Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for July 3, 2016

Indoors & Out: Garden tours, garden workshops and more

Garden expertise

Boost your garden know-how at the Hennepin County Master Gardeners Learning Garden Tour. Tour-goers can visit the home gardens of six Extension Master Gardeners during a self-guided tour in the west and northwest suburbs. The tour will include Education Stations with hands-on demonstrations of gardening techniques and topics, including elevated gardens, hydroponics, cottage-style gardens, water features, composting and vegetable growing. Master Gardeners will be on hand at each garden to answer questions.

The tour will be held 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 9. Cost is $15 or $20 the day of the tour. Purchase tickets at (click on the events tab) or 479 Prairie Center Dr., Eden Prairie. Or call 612-596-2130.

Historic homes and gardens

Gardens come with a slice of history at the Anoka Heritage Home Garden Tour. Tour-goers will visit four National Historic Register properties, as well as 13 privately owned homes and gardens throughout Anoka’s historic neighborhoods.

The tour will be offered from 1 to 5 p.m. July 10. Advance tickets are $12 at the Anoka County Historical Society, 2135 N. 3rd Av., Anoka, or at Tickets are $15 the day of the tour, available at the Big White House antique store, 1900 S. 3rd Av. For more information, call 763-421-0600.

Port Authority giving the public art reins to the East Side

Work on new police training building to begin this fall in Railroad Island

Construction of the new St. Paul police training facility in the Railroad Island neighborhood has been a concern for residents since it was unexpectedly announced back in May 2015.

The site at 600 Lafayette Road was owned by Merrick Community Services, which had planned to build a new community center and headquarters at the location. However, the social services agency’s plans changed and the lot was put up for sale. 

St. Paul purchased the land and has now given the St. Paul Port Authority the task of developing it as a police training facility.

The facility will include an indoor shooting range, classrooms and storage facilities. Construction at the site is scheduled to begin this fall. 

Residents have expressed concerns about increased traffic, green space and overall have been disappointed to lose a possible community center. However, they are also glad to see the vacant site being put to use.

With the Port Authority aware of the concerns, it has been reaching out to the community for their input on the design of the facility and integration of public art into the space.

St. Paul has an ordinance that states at least 1 percent of the budget for a municipal construction project must go towards the integration of public art into the project.

The Port Authority is reaching out through the help of the East Side Arts Council. 

“It was a natural connection then when the community asked us to be the art partner with the Port Authority,” said Sarah Fehr, executive director of the East Side Arts Council, adding that the council has been around for 23 years.

The East Side Arts Council has worked with the Port Authority in the past, specifically on art installments in the Beacon Bluff redevelopment.

“I’m really pleased that the Port Authority, with both of the projects we’ve been involved with, have involved us and the artists early on,” said Fehr, adding that it makes sense to include the artwork in with the overall construction plans.

Kathryn Sarnecki, project manager and vice president of redevelopment and harbor management at the St. Paul Port Authority, added, “One of the things we wanted to do with the public art was … to get a lot more community input on that so that it was something that they would see as they drive by the site or could enjoy it as they are walking by the site and feel like they did have more input in what was going on with the project.”

At a June 23 Railroad Island Task Force meeting, Fehr and Gita Ghei, an artist who has worked on past public art projects, came to the task force with some tentative ideas for art at the facility.

At this point, Fehr and Ghei are focusing on beautifying a shed, which is visible when driving northeast on Lafayette Road, and incorporating art into the wrought iron fencing that will border the entire property.

Residents and community leaders at the June 23 meeting expressed interest in creating a mural on the shed that identified Railroad Island as people enter the neighborhood on Lafayette Road.

Fehr also shared with the task force some of the plans the Port Authority has regarding green space on the property. 

She said there will be landscaping along the fencing of the property and that many of the large oaks on the property will be retained. 

Sarnecki said trees, such as ash trees, will be replaced with healthy, native trees.

Sarnecki also confirmed that there will be six public parking spaces made available in the overflow parking lot on the west side of Lafayette Road. 

