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Archives for September 14, 2017

Fall into Gardening with OSU Master Gardeners

Heads up, backyard vegetable gardeners: Vertical gardening guru Harry Olson will share his productive system for growing vegetables on Oct. 7 at the Fall into Gardening event. The event begins at 9 a.m., at the Milwaukie Center, 5440 S.E. Kellogg Creek Drive, Milwaukie.

Olson perfected his system over the past ten years while living and gardening in a small city lot in Salem. An active OSU Master Gardener, Olson is part of the team that won a first place international competition for their research into the performance of grafted vegetables at the 2017 International Master Gardener Conference.

Staged by OSU Extension Master Gardeners of Clackamas County, Fall into Gardening offers the latest gardening know-how through classes, demonstrations, educational displays and soil pH testing service.

For the full event schedule, go to

The event features four 25-minute classes cover a wide range of topics.

Not confident with handling diseases and pests? The Fall and Winter Diseases and Pests class helps you to correctly identify the problem and offers solutions that are effective and sustainable.

Feel hesitant about pruning? Pruning Made Easy shows how to deal with common pruning challenges in many shrubs and trees and reviews the best time to prune.

Those wishing to add aesthetic punches to their garden should plan to attend Garden Design 101. It is packed with design tips, just in time for making plans for next year.

Want to garden in raised beds but don’t know how best to fill them? Building and Filling a Raised Bed outlines how to make a raised bed and provides a recipe for the best growing medium.

New this year is an extended “clinic” where Master Gardeners will identify your plant, disease or pest issues. Clients may submit samples beginning at 8:30 am. MG experts will work on the problem while clients attend classes and offer remedies before the event concludes.

Soil pH affects availability of soil nutrients to plants and is especially important to success in growing vegetables and blueberries. Fall is the ideal time to test soil pH. If adjustments are needed, amendments can work over winter to jump start spring planting. Each client may submit up to four soil samples taken from different areas of the garden for customized analysis of the lawn, vegetable patch, rose garden and perennial bed. Consult the “Testing Soil pH” 10-Minute University handout at for step-by-step instructions.

Master Gardeners are trained volunteers, educated through Oregon State University Extension Service, to offer the local community reliable, relevant and reachable gardening information.

This event is offered in partnership with the Oregon State University Extension Service Master Gardener€z?¢ Program, North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District and the Milwaukie Center. Accommodations request related to a disability should be made by Sept. 30 to Jean Bremer, 503-655-8631, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Home + Garden Digest: Education workshop integrates gardening, elementary education

SANTA CRUZ People looking to utilize their school garden to teach math and English can pick up tips at a UC Santa Cruz garden workshop on Sept. 29.

Hosted by the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, the workshop teaches participants garden activities that carry into the classrooms for K-6.

Graduate education units are available and lunch will be provided.

Registration is $180.

For information, visit

The Sentinel welcomes submissions for Home and Garden Digest. Email items to

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Mulch comes in many forms. Here’s a guide to picking one that best suits your garden

Mulches have two primary functions – they suppress weeds and they act as a protective blanket on top of the soil, slowing soil moisture evaporation and mitigating soil temperature fluctuations. How well mulches do those jobs depends a great deal on the type of mulch. You’ll find a huge selection of mulch types at garden centers and local nurseries. Here’s a quick guide to mulch types and their individual pros and cons.


Wood chip mulches – Chip mulches come in three sizes – large, medium and small.

Large chips often do not settle well, leaving spaces between and under each chip. The spaces allow sunlight to reach and germinate weed seeds on the soil surface underneath the mulch. And the spaces also provide room and shelter for pest insects to lay their eggs.

Small chips, less than 1 inch square, are lightweight and easily blown or raked away.

Medium chips, about 1 inch square, have enough weight to remain in place and they will settle into a uniform mat with few spaces. A 3- to 4-inch layer of medium-size chips will suppress weeds and prevent moisture loss well. Plan on topping off the mulch layer at least once a year.

Wood chip mulches will decompose over time, adding nutrients back into the soil and also acidifying (lowering the pH) of our highly alkaline soil a bit.

Cocoa hulls, coco fiber and coir mulches – Cocoa hulls look and smell good, but they’re toxic to dogs. Coco fiber and coir mulches do a good job of weed suppression and moisture conservation, but their rough texture makes it hard to rake and blow out debris. Coco fiber and coir mats make good tree ring mulches; weed suppression is excellent and irrigation water will soak through the mat into the soil.

