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Archives for June 27, 2016

Making it in Unreal: spread the good word via lightning strikes in Will of the Gods

Despite the recent efforts of Mr Molyneux, we’ve never really managed to give up on the concept of the god game. There’s just something about sticking a big finger in a simulated world and giving one of its inhabitants a good flick that’s just so PC games, y’know?

Enjoy a bit of birds-eye view? Here are the best strategy games on PC.

Perhaps it can still work. What if the concept wasn’t tied to madly ambitious promises of complex AI, malleable topography and cross-world infrastructure? Ideas that – if we’re being totally honest with ourselves – might never come together in a single game? What if deification came wrapped in a simple-but-deep take on competitive multiplayer instead?

“When I played Will of the Gods with my little brother, who is just 14, we came in with no expectations,” says Tzanko Kunov. “It was just something that my friend sent over. We launched it up and two minutes in we started yelling at each other because it’s so intense. We had the three closest games I’ve ever had – speaking as someone who plays Dota 2. I was stunned: why was I getting so hyped for such a casual-looking game?”

Kunov now handles marketing for Will of the Gods – the work of six developers hailing from the Netherlands and Bulgaria. Together they’ve assembled an arcadey but strategic 1 vs 1 game in which each player attempts to guide as many followers as they can to their own temple – all the while flinging lightning at the mortals who’ve pledged devotion to the wrong deity. Think Hungry Hungry Hippos with an extra helping of wrath.

The idea came together quickly at the most recent Global Game Jam, where a team at a Breda, Netherlands university cloistered themselves away in a room fitted with six huge TVs. For 48 hours, the screens ran YouTube clips and blasted music as the three programmers, two designers and one artist pieced their prototype together in Unreal Engine 4 – where they already had experience in Blueprints and knew they could pull off the game in time. It was a “crazy” atmosphere.

“We had so much fun stuff in the background,” remembers designer Darko Ignjatovic. “But we were seriously working on the game. We took inspiration from our surroundings.”

The team drew from the jam’s theme of ‘ritual’, as well as the browser game Agar.io, in which a cell in a petri dish grows in size by swallowing smaller cells. Will of the Gods players could group new followers together as they wandered out of their village – and then ‘convert’ smaller groups of rival worshippers by crashing the two crowds into each other. Lightning, meanwhile, could turn large gaggles of followers into heathens in a single strike.

The maths was easy, but the micromanagement intense and the tactics surprisingly layered.

“When you start to apply strategy, it’s sort of like fighting games,” explains Ignjatovic. “It’s about control, and to master it takes a lot of time. In design it’s very rock, paper, scissors, and mainly about timing – you have to juggle your cooldowns and your abilities, timing when you want to make a new group or split a group. You can also predict what an enemy will do, act accordingly and be one step ahead.”

The nascent Will of the Gods won second place, and after its team were invited to present at Microsoft’s Schiphol HQ they decided to “do something more with it”.

“A lot of the original concept has been maintained throughout the entire development process,” says Ignjatovic. “We were afraid [of change] at the start because we had something good that we didn’t want to mess up. Then, when we started more serious playtesting in our little studio here, we got some really good feedback.” 

Since then, the team have added new AI – not in pursuit of Molyneux-style simulation, but in aid of more entertaining multiplayer. They’ve piled on the polish, allowing players to split up followers and more effectively counter enemy lightning strikes. And they’ve overhauled the game’s combat mechanics. In a particularly wrathful touch, they’ve implemented tornadoes.

“And the lightning, you really feel it, because you charge it up and you have haptic feedback,” enthuses Ignjatovic. “How do you really convey the feeling of being a god, right? Those things really make you feel powerful.”

Power, and poking impatiently at little people. Perhaps, underneath the sentient lions and landscaping, this is what god games are really about.

You can find Will of the Gods on Steam Greenlight. Unreal Engine 4 development is now free.

In this sponsored series, we’re looking at how game developers are taking advantage of Unreal Engine 4 to create a new generation of PC games. With thanks to Epic Games and Comrades Inc.

  • Will of the Gods

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  • Sponsored Post

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  • Making it in Unreal

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  • Unreal Engine 4

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  • Comrades Inc.