The Port Authority has also been working with the Village on Rivoli planners to incorporate space for a bike path that it being included in the Village on Rivoli housing development. The path tentatively is being planned to run near the overflow parking lot. 

“My goal would be that the art we put out there is something the community likes and enjoys and feels like it makes their community a more beautiful place to live in and be a part of,” Sarnecki said.

“I think art can be a connector; it can connect people and projects like this. It can make the neighborhood feel more a part of it, where they have some say on how it might work,” Fehr said.

She added, “I think art is really important for making a community livable.” 

Residents can share ideas for public art by sending an email to Sarah Fehr at


Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.

Article source:

The Agenda: Downtown redevelopment may have reached a tipping point

July 3, 2016NOW: 52°


  • Florida authorities say 5 dead, 25 injured in…
  • Beltran throws no-hitter
  • Whitewater man dies in single-vehicle crash
  • Libertyfest marks Fourth with small-town style
  • Mt. Pleasant woman found dead in house fire

NOW: 52°

The Agenda: Downtown redevelopment may have reached a tipping point



It appears that Kenosha’s downtown is approaching a tipping point. One sign might be that Downtown Kenosha Inc. this week was given its walking papers from the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, one of the five organizations that helped get it off the ground.

A three-year incubation period for DKI is over, and KABA’s mission is not exactly in sync with downtown redevelopment efforts. KABA had provided both financial support and in-kind services — such as office space and staff help.

Along my travels in journalism, I saw downtown redevelopment efforts sputter in a couple of different towns. Both of them had organized redevelopment groups and lots of civic cheerleading. Both hired “downtown managers.” Both held a lot of meetings and produced artist renderings of parks, signage, and empty buildings magically re-imagined as busy retail spaces. In the end, both were starved for cash, the managers left and the drawings were tossed in dumpsters.

For all the great ideas floated on how downtown Kenosha can become a shining place on the lake, in the end it will all come down to money. There needs to be a consistent, sufficient and reliable flow of cash to make things happen. Downtown needs funds to drive marketing and business recruitment efforts. Funds for major work, such as facade updates, signage and even general cleanup work are also vital.

The good news is that the city has an established Business Improvement District, which could underwrite these efforts. The bad news is that a current cap means those funds come in as a trickle every year.

Wisconsin statutes allow the creation of BIDs, in which commercial and manufacturing businesses within the designated area pay a share of an annual assessment. Those funds can support a menu of allowable uses. The higher the assessed value of the property, the greater the share of the annual assessment that will be paid by the property owner.

Residential properties in the BID are not included in the assessment.

There was an effort a few years ago to dissolve the Lakeshore BID, which had been established in 1986. That effort failed, but in recent years the amount of money that can be collected from property owners has been limited to $80,000 a year for the district.

The problem with this method and amount collected is that it creates a bizarre lose-lose scenario. It’s just not a large enough sum to lubricate the wheels of change. At this stage, the more you improve a property, the higher your share of the yearly bill.

That includes the people who own the building where I work. In 2015, our owners paid $2,910.63 to the BID, or about 3.6 percent of that $80,000.

Our building saw a lot of new landscaping this year, and it has always been well kept. The parking lot was resurfaced recently and I think I saw some tuckpointing work being done. That work may result in a higher assessed value for 2016, which means our owners could pay a bigger piece of that $80,000 next year.

That’s the conundrum: If a handful of property owners in a BID make improvements, but other properties slide in value, the owners committed to improvement pick up the slack.

Raise the cap

Would raising the Lakeshore BID annual assessment cap, say to $150,000, help? Based on the current level of redevelopment effort, property owners would see a significant increase in their BID assessment. That would anger more than a few of them. And, it’s a situation that might go on for two or three years.

But if the funds help organize volunteers for cleanup days or graffiti removal, that’s a savings for the city. If the funds help keep a professional downtown manager in place to assure a consistency in redevelopment efforts, that’s a win, too.

If the BID leadership can use funds to recruit new businesses, great. Streetlight improvements? Fix some sidewalks? Sure. The uses are only limited by the imagination of the BID leaders.

