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Archives for October 6, 2017

Top six reasons to visit Waikato

Waikato Home and Garden Show
Waikato Home and Garden Show

New Zealand’s largest home and garden show is on in Hamilton, brimming with inspiration to help you create your dream home.

If you’re renovating, decorating, building, landscaping, maintaining, redesigning – or simply love to see what’s happening in the home and garden world, this is the event for you. Here are our top reasons to check it out.

Waikato Home and Garden Show
Waikato Home and Garden Show

1. Tap into the tiny house trend

The tiny house movement is sweeping the world, and New Zealand is catching on! By re-thinking what constitutes a home, tiny houses are revolutionising the housing market – creating affordable, sustainable and mobile housing solutions.

Check out a display of tiny houses at the show, and head along to a seminar by Nathan Orr – a tiny house enthusiast who’s currently building his own, and has started an online platform to connect tiny house owners with those who have spare land to park them on.

Waikato Home and Garden Show
Waikato Home and Garden Show

2. Devour the local food scene

It’s not all bricks and mortar! The Waikato Home Garden Show also plays host to the SMEG Cooking Theatre, where some of the region’s finest chefs will do live cooking demonstrations, all included in your ticket.

Plus a Gourmet Food Pavilion is bursting with new products, flavours and ingredients for you to explore, from small artisan providers through to household favourites. Once that has whet your appetite, peruse onsite eateries for gourmet coffee, souvlaki, nourishing Soul Bouls, doughnuts, gourmet barbecues, wine, craft beer, pizza, mussel fritters, churros, Mexican food and so much more.

3. Find interior inspiration

For more than 20 years the show has hosted the NZ Interior Design Awards. A true crowd favourite, this event has a collection of interior designers create inspirational spaces onsite at the show, working to this year’s theme A Celebration of Colour.

You’ll be able to explore their designs, pick up some style inspiration for your own home, and vote for your favourite design to go in the draw to win a Fujitsu Classic Heat Pump.

4. Discover blooming awesome gardens

If you’re into lush garden settings, beautiful flowers, modern landscaping ideas, and all manner of green things, you’ll certainly want to head to the Mitre 10 Mega Garden Lane. Feel at one with nature with phenomenal landscape displays and find everything you need to create your own garden of paradise.

5. Get your project sorted

If you’ve got a project in the pipeline, big or small, you’ll find just about everything you need to get it sorted at the Waikato Home Garden Show. There’s everything from tapware, paving, shelter solutions, spas and security to new furniture, restoration, lighting, fires, floors, plants and insulation. You’ll also find experts in the field to help you kick off your project, whether you need an architect, building team, finance, painters, interior designers or any other experts.

6. Learn from the pros

Property can be a minefield, so the Resene Designer Seminar Series brings you top industry professionals on a variety of topics that will transform your home and garden. Find out how to create low maintenance gardens with a real x-factor, understand how to create a colour scheme that wows and works, learn the secrets of sustainable design and energy efficient homes, hear about meth contamination and what you need to know and discover what’s trending in tiles.

Hamilton News

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Pulse site may get new fence, benches in short-term memorial plan

Pulse nightclub could soon get a new fence, bench seating for visitors and improved landscaping, under an interim memorial plan submitted to the city.

The proposal, which the Orlando City Council will consider Monday, would keep the nightclub mostly unchanged for up to two years as the onePulse Foundation works to design a permanent memorial to the 49 people killed in the mass shooting there last year.

The interim plan calls for a wood fence with murals around the club, which has been surrounded by a chain-link fence since soon after the shooting, as well as lighted benches and a perforated steel wall for visitors to leave mementos.

The designs also show a portion of the shuttered nightclub’s asphalt parking lot being replaced with artificial-turf landscaping, as well as several sycamore trees. The club’s roadside sign would remain, its base encased with frosted polycarbonate panels.

Looking Good Award goes to Millhollin home

The attentive folks at Carpinteria Beautiful are always on the lookout for head-turning homes, and this fall their eyes landed on the El Carro Lane home of Keith and Suzie Millhollin. The organization dedicated to keeping Carpinteria clean, green and beautiful recently honored the Millhollins with its Looking Good Award. “We have been watching the progress of their yard for some time and think his work has turned out just beautiful,” said Diane Freeman.

Keith said that the project proved to be an amalgam of various drought-tolerant landscaping ideas that he and his wife noted around town. Coastal Landscape helped the couple with design, and Abe Nursery and Foothill Nursery provided the plants. After research and labor, it’s “now a relief to sit back and watch the plants take hold,” said Keith. “We are proud and are ready to enjoy how the front of our house has greatly improved, and hopefully added value to our neighborhood.”

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Adult spelling bee supports county libraries

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Palo Alto organization helps locals’ gardens grow

Two years ago, Palo Alto resident Ezinne Uzo-Okoro took leave from a 13-year career engineering spacecraft and began something a bit more Earthbound.

