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Archives for February 2017

Garden hacks: Simple hacks for a container garden | Home …

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Gardening series entitled “Pepper Pointers, Garlic Guidance and Asparagus Tips” to be presented March 1, 8, 15

GOUVERNEUR — Cornell Cooperative Extension is offering a three-part gardening series entitled “Pepper Pointers, Garlic Guidance and Asparagus Tips.”

These classes will help both new and experienced vegetable gardeners to maximize yield and personal satisfaction, while keeping cost and stress to a minimum.

The series will be taught by Paul Hetzler, Horticulture and Natural Resources Educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, and will meet Wednesdays, March 1, 8, and 15, from 6-8 p.m., at Gouverneur High School.

Cost is $10 per class, or $25 for the whole series.

To register, or for more information, contact Debra White, Family Consumer Science, Gouverneur Middle School, by emailing [email protected] or call 315-287-1900.

The class schedule is:

March 1: The Lowdown on Soil: Get the latest dirt on soil testing, plant nutrient requirements, site selection, garden layout and design, and starting seeds at home. And, it’s all relative(s)—learn which veggies belong to what families, and why it’s important to know.

March 8: A disease-free garden is nothing to sneeze at: Get updates on recent garden diseases, including some 2016 arrivals, as well the news about what to expect in the near future. Changing weather patterns and new pathogen strains are making it harder than ever to manage plant diseases. Learn about plant disorders, and how to best manage them.

March 15: Looking for trouble, and reaping the benefits: Over the past several years, a number of new and significant garden pests have arrived in the area. Find out how to identify and manage the new pests, and deal with the old ones in the process. Learn strategies for dealing with plant nutrient imbalances, and best practices for the harvest, handling and storage of your precious produce.

For more information, contact Paul Hetzler, Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, at 315-379-9192, ext. 232.


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Four time-saving gardening tips from Dawes landscape chief

Every gardener loves a time-saving tip.

And if a tip saves both time and money, then even better.

Peter Lowe, the landscape manager at Dawes Arboretum in Newark, knows all about getting top results with limited time and on a budget.

Although Dawes comprises nearly 2,000 acres, many of his tricks and techniques work beautifully in home gardens. He recently shared a few favorites.

1. Clean the smart way

After a long day working outside, who feels like spending time in the garage cleaning tools?

(Hint: It’s not the person writing this article.)

Lowe suggests a surprisingly cheap and low-tech alternative: Just fill a 5-gallon bucket with builder’s sand and add motor oil or vegetable oil to moisten. Then stick dirty tools with metal blades — such as trowels, pruners and soil knives — into the oily sand.

“The mixture removes rust, extends the sharpness of the blade and removes dirt,” he explained.

2. Use your noodle

If you’ve ever cleaned out a deep container used for growing annual flowers, you probably noticed that the roots didn’t extend to the bottom.

They certainly didn’t need all that expensive potting medium.

Furthermore, a heavy, soil-filled pot can be difficult to move.

Lowe’s solution: foam swimming-pool “noodles” — or styrofoam plates or packing peanuts.

Simply cut up the noodles and place them in the bottom of the pot, then put soil on top.

“It reduces the weight of the container, and you’re not wasting all that soil,” he said.

3. Take measure

“How often do you carry a tape measure out to the garden?” Lowe asked — rhetorically, I think.

Well, um, literally never.

But that’s not to say that I haven’t needed one, especially when planting a tree, because both depth and width of a hole are important factors.

His handy-dandy hack: Using a tape measure as a guide, mark inches and feet on the handle of a shovel.

Voila — one tool for both digging and measuring.

Be sure to use a waterproof pen, such as a Sharpie, so that the marks will last in any weather.

4. Firing away

Weeding can involve tedious work on hands and knees, or the use of herbicides that some gardeners would rather avoid.

A gadget called a weed-burning torch, on the other hand, is operated from a standing position and leaves no chemical residue.

Plus, “It’s fun,” Lowe said.

The hand-held torch connects to a portable propane tank at one end and zaps weeds at the other.

“It’s great for a driveway, pavers or a gravel surface,” he said.

While meditatively pulling weeds by hand can be soothing, annihilating them with a burst of flame is positively empowering.

Hasta la vista, dandelion!

Diana Lockwood, a freelance writer covering gardening topics, posts on Facebook at

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5 garden tips for the week starting Feb. 25

Avocado feeding time

Feed avocado trees in March and again in June. Apply just under 5 cups of 16-16-16 plant food, or 10 cups of 10-10-10 fertilizer around the drip zone of each mature tree each time you feed. And any time you apply plant food, be sure to thoroughly water it in the right away or let the rain do it for you.

