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Grow your best tomato yet

Plant tomatoes slightly deeper or in a trench for better rooting. Photo credit: “Melinda Myers, LLC.”   

Plant tomatoes slightly deeper or in a trench for better rooting. Photo credit: “Melinda Myers, LLC.”

By Melinda Myers

Nothing beats the flavor of fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes. Make this your biggest and tastiest tomato harvest yet with proper planting and care.

Reduce pest problems and increase the harvest by growing your tomatoes in a sunny location with well-drained soil or in a quality potting mix for container gardens. Improve your garden soil by adding several inches of organic matter to the top eight to twelve inches of soil prior to planting. Compost, aged manure, and other organic materials help improve drainage in heavy clay soil and increase the water holding ability of sandy soil.

Add a slow release organic nitrogen fertilizer according to label directions at planting. Slow release fertilizers provide a constant diet that is better for your plants and less work for you. Save yourself more time by mixing the fertilizer into the soil when incorporating the organic matter. Then give your plants a midseason boost as needed.

Once the soil is prepared, wait for the air and soil to warm to plant your tomatoes. Planting too early when the soil is still cool and the nights are chilly can stress the plant and delay your harvest.

Plant your tomatoes slightly deeper or in a trench for better rooting. Trench tomatoes by digging a shallow trench about 3 to 4 inches deep. Remove the lower leaves and lay the plant on its side in the hole. Roots will eventually form along the stem. Carefully bend the stem, so the upper leaves will be above the soil. Fill the trench with soil and water.

Stake or tower your tomatoes to reduce insect and disease problems and make harvesting easier. The type of tomato and your schedule will help determine the training system that works best for you.

Determinate tomatoes (look for the D on the tag) grow a certain height and stop. They work well in towers, containers or even hanging baskets. Indeterminate tomatoes, labeled with an I, keep growing taller, producing more flowers and fruit until the end of the growing season.  These do best when grown on tall sturdy stakes or extra tall strong towers.

Towering tomatoes is easy. Simply place the tower over the tomatoes at planting. Tomatoes grown in towers produce a larger, but later harvest than staked tomato plants.

Allow a bit more time if you decide to stake your plants. Place the stake in the ground at planting. Be careful not to injure the roots. As the plants begin to grow, prune off all side branches, and suckers that develop between the main stem and leaves.  Loosely tie the remaining one or two stems to the stake. Cloth strips, twine or other soft ties work well. Keep tying up the plants as they continue to grow. Staked tomatoes produce the earliest and smallest harvest.

Check new plantings every few days and water often enough to keep the developing root system moist. Reduce frequency as plants become established. Water established plants thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil are slightly moist. Mulch the soil with evergreen needles, shredded leaves or other organic mulch to keep the soil consistently moist and suppress weeds. Consistent soil moisture encourages more flowering and fruiting, while reducing the risk of blossom end rot, cracking and misshapen fruit.

Harvest your tomatoes when fully colored. Leave them on the plant an extra 5 or 6 days for even better flavor. Unfortunately, the animals often move in and feast on the ripening fruit. In this case, you may need to finish ripening tomatoes indoors.

And once you taste that first red ripe tomato, you’ll be looking for more sunny spots for containers or to expand your garden.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.

Posted in Diggin' Spring, FeaturedComments (0)

Birding opportunities abound in Michigan 

Michigan state parks, trails and natural areas offer plenty of opportunities for birding enthusiasts to spot birds on the move. More than 40 species of warblers have been observed in Michigan.

Michigan state parks, trails and natural areas offer plenty of opportunities for birding enthusiasts to spot birds on the move. More than 40 species of warblers have been observed in Michigan.

Spring means bird migration, and that makes for prime birding opportunities in Michigan’s woods and waters. The Department of Natural Resources has pulled together some tips on enjoying this special time of year in state parks, trails and natural areas.

May is the best month to be on the lookout for colorful warblers (more than 40 species of warbler have been observed in Michigan). Songbird (passerine) migration peaks in mid-May in southern Michigan and shortly afterward in northern parts of the state.

Watch the weather. Strong southerly winds can result in good overnight flights of birds (most passerines migrate at night – in fact, in a dark campground, birders might even be able to hear the flight calls and see birds passing in front of the moon). When southerly winds run into storm fronts at night, this can create “fall-out” conditions where migrating birds are forced to land. Fall-out can result in heavy concentrations of birds in their respective habitats.