She created Terraformers, an organization aimed at connecting professional gardeners with homeowners looking to transform their water-thirsty lawns and yards into edible landscapes.

“I just believe we can change the culture around lawn use by using our garden resources,” Uzo-Okoro said.

But knowing where to find expert help is often the most difficult step in creating an edible landscape, she said.

“If you need your lawn mowed, you search for a landscaper, but what if you need help growing food in your yard,” she asked.

That’s where Terraformers comes in.

Through her service, Uzo-Okoro has partnered with about 45 edible landscapers who she helps connect with homeowners who need help growing produce that fits their needs and soil compositions.

Uzo-Okoro makes it really clear, however, that she’s not a gardener herself. She merely helps people make connections.

One of the landscape designers who works with Terraformers is Oakland-based Leslie Bennett and her company Pine House Edible Landscaping. Though Bennett now lives in the East Bay, her roots, and many of her clients, are in Palo Alto.

“I was born and raised in Palo Alto,” Bennett said. “I know, having grown up in Palo Alto, that Palo Alto has always been really innovative in bridging tech and environmental issues, and I think Terraformers is a very Palo Alto phenomenon.

“I really respect that (Uzo-Okoro) is trying to connect the dots (between clients and gardeners),” she added.

Uzo-Okoro’s vision goes beyond just home gardens.

She was inspired to start Terraformers partly to cut down on transportation costs and the use of fossil fuels, among other things, as well as to combat hunger. One of the missions of Terraformers is to help homeowners donate excess produce to food banks.

“… There are people who are perpetually hungry and I wanted do something about it, and as a Millennial, I care about what is happening to our climate,” Uzo-Okoro said. “The whole point (of Terraformers) is to focus on keeping this Earth habitable for us … we want to make gardening commonplace.

“To ‘terraform’ is to make a place Earthlike and habitable for Earth-based organisms, like you and me,” she added.

After more than a decade at NASA and five spacecraft with her fingerprints on them set to fly out of this world, Uzo-Okoro’s dreams lie in the dirt at her feet.

“I want a million edible gardens by 2020,” she said. “We can do such good by installing a million edible gardens around the U.S. … food should be grown where humans live,” she said.

For more information about Terraformers, go to the California Avenue Farmer’s Market where the organization has a table, or go to

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The Garden Center at Suncrest Gardens: Home of the ‘Horticultural Superheroes’

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HAGA Unveils Top 3 Heirloom Vegetable Gardening Tips for Beginners

Carson City, NV – October 5, 2017 – Lots of gardeners these days enjoy growing heirloom seeds because of their fascinating colors, deep flavors, rich history and interesting varieties. However, the idea can be quite intimidating for some beginners. There’s still this misconception that heirloom varieties are tricky to grow, but Home and Garden America (HAGA) disagrees with this. Being in the heirloom seed business for years, the company has guided beginners into starting their very own heirloom vegetable gardens.

“Just because you’re a novice doesn’t mean you can’t grow heirlooms. With the right tips, anyone can successfully grow a bountiful heritage garden,” said Chuck Harmon, Founder and CEO of Home and Garden America. He went on to share some surefire tips to help beginner gardeners grow heirloom seeds.

His first heirloom gardening tip is to choose easy-to-grow varieties. A common beginner mistake is starting with the wrong varieties. Most people will opt for the varieties they like without careful consideration. This often results to failure because some heirloom vegetables are simply more difficult to grow than others.

“The trick is to start small and simple so you don’t end up overwhelming yourself. Easy-to-grow vegetables like beets, beans, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes are a good start. Maybe plant one or two veggies at first and once you’re ready to grow more, you can proceed with the others,” Mr. Harmon remarked.

The second tip is to get specific heritage varieties that suit one’s palate. As previously mentioned, the chosen varieties must be easy to grow but also highly enjoyable for the gardener.

“When it comes to flavor, heirlooms are king. There’s always a particular variety to suit every gardener’s taste. If you’ve decided to start with heirloom tomatoes, varieties such as Red Cherry and Yellow Pear are perfect for those who like sweetness, while old favorites like Red Beefsteak and Rutgers offer classic flavors that are loved by many. As you search for your ideal varieties, you’ll find that heirlooms produce the best-tasting crops that come in a vast array of characteristics and flavor profiles. Pick those that you know you will love so that gardening will even be more rewarding for you,” Mr. Harmon continued.

The third tip is to save seeds from the best crops. By annually saving heirloom seeds, beginner gardeners are not only reducing their gardening costs in the long run but also encouraging sustainability, which is an essential part of vegetable gardening.

“Heirloom seeds are great for seed saving because they are open-pollinated. This means they can keep the core traits of their parent plants so that when you grow them the next season, identical crops are produced. If you do this every year, you won’t have to purchase new seeds because you’ll always have a continuous seed supply,” Mr. Harmon further added.

