Newtown Bee's Spring Home & Garden 2022

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The Newtown Bee’s

Home& Garden

Newtown’s Oldest Home, With Modern Amenities, Now A Popular Airbnb Rental NOFA Experts Reveal How To Diagnose Plant Disease Issues CT NOFA Explores The Practice Of Agroforestry With Hazelnut Planting Rain Barrels Are Available Now, Can Help Save Water And Money For Years Available AT Library, ‘Kill A Watt’ Meters Help Figure Energy Costs Former Bee Staffer Launching Nontoxic, Affordable Disinfecting Service


2 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 8, 2022

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Home & Garden - 3

April 8, 2022 - The Newtown Bee

Add Farmhouse-Style Elements To Your Home Design (StatePoint) When it comes to home design, farmhouse style represents a total intersection of beauty and practicality, making it no surprise that many are embracing this traditional look today. Whatever architectural style your home is, adding key design elements can help you get in on best aspects of the farmhouse trend. Here are a few renovations to consider: An updated porch: Adding a front porch or expanding an existing porch will not only add charming farmhouse-style curb appeal, but extend your outdoor living area as well. Be sure to take as much care decorating your porch as you would any other room of your home. Include comfy furniture, like rocking chairs and a porch swing, complete with cushions. Add potted plants for a touch of vibrant greenery, lantern wall sconces for illumination, and outdoor rugs for coziness. Don’t forget the entryway. Make it more inviting with seasonal wreaths and a cheerful welcome mat. Board ‘n batten siding: Imparting a rustic, handmade quality to any home, even those built-in contemporary styles, “board ‘n batten” is a centuries-old siding design that encapsulates the appeal of farmhouse-style homes. The term “batten” refers to the strip of molding placed across the joint between boards. The resulting look boasts an attractive geometry of strong vertical lines balanced by a sense of texture across the horizontal face. While the look is traditional, you can pair it with the very latest in siding technology. For example, CedarMAX Insulated Siding from ProVia comes in many styles, including board ‘n batten. This complete thermal cladding system offers continuous insulation for maximum energy savings. With five times greater impact resistance than regular siding and a weather barrier shield, this is not just a charming aesthetic upgrade, but one that will improve the comfort of your home for years to come. Metal roofing: There’s a reason metal roofing plays prominently into the design of authentic farmhouses -- they are built

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to last. That’s truer than ever today, thanks to advances in metal roofing technology. Offering superior color retention, longterm reliability, energy efficiency and environmental friendliness, architecturalgrade metal shingle roofing is an upgrade that can add both beauty and value to your home. In the case of ProVia’s Metal Slate Roofing, which is designed to look like classic quarried slate shingles, you can draw on the beauty of nature in shades of gray and brown, while enjoying proven protection from hail, wind, rain, and corrosion. Interior touches: Restyle your home’s interior to be farmhouse-inspired with a few renovations. Classic looks include neutral walls, such as matte shades of beige, grays and creams, shabby chic furniture -think wicker, distressed wood and reclaimed lumber -- and hardwood flooring. Consider dusting off a few hand-medowns or visiting antique shops and estate sales for one-of-a-kind finds. Above all, be sure to prioritize comfort, warmth, and practicality. To embrace everything that a home should be -- an inviting place to gather with friends and family -- add farmhouse-style touches to your home, indoors and out.

Three Hacks To Prep Your Home For Warm Weather (StatePoint) With warmer weather on the way, it’s time to deal with the associated household hassles of the season. Here are three hacks that will help you create a healthy, comfortable home during the months ahead: Beat the Heat Beyond having your HVAC unit serviced and changing your air filter regularly, you can beat the heat at home with a few smart strategies. One change you can make today that will also reduce your carbon footprint is to swap out your heat-emitting incandescent light bulbs for cool LEDs. Likewise, appliances that are not in use but plugged in could be generating unnecessary warmth, so unplug when you can. Finally, use shades and blinds strategically to block out the sun and prevent a greenhouse effect indoors. Banish Flying Bugs Fruit flies, gnats, and flies tend to proliferate indoors in the warmer months. Not only do these creatures come with a serious ick factor, they can harm your houseplants and even put your family’s health at risk by carrying germs from dirty surfaces to clean ones. A safe and easy way to defend against buzzing invaders is to plug Zevo Bug Traps into outlets around your home, especially in areas where these bugs enter your home and gather, such as garages, entryways, covered porches, trash cans, drain pipes, and kitchens. Rather than relying on chemical insecticides, they use multi-spec-


