Month: May 2019

Containers ideal for herbs, vegetables, fruit

Many types of herbs, vegetables, and small fruits do very well in containers. Container gardening — ideally done in the second week of May — helps to solve space problems, and proper locations can help to utilize light and temperatures. Here are some suggested ideas: • Low-growing herbs like parsley, arugula and other small vegetables do well in window boxes; • Rosemary thrives in containers and being trained as a topiary ball or tree. They make wonderful gifts for the holidays; • Squash, beans, and melons can be planted in containers with teepee, pyramids, or trellis and trained to grow up; and • Tomato varieties do well in containers, small varieties like cherry tomatoes, can thrive in hanging baskets or small 8-inch pots. Bigger varieties will need larger pots with cages or stakes to allow them to grow upwards. WEEK ONE • When sowing fine seeds, such as lettuce, broadcast the seeds over damp well-worked soil. Cover the seed mix with burlap to help maintain the moisture during germination. • Prune back forsythia by taking older branches right back to the ground. If you leave a stump, new branches will develop there in a direction that crosses other branches. WEEK TWO As azaleas finish blooming, clip or prune two to three inches off the branch tips that have finished flowering. To lower an azalea or rhododendron that is getting...

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The zen of cordwood fencing

A durable, decorative fence adds the final touch to a yard or garden. But finding a way to do so without adding substantial cost, labor, or upkeep can be a challenges. A practical solution which won’t break the bank, or your back might be as close as the nearest stack of firewood or fallen timber. Known by a variety of terms including “stacked wood,” “log end” and “cordwood,” the idea is to create a viable fence from cut natural wood or logs. Richard Flatau, an elementary school teacher with no formal construction background, decided to build a home from cordwood 37 years ago in Northern Wisconsin. Using the simplest of materials, debarked logwood and mortar, Flatau’s mortgage free dream was realized after several years of planning, building, and refining. What he learned along the way eventually became a business, Cordwood Construction Resources LLC,; Flatau has since written books, conducted workshops, and organized conferences to further grow the niche building concept. His home community of Merrill, Wis., boasts several examples: Cordwood Education Center Classroom at Merrill School Forrest, White Earth Cordwood Home, and Kinstone Cordwood Chapel. With special appeal to those on tighter budgets, young couples starting out and downsizing retirees, what Flatau affectionately refers to as “the poor man’s architecture” also draws the interest of folks seeking greener lifestyles, starting with their own habitat footprint. In 2015 he noted...

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DIY files: Flower arrangements

Getting and giving flowers is one of the best ways to bring a smile to someone’s face whether the occasion is a happy one, sad one, or no specific occasion at all — and yes, that “someone” could simply be you. But with it being May, Mother’s Day is on May 12, and as you can imagine, it is a holiday that gives Valentine’s Day a run for it’s money in floral sales. To make mom really feel special, try your hand at creating your own bouquet of flowers to continue your reign as favorite child. (You are her favorite, aren’t you?) If you can’t or don’t grow your own flowers, local growers and florists can still meet your needs. With brides and party planners tackling their own bouquets these days, many flower farms and shops offer buckets of flowers or DIY bunches already, and if they don’t specifically list it in their offerings, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Unlike the majority of supermarkets and box stores who ship their flowers in from overseas, chances are your local supplier will cut them just a day or two at most before you use them in bouquet. Carrie Jennings, owner of Honeybee Flower Farms in Cordova, is a local grower who can attests that DIY is in for arrangements, as it’s rare she comes back from a day at the Easton...

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Buried treasures: Summer blooming bulbs

We’re used to the idea that flower bulbs get planted in the fall, and all winter we get to anticipate the awesome spring color they’ll bring to the garden. Once the hyacinth, daffodil, and tulip make their long-awaited debut, it seems all too soon that they depart. But this doesn’t mean that flowering bulb season is over for the year. Fortunately, the warmed soil signals that the time is right for planting more bulbs; this time, without months of waiting to enjoy the results. Gladiolas, dahlias, begonias and several types of lily are a few of the more familiar summer blooming tubers, rhizomes and corms. While many garden reference advisors recommend planting lilies in the fall or early spring, Ginny Rosenkranz, University of Maryland Extension’s gardening guru for Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties, was preparing to plant hers in mid-April. “The Asiatic are the early ones, no fragrance, but lovely colors and more compact,” Rosenkranz says. “The Oriental lilies are very tall, very fragrant! Both can be planted anytime in the spring and will thrive without needing to be dug up for winter. “Summer bulbs that do need to be dug for winter protection include gladiolus — so many lovely colors and bicolors! Caladiums for the colorful shade plants, also Elephant ear and Taro plants.” Gladioli were favorites in gardens past. In fact, the word Gladiolus helped the...

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Thrill, Fill, and Spill: Create a front door masterpiece

The first thing that catches the eye and the last thing seen when leaving is the front door, the centerpiece of the house. There are many things that can be done to boost the curb appeal of the house, upgrading the front door is one of those things. The front door design, condition, and color are extremely important for curb appeal. Make it the gateway to the home. While the design may be set with architecture, changing the door’s design and color can make a big difference. The first step in front entryway design is security. The condition of the door is second. Is it banged up, discolored, faded or should just be replaced? Color can make a dramatic change. Select an inviting and stylish color that will both blend and accentuate the entrance. Color can help accent tones in the exterior or provide the finishing flourish to a design palette. The impact might be subtle or direct, formal or playful. Color influences emotion. A brighter hue offers energy, while a more subdued one plays up a traditional feel. A darker hue is more somber; a lighter one tends to be playful. Using a neutral hue such as brown, black, or gray will provide longevity and adaptability. Even deep reds and navy blues are classic front door colors that act as neutrals. If style or exterior changes, neutral hues will...

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