With these 3 simple tips, beginners should have a nice head start in their heritage gardening journey. Gardeners can learn more about heirloom vegetable varieties at

About Home and Garden America

Home and Garden America is the gardening division of the Charles C Harmon Co LLC. The small family-owned business offers heirloom seeds for vegetable gardening as well as survival preparedness.

Media Contact
Company Name: Home and Garden America
Contact Person: Chuck Harmon
Phone: 888-582-6650
City: Carson City
State: Nevada
Country: United States

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Here are some pansy pointers you simply must follow

Pansies and their small-flowering sisters the violas are the No. 1 bedding plants for Texas landscapes, and they have been for probably 40 or 50 years.

That’s as measured up against stalwarts like periwinkles, pentas, lantanas and marigolds.

How can that be? Simple: In the warm weather you get to choose from several dozen different types of colorful annuals. In the winter there are far fewer, and pansies are the most durable of them all, and their prime planting time runs now through mid-November.

Yet, as tough as they are, there are still ways you can fail when you grow pansies in Texas. Let me outline the ground rules to success with pansies here in our state.

Start with vigorous transplants. When I was a kid with a nursery in College Station I met the bus from Tyler (Lindale) each October, and I got my pansies rolled up in wet newspaper. I rode my bike from customer to customer planting their front beds full of those pansy transplants.

Surprisingly, they did very well. But in the past 50 years all of those transplants have ended up in 4-inch pots, and it’s become even easier.

Look for healthy, vigorous plants that are compact and full. Avoid lanky plants that have stretched due to this year’s late September heat. Hot weather is not pansies’ friend.

Plant in full sun. Pansies have to have it to grow and bloom to full potential. Be especially careful planting them on the north side of your house. That bed may be in full sun now, but as the angle of the sun moves in late fall and winter, the plants may not get enough sunlight.

Plant in raised beds. Good drainage is critical. Pansies that are planted at ground level will struggle and die during prolonged winter and early spring wet spells. If you raise the planting bed, even by as little as 2 or 3 inches, incident rainfall will be carried away from their roots. You’ll see a marked difference in your plants’ performance.

Amend the soil generously. As with the raised planting beds, this is also about good aeration. Our native clay soils are not suitable for good growth of pansies. Incorporate several inches of organic matter, preferably of several types.

I like to add 2 inches of sphagnum peat moss and 1 inch each of compost, finely ground pine bark mulch, rotted manure and expanded shale. I rototill that to a depth of 10 or 12 inches. That ensures good drainage and ample oxygen around the plants’ roots.

Space the plants far enough apart that they won’t crowd one another, yet close enough together that they can grow and fill in and be seen as one mass of color. That usually means 9 or 10 inches apart, checkerboarded across the bed.

Fertilize pansies regularly. They grow and bloom best when they are nourished regularly with a high-nitrogen, water-soluble plant food. Fertilize every second or third time that you water them. Look for specific directions on the product’s container.

You probably won’t have to “dead-head” spent blooms. Pansies don’t produce enough seeds to slow down additional flowering. If you’re growing large-flowering varieties, however, you may find it more satisfying if you pinch off the old flowers as soon as they start to fold up and dry.

Speaking of flower size, you’ll get the very best floral display if you plant smaller or mid-sized varieties. They’ll produce masses of flowers that will be seen as a colorful blanket.

Large-flowering types are sometimes used as cutflowers in bowls, but they don’t make as dramatic a show in the landscape. Varieties with solid colors are also showier than those with contrasting “faces.” Masses of one color make the most impact, but in recent years growers have created some very attractive blends of harmonious and complementary colors that many gardeners find appealing as well.

Pansies are wonderfully suited to patio pots and decorative containers. Large pots handle extreme cold better because the plants’ roots won’t freeze as rapidly. Always keep the plants thoroughly hydrated when a strong cold front is expected.

Their foliage and flowers may shrivel badly during the actual freeze, but if they’ve been watered a day or two prior to the cold, the plants will almost always bounce right back after temperatures climb back above freezing.

You can also give them a few degrees of added protection by covering them with lightweight frost cloth from the nursery. It can actually be left in place for extended periods of time if necessary. Just don’t let it press the plants down.

Pansies combine well with other sources of cool-season color. Use them in contrast to ornamental cabbage and kale or alongside pinks or snapdragons.

All of those are reasonably winter-hardy to temperatures into the low 20s and even below. But when the chips are down, pansies are the best of the bunch.

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Here’s how to grow garlic, onions, shallots and leeks

If you can overlook the inevitable bad breath, there are many reasons to fill your gardens with alliums — onions, garlic, shallots and leeks.

Master Gardener Janet Miller, who manages the Walnut Creek demonstration garden, Our Garden, says alliums are rich in important nutrients for our health. They also add flavor to our meals and are kind of satisfying to harvest.