trum light technology that bugs find irresistible. Once attracted, flying insects are trapped in a super-sticky adhesive backing. Each trap cartridge offers continuous defense for up to 45 days or until it’s full. When you’re done with a cartridge, simply throw it in the trash and slide a new one in, without ever having to touch the dead bugs. Pair these traps with Zevo home bug sprays, which are powered by essential oils, for whole home protection. To learn more about defending your home against insects, and for trapping tips, visit Master Mold Thriving in warm, wet environments, mold is something to watch out for at home, especially during spring and summer. Much more than an eyesore, mold is bad for your home’s infrastructure and bad for you. Mold can cause a number of allergic reactions and can sometimes even be toxic. However, you can reduce the risk of mold forming by managing your home’s humidity. Use fans and other ventilation in bathrooms and the kitchen when showering, running the dishwasher, and doing other tasks that invite humidity. Test the humidity of various rooms in your home with a hygrometer and use a dehumidifier where needed. According to the EPA, the ideal indoor humidity is between 30 and 50%. Employing warm weather hacks at home can help you maintain clean, comfortable spaces, all season long.

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4 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 8, 2022

Great For Plants, Shrubs, Too—

Former Bee Staffer Launching Nontoxic, Affordable Disinfecting Service

By John Voket A former Newtown Bee employee combining a centuries-old and nontoxic disinfecting formula with advanced, 21st Century electrostatic technology to help families and businesses protect themselves from illness and allergies including all strains of COVID-19. With a slight modification, he can also help make outdoor, garden, and household plants thrive. New Milford resident Ian Dane, founder of IMD Commercial and Residential Disinfection Services, told Home & Garden during a recent visit that he decided to invest in a business that could help people avoid illness and infection after he, his wife Stella, and high-school age daughter Gabriella all contracted and survived symptomatic COVID-19. He applied entrepreneurial talents developed as a marketing expert, graphic designer, photographer, and IT/logistics specialist — and a healthy period of research — to literally coming up with a solution. "That solution, referred to as HOCl, is applied by an advanced, backpack or cart mounted electrostatic sprayer for 360 degree total surface area coverage where you live or work," Dane explained. "IMD Disinfection uses EPA List N-registered hospital disinfectants that are powerhouse germ killers, while at the same time being gentle, fragrance-free, and safe to use around children and pets." He said these disinfectants, which have been successfully used since the early 19th Century, only need to be in contact with a surface for anywhere from three to ten minutes (including drying time) in

Former Newtown Bee staff memer and New Milford resident Ian Dane is pictured with the electrostatic sprayer he uses for his IMD Commercial and Residential Disinfection Services. Along with using a century-old, completely non-toxic HOCL solution to eradicate most household germs, allergens, and mold, he also modifies the household disinfectant for use on outdoor, greenhouse, and hydroponic plants. —Bee Photo, Voket

order to kill 99.9 percent of germs. In fact, Dane said, bacteria cannot develop resistance to it. The active ingredient, Hypochlorous Acid, was discovered by chemists in the early 1800s and has been in constant use since that time, even being used to treat the wounds of soldiers during WWI. One of the many benefits of HOCl is that it reverts back into an environmentally

friendly form — mainly water. Benefits Of HOCl Among the disinfecting solution features and benefits are: *It kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including Corona virus (Covid-19), SARS, H1N1, MRSA, Norovirus, HIV, Legionella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Hepatitis A, B, and C, Ebola virus, and others in under four minutes.

*It cleans and disinfects high-touch devices and hard surfaces, and it won't streak or stain stainless steel, chrome, glass, Plexiglass, glazed porcelain, painted or varnished surfaces, or plastics. *Is is an effective fungicide/mold and mildew remover, killing mold spores and prevents mold regrowth on tile and other materials up to seven months. *It is a heavy duty odor eliminator, getting rid of bad odors by attacking the source of the problem, not by masking one odor with another. Dane said HOCI also eliminates allergens in homes, businesses, and other environments; eliminates mold, mildew, and odor in HVAC systems and air ducts, and dishwashers; sanitizes 99.9% of food contact surfaces with no rinse required; and is a soft-surface sanitizer that can be used on carpets, upholstery, and fabrics. "The solution is [volatile organic compounds] free, and is 80 times more effective than bleach without chlorine," Dane said. "It's excellent for water damage and mold removal and can be safely applied as often as needed. We also can apply it to any vehicle or vessel that travels on land, sea, and air." Armed with his sprayer units and solution, Dane said he is "now equipped to make the world a safer place, one building at a time." With the many known infecting agents he can successfully mitigate, along with whatever future unknown COVID variants that may develop, Dane believes his economic services are perfect for local homeowners who want an extra and very

