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home appeal merchandiseredition

April 2012

home / garden / renovation

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www.engleonline.com

this issue: Veggie Growing 101 BUY FRESH, BUY LOCAL harvesting a HEALTHIER GARDEN new look at COMPOSTING Published by Engle Printing & Publishing Co., Inc.

Photo By : Melissa McKee


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GROWING

BIG, JUICY TOMATOES Everyone loves homegrown tomatoes, and it is fun to share a tasty harvest with friends and family. By following a few simple tips you can ensure that your tomato plants will thrive. First you need to decide if you will plant your tomatoes in the soil or in containers. Some people prefer to begin growing tomatoes indoors and transplant them outside when the plants are stronger. When growing tomatoes indoors, place them in a sunny south facing window if possible or give them artificial light. The garden or patio location for your tomatoes should also give them plenty of sun. Tomatoes thrive in welldrained, highly organic soil (preferably with a pH between 6 and 7.) To keep them well drained, plant in a raised bed about six inches high after any danger of frost has passed. Plant seedlings three feet apart if you are going to let vines cover the ground or plant two feet apart if they will be supported in cages. When transplanting tomatoes, make the hole a couple of inches deeper than the container the plant is leaving. After the tomatoes are planted, most experts recommend watering them slowly and deeply to ensure a strong root system. Mulching is recommended to produce a bigger crop. You can use two to three inches of organic compost around the base of the plant to help prevent water loss and deter weeds. When the tomatoes begin to appear about one inch in size, it’s smart to work fertilizer into the soil and water the plants well. Using tomato cages will give your plants extra support and help keep leaves and fruits off the ground. Cages are relatively inexpensive and should last through several growing seasons. You will find them at nurseries, home improvement and hardware stores. When

[2] home appeal April 2012

using cages, space the plants between two and four feet apart. If you decide not to use cages, prune your plants where the leaf meets the stem by clipping side shoots as they grow. This helps keep the plant strong and fosters a bigger crop. You will probably want to grow more than one variety of tomato. Determinate vines bear fruit more quickly, but they usually don’t produce much fruit after reaching full growth. Indeterminate vines take longer to bear the first fruit, but they will continue producing tomatoes as long as weather conditions are favorable. Many gardeners plant a combination of determinate and indeterminate tomatoes so they will yield fruit at different times throughout the summer. You also may want to plant a combination of sizes, such as cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes and beefsteak tomatoes, for different uses. Some of the more popular varieties include Better Boy, Big Boy, Early Girl, Patio, Large Cherry, Celebrity, Jackpot, and Beefmaster. Cherry tomatoes and Roma tomatoes are good choices for container plants since they don’t grow as large. Early Girl matures in 52 days, Better Boy matures in 72 days, and Roma matures in 76 days. Check the label of plants or seeds that you buy for the maturation rate. Birds are attracted to bright red tomatoes. A trick some gardeners use to fool the birds is to hang red Christmas tree ornaments on the vines a week or so before you expect the first tomatoes to ripen. After the birds peck the hard ornaments they will usually leave the tomatoes alone. Water your tomatoes at least once a week unless you have rain. You may need to adjust the watering schedule depending on the temperature where you live. Do not allow leaves to become wilted. Dusting tomatoes with a fungicide and vegetable insecticide will help keep down disease and insect problems. If cut worms are a problem, you may have to sprinkle around your plants with bug and snail bait. The alternative is to be vigilant and pick worms off by hand before they can destroy your plants. Fertilizing enhances the flavor of tomatoes and keeps the plant in a production mode. Some people apply tomato and vegetable fertilizer when the tomato fruits first form. If blossoms begin to fall off without becoming fruits, you can apply tomato bloom spray, which encourages the plant to set fruit. Hot weather is one of the biggest deterrents to fruit setting. When night temperatures exceed 75 degrees F and daytime temperatures exceed 92 degrees F, most tomato varieties will stop setting new fruit. Tomatoes should be allowed to ripen on the vine. Pick them when they are firm and have reached their optimum color. If tomatoes fall off, or there is danger of frost, they may be picked and placed on a windowsill or in a brown paper bag to ripen. Copyright © PublishersEdge


