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Archives for May 11, 2017

Stroller: Serrano speaks, some calcium gardening tips

TODAY’S WORD is ordnance (awrd-nuh ns). Example: When the judge aimed the cannon at me, I realized that I misunderstood him when he said I’d violated a city ordnance.

TUESDAY’S WORD was limpid. It means clear; transparent. Example: After watching Jaws, Tom wouldn’t even set foot in a limpid swimming pool.

Serrano speaks

Popular 5-year-old preacher Caleb Serrano will speak during the 7 p.m. revival service Wednesday at Christian View Missionary Baptist Church. He is a worship leader at his church in Greensboro, North Carolina, and has appeared on the television show “Steve Harvey’s Little Big Shots.” “He’s just a dynamic little fellow,” said Christian View member Valeria Edwards.

Calcium gardening

When planting peppers and tomatoes, add some calcium to the soil to prevent blossom end rot. That is the problem of the end of the fruit (opposite the stem) turning brown and leathery – which is caused by calcium deficiency. Bulletin staff writer Holly Kozelsky pokes a calcium tablet or capsule into the soil at the base of each plant at the start of each season and has not had any trouble with blossom end rot since she’s been doing that. Other people have recommended scattering crushed eggshells or dried milk powder or pouring soured milk into the soil, but if you have dogs, that might cause the dogs to want to dig around your plants.

TODAY IS: National Third Shift Workers Day

Also known as National Night Shift Workers Day, today is a day to celebrate the men and women who work hard through the night, night after night. Some people work third shifts to keep a manufacturer operating for 24 hours a day, while other third shift workers are in law enforcement, public safety, or working in our hospitals. Give your favorite third shift worker a phone call today and thank them for their service – just don’t do it in the middle of the day, because they’re probably trying to get a little shut-eye.


The Martinsville Elks Lodge Fishing Rodeo will not take place as scheduled this Saturday over at Kings Grant. The group had to cancel plans due to some health concerns. The event will be rescheduled, but they just don’t know when yet.

TRIVIA QUESTION: On Dec. 15, 1966, as he lay on his deathbed, Walt Disney requested a pen and paper, and then he wrote down a name. It was Disney’s last communication with the world. Whose name did Disney write down?

TUESDAY’S TRIVIA ANSWER: The 1970s U.S. oil crisis introduced what change to the way we drive? The answer: The right turn on red. While taking a right turn on a red light is something we take for granted now, prior to the 1970s, the practice only occurred in sparsely populated areas in the western U.S. However, the gasoline shortages of the 1970s left the U.S. government desperate for any solution that would increase fuel efficiency and cut down on fuel consumption. The Federal Highway Administration sponsored studies that revealed that allowing right turns on red lights when traffic was clear reduced wait time 9-30 percent based on traffic conditions, and cut down on the amount of time drivers spent idling in traffic. By early 1980, all fifty U.S. states had adopted right-turn-on-red regulations.

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Extension Service offers gardening tips





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Don Davis: May gardening tips

Gardening possibilities expand greatly in May. Frost is no longer likely and soil has warmed up enough for planting most anything you want.

The time has come to stock your garden with summer flowers. Heat-loving annual flowers such as begonia, canna, caladium, vinca, marigold, nasturtium, flowering tobacco, salvia and zinnia are the ones to plant this month.

Conditions are also good for planting herbs of all kinds. The easiest ones to grow by sowing seeds directly in garden soil or a pot of soil mix are dill, basil, parsley, chives and cilantro.

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It is buyer-beware when shopping for herbs. Stores are now selling small pots of dill and cilantro for $3.78 each when you can get 15,000 dill seeds or 1,000 cilantro seeds for about the same price through mail order.

To fill tubs, window boxes and other containers, you need some kind of soil medium that has good drainage and aeration. Ordinary garden dirt does not give satisfactory results when you pot up plants with it.

