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Archive | Bloomin’ Summer

Maximize and extend the beauty of roses with proper care

BLOOM-Roses-Floribundaby Melinda Myers

 

Although June is national rose month, gardeners can keep their roses healthy and blooming all summer long. Through proper care and a few simple strategies both existing and new roses can continue to look their best throughout the summer months—maximizing their beauty and enjoyment for all.

Water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil are crumbly and moist. Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation to apply the water directly to the soil where it is needed. You’ll lose less water to evaporation and reduce the risk of disease by avoiding overhead irrigation.

Mulch the soil surface with shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic matter to conserve moisture, suppress weeds and improve the soil as they decompose.

Keep your plants blooming and looking their best in spite of the heat, humidity and pests of summer. Immunize your plants against common environmental stresses such as heat and drought, while building their defenses against insects and diseases natural defenses with an organic plant strengthener, such as JAZ™ Rose Spray (gardeners.com). Researchers discovered when some plants are stressed they produce hundreds of molecules that help them better tolerate environmental stresses as well as insect and disease attacks. When applied to plants in the form of a plant strengthener, the treated plants improve their own defenses, much like immunizations do for us.  Gardeners will notice less damage from stress, better recovery, reduced yellow leaves, and healthier plants overall.

Proper fertilization will help keep roses healthy and producing lots of flowers. A soil test is the best way to determine how much and what type of fertilizer is best for roses growing in your landscape.

Check your plants throughout the season for signs of insects and disease. Early detection makes control easier. Remove insects or infested plant parts when discovered. Look for the most eco-friendly control options when intervention is needed.

Enjoy your efforts and improve your roses appearance by harvesting a few rosebuds for indoor enjoyment. Prune flowering stems back to the first 5-leaflet leaf. You can prune back farther on established plants, but be sure to always leave at least two 5-leaflet leaves behind on the plant’s stem.

Those gardening in cold climates should stop deadheading roses toward the end of the season. Allow the plants to develop rose hips. This helps the plants prepare for the cold weather ahead and increases hardiness. Plus, these red to orange fruits provide winter food for birds as well as attractive winter interest in the garden.

And if you don’t have roses, make this the summer you add one or more of these beauties to your landscape.

 

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author and 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.  She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site is www.melindamyers.com.

 

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Summer garden glory without the weeding and watering

Radically Reduce Garden Maintenance

(BPT) – Summer can be tough on gardens. In what should be their glory days, many gardens suffer from neglect. Long weekends and summer vacations leave yards untended, while summer heat is an excuse for putting off chores. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to have both a glorious well-maintained garden and time for fun in the sun by taking some smart gardening steps now.

Here’s a quick list of pro-active steps from the experts at preen.com to transform a yard or garden from needy-and-greedy to lean-and-green by reducing watering and weeding needs all season.

* Choose better places for better plants – Many plant experts insist that 90 percent of garden problems would disappear if gardeners put the right plants in the right places. But, sometimes it’s the planting place itself that needs adjustment. For example, a hot, dry, exposed setting is brutal on most plant selections. Why not completely rethink a spot like this? To alter the heat-and-light dynamic, introduce a small shade tree to serve as the anchor of a new easy-care landscape bed. Add a supporting cast of drought-tolerant shrubs and perennials. With better places for better plants, long-term maintenance can be a breeze.

* Whack weeding – Weeding consumes more time in the garden than anything else, except watering, according to a National Gardening Association survey. Covering garden beds with a 3-inch layer of mulch will greatly reduce the need to weed and water, while making everything look tidy too. Mulch retains soil moisture and denies weed seeds the light they need to sprout. Top off mulch with a sprinkling of a pre-emergent such as Preen to stop weed seeds from growing in mulch and garden soil for up to three or four months. For a one-step solution that creates a six-month weed-fighting barrier, try Preen Mulch Plus, a natural shredded-wood mulch with added pre-emergent weed preventers already mixed in.

* Beef up the border patrol – Sharply-defined edges around garden beds add visual appeal to any property. They also make maintenance easier by creating a firm demarcation between beds and lawns to keep out invasive perennial weeds, including nasty creepers that can’t be prevented by other means. Dig a shallow 8-inch wide trench surrounding garden beds, then cover it with 3 inches of mulch; or install a barrier-style perimeter edging of metal, stone, rubber or wood.