Sharpen those clippers

Prune hibiscus and other evergreen shrubbery as needed, especially if it was damaged by winds or frost over the winter. Hibiscus grows quickly, so it’s OK to cut overgrown plants back quite a bit. Trim others to keep them in shape or get them out of the way. Trimming away wayward twigs and whole stems (rather than hedge-shearing) produces a more attractive, natural-looking plant.

Plan of attack

To help prevent borers from attacking your deciduous fruit trees, paint exposed trunks, large branches, limbs and larger cuts with interior latex paint — preferably off-white matte — diluted half and half with water. Doing this every year could save your trees from these devastating beasts.

Flower power

Even though pansies flower longest when they are planted in August, we can still plant them now and enjoy them for several months. Choose from the traditional, large, funny-faced hybrids to the single-colored, faceless types, down to the tiny Johnny Jump-ups. Plant them in composted soil in a sunny spot in the garden where loved ones and friends can see them and smile as they walk by. And don’t hesitate to pick some for table decorations, because the more you pick, the more they’ll bloom.

Prepare for spring

Get prepared for the great awakening that happens each spring as dormant plants come back to life. Have your lawn mower tuned up and the mower blades sharpened. Check and organize basic gardening tools. Sharpen shovel and hoe blades. Sharpen and oil pruning equipment. That makes it easier to keep your landscape looking its best.

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Garden Tips: Reduce your garden workload – Tri

As I grow older, I enjoy gardening as much as ever, but it is harder to get the necessary tasks done. Perhaps you too face the challenge that endless gardening chores present, either because of physical limitations or simply because time is limited. Here are some tips for reducing your gardening workload.

▪ Reduce the number of perennials in your landscape: Years ago, before they became as popular as they are today, perennials were promoted as a way to decrease the amount of time spent on flower gardening. Supposedly, perennials were “easy care” and required less work because they did not need to be replanted every year like annual flowers. While most perennials do not need to be replaced annually, they do require a considerable amount of work, such as cutting them back in the spring or fall, staking plants that require support, removing spent flowers during bloom, pinching to encourage bushier growth and dividing plants when they become overcrowded.

When perennials became a popular way to add color to the landscape, flowering shrubs were not a viable alternative. The flowering shrubs of yesteryear were typically behemoths that provided color or interest for a brief time. However, because of companies like Spring Meadows Nursery, gardeners now have smaller shrubs that fit well into garden landscapes. Many of these newer shrubs have a long bloom time, plentiful flowers and multi-seasonal interest. Spring Meadow, a wholesale nursery, grows more than 400 shrub varieties and introduces new and improved ones every year.

By planting newer, smaller varieties of flowering and evergreen shrubs, you can reduce your garden workload and still have abundant color and seasonal interest in your landscape. If you are tired of the time and work associated with flowering perennials, consider replacing them with these newer shrubs. They will need pruning and general maintenance each year, but not as much as flowering perennials need.

▪ Edging: The landscape around my house and on the inside of the fence is completely bounded with flower and shrub beds. I initially tried to keep the beds looking tidy and natural without a physical edging, but using a string trimmer and herbicide was just too much trouble. To reduce my workload, I had concrete edging installed along all my flower and shrub beds, as well as around each of my trees. I had previously eschewed concrete edging because of its unnatural appearance, but I was eventually willing to overlook my aesthetic concerns. Quality landscape edging makes it easier to mow along lawn edges, to keep grass from creeping into flower and shrub beds, and to contain mulching materials.

▪ Landscape beds: Because of environmental concerns about the amount of water, fertilizer and mowing needed for a healthy lawn, there are gardeners who desire converting much of their lawn area into landscape beds. It is a noble pursuit, but making landscape and garden beds larger can lead to more time and work needed for maintenance, such as weeding and plant care. Big or small, the maintenance of landscape beds can be reduced with the use of a 3- to 4-inch layer of wood chip or shredded bark mulch on top of bare soil. This conserves soil moisture, significantly deters weed growth and adds organic matter to the soil. A well-designed drip irrigation system can reduce the amount of water lost through evaporation and discourage weed growth.

Marianne C. Ophardt is a former retired horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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Ashley Falls students design new school garden

Ashley Falls Elementary School sixth graders played a big role in designing a new school garden, learning about working with a limited budget and using real world math to calculate the costs, geometry to determine the volume of the beds to purchase soil and sharpening their number sense working with percentages.

