March 26, 2017
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Wood Window Makeover owner and master craftsman Steve Quillian demonstrates glass cutting to, from left, Carolyn Brayboy, Haley Roberts and Anne Gunn. They were among the participants in a window restoration workshop at a historic home in Tampa, Fla., in February. Quillian will present a wooden window restoration workshop at the Kemper Center in Kenosha on April 8. ( submitted photo )

Wooden windows worth fixing

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Owners of historic homes often believe that replacement is the only option for their wooden windows. Yet a restored window is more efficient than a replacement window and can be restored for less money, according to Wood Window Makeover founder Steve Quillian.

To teach local residents about the process of restoring wooden windows, he is holding a one-day workshop Saturday, April 8, at the Kemper Center. The workshop, which costs $70, is sponsored by Abatron, a Kenosha-based manufacturer of products used in historic preservation. Anyone interested needs to register.

Participants will be taught the mechanism of historic windows, safe sash removal (the moveable part of the window), sash cord replacement, effective paint stripping, epoxy repair, glass replacement and glazing and proper painting techniques.

Marching into spring

Spring will arrive eventually — the vernal equinox tells us so. So, until you can lie in the grass, here are some March tips to keep your gardening juices flowing.

* Allow cactus, other succulents and bromeliads to rest during winter. Hold back even more than usual on watering and watch carefully for pests. Average household temperatures are ideal for succulents. Avoid placing them in drafty locations, where cold air may cause leaf drop or damage.

Always on the grow: Master Gardeners volunteer for many projects in county

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A recent article in Kenosha News’ “My Life” section about our local Master Gardener volunteers has people questioning if there are more Kenosha County projects in which the Master Gardeners are involved. Indeed there are!

The impact made by our trained and dedicated Master Gardener volunteers can be seen throughout our communities at local schools, municipal buildings and other non-profit facilities.

Attract beneficial insects with these easy ornamental plants

I know we are all thinking about the garden even though we’ve been hit with another round of cold and snow. But right now we have the luxury of time to do a little planning and to look for ways to have beautiful gardens and landscapes without a huge outlay of time and effort.

One of the keys to growing a successful garden without too much intervention (synthetic pesticides and fertilizers) is to help the garden reach an ecological balance in which the garden is filled with beneficial insects. These insects prey on the pests that cause problems, and a good balance of predator to prey keeps your garden healthy.

Catch some rays in a winter sun space

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It’s called a “false spring” when the weather turns mild for a few weeks between rain and snow storms of late winter. The skies clear and weak winter sun comes shining through as we approach the equinox. Although it may look warm from indoors, the moment you step out, the icy wind reminds you it’s still winter.

Just imagine if you had a spot to relax outdoors where this UV energy is intensified. Block air movement and the resulting sun-drenched space becomes a naturally warmed solar sink. Similar scenarios were sought by man and animals alike as the age-old way of warming the body naturally during sunny days of winter.

First, put garden on paper

My first seeds have come, so I can’t wait any longer to plan my vegetable garden. This year I’m planning to have the best garden ever. Heard that before? I couldn’t resist ordering what sounded fun, even though I’m doing things backwards by ordering before I plan. I have enough space, though, to grow what I want so I can choose my vegetables first and then decide where to plant them. With a small garden, it’s more critical to carefully choose what to plant according the space available.

Of course, it’s hard not to order absolutely everything that’s new, sounds tasty or is even just something different that I’ve never tried. But I think I’ve done a fairly good job of remembering last year’s excesses, and I scaled back my seed order for a more modest but more varied planting.

How to build better soil? Stop treating it like dirt

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The key to a great garden? Look under your feet and start valuing your soil.

“We treat soil like dirt, and they are not the same thing,” said noted soil scientist Steve Andrews, the “Compost Crusader.” “Dirt is the stuff that your nosy next-door neighbor likes to dig up on you. Dirt is the stuff in your vacuum cleaner. Dirt gets on your clothes, the kids, the dog and the cat. But dirt is not soil.

Soil test is important tool for gardeners

Question: Why should I take a soil test of my garden soil? When is a good time to take a soil test? — T. H.

Answer: A soil test is a tool that gardeners can use to determine if the soils in their yard are suitable to obtain quality plant performance. Soil tests analyze the soil to determine the soil pH, the organic matter content and the levels of phosphorus and potassium. Also, it gives recommendations on the types and amounts of fertilizer to add to the soil.

Start spending 30 minutes a day in the garden

How does it sound to set aside just 30 minutes a day from now on to work in the garden? We were spoiled by the wonderfully warm weather last week, but it doesn’t seem we’re going to be in the frigid zone anytime soon. And even if we are, just don’t go out on those days.

I promise you that if you start now, you will be so far ahead of the game when spring really does roll around, that you’ll be able to spend quality time in the garden without the heavy toll of chores hanging over your head. It may not be quite as pleasant to pull on the down vest and gloves as it is to work in a T-shirt. But it really does feel refreshing to be doing something useful.