* Banish fainting spells – When it comes to water-retentive container plantings, think fewer and bigger. Don’t dot decks, doorways and patios with fussy little pots. Small containers look insignificant and dry out fast, subjecting parched plants to repeated bouts of stress from fainting spells. Larger containers allow for more dramatic plant groupings and plenty of healthy root room, plus retain important soil moisture.

* Try tick-tock watering – Gardens need less water than many think, thriving on as little as 1 inch of water per week whether it’s delivered by rain, drip irrigation, sprinklers or a hand-held hose. To save time watering all season and prepare a garden to get through extended dry spells, add programmable water timers to water spigots and hose systems. Even inexpensive timers can deliver water to suit particular plant and climate needs. Early morning watering is best. Midday sun can burn wet leaves. Evening watering can lead to plant ailments and mildew.

Don’t spend the summer constantly weeding, watering and struggling to keep up with garden chores. Put your garden on a path to self-sufficiency. Then focus on fun in the sun, whether you’re on vacation or in your own backyard.

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Fresh Market – Sugar snap peas

*BLOOM-Fresh market sugarsnaps

Imagine a product with a satisfying crunch and a lovely flavor—and get this—you can eat as much as you want with no weight gain!  Enter the sugar pea.  Sugar peas are a free food to dieters, containing only 41 calories per cup. chopped raw.  They are believed to have originated in Europe where aristocrats in France began eating the immature peas, pods and all.  Sugar peas are very high in vitamins C and  A—one cup provides nearly 100% of your daily needs of vitamin C.  Rich in fiber , consumption of these treats helps reduce blood cholesterol levels, obesity, and constipation.

While sugar peas are a treat fresh picked from the garden, they also enhance any salad and are a great addition to stir fries.  The tender shoots can also be used in this capacity.  Sugar peas are planted early in the season as they cannot tolerate excessive heat.  There is also a second planting in August for a fall harvest.  This planting, however does not traditionally produce as well as Spring crops.  If you decide to plant your own, don’t forget that deer like them too!

 

Easy stir-fry

½ pound sugar peas, strings removed

1 T. olive oil

1 green onion, chopped (green parts also)

Toasted sesame seeds

In a heated stir fry pan toss sugar peas with olive oil—cook until tender crisp, about 3 minutes. Add green onion and stir fry until onion is tender. Toss with sesame seed.  Serve alone or with rice or as a side to pork or chicken dishes.

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

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Flowering shrubs in containers can bring easy elegance to a garden

(NAPS) Many believe container gardening is the new way to grow: It’s a fun, easy way to add color and bold seasonal interest to any size garden. Planting flowers and tropical plants in containers every year can become costly, but it’s easy to minimize the expense by mixing in some shrubs.

Every garden can benefit from the more permanent, year-round beauty of flowering shrubs in containers. Itís easy and rewarding to do, as long as the gardener follows a few simple guidelines.

It Starts With Location

Whether you mix them with annuals and perennials or use them on their own, adding shrubs to your container garden makes good sense.

Whether you mix them with annuals and perennials or use them on their own, adding shrubs to your container garden makes good sense.

Choosing a location for a potted shrub is the first step, as this will dictate what you can grow. Locations with easy access to water and out of the path of high winds are best, and some sun is imperative for shrubs. Roses, butterfly bush and lilac need at least six hours of uninterrupted sunlight daily; hydrangeas, azaleas and weigela will benefit from some shade during the hottest part of the day, especially in warm climates.

Choose Carefully

Your local garden center is the best place to shop for plants. To help narrow your choices, consider how tall youíd like your shrub to be and what youíd like it to contribute to your garden. Low-growing shrubs, such as OSO Easy roses and Lo & Behold butterfly bushes, offer vivid color at eye level, while taller shrubs like Fine Line buckthorn and Black Lace elderberry add dramatic height and create privacy.
To make sure your new shrub will survive the winter in your area, choose a variety that tolerates temperatures at least one zone colder than the zone you live in (visit provenwinners.com to find your hardiness zone).

The container you choose must be large enough to accommodate your shrub. Look for sturdy pots that are at least 18î across and 16î tall to allow enough room for the plant to grow; larger is preferable. The container must have several open drainage holes in the bottom. Since your potted shrub will remain outdoors year-round, look for frostproof or weatherproof containers if you live in a cold climate.

Potting Tips

Fill your container with potting soil. Do not use garden soil or top soil, which may hinder drainage. Avoid putting anything in the bottom of the pot to take up space, as the weight of soil creates stability and the shrubís roots will need the room.