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Harvesting a

Healthier

GARDEN

Spring is here at last! Most of us cannot wait to shake off the winter blues, to get out into the sunshine, walk the dog, play catch with the kids or just take a stroll in the park. For homeowners, it is the first chance to work on the yard, restore a lush lawn and, for an increasing number of gardening aficionados, create a home vegetable garden. Even inner city urbanites with a postage stampsized yard have been swept up by the ‘grow your own’ movement. Victory Gardens, first introduced by Eleanor Roosevelt during the Great War, were the original community raised gardens. People were encouraged to grow their own veggies in support ort of the war effort. Today, raised garden beds have become the eco-friendly solution for eating healthier without adding to the carbon footprint caused by trucking produce from the grower to the store. Home vegetable growers control the quality of the soil, nutrients and other additives so veggies and fruits grown in a raised garden bed often taste better, are healthier and cost much less than those from bought at the local market. Of course, the icing on the cake is the self-satisfaction and joy of serving

up delicious tomatoes and veggies picked fresh from a personal garden. Items to consider when preparing a raised garden bed include th the following: * Think vertically. Adding a trellis to a raised bed vegetable garden greatly increases the amount of vertical growing space and provides the needed support for cultivating squash, beans, tomatoes and other vines. As well as giving a viable option for those without a lot of space, a vertical growing system also pays numerous dividends to the garden itself. Plants on the vine enjoy greater air circulation and so are healthier and not as susceptible to disease. * Add compost and mulch to the garden. If weeds are a gardener’s worst enemy, compost and mulch might just be a gardener’s best friend. Compost adds any number of microorganisms to the soil, strengthening a plant’s roots and enabling it to pick up more nutrients in the process. Mulch, meanwhile, can help keep down harmful weeds, thereby reducing the competition a plant will have for valuable water and nutrients.

CULTIVATE YOUR OWN BOUNTY Today, approximately 30 percent of residential homes in North America cultivate a vegetable patch and most will tell you that the growing season can be full of surprises. Here are a few quick tips to refresh your start-up skills in the vegetable patch:

* Clean up: Clear your patch by removing grass, rocks, or other debris. * Till the soil: Add at least 6 centimeters of new vegetable garden soil to provide nutrients, improve drainage, and promote strong root growth. * Plant at the right time: Early season vegetables include broccoli, carrots, lettuce, peas, and spinach. By early June, you can plant the warm-weather vegetables like corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. * Prevent weeds: Put a layer of mulch around the plants * Control pests and disease: keep an organic-approved

spray handy for insect and disease control.

* Water: Keep seedlings moist by watering regularly. * Harvest: Your bounty should grow quickly from seedlings to a full harvest in less than 60 days. [4] home appeal April 2012


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Composting A NEW LOOK AT

Garden compost can be a garden’s best friend. Compost promotes soil health and enables plants to grow to their best ability. Many home gardeners prefer to make their own compost. It is easily achieved with items that normally would be discarded, including many items that ardent gardeners may be unaware of.

COMMON COMPOST MATERIALS

Items like eggshells, banana peels, apple cores, paper, leaves, and coffee grounds are often included in a home compost pile. These items break down by natural bacteria and produce a rich fertilizer for plants.

LESSER-KNOWN COMPOST MATERIALS

There are many things that can be turned into compost. Here’s a list of common items that can avoid the landfill by being turned into compost. 1. pet hair 2. paper napkins 3. lint 4. pine needles 5. matches 6. chicken manure 7. old herbs 8. sawdust 9. weeds 10. hair clippings 11. tea bags 12. paper towels 13. bird cage cleanings 14. stale bread 15. leather 16. old pasta 17. pea vines 18. grapefruit rinds 19. newspaper 20. tissues 21. cotton swabs with paper sticks 22. dried out bouquets 23. potato chips

24. yogurt 25. shrimp shells 26. toenail clippings 27. pie crust 28. toothpicks (wood) 29. tossed salad 30. old beer 31. feathers 32. fish bones 33. envelopes 34. cardboard 35. pencil shavings 36. grocery receipts 37. dead insects 38. wool socks 39. pickles 40. dust bunnies 41. toast 42. chocolate cookies 43. oatmeal 44. tofu 45. spoiled wine 46. straw 47. nut shells

