dime, so I took it seriously and finally got my degree in 2001.

With my degree, more people and opportunities came my way, even as I balanced life in the NFL. But I realized that, rather than just putting my name on things and picking up a licensing fee (which — great!), I wanted to do something more. I had access to so many different people, from developers to investors, but more importantly, I also had ideas to really make projects work. When I’d go to different stadiums to play, I would take time to check out the various venues. I would look at the spaces and think: What would I do differently? The player stadium experience is very different. You literally go from your hotel room to the locker room, so to go outside and really experience NFL stadiums was incredible.

You go from thousands of fans screaming your name to waking up on a Sunday and wondering what your life is about.

Towards the end of my NFL career, one of my professors introduced me to the two guys who would become my partners. We founded EDGE in 2003, two years before I retired.

Owning my own business didn’t make leaving the league any less painful. You think, having seen so many other guys go through it, that you’d be better about your own transition to “normal life.” But you go from thousands of fans screaming your name to waking up on a Sunday and wondering what your life is about. If I’m honest, it was not a great time for me or my family. I struggled with depression. I went to counseling. I really had to start building back a new life.

And that’s probably when I realized how important starting EDGE had been. It wasn’t just a new way to make money. It was my new life, my new journey. And what’s more, for the first time I was working on something that wasn’t football, something that I loved, something that challenged me. I wasn’t just sitting back, handing my money over and hoping for some good return. I had a business — one that fit my experience and passion.

So I got to work.

1999 AFC Championship Game - Tennessee Titans vs Jacksonville Jaguars - January 23, 2000

Guys will always talk about how much you learn from the game of football, and I know all that, but running a business? Now, that was eye-opening. We started off as a really strong four-man firm and then grew quickly to over 30 employees. But once the financial crisis hit, I learned just how tough it was to cut back. We had to let people go, cut back salaries. Business got really, really tough for us. And that’s the one thing that really inspired me to get my MBA, because sitting behind a desk doing design work wasn’t enough anymore. I needed to learn how we could grow our business, how we could become more profitable, how we could get more business to come in the door.

It took a while for me to finish some required courses, but I was accepted into the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern in 2007. I quickly realized how difficult actually completing the two-year executive program was going to be. Kellogg really took me out of my comfort zone. I met people from different backgrounds, different industries — really smart people that had been in their own fields for years. And here I am, the former athlete, jumping into this world of heavy finance.

For two years, I went to campus every other weekend. I was working as a football analyst in L.A. as well, fitting in studying whenever I could. I’d be doing homework on my program’s set, and I’d sometimes take a redeye to Chicago to attend class the same day. I also helped care for our two-year-old son. Oh, and my wife competed on Survivor that year. One weekend, I flew to the Amazon basin to visit her and I remember thinking, This is so crazy, I’m in the middle of the jungle studying statistics. But there were other students flying in from China, Russia and India, so yeah, for all of us, it was a grueling, grueling, grueling schedule. I knew I had no excuses.

Yes. You read that right. Eddie George: Broadway actor.

Sure, self-doubt crept in. O.K., here comes the athlete, how much does he really know about business? He’s only here because of his name, not his brain. But then I told myself, Nope. I’m here on my own merits. I’m here on my own experiences, and I do have something to bring to the table. And I got it done.

Yet even after getting my MBA in 2009, I still wasn’t fulfilled or content with just my success in business. I needed another outlet. It might sound funny, but for the past ten years, I have been taking acting classes. At first, it was to help with my broadcasting career. But it soon turned into table reads, stage work and Shakespeare. This month I made my Broadway debut as Billy Flynn in Chicago.

Yes. You read that right. Eddie George: Broadway actor.

I’d seen the touring production when it came to Nashville last year, and jokingly said I’d be up for playing Billy. Well, they called my bluff, and last November I found myself standing on the stage for an audition at the Ambassador Theater in New York, singing my butt off — and cracking notes everywhere. Surprisingly, they still said yes, so I spent all of last year focusing on my voice, my body movements and my acting to get ready for this opportunity.

