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This month is when the magic starts

March is the month of preparation. Take the time to prepare your garden for the growing season by checking soil pH and cleaning up winter debris. March is the best time for pruning trees and shrubs, especially for fruit and shade trees. If you have fruiting or flowering trees, bring in a few pruned branches and place in water with flower preservative, and watch spring to begin to bloom inside as well. Week One • Deadhead fall pansies to encourage reblooming as the weather warms up. Apply Espoma’s Flower-tone at the suggested rate to encourage larger blooms. • Check pH of the garden soil for annuals and perennials, which should be at 6.0 to 7.0. Also, applications of organic matter, such as Leafgro or composted manure, worked into the soil are most helpful. Week Two • Prepare larger houseplants too big to be repotted for the coming season of growth by top-dressing the soil, replace the missing soil with a 50-50 blend of Leafgro and potting soil. Be sure to also add the recommended dose of slow-release fertilizer around the edge of the pot. • Rhododendrons are evergreen shrubs that require proper feeding and pH. These plants require a pH of 4.0 to 5.5. Be sure to test at the dripline of the shrub, apply a sulfur amendment to lower pH. Rhododendrons are light feeders, so do not apply...

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How to ‘wow’ with wallpaper

There was a time in the not too distant past when wallpaper was not very popular. A combination of the painstaking efforts required to remove outdated looks from decades ago, along with limited choices, made many people hesitant to try it. Personally, I have always been a fan of wallpaper, but it can take some convincing for some of my clients to use it. That is, until they see the great results it can offer. Today, there are a multitude of patterns, colors and even material from which to choose. From grasscloth, to vinyl, to faux leathers that would take an expert to differentiate from the real thing, there are no shortage of options for today’s home decor enthusiast. While some may want to tackle a big space out of the gate, others are more comfortable taking baby steps. One of my favorite applications is to use wallpaper to transform a small, overlooked space into a memorable “wow” moment. Wallpaper can truly give a personality to any room, big or small. Powder rooms and entryways are a great place to start. These are areas that all of your visitors will likely see, so take the opportunity to make them noteworthy. These smaller spaces allow for a great test drive for those who want to ease in — while they also require less material — so you can select a...

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Are you ready to declutter your home?

By the time are reading this, we will be thinking about warmer temperatures and long-awaited warm temperatures. Whenever the mercury on the thermometer rises and beckons in a new season, I am always inclined to change out my home decor to match that particular season. The rich colors of the fall and winter need to give way to lighter, airier shades for the spring and summer seasons. As much as I look forward to a spring spruce-up, I inevitably get a little stressed out each season — namely because so much is always going on with the warmer temperatures. Work is busy, kids’ activities are ramping up, there is more to do outside. Sound familiar? If you are like me — and enjoy the fun of sprucing up your home for the warm weather — here are a few ways to keep it simple, make it fun, all the while ushering in a beautiful new season: Clear off the coffee tables Each season as I lovingly pack away items from the past season, I am always a bit taken aback by how much dust and dirt has accumulated under my decor. I finally found a way to prevent this from happening — and keep my house looking much cleaner and less cluttered in the meantime. Repeat after me: “You don’t have to have anything on the coffee table.” For...

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Don’t be afraid to walk on egg shells

Starting seeds indoors in the early spring allows the home gardener the chance to try many varieties of plants with the smallest amount of money. Buying a few different variety seed packages of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, annual herbs and flowers can provide a full garden by planting only a few seeds of each variety and saving the seeds that become the new favorites for next year. Another way to save money and also help the garden vegetables is to plant the seeds inside of egg shells instead of purchasing peat pots or other special pots for seedlings. The egg shells are made up of calcium and many vegetables, including tomatoes, need calcium for better fruit set and fruit growth. Planting the seedlings grown in egg shells into the garden will allow the egg shells to decompose and gradually release the calcium for future vegetable. Break the eggs in half and remove the edible eggs for cooking or baking, then rinse out the inside of each shell. Place a crumbled paper towel for support inside the shell and poke a small hole in the bottom of the egg shell with a paper clip to allow drainage for the egg shell container. With a marker, add happy or silly faces to the egg shell and add the names of the vegetables, herbs and flowers. Add water to a new sterile...

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The history of kites

As the breezes of early spring blow into March, one’s mind turns to flying kites. What is the history of kites, and why do we fly them? It all began in Asia, particularly China, and had many versatile uses through the years. Kites were invented in Asia, most likely China. Materials such as silk, used for the “sail” and string, were plentiful and aided in the construction of the air-worthy item. Earlier kites, from B.C. Chinese philosophers, such as Mozi and Gongshu Ban, around 549 A.D., were using paper when flying kites. The earliest known Chinese kites were flat and often shaped like a rectangle. Early kites were used for messaging, measuring distances, signaling, testing wind directions and military operations, such as placement of troops. Kites were decorated, in those early days of China, with military motifs and mythological tales. Sometimes, depending upon their use, they were fitted with whistles and other objects, that, when flown, would whistle in the wind or make sound, probably to locate them, and to signal. They would also make musical sounds when flying, a whimsy that was purely aesthetic in nature. Eventually the kite concept made its way into India, where it was used in festivals and as a celebratory object to honor religious deities. Kites also made their way into New Zealand and Polynesia in these early times, utilized as a festival...

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