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Archives for June 24, 2017

The art of finding lost things

Lost your house keys? Can’t find your specs? Your daughter can’t find her favourite doll? Try some findology to prevent losing things around the house. According to Findologist Michael Solomon, author of How to Find Lost Objects: “Don’t get frantic and keep searching around. There are no missing objects, only unsystematic searches and clutter.”

Solomon says if everything is in its place, nothing will be lost. Meaning: design spaces for specific things. So, your keys, spectacles, mobile, its charger and all thingamajigs must have designated spaces – and then, consistently put the objects there.

Clutter begone

While designing a house, it’s important to keep it free of clutter. Because amid clutter, things become invisible and virtually unfindable. Solomon says, “Keys are among the most common objects we lose. And a missing set of keys can bring our day to a sudden and infuriating halt.” But if you have lost something key, the big tip to finding it is to remain calm. “The moment you calm down, the lost object shows up,” he says.

Solomon says that there’s also “The Camouflage Effect” – a common situation in which your missing object is where you thought it was, or where you remember last having seen it. But it has become hidden from view, due to some other object having been inadvertently placed on top of it. The way out: look underneath things.

Make up for lost time

The basic reason people should use findology while designing houses is to stop wasting time that goes in looking for things. Interior designer Namita Sharma says, “People want specific corners in cupboards for placement of things in the kitchen and bedrooms.” In smart houses, Sharma mentions that they try to create uncluttered spaces where there’s no scope for an object just disappearing. Her take: “Lost keys, books, eyeglasses, jewellery, many times simply vanish and resurface after years. We want to reduce the frustration and trauma.”

The 12 principles of finding lost objects

1. Don’t look for it.

2. It’s not lost – you are.

3. Remember the three C’s: be comfortable, calm and confident.

4. Its where it’s supposed to be.

5. Domestic drift. If an object is missing from its designated space, it’s probably where it was last used.

6. You’re looking right at it.

7. The camouflage effect. It becomes hidden, due to some other object placed on top of it.

8. Think back.

9. Look once, look well.

10. The Eureka zone.

11. Tail thyself. Skip the effortless searches and retrace the places.

12. It wasn’t you.

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Gardening tips and chores for July

Jessica Damiano
Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print and online media.

She has worked on Newsday’s interactive endeavors since 1994, and currently is Deputy Editor overseeing’s Lifestyle and Entertainment coverage.

Jessica enjoys toiling in her garden — a never-finished work in progress — and helping local gardeners solve their horticultural problems in her Garden Detective column, which appears every Sunday in Newsday.

The Garden Detective blog was awarded a Press Club of Long Island Society of Professional Journalists Online Features Reporting Award.

Jessica lives in Glen Head, NY, with her husband John, daughters Justine and Julia, dogs Maddie and Miguel, and a whole bunch of perennials, vegetable plants and weeds.

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July! It’s time to celebrate independence, but we gardeners are never free from the chores that keep our plants thriving. We don’t mind, though, because the rewards are every bit as good as that chargrilled hot dog, roasted marshmallow and fireworks display that make the month festive. Enjoy the party, and mind these chores and tips to keep the colors bursting all summer long.

1. If you’re aiming for a giant pumpkin, pick off all but one flower from each plant and fertilize every week.

2. Deadhead perennials, roses and annuals to encourage continued blooming.

3. Water your lawn in the morning to prevent disease, and remember: Less-frequent deep irrigation is better than a daily sprinkle.

4. Happy Fourth of July! It’s time to fertilize the lawn.

Jessica DamianoEnter the 2017 Great LI Tomato Challenge

5. Fertilize flowering plants every 10 days, following package directions.

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6. Shear spring bloomers like creeping phlox and sweet alyssum now for improved blooming next year.

7. Cut back asters, sedum and chrysanthemums by one-third. Don’t worry; they’ll grow quickly and more lush.

8. Join the Great Long Island Tomato Challenge by sending a photo of yourself with your plants, along with your methods, to

9. Most plants require about 1 to 1 1⁄2 inches of water per week. Be sure to compensate for rain (or lack thereof).

10. Clean birdbaths and change the water frequently.

11. Fertilize tomatoes, eggplants and peppers as soon as they set fruit.

12. To prevent powdery mildew, thin crowded plants, water only in the morning and aim water at roots, not leaves.

13. For bigger tomatoes, regularly remove suckers — those tiny stems that grow between branch crotches.

14. Green beans: the more you pick them, the more they’ll make.

15. Shear hedges, such as yews, one last time.

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16. For the best flavor, harvest herbs midmorning, just after the dew has dried.

