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County Extension

  • Some plants mask their green

     You would think that horticulture folks would be happy in March when everyone’s “wearin’ the green.” After all, green is our color — the color of chlorophyll found in plant leaves that allows the life-giving process of photosynthesis to happen. But, in this month of green beer and shamrocks, I started thinking about all of the great plants we grow that mask their green behind other pigments such as the red and burgundy Japanese maples, ‘”Summer Chocolate” mimosa and Cordyline ‘”Red Star” with its striking form.

  • Don’t guess, soil test!

     

     

    By Sam Marshall

     

    Any successful gardener in this area will tell you that the key to a beautiful lawn or garden starts with healthy soil. The only way to ensure your soil is healthy is to conduct a soil test. Soil test results guide decisions like which type of fertilizer to use and whether or not to apply lime. Different types of plants have different pH and nutrient requirements. By soil testing, you can ensure you are applying the proper amounts for optimal growth of all your plants.

     

  • Can you spot the mistakes?

     Doug Powell says he can’t watch cooking shows on television. Why not? He complains the music is terrible, the chefs awful and the food safety non-existent.

    I happen to agree with Dr. Powell. I usually can’t watch cooking shows because the food safety practices concern me. On one half-hour show, I spotted at least three things, including recipes for home canning and meat cooking temperatures, that were just wrong!

  • Eat more nuts and nut butters

     Earlier this year I wrote about the Mediterranean diet. This eating pattern incorporates the basics of healthy eating traditionally practiced in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Eating like those who live in the Mediterranean region has been shown to promote health and decrease risk of many chronic diseases.

  • Gardeners love ‘magic potions’

     Thirty-plus years of working in horticulture as taught me many things: don’t prune your sister-in-law’s Japanese maple, run away as fast as you can when a potential client describes themselves as “easy to work with” and be very careful when criticizing magic potions and botanical dogma held in high esteem by some gardeners. But, being a bit of an April fool (Happy April Fool’s Day everyone), I will make my way to the end of the branch and see how quickly I can saw it off behind me. It certainly won’t be the first time I fell out of a tree.

  • Eat what’s in the freezer

     For the past couple of years I’ve been following a blog on home organization by Taylor Flannery. The concept is to do something little every day and by the end of the year your house will be “decluttered.” While I don’t always do the daily or weekly organizational challenges, I do get some good ideas. The real challenge is to get busy and do something.

  • Summer squash for the home garden

     By Sam Marshall

     

    Warm weather will be fast-approaching our region and now is the time to start squash seeds for your spring garden. Easy to grow, quick to mature and full of flavor, summer squash is a great early-season vegetable that will turn any “brown thumb” into a successful gardener.

     

    Getting started

  • Late-winter garden chores

     The shortest month of the year with Valentine’s Day in its middle should be a great time for romance. If your relationship is still in that stage, enjoy. For those who have been together long enough that leather and lace has given way to coffee makers and car tires, you might get some extra points by taking care of some late-winter garden chores like pruning and controlling weeds.

  • Making your own baby food: Keep baby safe

     There’s a new baby in your house and you’re thinking of making your own baby food. Not only can this be a nutritious alternative to store-bought baby food, it can be a real money saver.

    First off, don’t rush adding solid food to baby’s diet. By age of 4 months to 6 months, most babies’ energy needs increase, making this the ideal time to introduce solid foods. Until this age, they usually don’t have enough control over their tongues and mouth muscles to eat solid foods.

  • Smart shopping

     For the past couple of weeks in this column, I’ve been talking about grocery shopping and offering simple shopping tips that can both help with your food budget and offer healthy eating. For years, home economics, dietitians and health professionals have been promoting something called “shopping the perimeter” as a way to help you choose foods that support a healthy diet.