Fill the pot to within 2î of the top, tamping soil down gently to prevent settling later. Make a well in the center of the pot to accommodate the new plant. Remove the shrub from its pot (rap on its sides to dislodge it), gently untangle any visible root, and place it in the hole.

Add or remove a bit of soil until the plant sits at the same level in the new pot as it was in its original container. Rotate the plant a few times to make sure that its best side faces outward. To finish, gently push the soil around the root-ball, eliminating air pockets and making sure the entire root mass is surrounded. Water immediately and thoroughly.

Water Is Key

Water is the most important factor in caring for your potted shrub. The soil may dry out quickly, especially during periods of hot weather.

Check it frequently and water when necessary, ideally in the mornings. Winter wonít be a problem if youíve selected a hardy plant and weatherproof container, but the plant may need a drink during winter warm spells when the potting soil is not frozen. Come spring, apply a granular fertilizer formulated for woody plants and incorporate it into the top few inches of soil.

The shrub will thrive for several seasons in its pot; youíll know itís time to transplant into the ground when growth becomes less vigorous and it becomes difficult to keep it well watered.

For a complete selection of colorful hardy shrubs and tips on care and container design, visit www.provenwinners.com.

 

 

 

 

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Beat the heat by bringing cooking outdoors

(NAPS)—It’s the time of year to retire the oven and do a little backyard cooking. With just a grill and tongs, the great outdoors can provide a natural setting for creative menus. Here are some tips and tricks for firing up your mealtime in the warm months ahead:

• Arm Yourself with the Right Tools. If it’s always grill season for you, consider investing in a high-quality grill that can be used year after year. Next, buy a set of flat metal skewers—they do not require soaking and they will not fall apart like the wooden ones. The flat edge keeps food from turning, which is an added bonus.

• Master the Classics. No barbecue is complete without hamburgers and hot dogs. Toasted buns should be placed butter side down for a few minutes until golden brown. Make handmade patties 3⁄4 of an inch thick and use chopped onions, dry onion-soup mix, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to season. Hot dogs should be turned often until slightly blistered on all sides. For veggie lovers, portobello mushrooms marinated in equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar are a tasty alternative.

• Experiment. Grills are for more than just meat! Pizza, fruits and vegetables gain new appreciation when cooked on an open flame. Kids and adults alike will love this Grilled Fruit with Apple-Maple Syrup as a summertime treat. Brushed with a warm blend of 100 percent apple juice and pure maple syrup, this grillable dessert is ideal with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

For more grill-ready, no-bake recipe ideas, visit www.meals.com.

Grilled Fruit With Apple-Maple Syrup

1⁄2 cup Apple Nestlé Juicy
Juice All Natural 100% Juice
1⁄4 cup pure maple syrup
4 slices ripe pineapple, peeled
2 peaches, cut in half, pits removed
4 scoops Vanilla Dreyer’s or Edy’s Slow Churned Light Ice Cream

COMBINE Juicy Juice and syrup in small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes or until slightly thick. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

PREHEAT grill. Brush fruit lightly with a small amount of syrup. Grill fruit, brushing occasionally with additional syrup, for about 2 to 3 minutes per side or until nicely browned.

REMOVE fruit to individual dishes and top each with a scoop of ice cream. Drizzle with remaining syrup.

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Grow beautiful landscapes with less water

(ARA) – Hot and dry weather provides reason enough to think about simple ways to save water while still enjoying beautiful yards and gardens. You may even find that your efforts to be water smart may improve the health and appearance of your plants.

During the summer, an estimated 30 to 70 percent of household water use takes place outdoors, depending on your local climate. Up to half of the water used to irrigate yards and gardens is unnecessarily lost due to evaporation, wind drift, watering non-plant areas due to poorly aligned sprinklers and simply overwatering.

With some easy steps, you can reduce your water bill, foster attractive spaces for you and others to enjoy and help protect water supplies for future generations. Do something good for your bank account, your yard and your planet by following these smart tips.

Plant smart

* Landscape to suit your lot and your climate. Choose grass or plants with low water requirements that will thrive in your local climate. Consider sun and shade areas, slopes and plant sizes for optimum growth. Group plants with similar water needs close together and separate lawn areas from planting beds.

* Keep soil healthy. Aeration helps improve water penetration and adding compost or fertilizer maintains plant health so they use water more efficiently. Mulch well around plants, bushes and trees. Two to 4 inches of mulch reduces evaporation, moderates soil temperatures and helps control weeds that compete for water.