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Home & Garden - 5

April 8, 2022 - The Newtown Bee

effective layer of protection without any toxic side effects that commercial disinfectants might harbor. Dane said people with children and pets will be especially pleased and can call for a consultation with complete peace of mind, because he has proposed these services to commercial clients who operate medical and veterinary facilities as well, knowing the applications are completely safe. The Science According to a fact sheet Dane provides clients, Hypochlorous Acid is a strong oxidiser, and so destructive to pathogens and fungi because of its has very high “Redox Potential.” Hypochlorous Acid robs electrons from bacteria, thus destroying it. With pathogens, HOCl reacts with and destroys the cell wall causing necrosis (rupturing of the cell) or apoptosis (programmed cell death). Anything left of the cell contents is then also destroyed by the HOCl. Even though a virus is not technically a living thing, it too is destroyed in the same way. Despite the destructive potential to living things, HOCl is produced by the body and used by its immune system. This process is called phagocytosis. Whenever the immune system is compromised, the body detects the compromised location and sends white blood cells through the body to fight the invading pathogens. The white blood cells attack, surround (or eat), and destroy (digest) the pathogen using a process that creates solutions that involve Hypochlorous acid as an end product. Even in weak solutions, HOCl is lethal to pathogens, but tolerable to mammalian cells. Studies show that a saline nasal rinse containing HOCl killed bacteria and fungus but did not irritate the nose. "I can literally drink it with no ill or toxic effects," Dane said. "Seriously."

IMD Commercial and Residential Disinfection Services owner and founder Ian dane, a former Newtown Bee employee, has since gone on to develop this new business to help protect other families, and workers after he, his wife Stella, far left, and daughter Gabriella each contracted and survived symptomatic COVID-19. —photo courtesy Ian Dane Ian Dane of New Milfor based IMD Commercial and Residential Disinfection Services is pictured with an electrostatic sprayer applying a non-toxic HOCL solution to eradicate most household germs, allergens, and mold. The applications are also ideal for businesses, medical offices, and educationl/day care environments, is completely pet safe, and can be modified to protect and enhance growth of outdoor, greenhouse, and hydroponic plants. —Bee Photo, Voket

Good For Plants Most recently, Dane has expanded his work to include a variation of the formula he applies to exterior shrubs, gardens, and all household plants including those being grown with hydroponics. By using electrostatic technology, Dane is able to deliver the fortified solution with significantly greater foliate coverage versus traditional spraying, including stems and underside of leaves. It is particularly effective for hydroponic situations, and helps eliminate fungi, mildew, botrytis, pythium, and a variety of insects like spider mites, thrips, white-

flies, and leafminers, the main enemies for both indoor and outdoor growers. According to a separate information handout, Dane's solution can be applied to seeds, clones and plants to keep them clean and pathogen-free. Healthy plants are stronger with increased photosynthesis, leading to better crop yields. This solution can also be used to clean root zones, which leads to more effective nutrient intake. It also increases the oxidation reduction potential (ORP) of irrigation water. This product can be used on all plants from seeding to harvest and leaves zero toxic residue once it dries.

For a limited time, IMD is offering new commercial clients 25% off of any first-time service, including annual contractual services. For homeowners who reach out through June mentioning The Newtown Bee's Home & Garden, Dane is offering a one-time $550 special for residences up to 1,200 square feet, and $750 for residences 1,200-2,500 square feet. All other applications and contracts are negotiable. Reach Dane at 203-465-2364 or or visit Editor John Voket can be reached at john@

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6 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 8, 2022

Rain Barrels Are Available Now, Can Help Save Water And Money For Years By Jim Taylor

Local experts and those in the know about water conservation are in agreement that rain barrel water storage can be a big plus for any homeowner, no matter how little watering is actually done around the property and garden. Aquarion Water Copany is making it easier than ever for Newtown and area residents to get started with the practice of rain barrel water collection and irrigation. The local water utility is currently selling upcycled rain barrels as part of its ongoing water conservation efforts. For $75, Connecticut customers can purchase a high-quality, 60-gallon upcycled rain barrel designed to fit under a downspout and catch rainwater running off the roof. Customers can collect and store water for use in a garden whenever it rains. It takes just one-quarter-inch of rainfall on an average roof to fill the barrel and provide water to use during dry periods, even when restrictions are imposed on water usage. Using rain barrels can also help conserve water and reduce water bills. Key features of the rain barrels offered include: *60-gallon food grade upcycled rain barrel with brass spigot; *Removable intake screen, which keeps insects and debris from entering; *Overflow channel, which direct water away from the foundation; *Connects to drip irrigation, soaker or garden hoses; *Terra cotta color prevents light transmission & inhibits algae growth; and *Easy set up and use. The barrels also feature a screw off top for easy cleaning, and multiple barrels can be joined together for extra capacity.

