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Archive | Bloomin’ Summer

Fear of frost? Tips to keep your garden growing through fall’s chill

BLOOM-Keep-garden-growing1(BPT) – As summer winds down and frost threatens, even avid gardeners may be tempted to pack up their trowels and call it a season. You may think it’s better to leave the victory garden gracefully, than risk the disappointment of watching crops wither in chilly temperatures. But fear of frost and failure don’t have to stop you from enjoying a fruitful fall garden. With the right plant choices and a few tricks, producing a hefty harvest can be easy.

A few facts about frost

Frost occurs when temperatures drop enough to condense and freeze the moisture in the air. In fall, when air temperatures sink, it’s common to find frost layering the ground, leaves and crops. Frost may occur frequently in the fall before the ground really becomes frozen – known as a hard freeze.

BLOOM-Keep-garden-growing2While a hard freeze generally heralds the end of the growing season and frost can harm warm weather crops like oranges, some veggies actually do very well – and taste better – when nipped by frost. By stocking your fall garden with frost-loving varieties, you can ensure your garden remains victorious and bountiful right up to the first hard freeze. Not sure when the hard freeze will occur in your region? Check out the USDA Freeze Map.

When you consider the many advantages of fall gardening, frost shouldn’t be feared. Cooler temperatures mean you’ll have a more comfortable experience while working in the garden, and you’ll have fewer insect pests and weeds to deal with.

Frost-friendly choices

Just because the growing season is over for summer crops like tomatoes, you don’t have to give up gardening before the cold winter weather. Instead, clear out the remnants of summer plantings and debris and get the ground ready for fall favorites like spinach, cabbage, collards and kale. These hearty, leafy vegetables – available from Bonnie Plants – actually like the chill weather and can stand up to some frost.

Certain root veggies, such as radishes and turnips, also do well in cooler temperatures. All are packed with nutrients, so you can plant them knowing you’ll be filling your dinner table with fresh, nutritious, great-tasting veggies this fall. For a list of fall-weather favorites, tips and harvest advice visit www.bonnieplants.com.

Get a good start

When planning your fall garden, time is of the essence. Start with well-established, vigorous plants like those Bonnie Plants offers in some regions at garden retailers.

Starting out with more mature plants not only allows you to get your fall garden growing faster, it helps ensure your vegetables are strong enough to endure unexpected or extreme temperature variations. And remember to choose short-season varieties that will produce quicker in fall’s shorter growing season.

When frost arrives

Even though your fall vegetables might be able to handle the cold, you may want an extra layer of protection for unseasonably cool nights. Fortunately, you can do a lot to protect plants from sudden dips in temps.

Growing veggies in the right spot can make a big difference. Choose a location for your garden that gets plenty of sun, especially in the morning when you’ll want plants to quickly shake off overnight chill. Planting in a raised bed also helps insulate plants and their tender roots from ground freezes. Container gardens are also great for fall; when a severe frost or hard freeze threatens, you can bring plants inside, overnight for protection.

Sometimes you may want to cover plants against extreme cold. One option is a cold frame. Typically constructed of wood and glass or plastic, the frame sits over plants like a portable mini greenhouse. You can build your own – an online search will yield plenty of how-to plans – or purchase a prefabricated one. For less severe situations, simply turning a pot or bucket upside down over tender young plants can be enough to shield them from cold.

When fall arrives, you don’t have to fear frost, or give up your garden. Success starts with choosing cold-hearty varieties that prosper and produce well in cool weather. Visit www.bonnieplants.com to learn more about fall vegetables.

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Weathering the storm: 9 necessary tips for using a chainsaw to clear debris

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(BPT) – It’s storm season, and as soon as a tornado or hurricane strikes, clean-up begins.

Often, storm clean-up requires participation from volunteers who supplement the work of experts in removing miles of debris. Many are weekend warriors who have never tackled such an immense task – and may never have used a chainsaw in such rigorous circumstances.