Cedar shavings – Cedar shavings smell good and look fluffy, deep and high at first. The shavings will mat and knit together within a few months, sometimes creating a tight, impermeable surface that water cannot penetrate. The natural reddish color also fades fairly quickly to dull gray. Debris can be blown off cedar shavings, but raking out fallen leaves is not easy. Cedar shavings are not the best choice in our climate where we constantly must monitor and maintain soil moisture.

Rubber – Rubber mulches stay stable for up to 10 years, unlike natural wood product mulches which need annual replacement or topping. The mulches are made of used tires. Using rubber mulches near edibles is not recommended since the products can leach trace amounts of toxins and zinc into the soil. Landscape cloth should be placed underneath rubber mulches to prevent the particles from getting into the soil.

Rubber mulch tree rings work extremely well in suppressing weed growth around tree trunks. The solid surface rings can be mowed over, but irrigation water will not penetrate the soil around the trunk.

Rocks – drought-tolerant landscapes often use rocks as mulches and as decorative accents. Rocks look good, they’re permanent, and they do suppress weeds. Rocks also absorb, retain and reflect our intense summer heat, sometimes becoming too hot to touch. Place rock mulches away from plants and structures or use them only on the shaded north side of the garden.

When laying down any type of mulch, keep the product at least 4 inches away from tree trunks and plant stems to prevent wet mulch from rotting the plant wood.

Send Elinor Teague plant questions at

Concerts in the garden

The Clovis Botanical Garden is once again putting on a “Twilight Thursdays Concert Series” Sept. 14 through Oct. 5.

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Northeast corner of Clovis and Alluvial avenues

Amenities: Admission and parking are free. Cold drinks and dessert are available for purchase. Bring your picnic dinner and chairs and enjoy great music in the lovely garden.

Details: Check the garden’s website,, for a list of performers.

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Lonsdale police report for Sept. 3-9

Sept. 3

• Officer noticed two suspicious juveniles dressed in all black on Second Avenue Southeast. Juveniles fled on foot as the officer attempted contact. Officer was unable to locate the juveniles.

• Responded to a possible juvenile runaway on Twelfth Avenue Northeast. Juvenile located.

• Officer noticed a juvenile out after curfew on Halstad Ave. Juvenile released to parent.

• Responded to a medical on Fourth Avenue Southwest.

• Officer noticed a couple of juveniles on the roof of the concession stand at Jaycee Park. No damage found. Juveniles released to parents.

• Responded to a medical on Fourth Circle Drive Southeast.

• Officer checked on a suspicious occupied vehicle parked on Central Street West with no lights on. Occupants were waiting for a friend and decided to leave for home. Information only.

Sept. 4

• Received a fireworks complaint on Fig Street Northeast. Officer checked the area not locating anyone.

Sept. 5

• Received report of a male and female fighting on Central Street West. Officer checked the area not locating anyone.

• Responded to a domestic on Second Avenue Southwest. Verbal only; parties separated.

• Took information of two missing dogs on Seventh Avenue Northwest.

• Took a driving complaint of motorist driving fast and not yielding to pedestrians on Central and Railway Streets. Extra patrol requested.

Sept. 6

• Received request from Faribault Police to make contact with a party on Colorado Street Northwest. Contact made.

• Took a past action theft report on Birch Street Northeast.

• Received report of a dog found on Central Street East. Owner picked up the dog prior to officer arrival.

• Took report of a gas drive-off on Central Street East.

Sept. 7

• Responded to an alarm on Florida Street Southeast. Building secure; false alarm.

• Assisted with traffic control on Industrial Drive Southeast while construction material was moved.

• Received report of a suspicious occupied vehicle on Singing Hills Drive Southeast. Vehicle located; occupant was looking at landscaping for different ideas.

• Received request to check the welfare of a motorist who was hunched over and parked on the side of the road on Central Street West. Vehicle left prior to officer arrival.

• Officer checked on an occupied vehicle parked at Jaycee Park after hours. Officer located two adults involved in adult activities who were advised to leave.

Sept. 8

• Responded to a residential alarm on Florida Street Southwest. Officer cancelled prior to arrival.

• Received report of a suspicious occupied vehicle parked on Eleventh Avenue Northeast. Vehicle located; occupant was waiting in the area for an appointment.

• Responded to a medical on Delaware Street Southwest.

Sept. 9

• Received report of two juveniles operating an ATV on Ash Street Northeast. Officer checked the area and was unable to locate the ATV.

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Rice’s refocuses business on landscape maintenance

In my 20 years of consulting I have only worked with a few companies that had sales funnels, yet this simple measurement tool is as important as your profit loss statement.  This system is easy to set up and is extremely valuable in the sales process.  Companies that have them will have better quality leads, waste less time on unqualified prospects, and turn more proposals into contracts.  