What happens then? More people come downtown. New businesses move into the empty spaces. Maybe a big thinker will finally find a use for one of the larger empty buildings. Property values improve significantly. Higher total tax revenues are collected from owners of improved buildings, not just the businesses that have been downtown all along. And, in a few years, the BID assessment on each property owner actually shrinks. Yes, it can happen.

I would think that the next step for Downtown Kenosha Inc. is a request of the city to increase the Lakeshore BID assessment cap. Such a request will, of course, be met with a certain level of resistance. But it’s probably the juice required to keep downtown redevelopment on track.

Two questions

Here are a couple of questions to ponder. First: As the new owner of the Alford Building on 58th Street, will the city of Kenosha send itself a tax bill? (Also, will the city complain to itself about the assessed value?) Second: Will any of us live to see the wayfinding signs that were created for downtown Kenosha, and will they actually be erected while they are still somewhat correct?

— Rex Davenport can be reached by email at, or by calling 262-656-6269. Follow him on Twitter @KenoshaBiz


Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don’t attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards, click the “Report a Post” button below to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member.

More headlines

Article source:

Northville builders drew inspiration from 1920s mansions in Detroit

Keeping the weeds away

Now that planting season is over for most gardeners, our attention usually turns to how to keep the weeds at bay until the harvest.

If your garden is anything like mine, weeds are the best “crop.” While using a small roto-tiller, a hoe, and/or hand weeding certainly works well, all those options entail providing continuous labor to perform said tasks multiple times a summer. I tend to be a little lazy when it comes to gardening, so while I do still do some hand weeding, I have been able to eliminate a good portion of it through mulching.

Mulching greatly reduces the amount of hand-weeding required. There are two types of mulch material – organic and inorganic. Organic mulch is the better choice for many reasons. Placing a layer of organic material around your plants will provide future nutrients as it breaks down. Organic mulch provides an ideal environment for earthworms and other organisms that are beneficial for the soil. The decomposition of organic matter helps to loosen the soil, which improves root growth and water infiltration. It also increases the water holding capacity of the soil.

Types of organic mulch include dry grass clippings (though don’t use them if they are from a chemically treated yard), dry leaves, wood chips, shredded bark, straw or hay, compost, newspaper (black ink only) and cardboard (with all packing tape removed). All of these products will break down over time, some obviously quicker than others. The quicker a mulch breaks down, the faster your soil will see the benefits, but the sooner you will need to re-mulch or pull weeds by hand. Leaves and grass will breakdown the fastest while wood nuggets are much slower to decompose.

The type of material you chose depends upon many factors, including soil type, price of materials, and the location where it will be placed. For instance, if you want to mulch your tomatoes, an inexpensive layer of newspaper secured by grass clippings will work just fine. But you might want something nicer looking for the landscaping along your front porch. Woodchips or shredded bark would be a more attractive choice for this location, but will cost more. As the mulch breaks down, you will need to add more material to the top. At the end of the growing season the mulch can be left on the surface to decay naturally or it can be worked into the soil to integrate the organic matter.

Inorganic mulch includes grave/stones, plastic and landscape fabric. Sometimes the materials are used together; for instance, often landscape fabric is covered with decorative stone. Stone and/or landscape fabric does control many weeds, but not all weeds, and allows for water infiltration. Plastic controls weeds well, but does not allow for water infiltration. While these materials don’t decompose (and therefore do not need to be replaced often), they also don’t add any organic matter to the soil. They are relatively low maintenance, but they are much more expensive and difficult to install initially.

Mulching is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do for the soil of your landscaping and/or gardens. Mulching protects the soil from erosion, reduces compaction from heavy rains, conserves moisture in the soil, reduces the need for frequent watering, helps maintain a more consistent soil temperature, prevents weed growth, keeps fruits and vegetables clean, and provides that “finished” look to the area.

Lisa Crock is district program administrator with the Muskingum Soil and Water Conservation District. She can be reached at 740-454-2027.

