Category: Author

Hands off that Christmas cactus!

When the flowers on Christmas cactus fade, pinch off the blooms and begin a five-week dormant cycle. Do not touch the plant for five full weeks — meaning no water and no fertilizer. In the second week of February, begin bi-weekly feedings of Jack’s Classic 20-20-20, and expect a second round of flowers to come after March 15. Some other items to add to your January gardening to-do agenda include: • Mulch perennial beds or plants with three to four inches of mulch to keep plants frozen in place and to prevent them from being heaved out of the soil. Dusty Miller must also be mulched if it is to re-grow in the spring. • Spray all snow shovels and discharge chute and impellers of snow blowers with silicone spray. This will allow the snow to slide off and not become impacted. • Use calcium chloride or granular urea (46-0-0) instead of salt crystals when attempting to melt snow or ice. Both these products will work faster and more efficiently than salt, without harming your lawn or plants. • Try not to walk on frozen grass over the winter as you will destroy the living cells in the blades of grass wherever you step. Two or more inches of snow and you can walk on the grass, three or more inches and sledding is OK. • Always remove heavy...

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African violets offer fuzzy reception

African Violets (Saintpaulia) traditionally came with dark fuzzy green leaves and five blue-petal flowers. Plant breeders have enjoyed creating fuzzy green leaves that are edged with white, green and white splashed leaves and leaves that start out pink and green that mature to white and green. Most of the leaves are flat, but now there are some leaves that are wavy or even curly on the edges. These African Violets are always lovely to have in the home because they provide color and texture contrast even if the plants are not in bloom. The flowers that started out solid blue have also changed to lavender, purple, pink and shades of red. Some flowers are often a solid color, others are edged with pure white while others can come in blue and pinky-lavender colors swirled together or pure white with a splash of color in each petal. There are even some flowers that are white with a pink, blue or green edging. The petals that started out flat now have curly or crimped edges, and some have more than the five petals, making the flowers appear larger. The flowers are almost always held above the fuzzy green leaves in small clusters, with one to several clusters on each plant when in bloom. African Violets also come in standard size, up to 10-12 inches across, and miniature size plants that only grow...

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Learn to think outside the branch

By Charlene Marcum For many, the fondest Christmas memories are made going to the tree farm with my family and selecting our Christmas tree. The smell of freshly cut fir, spruce and pine evergreens and the selection process for “the perfect tree” heralds in the Christmas season like no other. While many families still hold to this tradition, the times they are a’changing. The first artificial Christmas trees, made with goose feathers dyed green, were developed in Germany during the 19th century. Over the years, other styles of artificial Christmas trees evolved and become popular. In 1930, the Addis...

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Use a smart strategy when making your resolutions list

by Emily Brockbrader “Lose weight.” … “Eat healthier.” … “Become more organized.” … “This is the year of ME.” Sound familiar? As the holiday season looms, many of us take the time to look back on 2017 and re-evaluate some life choices. All the things you had planned when the ball dropped may have fallen by the wayside this past spring. According to webmd.com, 68 percent of people had lost sight of their New Year’s goal by March — just three months in — and at year-end only 15 percent remained committed. “People are doing it all wrong,” says Robert Butterworth, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles. “The worst time to make New Year’s resolutions is on New Year’s Eve. We’re exhausted after the holidays. We’re stressed out. The weather is bad. Everyone is talking about it and watching what your resolutions are.” Even so, more than half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and marketing for health clubs, diet programs and smoking cessation medications skyrocket. Even with all the flashy “get bathing suit ready!” ads, in the end, the results will depend on you, your desire and the right strategy. Start small, in weekly, or even daily, increments. Everyone has a different goal and looking at it as a whole can be a bit daunting. Let’s say you’d like to lose 50 pounds. Instead of “I want...

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A new haven for honeybees

By Carol Kinsley In 2009, Chris and Carrie Jennings purchased five acres of former cornfield in Cordova, Md., just 10 minutes from Easton. Chris, a cabinet maker, built a beautiful home there. “There were three trees on the property,” noted Carrie, who has a degree from Virginia Tech in environmental policy and planning with an emphasis in forestry. While working full-time for Queen Anne’s County Soil Conservation District as agricultural resource conservation specialist, she set out, with Chris’ help, to create a dream landscape which includes fields of flowers and flowering trees where honeybees would have plenty of nectar. Together...

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