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Archives for March 25, 2016

GREEN THUMBS UP: Begin planning your spring garden

Posted Mar. 24, 2016 at 8:00 AM

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Local architect, Harry Compton, reflects on works

A Bartlesville architect has seen his share of key designs and buildings near and dear to Bartlesville.

These days, Harry Compton spends his time in a house of his own design in southern Bartlesville. One look around and you can see some of his favorite things — Asian design, open spaces, paintings by both Compton and his father.

Late of McCrory Architecture, Compton came to Bartlesville in the late 1960s to work on the Jane Phillips Hospital.

“I was recruited Tom McCrory, who was for years the most active architects in town,” he said.

“He brought me here to work on the hospital. I was living in Lawrence, Kan., at the time and thought ‘Why am I commuting? Why don’t I just move to Bartlesville?’ and that’s what I did.”

He said one of the most interesting things about the design of a hospital is that they are constantly a work in progress.

“The thing about hospitals was that they are never finished,” he says. “McCrory did the patient tower that’s right out front and also the medical office building. It was originally supposed to be four floors but was designed to be added onto. It eventually became seven stories.”

Compton’s contributions include the hospital’s chapel.

“A hospital needs a place for a family to gather if there is a death in the family and they wanted it to look out into the landscaping,” he said.

He said some of the wards were modeled after existing wards.

“We modeled the polio ward after the Salk vaccine ward … and the same thing with the TB ward.”

“And then it was on to the intensive care unit, one project just led to another.”

The hospital work had initially started as several summer jobs, that kept stretching out and becoming other projects. Projects that would eventually overshadow what he had been doing.

“I was teaching so I’d come and spend my summer down here. Finally this got bigger than what I was doing there so I quit teaching,” he said. “I think the hospital is pretty nice and we were very happy with it.”

Jane Phillips Medical Center is one of multiple hospitals Compton designed or redesigned over the years.

Another opportunity to help presented itself in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The most destructive hurricane in United States history, Hurricane Andrew killed 65 people and destroyed an estimated 25,000 houses in Miami-Dade County alone. It reportedly damaged nearly 100,000 more.

“I remember flying over the damaged areas and taking aerial photographs, and especially schools that were damaged,” he shared. “I remember vividly that Florida at that time had a lot of portable classrooms. From the air you could see these dirt rectangles where the buildings had been picked and blown away.”

Compton wasn’t in Florida in a design capacity, but rather in building codes and inspections in repairing the damage that was said to exceed $26 billion.

“There was so much building going on that they had need for a bunch of inspectors,” he said.

“The Hurricane Andrew stuff, though, that was just part of my work in Florida, you might say momentary, it happened and I just happened to be there but it didn’t take an extended period of time, it’s just a one-time event,” he said.

He said he did look at some other storms, one in the Pensacola area, but none compared to the damage from Hurricane Andrew. He later went down to Florida and worked on schools and hospitals for the state.

His work around Bartlesville is a smattering of different structures. They are for the most part residential as well as many renovations.

“I’ve done a lot of renovations,” he said. “There are a lot of houses scattered around … a bunch on Circle Mountain … several on the eastside Woodland View. I’ve designed mostly houses, and I’ve done a lot of apartments and houses. My preference would be contemporary, but that isn’t always what everybody wants.”

He said contemporary was the operative word in working on Jane Phillips hospital.

“That’s what I did at the hospital. Part of the intention was for it to not look dated and I think we succeeded on that.”

Some of the latest work Compton did was that on the Samantha’s Restaurant near downtown Bartlesville. Work that he says he’s very proud of.

“That was the eighth restaurant I’ve worked on and I think it turned out well,” he said. “The others are scattered in about four different states.”

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Learn about rain garden and cistern rebates at a RainWise contractor fair, April 3

Learn about rain garden and cistern rebates at a RainWise contractor fair, April 3

information from King County

Wondering if a rain garden or cistern is right for you? Join King County and Seattle Public Utilities for a RainWise Program “Meet the Contractor” open house on Sunday, April 3, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the West Seattle Nursery, 5275 California Ave S.W.