Aquarion Water Company is currently selling upcycled rain barrels as part of its ongoing water conservation efforts.

Customers can order barrels online at Orders must be received by May 6. Barrels will be available for pickup on Saturday, May 14, from 10 am to 1 pm, at the following locations: Noroton Heights Train Station, 0 Ledge Road in Darien; Fairfield Town Hall Campus, 725 Old Post Road in Fairfield; and Trumbull Town Hall, 5866 Main Street in Trumbull. Pickup locations will be subject to COVID-19 restrictions. Newtown Public Works Director Fred Hurley said the concept is a good one. "Any time you can recycle a renewable resource is good," said Hurley. "A garden can use hundreds of gallons of water; to recycle rainwater that is not going to the right place is great." Hurley said that Aquarion in the past has "run into dry spells" where the utility has had to enforce restrictions

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against outdoor water use. Using water collected in a rain barrel will help "alleviate some pain" for homeowners looking to still water their garden during a drought, he said. "This is one way to soften the blow," said Hurley. Great Way To Save Eugene Relick, the owner of Hollandia Nursery of Bethel, said rainwater barrels are "great ways to save money." For those who might miss out on Aquarion's rainwater barrels, Hollandia sells them along with a number of products such as water pumps that could help disperse collected water throughout your garden. "Any rainwater is good water," said Relick. Relick recommended that the barrels be connected to a gutter downspout on a house or outdoor shed. If an outdoor shed has no gutters he recommended

getting them if the shed was close to the garden. He warned, however, that anyone using rain barrels should be "prepared for overflow." If there are several days of rain, the user must be able to collect and direct the excess water — possibly back into the gutter system. Dan Holmes of Homes Fine Gardens said pPeople "don't often think of collecting rain water" since water tends to be "plentiful" in Connecticut. But that may not always be the case, especially if a home taps from its own well versus a municipal water line, he noted. "But at certain times of the year, particularly August and September, using storm water instead of depleting a well is always a good idea," Holmes said. Holmes said he has installed water tanks at the homes of some clients for just that purpose. "Rather than depleting a well, collecting water is a great way to save water," said Holmes. Collecting rain water and using it in a garden or rain garden allows it to "percolate back into the ground" and lets homeowners "recharge their own aquifer" rather than allowing the water to go into storm drains where it goes into local streams and other water courses. Collection of rain water from roofs using rain barrels is growing in popularity because of its many environmental and practical benefits. It can help the environment by diverting water that might contain contaminants away from storm drains and the natural bodies of water that those empty into. Depletion of well water can be a benefit when this non-potable water is used instead of the tap for things like washing


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Home & Garden - 7

April 8, 2022 - The Newtown Bee

cars, irrigation of plants, and flushing toilets. For those on a public water system, it can save money. A few universities in the US and abroad have done some work to look at potential contaminants in roof run-off water including heavy metals like zinc, copper, lead and others as well as bacteria such as E. coli and other pathogens. Testing done so far has shown low risk from these, but there is some. And of course, it depends on the type of roofing material, the environment (ie acid rain, urban vs rural, etc) and possibly other factors. In one study, most of the metals tested the same in rain barrel water as in rain water before it hit the roofs, so little to no concern there. One exception was zinc, and elevated levels could lead to build up of this element in soils. At high enough levels, this can cause injury to plants and those plants should not be consumed. Monitor for this by having the soil tested. While risk appears to be low, there were a few samples in studies where E coli or total coliform bacterial levels exceeded official standards for some uses. Using Rain Water Safely One important thing to note is that rain barrel water should never be used for potable purposes such as drinking water, cooking, or washing because bacteria in run-off can come from fecal matter from animals such as squirrels and birds that land and move around on the roof. Dr Mike Dietz, an assistant Extension Educator at UConn with expertise in water management, recommends “not using roof water on anything leafy that you are going to eat directly. It would be OK to water soil/plants where there is no direct contact." This is consistent with recommendations from other experts who suggest applying the water directly to the soil