Most of the major brands of potting soil contain a mixture of sphagnum peat moss and perlite. These two combine to make an artificial soil that benefits plants by holding moisture while also allowing air to fit in between the soil particles.

You can ignore the out-dated gardening advice about putting a layer of gravel in the bottom of a pot to improve drainage. This practice has been shown to actually make the pot’s drainage worse.

Crabgrass began germinating recently and its seeds will keep on germinating until late summer. At this point, you can remove it by physical means or treat it with a weed killer.

Now that your peony and bearded irises have finished blooming, it is time to cut off their expired flowers. Shrubbery to trim and prune this month includes lilac, holly, boxwood and juniper.

Azaleas bloom throughout this month and into June. Pruning them right after bloom is recommended to allow the plants plenty of time to produce new flower buds for next year.

It is always best to plant tomatoes in places where no tomatoes have grown recently to prevent disease problems and nutritional deficiencies. This involves planting in one particular spot no more than once every three years.

Following a guideline like that is difficult if you have a small garden. In situations where this so-called crop rotation is not possible for you, be sure to get some good quality compost and mix plenty of it into your soil or use it as a mulch on top of the ground.

Minimum spacing for small tomato plants, the determinate varieties, is two feet apart. Most of us grow the higher-yielding indeterminate tomatoes and they require more space, anywhere from three to six feet between plants.

Pouring a starter solution around the base of a newly planted tomato plant promotes early root growth. You can make one by mixing a soluble fertilizer such as 15-30-15 with water.

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Garden hit by the hail storm? Here are some tips to protect them

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3 tips for better gardening – Virginian

When I exit the garage to get my newspaper about 6 a.m. every morning, I’m greeted by soothing shh-shh-shh sounds.

Yes, it’s May and the pollen is gone and the lawn sprinklers are going.

When we bought our house in West Neck Villages in early 2016, I frowned when I saw the underground sprinkler control box on the garage wall. I knew immediately what was coming – green grass envy and high water bills.

I’ve had experiences with sprinkler systems and neighborhood men who love their lawns. While living in Kiln Creek in Newport News years ago, I watched the men, including my husband Ken, stand in the cul-de-sac, admiring their lawns and chuckling good-naturedly about which one of them had the best-looking lawn.

The unofficial losers walked back to their garages, grumbling and heading for the irrigation control boxes. You can bet the next morning – mornings, afternoons and evenings – the sprinklers were running and the lawn-care companies were pouring on the nitrogen.

About that time, I started the “Diggin’ In” gardening column for the Daily Press in Newport News, where I was a reporter and editor for decades. As the gardening writer, I started a crusade to teach people about the pros and cons of too much water and too much nitrogen on turf, especially cool-season fescue.

I have no patience or time for finicky plants or an irrigation system that can cause root rot quicker than you can say “plant, please, don’t die.” My gardening motto: You grow or you go.

So, for lawn lovers everywhere, here are my words of wisdom, based on experience and education – and Master Gardener certification:

Water wisely. Grass, and plants of all kinds, needs an inch of water per week. The worse kind of watering is frequent, short watering — such as 10 minutes, seven days a week, causing roots to grow shallow instead of deep. Instead, set your sprinklers for longer, deeper watering, maybe 20 minutes, three days a week. Too much water is also bad, causing fungal diseases like brown patch, especially during hot, humid weather. Some weeds also thrive in too-wet soil. Avoid the inclination to water when you have an inch of rainfall in a week’s time.

Mow wisely. Grass clippings are full of nutrient-rich nitrogen and moisture. Instead of bagging and dumping clippings, use a mulching mower to return those clippings back into the soil, where they will decompose and enrich your soil. Mow to remove one-third of the grass blades so the clippings decompose and do not clump on the lawn; mulch-mowing properly should not cause a thatch buildup.