The RainWise Program offers eligible Seattle homeowners rebates that could cover up to 100 percent of the cost to install a rain garden and/or cistern. The average rebate is $4,500.

Rain gardens are more than just beautiful to look at. They help solve one of the largest sources of pollution for Puget Sound by naturally cleaning and controlling stormwater. Cisterns are large rain barrels that collect runoff from rooftops, which homeowners can use for watering yards and landscaping.

The RainWise Program serves a number of Seattle neighborhoods. To receive a rebate, residents must live in an eligible Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) basin.

By encouraging eligible Seattle residents to manage stormwater runoff through the RainWise Program, King County and Seattle Public Utilities can meet their goals to reduce CSOs that occur in local water bodies during heavy rains.

For more information about the program or other events, call the Garden Hotline at 206-633-0224 or visit to www.rainwise.seattle/gov.

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.

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Downtown developments reflect progressive vision

Bustling streets. Restaurants that are thriving. Unique businesses. Redeveloped historic buildings. A cosmopolitan atmosphere with small-town charm.

All of these phrases have been used to describe a new feel in downtown Bartlesville.

Through much of the 1980s and 1990s, one could travel through downtown after 5 p.m. and not see any action at all. Retail and housing development shifted to the city’s east side, leaving the historic downtown district empty after dark. Local businesses were shuttering up because of the lack of people shopping downtown.

Since then, many organizations, community and business leaders joined forces to bring life back to downtown. In 2004, the Bartlesville Redevelopment Trust Authority was formed with a new mission of using Tax Incremental Financing districts to spur economic growth within the central business district and surrounding neighborhoods.

“The changes that we have seen in downtown have been phenomenal,” BRTA Executive Director Chris Wilson said. “We now have a vibrant, alive downtown community and growth continues to occur.”

New rehabilitation developments include the Noble Lofts, where a public-private partnership is in the process of transforming a long-vacant building into loft-style apartments and retail space along Second Street.

Built in 1907, the buildings located near Second Street and Keeler sat vacant and dilapidated since 2005. The BRTA purchased the building on behalf of the City of Bartlesville with hopes to transform the structure. Facing possible demolition of a building that was on the National Register of Historic Places was unthinkable, but almost happened, Wilson said.

“The Ross Group and New Leaf Development stepped up and purchased the property in 2015,” Wilson said.“The Second Street project is important in a number of ways. It is a reuse of an existing building. We have what we have downtown, and many of the buildings have upper stories that are vacant. This is a great example of utilizing what we have.

“Secondly, it provides more housing — which is always in demand, and has been recognized in studies that have been done very recently. Also, it provides the ability to have activity on the streets and support things below the apartments, like retail. … People want to live above the activity and will support what is below. … This is everything that we have been striving to get downtown.”

Other projects are also in the works, Wilson said. The 52,000 square-foot Memorial Hospital building opened in 1923. The hospital changed to a geriatric specialty center before closing in 1992. It was then deeded back to Washington County, and had remained vacant.

Through the work of several organizations, including the BRTA, the realization that the historic building could be redeveloped into apartments began in 2011 when the property was purchased by Mark Larson of Larson Development. In 2012, the BRTA approved a development assistance incentive to bring the proposed $5.6 million renovation to fruition. With assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a $500,000 grant was awarded on the project in 2015.

According to Wilson, the grant will fund the development of six affordable housing units within the development. Larson Development will lead the project to transform the former hospital into 61 market-rate loft apartments, including the six affordable housing units within the five-story building. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer.

“This grant is the culmination of team effort that included BRTA, Main Street Bartlesville, Washington County Affordable Housing Coalition, City of Bartlesville, Larson Development, downtown property owners and downtown property investors. Persistence and patience has paid off,” Wilson said.

Other organizations are also stepping up to help revitalize downtown Bartlesville, while still maintaining the historic appeal. In 2010, Bartlesville was selected as an official Main Street city. Downtown Bartlesville, Inc. (DBI) was established as Bartlesville Main Street’s non-profit organization.

