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General Article

10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Garden

10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Garden

It’s the time for looking back and looking forward, the threshold of a new year. Gardening is an exercise in optimism, especially in the winter when everything is still possible. We check things off in catalogs and draw little circles on graph paper or the back of an envelope, asking questions like “What worked this year that we can repeat? What failed? How big will that get? Should we try that one in a different spot?”

We know the weeds, pests, and dry spells will arrive sooner or later but now we focus on the potential blooms and the bounty. In that spirit, why not make a list of garden resolutions for 2012?

Here are mine…

1. Grow more food. I won’t resolve to grow ALL of my vegetables this year, not with my busy schedule, but I can shoot for half, at least from June to September.

2. Stick to the budget and the plan. When I am looking starry-eyed at pictures of fresh Black from Tula tomatoes and mounds of blue lupine, I will keep in mind the size of my garden and my wallet, and most importantly my available time to work it.

3. Try something new. I’m always pulled between growing more of something I know will do well (thus meeting goal #1), and having more variety. The balance tips both ways depending largely on what seed packets I have on hand when I get a free spring afternoon.

4. Start more from seed and take better care of the seedlings. Might be time to buy a warming pad. Last year I finally started using good quality potting soil and it made a huge difference.

5. Weed earlier and more often. I’ve got to get ahead of them this year, before it gets so out of hand I give up. Skimming them off with a sharp hoe when the weeds first popped up gave good results in 2011. I just have to keep it up.

6. Get the family more involved. Cherry tomatoes and Edamame help keep them interested.

7. Plant with preservation in mind. I want to plant varieties like Kennebec potatoes and Hardneck Garlic that do well in storage. I also want to make more pickles and jams.

8. Share more with neighbors. Having plastic bags already in the garden when harvesting makes this easier.

9. Feed the soil. What you give is what you get, so feed your soil by adding more organic matter. Happy soil micro-organisms make for productive plants!

10. More succession planting. Snap bush beans and beets are especially good for succession planting.

And one more for good luck, Stop and smell the Bee Balm, Tulsi Basil and Garlic Chives more often.…

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Renovation Contractor

Final Checklist Before A Kitchen Remodel Begins

You are ready for a new kitchen and cannot wait for the remodelers to come in and start ripping out all those old cabinets and counter tops to replace them with something newer, more elegant and far more functional.
Before they do arrive though take one last look at your kitchen design plans, as there are several factors that homeowners can often overlook, especially if they have done much of the planning work themselves.
Some points you should definitely consider in your review include the following:-
Is there going to be enough room to open all the drawers and cabinets in your new kitchen properly?
Is there going to be adequate counter top space between the sink, stove and refrigerator?
Is the microwave going in right place? If there are kids in the house is it low enough for them to use safely?
How well will your new kitchen flooring match with that in adjoining rooms?
Do you have enough lighting planned? Under cabinet lights are often overlooked but they are incredibly useful in most kitchens and really should not be forgotten.
Is the work flow between all the appliances going to be smooth? Transit between them all, including the dishwasher should be as easy and clutter free as possible.
Will you have enough storage space?
Are you really happy with the overall design plans?
If, after you have asked yourself all these questions, you are still happy with the planned design that is great, let the work commence.
However if you have any nagging doubts, even if the kitchen plans were drawn up by a kitchen remodeling expert, voice them now.
Changing something mid project can be an expensive headache and derail the project’s timeline by days or even weeks. It is your kitchen, your money and ultimately it is up to you to make sure that the design is exactly what you wanted it to be.…

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General Article

Herb Gardens For Beginners – Which Are the Most Popular Herbs For Growing at Home? Part 1

Herb Gardens For Beginners – Which Are the Most Popular Herbs For Growing at Home? Part 1

Think you are ready to try your hand at herb growing but just can’t decide which herbs to grow? Well, things become popular for a reason, so if you don’t know the direction you want to go in yet, why not follow the crowd! Tons of folks are choosing these herbs for growing by the bushel, and can tons of folks be wrong? Well, maybe, but with the following information you can definitely decide if these three are right for you.

Let’s look at what’s most popular for a culinary herb garden:

1. BasilBasil is possibly best known for its preeminence in pesto. Its leaves have a warm and spicy flavor — and it just makes everything taste so fresh! Also, a little goes a long way. Basil is wonderful in almost any tomato dish, and is wonderful with eggs.

Basil is an annual and needs to be replanted each year.

2. RosemaryIn most climates Rosemary is an annual and if left unpruned will grow into a large shrub. Rosemary may be best known for use with lamb, but is delicious used with sage for any poultry dish. Rosemary is also wonderful when planted where you will brush against in and carry its wonderful aroma into your home.

3 ChivesMy favorite use for chives is chopped and mixed with sour cream on a fresh, hot baked potato. I’s wonderful in salads, in egg and cheese dishes, and in many sauces.

In most climates chives die back in winter, but pop up strong every spring.

Just three recommendations? Sure, but they make up the backbone of many an herb garden. Also, you’ll probably find a few more you want to try when shopping for these.…

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Bathroom Renovations

Is It Time for a Kitchen Remodel? Make Sure the Heart of Your Home Is in Top Shape!

When couples build a house, they often spend a lot of time on the kitchen. There’s a good reason for that. The kitchen is an essential room in the house. It’s often the heart of the home and the center of activity. People come together in the kitchen, whether it be a social event or just family. As a matter of fact, it’s hard to get people out of the kitchen!
Kitchens are crucial and it’s important to remember that at the design stage. A kitchen that is functional and well-designed will not only make you (and any of your guests) happy, but it will also provide a higher resale value later. Don’t underestimate the importance of this key room in your home.
Although it can be hard to not look for a bargain, make sure you look for quality when choosing your kitchen cabinets. Well-made cabinets and drawers will provide years of enjoyment and functionality. High quality counter-tops, that last may cost more at first, will provide much more value in the short-term and when it’s time to sell your house. And when it comes to appliances, you don’t want to skimp either. You don’t have to get the best of the best; but you do want good quality, so it’s okay to spend a little extra money. You’ll be glad while you’re using the kitchen-and when it’s time for resale.
Depending on what you can afford (and how you entertain), there are a wide variety of options you can choose that will make your kitchen remodel outstanding. And regardless of whether you can picture exactly what you want or not, your builder can help you with options to make your kitchen everything you want and need it to be. But the most important thing is to think through the design of this room ahead of time.
What are your “must have” ideas for the kitchen?…