Article source: http://www.pcgamesn.com/will-of-the-gods/making-it-in-unreal-spread-the-good-word-via-lightning-strikes-in-will-of-the-gods

Common landscape mulch may have ignited Mid-Valley Oral Maxillofacial & Implant Surgery fire: 5 key notes

On May 14, a fire caused significant damage at Mid-Valley Oral Maxillofacial Implant Surgery in Salem, Ore. New reports show ignited mulch may have caused the fire, according to a Statesman Journal report.

Here are five key notes:

1. An unknown object may have ignited barkdust mulch, a common landscaping feature, outside the center resulting in the fire, surveillance footage showed.

2. While the fire did not injure anybody, the fire did destroy the building.

3. Around 30 firefighters sought to contain the fire on May 14.

4. Salem Fire Deputy Chief Greg Hadley noted the official cause of the fire is undetermined, “but ignited barkdust is a definite possibility,” according to the report.

5. David C. Swiderski, DDS, MD, a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon, owns the facility and plans on rebuilding the center.

More articles on ASC issues:
Medicare Fraud Strike Force charges 301 individuals in $900M billing scheme: 5 key points
Could the medical industry parallel the law industry? 8 insights on medical students’ possible future
Disclosing specialty bias may facilitate more patient trust: 3 findings


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Article source: http://www.beckersasc.com/asc-turnarounds-ideas-to-improve-performance/common-landscape-mulch-may-have-ignited-mid-valley-oral-maxillofacial-implant-surgery-fire-5-key-notes.html

Shenandoah green space project moves forward

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JOHN E. USALIS/STAFF PHOTO From left, Downtown Shenandoah Inc. Executive Director Mary Luscavage listens to Joseph Anczarski and his son, Joseph “Joey” Anczarski Jr., about the work being done at the green space on South Main Street near the Burger King restaurant. Trees have been planted, a fence was built and grass has been planted. The empty area behind them will be planted with flowers. The Anczarskis donated the use of their portion of the land, the rest being owned by Shenandoah.

SUBMITTED PHOTO A concept image of the green space made by Joey Anczarski Jr. was shown at a meeting last year of Downtown Shenandoah Inc. Some small changes have been made from the concept to the existing project, but most has stayed the same.

SHENANDOAH — Progress continues on the green space being developed at the south side of the borough that will add beauty and a place to relax.

Downtown Shenandoah Inc. is sponsoring the project as part of its revitalization mission in the borough. The green space near the “Welcome to Shenandoah” sign on South Main Street is attracting the attention of passersby as the space is developed.

A new walkway that has been installed from Main Street to the steps that descend to South Market and East Poplar streets is being used by local residents. During a half-hour visit to the site, four people used the stone walkway where before only a dirt path existed.

Mary Luscavage, DSI executive director and Main Street manager, visited the site with Joseph “Joey” Anczarski Jr. and Joseph Anczarski Sr. to talk about the project. The estimated cost is between $3,000 and $4,000, which will be paid from a $100,000 donation made by the late John “Jack” Schwab to DSI’s capital campaign in 2013. When it was announced at that time, the donor was listed as anonymous, and was only identified as someone who was born and raised in Shenandoah, but had left the area.

“When he passed away, we were allowed to say who gave it to us, and it was Jack Schwab,” Luscavage said. “The park will be dedicated in his name.”

The idea of the green space was announced in March 2015 at a DSI meeting that included the showing of concept artwork by Joey Anczarski, who did the design using a photo of the empty lot north of the Burger King restaurant and adding graphics by computer. The graphics includes trees, flowers, a picnic table, a bench, a light post similar to those used along Main Street and a stone walkway.

Since then, the design concept is becoming a three-dimensional reality with a few tweaks here and there, but essentially remaining the same. Much of the property is owned by the borough, with a section owned by Joseph Anczarski Sr., owner of Mark’s Supply Co. in Shenandoah, who has donated its use for the community project. Both Anczarskis have done most of the work on a voluntary basis.

Luscavage said Joey Anczarski has done much of the labor and deciding on what types of plants to be placed at the site.

“He’s more of the ecology person, so he’s been working on planting trees and other plants,” Luscavage said. “The trees are planted to be able to bring nature back, make it more green. We’re going to put in a park bench. It’s going to be a place to just breath and relax.”

Joey Anczarski chose a variety of plants to beautify the area.

“We have redbuds, which is a dogwood, and we’re going to plant several other flowering plants and bushes,” he said. “It is going to be such a pretty area so people can just sit here. It’s also nice to look at as you drive into town. You see the Shenandoah sign, and this area will be beautiful next to it. There is finally a walking path here. However long the steps have been here, and they’ve been here my whole life, you’d have to walk through weeds to get to the steps.”