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 12:  Actor and former NFL player Eddie George takes his first bow in Chicago on Broadway at Ambassador Theatre on January 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)

So how does all of this come together?

Well, the one thing I wish I had when I came into the league was someone telling me what to be prepared for. There’s so many guys I talk to who don’t know what they’re doing with their money, don’t know what to expect after their career ends.

It started for me with education and and that’s where I begin again. I helped create a course last year at Ohio State called the Business of Professional Sports. We actually take my own NFL contract and extract the numbers out of it and go through it. We teach student-athletes that what they think is a million dollars is not really a million dollars. We teach them the difference between an agent, a CPA and a financial adviser. It empowers the athletes, not just for their careers, but also for when their playing days are over. I bring my education, my entrepreneurial skills and yes, even my entertainment career, into the classroom so that these student-athletes are better prepared than I was.

It’s so hard to see life beyond the field, especially if you’re getting ready to commit to a college, or declare for a draft. It’s hard to tell someone at the peak of their athletic career to find other passions that will last long after their playing days are over. I think too often people talk about this as, What do I need to fall back on? It’s not falling back. The mindset really should be, What are you moving toward?

Leaving the NFL, I didn’t know what to expect. I just knew that I wanted to follow my passions, follow what resonated with me. I think this allowed me to be a person who wasn’t defined by a box or one role: Oh, you’re a landscape architect. Oh, you’re a wealth manager. Oh, you’re a teacher. Oh, you’re an actor.

Yes. I’m Eddie George, and I’m all of these things.


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New owners unveil $30M upgrade for Salt Lake City’s Gateway

Echoing comments from other gathered officials, Salt Lake City Council member Lisa Ramsey Adams told Vestar she was “thrilled to welcome you to the downtown area.”

Built in 2001 with taxpayer backing, The Gateway has struggled in recent years with diminished foot traffic and sagging sales.

On Friday, Vestar President David Larcher offered new details on capital improvements for virtually every part of the 623,205-square-foot shopping center, as well as a plan to rebrand the site as an appealing place for millennials and young families.

The operator of nearly 45 Western malls hopes to recruit a new mix of local, regional and national retailers, along with additional restaurants and bars to bolster the venue’s entertainment draw.

Work will begin shortly on overhauling Gateway’s sidewalks, escalators and parking lots. Extensive landscaping and new outdoor furniture are also in the works, intended, Cushing said, to make the mall more attractive as a place to hang out.

“There is a lot of heavy lifting to do,” she said.

A new 110-room hotel also is slated for the Union Pacific Depot, she said, and the mall will see additions of a performance stage, skating rink, loads of public art from Utah artists and year-round schedules of live music and other free events.

Cushing said Vestar intends to rebuild key traffic access points into the mall in hopes of relieving congestion during peak events at the adjacent arena where the Utah Jazz play.

The company also wants to reconfigure mall facilities near transit stations.

Mall occupancy had fallen to about 75 percent when Vestar’s purchase was announced, down from 96 percent less than five years ago.

Its challenges have stemmed from heightened competition from City Creek Center, the LDS Church-built luxury mall that opened in 2012 a few blocks away on Main Street, along with years of deferred maintenance.

Larcher said Vestar “fully embraced” recently announced plans by city, county and business leaders to address the plight of homeless people, who have been drawn in recent years to The Gateway’s common areas from nearby shelters and service providers. “You can have all the grandest ideas in the world,” Larcher said, “but we have to have a safe, secure environment where all of us are comfortable going there day or night.”

He said Vestar’s recent moves of increasing mall security, restricting off-hours access and limiting smoking to designated areas “are already having a significant, positive impact on the project.”

The company also is developing a dress code for the mall, but hasn’t released details yet.

“We’re going to be fair and open and nondiscriminatory on it, but we have to get control of the project,” Larcher said.