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BUY FRESH BUY LOCAL —

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By Lori Baer Spring launches the start of the best months to buy fresh, local foods. Lancaster County residents are particularly lucky to live in an area rich in agricultural production. The benefit is direct access to fresher, better tasting, more affordable foods, which is good for you and good for Lancaster. The Lancaster Buy Fresh Buy Local® (LBFBL) chapter makes it easy to find local foods convenient to your home, workplace, and everywhere in between. You’ve probably seen the colorful Buy Fresh Buy Local® label around the county. Behind it stands a network of consumers, farmers, markets, restaurants, and businesses working together to increase the access of Lancaster residents to foods grown in their own county. “Supporting the local ‘food system’ helps maintain the diversity and resilience of Lancaster’s farm sector,” said Linda Aleci, chair of Lancaster Buy Fresh Buy Local. Lancaster Buy Fresh Buy Local is the only organization in the county dedicated to this mission. “We develop resources, and serve as a resource, to ensure the abundance of Lancaster’s fields feeds Lancaster residents first and brings fair prices to our farmers,” says Aleci. The campaign’s initiatives, which include a Guide to Local Foods, educate the public on the benefits of local foods and direct consumers to sources for locally produced foods. They also assist farmers’ access to local markets and build business-to-business connections. The initiative is critical because Lancaster’s local foods can’t be taken for granted. Today, a farmer receives only about 16 cents of every dollar spent on food, and the average farm household earns about 87 percent of its income from non-farm sources. Farmers, locally and nationally, struggle to make a viable living from farming. Many go out of business. “In Lancaster County from the late 1990s to the early

2000s, there was a 40 percent decline in direct-toconsumer sales,” said Aleci. “To put this into perspective, in the 1980s there were five to six times the number of farmers selling at Central Market as there are today. That’s a loss for our economy and quality of life.” As the number of farms decrease, Lancaster’s dependence on enormously long supply chains for food increases. We end up knowing less about where and how food is produced, and our food dollars no longer return to our community. Buying directly from local farmers generates greater profitability at the farm gate, with a payback to the local economy: If all Lancaster County households shifted 5 percent of their grocery budgets to local foods, our local economy would capture an additional $45 million annually. What can you do? Look for the Lancaster Buy Fresh Buy Local logo when you shop: It confirms the foods being sold come from Lancaster County. Visit www. lancasterbfbl.org or pick up the Guide to Local Foods and learn more about the campaign. Sign up for the monthly e-newsletter for a list of LBFBL farms, businesses, and restaurants, as well as recipes, event announcements, and tips on what’s in season. Or, get involved directly! For information about volunteering or about farm and business memberships, contact info@lancasterbfbl.org or 380-7280.

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It is widely known that fruits and vegetables should be a large part of a healthy diet. Produce can be delicious, but many people shy away from fresh produce because they do not know how to store it properly. For anyone who has bitten into a mushy banana or found a slimy squash inside of the refrigerator, here is a primer on how to properly store produce. Proper storage also can save you money and prevent wasted food.

* Peaches, plums and other pitted fruits generally can be stored right on a counter at room temperature. These fruits are usually picked before they are fully ripe,

and they will continue to ripen once you bring them home. If fruits are very ripe, then place them in a perforated plastic bag and put them in the top part of the refrigerator.

* Bananas are another fruit that is picked before optimal ripening, hence the green bunches you often find at the store. Bananas should be stored at room

temperature until they are ripened. Again, if very ripe, bananas can be put in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage. The skin will turn brown, but it won’t affect the flesh of the fruit.

* Apples should be stored at room temperature and away from other fruits and vegetables. They produce a gas that can ripen other produce very quickly. * Moisture is the enemy of most produce. You can store celery, carrots, lettuce, or

cabbage in a crisper drawer in the refrigerator, but they should be kept dry and used quickly. Line the bottom of the drawer with an absorbent paper towel and be sure not to keep produce in tightly sealed plastic bags. Eventually moisture will rot these items or at least cause them to become soggy.

* Root vegetables such as potatoes, yams and onions do best at room temperature and away from the floor, or anywhere vermin may be present. A cool, dark place, such

as a pantry cabinet, would be effective. Refrigeration may compromise the taste of many root vegetables. Gases form and can turn starches into sugar. The best advice is to use fresh produce quickly. A home garden enables you to pick what you need and to use it within a day or two.