A wooden fence has been built on three sides of a now-empty area that will have flowering plants. Large stones bordering the front came from the old sidewalks that were replaced during a streetscape project.

“When they put the new sidewalks, we had put them off to the side for us, and we were using them for the landscaping here,” Joey Anczarski said.

“This is a green space that’s going to be very green,” Luscavage said.

“The garden will be a pollinator-friendly garden,” Joey Anczarski said. “It will attract butterflies, bees, hummingbirds. If the flowers are here, they’ll come.”

According to the Penn State Extension Master Gardeners Program website, a pollinator garden is attractive to bees, butterflies, beetles, hummingbirds and more, providing a variety of nectar and pollen sources, as well as host plants to support local pollinators throughout the seasons.

“We’re hoping to get a pollinator-friendly certification from Penn State,” Joey Anczarski said. “They have different requirements of flowers for different seasons so they bloom throughout the whole year. It will make this spot even more interesting for people to come and see.”

The green space may become the starting point for others in the borough.

“We were saying that maybe in the future other lots in town can be planted,” Joey Anczarski said.

Luscavage said that since much of the work is completed to date, the green space will be ready for dedication during the Shenandoah sesquicentennial week, which will be Aug. 20 to 27.

Joseph Anczarski Sr. said the plantings will make the area beautiful this year, but it should be even more so when plantings are done in the spring next year.

Joey Anczarski does landscaping as a hobby and he hopes people will enjoy his ideas.

“I hope that everyone is happy with it,” he said. “People who drive by say how nice it is.”

Article source: http://republicanherald.com/news/shenandoah-green-space-project-moves-forward-1.2060501

Our Summer in a CSA: Sometimes in farming, you lose a finger

Note: Our Summer in a CSA is a collaborative project between Coloradoan reporters Erin Udell and Jake Laxen. Each week, Udell and Laxen will be picking up produce from the Shire CSA and writing, throughout the spring and summer, about what they get and their general CSA experience.

When I first met Luke Hall, he had ten fingers.

But, on Thursday, when I met him at his organic vegetable farm, the Shire CSA in central Fort Collins, there was a bandage where his left pinky finger used to be.

I was there for my first volunteer session at the local CSA, where Eat+Drink reporter Jake Laxen and I purchased a mini-share for a summer of fresh fruits, veggies and a little taste of farm work.

SNAKES AND SPIDERS: Our Summer in the CSA: Getting closer to our food

And one lesson I’ve learned — about three weeks into our membership — is that sometimes, in farming, you lose a finger.

Hall has owned the land the Shire CSA has been on since 2004 and started the vegetable gardens there in 2009. About two weeks ago, after 20 years in landscaping and farming, a table saw got the best of him when he was building a pergola on the property.

He was back in the fields the next day and has been able to continue working. After all, there’s no rest for the wicked … or farmers. Plants need to be tended, vegetables need to be harvested. The pinky finger is to the hand as Pluto is to the solar system, right? And, good news, he’s right-handed!

Some CSA members emailed me and Jake after Luke’s incident, letting us know he might need extra help around the farm. And, although an admitted lone wolf when it comes to work, Hall said he’s more than open to outsiders coming in to assist (if that’s you, email him at lukeshirecsa@gmail.com).

INGREDIENTS: Our summer in a CSA: A ‘Chopped’-like challenge

Today, he talked about the accident with ease. Later, when I called my grandparents in Maryland, my grandmother did, too.

My mom’s parents, my Grammy and Pop Pop, still live on the dairy farm my mom, aunts and uncle grew up on in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. Pop Pop, now 93, started farming before he met and married my grandma in 1947 — back when horsepower was literal horse power.

While Pop Pop is still quick as a whip, he was sleeping when I called, so Grammy, instead, filled me in on the rough and tumble tales of farm life. There was that one time, she said, when a bull attacked Pop Pop, and he escaped under a fence with some scrapes and broken ribs.

And then there are the stories my mom has told me. Like the time Grammy accidentally grabbed onto an electric fence, and her little fingers got stuck, like a magnet, to the wires.

CSA: Grant Farms plans farm dinner series

“Nanny, remember when I was holding onto that electric fence …” I hear her say, trailing off over the phone to her older sister, my Aunt Nancy, who was sitting nearby.