The garden challenge was designed by teachers Caitlin Williams, Melissa Davis and Traci Zuckerman to not only bring the school garden back to life but create a hands-on learning experience for students. 

The student-led team presented their project to the Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD) board on Feb. 15.

When Ashley Falls opened, a garden was included on campus and some things have been planted over the years but there has never truly been student interaction with it, according to Williams who has been at the school all 19 years. Williams made a request to the PTA last year to improve the garden and received $4,000 to work with.

Instead of the teachers coming up with something to do with the garden, Williams said they decided to present the challenge to the sixth graders so they would have some ownership over the garden.

“Their task was to create the most space-efficient, cost-effective, appealing garden that would actually be built this year,” Williams said.

The kids were given a budget of $2,000 and were tasked with designing a garden map which designated locations of required elements of garden beds, compost bins, a shed, water attachment and a hose. Students had to find the volume of each garden bed to decide how much soil to buy and then had the freedom to add any creative touches with the extra money.

The students in each sixth grade class worked in groups of two to three to design garden ideas and then each class voted on the top designs. The teachers picked Jenny Hu and Sara Sigal as the winners, however, they worked to collaborate with fellow students to include other ideas. A leadership team of “Garden Greats” included Shai Davis, Kate Endres, Claudia Arriaga, Maura Rissman, Elissa Beruti-Bosze, Ameya Barve, Isaac Schrage, Mailee Phan and Kylie Cava.

In their planning, the students determined that they needed 80 bags of organic soil to fill the 12 garden beds, even finding a better deal on the bags of soil that Williams had recommended. In their design, they were able to include a fountain, eight key tiles representing the eight keys of excellence taught in the school, eight quote signs, a welcome stone, archways, five animal statues, two bird feeders and four rain boots signed by the sixth graders.

The Garden Greats stayed under budget, using $1,956.78 of the $2,000.

“I think we could use some of you in our budget department,” DMUSD President Doug Rafner joked.

The next steps will be organizing a community work day to clear out of the old garden and build the new design. The work day has yet to be scheduled.

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New features added to expanded outdoor living show

For 50 years, area residents have been able to see and hear about the latest in gardens and outdoor living at an annual show.

Organizers say this year’s Outdoor Living and Landscape Show – taking place next weekend at Century II – will cover even more ground.

The Outdoor Living and Landscape Show is the sixth edition of the show that took over for the Wichita Garden Show that had run for 44 years. It is expanding into Century II’s Convention Hall this year, said show producer Brad Horning of Entercom Communications. That will add about 40,000 square feet to the 100,000-square-foot Expo Hall the show usually takes place in.

Along with the added space comes more ways to entertain and educate show-goers. Organizers have even taken into consideration that the show comes at the same time as Missouri Valley Conference basketball tournament play. There will be a TV lounge for Wichita State fans to catch any weekend Shocker games and shoot hoops for prizes.

A popular backyard makeover giveaway, valued at $8,500, will again be offered, Horning said.

Here’s a look at the some of the show’s new features.

▪ Grilling stage demonstrations. “We’re going to show people how to do a complete dinner on the grill in 15 minutes,” said Don Cary, owner of All Things BBQ. The store’s chef, Tom Jackson, and staff will demonstrate making a grilled flank steak, as well as cauliflower rice. Cauliflower has become a popular, healthy substitute for traditional rice and pasta side dishes. The demonstrations are set for 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. daily.

▪ A live beehive. Koelzer Bee Farm in Corning will display a live beehive under glass. Backyard beekeeping has become a popular hobby following reports about bee deaths and their effect on agriculture. Besides producing honey, bees pollinate vegetables, crops, fruit and nut trees and more. A seminar on backyard pollinators also will be offered.

▪ A tiny house. Slim House RV in Hutchinson is bringing a two-story tiny home, another popular trend.

▪ A children’s garden. Kids can get their faces painted and make paper butterflies with staff from Love Character, a paper and party supply story. Downloadable coloring pages can also be found on the show’s website.

▪ A pop-up pet adoption site. Find the perfect pet to enjoy the outdoors with you. Adoptable pets will be available from the Wichita Animal Action League and All Paws Pet Center.

▪ Lawn mower test drives. Vendor Cub Cadet will have a test drive area at the show.

Vendors and exhibitors will include several area landscaping and design companies, garden centers and nurseries, who will showcase ways to use plants and color in areas as small as a deck and as large as a spacious backyard – and how to incorporate water features. Expect to find new plants, as well.