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RS Walsh Landscaping Launches New Website

R.S. Walsh Landscaping, a family-owned full-service landscape design-build company, announces the launch of their new website. The new site allows R.S. Walsh to present their award-winning portfolio of custom residential landscape design, installation, and maintenance. The website feature profiles of a variety of different properties from contemporary to Tahitian tropical with beautiful photos that allow current and potential clients to view landscaping options that include fountains, outdoor kitchens, pools, lighting and irrigation.

The site also features In The Garden, R.S. Walsh’s Sanibel garden center and outdoor showroom that includes wandering paths through display gardens, bountiful plant nursery and a garden gift shop. In The Garden is the perfect place to get the latest landscape design and outdoor living trends.

“We have always been known for our superior workmanship,” said Robert Walsh, president of R.S. Walsh Landscaping. “The new site will better showcase our work and make it easier for our clients to find the information they need to make an educated decision when selecting elements for their next project.”

The site was designed by Stickboy Creative, a custom software design studio based in Fort Myers.

To view the website visit For more information call 239- 768-5655.

R.S. Walsh Landscaping is a family-owned and operated, full-service landscape design-build Company specializing in landscape design, installation, and maintenance. For more than 30 years, R.S. Walsh has been committed to superior workmanship, the highest standard of materials and the constant pursuit of excellence. R.S. Walsh In The Garden – Retail Garden Center Outdoor Showroom is located at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Road, across from the Sanibel School, and is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. For more information call 239-768-5655 or visit

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Botanical Garden to add ‘Grand’ concert venue

It’s the next big step for the 20-year-old garden, which saw its annual attendance reach an all-time high of more than 130,000 visitors last year — the third year in a row that attendance averaged more than 100,000.

Planned for a natural bowl area behind GBBG’s main structure, the Fischer Visitor Center, and the adjoining Schneider Education Center, the $4 million-plus development will put an entertainment venue in what executive director Susan Garot calls “the backyard.” It opens up the possibility for everything from national concerts by touring acts and performances by local arts groups to large weddings and corporate gatherings.

It will also become the new home of the garden’s existing summer concert series with local bands on Thursday evenings in the Agnes Schneider Terrace, an area no longer big enough to accommodate crowds of almost 1,000 each week, Garot said.

Because the amphitheater will be seasonal, it will offer an outdoor space when many of the city’s indoor venues such as the Meyer Theatre and Weidner Center are mostly dark for the summer, Garot said.

“The idea for this is, we don’t want to compete with the existing art groups. We want to collaborate. So really the entertainment portion of this is going to be very focused to the summer months,” Garot said. “During the week in the summer, we know there are concerts every night, and to be able to broaden the selection and bring people to an environment like this … There will be no environment like this anywhere.

“This is a bigger adventure than just a performance,” she said. “It gives people the opportunity to come early, get their stuff set up and then they can walk through the garden and just really be in nature.”

The garden hosted a community conversation in January with about 80 people in local arts groups to begin exploring ways to use the space. Preliminary talks included such ideas as working with Green Bay East High School’s fine arts program on a summer workshop and performance, partnering with the Boys and Girls Club and its grant from The Wallace Foundation to teach children about the performing arts, and a series or performance to showcase the local youth symphony, once tied to the now-defunct Green Bay Symphony Orchestra. Other possibilities include Shakespeare performed in the garden or Door County’s Northern Sky Theater doing a performance to expose its musical theater to a new audience.

“The idea is to be able to bring the arts and nature together during the summer months through collaboration with other groups. We don’t want to create a whole infrastructure where now we have this whole arts department on staff, where we have to go out and find the entertainment. We want to just really serve as a community resource by providing the space for other groups to bring local talent forward,” Garot said. “We’re hoping to do maybe a half-dozen national touring acts that ideally would be able to generate some additional income.”

Bringing in national acts

What the amphitheater will look like is still being determined. GBBG is researching other structures in similar settings, but it will offer a permanent, covered stage, Garot said. Seating would most often be folding chairs nearest the stage with lawn for patrons to spread out blankets. The Grand Garden also will include two small gardens that could be rented for private events. A shelter will accommodate concessions and catering, restrooms, a green room and/or classroom space, Garot said. Paths will make the venue accessible for loading sound and lighting equipment in and out.