And then there was my grandma’s brother, Cliff, who caught his wedding ring on a farming mechanism and got his first two knuckles of his ring finger ripped off.

“And that was a common thing,” my mom said.

She and my grandma both spoke very matter-of-factly about it all, reminding me again that I’m just a thin-skinned city girl from the Colorado ‘burbs.

It was the same way with Luke. Though he kicked himself for the accident, saying he’s had an impeccable safety record with no previous issues, he’s realized it’s not the end of the world.

SUMMERTIME: Your guide to Northern Colorado farmers markets

So today, while showing me how to pick peas, Luke — with his bundled left hand — wrestled with a vine before using his right fingers to pluck a pod.

Don’t worry if you pull too hard and the vine breaks off, he said, pulling, right at that moment, hard enough for a vine to come off in his hand.

“See,” he said. “It happens.”

And life goes on.

How to help: 

If you’re interested in helping out a nine-fingered farmer at the Shire CSA, email Luke at lukeshirecsa@gmail.com.

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The Coloradoan has joined the Shire CSA in Fort Collins to experience community-supported agriculture up close.

Article source: http://www.coloradoan.com/story/life/2016/06/26/shire-csa-farming-lose-finger/86299102/

A serene place of redemption for Newark ex-offenders | Di Ionno

The simple pleasure of watering plants is not lost on Edwin Ortiz. The muddy-handed unraveling of the hose, the spray and smell of fresh water, the sound of it trickling off the healthy green leaves he is nurturing.

The density of the garden reduces the sound of traffic from Newark’s busy Springfield Avenue to a whisper. The buzz of honey bees among the forest of plants can be heard over the whine of buses climbing out of the city’s business district.

Ortiz, 48, is sequestered in what he calls “an oasis” – an overflowing Eden of decorative trees and plants, of vegetables and flowers, of dirt and sunlight, of simplicity and solace. Turn a corner and you are alone, hidden by the abundance of nature, with your work and thoughts.

It was not like this in prison. Not at Trenton, Rahway or Northern State, the places Ortiz spent the last 30 years of his life. Or even the Kintock Group half-way house in Newark, where he lives now to transition into the community.    

He was an 18-year-old drug addict when he shot and killed a man in an armed robbery in East Orange.

“I was doing petty crime, but my drug use escalated and so did my crime,” he said. “Someone lost their life.”

To say Ortiz lost 30 years of his, too, would be cliché and disingenuous. He is alive, his victim is not. He has a second chance, his victim does not.

He, like the other men and women who were once incarcerated and now work at the Greater Newark Conservancy understand this. They have been given a chance to change.

MORERecent Mark Di Ionno columns

“When you’re in the DOC (Department of Corrections), you’re surrounded by negativity,” said Ortiz. “Here, you see things that are positive. You see things grow. You cultivate things that are good for the community, not detract from it.”  

That is at the heart of the conservancy’s mission, which is earthy and metaphorical. Nurture people like plants, grow a community like a garden. Fronted by the ornate former Oheb Shalom (Lovers of Peace) synagogue, the conservancy has education, job training and leadership programs for city youths, for the unemployed, for recovering addicts and ex-offenders.

It runs two city farms – one acre behind the historic Krueger-Scott Mansion and 2.5 acres next to the Hawthorne Elementary School, in the Upper Clinton Hill section.

Since 2009, it has run a program called “Clean Green,” which trains people for jobs in landscaping and horticulture by having them beautify the city’s vacant lots and start community gardens.

This year, it began a company of its own, called City Bloom Landscaping. Tom Brill, who ran a successful company in Morris County, was hired to manage a crew of ex-offenders and secure contracts from homeowners and businesses.

“It’s a ‘social purpose’ business,” said Robin Dougherty, the conservancy executive director.

“One of the goals is to also teach ‘soft’ skills. We want them to see the level of professionalism it takes to successfully interface with potential clients and the public.”

Teaching the hard skills – the how-to behind installing rock walls, laying down decorative pavers, and caring for lawns, trees and shrubs – falls to Brill.

“When I had my own company, I was more of a boss,” he said. “My guys were highly skilled, and I’d drive around and check on jobs or I’d be out doing estimates.”

But now, his guys have no landscaping skills and Brill is back to the hands-on work of teaching rudimentary life skills, such as showing up every day – and on time.