Article source:

Food, flowers and fun: Family shares garden during annual walk

FOND DU LAC – From apple, pear and cherry trees to hops, mint and even a turtle habitat — the 1-acre garden surrounding Aaron and Jenni Habeck’s home just outside Fond du Lac is an interesting mix of edible plants mixed with traditional landscaping. It is one of six gardens on tour at the Agnesian HealthCare Foundation’s annual Garden Walk Art Fair set for Sunday, July 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The lush landscaping surrounding the Habeck’s two-story home includes three organic vegetable gardens, more than 75 roses and unique plants, such as tobacco and dwarf tomatoes planted in straw bales — an experiment Aaron is trying out this year.    

One unusual feature is their natural Belgium Fence, created with a staggered row of Newton Pippin Apple trees. With each tree forming a V-shape, the staggered method results in the formation of diamond-shapes when viewing the apple fence row.

Since building their current home in 2008, the Habecks, who have two sons ages 10 and 13, continue to expand their garden. It’s quite a change from their first garden in Fond du Lac where they had room for just a small vegetable plot in back and flowers lining the sidewalk leading to their house.

Growing the food they eat was important to Jenni and Aaron.

“After we built our house, the plan from the first day was to have fruit trees,” Aaron says. “I wanted our kids to experience growing their own food. I wanted them to learn how it’s grown and to try things not found in a grocery store, both fruits and vegetables.”

A concept the couple has had from the start is to avoid using herbicides — only natural methods — to curb the weeds and stimulate plant growth. They hand-weed or mechanically weed most of their yard and use almost no herbicide.

“Our goal is to use the absolute minimum, including organic herbicides,” Aaron says. “We are strongly opposed to using glyphosate (Roundup). However, that means we will always have some weeds in our garden and yard, and that’s OK.”

While Aaron is the primary gardener, Jenni focuses on the pots, baskets and her special basil garden featuring many varieties her friend, Ami, starts from seed.

The couple has their favorites. “I love the smell and the look of roses,” Aaron says, noting that Jenni is partial to snapdragons and enjoys having cut flowers in the house.

Aaron’s mother, who still has an extensive garden and grows many plants from seed, has been the main influence on Aaron and Jenni.

“She always had a garden when I was growing up,” Aaron explains. “She has a large collection of perennial flowers and has shared plants with us over the years. She will help out any time I ask.”

During the winter months, the Habecks continue their gardening indoors. They grow most of their own pepper and tomato plants from seed under lights in the basement.

“We have also grown onions, zinnias, tobacco, marigolds and herbs from seed over the years,” Aaron says. “And during our travels, we visit botanical gardens.”

Plans for this fall include the addition of a cold frame. “It’s like a small unheated greenhouse used to harden off tender annuals early in spring,” Aaron explains, noting it provides protection from frost and strong winds.

“I enjoy spending time outside,” Aaron says. “Even though gardening can seem like a lot of work, it is quite relaxing to me — even when pulling weeds.”

Six gardens on 2016 Agnesian Garden Walk

Six local gardens will be featured on Agnesian HealthCare Foundation’s Garden Walk Art Fair on Sunday, July 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rain or shine.

They include gardens at the homes of Don and Mary Schneider, N8025 Church Road, Malone; Joe and Katie Ramirez, W5185 Kennedy Drive, Fond du Lac; Rick and Jayne Immel, W3179 Fourth Street Road, Fond du Lac; Aaron and Jenni Habeck, N5504 Deneveu Lane, Fond du Lac; Cathy Draeger, 365 Maona Ave., Fond du Lac; and Agnesian HealthCare Gardens Art Fair Location, 430 E. Division St., Fond du Lac

An Art Fair featuring local artists will be held at the Agnesian HealthCare Gardens. Stuart’s Landscaping Garden Center is serving as outstanding contributor, while Gallery Frame Shop and Silica for Your Home are serving as supporters.

Proceeds from this year’s Garden Walk will support the Treffert Center, offering diagnosis and treatment of autism, behavior and communication disorders.