Fertilize and seed wisely. Cool-season fescue thrives best when it’s seeded and fertilized in fall, giving roots the time to develop before hot summer weather arrives again. Too much nitrogen pushes top green growth at the expense of important underground root growth. Instead, a healthy balance of each is needed.

You will find helpful month-by-month, lawn-care calendars for cool- and warm-season grasses through Virginia Cooperative Extension at These are guidelines Ken and I have faithfully followed for years, and we thank Virginia Tech and its research-based gardening advice for helping us avoid sprinklers when we can.

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Tips for successfully growing basil in your herb garden

If you’re raising your own herb garden, you’re sure to have some basil growing.  Often referred to as the king of herbs, basil has more than sixty varieties worldwide.  Even in our area there are about 15-20 varieties that you can grow.  Here are some tips on how to have success growing your basil.

Basil loves warm weather, and in our area it’s considered a summer annual.  Make sure the basil in your garden is placed in part to full sunshine.  You can also grow it indoors for a while, especially if you have a grow light.  Basil doesn’t like too much water, so water it when it’s thirsty, but don’t keep it soggy.

To keep fresh leaves on your plant, pinch off the blooms.  The flowers are pretty, but the freshest leaves will come if they have been pinched off.  However, if you want to attract bees as pollinators, basil does a great job, so you’ll want to keep the flowers in that case.  Also, if you want to encourage seeds to be made so you can collect and plant next year, you’ll need flowers on your basil.

There are a number of basil varieties, like spicy globe basil which has a nice formal look, and purple foliage varieties that have deep colored leaves and add a lot of character to your garden.  Whatever your goal with basil, try experimenting with the different varieties, and have fun.

Have a gardening question?  Use the form below to ask the folks at Bennett Nurseries.  We may feature this in an upcoming Garden Tips segment!

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Go & Do: Field to Glass, Thaxter’s life story and Planting for Pollinators

Field to Glass on May 11

“Field To Glass: A Look At Local Hops” will be held at the Tributary Brewing Company at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 11. Maine Farmland Trust will lead a discussion about growing and using local hops in local beer, including a short presentation by Todd Mott, owner and brewer of Tributary Brewing Co; Luci Benedict, an associate professor of chemistry at University of Southern Maine; Ryan Houghton, owner and farmer of The Hop Yard; and Chris Cabot of Maine Farmland Trust. Tributary Brewing Company is located at 10 Shapleigh Road, Suite A, in Kittery.

One-woman show on Thaxter’s life

“The Remarkable Life of Celia Thaxter,” performed by actress Stephanie Voss Nugent, will be presented by Rochester Historical Society at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 11. Imagine being 4 years old and sailing off with your family to live at a lighthouse out in the ocean. This is what happens to Celia Laighton Thaxter, the wild and free child of the Isles of Shoals who became a famous poet, painter, and folklorist. This performance is free and open to the public. The Rochester Historical Society is located at 58 Hanson St., in Rochester. For information, call 330-3099 or email

Planting a bee-friendly garden

“Planting for Pollinators” will be presented from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 11, at the North Hampton Public Library. Insects such as bees and butterflies are helpful, and, in some cases, essential, in pollinating many of our food crops such as apples, berries and vegetables. In recent years, there has been a decline in the populations of these wild pollinators. Planting patches of flowers, wildflowers, grasses, shrubs and flowering trees can encourage and support natural pollinators as well as enhance backyard landscapes. For information, call 964-6326. The library is located at 237 Atlantic Ave., North Hampton, 

Upcoming plant sales

GREAT ISLAND GARDEN CLUB PLANT SALE: 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at New Castle Recreation Center, Wentworth Road (Route 1B). In time for Mother’s Day, celebrate the Great Island Garden Club’s 20th Anniversary Plant Sale. Pre-order the Plant of the Year, Fothergilla Gardenii. Call Ann Tarlton, 319-8660.

