Category: Features

Stay a cut above with strawberries in your diet

While several niche berries have gotten recent acclaim as superfoods, the old standards such as strawberries remain a powerful player in health and wellness. From diabetes to heart disease, strawberries’ health benefits are nothing to pass by. Its heart shape offers a glimpse into just some of its health power. They contain anthocyanins that a Harvard research study has shown to cut heart attack risk in young and middle-age women by 32 percent. Strawberries’ high polyphenol content could also aid against cardiovascular disease and reduce blood pressure, experts say. The fruit’s fiber and potassium also support heart health. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, fewer than 2 percent of American adults meet the daily 4,700-milligram recommendation for potassium. Strawberries a great source, however, experts note if you are already perscribed Beta-blockers, a type of medication most commonly used for heart disease, potassium levels may increase in the blood from that and high potassium foods should then be consumed in moderation. Anthocyanin, along with two other antioxidants quercetin and kaempferol, can help reduce harmful blood clots from forming. Strawberries are low on the glycemic index which, with its high fiber content, helps regulate blood sugar, making it a good choice for diabetics. “Researchers discovered in 2011 that eating about 37 strawberries a day can significantly reduce the complications of diabetes, such as kidney disease and neuropathy,” writes...

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Spring Cleaning: Yard Edition

(Courtesy Seek Visibility) In just a few short weeks, the sunshine will be bright, the air will be warm, and the birds will be singing so sweetly that you won’t be able to stop spending time outside. Yet, if you don’t prepare your yard for spring, you won’t enjoy what you see. Your shrubs need pruning, your beds need planting, and most important of all, your lawn needs quite a bit of TLC. Before you bother scourging the inside of your home, you need to spend time spring cleaning your exterior spaces. Here are the most important activities to get your yard looking gorgeous in spring: Prune Dead and Damaged Branches It’s uncommon for all your trees and shrubs to make it through winter without damage from ice, snow, wind, or biting cold. More likely, some of your plants will have branches that are split, broken, or otherwise unable to grow. To ensure healthy growth of the rest of the plant, it is imperative that you prune these dead branches off – but you must do so with the proper technique. There are a few of the myriad pruning tips to keep your trees and shrubs healthy: • Shape hedges with hand pruners to provide enough light reaches inner branches. • Use a handsaw for branches thicker than 1/2-inch to ensure a clean cut. • Trim evergreens back to...

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Knock the dust off your garden

After being cooped up all winter, we all have visions of the weed-free, bountiful garden we’ll have this year. However, when we can finally venture out in weather warm enough to spare wearing a knit hat and flannel pajama bottoms, further investigation might show that while we are ready to garden, our garden is not ready for us. Groundwork This winter seemed like non-stop wind storms, so if your garden is anything like mine, you’ll want to set aside a stick cleanup before you get into anything else. Save some of the longer, straighter pieces for staking up plants...

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Pansies, primroses offer color as temperatures creep up

Two early bloomers many gardeners turn to for their first bursts of garden color are pansies and primrose. While both come out early, they each present a different look; the pansey putting out flat or ruffled flowers and the primrose offering a tightly wound rosette. Even if you have preference of one over the other, they can also provide a unique contrast in the flower bed. Pansies are widely sold as spring annuals and the color choice spans the rainbow from white, yellow, pink and red, wine and purple, blue and black. Petals can grow to the traditional two inches or out to five inches. The pansies grown today are hybrids derived from several species of Viola from Europe and Asia. Botanically they are known as Viola x wittrockiana and the common name “pansy” comes from the French word “pensée” meaning a thought or reflection. This refers to the flower “face” that is created by bold blotching and veining whiskers on the petals. Plant pansies as soon as the ground can be worked with a trowel, says Leslie Barlow of Barlow Flower Farm Sea Girt, N.J. “Pansies and violas like rich, well-drained soil that is high in organic matter (peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure). They thrive in full sun or partial shade. Shade is especially beneficial when the weather becomes warmer as the hot sun will prevent flower production.” Barlow adds that pansies need...

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