“We want guys who want to work and who want to learn,” Brill said. “Sometimes, they have to re-do what they’ve done to make it right. We want guys who can accept that.”

“This is a training program,” Dougherty said. “We want to teach a higher standard, and we want people who want higher aspirations.

“Some will stay on with us as managers and some will be able to find jobs because they now have professional experience,” she said. “Hopefully, some will start their own companies.”

That’s the goal of Akeem Jones, 28, who did five years at Northern State on weapons and drug dealing charges and has been out of jail for three.

“I knew things had to change when I started losing my friends,” he said.

Three were shot and killed and “I was going the same way.”

Then came a baby girl, Aniqse, now 3. Jones found whatever work he could, but sees City Bloom as a chance to start his own small business.

“This is something I can see myself doing,” he said.

Malik Green, 37, is another former drug dealer, who first went to prison at 17. But has been out long enough to take the skills he learned from “Clean Green” to another level and maybe start his own business.

“I have my own garden behind my house,” he said. “I’m teaching the kids from the block. Something good comes out of it.”

For Keith Williams, 50, the new company, too, is an extension of “Clean Green,” and he is in line to be one of Brill’s supervisors.

Williams said he was tired of spending holidays in jail, away from his family.

“Seven times, I was away,” he said.

In 2009, he was accepted by the conservancy and has been there ever since. In the past few months, he has added beekeeping to his skills.

“To me, it’s all about the first chapter of Genesis,” he said. “God created Earth, and working in the earth keeps me focused on life –  on the life ahead of me.”

Mark Di Ionno may be reached at mdiionno@starledger.com. Follow The Star-Ledger on Twitter @StarLedger and find us on Facebook.  

Article source: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2016/06/a_serene_place_of_redemption_for_newark_ex-offende.html

Minnesota couple’s garden draws tourists by the busload

When the yard begins bursting with color, people tell Judy and Larry Bromme, “the magic is coming back.”

Most admired is a creek running down the side yard offset by lush ferns beneath a large willow tree. The city map says it’s part of Buckingham Creek, but the Brommes believe it’s an artesian well; the pair of mallards honeymooning there each summer don’t know the difference.

Off the west bank is a flower bed full of bergenias Larry’s mother, Elsie, planted more than 60 years ago. The oldest roots deep within the acre property, though, happen to be rhubarb.

Stunning are views from the sidewalk, but to venture beyond the white fence and pergola laced with grape vines is like jumping into a painting. The driveway stretches uphill, revealing layers and layers of flowers.

Looking around, there’s more than labor worth admiring, rather a legacy.

“It’s just special,” Larry said. “I’m fortunate to marry someone interested in keeping up the flowers my mother grew.”

They moved into the Skyline house in 1960, making their children the fourth generation to grow up in the home.

Judy has spent the majority of her life in dirt, mainly with soybeans, growing up in southern Minnesota. She’s a self-

proclaimed “obsessive gardener,” and her husband calls himself the grunt.

“All winter I plan. I have this gene. I have to plant,” she said.

Pretty hanging baskets decorate the front porch. The tiered yard is adorned with another pergola and a gazebo. Plentiful are the hostas and irises. Aside from some necessities — lettuce, tomatoes and berries — the focus is flowers.

Benches are purposefully placed to take in the best views, but the retired, 74-year-old couple said they keep busy and leave the benches for the guests. She does all the designing and manicuring, and he mows and does the heavy lifting.

Ideas once sourced from road trips and magazines are now modernized with Pinterest. The online catalog introduced Judy to tiny houses and inspired the Brommes’ most recent addition to the garden — a summerhouse.

An old single garage served as the summerhouse decades ago. Larry’s grandfather moved it up from the lake to Skyline via rolling logs in 1924. He remembers camping inside, listening to the water run.

The structure’s re-creation gives the garden another layer of nostalgia, and landscaping opportunities to Judy’s excitement — she’s already envisioning a stone pathway.

Another project underway is taming what Judy dubs as their “wildlife sanctuary,” and adding monarch-friendly plants.

“The Brommes are wonderful people,” said Bob Kunzy, living just a few blocks west in the historic Arthur P. Cook house.

Kunzy said the Brommes’ beautiful garden encouraged him to take on the grounds surrounding his 1902 bluestone home. After all, he agrees that to be a good gardener, it helps to have a friend who is better.