Those brave volunteers need some guidance on how to prepare for, use and maintain a chainsaw during intense storm clean-up efforts.

Jared Abrojena, an Antioch, California-based certified treeworker and certified arborist, addresses the topic in layman’s terms. The 2015 ISA Tree Climbing World Champion, Abrojena is an expert on how to trim and fell trees. He often shares insights from his own experience working with a team of arborists to clean hundreds of fallen trees on the grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, just weeks before the 2013 Masters.

Abrojena’s nine necessary tips – if followed – ensures that the work of brave storm clean-up volunteers is safe and effective. They are:

  • Safety first. Take some time to train before getting started. Be sure to read through the owner’s manual for the chainsaw you’ll be using.
  • Be prepared. This is a catch-all of tips regarding regular chainsaw maintenance and the possession of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Map it out. Assess the full scope of damage, and creating a plan for how to tackle it. The plan should include coordinating with other volunteers, divvying up the work and prioritizing
  • Know your limitations. Don’t volunteer for a job you’re unprepared for. There will be plenty of work to go around, so only tackle tasks that you are comfortable handling.
  • Buddy up. No one should trim trees by themselves, given the risk of error or injury. Pair up with another volunteer, but stay a safe distance apart when operating saws.
  • A good start. A chainsaw is best started on the ground, with the chain brake engaged. Don’t “cut” corners during intense, fast-paced clean-up efforts.
  • The right cut. To achieve the right cut, use careful pruning practices to relieve tension from a branch or tree limb.
  • Take it easy. You aren’t Superman, and most mistakes occur when you’re tired. Take frequent rests and stay hydrated.
  • Pamper your equipment. Ongoing maintenance during storm clean-up is critical, since you’ll be pushing your chainsaw hard. Pause often to clean filters and tighten chains.

Interested? Contact Kelsey Walker of Ketchum (404) 879-9294 or kelsey.walker@ketchum.com to learn more and to request a customized byliner from Abrojena for your publication.

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How to attract the most colorful birds to your backyard

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(BPT) – Sparrows to doves, mockingbirds to magpies, every bird that visits your backyard this season will bring its unique brand of delight. Yet when a particularly colorful species shows up, you can’t help but feel a special thrill at the beauty of their plumage and song. You can take steps to draw the most colorful species to your feeder and fill your backyard with their vibrant, bright displays throughout the season.

First, research what types of birds live in your region. Some species may summer in your area and then winter elsewhere. Some may arrive in spring to breed and raise young, only to move on as fall approaches. Online resources such as the Audubon Society’s bird guide can help you identify the colorful species that may be found in your area this summer. Next, take action to make your backyard attractive to the birds you want to attract. Provide their preferred nesting habitat, plenty of fresh, clean water and a reliable supply of their favorite foods in a style feeder they favor.

The bird-feeding experts at Cole’s Wild Bird Products offer some expert tips on common colorful birds found throughout North America and the types of bird feed they prefer:

*Cardinals: Among the best-known and most-loved backyard beauties, cardinals vary in hue from the brilliant red plumage of the males to the more subdued brownish red feathers of females. Both genders have black markings around the beak and darker feathers on the wings and back. Cardinals are seed eaters and are particularly fond of Safflower and Cole’s patented blend, “Hot Meats,” seed. They are attracted to the bitter taste of Safflower and go nuts for the spicy flavor of Hot Meats. Hot Meats are nutritious sunflower meats infused with fiery hot habanero chilies. A great no-waste, no-mess feed, it delivers more feed per pound, and no need for under-the-feeder cleanup. The chili peppers taste hot to mammals like squirrels, but birds do not feel the heat at all. Cardinals also appreciate suet, so be sure to serve this high-energy food in different varieties throughout your back yard.

