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Ease into gardening with a raised bed 

Raised bed gardens with benches make it easier to plant, maintain and harvest. Photo credit: Bonnie Plants  

Raised bed gardens with benches make it easier to plant, maintain and harvest. Photo credit: Bonnie Plants

By Melinda Myers  

Raise your garden to new heights for easier access and greater productivity. Raised beds allow you to overcome poor soil by creating the ideal growing mix, plus make gardening time more comfortable thanks to less bending and kneeling.

Whether you purchase a kit or build your own, there are a few things to consider when creating a raised bed garden.

Locate the garden in a sunny area if possible. Most plants require at least six hours of sun, and vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and melons produce best with a full day of sunlight.

Select a long-lasting material such as interlocking block, fieldstone, plastic lumber or naturally long lasting wood like cedar. The material selected will influence the shape and size of your garden. Some materials allow for curved beds while others are limited to squares, rectangles and other angular shapes.

Design your raised bed to fit your space and your needs. A three- or four-feet width makes it easy to reach all parts of the garden for planting, weeding and harvesting. Raising your planting bed at least 8 to 12 inches improves drainage and provides an adequate space for most plants to root and grow. If you want to minimize bending, go higher. Add benches to increase your gardening comfort and ease. Bonnie Plants has free downloadable plans (bonnieplants.com/library) for building a raised bed garden with benches in just one afternoon.

Roughen or loosen the existing soil surface if your bed is built on compact, slow-draining soil. This will allow water to readily move from the raised bed into the soil below. Cover the bottom of the bed with newspaper or cardboard, if needed, to suffocate existing weeds and grass.

Line the bottom of your raised bed with hardware cloth to reduce the risk of animals burrowing into your garden. Lay the hardware cloth over the ground and bend it up along the inside of the raised bed walls.

Fill the bed with a quality growing mix that is well drained but also able to retain moisture and nutrients. This may be a mixture of quality topsoil and compost, a high quality potting mix, or a planting mix designed specifically for raised bed gardens.

Grow any plants that you normally would grow in ground. Just make sure the plants are suited to the growing conditions (such as sunlight, heat and wind) in your area. Since the soil mix and drainage is ideal in a raised garden, you will be able to grow more plants per square foot. Just be sure to leave sufficient room for plants to reach their mature size.

Keep your plants healthy and productive with proper watering. This is critical for growing any garden, but even more crucial in a fast-draining raised bed. The simple act of raising the garden height increases drainage, and a raised bed filled with planting mix means more frequent watering. Consider using drip irrigation or soaker hoses for watering ease. Always water thoroughly when the top inch of soil is dry.

Add some mulch to help reduce watering and the need for other garden maintenance. Spread a layer of evergreen needles, pine straw, shredded leaves or other organic matter over the soil surface. This helps conserve moisture, suppresses weeds and adds nutrients to the soil as it decomposes. You’ll spend less time watering and weeding throughout the season.

Add an organic fertilizer at planting if your planting mix does not already contain one. Apply again mid-season if the plants need a nutrient boost. Always follow the label directions on the fertilizer container.

The time and effort invested in creating raised beds will be returned many times over with years of healthy and productive gardens.

Gardening expert Melinda Myers has written over 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Bonnie Plants for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ website is www.melindamyers.com

Posted in Featured, Spring Spruce UpComments (0)

New girls 7-8 softball teams have winning records

8th Grade softball team

8th Grade softball team

From Amanda Gerhardt

The Cedar Springs Area Parks and Recration Department is proud to be offering a 7th and 8th grade Softball team for the first time. The teams are coached by Neal Kooiman, 7th grade, and Dave Castor, 8th grade. They held try outs in February and are fielding teams of 11 players each. The girls worked hard with practices in March and then started their season on April 11 at Northview. The teams have played Northview, Lowell, Godwin, Wyoming Lee, and Sparta, and so far and both teams have a winning record!

The 7th grade team has had some exciting moments including a homerun from Katelin Kooiman. The teams is currenlty 8-3. The next home game for them is on Monday May 2, versus Sparta. The game will be played at Rockford Springs Community Church on M57, just east of Ritchie. They will play a double header at 4:30 p.m. They will close out their season at home on Monday May 9 vs. Wyoming.