He’s waiting for his tiger lilies to bloom, but like the Brommes’, his irises are endless, as is his view of Duluth from the top garden tier.

“Gardens are like boats,” Kunzy said. “You always want one bigger.”

The Bromme family lot expanded from one to seven over the years. Often they are asked to host city and church garden tours, to which they have been willfully agreeing to do since their first tour in 2001.

When they noticed other tour buses stopping along Skyline to see the creek, flowers and surrounding greenery, they say it makes their hard work and hobby all the more satisfying.

But there will always be someone special they’d like to invite in for a tour.

“I wish sometimes his mom could see what it looks like now,” Judy said.

A few of the Bromme’s favorites

  • Irises: Yellow, pink and purple are the first to pop each year
  • Yellow sedum: Low growing, spreads easily and blooms for a long time
  • Delphiniums: Deep colors that can grow tall enough to reach hanging baskets
  • Hostas: If you can keep the deer away, you can’t go wrong

Article source: http://www.wctrib.com/news/state/4062541-minnesota-couples-garden-draws-tourists-busload

Beauty Benefits Herb Garden Gardening Tips – Refinery29

Botanical extracts, essential oils, and nut butters are all the rage. And for some, “synthetic” is almost a beauty curse word. But who can tell how much “natural” actually ends up in our all-natural products? Which got us thinking, Nancy Botwin-style: How hard would it be to, uh, grow our own?

As it turns out, it’s actually not as challenging as you might think. Tara Heibel of Sprout Home Chicago and Jeannette Graf, MD, dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, have teamed up to lay out a plan for growing the most beauty-beneficial plants, and dished intel on their benefits and uses.

Before we dig in, Heibel says there are a couple of things to take into account. “Know your conditions — as in, light — and how you are able to care for a plant,” she says. “Each person’s house is different, and each person cares for plants differently. If your living conditions or lifestyle aren’t suitable for the plant you want, consider other options that would be a better fit.” (That’s her nice way of saying if you’re never home and can’t keep a cactus alive, you may not want to sign up for the most finicky of plants.)

As for actually rolling up your sleeves and using your harvest, Dr. Graf stresses the importance of a patch test or physician consult before trying homemade recipes. Also, for your skin’s sake, be mindful of providing fresh, clean soil. Last time we checked, pesticides weren’t great for our complexions.

Okay, now for the fun part. Click through to check out how to care for and use the following 11 plants in your daily beauty life. You’ll be green-thumbing it up in no time.

Article source: http://www.refinery29.com/beauty-herb-garden-tips

Clay soil: 5 tips for making your garden flourish with heavy soils

Mulch improves the structure of heavy clay soils.

Clay soils get a bad rap. In winter they are sodden and easily compacted. They take longer to warm up in spring and by summer they’ve turned to concrete. The fine particles stick together so there is poor drainage and lack of aeration leading to poor root growth.

Back-breaking and expensive suggested solutions to improving heavy clay include replacing it all with friable loam or digging in trailer loads of sharp sand and gravel.  

But the news is not all bad for gardeners. Heavy clay is often fertile as nutrients aren’t lost by leaching and it retains moisture in dry weather. With a bit of knowhow gardens can flourish on clay without breaking the bank or your back.

Grow potatoes to help break up heavy clay soils.

READ MORE:
Conditioning your soil
The scientific reasons that gardeners are nicer than other people
Ground zero

Five ways to garden on clay soil

1. Mulch, mulch, mulch
Adding compost, manure or any sort of mulch from bark shreds to coffee grounds adds humus. Clay particles clump around the humus so aeration and drainage improve. Fork lightly into the top layer of soil or let the worms do the work for you. Keep adding mulch layers as they break down and become incorporated into the soil.

2. Gypsum
Adding gypsum aggregates clay particles too. Don’t add it every year though as it can increase salinity.

3. Rise above it
Plant trees and shrubs on low mounds where they’ll get the drainage they need but still have access to moisture in the clay soil below. Grow veges in raised beds or no-dig gardens avoiding the clay beneath.

4. Avoid compaction
Walking on sodden clay soil or trying to dig it when wet just makes the problem worse. If necessary lay planks over the beds to distribute weight over a greater area. Or use stepping stones so only spots not needed for planting are compacted.