17. Check potted plants for water twice daily. They dry out more quickly than their garden counterparts.

18. Sow seeds of cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, radish and broccoli directly into the garden now for a fall crop.

19. Those near the shore should spray tree leaves with antidessicant now to help prevent salt and wind damage.

20. Mound soil up against squash and cucumber stems to protect against vine borers.

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21. Plant peas again for fall harvesting.

22. Give newly planted trees 1 1⁄2 inches of water per week, preferably from a drip irrigator.

23. For larger dahlia blooms, remove side shoots from main stems.

24. Harvest potatoes when foliage begins to die back.

25. Pick melons when the skin turns yellow and stems loosen.

26. Don’t allow zucchini to grow more than 5 to 6 inches long. Harvest often, or the plant will stop producing.

27. Pick off tomato hornworms by hand, and drown in a bucket of soapy water.

28. Keep on top of weeds.

29. Fertilize strawberries after harvesting.

30. Divide bearded irises and replant with the tops of their crowns exposed.

31. Cut flowers in the morning, and they’ll last longer in a vase, but clip them late in the day if you plan to dry them.

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Natural attraction: Alan Titchmarsh’s tips on growing wild flowers

I love my garden (not that you will be surprised to hear that) but I also love my patch of wilderness and I reckon every garden should have one.

Now by “wilderness” I do not mean an overgrown area of thistle, nettles and ground elder surrounding an old supermarket shopping trolley (though even weeds are useful to wildlife and nettles are the food plants of several butterfly larvae). No, I mean a “wild flower meadow” that can be no larger than a couple of square yards if space is in short supply.

Watching cowslips open in April, followed by marguerites and buttercups in May, with vetches, scabious and knapweed to follow, gives me tremendous pleasure and the bees and butterflies are just as happy. The trick is to turn just a small part of your lawn into such a haven and doing so can be easier than you think.

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This week’s gardening tips: pull up petunias, plant sweet potato vine


This week’s gardening tips: To encourage continued blooming, remove spent flowers from bedding plants, such as marigolds, zinnias, pentas, cosmos, salvia and rudbeckia.

If you planted petunias this spring: Don’t be surprised if they begin to look poorly sometime in July, though some will last until August. Petunias do not tolerate the intense heat of summers this far south. Replace them with more heat-tolerant bedding plants, such as angelonia, blue daze, celosia, coleus, gaillardia, lantana, ornamental sweet potato, Profusion zinnia, marigold, melampodium, narrow-leaf zinnia, pentas, periwinkle, purslane, salvia, scaevola or torenia.

Be careful of mosquitoes: West Nile virus is still a concern, and you should always put on mosquito repellent before going out to work in your garden. Remember to reapply as needed, which is likely more often than you think given how much we sweat at this time of the year.

Dan Gill is a horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter.

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Tips for a naturally pest-free garden

There’s no greater joy than a garden full of perfect-looking plants.

Many garden pests, however, use our gardens as their own salad bar. With a few simple adjustments, you can stop pest problems before they start. Here are some garden-natural tips to help you this year.

* Start with quality soil. Tilling in organic matter such as compost will keep your soil “clean” and provide the beneficial elements to keep pests away.

* Look for disease resistant plants. It’s easier to prevent problems then it is to get rid of them. Many different vegetable and ornamental plant varieties today are bred to be more pest and disease resistant.

* Thin out plants. Small, weak seedlings are more likely to become diseased and pass on problems to healthy plants. Prune established plants to improve air flow. Provide enough space in between plants to provide good air circulation.

* Water in the morning. If you water later in the day, the foliage will be damp during the cooler nighttime, which creates an ideal condition for promoting fungus and disease issues.

* Keep your garden clean. Remove weeds, faded blooms or plant debris which can be breeding grounds for problems. Cut off dead or infected diseased leaves as soon as you see them so that they don’t contaminate the whole plant.

* Use insect traps. Yellow “sticky” cards are available at garden centers. When placed on the ground or in between plants, they can catch many pests in the garden. These are helpful when catching aphids.

* Pesticides cannot distinguish between good and bad insects. There can be times when you need to use a pesticide as a last resort. Make sure first you have correctly diagnosed the problem. Read the labels thoroughly and follow application directions carefully.

Visit Cornell’s Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic at or Cornell’s Insect Diagnostic Laboratory at for fact sheets on different problems and information regarding plant issues.

Rosanne Loparco is a master gardener volunteer with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County. Look for more gardening tips in the Observer-Dispatch or online at

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