With a current record of 6-3 the 8th grade is doing great as well. They have seen some exciting homeruns from Kaylie Andres, Kyla Andres, Zoe Castor and a grand slam from Kaelyn Colclasure. They have their next home game on Wednesday, May 4 vs Sparta. There will be double header at 4:30 p.m. at Rockford Springs Community Church.

We hope you will get out to watch these girls and show them the support of our great Red Hawk Community!

7th Grade softball

7th Grade softball

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DNR to give folks a hand in their hunt for morels

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources provides an online interactive map that highlights the state’s 2015 wildfires and prescribed burns—each more than 10 acres in size—to help mushroom hunters in their quest for morels.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources provides an online interactive map that highlights the state’s 2015 wildfires and prescribed burns—each more than 10 acres in size—to help mushroom hunters in their quest for morels.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources provides an online interactive map that highlights the state’s 2015 wildfires and prescribed burns—each more than 10 acres in size—to help mushroom hunters in their quest for morels.

Morel mushrooms are often found in locations where large fires occurred the previous year,” said Jim Fisher, resource protection manager for the DNR Forest Resources Division. “Each spring we get calls from people who are seeking details on those sites to hunt morels. We’ve enhanced the features of this map to give our customers the information they are looking for in a mobile-friendly, easily accessible package.”

The DNR’s interactive Mi-Morels map provides forest cover type information, latitude and longitude coordinates and state-managed land boundary information. You can find it at www.michigan.gov/mi-morels.

Morel mushrooms commonly sprout in locations burned by wildfires or prescribed burns with a tree canopy; grass or sunlit open areas are less likely to produce the tasty fungi.

While the map may provide details on the cover type that was burned, it’s up to the user to investigate whether morel mushrooms are growing at any location on the map,” Fisher said. “Just because a spot is marked on the map, it doesn’t mean morels will be growing at the area identified. We’re providing a resource, but it’s up to the hunters to head out to the forest and see what’s available.”

The information and data in the map on burn locations, state forest cover type, and state-managed land boundaries are available for users to interact with and download via the DNR Open Data portal. This site gives residents and public land users of Michigan access to Michigan DNR spatial data and information.

The Department of Natural Resources is not responsible for the incorrect identification of morel mushrooms. For more information on safe mushroom hunting, visit the DNR’s website.

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Girls tennis wins Sparta Invite

S-Tennis-varsity

The Cedar Springs Lady Red Hawks Varsity tennis team traveled to Sparta on April 16 to compete in the annual Sparta Invitational, and came home with the first place trophy. Host Sparta came in second place, followed by Fremont in third place, and Grand Rapids Union in fourth place.

According to Coach Ed Russel, medals were awarded to team members who finished in first or second place.

Cedar Springs players earning medals for first place included #1 singles Emily Pastoor; #2 doubles Anna Krupp and Alyssa Marshall; and #3 doubles Michaela Tawney and Morgan Shevock.

Taking second place for the Red Hawks was #3 singles Jordan Ackerman; #1 doubles Anna Behrenwald and Mariah Rios; and #4 doubles Makeelie Lemery and Sam Finch.

The rest of the lineup for the day included Emma Schut at #2 singles and Jessica Brunett at #4 singles.

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March was National Reading Month

Second grade students Issabell Barr and Leda Gitchel reading with flashlights during Camp Out Day.

Second grade students Issabell Barr and Leda Gitchel reading with flashlights during Camp Out Day.

In the CTA Elementary, we celebrated reading all month long in March! Our celebrations included:  dressing up for Beach Day, “camping out” in our classrooms, having special visitors share their favorite books, and having a grand Battle of the Books showdown for students in grades third through sixth!

Beach Day occurred on the wettest day of the month, so all activities were forced indoors. Students took it all in stride though and still donned their sunglasses while reading their favorite books on beach towels. We at CTA don’t allow a little rain to bring us down!

The Hard Covers team (L to R):  Sage Sidlauskas, Jack Fulkerson, Kate Norman (5th Grade teacher), Kylee Turoski, Austin Fisk and Ethan Slock.

The Hard Covers team (L to R): Sage Sidlauskas, Jack Fulkerson, Kate Norman (5th Grade teacher), Kylee Turoski, Austin Fisk and Ethan Slock.