Use your ears. Most spring migrants can be heard singing this time of year. Once you start learning some of the songs, it becomes easier to seek out new birds when listening for songs that you don’t recognize.

Find the right location for the species you want to see. Just about any park will have decent habitat for spring migrants. Many of them eat bugs, so try to find southern-facing habitat along water bodies (lakes, rivers). Not sure what parks are near you? Visit www.michigan.gov/recreationsearch to find the perfect state park for your birding interests. In many parks, birding can be done right from a campsite, since the flocks typically will move around in the morning.

Make it a multi-day adventure. Campers can enjoy birding while enjoying breakfast and a fresh cup of coffee. Camping reservations can be made at midnrreservations.com or by calling 1-800-44PARKS (1-800-447-2757).

Join fellow bird watchers. The best way to see more birds is with an extra set of eyes, especially if you tag along with a more experienced birder.

Find a checklist for your area. There are regional field guides, and many of the mobile birding apps will allow you to filter by region. This helps you learn which birds are likely to be found in your area (rarities/vagrants are always a possibility).

Those who are new to birding and want to learn the basics of the activity before heading out should search the DNR’s Recreation 101 calendar at www.michigan.gov/rec101 for Intro to Birding classes. These free, hands-on classes cover everything a starting birder needs to know.

Here are a few other birding resources to check out before your birding adventure:

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/ – Cornell Lab of Ornithology – guides and more.

http://ebird.org/ – Online database for submitting bird sightings. Set rare-bird alerts for your area and view species maps, hotspots, etc.

http://mibirdrecords.com/ – Official keepers of the MI Checklist and rare bird documentation.

There also are many regional websites, email lists, social media accounts and other local resources for birders. Do some online searching to find out what’s available locally and then get outdoors to enjoy some birding this spring!

Inside Michigan’s Great Outdoors subscribers are always the first to know about reservation opportunities, state park events and other outdoor happenings. Visit www.michigan.gov/dnr to subscribe now.

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Do your supplements stack up? 


HEA-Supplements4 tips to ensure they make the grade

(BPT) – Maintaining a healthy diet that includes all the recommended vitamins and nutrients can be a challenge, particularly when the current food landscape is full of overly processed foods that rarely contain essential nutrients. Supplements can provide a great way to enhance a healthy diet with those elements you might be missing, but how do you go about figuring out what you need?

“Everyone stands to benefit from adding high quality supplements to their diets,” says Registered Dietitian Paul Kriegler, Life Time weight loss and training supplementation expert. “The supplement industry, which is regulated by the FDA, though loosely, has a tarnished reputation with many consumers. There are irresponsible manufacturers who routinely make low quality products with inflated claims. However, there are also highly-reputable supplement producers who routinely earn the support and praise of medical professionals and fitness enthusiasts alike; the trick is finding out which companies are out for profits and which are focused on your health.”

When looking for supplements, keep these tips from Kriegler in mind, so you know you’re getting exactly what you need:

1. Read the label – Nutrient forms can vary dramatically from one like product to another. The nutrient form not only determines the price of a product, but also influences whether that nutrient will be absorbed or not. After all, if you don’t absorb what you’re taking, you throw away a lot more money than when you spend more for something that actually works. Look for methylcobalamin over cyancobalamin, natural folate (5-methyl-tetra-hydro-folate) over folic acid, and mineral bisglycinates over cheaper carbonate and oxide forms.

2. Know your needs – Each body functions differently and has different supplemental needs. Life Time Fitness offers a variety of lab tests and assessments that give valuable insight into how your body operates. On-site registered dietitians can evaluate results to determine which supplements would best suit your body composition, diet, hormone, stress and sleep needs to ensure you’re supplementing accurately. Cliff Edberg, registered dietitian at Life Time, notes that you are not what you eat, but what you eat, digest and absorb.

3. Look for certification – There are several certifications you can look for to ensure the supplements you buy follow a good manufacturing process and contain high quality ingredients. Certifications to look for include: Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CMPG), Therapeutic Goods of Australia (TGA), National Science Foundation (NSF) and United States Pharmacopeia (USP). For fish oil, look for International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS). In its clubs across the country and online, Life Time offers a line of branded products that carry only the highest quality, most efficacious and purest nutritional ingredients available.