Vendors who offer other outdoor products, like fencing, siding and windows, also can be found at the show, Horning said.

The show is a great way to get pointers and advice, plus purchase plants and products, said Horning and vendors.

“It’s a good time to pin us down in one place to ask questions,” said Nathan Polson, garden designer for Hong’s Landscape.

The first 300 people through the door each day will receive a free “dream journal” to jot down notes and inspiration, Horning said.

Outdoor Living and Landscape Show

When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. March 4, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. March 5

Where: Century II Expo Hall and Convention Center, 225 W. Douglas

Tickets: $10, $8 seniors (60 and older), $5 ages 5-12, free for ages 4 and under;, 316-219-4849, at the door. Free parking at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, 300 S. Sycamore, with free shuttle service to Century II. A coupon for $1 off an adult admission can be found on the show’s website.


Gardening seminars


1 p.m. – new plants and succulents

2 p.m. – ornamental grasses

3 p.m. – state of trees in Wichita

4 p.m. – treating oaks with iron chlorosis

5 p.m. – trees and shrubs

6 p.m. – backyard pollinators

March 4

10 a.m. – landscaping 101

11 a.m. – aquatic plants for ponds

Noon – small trees, big impact

1 p.m. – ways you may be sabotaging containers

2 p.m. – new perennials and shrubs for 2017

3 p.m. – annuals and herbs for 2017

4 p.m. – backyard pollinators

5 p.m. – horticulture seminar

March 5

Noon – benefits of a healthy lawn

1 p.m. – herb gardening

2 p.m. – growing roses

3 p.m. – container gardening 101

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Share your love of gardening – News – Republican Herald

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The weather can’t seem to make up its mind if it’s still winter or ready for spring. That means it’s the perfect time to start planning gardens and landscaping. The Penn State Master Gardeners are here to help you with your green thumb. They provided the following on their programs.

Schuylkill County is fortunate to have a willing group of horticulture volunteer educators known as Master Gardeners who are ready to assist the public with topics pertaining to gardening. Now in their 16th year of service, the Schuylkill County Master Gardeners have responded to questions phoned in on their Garden Hort Line, provided topics on monthly radio broadcasts, attended as resource persons at community events, presented information to community groups, and maintained public gardens in Schuylkill Haven and Sweet Arrow Lake.

Penn State Extension services are available in all counties as “outreach” or “extension” of Penn State University research in horticulture, plant pathology, entomology, fruit, livestock and agronomy from their college of Agricultural Sciences. Penn State Master Gardeners are the part of the extension service that addresses gardening questions from homeowners.

As a result of increasing interest in home gardening, landscaping and vegetable and fruit growing, the Master Gardener program was initiated in Seattle in 1972. Since then, they’ve trained 50,000 volunteers across the nation. Penn State has had Master Gardener programs for 36 years, however the Schuylkill County program is relatively young, having graduating the first class of recruits in 2001.

The program provides many services to the community. Every Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., April through October, they answer questions by phone, email or from walk-in clients on a wide variety of garden topics.

Other ongoing programs include maintaining public demonstration gardens in Schuylkill Haven and Sweet Arrow Lake, offering programming to community organizations, serving as advisors on planning committees, staffing informational tables at community events, posting tips through Facebook, providing monthly garden help through a radio talk show, writing monthly articles for local media and providing speakers.

In Schuylkill County, every two years the program recruits new volunteers who have a gardening background, an interest in growing their knowledge base every year, can be flexible in the volunteer program and, most importantly, the desire to serve as volunteer educators to county residents. Accepted applicants receive 45 hours of education over a 16-week series by Penn State faculty and extension educators. Upon passing a written exam, volunteers are committed to 50 hours of service to the county through their programs and requests.

State level initiatives that they promote are Backyard Composting, Green Garden Clean Water environmental education and Pollinator Friendly Gardening guidelines with a garden certification program.

Training for new Master Gardeners will begin this summer. Applications will be accepted through April 7. A free information program for interested candidates will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 22. If you’re interested in becoming a Master Gardener, contact them at 570-622-4225.

Tamaqua Community Art Center is celebrating its fifth anniversary at 5 p.m. Feb. 25. Activities include a silent auction, open house tours, hands-on pottery wheel demos, artist exhibits, fiber arts, kids’ crafts, acoustic music, food and more. The event is free but donations are greatly welcome.