A South Carolina rain barrel provider offers this informative illustration. —Epoch Rain Barrels illustration

and avoiding contact with aboveground plant parts. An ideal set-up would be to hook up a drip irrigation system to your rain barrel(s). Pressure will be improved when they are full and if they

are elevated. A full rain barrel can be pretty heavy — about 500 pounds for a 55 gallon unit — so homeowners should aldo make sure they are on a solid and stable

base such as concrete blocks. If possible, and this is done in larger collection systems automatically, don’t collect the "first flush" of water off the roof. This would be the first few gallons. In a quarter-inch rainfall as much as 150 gallons can be collected from a 1,000-square-foot roof surface. The first water to run off tends to have higher concentrations of any contaminants because of buildup on the roof since the previous rainfall event. Another more practical way to minimize risk of pathogen/bacterial contamination is to treat the collected water with bleach. Rutgers University recommends treating 55 gallons of water by adding one ounce of unscented household chlorine bleach to the barrel once a month, or more often if rain is frequent. Allow this to stand for 24 hours before using the water for irrigation so the bleach can dissipate. Then, thoroughly wash all harvested produce. In addition, always thoroughly wash hands with warm, soapy water after they are in contact with collected water. In summary, there are risks to using collected rain water for irrigation of food crops. In most cases, the risk appears to be low, and using the above sanitation practices can reduce risk. Holmes said that when using collected water for ornamental crops such as flowers or for lawns, there should be "no problems." Relick said to be cautious using rain barrels when they have been sitting, as stagnant water raises a risk of mosquitos. He recommends if a user sees anything moving in a rainbarrel, a few drops of olive oil added to the water will kill any mosquito larva. This article uses material from a report by the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at

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8 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 8, 2022

CT NOFA Explores The Practice Of Agroforestry With Hazelnut Planting By Alissa Silber tree transplanters are going to go. The Northeast Organic Farming A tree transplanter machine makes Association of Connecticut (CT a slot in the ground, opens the NOFA) hosted its 40th Winter Conground, allows the person riding the ference in February. The eight-day machine to put the plant in the hole, event included more than 20 live sesthen the wheels pack the split shut as sions, including “Agroforestry: Stepit dives off. ping Into the Hazelnut Market in the “Our record is over 12,000 plants a Northeast,” on February 17. day with just two people running the The workshop was led by Mark transplanter. We typically like to go Shepard of New Forest Farm and with a crew of four or five,” Shepard Restoration Agriculture Developsaid. ment (RAD). He is the author of the He recommends planting more award-winning book Restoration Agrithan one crop in the area, because culture: Real-World Permaculture for that is how nature has been operating Farmers. since the dawn of time. “We live on a planet that is in eco12-Step Program logical crisis right now. There is no Shepard detailed his farming formore time for messing around,” mula that included twelve steps: Shepard said at the beginning of his 1. 10% of all income set aside for presentation. charitable contributions; He gave some background about Mark Shepard, of New Forest Farm and Restoration Agriculture Development (RAD), 2. 10% of all income set aside to various agriculture industries and the shares an image of his agroforestry operation with acorn squash growing between rows pay taxes and reinvest; 3. Start an IRS Schedule C busidownfalls he sees in them, such as the of hazelnuts during his CT NOFA workshop on February 17. ness, LLC, EIN, credit cards; impact of annual plants – soybeans, 4. Start an IRS Schedule F farm potatoes, wheat, etc — destroying the business, LLC, EIN, credit; perennial ecosystem. 5. Learn how to buy real estate Shepard also shared a disclaimer and begin looking for undeveloped that read in part, “These examples are land, preferably with no infrastrucused to show the principles and genture on it; eral patterns involved … Any infor6. Form Real Estate investment mation on business entities or struccompany (LLP, LLC), EIN, credit tures is based on my personal cards; experience and is not intended to be advice or guidance.” 7. Buy degraded ag or forestry land Shepard said he has experience takusing down payment saved from step ing a “burned out” agricultural farm 2, borrowing, or partnering with an and converting it into a mimic of investor; what it used to be ecologically prior 8. Real estate company hires a comto when it was a corn farm and grazpany (such as RAD) which purchases ing land. He explained that in the trees from the nursery to rehab the ecosystem, then leases use rights to a northern hemisphere the “oak plant community type” was what helped farm business, contracts to have a feed many humans, who got food by legal dwelling constructed and rents hunting, foraging, and growing some to a resident who lives there; crops. 9. Hire appraiser to re-appraise real Oak, chestnut, and beech are part estate; of the Fagaceae family. Where those Karen Vanek prepares to plant bare-root dormant hazelnut nursery stock. Behind her 10. Borrow what the appraisal will were also naturally came with an is a tree transplanter machine that will be used to get the plants into the ground. allow; assortment of other beneficial plants. 11. Buy next piece of degraded People could also find “an understory property; and University of Missouri Agroforestry Budgets, and Iowa of apples; a shrub layer of hazelnuts; the prunus would be Enterprise Budgets. 12. Repeat. represented in multiple different layers from tall trees to Shepard said this has worked well for his family and that he He mentioned how a “Hazelnuts 101” write-up from the shrubs to ground growing plants – plums, cherries, peaches, Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative said hazel- does “alley cropping” for his primary agroforestry technique. almonds, apricots; Raspberries, grapes, currants, and goose- nuts are a new high value crop, but the average yields have “Alley cropping is the growing of an annual or perennial berries growing in the shade," Shepard explained. crop between rows of high value trees. The agricultural crop been too low to support commercial production. Shepard showed examples of what this can look like and It listed the step-by-step process, equipment investments generates the short-term annual income while the long-term how some people work against it by planting one crop needed, the chemicals involved, as well as how it would take tree crop matures,” his slide noted. instead of harvesting what nature does naturally. For example, he grows asparagus as his high-value crop years to just break even. “It’s our job to help restore the ecology of this planet. To What was important to take away from that information, between chestnuts and raspberries. He also grows acorn return this place the abundance of what it was before the according to Shepard, is that “the plants will fully occupy squash between rows of hazelnuts. industrialized agriculture system tore it all apart,” he said. “It’s time for us to do ecological restoration and food protheir space by age 7 with a total per acre canopy coverage of 50%” — meaning the other half can be used for other plant- duction wholesale, broad acre, everywhere on this planet that we possibly can,” Shepard said. Hazelnuts ings. The program concluded with a Q&A and segued into a When going into the portion of his presentation that He went on to say that in his experience, it does not have to covered statistics on hazelnuts, Shepard prefaced the con- be done the way others say it has to. Instead, people could do panel about agroforestry. For information about CT NOFA, visit versation by saying he gained information from Universi- what he does, which has worked for him. ty of Wisconsin Extension: Hybrid Bush Hazelnut EnterHe site preps by mowing the land once the same year as Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at prise Budgets, MSU Chestnut Enterprise Budgets, planting and marks rows with orange flags to note where the