FRIENDS OF THE WEEKS LIBRARY PLANT SALE: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 13, Public Library, 36 Post Road, Greenland. The Friends of the Weeks Public Library will hold its annual plant sale, bake sale and chili luncheon. All pre-ordered flowering plants will be ready for pick-up. for the order form or stop in. or 436-8548.

HERB SOCIETY OF AMERICA NORTHEAST SEACOAST PLANT SALE: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Newington. The 30th annual sale will offer a wide selection of organic herbs, including 12 varieties of scented pelargoniums, native plants, annuals, perennials and plants from members’ gardens. Herb Society members will be available to assist visitors in finding the right plant for the right spot in their garden. or Facebook:NESUnit.

RYE DRIFTWOOD GARDEN CLUB MEETING AND SPEAKER: 10-11:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 16, at Rye Congregational Church, 580 Washington Road. Well-known garden book author and lecturer, Ellen Ogden, will present a program “The Art of Growing Food.” Her talk will focus on the artistic elements and classic garden design techniques that can elevate a backyard vegetable garden into a European-inspired potager. Public is invited to attend with a $5 donation suggested.

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Why You Should Clean Your Garden Tools

Although cleaning garden tools regularly (preferably after every use) is ideal, tending to trusty blades and spades prior to storage will help extend their life and effectiveness.

Leonard Perry, an extension professor at the University of Vermont who specializes in ornamental horticulture, floriculture and herbaceous perennial production, says regular maintenance helps preserve sharp edges on digging tools, prevents rust and removes soil that may have been contaminated by diseased plants. It also means a fresh start come spring.



Organized Living, original photo on Houzz

The Nitty-Gritty

“All tools are important to clean, especially those made with metal because of the risk of rust,” says Shirley Bovshow, landscape and edible-garden designer and proprietor of EdenMakers Garden Design. “Tools with moving parts or joints are especially vulnerable because of the crevices that trap dirt and moisture.”

For trowels, spades, shovels and pruners, Bovshow advises the tried-and-true method of first cleaning away dirt and garden debris, then, after mixing motor oil into a 5-gallon bucket filled with sand — just enough to moisten the sand slightly — dipping the tools into the bucket and swirling them around a bit. “The grit of the sand will remove encrusted dirt,” Bovshow says. “And the motor oil will protect the metal from rust.”

The gardening gurus at the National Gardening Association offer an alternative method for deep cleaning: Soak the metal ends of tools in a tub or bucket of hot, soapy water for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse with water and dry each tool thoroughly. Once dry, use WD-40 to lubricate the metal blades of shears and pruners and the metal heads of other tools and wipe away the excess.

Related: Wash Garden Tools in a New Utility Sink

To condition wood handles, the NGA recommends smoothing out rough, splintery spots with medium-grained sandpaper, then rubbing with a small amount of linseed oil. The oil will aid in preserving the wood, reduce splintering and guard against rot.



Teracottage-Limited Edition Artisan Sheds Such, original photo on Houzz

Sanitize Pruners Frequently

“Pruners should be sanitized with convenient bleach wipes or sanitizing spray before using them on plants,” Bovshow says. “If you are pruning several plants, pruners should be sanitized in between plants to prevent the spread of diseases and bacteria.”

Related: Ideas to Refresh Your Sunroom This Spring



John Bynum Custom Homes, Inc., original photo on Houzz

Remove Rust

If rust has found its way onto your tools, the NGA suggests scrubbing the area with a bit of steel wool and a dab of Naval Jelly rust dissolver, which should be used only in well-ventilated areas. Rubber or plastic gloves and safety glasses should be worn when using the gel too, because it contains hazardous chemicals.

If this sounds more than a little scary, the gardening association has a second option: Use a stiff wire brush to get off as much rust as you can, then apply a rust-inhibiting primer and paint the tools according to product directions.

Obviously, preventing rust is always Plan A. To do this, keep tools clean, dry and stored away from moisture.