In 2015, the organization name was changed to Main Street Bartlesville to better reflect the mission of bringing together downtown business and property owners, community leaders and Bartlesville area residents in revitalizing the downtown business district using the Main Street approach.

According to Mark Haskell, Main Street Bartlesville president, the group coordinates with the national and state networks of Main Street programs for action and support on all levels. The Oklahoma Main Street Program, a division of the Department of Commerce, oversees and provides assistance to 38 Main Street cities across the state, including Bartlesville.

“Downtown Bartlesville is a unique destination for exceptional arts, culture, and entertainment, diverse dining experiences, distinctive retail shopping, and inviting work and living spaces that integrate historic architecture with a modern corporate environment,” Haskell said on the group’s website. “We work inclusively with community and resources to plan, develop and promote an economically thriving downtown district as the unique center of our community by preserving and enhancing our historic legacy, creating a focus for local pride and a destination for residents and visitors.”

One area that Main Street Bartlesville has really began benefiting the area is through taking over the leadership of working with different groups to improve landscaping throughout downtown.

In conversations with City Staff, Main Street Bartlesville was asked to take the lead in gathering ideas from various sources, and then develop a comprehensive plan for Green Space and Amenities that all can align around. The objectives are to provide a partial update for the decade old Master Plan for downtown, to continue the effort to make downtown more visually appealing, and to address the need for continued economic development and attracting more customers to Bartlesville and downtown.

“We are working hard to do this in a way that is both fact based and collaborative so that interested parties are aligned in advance of the early May deadline,” Haskell said. “Part of our plan is to work on a solution that will be sustainable and will reduce the necessary ongoing cost of maintenance. This option would require more upfront capital spending to implement our desired Landscape Plan. Our goal is to have the research and analysis completed with a recommendation that can be used for the necessary presentations by the end of March.”

Other works throughout downtown include the redevelopment of the plaza area between City Hall and the Phillips 66/ConocoPhillips complexes. Work began earlier in the year to rebuild the plaza. Construction is expected to be completed by summer. A boutique district has also been established featuring many of the small specialty stores only found in downtown Bartlesville.

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SF tree at center of growing dispute


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What can you do to prevent fish kills?


As the rot of a dying Indian River Lagoon sets in, many who live or make their living along the estuary are asking what they can do.

Scientists say the lagoon’s recovery will take years, fish kills will happen along the way, and that most of the answers lie in our own back yards, rather than solely in the halls of government.

Here are some of the actions that experts have been preaching for decades, which if enough people took them, would speed the lagoon’s recovery:

1. Limit your fertilizer use and lawn and landscaping watering.

In recent years, local governments along the lagoon enacted rainy season “blackout” periods in which fertilizing is prohibited from June 1 to Sept. 30. Activists had hoped it would give the lagoon a break from the nitrogen and phosphorus influx that fuels toxic algae blooms.

But given this week’s fish kill, many are calling for further fertilizer abstinence, even during the period when fertilizing is allowed.

“I’ll give up my green lawn,” said Tony Sasso, director of the nonprofit Keep Brevard Beautiful. “When I was growing up, nobody fertilized their yards.”

Advocates for stricter fertilizer rules pointed to research that shows lawns can still thrive without fertilizing during rainy months.

Opponents — most associated with fertilizer, turf grass or lawn-care interests — point to conflicting science. They cite University of Florida research that shows depriving grass of nutrients when it’s most able to absorb them, during peak growing season, would result in more nitrogen and phosphorus running off the weaker grass when applied at other times of the year.

Fines for violating local fertilizer ordinances can run up to $500. But officials teach, rather than preach or levy fines.

You can find your city’s orinance at this link:

2. Tap the Brevard County Extension Office to learn more about lagoon-friendly lawn practices: 321-633-1702.

• Brevard County Extension:

• Brevard County Extension horticulture information:

3. Keep storm drains clean and blow grass clippings back into the yard, instead of into the street.

4. Don’t let any grass clippings or pet waste get into the water.

The clippings are especially bad because they carry fertilizer and organic matter into the lagoon that forms muck.