They are easy to grow, Miller says, but we need to follow some basic rules.

Alliums rules

Alliums need lots of sun, so they should be planted in the sunniest part of our garden. They also need good drainage, which means for our clay soils we need to add compost and nutrients. In some cases, we might have more success growing in a raised bed with imported soil.

The bulb plants also are heavy feeders and will need generous doses of nitrogen and phosphorous. Miller recommends adding blood meal or cotton seed for nitrogen, and fish bone meal for phosphorus. For a 100-square-foot bed, you’d add 3 pounds of each.

Drip irrigation is best, and you should allow the soil to become slightly dry between watering. Too much moisture will cause the alliums to rot, or just not produce.

Timing also is important when growing alliums. Green — also called bunching — onions need only about 60 days to produce, and they can be planted now and again in the spring. Bulbing onions are not frost tolerant, so unless you live in an area that doesn’t get much frost, it’s best to grow them in the spring.

Leeks and garlic are frost tolerant, however garlic should be planted now and harvested in June.

Gophers and rats also share our love of alliums. You’ll probably need to provide some protection. For gophers, planting in large gopher cages can keep them from nibbling on the onions underground. If you grow in a raised bed, be sure to put hardware cloth at the bottom before adding the soil.

Rats often will nibble on the new tender shoots, but using a cover or shade cloth over the bed until the plants are more established should help that problem.

Green onions

For novice allium growers, green onions will give you a taste of success. You can sow seeds in the ground or start them in a flat. Several seeds are planted in one hole and the onions grow in bunches.

If doing transplants, just pop the clump of seedlings into each planting hole. You harvest them in bunches, rinse off the dirt and and separate the bulbs.


Although green onions are tasty and probably the easiest to grow, Miller says nothing is quite as thrilling as growing your own large bulbing onions. They can be a bit trickier to grow, but well worth the effort.

Onions can be purchased as seed, sets — dormant baby onions — and seedlings. Miller has the best success with seedlings, either those she purchases or those she starts herself in flats. Sets already have one year of growth on them so they tend to bolt faster than new growth onions.

Onions also are classified by day length — short, interim and long day. Our climate is not suited for short day varieties, but we can grow interim and long day onions.

Onions are not root vegetables, and are the only plants we grow that has its leaves below ground. Some of the leaves will grow above the surface, but those that remain underground fatten and thicken up to form the onion layers.

Because of their sensitivity to the cold, they are more a spring crop. Miller recommends waiting until late January or mid February to plant bulbing onions, and then you should wait until your garden bed is dry enough that you can work the soil without it clumping. Onions like well-draining soil and don’t like sitting in wet earth.

Be sure to give your onions plenty of space to grow. Plant about 6 inches apart. They can be stored for several months if kept in a cool place. Sweeter onions don’t store as long.


Leeks are cold tolerant and can be planted in the fall and left in the garden through March.

They have one special caveat, and that’s that the leek needs to be blanched. To do that, dig a trench about 6 inches deep and plant the seedlings. Mound soil around the plants and keep mounding as the leeks grow taller.

This will cause a portion of the stalk to be white. It won’t hurt if you don’t blanch, but you’ll have less of the plant to eat.

Plant leeks 4 to 6 inches apart.


Shallots are unique in the allium family, Miller says, because one bulbs will produce 6 to 10 shallots. They don’t like the cold, so plant these tasty alliums only in the spring unless you live in an area that does not typically get frost.

When planting the bulbs, plant root down with the tip just barely covered with soil. When the tops start to dry and fall over, harvest your shallots and put in a shady spot to cure.


Many people love growing garlic and Miller says it’s worth devoting a portion of your garden to the stinking rose. Garlic should be planted in October and harvested in June.

Garlic comes in two types — hard neck and soft neck. Hard neck varieties produce scapes — tender shoots that grow from the top of the bulb. These can be harvested as they are produced and used in cooking.

Hard neck has a stronger flavor, can endure harsher winters and produces larger but fewer cloves. If you like to braid garlic, this is not the type for you.

Soft neck, which doesn’t have scapes, can be braided. It produces more cloves, but they are smaller and harder to peel. Soft neck varieties also will store longer than hard neck.

It’s possible to start garlic in flats and transplant the seedlings to your garden.

Next week in the garden: Did you have problems in your vegetable garden this year? Come learn about what might have caused them and how to fix them. The Master Gardeners offer free classes at Our Garden, 10 a.m. Wednesdays, April through October. Master Gardeners also are on hand to answer questions, and plants are for sale every week. All produce from Our Garden is donated to the Monument Crisis Center in Concord. Our Garden is at Shadelands Drive and Wiget Lane in Walnut Creek.

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Plant Lovers’ Almanac: Get garden tools ready for winter storage

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