Jill Asher, original photo on Houzz

An Ounce of Prevention

Avoiding rust can be as easy as wiping off tools with a damp cloth after use, drying them well and coating them lightly with a few drops of a multipurpose oil, such as 3-in-1 oil, on a paper towel.

Dirty trick: Bovshow says an easy way to clean tools after gardening sessions is to wipe down blades and metal equipment with disinfecting bleach wipes. Dry well and store.

“Make sure to have your cleaning materials handy so you don’t have to look for them in the dark after the sun has gone down,” Bovshow says. “If it’s too much effort to find them, you won’t do it.”

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Get Growing: Daily vists to the garden will reveal its secrets

Special to the Reading Eagle: Gloria Day | Virginia bluebells, a spring ephemeral, in the woodland garden.

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Chabad Garden Outside Chicago Protects an Endangered Species A native plant butterfly garden graces the grounds …

WILMETTE, Ill.—In the summer of 1992, Rabbi Dovid and Rivke Flinkenstein came to Wilmette and established a Chabad center in this leafy suburb north of Chicago. “Stop in and meet us,” is the couple’s motto. One day last year, I took them up on their offer.

As an author specializing in native plants and gardening, I stopped by to discuss environmental consciousness. “Doesn’t Torah law require Jews to be environmentalists?” I asked. “Doesn’t the Jewish concept of tikkun–repairing the world, physically and spiritually—include a concern to protect the environment?

While the media frequently highlights threats to plant and animal life in faraway places, less attention is paid to local ecological destruction, as in Chicago and its suburbs. Even the well-informed often know little about our local environment’s continuing degradation.

For example, most people are unaware of the Monarch butterfly’s catastrophic decline. Over the last 20 years, along with land development, farm land loss and pesticide use, there has been an 80 percent decrease in the population of these magnificent butterflies. Yet, all it takes to help is simply including in our gardens and landscapes the milkweed flowers (Asclepias species) that the Monarch females lay their eggs on and their caterpillars eat.

Native landscaping on the relatively new grounds of the elegant and impressive Chabad of Wilmette-Center for Jewish Life and Learning, I suggested, would dramatize their commitment to the environment, and publicize and help to do something about it, in a small but meaningful way.

The Flinkensteins were interested, so I suggested creating a butterfly garden composed of plants native to the Midwest.

Flowers, Grasses, Sedges and Shrubs

Wild geranium (Used with permission by Bernard L. Schwartz)

Why the Midwest?

Despite our tendency to think of landscaping in terms of popular Eurasian plants, it makes common sense to choose the equally ornamental and more butterfly-friendly native Midwestern plants that naturally grow and thrive in a local climate. Once native plants are established, they require neither fertilizers, watering nor pesticides. Mostly disease- and insect-resistant native plants have lower maintenance needs than most others that have been introduced from Asia or Europe.

Chabad decided to remove some of its lawn and replace it with a pollinator-friendly garden, featuring native Midwestern flowers, grasses, sedges and shrubs. This ensures that its message of helping the environment will be visible and inspirational to members and visitors interested in creating their own similar gardens. My husband, Bernie Schwartz, and I made a charitable donation enabling Chabad to retain the services of a landscaper specializing in native plantings.

Enter Monica Buckley, owner of Red Stem Native Landscapes, Inc., on Chicago’s North Side. At Chabad, she faced the challenge of repairing a difficult location and turning it into a beautiful garden that is sustainable and pollinator-welcoming. As she explained, the site “has some sunny spots, but is mostly in shade, and at one end has a steep drop-off.”

Before planting, Red Stem’s crew had to remove a lot of debris. Most of the existing topsoil had been scraped off, as is the local practice in new construction, leaving subsoil that was then compacted by heavy machinery during the synagogue’s construction; so the existing soil also had to be removed and replaced with topsoil because compacted soil lacks air. The different sun levels created several habitat types within the same garden. The slope required choosing plants that are compatible with dry conditions. It also eliminated plants that cannot handle being in the path of runoff. The bottom half, by village mandate, had to be lawn.