The design also calls for a patio and fire pit, which will serve double duty in winter during the garden’s popular WPS Garden of Lights. The holiday event drew a record 66,000 people last year.

Garot has talked frequently with the Frederik Meijer Gardens Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Mich. Its amphitheater is in its 14th year of hosting an ambitious slate of national artists each summer. It booked 30 acts last year, including Brandi Carlile, Lyle Lovett, Gary Clark Jr., Tony Bennett, Indigo Girls, Harry Connick Jr. and Pat Benatar. The Decemberists, The Monkees and Ben Harper The Innocent Criminals are among the acts announced so far for 2016.

With Grand Rapids double the population of Green Bay, Garot doesn’t see GBBG hosting as many national concerts. However, after talks with local entertainment consulting and managing companies, PMI Entertainment Group and Event Resources Presents, she thinks six could be doable each year.

The artists would need to fit the environment. The 47 acres GBBG leases from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College are tucked into a neighborhood, so noise ordinances would need to be considered. Concerts would begin while it was light out and probably wrap by 9:30 p.m. on weeknights and 10 or 10:30 p.m. on weekends, Garot said.

“We’re not going to have rock concerts out here. We’ll look at our patron base and our community needs,” Garot said. “I would love to have (jazz musician) Diana Krall out here, but we have to walk before we run. Whoever the next Diana Krall is in 10 years, we might be at that level.”

Raising funds, moving ground

An amphitheater has been a part of every plan for GBBG since its existence, including the first master plan in 1986, Garot said. But it wasn’t until the past couple of summers, as attendance has outgrown the current space for the summer concert series, that it became a priority, she said.

The Grand Garden plan, which was approved by the GBBG board in 2014, will also help fulfill a need for a larger gathering space for the many corporate events hosted at the garden. Some of those are so large they require tables and chairs to be set up both upstairs and downstairs of the Schneider Education Center. Green space with the Grand Garden will allow for such groups to be accommodated under one tent.

The Grand Garden will also be an additional source of revenue for the garden, which is supported through members, donors and volunteers, Garot said.

“We’re not looking to get rich off this, but certainly we would hope that it would help pay for the operating and cover some additional operating expenses,” she said. “We’ll have more gardens to take care of, so it’s very important we’re able to generate the additional revenue we need to be able to sustain what we build and what we have already built.”

Garot spoke at two recent Green Bay City Council public forums soliciting suggestions on how to use the estimated $5.5 million in excess stadium tax money. She has asked the council to consider a $250,000 gift to the project. The council has not yet decided how it will allocate the money.

A fundraising campaign will begin this spring. Construction starts in summer, with the structures expected to be completed in spring 2017. Landscaping, including an extensive magnolia collection that has been temporarily moved, will be done in summer 2017. Grand-opening events are scheduled for spring 2018.

GBBG’s last campaign in 2010 added the Schneider Education Center, which helped to almost double annual visitation, Garot said. She thinks the addition of the Grand Garden makes 200,000 or more visitors a year achievable.

“Connecting people and nature is our mission. Connecting the arts and nature is such a natural extension of what we do here,” Garot said. “The hope is exposing more people to the treasure that we have here and engaging more local and regional people with our garden.” and follow her on Twitter @KendraMeinert.

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Vandals ‘destroy’ Philadelphia school’s acre garden

Students and instructors at an Upper Roxborough school found an unexpected and unpleasant addition to their expansive garden this week: Tire tracks that destroyed much of the acre-sized grounds.

Someone, possibly with a truck or ATV, drove over the grounds at Lankenau High School, ruining the soil, plants and flowers and sending the school into shock and on the hunt for help to repair the garden.

“Everything was basically destroyed,” said Jessica Newton, a senior at the magnet high school at 201 Spring Lane, which describes itself as the “country campus for the college bound” due to its wooded location near the Montgomery County border.

