Category: Author

Cheers to summer living

Ahh, sweet summer time. We are finally entering what might just be my favorite season of all — summer time! I love the longer days, the flip-flops and the many visits to the pool and ice cream stand that my family gets to make each summer season. What I love even more is the way that our family and overall schedule tends to slow down and enjoy more quality time together — time that is simply not possible during the chaotic back to school, holiday or winter and spring sports seasons. I mean, seriously, raise your hand if you thought May lasted around 121 days?!? Whether you have school-age kids or not, the summer season should be a time to slow down and enjoy the sunshine and warmth around us. Whether it is simplifying your daily meal routines — because, let’s face it, none of us wants to eat as much when it is so hot outside — to finding more time for self-care, summer should be a season of living simply. Having embraced my love of this season and all that it brings (including humidity, mosquitoes and higher utility bills), I have found a few simplicity hacks that are worth introducing to your family! Cheers to Summer living, friends! Side Dish Summer Meal Planning: For me, there is nothing more daunting than the notion of meal prepping for...

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Native plants cover lawfulness, attractiveness

Whether required by governmental agencies or desired by homeowners to attract wildlife, environmental landscapes can be beneficial and beautiful. Property owners developing land on the Eastern shore are often working in the Chesapeake Bay 100-foot and 1,000-foot critical area buffers. State and county laws require that construction be mitigated by installing native plants in these buffer areas. Many people don’t realize that numerous native trees, shrubs and grasses are commonly sold in the landscape trade because, not only are they tolerant of the natural environment (extreme heat, drought, clay soils and salt spray) they are also very attractive. Mitigation plantings don’t have to be soldier rows of trees that screen views and vistas, they can be layered plantings that frame views and enhance the landscape. When designing an environmental landscape, it is important to identify the goal of the planting area. Is it a required mitigation area, will it be a wildlife ecosystem or a butterfly garden? Understanding the site conditions is a key factor to the survival of the plants. Is the site located in the upland, in a wetland or floodplain, along a non-tidal stream or tidal tributary? Having the soil tested to identify deficiencies and get recommendations on improving the soil is highly recommended. Once the goals and existing conditions are established, plants can be selected that meet the criteria. Let’s say you have a sunny,...

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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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