Camp Out day was a very cool day, too! We had many students bring in their favorite camp-out flashlight to read as though we were under the stars! Classrooms were pitch-black dark, except for the glowing of the flashlights. You could hear a pin drop throughout the halls except for an occasional “This is so cool!”

We had a few very special visitors throughout the month of March. On March 11, we had the Red Flannel Queen and Court come and read their favorite story books. Then, on March 25, the very busy State Representative Rob VerHeulen visited our school to share one of his favorite books, Duck for President!, with the students. Thank you Representative VerHeulen for your very informative visit!

State Representative Rob VerHeulen read to Kindergarten and First grade students during National Reading Month.

State Representative Rob VerHeulen read to Kindergarten and First grade students during National Reading Month.

As the end of National Reading Month drew to a close, we celebrated by having a Battle of a Books competition. Mrs. Norman, the fifth grade teacher at CTA, worked endlessly to make the battle a huge success. Five teams – The Book Hoarders, The Readinators, The Book Wizards, The Hard Covers, and The Book Dominators – went head-to-head to answer really tough questions about pre-selected books. The battle lasted seven rounds and ended with a tie breaking question, pushing The Hard Covers forward with the win; The Book Dominators came away with the second place win!

It was another great Reading Month at CTA! We can’t wait to see what next year’s celebration brings.

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Lions Club inducts new members

BUS-Lions-Club

Wow, look at us grow! The Cedar Springs Lions added some new members recently. In the picture from left to right is: new members Sue Norton, Patricia Miszewski, Tammy Metzger, Brynadette Powell, Liz Becker, and President Jerry VanderWal. If you still don’t know who or what the Lions are come to a meeting, or check us out on Facebook! The Cedar Springs Lions meet the first and third Tuesday of the month, at 6:30 p.m., at the North Kent Senior Center (44 N Park St).

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DNR arrests suspects in northern Lower Peninsula veneer log thefts

 

Investigation continues into thefts in Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties

Timber: One of the felled maple trees cut down with the bottom section removed. Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Timber: One of the felled maple trees cut down with the bottom section removed. Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Cut: A close view of one of the maple tree cuttings.

Cut: A close view of one of the maple tree cuttings.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers are continuing to investigate the theft of sugar maple logs from public state-managed lands in three northern Lower Peninsula counties.

Three males in their mid-20s, one each from – Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties – have been arrested and charged with 1-year misdemeanors or 5-year felonies for removal of forest products. Names are being withheld pending arraignments.

Prosecutors in Cheboygan and Charlevoix counties issued the arrest warrants. Officers expect more charges to be authorized as the investigation moves forward.

Late last year, conservation officers began receiving public complaints about large sugar maple trees being cut on state forestland. Only the thickest part of the trees—the lowest 8-12 feet—was taken most often.

In many cases, there were several valuable saw logs left on the site to rot in the woods. More than 100 logs were allegedly stolen.

“This is a clear case of thieves stealing what belongs to all of Michigan’s citizens,” said Sgt. Greg Drogowski of the Gaylord District office. “An analogy to the wasted timber left in the woods is that of a poacher illegally killing a deer and taking only the back straps (tenderloins).”

Investigators developed several suspects with the help of citizens and members of the timber industry. These suspects allegedly continued to steal veneer maple logs from state land. The logs were sold to various sawmills.

“Multiple sites were discovered and the total value of stolen timber is tens of thousands of dollars, with more sites being discovered,” Drogowski said.

Samples of the logs sold to mills were recovered as evidence. DNR foresters were able to help match these logs ato trees at the cutting sites.

With other evidence, witnesses and statements, officers were able to obtain the felony and misdemeanor arrest warrants.

Now that spring has arrived, more people are getting out into the woods. Conservation officers encourage citizens to report any locations where trees have been cut on state-managed land, within close proximity to trails and roads, most often with only the lower portion of the trees removed.

To report information on this case, contact Lt. James Gorno at 989-732-3541 or call the Report All Poaching hotline at 1-800-292-7800. Those providing tips may remain anonymous. The RAP line offers rewards to tipsters. Amounts vary depending on the incident being investigated and the value of the information provided.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.