The student body is heavily involved in the vegetable, fruit, flower and rain gardens on campus, with about 25 percent of students working on the gardens on any given day, teacher Meredith Joseph said. Much of work cultivated over the past five-plus years has been thanks to donated money and materials, which means restoring the ground will be difficult.

“We do not have the money to repair this,” said Joseph, who estimated that the damage calculated thus far exceeded $12,000. “It took us years to build it.”

Students are focusing their efforts on reaching out to alumni, soliciting donations and spreading the word of their plight.

“We’re proud of them,” Principal Karen Dean said. “They take ownership here. They’re hurt by what happened and they want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Lankenau students and staff said they had contacted police, and were also working with the school district to look into better securing the property.

Rakai Richardson said she was stunned when she walked in the destroyed gardens.

“I thought, ‘Who would do this to our school?'” she said. The senior was among those starting to call local landscaping companies and other businesses Friday to ask for help.

“I care about the land,” she said. “I want somebody to help us restore it. This is not something to look past.”

After being contacted by the students, City Controller Alan Butkovitz urged city departments to offer assistance or equipment to the school.

“It appears large vehicles unlawfully drove erratically throughout the open space and destroyed the property,” he wrote in a letter to the Streets and Parks and Recreation commissioners. “Furthermore, it is profound that anyone would damage public grounds that the students maintain for various green initiatives such as community gardens and landscaping programs.”

The school is seeking donations and materials that include land graders, barriers, plants and flowers indigenous to the area, raised flower beds, benches, dividers and other structures. Anyone wishing to help can call the school at 215-487-4465.


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10 tips for beginning gardeners

gardening supplies

Gardening is more than just tossing seed packets into a grocery cart or choosing seeds from catalogs based on the photos. It’s more than digging up some dirt and sprinkling seeds every few inches. Gardening is a hobby, and it’s a time-consuming one that spans the seasons and can be affected by the weather, pests and diseases.

If you want the best chance at a successful garden, you’ll need to consider a number of factors. From hardiness zones and soil types to sunlight amounts and plant needs, basic garden knowledge and management are vital to success.

Consider the following 10 tips before you start your garden this year:

1. Do your research

Before you purchase seeds, know which hardiness zone you live in. Hardiness zones are determined by the average extreme minimum temperature recorded. Ohio has three hardiness zones: 5b, 6a and 6b. Portions of some counties have all three hardiness zones. You can view a larger hardiness zone map on the USDA website.

You should also know what kind of soil you’ll be working with. Test your soil before you plant, then make any amendments and add organic matter if needed. Also, keep in mind that garden soil should drain well.

Another factor to consider is the amount of sunlight your garden will receive each day. Sunlight affects plant growth and performance, so you want to figure out the amount of sunlight potential garden locations receive each day. Some plants need full sun to thrive, while others do well in partial shade/sun.

2. Know planting options

clay containersIf your living situation doesn’t afford you enough space to create a traditional plot garden, you can grow plants in containers. These containers can be placed on a deck or balcony, as long as they will receive sufficient sunlight. Container gardening is a viable option if your soil is poor or doesn’t drain well.

Raised beds are an option for those with physical limitations, or for those who wish to conserve water.

3. Start small

Your garden doesn’t have to be large to be considered a success. Purdue University Extension recommends a 100-square-foot plot for your first garden.

Focus on a handful of plants to grow the first year to hone your skills and give proper care to each plant. Next year, build on those skills by adding additional plants or different varieties to your plot.

4. Grow what you’ll use

There isn’t much sense in growing vegetables you don’t like or herbs you won’t use. Before you plant, decide if you want to can vegetables or freeze herbs at the end of the season. Choose plants that won’t go to waste at harvest time.

peas, corn, sunflower and beet seeds

5. Choose quality seeds

University of Oregon Extension recommends purchasing seeds that have 65 to 80 percent germination rates. Following planting recommendations on seed packets, like how many seeds to plant, at what depth to plant and the ideal amount of sunlight for each plant will increase chances of successful growing.