From left: Author and garden contributor Charlotte Adelman; Monica Buckley, owner of Red Stem Native Landscapes, Inc.; and Rivke and Rabbi Dovid Flinkenstein, co-directors of Chabad in Wilmette (Photo: Chicago Jewish News)

To further complicate things, the entire planting area was covered by a previously installed lawn irrigation system.

“Lawn, of course, is a water hog, and native plants are not. And because there is a slope, we planted plants that would be OK with dry conditions,” notes Buckley. To help the garden sort itself out, Red Stem planted similar species whose water needs vary somewhat. For example, they included both purple coneflower and pale-purple coneflower, which likes things a bit drier. “They often can grow together just fine, but in this case, one may supersede the other with time. This is the way of native plantings!”

Garden as an Outdoor Classroom

Today, children studying in the classroom can view Chabad’s native planting though the windows, so they “will be able to watch the wildlife and appreciate the woodsy, flowering view,” says Buckley. Going outdoors provides up-close looks at butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects. The flowers run the gamut of shooting stars, sun drops, wild geraniums and columbines to orange coneflowers that populate the sunny openings in the plantings, and woodland phloxes, zig-zag goldenrod and blue-stemmed goldenrod sharing space with woodland grasses, sedges and the indomitable shade-loving wild ginger.

Butterfly milkweeds provide long-blooming orange summer flowers and serve as “host plants” for Monarch butterflies. The females lay eggs only on plants their caterpillars eat—namely, Midwestern species of native milkweed (Asclepias). Providing four-season beauty are the red chokeberry and black chokeberry bushes that Red Stem planted along the north side of the building. In spring, they are fragrant with white flowers. The lustrous green leaves of summer turn gorgeous colors in fall, when abundant berries match the shrubs’ names. In winter, intriguing shapes are on display, and the shrubs’ persistent fruits provide many birds with emergency food.

Black chokeberry flowering in the spring (Used with permission by Bernard L. Schwartz)

“We are delighted to be partners in sustaining the beauty of G‑d’s world. This beautiful prairie garden aptly accents our center’s mission in making this world a dwelling place for G‑d, with all of His creations,” says Rivke Flinkenstein. She invited me to view the evocative sign Chabad installed to recognize our contribution. In shape and color, it resembles one of the blue butterflies, members of a group of small delicate butterflies that include a dainty local species, the dainty Spring Azure.

Buckley believes, and I agree, that the Chabad native garden “will help ensure that the children bring a love and appreciation for nature with them into adulthood. Learning early about the essential relationships between plants and insects and birds—and how native plants support our native wildlife—increases the chance that there will be people in the decades to come who are willing to defend and protect the diversity of species that is our birthright.”

And a seasonal and visual change: black chokeberry in the fall (Used with permission by Bernard L. Schwartz)

Chabad is providing Jewish children with a convenient location for discovering and learning to love nature.

Noting the butterfly’s vital role as a pollinator, Chabad’s website for children states: “While the butterflies seem to be just flitting around, having a good time and sipping nectar, they are actually fulfilling an important task: they are spreading pollen and helping the flowers reproduce. The footsteps of man are directed by G‑d” [Psalms 37:23]. Wherever we go, we have a mission to accomplish. Like butterflies, we can help others and accomplish good things everywhere we go, even when we are having fun.”

This article, which originally appeared in the Chicago Jewish News, has been adapted and reprinted with permission.

Related Article:

More than 200 people attended the grand opening of the new Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Wilmette, Ill., co-directed by Rabbi Dovid and Rivke Flinkenstein, who were joined two years ago by Rabbi Moshe and Esther Leah Teldon.

Chabad moves from temporary space in a funeral home to a building designed for communal needs

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Bentzion Rader

His personal accounts of meetings with the Lubavitcher Rebbe inspired many

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