*Bluebirds: Don’t mistake the sassy blue jay for a bluebird. These brightly colored birds sport brilliant blue feathers on their heads, backs and the tops of their wings, and warm russet fading to white on their bellies. Bluebirds stand out not only for their beauty, but also for their taste in feed. Bluebirds love spice and suet, so try a feed with some kick, like Blazing Hot Blend. All natural and chemical free, this blend combines a patented habanero chili oil formula (which appeals to birds but keeps squirrels at bay) with the most-preferred types of seeds. Bluebirds love every form of suet, so serve up Hot Meats Suet cakes, or a specialty suet like Suet Kibbles. They also favor mealworms, so to avoid the “ick factor” of serving live mealworms, try Cole’s dried mealworm version.

BLOOM-Attract-birds2*Goldfinches: When one of these bright yellow and black birds visits your yard, it’s like a slice of sunshine has settled at your feeder. With vivid yellow bodies, black masks above their beaks and black and white striping on their wings, goldfinches are among the flashiest, most vivid visitors to backyards. Lure them with sunflower, and niger seeds, or try Finch Friends, which combines their two favorite seeds in one mix.

*Indigo bunting: Another beautiful blue bird, the indigo bunting is also known for its boisterous and lovely song. Indigo buntings favor seeds and berries, but will also eat insects. To beckon this bunting to your backyard, try serving White Millet, a favorite seed choice.

*Baltimore orioles: That blaze of brilliant orange, capped by black may herald the arrival of a Baltimore oriole in your backyard. Woo these flashy fellows by serving cut fruit and berries, as well as peanut butter and suet. Cole’s Natural Peanut Suet Cake delivers the peanut butter base that orioles and other songbirds prefer, paired with the energy benefits of nutrient-dense suet. An interesting fact is orioles will try and feed off of hummingbird feeders; they like the nectar!

To attract the maximum number and variety of colorful birds, be sure to provide a range of feed types served in a variety of feeder styles, including tubular feeders for seeds, bowl feeders for fruits, berries and nuts, and hummingbird feeders for nectar drinkers.

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Get your outdoor space in shape six ways

Don’t let insects bug you when you are enjoying your backyard.

Don’t let insects bug you when you are enjoying your backyard.

(NAPS)—Here’s the buzz when it comes to backyard fun: Before you plan those barbecues, pool parties and bonfires, you need to transform your outdoors into a great entertaining environment and stop insects from making themselves at home.

To keep your backyard looking its best this season, try these six tips:

1. Good gardening: Choose a lively combination of colorful plants and flowers to brighten your outdoor spaces during the day and light them at night to add drama. Try citronella plants and marigolds to naturally repel mosquito populations and be sure to eliminate standing water as it attracts mosquitoes.

2. Check your equipment: Make sure the lawn mower, weed-whacker and the like are primed and ready, blades sharpened, tank refilled and so on.

3. Rake it in. Get rid of last year’s dead leaves and twigs that can keep your lawn from soaking up the sun. Consider composting the debris.

4. Beating the pests: Fortunately, protecting your yard against insect-borne diseases such as chikungunya, West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) does not have to be a challenge, nor does it have to involve chemical sprays. Instead, you can use environmentally friendly solutions to keep bugs at bay while enjoying the outdoors.

For example, Dynatrap insect traps can provide relief from mosquitoes, biting flies and other flying bugs without pesticides. Since they come in a variety of styles and finishes, you can even find one to match your deck decor.

5. Grilling idea: Clean the grill after each use to save yourself time and trouble when you want to fire it up for your next get-together. That will also help keep bugs from hovering on the deck.

6. Deck design: Your outdoor space can make or break your backyard, so be sure it reflects your style and makes a statement. Keep in mind the primary use of your outdoor space and remember to think about mosquito control as it relates to the size of your yard. Position the insect trap where it will draw bugs away from where you spend most of your time.

Learn More

For further facts, visit www.dynatrap.com, Frontgate and other retailers, or on Facebook, Twitter@Dynatrap or Pinterest.

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The 7 Most Dangerous DIY Home Renovations

© Bridgewood - ThinkStockPhotos.com

© Bridgewood – ThinkStockPhotos.com

(StatePoint) One in five DIY-ers tackling home renovations ends up in the hospital each year due to accidents, according to the Home Safety Council. Don’t become a statistic.

Here are the seven most dangerous DIY home renovations you should leave to the experts.

Tree Trimming & Removal

Trees don’t always fall in a predictable manner, creating a hazard for yourself and your property. It’s best to consult a certified arborist, no matter how handy you are with power tools.

“If a tree falls during a storm, a DIY mishap, or a careless neighbor’s landscaping project, take photos and contact your claims adjuster as soon as possible,” says Erie Insurance Vice President and Product Manager, Joe Vahey. “Your adjuster can help evaluate the damage and explain how your homeowners insurance can help.”

Asbestos Removal

Many homes built before 1980 contain asbestos. Before renovating, it’s a smart idea to have your home inspected for asbestos-containing materials by accredited professionals. Leave clean-up to experts, and limit your exposure to the area. Inhaling airborne fibers may cause harmful respiratory problems.

Roof Repair

When faced with severe storm damage, homeowners often look for a quick fix for roof damage. Rather than running the risk of falling or injuring yourself, have your homeowners insurance claims adjuster verify damage and schedule repair work with an experienced company. In the long run, this will save you time, money and help you avoid injuries.

Electrical Repairs

While it may be easy to change a light switch or install a ceiling fan (make sure your power is turned off before you start), replacing circuits and other larger projects should be done by professionals. This will prevent shocks, injuries and potential fires, while ensuring your home is up to building codes if you eventually plan to sell.

Gas Appliance Repairs

Properly cutting off or hooking up gas lines can be tricky, so leave gas appliance repairs to the professionals to protect against potential gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Knocking Down Walls

If you’re looking for an open floor plan, think before tearing down walls yourself. Do you know which walls are load-bearing and where plumbing or electrical lines are located? Professionals will know how to best navigate the project from start to finish so you stay safe, and your home stays intact.

Pest Control

Not all pest-control products should be handled by the average consumer. Keep your family safe by hiring a pest control company to handle toxic substances properly.

More renovations safety tips and information on homeowners insurance can be found at www.ErieInsurance.com.

Before taking on your next big project, think about where you can bring in the pros to save time and money in the long run, and keep your family safe and sound. If accidents do occur during the DIY renovation process, be sure to loop in your insurance claims agent to help assess any damage.

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Tips for growing a water-conservative garden

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(BPT) – Families can decorate their homes with colorful flowers and bring healthy, home-grown foods to the table with gardens. Gardening, however, can use quite a bit of water, and in states struck by drought it’s important to conserve as much water as possible.

If you’re living in an area of the country under drought advisement, you can still have a garden this year if you carefully plan what you plant, how you plant it, and how you give it the water it needs. Here are some water-conservation tips for growing a garden and using the least amount of water possible:

* Choose plants that thrive in drier conditions. Vegetables like corn, spinach, mustard greens and some beans are drought-tolerant, and desert rose and snake plant are beautiful landscaping plants that need less water.

* Water only where it’s needed so it doesn’t go to waste. When you use a lawn sprinkler to water your garden, much of the spray misses your flowers and vegetables and ends up on the grass, the sidewalk or the neighbor’s yard. Make certain the water gets to the roots of your plants via a drip-irrigation system like Raindrip. Raindrip irrigation uses 70 percent less water than underground sprinklers and frees the user from constantly hauling around hoses because the system stays in your garden all summer long.

The Raindrip kit, found at raindrip.com/drip-kits automates the entire process, saving you time and water. Just turn the kit on – without needing to get out the hose – and if you really want to conserve water, set the timer to let the water run for a specific amount of time each day. On rainy days, simply set the timer ahead to the next day so water is not wasted.

* Water at night or in the early morning when the sun is least likely to evaporate the moisture. This allows as much of the water to penetrate to your plant’s roots instead of evaporating.

* Build beds that encourage soil to stay damp as long as possible. Some ways to do this include digging the bed deeper to help loosen the soil prior to planting. This gives roots the chance to go reach deeper and gain access to where water might be more available. Also, once planted, cover the bed with a good layer of mulch or compost. This will help keep the soil good and moist.

* Raise vegetable crops during the rainy season. Many areas of the country have a cooler rainy season. Peas, leafy greens, radishes and other vegetables with short growing seasons are great for planting early in the spring and sometimes again late in the fall. Because temperatures are cooler and the early and late seasons tend to produce more rainfall, you can grow vegetables using less water.

Drought affects all areas of the country during different years, so even if you aren’t living in a drought situation now, you could experience one next year or several years down the road. It’s important to know what steps you can take to be more water conservative when it comes to your garden. Apply these tips to your vegetables and flowers this year to see how successful you can be at reducing the amount of water needed to grow your plants.

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BEE One in a Million

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BLOOM-Bee-one-in-a-million-logoResidents have a chance to become part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge (MPGC), a nationwide call to action to create gardens and landscapes that help revive the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators across America.

The challenge was launched by The National Pollinator Garden Network, which collectively represents nearly one million active gardeners and 15,000 schoolyard gardens. The Network is challenging the nation to reach the goal of one million additional pollinator gardens by the end of 2016. The Network will work to provide resources for individuals, community groups, government agencies and the garden industry to create more pollinator habitat through sustainable gardening practices and conservation efforts.

They hope to move millions of individuals, kids and families outdoors and make a connection between pollinators and the healthy food people eat.

Any individual can contribute by planting for pollinators and joining this effort to provide a million pollinator gardens across the United States. Every habitat of every size counts, from window boxes and garden plots to farm borders, golf courses, school gardens, corporate and university campuses. Everywhere we live, work, play and worship can, with small improvements, offer essential food and shelter for pollinators.

“If we all work together—individuals, communities, farmers, land managers, and local, state, and federal agencies—we can ensure that every American child has a chance to enjoy the beauty of creatures like bees, monarch butterflies, and hummingbirds,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife

Federation. “By joining forces with the National Pollinator Garden Network on the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, the National Wildlife Federation and our affiliates are amplifying these collective efforts to address the growing threats affecting so much of America’s treasured wildlife.”

Pollinators Gardens should do the following:

• use plants that provide nectar and pollen sources

• provide a water source

• be situated in sunny areas with wind breaks

• create large “pollinator targets” of native or non-invasive plants

• establish continuous bloom throughout the growing season

• eliminate or minimize the impact of pesticides.

Learn more at www.millionpollinatorgardens.org and join the discussion on Twitter through the hashtag #PolliNation.

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EarthTalk®

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From the Editors of E – The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: How is that being around trees and other plants can help us feel good?

  – Amy Mola, Greenville, SC

Trees are known to improve air quality by capturing six common air pollutants and toxic gases: ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and lead. In fact, a single tree can absorb 10 pounds of air pollutants per year. In a study published in 2014, U.S. Forest Service scientists and collaborators calculated that trees are saving more than 850 human lives a year and preventing 670,000 incidents of acute respiratory symptoms. The researchers valued the human health effects of the reduced air pollution at nearly $7 billion every year.

“We found that, in general, the greater the tree cover, the greater the pollution removal, and the greater the removal and population density, the greater the value of human health benefits,” says Dave Nowak of the U.S. Forest Service.

More recently a 2015 study from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) in Barcelona, Spain found that children exposed to more greenery—as measured by satellite imagery of their schools and neighborhoods—demonstrated better attention skills and memory development. While the association was partly mediated by reductions in air pollution, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, one of the study’s authors, noted that he and the study’s other researchers don’t think it’s all air pollution: “I think it’s also some kind of direct effect… you see quite a beneficial effect of green space on mental health.”

Numerous recent studies have focused on the positive effects that exposure to trees and nature has on our mental health. A recent study published in the journal Nature combined satellite imagery, individual tree data, and health surveys from 31,109 residents of the greater Toronto, Canada area, and found that people who live in areas with higher street tree density report better health perception compared with their peers living in areas with lower street tree density.

“People have sort of neglected the psychological benefits of the environment,” says Marc G. Berman, an author of the study and professor of psychology at the University of Chicago. “I’m very interested in how the physical environment affects the brain and behavior.”

Such studies correlate to the “biophilia hypothesis” associated with German-born American psychoanalyst Erich Fromm and Harvard evolutionary biologist Edward O. Wilson. The hypothesis proposes that humans have evolutionary biological and psychological needs attached with the natural world. According to the book, The Biophilia Hypothesis, co-edited by Wilson and Yale social ecology professor Stephen R. Kellert, relentless environmental destruction could have a significant impact on our psychological and spiritual quality of life.

“Why do people bring flowers to the hospital all the time? Is it just superficial? Is it just a nice gesture, nice but not important? I would suggest that it is a much deeper recognition of the healing effects associated with affirming life,” Kellert told Yale 360. With over 80 percent of Americans living in urban areas, this newer research implies an indispensable need for growth and implementation in urban tree planting, urban greening and biophilic design in educational institutions and places of business for enriched physical and mental health.

EarthTalk® is produced by Doug Moss & Roddy Scheer and is a registered trademark of Earth Action Network Inc. View past columns at: www.earthtalk.org. Or e-mail us your question: earthtalk@emagazine.com. 

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Raspberries 

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It’s that time of year again, when one of nature’s treats is ripe on the vine and bursting with flavor—raspberries! They are a little sweet, a little tart, and a delicious summertime treat.

Selecting and Storing

* Raspberries are best picked early in the morning for the best flavor.

* Only select ripe berries; they will not ripen further once picked.

* Use berries as soon as possible after picking. You may refrigerate them on a paper towel-lined container overnight.

* Don’t wash raspberries until you are ready to use them. Wet berries are more likely to spoil.

* For longer storage, you can freeze raspberries. Place them on a cookie sheet, place in freezer until partially frozen, then transfer to an airtight freezer bag. You can add a small amount of sugar, if desired. Mix gently with berries to dissolve before freezing.

* Eat a room temperature for the best flavor.

Fun facts

* Raspberries are actually a cluster of many small individual fruits, called drupelets, which each contain their own seed.

*Red isn’t the only color of raspberries. There are also black, purple, and gold varieties. There are also summer-fruiting and fall-fruiting varieties.

* Raspberries are a type of bramble and are known as cane berries.

* The little “hairs” on raspberries help protect the fruit from insect damage.

* The U.S. is the third largest producer of raspberries in the world.

* Raspberries grow best in the cooler climates, where winter temperatures don’t fluctuate as much.

Nutritional Information

*Raspberries are packed with antioxidants, fiber, and photochemicals. They are a good source of Vitamin C, iron, folate, potassium, Vitamin A and calcium. They have 10 times more antioxidants than tomatoes or broccoli. One cup of raspberries will provide you with 50 percent of your daily requirement of Vitamin C.

* Raspberries have proven to reduce high blood cholesterol levels and slow the release of carbohydrates in the blood stream of diabetics.

*They also contain a natural substance called ellagic acid, which is an anti-carcinogenic compound.

BLOOM-Raspberries-recipe-Peach-of-a-raspberry-cobblerA Peach of a Raspberry Cobbler

Recipe from Midwest Living.com

This homey dessert combines raspberries and peaches to make a juicy filling for a flaky pie crust. A woven crust topping completes the pretty cobbler.

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter-flavored shortening or shortening

1/3-1/2 cup ice-cold water

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 cups peeled and sliced peaches

3 cups fresh red raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon sugar

Light cream or vanilla ice cream (optional)

Directions

For cobbler crust, in a mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually pour in water and blend to form a dough. Divide into two portions of one-third and two-thirds.

On waxed paper, pat or roll the larger portion of dough to form a 12-inch square. Fit into the bottom and up the sides of an 8x8x2-inch baking dish. Trim pastry even with top of the dish.

In a large bowl, stir together the 1-1/2 cups sugar, the cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in peaches and berries. Transfer to pastry-lined baking dish. Dot with butter or margarine.

Roll remaining pastry into a 9×8-inch rectangle. Cut into eight 1-inch-wide strips. Arrange over fruit in a lattice. Trim to fit dish or tuck under bottom pastry.

Mix the yolk with the milk. Brush the mixture over pastry. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar.

Place on a baking sheet. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for about 1 hour or until crust browns and filling is bubbly. Serve warm with cream or ice cream, if you like. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

www.midwestliving.com/recipe/cobbler/a-peach-of-a-raspberry-cobbler

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Eco-friendly mosquito control  

 

Weeding the garden, adding some birdhouses, eliminating standing water and using fans and citronella candles are just a few of the eco-friendly ways to keep mosquitoes at bay this season.  Courtesy of James Gathany CDC.

Weeding the garden, adding some birdhouses, eliminating standing water and using fans and citronella candles are just a few of the eco-friendly ways to keep mosquitoes at bay this season.
Courtesy of James Gathany CDC.

By Melinda Myers

Courtesy of James Gathany CDC.

Courtesy of James Gathany CDC.

Don’t let mosquitoes keep you from enjoying your garden and outdoor parties. Look for environmentally sound ways to manage these pests in your garden and landscape.

Start by eliminating standing water in the yard. Buckets, old tires and clogged gutters and downspouts that hold water make the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Drain water that collects in these as well as kids’ toys, tarps and pool covers. Store these items in the garage or turn them over to keep them from becoming a mosquito breeding ground. Even small containers hold enough water for hundreds to thousands of mosquitoes to breed.

Change the water in birdbaths at least once a week. Consider installing a small pump to keep water moving to prevent mosquito breeding. Or use an organic mosquito control like Mosquito Dunks and Bits (SummitResponsibleSolutions.com) in rain barrels and water features. The Mosquito Bits quickly knock down the mosquito larval population, while the Mosquito Dunks provide 30 days of control. They are both certified organic and safe for pets, fish, wildlife and children.

Wear light colored, loose fitting clothing. These pests are less attracted to the lighter colors and can’t readily reach your skin through loose clothing. And be sure to cover as much of your skin as possible with long sleeves and pants.

Add a few birdhouses to the landscape to bring in the birds. You’ll enjoy their beauty and benefit from their diet of insects, including many garden pests and mosquitoes.

Keep the garden weeded. Mosquitoes rest in shrubs, trees and weeds during the day. Removing weeds and managing neglected garden spaces will make your landscape less inviting to these pests.

Consider using a personal repellent to protect you against disease-carrying mosquitoes. For those looking to avoid DEET, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has also approved products with the active ingredient picaridin (found in Skin so Soft products), IR3535, and the synthetic oil of lemon and eucalyptus. Avoid products that contain both sunscreen and insect repellents, as you need to apply the sunscreen more often than the repellent.

Add a bit more protection while sitting or eating outdoors. Use a fan to create a gentle breeze that keeps the weak flying mosquitoes away from you and your guests. Some gardeners even take a small fan into the garden, while weeding.

Then add a bit of ambience to your next party by lighting a few citronella candles for your evening events. Citronella oil and the scented candles do have some mosquito repelling properties. Scatter lots of candles throughout your entertainment space. Position the candles within a few feet of your guests. This can provide some short term relief from these pests for you and your guests.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening book. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.

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