Check your local greenhouses for seeds and seedlings, suggests Penn State Extension. The plants offered locally should be known for growing well in your area.

6. Have the proper tools

You’ll need some basic tools to garden. Make sure you have the following: hand trowel, hoe, shovel, spade, spading fork, hand weeder, hand cultivator, watering can, hose, bucket, floral shears and pruners.

Having the correct tools will make planting, weeding and harvesting much easier to complete.

7. Practice pest and weed control

Birds, insects, groundhogs, deer, rabbits and just about any backyard animal you can think of can get in your garden and affect the growth or your plants or eat your harvest before you get to it. Using repellents — including natural ones you can make at home — is one method of controlling these pests.

Before you apply insect spray on every moving creature you see on your seedlings, find out which bugs are OK to see in your garden and which ones shouldn’t be there.

Blackbirds and crows can be destructive to gardens. Strategies like placing shiny objects around your garden or covering your plants with netting can deter birds.

Weeds will seem like they pop up out of nowhere overnight. Be diligent with weeding. If you let weeds go, it will be overwhelming to remove them all at once. Weeds choke out the plants you’re growing. They take nutrients from the soil that your plants need to thrive.

8. Water

watering canWater is one of the main components, aside from sunlight and soil nutrients, that plants need in order to grow. Vegetables need 1 inch of water each week.

You can tell when your plants need water: their leaves will be wilted or have brown tips; growth will be slow; and production will be less than usual.

Farm and Dairy online columnist Ivory Harlow offers watering advice, such as paying attention to your soil type and weather patterns.

9. Track your progress

Keep a journal of your garden records. Include the following:

  • Garden/landscape design: Draw (to scale) what your garden looks like
  • Preparations and treatments to garden soil prior to planting
  • Pest management strategies
  • The seeds you plant; when and where you plant them
  • Fertilizer and compost application
  • Watering schedule
  • Simple weather details (temperature, conditions, precipitation amounts) each day
  • Plant growth
  • Harvest dates and quantities

You can also include expenses like seeds, fertilizer and tools in your records.

There isn’t a right or wrong way to plan your garden. Online columnist Ivory Harlow gives the details on using paper, computer and templates to plan your garden. Choose the method that best suits your record-keeping style.

10. Be patient

tomatoes staked
By Dwight Sipler from Stow, MA, USA (Tomatoes tied up Uploaded by Jacopo Werther) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Like other hobbies, gardening takes practice. Don’t be surprised if some of your plants don’t produce expected fruit or if they don’t survive at all. Over time, you’ll learn from mistakes and find better ways to manage your garden.

Vegetables for beginners to grow in zones 5-6

If you live in zone 5 or 6, which covers most of Ohio, here are 16 plants that typically grow well and give new gardeners ample practice, based on suggestions from Ohio State University Extension:

  • Kale
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Squash
  • Peas
  • Lima beans
  • Snap beans
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Turnips
  • Radishes
  • Salsify
  • Cabbage
  • Tomatoes

Have any questions about gardening? Ask us in the comments section.

Farm and Dairy’s gardening resources:

Ordering and starting seeds

Planning your garden and keeping records

Pest management

Plant, soil and tool care

Garden types


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How to save an infected rose plant and other gardening tips

Shade needed for Common Sterculia sapling to flourish

I chanced upon this small tree along a road in Braddell two years ago. I managed to germinate the seeds, but the plant sprouted only a few leaves. They dropped off, leaving a bare, straight stem. The plant grew 30cm tall in a pot. What is it?

Chan Wen Yan

The tree appears to be a species of Sterculia and it is likely to be the Sterculia parviflora, which has been widely grown along the roads of Singapore.

It has common names such as Common Sterculia, Kelumpang Burung, Kelumpang Gajah and Samrong, and it is a species native to the region.


The young plant you have may require some shade at this stage and should be grown in a protected place without constant winds.

The sapling needs to be grown in a suitably sized pot to ensure that there is sufficient growing space and media to provide it with moisture and nutrients.