* Maintain your yard regularly. Weed, prune and mow as needed. A well-maintained yard uses water more effectively.
Water wisely

* Set sprinklers to only water plants, not your driveway, sidewalk, patio or other hardscapes.

* Water at the best time. Watering during the heat of the day causes high evaporation loss. Watering early in the morning when winds are calm and temperatures are cooler minimizes evaporation by as much as 30 percent.

* Adapt watering to the season. Adjust how much you water based on seasonal weather and changing conditions. Weather-based timers are available and can make such adjustments automatically.
Maintain and upgrade automatic irrigation systems

* Inspect the system regularly. Check for leaks that can waste water and cause other problems. Also look for broken or clogged sprinklers that no longer operate efficiently.

* Check the pressure. Proper water pressure encourages more uniform water distribution and better sprinkler operation. Fixed spray-type sprinklers work well around 25 to 30 psi while sprinklers with moving streams of water work well at 40 to 45 psi. Water pressure regulation devices are easily added to valves to control a whole irrigation zone or can be part of individual sprinklers.

* Install a rain shutoff device. Rain sensors prevent irrigation systems from running when irrigation is unnecessary. These devices can reduce irrigation water usage by up to 35 percent and help extend irrigation system life. Sprinkler systems should never run in the rain and rain sensors can put an end to those wasteful situations.

* Utilize “smart” technology. Climate or soil moisture sensors and controllers evaluate weather or soil moisture conditions and automatically adjust the irrigation schedule so your landscape always receives the appropriate amount of water. The water savings can be significant and the convenience of these self-adjusting controllers is another great benefit.

* Consider drip or micro-irrigation for shrubs and ground covers. Rather than spray large areas with above-ground sprinklers, drip irrigation utilizes emission devices to deliver desired volumes of water to particular locations at or near plant root zones. Water drips slowly from emitters either onto the soil surface or below ground. Less water is lost due to wind and evaporation as a result, and weeds can also be reduced.

* Look for rebates. Many water utilities offer rebates for certain water-efficient products. Before upgrading your system, check with your local water provider for opportunities for free and discounted products.
Consider an irrigation professional

* Have your irrigation system audited. Hire a qualified professional to conduct a system review and uniformity test to ensure areas are being watered evenly and appropriately, and make necessary adjustments. Certified irrigation professionals have the training and skills to offer insight into unique watering challenges and can be located at www.irrigation.org/Certification/Find_a_Certified_Professional.aspx.

* Upgrade or invest in a new irrigation system. A water-efficient system requires a good design, quality components, proper installation and maintenance. Licensed and certified professionals can offer expert advice and services.

Although July is officially designated Smart Irrigation Month by the Irrigation Association and a number of states, it makes sense to promote smart irrigation every month of the year. Each individual effort makes a difference that results in more beautiful, productive and water-efficient landscapes for everyone to enjoy while conserving one of our most precious natural resources.

For more information and helpful tips, visit www.smartirrigationmonth.org.

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Keep your lawn mower running right

Giving your lawn mower a tune-up is a lot easier and more important than many people realize.Giving your lawn mower a tune-up is a lot easier and more important than many people realize.

Giving your lawn mower a tune-up is a lot easier and more important than many people realize.

(NAPS)—Lawn care is a lot easier when you have a mower that starts quickly and gets the job done week after week. The key to making that happen can be as simple as doing a few easy and inexpensive mower maintenance tasks once a year.

“It’s like preventive medicine for your equipment,” says Synoilva Shaw, a Briggs & Stratton marketing coordinator and lawn mower expert. “For a few dollars and few minutes once a year, you can make your lawn mower last longer and run better.” For the typical push mower, an annual lawn mower tune-up includes changing the oil, spark plug and oil filter and adding a fuel preservative. It takes about 30 minutes and provides great benefits, including:

•  A lawn mower that starts easily and runs smoothly at full power;
•  Extended mower life, potentially avoiding major repairs;
•  Reduced engine emissions because the engine will run cleaner;
•  A small savings in the amount of gasoline used.

“Even homeowners who have never done a mower tune-up can do it right the first time,” adds Shaw. In fact, Todd Teske, the CEO of Briggs & Stratton Corporation, demonstrates how easily it is done by tuning up his own lawn mower on a how-to video on the Briggs & Stratton YouTube channel.