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Saving money is a good idea no matter what the season. But with warmer weather and longer days on the horizon, there is no better time to be penny-wise -- and have some fun in the process. Here are some great ideas for making the most of the season -- and maybe even putting a little extra away for a summer vacation. * Plant a vegetable garden. Spring is the time to get your garden going so that it will provide a bounty of fresh -- and inexpensive -- vegetables all summer long and into the fall. Optimal planting times vary by region. May is generally best for planting gardens in the northeastern and central states. * Learn the art of canning. Extend the savings -- and enjoyment -- from your garden by preserving fruits and vegetables. While the process requires little in the way of equipment, it does require an understanding of the process and a commitment to cleanliness. The results, however, are definitely worth the effort. * Hold a yard sale. Whether you call it a yard sale, garage sale or tag sale, it is a surefire way to rid your home of unwanted items and make some extra money at the same time. Remember, since the secret to a successful yard sale is foot traffic, it pays to advertise. In addition to putting up signs at well-traveled intersections in your neighborhood, it pays to spend a few dollars on a newspaper ad or hang up fliers on public notice boards at your local post office or supermarket. * Invest in a crockpot or slow cooker. In addition to saving time, slow cookers are the frugal cook’s best friends -- particularly during the spring and summer. Not only do they transform less expensive cuts of meat into tasty and tender meals, but they save energy because they keep kitchens cool even when the weather grows warm. * Drop your dryer. Air-drying laundry is a boon to the environment and your bottom line. If you do not have an outdoor space to hang laundry, there are several types of indoor drying racks available, including space-saving models that are designed to be hung on a wall or fold away for easy storage when not in use. * Alter kids’ winter wardrobes. Here is a tip for handy parents with growing kids. Since kids will likely outgrow their current winter clothes by next year, parents can save a bundle by transforming long sleeves into short sleeves and pants into shorts. If you have a sewing machine and measure carefully, you can quickly create a warm-weather wardrobe for your kids without spending a dime.

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Feathered

Many people associate certain sights and sounds with warm weather. Ocean waves crashing, lawns glowing green, bright flowers, and birds chirping often come to mind when one thinks of spring and summer. Unfortunately, not every homeowner can enjoy the soothing rhythm of the ocean from the comfort of their own front porch. Individuals can, however, savor the lyrical sounds of birds regardless of geography. Installing bird feeders around your property can invite nature closer and can make a wonderful addition to any lawn or garden, adding aesthetic appeal and bringing music into the backyard. Choosing a bird feeder can depend on where you’ll be hanging it or what types of birds you wish to attract. Feeders come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so whatever the layout of the property, there is sure to be a perfect fit.

* Tray (platform): These feeders are simply a big, open tray that’s easy to fill and which make it easy for birds to access seed. What’s more, tray feeders can accommodate several birds at one time, and most birds will jump at the chance to feast at this type of feeder. There are some who will be reluctant, however, including doves, quail, sparrows and other ground feeders. These birds, though, can dine on any seed that gets spilled over.

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[12] home appeal April 2012


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Friends * Hopper feeders: These have plastic or glass enclosures that dole out seed as it is needed. These feeders are a smart, economical choice since seed isn’t wasted and remains protected when not being eaten.

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730 S. Broad St. (Rt. 501) • Lititz, PA 17543

KellerKubota.com

home appeal [13] April 2012

717-626-2000; 1-877-3-KUBOTA


FIVE EASY WAYS to

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Add a Touch of Summer

The arrival of spring and summer has long been celebrated by people from every corner of the globe as a time to say farewell to the cold and gray of winter and to welcome the return of warmth and color. While spring is breathing new life into the outdoors, it’s also a perfect time to add a little seasonal “oomph� to your indoor environment. Here is an assortment of tips for brightening your home in celebration of spring.

* Bring the outdoors in. Spring flowers, arranged either in one large bunch or in several mini-bouquets placed in nooks throughout the house are not only a visual treat, but often emit refreshing springtime scents. * Brighten up. Adding seasonal touches to your home can be as easy as painting a piece of furniture, a single wall or the trim in the sunniest room in your home. The best colors for spring are light, clean, refreshing, and natural, as opposed to either pale pastels or deep, color-drenched hues. Consider paint colors inspired by nature, such as shamrock, violet, slate and goldenrod. * Lighten up. It is hard to imagine that spring has sprung in a room decked out in velvet or other heavy fabrics. Warm days and spring breezes call out for sheer or lightweight curtains, slipcovers in natural solid-colored or floral fabrics, and decorative pillows that bring splashes of color into the room. It is not necessary to replace all of the fabrics in a room to usher in a new season. Sometimes simply changing out pillows and removing warm winter throws is enough. * Floor it. Do not forget to give your floors a spring facelift as well. Substitute lighter cotton, sisal, jute or seagrass rugs in natural shades for the heavy wool rugs that feel so right when the weather turns cold. Before storing heavier floor covering, though, check them for wear, spots or damage. Spring and summer are the perfect time to have wool rugs cleaned and/or repaired. * Re-view. Shifting the arrangement of the furniture and decorative pieces in a room can have a major impact on its look and feel. During the cold winter months, it may be comforting to be nestled in a chair that faces a fireplace. But once the weather warms up and the flowers begin to bloom, the best view in the house might well be out the window. Invite spring into your home with a furniture arrangement that is oriented toward a window or other source of natural light. Then sit down and enjoy the view. [14] home appeal April 2012


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Home Appeal April 2012