Tickets are available online at or at Agnesian HealthCare Information Desks, Agnesian HealthCare Foundation, and Stuart’s Landscaping Garden Center. For more information, call 920-926-4959.

Article source:

Do-it-yourself gardening tips, tricks and recipes

GARDEN VITAMINS. While you may have no use for spent coffee grounds, your garden would love them. Used coffee grounds are like megavitamins for garden soil. They’re rich in phosphorus and magnesium, important nutrients that help plants grow. It’s easy to sprinkle them around your garden plants and work them into the soil. They’re even the same color as the soil. If you’re not much of a coffee drinker, don’t despair. Starbucks has a program called Grounds for Your Garden, where select stores scoop used coffee grounds into the bags the beans originally came in and offer them to customers for free. Ask a barista at your local Starbucks to see if that store participates in the program.

FREE CALCIUM. We throw away eggshells every day. Why wouldn’t we? They’re not good for anything, right? Wrong! Eggshells are a delicious source of calcium for your garden. Be sure to crush them well and work them into the soil, right along with those coffee grounds. Calcium will help keep your garden soil and plants healthy.

WEED CLOTH. Once you’ve spent hours upon hours hunched over, weeding a garden or flowerbed by hand, you’ll want a good weed cloth. Newspaper makes the best weed cloth (well, sort-of cloth). It’s free, it allows water to drain through it and it is also biodegradable, which is very good for the soil. Newspaper will definitely last through the season, preventing unwanted vegetation from growing up through it. Prepare your garden and then lay a thick layer of newspaper over the entire area, eight to 10 sheets. Cover the newspaper with a thick layer of mulch. Cut an X through the mulch and paper at each place you wish to plant a seedling.

WEED KILLER FOR AREAS YOU WANT TO REPLANT. If you have weeds in areas of your garden you want to replant, do this: Fill an ordinary garden sprayer with white vinegar, and add about 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap (like blue Dawn). Screw on the sprayer top and turn the nozzle (or follow the instructions on the bottle) to get it ready to spray. That’s it. Seriously. It’s that simple. Pick a hot, dry day to spray the weeds until saturated, and they will wilt and shrivel up within hours. That being said, be careful not to spray anything you want to live. But don’t worry about the vinegar killing anything below the soil. It won’t harm the soil, so you can safely replant the area once the weeds have died.

WEED KILLER FOR PLANTS YOU DON’T WANT TO GROW AGAIN. To kill all vegetation in walkways, driveways and other areas where you don’t want anything growing, mix 2 cups of ordinary table salt with 1 gallon of white vinegar. Do this in a container that holds more than 1 gallon so you have room for the salt. Fasten the lid and shake the container to dissolve the salt. Salt dissolves more quickly in vinegar than in water, but it takes a bit of shaking. It may not completely dissolve, but that’s OK. After, add 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap. Pour the mixture into any kind of garden sprayer or spray bottle. Spray the mixture on weeds or grass on a dry, sunny.

There are a few things to note when tending to your garden.

-Ordinary distilled white vinegar with 5 percent acidity (the kind you find in the supermarket) is cheap and works great. If you can find a higher acidity, even up to 30 percent (I find this at Home Depot for about $2 for one half-gallon), it will work faster, but the end result will be the same.

-It is the presence of salt in the second weed-killer recipe that makes the effect permanent. The salt penetrates and leaches into the soil. It may take several applications, but in time, the salt will sterilize the soil so nothing will grow there in the future. Plan well before you go this permanent route.


Buy produce from that store where nothing costs more than a dollar? I flinched at the thought. I probably came across as a snob when I asked my friend if it’s safe to do so. I mean, where would food that cheap come from? But she pushed, so I agreed to tag along, but only as a spectator.

Oh, the bargains I found there. I picked up beautiful, top-quality produce items: lettuce, scallions, a seriously large bag of ginger root, 5 pounds of russet potatoes and six heads of gourmet garlic. Five items, just 99 cents each, for a total of $4.94. The same items would have cost $11.88 at the supermarket. My skepticism evaporated quickly. I became a dollar-store convert and regular shopper.