The company offers all-in-one tune-up kits that include everything needed to do a tune-up: the right amount of oil, an air filter, a fuel filter for riding mowers, a spark plug and fuel preservative. The kits are available at Briggs & Stratton dealers, home improvement stores or online at www.briggsandstratton.com.

The firm also helps homeowners dispose of their used mower engine oil easily and at no cost at participating Briggs & Stratton dealers. The used oil can be dropped off in any closed container. To find a dealer, visit recyclemoweroil.com.

As the largest maker of gas engines for outdoor power equipment, the company encourages homeowners to maintain the estimated 65 million lawn mowers in the United States as both a cost-saving measure and an environmentally responsible action.

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Celebrate National Blueberry Month

July belongs to blueberries in Michigan. Blueberries are so easy to eat and enjoy, and they taste great. They have been enjoyed for centuries in our nation, and are a true native American species.

Early settlers cherished the fruit as a staple ingredient in foods and medicines. They incorporated the berries into their diets, eating them fresh off the bush and adding them to soups, stews, and many other foods.
When buying blueberries, look for firm, plump berries that have a powdery, grayish-blue color. To prevent fresh berries from turning soft, wash them just before eating. When storing, wrap tightly and refrigerate. Do not wash them before freezing. If washed, they turn into a solid form and become mushy upon thawing. Instead, blueberries should be frozen so they pour individually from an airtight bag or container.

In addition to their visual appeal, intense blue color, and sweet delectable flavor, blueberries are a healthy and convenient food. They require no pitting or peeling – just rinse, eat, and enjoy! Blueberries have much more to offer than good looks and great taste. Luscious, sweet blueberries have a nutrition profile fitting for the new millennium. They’re low fat, sodium free, and a good source of both fiber and vitamin C. In fact, a one-cup serving of fresh blueberries will give you five grams of fiber—more than most fruits and vegetables—and 15 percent of your daily vitamin C at a cost of only 80 calories.

On this page is a recipe for those watching their sugars and carbs. You can have your blueberry cheesecake and eat it too!

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Blueberry cheesecake for carb counters

From the U.S. highbush blueberry council

Ingredients

2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs*
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2⁄3 cup granulated non-nutritive sweetener
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Sour Cream Topping, recipe follows
Blueberry Sauce (recipe follows)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375°F
Spray bottom and side of a 9-inch pie plate with vegetable cooking spray
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and tilt to cover evenly
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, eggs, milk, granulated sweetener and vanilla until smooth
Carefully pour into crumb-coated pie plate
Smooth top
Bake until set in the center, 18 to 20 minutes
Cool 10 minutes
When pie is set, spread the Sour Cream Topping over the top
Bake 7 minutes longer
Cool to room temperature on a wire rack
Chill until cold
Serve with Blueberry Sauce

Sour Cream Topping

In a small bowl, stir 1 cup sour cream, ¼ cup granulated non-nutritive sweetener and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Blueberry Sauce

In a medium-size saucepan, over medium heat, stir 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries with 2 tablespoons granulated non-nutritive sweetener and 1 tablespoon each lemon juice and water until berries are soft, about 5 minutes
Chill

Quick notes

Per portion (including 1-½ tablespoons blueberry sauce): 413 calories; 13 g carbohydrate; 36 g total fat (22 g saturated fat); 1 g fiber
* Note: Breadcrumbs are optional If made without breadcrumbs, subtract 1 gram carbohydrate per portion

Number of servings (yield): 8

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July is national blueberry month

We are just heading into July, but it’s not too early to enjoy some fat, juicy, delicious blueberries for national blueberry month! Did you know that over 18,000 acres of blueberries are grown in Michigan, the largest blueberry-producing state in the U.S.? Michigan grows more than 20 varieties. They are a favorite at farmer’s markets, and in regular grocery stores, too. They came in early this year, and Post Farms had 1,000 pounds ready to pick as of Monday.

Blueberries are considered a super food. They are the fruit that is highest in antioxidants, and are an excellent source of Vitamin C and fiber. They are also a good source of Vitamin A and iron.

Eat fresh blueberries within a week after purchasing. Store berries in the refrigerator in a covered container. Do not wash until ready to eat. For long-term storage, place completely dry berries on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a plastic freezer bag or container.

To take advantage of the plentiful blueberries, raspberries and strawberries that are out right now, try the recipe on this page for a luscious Fourth of July dessert!

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