5. Grow clay tolerant plants
Tough herbaceous plants like clivia, hostas, paeonies and daylilies thrive in slightly acidic and nutrient rich clay soils. As a bonus they won’t spread so fast so need dividing less often. Roses, hydrangea, philadlelphus and viburnum will do well too. Many natives don’t mind getting occasional wet feet. Try pittosporum, pseudopanax, flax, oioi and manuka. In the vege patch grow a crop of potatoes which will break up the soil and make it more friable to the advantage of the next vegetables to be planted in that spot.

 


 – NZ Gardener

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All eyes on Waiheke Island estate as buyer interest “ramps up”

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Article source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/home-property/81437176/clay-soil-5-tips-for-making-your-garden-flourish-with-heavy-soils

Tips on bringing summer gardens indoors

With summer upon us, and our minds turning to fresh air pursuits, it’s easy to forget the great indoors.

But why not marry both? Study our guide and learn how to blur the lines between your garden or patio, and your home. Our 10-point countdown starts here.

1. Change up your fabrics. Swap heavy fabrics for breezier alternatives. Take down thick curtains and replace with diaphanous organza, white sheers or a crisp blind.

Try Brian Gluckstein’s line at The Bay for dreamy cotton bedding and add cashmere throws from Sears for a luxe touch.

2. Back to the land. Create your own market garden by using fruits and veggies as colourful room accessories.

Pop a dozen lemons into a clear glass orb for a burst of colour in the kitchen, or use ornamental cabbages as a talking point table centrepiece. And double bubble: when you’ve finished looking at them, you can eat them, too!

3. Be casual with flowers. Ditch formal floral arrangements in favour of casual flower bunches. 

Use lots of small, delicate blooms and mix with droopy greenery. Lose the crystal vases and opt instead for large milk jugs, teapots and tins for a funky farmhouse feel.

4. Smells like summer. Check out the ‘Vintage Glass’ candle range by Royal Britannia Trading Company (www.royalbritanniatrading.com). Our fave summery smells (each of which is poured into a vintage glass vessel) are English Rose Garden (an olfactory pleasure that conjures the scent of British gardens), Bacon and Maple Syrup (pure Canadiana, deliciously set into a chunky beer glass), Caprese (tomato and basil), Fig and Ginger and, penultimately, Gardenia.

5. Outside in. Do yourself a favour and shop smart in second-hand stores, car boot sales and markets for antique garden tools, sun-baked benches and weather- beaten painted signs to bring some outdoor escapism inside. 

If you’re planning a more indulgent spend, go the whole hog; swap that ground floor window for French doors to extend your living room (or kitchen) into the garden.

6. Add natural elements. Swap heavy wool floor rugs for natural alternatives such as seagrass (and sisal) to proffer a cool, beachy vibe.

Beach house chic comes from all sorts of inspiration not least white painted floorboards with brightly coloured cotton rag rugs ­— the look, once again, is casual over formal.

7. Clean house, summer house. Nothing feels fresher than a clean home, so take spring-cleaning to the next season.

Give your laundry and bedding a lift with linen water (via your iron), hang laundry outdoors to take advantage of the warmer weather or add summer time fragrance dryer sheets when you tumble.

And let that uplifting summer light flood in; make sure windows are crystal clean to brighten your home — for free!

8. Don’t be cold, be bold! Mother Nature is at her boldest during summer months, due to bursts of vivid colour and large bright flowers, so be inspired by her dramatic gusto.

Swap plain crockery for floral motifs and hang bold botanical artwork to bring the garden inside.

9. Add some colour. The simplest way to create a fresh summer feel is to replace darkness with light and that means reaching for the paintbrush!

Blue and white will immediately make you feel beachy, while painted horizontal stripes will evoke clapboard New England homesteads.

And remember, too, that colour can come from many sources, so use brightly toned accessories and fabrics for a whole new look.

10. Add summery motifs. Transition your winter hurricane lamps into summer display vases by filling them with sun-dried driftwood or sand and pebbles. 

Find large Hurricane candleholders at Pottery Barn or try painted lighthouses, beach huts and sailing boats from current stock at Marshalls.

Colin Justin’s Cabin Pressure appears on Cottage Life TV (www.cabinpressure.tv). Find the Colin and Justin Home collection in stores across Canada and look for them at twitter.com/colinjustin, instagram.com/colinandjustin and facebook.com/ColinJustin

Article source: http://www.lfpress.com/2016/06/23/room-for-improvement-tips-on-bringing-summer-gardens-indoors

Garden Walk gives locals tips on gardening

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