Let the good times roll: Making memories for Mardi Gras

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I have never been so thankful for horrible icy weather as I was on a special Fat Tuesday a few years ago, when the car’s inability get traction on the highway scored me an invite to one heck of a Mardi Gras party.

I was out shopping with girlfriends when the weather turned bad, so my friend Brenda, who lived nearby, invited us to spend the night. It just so happened she was attending a Mardi Gras party that night, and invited us to come crash the bash.

There’s plenty for gardeners to do, even in February

February garden tips:

* Take cuttings of a favorite begonia and root them for friends for May Day or a favorite mom for Mother’s Day. Take cuttings about two inches long, remove the lower leaves, dip in rooting powder and plant in sterile potting mix. Put several cuttings in one pot for a full plant.

‘Topping’ trees leaves them weak, prone to diseases, pests

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Question: Trees growing along city streets and in an area parkway have been severely cut back at the top of the tree. Is this a common practice? Will it hurt the tree? — T.W.

Since deciduous trees are dormant at this time of year, it is a good time to prune them. Yet, from what you describe, these trees have been “topped,” a severe type of pruning in which the top of the tree essentially receives a buzz cut, removing a large portion of the tree’s canopy and leaving it with a flat top.

Branching out: You can force woody plants to bloom indoors

We’ve had amazing luck this year with days in January and February that don’t hurt (and yes, some that do). This is the time of year when spring witchhazels begin blooming outdoors, and woody plants have been through enough cold that their flower buds can be forced indoors. December is too early and even January may be pushing things. February and March are the perfect months.

Forsythia is one of the standards, and a vase full of these bright yellow flowers can truly make you feel like spring is around the corner. Not only do they have rich blossoms, but even more fun is the sprouting of tiny green leaves.

Quilling: Paper craft lends elegance to Valentine’s cards

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Want to add a little panache to your Valentine’s Day cards? Learn how to roll a few quilling shapes — hearts, teardrops and petals, for starters — to convey your love.

Quilling — an ancient craft also known as paper filigree — doesn’t require any special tools to get started. It’s essentially the rolling of narrow strips of paper to make simple shapes for use in artwork and handmade cards. Complementary techniques have developed over time, such as delicately cut and curled or fringed flowers.

Fresh from your kitchen: Growing machine could be next must-have home appliance

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Uri Zeevi is used to skepticism. People hear about his Seedo indoor home cultivator and they’re astonished.

“Nobody has seen anything like this,” he said from his office in Israel. “It’s really new, just coming onto the market.”

‘Spring into Gardening’ event is March 11

Question: Can you tell me more about the UWEX garden event “Spring into Gardening” I have seen advertised? — N.B.

Registration is open for the 11th annual “Spring into Gardening” event to be held on March 11 at Westosha Central High School in Paddock Lake. Hosted by University of Wisconsin Extension of Kenosha and Racine Counties, local plant professionals, UWEX horticulture educators and Master Gardeners will present sessions on a wide range of garden topics.

Raise the humidity for your houseplants

Skin feel itchy and dry? We’ve been heating our houses for several months now, and furnaces also tend to dry out the air. This time of winter is when houseplants tend to look their worst,since they’re living in the same dry air that makes our skin itch and our noses raw. They, too, need humidity to keep their tissues healthy.

A plant that comes from a naturally humid climate will need some assistance to get that extra humidity that isn’t present in the home. There are several effective methods, varying in the amount of work necessary to put them together and in cost.

Can they be real? Primulas’ vibrant colors beat winter’s doldrums

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Forget about fake news, it’s fake flowers that have my attention. Actually, they are not fake; they are the brilliantly colorful primula. Recently, the astonishing color and beauty had passersby gawking in amazement.

It took about 72 hours of temperatures in the 20s and I was begging for mercy, and just like magic there they were, in a grocery store of all places, offering the respite so needed during an arctic blast.

This year, you could contain your garden

I think this may just be the year of the container and small-space garden, and there are plenty of great options for those of us who want to rein in the garden a bit. It’s important when planting in containers to have a pot large enough to accommodate the plant’s root system as well as be sturdy enough to hold a plant’s weight, especially in the case of tomatoes.

When choosing varieties, look for those that have “compact” in the description or that are specifically designed for patios or containers. There are many types of “baby” vegetables, but be sure to read the description carefully. Some of these bear small fruits on standard-sized plants.

Don’t fear the orchid

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I had always been afraid of orchids, assuming they have the temperament of divas and take an inordinate amount of care. But I have a stunning white moth orchid (phalaenopsis) that has been blooming for six weeks with no sign of slowing down or dropping blossoms. I’ve found moth orchids will just bloom and bloom without much more than regular watering and occasional fertilizing.

Since I had luck with the moth orchid, I purchased a dendrobium orchid. Now that it’s finished blooming it needs to be repotted. I’ve had to brush up on my orchid repotting skills since it is sitting crooked in its tiny grocery store pot that must be propped on three sides to sit up.

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