May 23, 2017
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Powder rooms with panache: New pedestal sinks make a statement

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If you’ve got a powder room, chances are there’s a pedestal sink in it. The lavatory perches have long been the go-to option for small bathrooms, and even for full-size spaces where a less imposing fixture is desired.

The simple bowl-on-a-stick concept has been given some imaginative rethinking in recent bath collections, and some are downright statement pieces.

Blooming shrubs for the perennial garden

Now that things are beginning to burst into bloom, it’s a good time to look around and decide on new blooming shrubs to add to our landscapes.

Shrubs are naturals for foundation planting or shrub borders, but another use we don’t always consider is the perennial garden. Blooming shrubs offer the beauty of flowers, but also supply something else that most perennial gardens need: “bones.” Although some perennials have enough mass to resemble shrubs, they still die back to the ground in winter. Woody shrubs stand through the winter, catch snow and keep your eye interested, especially if the plant has fruits or dried blossoms that remain through winter.

Wildlife management in the landscape

At a recent seminar for Master Gardeners who are trained as Plant Health Advisers, David Drake, Extension Wildlife Specialist with the UW-Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, shared information on managing wildlife in our landscapes.

In order to properly manage wildlife in our landscapes, correct species identification is critical. You need to know what creature you are dealing with in order to determine the proper method of control. Keep in mind there are federal, state and local regulations that need to be followed when managing wildlife. An integrated approach that allows you to be proactive and persistent is best.

Super green: A Washington solar community is Earth- and family-friendly

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KIRKLAND, Wash. — Planet Earth is twirling with gratitude this eco-weekend over one especially encouraging development in Kirkland — and just wait till summertime, when Big Ol’ Mr. Sun ramps up his powerful rays.

The new Lakeview Solar Community — four super-sustainable luxury homes, all prewired for panels, and all by Dwell Development and Medici Architects — is Kirkland’s first 5-Star Built Green net-zero-ready residential community.

Hardening your transplants is key to success

It’s time to garden! OK, not quite time for the warm season crops like tomatoes and eggplants to go out yet, but all the cool season crops can be planted now. Whether you grew your own transplants of broccoli, kale and cabbage or you are purchasing them, here are a few tips to make a successful transition into the garden.

The most essential part of preparing your transplants for survival is hardening off. This is simply a process in which you expose the tender plants gradually to the rigors of outdoor growing. Transplants that were started indoors or in a greenhouse have not had exposure to wind and direct sun, so their cells are tender. There is nothing quite so frustrating than planting all your vegetables in the garden, nestling them in well, and then coming out the next day to find them sunburned and sometimes even broken from wind.

Kick-start your plants: How to restore raised beds without using dry fertilizers

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Are your raised beds in jeopardy? Is the potting soil worn out after last summer’s intensive vegetable gardening? Did you plan to rejuvenate that microbial world before you replant? Maybe the fertility was gobbled up by last year’s crops. Maybe you need some rocket fuel to kick-start the nutrient levels so your plants explode into growth.

Here’s how to quickly rehabilitate your raised beds so they become instantly enriched with the organic stuff plants need. The problem with dry organic fertilizers is their components take quite awhile to break down. Until they do your plants languish, lagging in their performance because they need food now, and so do the microbes that help them grow.

Hooked on greens all spring and summer long

I planted my summer greens this week. I know it sounds odd, but my spring greens are coming on (spinach, bok choy, other Asian greens) from seed and I know I’ll be harvesting in a week or two.

But the summer greens are also an important part of my garden. I call them summer greens because they start producing now in the cool of spring and then continue to thrive through the heat of summer. There is no reason why the summer kitchen cannot always have greens. Once spinach and Chinese cabbage are finished and the heat of summer begins to weigh on the garden, it’s time for the stalwart summer greens to take over.

Is Roundup for Lawns different?

Question: How is the product Roundup for Lawns different from Roundup? — J.C.

Answer: Shopping for herbicides can be overwhelming if you’re not certain what the weed is you are trying to control or what product should be used on the weed or when the product needs to be applied. Adding to the confusion is the product named Roundup for Lawns, which is different from the product labeled as Roundup. The active ingredients of each product are not the same, with one product being selective and one non-selective.

Honey, I’m home! Sometimes it takes a community to keep bees

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Finding places for beekeeping can be a challenge for city dwellers. But apiaries modeled after community gardens have become a popular option.

Community beekeeping operations are usually comprised of shared sites on public or private properties, organized by or for people trying to turn out fresh plants or products.

Put a spring in your step and tackle these garden tasks for April

Spring is finally upon us and these warmish days are wonderful to inject a sense of wonder and anticipation. Here are some tips for April:

* Migrating birds are on their way through the Midwest, so make sure to provide water. A gentle dripper in a shallow birdbath will attract warblers, tanagers, orioles and buntings to the yard. Make sure to keep the birdbath clean and the feeders well stocked.

Transparency: A ‘down-to-the-studs’ renovation updates a 1961 Ibsen Nelsen home

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SEATTLE — Kristin and her husband had no plans at all to move from their first home, a 1911 Queen Anne bungalow they had meticulously remodeled to the period. But the kids were conked out in the car, and the family randomly had driven by an intriguing midcentury-modern open house in picturesque Laurelhurst — and really, what could possibly happen if Kristin just peeked?

Wanna guess?

Tips for growing the brassicas: broccoli, cabbage, kale

What is it about the scent and flavor of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale? We all recognize it, whether coming from steaming broccoli in the kitchen or from rotting cabbage leaves left in the fields to overwinter. But that sulfurous odor is what makes them so extraordinarily good for us.

All members of this family (brassica) are full of sulfur compounds called sulphoraphanes, anticarcinogenic compounds that make the vegetables so heart healthy.

Have fun planning an edible garden

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Are you overwhelmed when thinking about planning an edible garden? Many people are, so I’m going to offer a few tips to help you take a daunting task and make it reasonable and fun.

First off, the obvious thing to consider when planning vegetables or fruits is to grow what you will eat. Your family doesn’t like beets or brussels sprouts? There is no need to use garden or pot space for them. For the occasional treat, or to satisfy a craving, purchase at the farmers market.

There’s still time to start seeds indoors

Question: It’s late March and I haven’t started any seeds indoors yet for my gardens. Can I still sow some? What can I start? S.G.

Although the calendar indicates we are near the final dates of seed sowing to have transplants ready for planting in the outdoor garden, there is still time to start seeds indoors.

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.

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.

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