Regardless of the markets you serve, commercial, residential, industrial, or if you do design build or maintenance, you will benefit from this simple measurement process.

So, What is a sales funnel?

For our purposes in the landscaping business a sales funnel is a system for measuring from the initial contact of a potential customer until the final sale.  The items that need to be tracked and measured are –

  1. The inquiry
  2. The lead
  3. The proposal
  4. The contract


The inquiry

The inquiry is a call that comes in that doesn’t become a lead.  Tracking inquiries helps determine how effective your direct marketing materials or your Internet marketing is.  For example, if you are trying to reach high-end clients, yet getting calls from people who can’t afford your high quality work, there may be a problem in your marketing materials, whether hard copy or electronic.  When ads are placed in magazines, newspapers, or direct mail, inquiries usually spike and this also helps determine what type of customer you are reaching . . . or not reaching.

It’s important that when calls come into your office these inquiries are screened properly; if not, unqualified prospects may become leads.  Unqualified leads just waste everyone’s time.  This process can be accomplished with good screening questions and proper training.  Large companies have, or should have, specialists to handle these calls; the reason for this is obvious.

The amount of inquiries should be counted and tracked each day.

The lead

A lead is a potential customer that fits the type of “targeted customer” you have identified and are looking for.  When these folks call, “lead sheets” should be filled out with all of the necessary information, including those screening questions we talked about above. 

If at all possible it’s best to book an appointment on that initial call and not say, Joe, John, or Sally will get back to you.  By adding this step it avoids the proverbial telephone tag even if you are using email to set your appointments.  Once the appointment is booked with your “lead”, they will most likely stop making phone calls to other contractors. 

Ideally, information for the lead sheet should be taken over the phone electronically and, if it is determined that the call is “qualified”, an appointment should be booked on the salesperson’s calendar electronically along with the lead sheet information.  Leads should be numbered and kept track of on a daily basis and entered into your sales tracking system.  If using paper lead sheets, the same process should take place, but it’s best to have the appointment entered directly onto the salesperson’s calendar. 

The proposal

Once the sales person/designer has the appointment with the prospect two things will happen.  The call turns into a proposal or it doesn’t.  If it doesn’t, a brief explanation of why should be turned in to the office where it’s being tracked.  By taking this step the office person knows the lead was taken care of in a timely way and what the result of this call was and why.  Without doing this step sometimes leads are neglected by having too much time pass between the call to the office and an actual appointment.  This is sometimes called “a leaky funnel”. 

If the call is successful and a proposal is needed, this should be sent to your office sales system as well.  Proposals can either be done during the first sales appointment or delivered to the potential customer at an agreed upon time.  

If your proposal doesn’t require a design, think about the idea of having a portable printer in your vehicle along with a computer.  There is no time like the present, while at the property, to prepare proposals.  The customer will be delighted when the door bell rings 20-30 minutes later with a formal proposal prepared in a branded company presentation folder.   My clients have reported this idea not only saved an enormous amount of time but helped them close 50 percent more jobs.  Why? This is because they try and close the job on the initial call, but enough on sales ideas let’s get back to the funnel. 

Once the proposal is created, it also should be numbered and tracked in your sales system.  If you try to “close” and get the job, great; but, if not successful then, an agreed upon time should be made when you will “check back”.  In other words, you are getting permission from the potential customer, in advance, to check in with him or her to “ask for the job”.  Many sales are lost because sales people don’t call back and ask for the job. 

The contract

If the proposal is accepted and a contract signed, in some organizations the sales process is over.  In others, especially with larger jobs, the salesperson may need to usher the job through until completion and invoicing. 

The pipeline

As these functions are occurring in your sales process and recorded in your sales funnel, the most important thing that results is your “pipeline”.  Your pipeline contains the potential leads and pending proposals in your funnel.  For example, if your company needs $1 million in new sales in the next 12 months and your close rate is 20% on the proposals you offer, then your goal needs to be five times your needed sales.  So your job as the owner/salesperson is to figure out how you are going to give proposals totaling $5M in your “target market”.  Now, you can see how important your sales funnel becomes. 

Most company funnel reports are in an Excel spreadsheet.  The project name is placed in the first column along the top followed by contact phone number, contact name, type of job, date submitted, amount of bid, the probability of getting the job as a percentage, and comments.  The information in this report should be ongoing and used in the company’s weekly sales meetings. 

There you have it, the basic information for a sales funnel.  Now all you need to do is set up the process described above and have the discipline to religiously follow it.  The companies that use this simple process have much greater control of their sales, usually have much better results and, in the end, make more money!