5. Maintain a 10-foot “maintenance-free zone” from the water, where you don’t mow, fertilize or apply pesticides. That can provide a last line of defense to capture nitrogen, phosphorus and soils.

To prevent soil erosion, which contributes to muck buildup, follow Florida Friendly Yards landscaping guidelines.

6. Get your septic tank inspected every three to five years and consider hooking up to the sewer system if available.

Brevard County has an estimated 100,000 septic tanks. Scientists spar over the relative role septic tanks play in the lagoon’s ecological problems, compared to fertilizers, sewage spills and other sources of excess nitrogen and phosphorus. But they agree that when septic tanks fail, the local impact can be significant.

Waste pools up in drain fields and runs off into ditches, canals and tributaries that lead to the lagoon. Heavy rains also push septic system plumes to the estuary, where each pound of phosphorus can grow 500 pounds of algae, suffocating seagrass and other lagoon life.

In 2012, state lawmakers considered, but rejected, a law to force septic tank inspections and pump-outs and have since failed to enact strong solutions to the problem.

7. Get involved. Volunteer to become an oyster gardener through Brevard Zoo’s oyster gardening program. For information, visit

The Marine Resources Council also offers volunteer opportunities to help monitor lagoon water quality, plant native shoreline plants and remove invasive plants and trees. Contact them at 725-7775 or visit

The Florida Oceanographic Society also has a volunteer oyster restoration program in the St. Lucie area and southern lagoon. For information, call 772.225.0505 ext. 104 or email

9. Report sick, dead or injured wildlife. Sick or dead birds or other wildlife should not be handled. Instead, report them by calling the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Wildlife Alert Hotline at (888) 404−3922 or visiting the FWC website. Entangled, injured or dead manatees can be reported by sending a text to

10. Help clean up dead fish

Brevard County is leading a volunteer cleanup effort that includes county parks and private property owners who collect dead fish. The county  is putting dumpsters at five convenient locations so residents can discard the fish they collect. The fish will be hauled daily to the county landfill and will be buried.

Dumpster locations are: Bicentennial Park in Cocoa Beach; Eau Gallie Boat Ramp, Melbourne; Kiwanis Island Park, Merritt Island; Kelly Park, Merritt Island; and POW/MIA at Pineda Causeway. The dumpsters will be put close to boat ramps to facilitate disposal of fish collected by boat.

For information, call Keep Brevard Beautiful at (321) 631-0501.

11. Call or write your local representatives 


Bill Nelson (D)

Washington office: 716 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510, 202-224-5274; fax 202-228-2183

State offices: U.S. Courthouse Annex, 111 N. Adams St., Suite 208, Tallahassee, FL 32301, 850-942-8415; fax 850-942-8450. Also, Landmark Two, 225 E. Robinson St., Suite 410, Orlando, FL 32801, 407-872-7161; 888-671-4091; fax 407-872-7165. (He also has district offices in Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Tampa and West Palm Beach.)

Marco Rubio (R)

Washington office:

284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510, 202-224-3041; fax 202-228-0285

State office: 201 S. Orange Ave., Suite 350, Orlando, FL 32801,

407-254-2573 or 866-630-7106;

fax 407-423-0941. (He also has district offices in Jacksonville, Miami, Naples, Palm Beach Gardens, Pensacola, Tallahassee and Tampa.)


Congressional District 8

Bill Posey (R)

Washington office: 120 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, 202-225-3671; fax 202-225-3516.

District office: 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Building C, Melbourne, FL 32940, 321-632-1776; 888-681-1776; fax 321-639-8595.

Satellite offices: 321-383-6090 in Titusville; 772-226-1701 in Vero Beach


Brevard County projects were hit hard by Gov. Rick Scott’s state budget vetoes, with at least nine Brevard projects totaling more than $25 million opposed by the governor.

