Category: Debra R. Messick

Start your garden off ‘Brew-tifully’

Tea lovers swear by a well steeped cup (or two) in the morning to smoothly jump-start their days, especially during the long winter months. While caffeine supplies the kick, healthy nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, ions and flavonoids are added advantages. As spring approaches it’s nice to know that those same teabags providing cold-weather comfort contain yet another perky benefit, especially for gardeners. Having been boiled, they provide a compact seed-starting medium which is pest free from the get-go. They’re naturally embedded with nutrients the seed can feed on. There’s no need to uproot the tender young plant from its incubating nursery, so into the ground it safely goes, bag and all. That’s one small step for your newly sprouting garden, and one less addition to the landfill. “Teabag gardening” has been touted by, no surprise, the Bigelow Tea Company, but also the Kiwi Conservation Club of New Zealand and Dr. Ken Thompson, a British plant biologist and gardening writer. The process requires just a few basic household items, including 1) tea bags — either freshly brewed or dried and remoistened — 2) unbleached paper towels, 3) plate or tray, 4) watering device, and 5) seeds. Begin by lining the tray with folded paper towels, then place moist tea bags atop in rows (KCC recommends “packing them together like pillows” in three rows while the Bigelow blog writer instructs...

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Learn to allergy-proof holiday desserts, deliciously

By Debra R. Messick Feeding those we love with sweet holiday treats often involves equal measures of stress and bliss. Bustling to shop for ingredients, mixing, then baking sometimes drains our last ounce of energy when we’re most pressed for time. But the heavenly aromas and over the top taste are such a vital part of the season it’s well worth the effort. Now try imagining the stress level involved when tried-and-true recipes you’ve relied on turn out to be unsafe for you or a loved one. Main stay ingredients such as wheat flour, butter, cream, milk, peanuts, and more,...

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