Ed Laflamme, LIC, grew the largest landscape company in Connecticut and sold it in 1999.  Ed then co-founded The Harvest Group with Bill Arman. He’s a professional speaker, author, business advisor, and coach serving landscape owners nationwide.  Visit to learn more about Ed and his company. Ed can be reached via


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LSU students suggest ideas for former St. Luke facility

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AFTER HURRICANE IRMA: What you need to know in Gardens Wednesday

The Palm Beach County curfew has been adjusted. Now, it’s from midnight to 6 a.m., until further notice. Palm Beach Gardens Police reported six arrests between 8 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Tuesday for theft, curfew violation (one), domestic battery and drug charges.

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White House takes up 11-year-old on offer to mow Rose Garden lawn

Earlier this year, Frank, an 11-year-old from Virginia, wrote to President Donald Trump to tout his burgeoning neighborhood lawn-mowing business and offer to travel to Washington, D.C. to work on the White House grass.

On Friday, he’ll get his wish.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders revealed Wednesday that Frank will be visiting to work with the White House groundskeeping team and will assist with landscaping work in the Rose Garden.

“The president is committed to keeping the American Dream alive for kids like Frank and we’re all looking forward to having him here,” said Sanders.

On August 2, Sanders read from Frank’s letter during that day’s press briefing.

“Dear Mr. President, it would be my honor to mow the White House lawn for some weekend for you. Even though I’m only 10, I’d like to show the nation what young people like me are ready for. I admire your business background and have started my own business,” read Sanders, who explained Frank has recently celebrated a birthday and turned 11.

“I have been mowing my neighbors’ lawns for some time… Here’s a list of what I have and you are free to pick whatever you want: power mower, push mower, and weed whacker. I can bring extra fuel for the power mower and charged batteries for the weed whacker,” she continued.

The press secretary said she had spoken with Trump who offered his support to Frank. He further invited him to visit to see “how the U.S. Park Service maintains the 18 acres of the White House complex,” said Sanders.

The first White House rose garden was created by First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson, the wife of President Woodrow Wilson, according to the White House Historical Association. The grounds’ gardens were renovated and expanded in the early 1960s.

ABC News’ Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.

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Keeping container gardens safe as cooler temperatures come around

Container gardens continue to remain popular as those with smaller properties are still able to enjoy greenery this way, but they do have special needs when the temperatures begin to drop.

Unlike plants in the landscape, those in containers are more vulnerable to having their roots freeze as the soil hardens more above ground.

Depending on your customer’s available space, they have two main options when it comes to overwintering plants in containers: bring them indoors or protect them outside.


If your client wants to bring their container plants indoors, caution them that there’s a little more to it and simply moving the potted plants from the patio to the living room.

First, the temperatures need to be dipping below 60 degrees Fahrenheit regularly before they need to worry about any great migration indoors.

When it comes to determining which should stay and which should go, focus on keeping only the healthy plants. Those that have been struggling throughout the summer will only become more stressed by indoor conditions. It is best to put these out of their misery. The same goes for plants with pest or a disease your client thinks they can save.

When prepping plants for the move, advise clients to look for unwelcome hitchhikers like mealy bugs or spider mites. They can also soak the pot in lukewarm water for around 15 minutes to cause bugs to scramble to the surface for oxygen.

As for where your customer should put their containers, those that need full sun should be placed near south-facing windows and plants needing partial sun should be near east- or west-facing windows. Homeowners should avoid placing their containers in spots that experience wintertime drafts, like by doors.

“One must remember that the outdoor environment of summertime is very different compared to the heated indoor environment of winter,” Harold Taylor, a section gardener at Longwood Gardens told Mother Nature Network.


For containers that are too big to bring indoors, or if homeowners are reluctant to have their plants inside for whatever reason, these can be prepped to survive winter’s freezing temperatures and gusty winds.

Keep in mind some plants will not be hardy enough to survive winter conditions so let your customers know that in order to overwinter a perennial or shrub in a container outside, it needs to be two zones hardier than the zone they live in.

One of the other challenges aside from more exposed roots, is soil moisture. Overwatering can cause the container to break from expansion as ice forms, but dry soil allows frost to penetrate deeper in the air spaces.

Containers should be clustered with the smallest in the center in a protected area, such as an overhang or near a south facing wall. They can also be covered with materials like leaf litter and mulch to help insulate the plants.

In open areas, creating a burlap screen as a windbreak can provide protection for woody plants and other plants that are susceptible to sunscald. The most extreme method available for outdoor containers is trenching, which is where the plant, pot and all, are laid down and covered with soil and mulch for the winter.

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