My methods of cutting the cost of produce is a drop in the bucket compared to those people I consider extreme grocery shoppers. Just keep this in mind: Not every method works for every person. Discover what works for you, and then hone that method as sharp as a razor’s edge. Soon, you’ll be bagging bargains and bringing your food costs down immensely. Here are some methods of extreme grocery shoppers.

ONLY BUYING ON SALE. Every supermarket has weekly sales. Some extreme shoppers do just this one thing: They shop at one large supermarket, buying only what’s on sale and stocking up on extras of the sale items they use frequently. No coupons, no fancy lists. These shoppers let the sale rotations to dictate their purchases. Using this method, they often rack up consistent savings of 50 percent or more.

SHOP AT MULTIPLE VENUES. One multiple-venue shopper I know is a stay-at-home mom who shops for six hungry people in Torrance, California. She goes to four stores – a local produce market, Target (for nonperishable items), a supermarket (to pick up the week’s deeply discounted specials) and Trader Joe’s – an assortment of chain stores that cannot be beat on their everyday low prices for healthy basics.

STRATEGIC COOKING. Extreme grocery shoppers cook at home most of the time. If you don’t know how to cook, it’s time to learn. With this method, you’ll buy fewer frozen meals and other pre-prepped meals. Eating food you prepare at home is infinitely cheaper than eating out. Plus, if you make eating out a rare event, you will enjoy it more.

DIRT-CHEAP MANEUVERS. Get serious about growing a vegetable garden or herb garden. If you don’t have room for a garden, a kitchen window, patio, balcony or basement window may provide enough space and light for an indoor potted garden. Chives, basil, garlic and parsley are so expensive when you buy them fresh in the produce department, but they’re a cinch to grow. Once you’re accomplished as a beginner gardener, you’ll move on quickly to growing tomatoes, squash, lettuce and all kinds of healthy produce!

EXTREME COUPONING. Many extreme shoppers are serious couponers. They get the best bang for their buck by matching a cents-off coupon with items on sale. Do this at a store that doubles the coupon (42 states allow this), and we’re talking about an extreme bargain. One person I know has a monthly method for couponing: She takes the coupon inserts out of the Sunday paper and holds on to them for four weeks. After a month has passed, she takes them out and invariably notices that many coupon items are now on sale at the store. She matches her coupons with the sales. It’s simple; there’s no coupon clipping, filing or fuss. It’s almost uncanny how sales follow coupon releases by four weeks.

CASH ONLY. Only take cash to the grocery store – no plastic, no checkbook – so you don’t have to juggle balancing your checkbook. There’s something to be said for grocery shopping with cash. If you don’t have the cash, you can’t buy the item. And when you’re faced a week of slim finances, train yourself to adopt a “Survivor” mentality. What you have in the house is all you have to live on until you get off the island.


Here are some more tips from my readers on ways to make everyday chores a bit simpler and easier.

REJUVENATING BOOTS. Olive oil removes salt and stains from leather boots and shoes. It shines the leather, too. It’s an Italian thing. – Lysa

GOOD TO THE LAST BIT. I hate wasting any little bit of a product I paid for. After I’ve squeezed the last glob out of the toothpaste tube, I cut off the tube about an inch away from the cap, and I can squeeze out enough toothpaste for five or six more brushings. – Debbie

SAVE ON LIQUID SOAP. Those foam soap pump dispensers are nice, but they seem expensive for the amount of soap compared to the amount of water in the bottle. I save the dispensers and refill them 1/8 to 1/4 of the way up with liquid soap and the rest with water. I put the top back on and roll the bottle around until the soap mixes with the water (it may take a little time to fully blend the two), and voila! I use just a bit of this mixture to refill foam dispenser bottles, so it takes me years to use up the whole mixture. – Kay