Gov. Rick Scott (R)

The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001, 850-488-7146

or 850-488-4441. Email:

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R)

The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001, 850-488-7146. Email:


Andy Gardiner (R), District 13

Capitol office: 409 The Capitol, 404 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, 32399-1100, 850-487-5013

District office: 1013 E. Michigan St., Orlando, FL 32806, 407-428-5800

Thad Altman (R), District 16

Capitol office: 314 Senate Office Building, 404 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, 32399-1100, 850-487-5016

District office: 8910 Astronaut Blvd., Suite 210, Cape Canaveral, 32920, 321-868-2132

Satellite office: 1225 Main St., Sebastian, 32958, 772-571-6115


Tom Goodson (R), District 50

Capitol office: 218 House Office Building, 402 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, 32399, 850-717-5050.

District office: 400 South St., Suite 1C, Titusville, 32780, 321-383-5151.

Steve Crisafulli (R), District 51

Capitol office: 420 The Capitol, 402 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, 32399-1300, 850-717-5000.

District office: 2460 N. Courtenay Parkway, Suite 108, Merritt Island, 32953, 321-449-5111.

Ritch Workman (R), District 52

Capitol office: 422 The Capitol, 402 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, 32399, 850-717-5052.

District office: 33 Suntree Place, Suite D, Melbourne, 32940, 321-757-7019.

John Tobia (R), District 53


Capitol office: 405 House Office Building, 402 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, 32399, 850-717-5053.

District office: 8060 S. Highway A1A, Melbourne Beach, 32951, 321-984-4848.

Why care about the lagoon?

•The Indian River Lagoon generates $3.7 billion in economic activity annually, including almost a $1 billion annual increase to property values for anyone who lives within 0.3 miles of the lagoon. Even property not on the lagoon benefits. The lagoon is a major draw for newcomers moving here, helping to bolster property values throughout the region.

•The lagoon contributes $47 billion to the property values in the five counties along the estuary. This impact is 22 percent of the market value of all property in the area.

Source: Indian River Lagoon Economic Assessment and Analysis Update, Hazen and Sawyer

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7 perennials to consider for adding color to gardens in late spring – Tribune

7 perennials to consider for adding color to gardens in late spring

Updated 14 hours ago

Question: I’m interested in adding a few early-blooming perennials to my garden. I have a lot of color in the summer and fall, but there isn’t much in bloom during April, May and June. Can you recommend a few of your favorite spring-blooming perennials? Both of my perennial beds get decent sun, especially in the spring before the leaves come out on the trees.

Answer: Creating a perennial garden with nonstop color is a challenge, especially if you tend to visit your local nursery only once or twice a year and buy whatever’s in bloom. Instead, you should make a trip to the nursery many times throughout the gardening season. This will give you a better idea of what’s in bloom at different times of the year.

Early spring in many gardens is filled with colorful, blooming bulbs, but when the daffodils and tulips fade, there isn’t much color left until summer’s arrival. Thankfully, there are plenty of perennials that fill this gap. The following seven perennials are in flower during April and May, and some keep going even into early June.

Basket of gold (Aurinia saxatilis) is a beautiful, bright-yellow perennial. The gray-green foliage hugs the ground and looks great at the front of a border. Preferring full sun, basket of gold does not like heavy clay soil, so be sure to plant it somewhere with good drainage. After the flowers fade, the foliage forms a nice, tight mound that’s a mere 6 to 8 inches tall. A late spring haircut keeps basket of gold’s growth dense and compact.

Columbines (Aquilegia spp.) provide a splash of color to the late spring garden, and the hummingbirds adore them. The long, spurred flowers of columbine come in a wide range of colors, from red and pink to purple and yellow. There are even a handful of double-petaled varieties. Columbine readily reseeds and makes a great cut flower. Plus, as an added bonus, the deer don’t seem to be very fond of it.

Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) has heart-shaped, fuzzy leaves and bears scores of tiny blue flowers every spring. The deer resistance of this plant makes it a good choice for many gardeners. Though it’s in bloom for just a week or two, the plant’s foliage adds lots of interest beyond the flowers. Bugloss reseeds easily but prefers to have partial shade during the summer months. There are several varieties with variegated foliage, including ‘Looking Glass’ and ‘Jack Frost.’

Chameleon spurge (Euphorbia dulcis ‘Chameleon’) is most noteworthy for its multihued foliage, but tiny flowers surrounded by greenish-yellow bracts appear every spring. Growing in a compact mound, the burgundy-purple foliage is gorgeous even when the plant isn’t in flower. It looks terrific with chartreuse-foliaged hostas, heucheras, and many other plants. Like other euphorbias, ‘Chameleon’ does terrific in dry sites and handles hot weather like a champ.

Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) is the less-popular cousin of the German bearded iris. Though its flowers are smaller than bearded iris, they are equally as beautiful. Clumps of 18-inch-tall, swordlike foliage are topped with bright blue, purple or white flowers late every spring. These iris shrug off our heavy clay soils and don’t mind poorly drained sites. The foliage is more resistant to iris borer than bearded iris, and it’s deer-resistant. Siberian iris do well in full to partial sun, and they require very little care.

Lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.) is a great spring bloomer for shade to partial shade. Though there are many different cultivars, my favorites have variegated foliage that adds interest to the garden even after the blooms have faded. The fuzzy texture of the leaves makes it resistant to deer and other pests. The tiny, trumpet-shaped flowers stand about 10 to 12 inches above the foliage and come in a wide range of colors, including pink, blue, purple, coral, white, and fuchsia. This plant makes a great groundcover for shady to semi-shady sites and is a real favorite of hummingbirds.

Blue star (Amsonia hubrichtii) is a native of North America that produces clusters of small, pale blue, star-shaped flowers every spring. The fine-textured foliage grows two to three feet tall and turns a beautiful yellow-bronze in the autumn. This low-maintenance plant thrives in full to partial shade and poor to average soil. Its soft, billowy appearance is breath-taking even when the plant isn’t in flower, and the deer-resistance is a definite plus.

Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio with Doug Oster. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is

Send your gardening or landscaping questions to or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., Third Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

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Master Gardeners sharing planting tips

Whenever Dionne Gleaton posts new content, you’ll get an email delivered to your inbox with a link.

Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items.

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Tips on container gardening, rhubarb picking


I am in a seniors’ residence with a very large patio. There is talk of doing container gardening here. But no one really knows how to create this.

Olga Sorenson, Vancouver



If your patio is above ground, you’ll need to ask your manager or strata council if the structure will stand the significant weight of soil.

It’s best to begin with just a few containers because the first year will be all learning. Even in containers there’s thinning, weeding, pest patrol, watering, harvesting and crop rotation.

One important bit of learning is cooperation. Sometimes a few people do all the work while the others visit and cheer.

I’d suggest half-barrel size containers because soil dries out less in these. Also in winter, the roots of plantings in the middle are less susceptible to freezing.

It’s essential all your tubs have drainage holes in the bottom. A piece of landscape fabric or several layers of plastic mesh will stop soil from migrating out of the drainage holes.

Some patios have drains for excess water, but balcony patios may need protection under pots so water is contained.

It’s best to learn not to over-water and to never let soil dry right out unless you’re growing dry-land plants. Dry soil has a sneaky trick of shrinking away from the sides leaving a narrow fissure all the way round the inside of the pot.

This allows water to cascade down and out of the bottom. Meanwhile, the dry soil in the centre stays dry. If this happens, dig very small holes in the soil surface where water can pool. Fill them frequently until the soil is moist throughout.

For container gardens all you really need is a small shovel, a trowel, a small garden fork or rake. Stakes, tomato cages or a small trellis are optional depending what you plant.

Once the containers are in place, you can begin loading them with topsoil from garden centres. Check whether fertilizer is already added. Leafy vegetables like high-nitrogen fertilizer. When you go to get the containers and soil, it’s best to go when the nursery isn’t busy and make a point of chatting to one of the assistants. If you talk to them about gardening in containers they’re very likely to tell you things you’d have never thought to ask.



I learned from my parents:“Never pick rhubarb in a month with an ‘R’ in it.”

This is quite different than your rule about picking until early June. Does it develop too much oxalic acid after that?