The lack of root space in a small pot will cause the plant to dry out too quickly and lead to the shedding of leaves.

When grown under optimal conditions and in the ground, the tree can reach to between 16 and 30m in height. Along the roads, you can see trees of about 3 to 5m tall that flower and fruit.


Grow Baby Rubber in a protected spot with filtered sunlight

This indoor green plant appears to be unhealthy lately. A few new leaves have shrivelled. Why does this happen?

Anthony Chng

The plant is commonly called the Baby Rubber Plant and botanically known as Peperomia obtusifolia. It grows best in a well-draining media and should be allowed to dry out a little before the next watering.

Overwatering or a growing media that holds too much water can lead to rotting of the plant. The stem bases become soft and the plant will topple over.

In some cases, the leaves of the plant will shed due to the lack of water uptake as the stems or roots have rotted away.

If this is happening, cut healthy stems off and put them in a pot of suitable growing media for them to produce new roots.

If new leaves are shrivelling, it could be due to an overly dry and windy location.

Is your plant located in a very windy place or did you forget to water it for prolonged periods?

Such factors can cause the new, tender leaves to shrivel and drop. You may want to grow the plant in a protected location if this is the case.

Note that indoor plants are more shade-tolerant, but they still need some sunlight to thrive and stay healthy.

For the Baby Rubber Plant, it grows best in a location with filtered sunlight for at least four hours daily.

Insufficient sunlight will lead to an unhealthy plant that is prone to attacks by pests and diseases.


Tip: Creeper used for chin chow dessert

The popular black chin chow jelly dessert is made from the plant that is botanically known as Platostoma palustre. It is a creeper that belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae).

It makes a nice groundcover plant for sunny and semi-shaded areas. It prefers moist, well-draining soil and propagates easily from stem- cuttings. Occasionally, it produces erect sprays of blue flowers.

The chin chow jelly is made from the dried stems and leaves of the plant. These are available at most Chinese medicine halls.

It involves boiling the plant material in water and then adding agar agar powder and sugar to make the dessert


Dormant Blood Lily can regrow

What is this plant? It grows from a bulb and the leaves are thick and waxy.

Chua Yeou Wei

What you have may be a plant that is commonly called the Blood Lily (its botanical name is Scadoxus multiflorus).

The lance-shaped leaves narrow towards the base to form a short pseudostem.

It is often confused with plants from the genus Haemanthus, which produce very similar-looking flowers. But plants from the latter genus do not have short pseudostems and their leaves rest on the ground.

This plant can be grown under either direct or filtered sunlight. It has a period of growth, flowering and dormancy.

When it approaches dormancy, the leaves stop growing and the plant goes into a period of rest before regrowing again.

During dormancy, it is often necessary to keep the soil slightly dry to keep the bulb from rotting.

Once growth resumes, you can water and fertilise the plant again to promote robust growth and prolific flowering.


Cut off infected part of Desert Rose to save it

The bark of my Desert Rose plant is rotting and peeling. The plant seems to be infected by parasites and part of the root is turning soft. How do I save it?

Fong Swee Chong

The affected part of your Desert Rose (its botanical name is Adenium obesum) may have been infected by a bacteria or fungus.

A prior injury could have allowed the pathogens to enter and infect the plant. It could also be due to overwatering or an overly moisture- retentive soil mix.

What you can do now is to use a sterile, sharp knife to cut off the infected portion. Next, apply fungicide powder to the cut portion and let the wound heal and seal up.

For the time being, avoid watering the plant until the wound has healed completely. The time the plant takes to heal depends on how large a portion has been cut away.

If the infected portion is overly large and the infection continues to spread, you may want to discard the plant.

If it is a prized cultivar, you may want to cut the top growing branches and graft the stems onto a new healthy root stock.

• Answers by Dr Wilson Wong, a certified practising horticulturist and founder of Green Culture Singapore ( He is also an NParks-certified park manager.