4. Be wary of over-promising in the messaging – If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is when it comes to supplements promoting weight-loss miracles. Supplements are designed to enhance missing nutrients from a daily diet that the body needs. So if the label – or the commercial – is promising a huge change in your life from a simple pill, be suspicious and don’t waste your money.

In the end, Kriegler encourages men and women to eat high quality, whole foods to get the nutrients they need, adding a high-quality multivitamin to fill in where your natural diet may be lacking in addition to other supplements recommended by a registered dietitian to enhance a healthy way of life.

Posted in Featured, HealthComments (0)

Earthquake rumbles West Michigan


By Judy Reed

Something happened last Saturday, May 2, that most of us in Michigan had never before experienced: an earthquake.

It was about 12:23 p.m. that the ground began to shake and lasted for several seconds. It originated about 5 miles south of Galesburg, in Kalamazoo County. Tremors were felt in most of lower Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and southern Ontario.

People all around our area felt the tremors. Reports came in to our Facebook page from Howard City, Gowen, Trufant, Sand Lake, Solon Township, Nelson Township, Cedar Springs, Harvard, Greenville, Grant, Kent City, Baldwin, West Olive, Byron Center, Grand Rapids, and more.

Linda Hovey reported that she felt it out by 20 Mile and Tisdel, in Nelson Township. “I heard a loud noise, the house kind of rumbled and shook,” Hovey wrote on the Post Facebook page. “TV was really moving. I thought someone hit the house. Crazy. Husband was napping and never woke up.”

Jessica Gentz, of Cedar Springs, said she had two picture frames fall off the wall. Meri McCarthy, of Sand Lake, said it felt like her washer was off balance. Monique Grice, of Solon Township, said her family noticed the couch and a light fixture moving.

Teri Cegellas, of Kent City, was sitting on her back deck. “I thought someone was shaking it from underneath, my husband playing a prank on me. Then I saw my birdfeeder swinging and knew that it was no prank,” she wrote.

While it was only a 4.2 earthquake, it was deemed “significant” because of the fact that not many happen here, and because of the number of people that felt it.

It was the biggest earthquake here since the 4.6 earthquake in August 1947.

Scientists have confirmed Saturday’s earthquake was not caused by fracking. Some scientists believer there is a fault line there that also caused the August 1947 quake.

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Beat the Boredom – Family Summer Survival Guide 2015

Playing at an area park is just one of the ways for kids and parents to beat the boredom of long summer days until school starts again. 

Playing at an area park is just one of the ways for kids and parents to beat the boredom of long summer days until school starts again.

By Judy Reed

When you’re a kid, the long, hot days of summer seem to go on forever. It’s not long before kids exhaust their ideas of what to do and moms hear the familiar refrain, “There’s nothing to do! I’m bored!” Well, don’t you believe it. With a little searching, you’ll find hundreds of activities taking place in West Michigan where families can have fun and spend some quality time together. In this week’s special pullout section of “Beat the Boredom,” you’ll find just a fraction of the many things going on this summer—festivals, summer enrichment programs, camps, plays, and more! Download link below to see what’s on tap for you this summer!


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The Post travels Kentucky Bourbon Trail


Ken and TJ Norris, of Solon Township, took a driving tour of Kentucky in March, traveling around and between Lexington and Louisville. As part of their trip, they traveled the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, with a stop at the Jim Beam distillery, where Mr. Beam was very intoxicated with the Cedar Springs Post.

Thanks to Ken and TJ for taking us with you!

Are you going on vacation? Take the Post with you and snap some photos. Then send them to us with some info to news@cedarspringspost.com or mail them to Post travels, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. We will be looking for yours!

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West Michigan Hawks fall to Havoc


The West Michigan Hawks held their first ever pre-season game last Saturday evening, May 2, and came up short 55-21 against the Lake Michigan Havoc.

“There was a lot of adversity that we as a team had to overcome,” noted Hawks Coach David Lange. “We came out of the gates playing a team who won the championship last year and stuck with them for most of the game. To put up 21 points in your first game, with people you’ve never played with, against a team like the Havoc, is outstanding. There were mistakes that were made, which is to be expected, as a first year team. We will correct these mistakes and move forward. I was beyond pleased and grateful for the fan support that we had,” he added.