CAST-IRON CLEANUP. I love to cook with my cast-iron skillet. I discovered a very easy way to clean the skillet without removing the pan’s seasoning. Basically, I warm the pan and put coarse salt and a little cooking oil in it. Something magical happens, and the food particles that are stuck to the pan lift off, but the oil remains. Using a paper towel, I scrub the pan, wipe off the excess oil and rinse the pan briefly under hot water. Finally, I dry the pan with a paper towel. The pan retains its sheen and is still seasoned and ready to go for the next cooking extravaganza. Thank you for “Everyday Cheapskate.” – Marie

POWDERED DIY LAUNDRY DETERGENT. We make our own laundry detergent – powdered detergent, because it’s easier to store. My husband had a great idea to make it easier to grate Fels-Naptha soap bars into powder. We put them in the microwave on high for about 3 minutes, which makes them so much easier to grate, and it’s simple and fast. – Aimee

DEFROSTING CHAMBER. My freezer, washer and dryer are all in my garage. When it’s time to defrost the freezer, I dump a lot of ice into the washing machine, cover the ice with a piece of plastic, put all the frozen food on top of the ice and close the lid. The items stay cold while the freezer defrosts. After, when the ice melts, I turn on the washer’s spin cycle to empty it. It works like a charm. – Helen

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving. com and author of 18 books, including her latest, “Can I Pay My Credit Card Bill With a Credit Card?” You can email her at mary@everydaycheapskate. com.

Article source:

Tips for a great garden in July

Having a great looking garden or landscape in mid-summer is a combination of good planning, watering techniques, and selecting the best location. Planning is crucial. The best intentions aren’t going to keep plants mulched, watered or properly planted especially when daytime and nighttime temperatures are in the 80s and 90s.


Mulch and compost are necessary for our poor sandy soils. Compost helps hold moisture, improves compacted or poorly drained landscapes, and supplies nutrients that are absorbed by plant roots. In southern landscapes, compost — such as manure, mushroom, or pine bark compost — needs to be applied as often as possible because it breaks down quickly. You can make your own compost at home, which helps keep leaves and vegetable scraps out of the landfill. Many garden centers, plant supply catalogs, or municipalities offer a variety of composters for the home gardener.


Mulching with leaves and straw provides weed control, moisture retention, moderates soil temperatures, and adds organic matter. Mulch should be spread 2 inches deep and not piled against tree trunks or buildings. “Volcano” mulching, as this improper technique is often called, is a wasteful and detrimental practice. Tree roots will grow up into the mulch instead of into the soil, and if the bark on the lower trunk is buried, that affords an opportunity for moisture, animals or diseases to invade.


Water and moisture are essential to all living things. As the temperatures heat up so does the metabolism of the plant.

Water lost through evaporation must be replaced by moisture in the soil, where it is taken up by plant roots. If there is insufficient hydration, plants will wilt. Drip systems and soaker hoses are helpful in keeping plant roots moist. If plants are looking wilted, check timers and nozzles. The best time to water is early morning.

Most lawns and landscape plants need about 1 inch of water a week. It is better to water deeply once or twice a week than to water a little every day. Grouping plants with similar watering needs can help prevent over or under watering. Remember that containers and vegetable gardens may need to be watered every day.

Choosing the right plants that will perform well in July’s heat and humidity can give you the independence to not be tied to the garden hose, and you may even be able to visit a cooler elevation.


Finding the best location for plants takes practice, trial and error. Knowing the light, temperature, and water requirements of a plant will help in successful placement. Combining these factors with disease resistance, drought and pest tolerance narrows down the choices of suitable plants for a particular site.

Morning sun is usually best for most plants. It is gentler and it doesn’t force the plant to wait for sunlight, which can cause stress. The intense afternoon sun can also be stressful to some plants, so plan accordingly.

Choosing the right plant for the right place is essential, but practices such as mulching, adding organic soil amendments, and proper watering will give garden and landscape the best chance to survive and thrive in the summer heat.

Laura Lee is the Consumer Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator for the Beaufort County Clemson Extension Service. Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.

Article source:

Tips for smart gardening


Article source: