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Archive | Home and Garden

Top 10 most often forgotten spring cleaning steps

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(BPT) – Spring is a great time to clear out the old, bring in the new and welcome a fresh start. From coast to coast, consumers are eager to usher in new home decor and air out spring attire; however, the areas of one’s home that are the hardest hit during the winter months – floors and carpets – are often overlooked.

If you’re thinking of skipping your carpet cleaning for a vacuum session, think again. According to the homecare experts at BISSELL, vacuums, even the best ones, simply can’t reach the deeply imbedded dirt within your carpet’s fibers. The carpet cleaning process is engineered to reach the dirt and allergens vacuums leave behind. Incidentally, although carpet cleaning does so much more than vacuuming, the actual process itself is about as easy as vacuuming.

“Deep cleaning is a must for washing the winter out during spring cleaning. After cleaning their carpets, people are often amazed by what they’ve pulled out of their carpets and how different their carpets look – it can be a very eye-opening, yet satisfying experience,” says Eric Hansen, chief chemist at BISSELL.

Get out the serious cleaning supplies, stretch your scrubbing muscles and tackle those hard-to-reach places you ignore most of the year so you can be the envy of all your houseguests. Be sure to review the top 10 spring cleaning steps that often fall to the wayside:

1. Safety first: Don’t forget to change batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; and inspect all light fixtures for damaged wires or faulty connections. Remove and wash light fixtures if necessary.

2. Wash the washing machine: Run an empty load, one cycle filled with 4 cups of bleach, the other with 4 cups of distilled white vinegar.

3. Dust refrigerator coils: Want to lower your energy bill and extend the life of your fridge? Always unplug your refrigerator before dusting the refrigerator’s coils.

4. Clean out your cabinets: Wipe down the inside and outside of medicine and linen cabinets. Throw away expired products, including medicine, makeup and hair products. Update your first aid kit.

5. Deep clean carpets and rugs: Vacuum, spot treat and deep clean your carpets and rugs. Liquid solutions such as the BISSELL Professional Deep Cleaning with Febreze Formula contains Scotchgard protection that can be used with any BISSELL deep cleaner. It works by placing a barrier on the surface of carpet fibers to not only deep clean and freshen, but also protect against future stains.

6. Sanitize children’s and pets’ toys: Toys can carry harmful bacteria on their surfaces. After cleaning toys with warm water and a mild detergent, sanitize plastic toys by soaking them in a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Donate or discard toys where needed.

7. Breathe easy: Clean your air vents and change your furnace filters if necessary.

8. Let in more light: Cleaning blinds can seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Mix equal parts of warm water and distilled white vinegar in a bowl. Slip a sock on your hand and dip the sock into the water and vinegar mixture. Wipe down each individual slat and rinse sock after every few slats.

9. Dust from high to low: Dust the ceiling, corners of walls, ceiling fan and light fixtures. Use a lint roller to easily clean dust off your lampshade.

10. Wash your windows: After the direct sunlight has subsided, remove your window’s screens and dust with a soft-bristle brush. Spray on your favorite window cleaning solution and wipe down with a lint-free cloth.

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Call 811 before digging

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Installing a mailbox or fence, building a deck and landscaping are examples of digging projects that should only begin a few days after making a call to 811. Nearly half of American homeowners will not call 811 before digging, according to a recent national survey by Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the association dedicated to protecting underground utilities and the people who dig near them

Here’s how it works:

1. One free phone call to 811 makes it easy for your local one-call center to notify all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig. Call a few days prior to digging to ensure enough time for the approximate location of utility lines to be marked with flags or paint.

2. When you call 811, a representative from your local one-call center will ask for the location and description of your digging project.

3. Your local one-call center will notify affected utility companies, which will then send professional locators to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines.

4. Once all lines have been accurately marked, then roll up those sleeves and carefully dig around the marked areas.

For information about 811 or the one-call utility notification center in your area, visit www.call811.com.

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Spring cleanups start soon

 

By Judy Reed

As the weather warms up and residents begin to spring clean, some municipalities are offering drop off sites to help get rid of the clutter. Check out the list below to see when it’s offered in your area.

Algoma Township: Spring cleanup days are Wednesday, April 22, through Saturday, April 25. Dumpsters will be available at the township hall at 10531 Algoma Ave. Hours will be Wednesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m to 3 p.m. No shovel offs or loose trash allowed. No liquids, no hazardous waste (no paint, oil, fuel, gasoline etc.) No brush or yard waste, no cement.

All tires must be cut in half, propane and fuel oil tanks must be cut in half. Fencing must be folded or rolled up. Barrels must have one end open or be full of holes. Will also collect E-Waste at the same location (cell phones, computers, TVs, stereos, speakers, etc.). Call the township for more info 866-1583. Or download their cleanup notice at http://www.algomatwp.org/CLEAN_UP_NOTICE_w_monitors.pdf.

City of Cedar Springs: The annual brush pickup will be Monday, April 27. Please have brush out by 6:00 a.m. and neatly stacked as close to the curb as possible. No brush larger than six inches, tree removals or stumps will be picked up. They will make one pass through town.

There is no longer a spring trash cleanup date. Check with your waste hauler for pickup.

Also note that the city will be flushing City hydrants on Friday, April 24. To avoid staining laundry, allow water to run until clear before washing white or light colored clothing.

Courtland Township: Spring cleanup dates are May 14, 15, from 10-6 both days and May 16, from 9-2 at The Courtland Twp. Hall, 7450 14-Mile Rd,  Rockford. Public must be able to unload; questionable large items are subject to rejection. Call the Township hall at 866-0622.

Nelson Township/Sand Lake: Spring cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, May 16, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 5th and Cherry Streets, near the water tower in Sand Lake. Identification required. Please present a tax bill or voter’s registration card and driver’s license. We accept appliances, sheet metal, auto parts and engines (liquid drained), aluminum and copper wire, fencing (flattened and folded), mattresses, furniture, carpeting, clothing, glass, etc. No garbage please. No hazardous or toxic waste. No yard clippings or brush. No shovel offs of shingles and drywall. For more information on what is permitted, contact the township at 636-5332 or check their winter/spring 2015  newsletter at www.nelsontownship.org.

One trailer/truck load per residence, no shovel-offs. Loose items must be boxed/bagged. Will also collect E-Waste at the same location. Please call the township for more info at 636-5332.

Sand Lake: See Nelson Township (above) for regular spring cleanup.

Solon Township: Spring cleanup dates have been set for two consecutive Saturdays, May 2 and May 9, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 15185 Algoma. One 5×8 trailer with 48-inch sides or one pickup box per household. All items should be boxed or bagged, 45 pounds maximum. Tires must be cut in four pieces, car or light truck only, limit four. Appliances such as washers, dryers, etc. will be accepted, but not appliances that used Freon  or other toxic chemicals. Call township for more info at 696-1718.

Spencer Township: Spring cleanup is Saturday, June 20, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dumpsters will be available at the township fire department, at the corner of Meddler and 18 Mile Road. Residents will be required to show proof residency. Tax bill, voter registration, or Spencer Township address on driver’s license. No shovel offs or loose trash accepted. Bag it, barrel it, or don’t bring it! All tires must be cut in half, propane and fuel oil tanks must be cut in half. Fencing must be folded or rolled up. Barrels must have one end open or be full of holes. Will accept freezers, air conditioners, washers dish washers, refrigerators, humidifiers, dryers, batteries at no charge. Mattresses and box springs accepted at $15 each.

No liquids, no hazardous waste (no paint, oil, fuel, gasoline etc.) No brush or yard waste, no cement, no shingles.

Recyclables must be taken to a recycle station at either Kent County Landfill on 10 Mile Rd, Rockford, or Pierson Landfill.

Call township for info at 984-0035.

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Pool Maintenance 101

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Simple tips to keep your pool clean

(Family Features) For many homeowners, there is nothing better than inviting friends over to cool off from the sun’s warm rays in the comfort of their own backyard pool.

But as every pool owner knows, keeping their pool clean and maintained for everyone to enjoy can take a bit of work. Here are some ways to keep your investment in its best shape all season long.

Keep up with shrubs

If your backyard pool sits near trees and bushes, be sure to keep them trimmed throughout the season. This will help avoid additional debris from flying into your pool, which can create extra cleaning work for you. If possible, consider replacing these plants with those that create less of a mess.

Clean the surface often

Get rid of unattractive stains at the waterline with a quality surface cleaner. For best results, use the cleaner with a pool brush and rub from the top of the waterline to a few inches below the mark.

Check levels regularly

Be sure to monitor your pool’s chlorine and pH levels at least twice a week. The best time to do this is in the evening and several hours after the last swimmer has left the pool. If a rain or wind storm has occurred, wait about eight hours before testing.

Reduce maintenance duties

Besides providing increased comfort to swimmers, more homeowners are choosing saltwater chlorinated pools for ease of use and reduced maintenance. If you’re looking to spend less time keeping your pool maintained, consider installing a saltwater chlorination system, which eliminates the need for buying, storing and handling chemical chlorine. Saltwater chlorinated pool owners also enjoy the benefits of less irritated skin and eyes, as well as a significant cost savings verses their chemical chlorine counterparts. To learn more about saltwater chlorinated pools, visit www.swimincomfort.com.

Run filtration system daily

Water in constant movement is less likely to collect debris, such as dust, body oils and bacteria. Be sure to run your filtration system as much as possible throughout the summer to keep water as clean and clear as possible.

Keep equipment tidy

Pool skimmers are used to pick up yard debris, insects and other undesirable items that can fall into the water. While skimming the pool is typically needed before every swim, you should also clean the skimmers on a weekly basis, or as needed.

A clean, maintained pool will help you get most from those carefree days of summer.

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Fresh Market: The Pumpkin—a Halloween tradition

HAL-FreshMarket-Pumpkin

By Vicky Babcock

Google “pumpkin” and you will find everything from riots in (Keene) New Hampshire to Ichabod Crane’s unfortunate encounter with the headless horseman, to pumpkin scones. We have pumpkin festivals, pumpkin carving contests, smashing pumpkins, pumpkin tossing, pumpkin baking and biggest pumpkin contests.

A true Native American, the pumpkin has been embraced by our cultures as both an important food source for people and livestock, and an excellent medium for carving. Something about these colorful canvasses really stirs the creative juices in artists of all ages! Throw in a candle and you have a lovely Jack-o-lantern. With its growing season complete from early to mid October, is it any wonder that this vibrantly colored fruit has become synonymous with Halloween? Yet pumpkins have a relatively short history with the holiday known as Halloween, which is believed to have evolved from the ancient festival of Samhain. It has its origins in European culture. Samhain was the Celtic harvest festival, a time to stock up supplies for the winter. The ancient Gaels believed the final day in October to be a time when the two worlds (the living and the dead) overlapped allowing the dead to return to Earth and cause havoc among the living. Offerings from the harvest were left outside their doors to appease the spirits in an effort to prevent them from bringing sickness and blight to the crops. Door to door begging, or “souling,” (a precursor to our modern day trick-or-treat) came much later and was associated with All Souls Day.

Our native pumpkin entered into the holiday when Irish immigrants brought the tradition of the Jack-o-lantern—originally a carved turnip or gourd—to the U.S. during the 1700s. Turnips had their drawbacks; they were relatively small and dense, with no pre-formed cavity in which to place a lit coal. With its broad base and large capacity, the pumpkin quickly became the preferred medium for the practice. Today, a large percentage of fresh bought pumpkins lends itself to this Halloween tradition, decorating our porches and giving young artists a chance to stretch their creative wings. Once used as a welcoming light for the spirits of our loved ones and to ward off any malevolent spirits, the Jack-o-Lantern has become a Halloween fantasy, a joyful pastime and a profitable market for farmers of the crop. Unfortunately, few of us these days consume pumpkin that does not come out of a can.

Unfortunate, because pumpkin, one of the winter squashes, is an excellent source of dietary nutrition. Pumpkins are rich in beta-carotene, an important antioxidant, which the body uses to convert to vitamin A. Foods rich in beta-carotene have been linked to lower risk of certain cancers and offer protection against heart disease as well as an aid in the degenerative aspects of aging. Pumpkin is high in potassium and dietary fiber as well, necessary nutrients for the heart and digestive tract respectively. A cup of cooked pumpkin contains about 49 calories, a dieter’s dream!

So, as you carve your pumpkins this year, consider using the cut outs (minus the rind) in soups, stews or rice dishes. Or try some pumpkin chili. Any way you slice it, it comes out deliciously nutritious.

Like pumpkins—and despite its ancestry—Halloween is a true American treat. With the mix of cultures that make up today’s Halloween, what greater place to celebrate than the Great Melting Pot of the world? Have a safe and happy Halloween. And happy “souling.”

 

Pumpkin Chili

1 ½ pounds lean ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, diced

2 large carrots, washed and diced (ends removed)

2 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and diced

1 jar salsa—medium heat

1 15-oz can diced tomatoes

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained

Chili powder (to taste)

In a large skillet, brown beef. Drain most of the oils and remove beef to a Dutch oven. In saucepan in remaining oil, cook and stir onion, garlic, carrots and pumpkin for about two minutes, until onion is tender. Drain the rest of the oil and add to the beef. Add remaining ingredients except for the chili powder. Cook and stir until boiling. Reduce heat and add chili powder to taste. This will gain some heat as it cooks, so start lightly. Cook over med to low heat about 30 minutes or until pumpkin is tender and flavors have mixed. Add additional chili powder about 15 minutes into the cooking process if you wish.

Serve with grated cheese, crushed corn chips (I like Frito’s™ Chili Cheese) and sour cream if desired. Other additions include chopped fresh onions or chopped bell peppers. This is even better the next day.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

 

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Fall clean-up tips for your lawn and garden tools

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(BPT) – As the temperature drops, your lawn and garden will start settling into a dormant state. As you prep your landscaping and garden for a winter’s slumber, it’s a good idea to review the tools you used all summer. Taking care of this task now will ensure they’re in good shape come spring when it’s time to use them again. From sharpening edges of blades to making certain the tool is still doing the job it was designed to do, put all your lawn and garden tools through a thorough fall cleaning. Here are some tips:

* Lawn mowers – Check your owner’s manual for information about sharpening the mower deck blades and what to do with any unused gasoline before putting the mower into storage. It’s a good idea to keep the mower in a dry location where moisture won’t collect and potentially rust the blades.

* Hand trimmers – Hand clippers, tree trimmers and saws all take a beating during the summer. Check these tools to make certain the handles are still secure, the cutting blades are sharp and the locking mechanisms all work. If anything isn’t up to par, replace the tool so you have it ready for the first sign of spring.

* Chainsaws – These heavy machines get put through their paces, and they can be taxing on people, too, after extended use. If you’re ready to upgrade your chainsaw, the Husqvarna low-weight 436Li is quiet, easy to operate and has the same power as gas machines. The 536LiXP and the T536LiXP models are also available, and they come with low maintenance and high-performance delivery. All battery-operated chainsaws come with two rechargeable batteries that can be interchanged with any Husqvarna hand tools you might already have in your collection. The batteries have a 40-minute charge time, helping to keep the tools lightweight and quiet.

* Weed trimmers – These tools are invaluable for keeping the grasses and weeds trimmed around trees and garden edging. In the fall, be sure to replace the string so you’ll have a fresh spool come spring. Also check the air filter on the tool. If it is dirty, replace the filter to allow your machine to perform at its best.

* Hoses – When it’s time to store your hoses for the winter, check all the connections to make certain nothing leaks; replace the connectors if you notice water spraying or dribbling from a connection. And if the hose itself is leaking, put it on your list to be replaced. Make certain you’ve drained all the water out before putting the hoses away for winter. If you have a hose cart, roll up the hose neatly without any kinks. Otherwise, you can just roll the hose into a neat pile of loops for storage in a dry place.

With all of your lawn and garden tools safely stored for the winter months, you’ll know they’ll be ready the minute you need them in the spring.

 

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Fresh Market: The Pinecone

AWE-PineconeBy Vicky Babcock

 

Consider the pinecone. While not a viable food source for humans, pinecones are invaluable to birds and mice that eat the tender seeds when other sources of food are scarce. Dried pinecones make great fire starters, with or without candle wax. They are a crafters choice for wreaths, picture frames and candle rings. I’ve even seen them used to create charming baskets. A pinecone, a milkweed pod (split in two halves) and an acorn make a rustic angel for your tree.

Pinecones added to your greenery create interesting focal points and pinecones are the main base in many winter potpourris. Pinecones open when they are dry and close when they are wet, allowing them to distribute seed at the most opportune time for maximum travel. This phenomenon is the base for an interesting puzzle. While a pinecone is wet (tightly closed), push it into a narrow necked jar and allow it to dry. As it dries, it will open and expand, making it impossible to remove from the jar whole. Ask your kids if they know how you managed to get it into the jar.

Pinecone cows were a popular toy back in the day. These were made simply by sticking matchsticks into pinecones for legs.  In parts of the world they are still popular. In Finland there is a fairground with statues of pinecone cows for children to play on.

Nest a candle in a bowl of pinecones for a charming centerpiece. For an added touch, add a few glass ornaments or a string of dried cranberries. Never leave a candle unattended, as pinecones are extremely flammable.

An unopened pinecone is a symbol of virginity. Conversely, pinecones are symbolic with fertility and were often carved into bedposts as an aid to conception. The pinecone is considered a luck charm, favorable influences, protection from harm and sexual power. There are those who believe it promotes healing and inhibits negative influences.

Pinecone Firestarters

Pinecone Firestarters are easy to make and create charming gifts for those who have fireplaces. Gather pinecones and allow them to dry. Collect old candles or crayons for the wax.

Other optional ingredients:

Sawdust

Salt—yellow flame

Salt substitute—violet flame

Borax—green flame

Directions:

Melt wax in the top of a double boiler. This is necessary as wax is extremely flammable—do not heat directly on the stove. If you would like to create colored flames, mix sawdust with desired color ingredient (see above). Dip dried pinecones in the melted wax, then dip into sawdust mixture. These can be given in a pretty basket or a recycled onion or orange bag. Add a bit of greenery and a bow, and you have a charming gift for a housewarming or for Christmas. Just be sure the recipient has a fireplace.

The Pueblo story of the pine tree as told by the Quères is a detailed (and somewhat disturbing) tale in which a witch is tricked into eating magic pine seeds. The seeds sprout in her belly and turn her into a great pine tree that sways in the wind and moans and sobs forever—as all her pine children do to this day.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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Beware of poison ivy

Richard Cone, of Sparta, cut down this tree with a large poison ivy vine growing on it.

Richard Cone, of Sparta, cut down this tree with a large poison ivy vine growing on it.

Richard Cone, of Camp Lake, near Sparta, found out the hard way that getting rid of poison ivy can be a tricky business. Cone recently cut down a tree in his yard, and attached to it was a poison ivy vine that he said measured 8 inches in diameter. The woody vine looked like a tree branch on top of the tree. He said he was using a chainsaw, and woodchips were flying everywhere, which meant he got the poison ivy oil on his clothes and hands.

“I used some Dawn dish soap to scrub the oil off, and the rash was gone in a couple of days,” he said.

We sent the photo of the poison ivy vine to Ranger Steve Mueller. He said that if it was poison ivy, then it was larger than he had seen before. He couldn’t positively identify it from the photo. “It looks like it might be ivy covering a woody stem of something else but I can not tell from the picture,” he said.

“I have seen large ivy vines that are about three inches in diameter and climb high into trees. Ivies in southern Michigan grow larger than I typically see in our area. I have seen quite a large one but do not recall if I have seen any 8 inches in diameter.”

This photo from WebMD shows the leaves of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.

This photo from WebMD shows the leaves of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.

The Post did, however, find similar photos of poison ivy vines in an online search.

Mueller said that he would cut the ivy vine at the base of the tree with branch pruners and not remove the vine from the tree. It will grow from the ground again. “After cutting the ivy, it is good to wipe the cutting blade with some bleach. Wear disposable protective gloves,” he cautioned.

Mueller said he uses poison ivy herbicide on poison ivy and some other exotic plants. “I do not encourage use of chemicals but there occasions where I do use chemical treatments sparingly,” he explained.

How do you recognize poison ivy? Mueller said most grow as vines, though some can be free standing plants, under two feet tall. “The plant has leaves divided into three leaflets. The leaflet has three lobes and the margin has a few scattered teeth. The leaflets on the common Box Elder Trees look a lot like Poison Ivy so people can compare the two. Box Elder usually has more leaflets. In the fall the ivy may have white berry clusters,” he explained.

If you do come into contact with poison ivy and develop a rash, the American Academy of Dermatologists recommends the following:

Immediately rinse your skin with lukewarm, soapy water. If you can rinse your skin immediately after touching poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, you may be able to rinse off some of the oil. If not washed off, the oil can spread from person to person and to other areas of your body.

Wash your clothing. Thoroughly wash all of the clothes you were wearing when you came into contact with the poisonous plant. The oil can stick to clothing, and if it touches your skin, it can cause another rash.

Wash everything that may have the oil on its surface. Besides clothing, the oil from poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac can stick to many surfaces, including gardening tools, golf clubs, leashes and even a pet’s fur. Be sure to rinse your pet’s fur, and wash tools and other objects with warm, soapy water.

Do not scratch, as scratching can cause an infection.

Leave blisters alone. If blisters open, do not remove the overlying skin, as the skin can protect the raw wound underneath and prevent infection.

Take short, lukewarm baths. To ease the itch, take short, lukewarm baths in a colloidal oatmeal preparation, which you can buy at your local drugstore. You can also draw a bath and add one cup of baking soda to the running water. Taking short, cool showers may also help.

Consider calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream. Apply calamine lotion to skin that itches. If you have a mild case, a hydrocortisone cream or lotion may also help.

Apply cool compresses to the itchy skin. You can make a cool compress by wetting a clean washcloth with cold water and wringing it out so that it does not drip. Then, apply the cool cloth to the itchy skin.

Consider taking antihistamine pills. These pills can help reduce itching, however use with caution. You should not apply an antihistamine to your skin, as doing so can worsen the rash and the itch.

If your rash is not improving after seven to 10 days, or you think your rash may be infected, see a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist can treat your rash and any infection and help relieve the itch.

 

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Fresh Market: Is there fruit after August?

AWE-fresh-marketBy Vicky Babcock

 

 

Now that the kids are settled back into school and we are pushing into October, it’s time to address a few misconceptions. I’m frequently asked how long the (Solon) Market runs. People are quite often surprised when I tell them we are open through October. The question most commonly asked is this, “What kind of fruit (or vegetables) can you get in October?” Our minds take a turn once school starts. Our lives are consumed by back-to-school chores and football. For teachers, principals and other school staff, it is back to work. It’s like turning a switch. We forget that summer is not defined by the school schedule. Is there fruit (or vegetables) after August? I’m glad you asked.

Our state enjoys a fairly long growing season, spanning early May through late October and into November. Some of the most nutritious (and delicious) vegetables and fruits come late to the plate. Tomatoes are a popular fruit that can be harvested until the first frost. Most root vegetables enjoy a long sojourn into the fall season. Potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, parsnips and horseradish are some of the more common choices for fall roots. Winter squash—which should be harvested before the frost—will keep throughout much of the winter when stored properly.

Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and peppers are other examples of fall favorites. Kohlrabi and rutabaga are less common, but equally delicious.

It’s not just about pumpkins. Apples and pears, both popular Michigan fruits, make their debut in October. And cranberries are just beginning their bid to maturity. Cackleberries (produced by happy hens) are available year round. With the variety of produce yet available, there’s no excuse not to eat fresh.

Easy as—well, pie—Crustless Cranberry Pie

1 cup flour

½ cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

1 cup sugar

½ cup melted butter

¼ tsp. salt

2 beaten eggs

2 cups fresh cranberries

1 tsp. almond extract

 

Preheat oven to 350◦. In a medium to large bowl, combine first three ingredients. Gently stir in cranberries and nuts. Add butter, eggs and almond extract; combine. Spread in a 9-inch pie plate. Bake about 40 minutes or until golden and toothpick inserted in center is clean.

 

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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Colors In the Wind

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Red Maples in swamplands are the first to show fall color. It is typical for stressed plants or weak dying plants to change color earlier. Difficult growing conditions in swamps are demonstrated by the red appearing first on the maples in standing wet conditions.

Sassafras trees show red or yellow depending on the amount of sugar, anthocyanin, and carotenes present in the leaves. Sumacs change early to become a beautiful crimson. At the equinox, color change picks up speed. Green still dominates the landscape.

Uppermost tree leaves change color first. Treetop leaves are exposed to chilling cold before more protected inner leaves. This results in color changes at the top first and is usually followed by leaf color at the tree canopy edge.

Fall breezes rustle leaves and we get to see the first colors in the wind drifting to the ground, as leaves break free. A few fall until a gust of wind fills the air with a couple hundred leaves. Cherries begin shedding leaves before many other species. Their leaves are not cherry red like the fruits but are yellow.

Aspen colors draw our attention as green and amber leaves quake in the slightest air movement. The leaves have a flat petiole that holds the blade to the stem. The flat petiole makes them quake easily. The movement captures our eyes and the sound of wind among the leaves draws attention. As fall progresses, aspens become beacons of reflected amber light in the setting sun. Amber aspens are like massive streetlights beginning to glow in the dimming evening woods.

Closer to the ground, dogwood shrubs are a deep dark maroon and raspberries are a rich red. Among the most brilliant fall colors are the Virginia creeper vines clinging to trunks of dead trees. They are exposed to full sun and have more sugar in the leaves. The exposure to sun aids pigment richness. The creepers that are more shaded from full sun are usually yellow.

Watch trees in various nature niche situations to discover subtle variations occurring where individual plants work to survive in their unique location. Discover trees of the same species with one growing in less ideal conditions and notice it changes color before others of it kind growing in better conditions.

Plants shed leaves in preparation for winter by producing an abscission layer between the petiole (leave stem) and the branch. This is a layer of large cells that seals fluid movement from leave to stem or stem to leave. If weather conditions prevent leaves from shipping sugars from the leaves before the abscission layer forms, sugar gets trapped and fall colors become more beautiful.

Large cells of the abscission layer create a weak area where the leaves separate from the tree to create colors in the wind when they fall.

Sugar maples hold leaves well and then suddenly drop them in a few days. Karen’s parents often visit for her October 20th birthday. When they arrive, the two maples by the house still have many leaves. Her parents are always amazed by the time they leave three days later that most of the leaves have been shed.

Oak trees do not form a good abscission layer. The result is many of the leaves remain on the tree into winter or even spring when new growth pushes the old leaf off. Sometimes oak leaves turn red but it is usual for them to simply brown. Enjoy the flitting and fluttering of colors in the wind, while taking notice of individual trees.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net

 

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