• Have a gardening query? E-mail it with clear, high-resolution pictures of at least 1MB, if any, and your full name to

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Garden tips: curry-leaf tree; bamboo; shade trees; silver birch

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Garden Tips: the difference between gardeners and good gardeners

Another thing to get out of the way is the myth of a “green thumb.” Yes, some people have better dexterity or memory for Latin names of plants. Some can even diagnose problems, such as too much water, too little water, nutrient deficiencies and infestations of vertebrates and insects without even seeing the culprit.

Jack McKinnon. File photo.These are learned skills, and depending on one’s ability to recall names or symptoms, most people can learn them or learn where to look up the answers. I have, and I tend to be a slow learner; yet once I know something, it usually sticks.

Also, if you are reading this column, you are most likely a gardener. This simplifies the tips I have to write this month because what it takes to be a gardener is an interest in plants and plant culture, and you already have that.

Now let’s look at what it takes (in my opinion) to be a good gardener.

1. Good gardeners tend to have a passion for certain elements gardening — be it design, color schemes, textures or types of foliage, flowers or species of plants. They seem to get excited when you mention something interesting about their garden or something they personally take pride in establishing. This excitement can be subtle because high art is not always obvious to the casual viewer. In other words, good gardeners know good gardeners when they see or meet them.

2. Good gardeners may seem eccentric. I met the head gardener at the Jardin de Plantes in Paris when he was being interviewed for an English television show. After the interview, I was able to talk with him for a few minutes. Note: It was quite a short conversation. What I learned about his skills, I could see in the gardens; but what I learned about him, I had to look at him and notice his character. He wore an apron with pockets, smoked a recurve pipe, had a handlebar mustache, and if I recall correctly, had a very interesting hat, the likes of which I had never seen before. This may be normal for Parisian head gardeners but to me it appeared a bit out of the ordinary. I considered him a good gardener.

3. Good gardeners have a love of plants and generally know many more genera and species than most people they know. When they gather, they could almost carry on in Latin.

4. Often when I talk with gardeners, I respect they have stories to tell. Stories of other gardens and gardeners from long ago and near and far. We can talk easily for an hour about nurseries we have known and nurseries we recommend to visit often. We talk about estates and small cottages, equally exciting because of the gardens that surround them.

5. Good gardeners have a passion for certain species of plants. Stories are told and sometimes written of the first time this plant was seen. I can remember, maybe 20 years ago, seeing a Weigela variegata in the San Francisco Botanical Garden (then known as the Strybing Arboretum), and it was in full bloom under a Magnolia stellata. I was literally weak in the knees at seeing that plant. Having told that to some other gardeners, they just smiled and said, “I know.”

6. Many really good gardeners have way more books on gardening than is really healthy — hundreds of them taking up shelf space and cherished like old friends. “Someday I will read it, so I just can’t let go of it yet,” they say. Personally, I think it will probably be a great find for whoever gets them when I am gone, but having been the recipient of some of these collections, it often is not.

7. Good gardeners are in demand. There are so many gardens and so many potentially great gardens that the good gardeners are booked often into old age. Their knowledge is valuable and their passion contagious. Property owners who really know the value of these artists (eccentric or not) are wise to hold on to them.

8. Being busy with the gardens of clients and friends makes it somewhat difficult to have time with one’s own garden. This is good news and bad news. Good gardeners dream of their perfect garden — often from a young age — thinking of the orchard and rose arbors and sitting in carefully designed meadows surrounded by collections of their favorite flora and fauna. Yet they seldom completely realize these gardens, let alone have the time to maintain them.

9. So, how does one become a good gardener? I think, if you have read this far, you are probably already one. Keep up the good work.

10. And lastly a little advice to the good gardeners out there: Let go of some of your books; somebody else needs them more than you. Be gentle with yourself; buy a hot tub and soak. Keep dreaming and telling your stories, for we all need to hear them. And when you are old and cannot easily get down on your knees to cultivate your beds, take a child by the hand into the garden and teach her or him how to pull the weeds.

Good gardening.

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