Pat Pepperman, via email



The rule about not picking rhubarb after early June is one I learned as a child in England. I was told it tastes better in early spring and gets stringy and dry later.

But here, I was told rhubarb develops higher levels of oxalic acid in summer. Our summers are hotter. That would make a difference to rhubarb.

A lot of gardening practice can be adjusted by what a person does culturally. I’m sure if you water rhubarb diligently while picking it, the moisture level in the stalks will be higher and oxalic acid lower. Frankly, rhubarb roots are so huge and strong, it may be irrelevant exactly what one does when. I’d say keep right on doing what suits you best. Just like adjusting cooking recipes.

Thanks for sharing – that’s one of the joys of this work.

© 2016 New West Record

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‘Tiny House Nation," storm safety tips and nature class: Home & Garden News

FYI’s series “Tiny House Nation,” which celebrates the trend of extreme downsizing, returns with all-new episodes at 9 p.m. Saturday, March 26, 2016.

‘TINY HOUSE NATION’: FYI‘s series “Tiny House Nation,” which celebrates the trend of extreme downsizing, returns with all-new episodes at 9 p.m. Saturday, March 26.

Host John Weisbarth and renovation expert Zack Giffin travel across America showing off ingenious small spaces and the people who live in them. Along the way, they help families design and construct their own mini dream homes, each no larger than 500 square feet. Weisbarth and Giffin prove to new tiny-home owners that they don’t need as much space as they thought they did.

In the show’s third-season premiere, NBA star Matt Bonner and his family decide to build a tiny home. Weisbarth and Giffin must decide how to fit a 6’10” man into a home that’s less than 300 square feet. 

Later in the season, viewers will see a clothing designer couple who want their new tiny house to double as a pop-up shop; a tricked out tiny home with smart gadgets for a tech-savvy couple; a surf-shack themed tiny house in California, and more.

TIPS FOR STORM SAFETY: Rainstorms, flooding, high winds and hail are often part of spring weather.

Nationally, 31 percent of all homeowner insurance claims related to wind damage occur during the spring, while 63 percent of tornado-related auto claims are filed between March and May, according to Farmers Insurance.

 Here are tips and ideas for preparing for the spring storm season:

Create a home inventory list in advance. Room by room, make an itemized list of all of your belongings. Even better, create a supplementary video or photo record of each room and its contents. A home inventory list will be important for you and your insurance company. Keep your list in a safety deposit box and back up videos or photos to cloud storage.


Have a “GO” kit. Have a basic emergency supply kit ready to grab and go if you must leave your home in a hurry. The kit should include:

At least one gallon of drinking water per person per day for to last three days.

Three-day supply of non-perishable food. Don’t forget a hand-powered can opener, too.

Wrench or pair of pliers to turn off your utilities.

Battery-powered (or hand crank) radio and flashlight, as well as extra batteries.

First aid kit.


Watch the sky. A greenish color in the sky is sometimes visible before and during severe weather, including hail storms, which can precede or accompany tornadoes, although scientists don’t know exactly why the sky appears green.


Batten down the hatches. If weather predictions are for high windsbe smart by bringing small and lighter weight objects inside from patios, porches, decks and other outdoor areas.


Seek shelter. If a tornado is approaching, get out of your car and seeking shelter in a sturdy building or underground shelter — but never inside a mobile home.


Get lower than the roadway. If you can safely do so, find a ditch or area lower than the roadway to get into; lie down and cover your head with your hands until the storm passes.


Never drag race with a tornado. You would have to drive faster than 70 miles per hour to outrun the fastest tornado.

Find more tips about how to cope with heavy weather here at the Farmers Insurance website.

NATURE WORKSHOP: Phenology is the study of recurring phenomena — bird migration, plant blooming, insect appearance — and their relationship to weather and climate. Denise Ellsworth of OSU Agricultural Research Center will share how phenology tells us what’s blooming during a workshop at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 26 at the West Woods Nature Center.

The workshop is sponsored by the Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio. The nature center is located at 9465 Kinsman Road, Novelty. The workshop is free and no registration is required.

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