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Crash takes life of Sparta High teen

Five teens were riding in this Pontiac Grand Prix when it left the road and hit a tree in Alpine Township on Sunday, April 10. Photo from FOX 17.

Five teens were riding in this Pontiac Grand Prix when it left the road and hit a tree in Alpine Township on Sunday, April 10. Photo from FOX 17.

An Alpine Township family is grieving this week after their 16-year-old daughter died from injuries she suffered in a traffic accident involving five teens.

_N-Fatal-crash-alyssa-eggerding-041016

Alyssa Eggerding

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, they responded to the scene of an unknown accident on April 10, at 3:45 a.m. at the intersection of 9 Mile and Vinton, in Alpine Township. Also responding to the scene was Alpine Township Fire Department, AeroMed, and Rockford Ambulance.

They determined that the vehicle, a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix, was traveling north on Vinton, when the teen driver lost control and went off the roadway, and struck a tree at the northeast corner of Vinton and 9 Mile.

There were five teenagers in the vehicle, and they all suffered serious injuries.

One of the passengers, Alyssa Eggerding, 16, of Alpine Township, died Monday, April 11, of her injuries. She was a junior at Sparta High School, and member of the varsity softball team.

The other teens involved in the accident included the driver, Armando Mendoza, 17, of Alpine Township; Alyssa Naughton, 16, of Walker; Kaitlin Keeler, 15, of Alpine Township; and Olivia Lawrence, 17, of Sparta. Lawrence is also a Sparta High School student, and the others are Comstock Park High School students.

Police do not believe that the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The Sheriff department’s investigation will be forwarded to the Kent County Prosecutor’s office for review and formal charges once it is completed.

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Why is there a gate on Sand Lake boat launch?

N-Sand-Lake-boat-launch-gateBy Judy Reed

People in the area have been using the boat launch on 22 Mile at Sand Lake to get their boats in and out of the lake for as long as anyone can remember. So many people were surprised when it was gated and locked the first part of March. The Post fielded some questions from readers about it, and contacted the Village of Sand Lake to find out what was going on.

According to Sand Lake Village President Roger Towsley, contrary to what people might think, it is not a “public” boat launch. Instead, it’s part of the thin strip of property at 551 W. Lake Street, that runs to the west of the boat launch.

The person who used to live there allowed the public to use it, and the people before him never minded,” explained Towsley. “I’ve lived here 40 years and it was always used. Others have told me that it’s been in use since the early 1900s.” The Village has helped maintain the property by putting gravel in there and mowing it.

He said that the problem is that when the property was sold, the new owner became concerned about the liability of people using it, and decided to put up the gate.

Towsley said that the Village of Sand Lake has spoken to the owner and asked if he’d be willing to sell the east end of the property to the Village, so that the public could use the boat launch. “He said he would be willing to do that. We just need to get it appraised,” said Towsley.

Towsley also said that they had contacted the Village of Sand Lake’s insurance company, and that their insurance would not go up. “As soon as we get a price, we can make an offer, and hopefully open it up to the public. The offer will depend on the assessment, and whether we have the money.” He noted that they would be open to taking donations for the project.

If we can buy it at a fair price, we will,” he said.

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What’s “bugging” you in our streams?

N-Insect--monitoring-volunteers

Volunteers needed for stream insect monitoring

In many cases we think bugs are a nuisance, but bugs in a stream can be very useful. Stream insects are a good measure of water quality. Unlike fish, stream insects cannot move around much so they are less able to escape the effects of sediment and other pollutants that diminish water quality. Stream insects can also be easily identified.

Trout Unlimited National, Cannon Township and Michigan Trout Unlimited will be holding a Stream Insect Monitoring Event on Saturday, May 7, 2016 from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the Rockford Community Cabin, 220 North Monroe Street, in Rockford. Volunteers will be assigned to a monitoring group with a team leader. Each group will collect and identify insects from different stream sites in the Rogue River and Bear Creek watersheds. You don’t need any experience with stream insects to participate and all ages are welcome.

What will you need? Please RSVP to Nichol De Mol at 231-557-6362 or ndemol@tu.org if you would like to attend. Lunch will be provided for all volunteers. Please bring waders if you have them and dress for the weather conditions.

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