The Cedar Springs Fire Dept. was also in attendance with their fire trucks to support the Hawks. “When those trucks hit the sirens and blew the horns, you could see the excitement on the players faces, which I think helped keep them motivated,” remarked Lange.

N-West-Mich-Hawks2The West Michigan Hawks look forward to hosting the Detroit Diesels this Saturday May 9, 2015 at Skinner Field at 7:00 pm. The Cedar Springs Fire Dept. will also be in attendance for the game.

When asked what the team will do differently for this game coach Lange stated, “We are going to correct the mistakes, as well as build on the positive things that we did last week. We have made some position changes defensively in the secondary that I think will give us the edge. Offensively we need to mix up the plays a little better so we are not so one dimensional.”

Come support your West Michigan Hawks this Saturday at Skinner Field, gates open at 6:00pm with kickoff at 7:00.

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Cedar View Students Celebrate Earth Day

Ms. Amy Constant, Cedar View Teacher

The students of Mrs. Constant’s 4th grade class celebrating Earth Day by cleaning up the grounds of Cedar View, Beach, Trails, Red Hawk, District Office, and Morley Park!  After studying about natural resources, plant and animal life, and environmental impacts, the students chose to perform this service-learning project to make a difference in their community!   They collected 3 bags of trash!  What a great way to demonstrate your school and community pride.

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Spring weather has bears on the move

Cutline: Bird feeders are an easy source of food for hungry bears in the spring. Photo courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Cutline: Bird feeders are an easy source of food for hungry bears in the spring. Photo courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Bird seed and trash attract hungry bears

Spring is here, which brings warmer temperatures, longer days and wildlife emerging from their winter homes. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds residents that black bears are among those animals that are now awake and have left their dens.
At this time of the year, wildlife officials receive many calls about bear sightings and bears damaging bird feeders, trash cans and grills.

“Bears are hungry,” said DNR bear specialist Kevin Swanson. “They are looking for food after spending months in their dens. While we might not think of bird feeders and trash cans as food sources, a hungry bear certainly may.” Bird seed especially is attractive to bears because of its high fat content and easy accessibility. Once bird feeders are discovered, bears will keep coming back until the seed is gone or the feeders have been removed.

“The majority of complaints we receive about bears in the spring involve a food source. The easiest thing people can do to avoid problems is to take in their bird feeders and store other attractants like trash cans inside until garbage pickup,” Swanson said. “Once the woods green up, bears tend to move on to find more natural sources of food, as long as they haven’t become habituated to the bird seed or garbage cans.”

Bears that are rewarded with food each time they visit a yard will remember these food sources. This can create an unsafe situation for the bear and become a nuisance for landowners if a bear continuously visits their yards during the day and repeatedly destroys private property in search of food.

“We ask landowners to do their part by eliminating the food sources in their yards,” said Swanson. “Given time and no food reward, a bear will move along on its own.”

Anyone who is experiencing problems with bears and has removed food sources for a period of two to three weeks, but has not seen results, should contact the nearest DNR office and speak with a wildlife biologist or technician for further assistance.

Learn more about Michigan’s black bear and how to prevent potential problems by visiting www.michigan.gov/bear.

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“Wedded Abyss” at the Kent Theatre


May 15, 16, 17, 22, 23

Don’t miss the Cedar Springs Community Players next production, Wedded Bliss…oh sorry for the typo…Wedded Abyss.  This musical comedy is written and directed by local playwright, and CSCP member, Scott Phillips.  Jill Phillips adds some wonderful music to make this a hilariously entertaining show.

The play opens with a proposal and plans for a simple wedding and a wonderful marriage.  Then the bride’s mother, sister and the professional wedding planner get involved and it all quickly changes.  All focus turns to the minute details of the wedding activities, leaving behind the preparation for a lifetime of marriage.

This is Scott’s eighth play. The show features many accomplished local actors, as well as some who are making their debut on the stage. All performances will be at the Kent Theater in downtown Cedar Springs. Performance dates are May 15, 16, 17, 22 and 23. Adult tickets are $12 if purchased or reserved in advance, or $15 at the door. If you are under 18 years of age, the price is $6. Tickets can be purchased at the Cedar Springs Library or by sending an email to phillips4ba@yahoo.com.

For more details, please visit the CSCP website at www.cedarspringscommunityplayers.org or access the events facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1397681320550106.

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