Penn State Master Gardeners invite you to Vegetable Garden Start to Finish, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 4 at the Ag Center on the Gordon Nagle Trail. Educational topics will cover everything from seed selection to harvesting. Class fee of $14 includes lunch. Registration deadline is Friday. Call 570-622-4225 for details.

Enjoy an evening of Celtic music and dance with the Celtic Martins Family Band at 7 p.m. March 4 at the Tamaqua Community Arts Center. Irish and American fiddle tunes with Irish step dance will be showcased. Call 570-668-1192 to order tickets.

Community Volunteers in Action is the volunteer center for Schuylkill County. Search volunteer opportunities at Find us on Facebook. Call us at 570-628-1426 or email

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Professional Landscape And Garden Design Consultations

  • WHEN
    Multiple dates from Feb 4 – Mar 3, 2017[days times]

    • Sat, Feb 4, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
    • Sun, Feb 5, 10 a.m. – 5 a.m.
    • Fri, Mar 3, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
    Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, CA
    Map | Website

  • AGES All ages
  • COST $30

The Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) will be at the Spring Home and Garden Show to help you with your landscape. For just $30 you’ll get 30 minutes with a professional residential landscape designer to talk about your hopes, dreams and desires for your new landscape.

Designers can advise you on how to transform your yard into a fabulous outdoor living space, a retreat for wildlife, a low maintenance / low water garden and much more! Bring pictures, questions and any other pertinent information to get the most out of your consultation. Free admission to the show is included!

Dates and times of events are subject to change without notice. Always check the event organizer’s website for the most updated schedule before attending.

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Vision 2025 Highlights Feb. 26, 2017

Vision 2025 highlights

Here’s a look at recent highlights and developments connected with the Vision 2025 initiative in Johnstown:

• Train Station reuse planning underway.

With the support of PennDOT, a new steering committee has been formed to look at options for redeveloping Johnstown’s Train Station.

In January, community stakeholders began working with project consultants to plan for possible futures for the historic station.

The committee represents the City of Johnstown, CamTran, Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, Lift Johns-town, Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, Johnstown Area Heritage Association and others. PennDOT has engaged two consultants, Urban Partners and KSK Architects Planners Historians Inc. of Philadelphia on this project.

The Urban Partners team is conducting a series of interviews with commercial developers, adjacent businesses and area economic and community development officials concerning the potential role for the train station in larger community revitalization efforts.

Urban Partners will provide a comprehensive market analysis to determine the range of feasible uses for the Johnstown Train Station and surrounding site.

Retail, commercial/industrial, office, service and entertainment/tourism options will be explored. Urban Partners will analyze the development and operational economics for each option.

KSK will develop architectural plans for selected options arising from reuse ideas resulting from the market analysis.

The goal of the project is to create a plan for the Train Station that will support revitalization and investment in the core of the city.

JAHA, owner of the station, began initial building rehabilitation of the station in August, and will complete roof replacement and masonry repairs in the spring.

Funding for building repairs came from PennDOT, local private donations, the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, and other sources. Amtrak also is completing a major project to make the station accessible for passengers with disabilities.

• Visionary of the Month recognized.

Beginning in January, V25 started to recognize an outstanding capture team leader to be Visionary of the Month.

This month, V25 celebrates and thanks Linda Messer, a grant writer from Johnstown.

With what V25 capture teams and projects are you active? In what ways have you helped to drive/participate in these efforts?

“I am the Greenspace capture team leader. Our team assists other V25 teams such as the trails, community gardens and other teams to create sustainable greenspace within the city.

Recent projects include a PennDOT Adopt-a-Highway stretch through the city, Arbor Day celebrations, assisting the city Tree Commission and Planning Commission with green infrastructure plans, landscaping the Welcome to Cambria City sign, planting tulips in Central Park, street cleanup and weeding and installing a pollinator garden at Sandyvale Conservatory, with 2017 plans for a downtown beautification contest.”

In your own words, what does Vision 2025 mean to you?

“Vision 2025, at its core, is neighbor helping neighbor through grassroots volunteerism for all. It is the glue that binds our creative efforts and ties us together from our ideas to our actions.”

What has been your most enjoyable or rewarding experience with your V25 involvement?

“It just feels good to work together around a common vision. I think most of us enjoy the rush of creating something good that makes people happy and more proud of our city. You meet a lot of new, friendly people along the way and V25 is truly purposeful living.”

On the calendar:

March 6: Capture Team leader seminar. By invitation only. For information, email

March 15: River issues discussion. 5:30 p.m., JAHA Heritage Discovery Center, 201 Sixth Ave., Johnstown.

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