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Home & Garden - 9

April 8, 2022 - The Newtown Bee

Five Interior Design Trends to Use in 2022 (StatePoint) After learning to live life more remotely in 2020 and 2021, it’s time to view 2022 as a fresh start. To help you adopt a new, balanced way of living, FrogTape brand painter’s tape and celebrity interior designer, Taniya Nayak, are sharing five home interior design trends meant to inspire spaces that will welcome guests, while still incorporating the special intimacies that may have been rediscovered from slowing down. Each trend can be utilized for a full home makeover or incorporated into little touches to freshen up a space. 1. Embrace. Embrace everything that is good in your life and create a sense of comfort, warmth and security. Nayak recommends cozy textures and a palette of mellow coral, subtle orange, soft green and creamy shades of white and brown to achieve this look in spaces


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tape, which is treated with patented PaintBlock Technology, to deliver the sharpest lines possible. 3. Gather. Gathering with friends and family has been long awaited, so set the mood and ambience just the way you imagined it. Inspired by the depth of conversations with loved ones, the ‘Gather’ trend embraces rich, dark tones like navy, teal or forest green. Incorporate this trend by painting the focal point of a room, like kitchen cabinets or the living room fireplace. Or, add bold, dark details with furniture and artwork. You can keep it subtle by creating custom centerpieces dipped in paint and wrapped in twine. 4. Revive. Revive your home with soothing and vibrant shades of pink, orange and blue to create a balance of motivated yet satisfied. Consider adding a vibrant paint color to old, worn-









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down details like a front door, nightstand or kitchen table. It might feel out of context, or out of character, but give it a try. “This trend can be described as carefree, festive and fun,” said Nayak. “Whatever it is that makes you happy… go for it!” 5. Shine. The ‘Shine’ trend is all about letting your true self shine. Implement this trend in any room throughout your home by embracing every color of the rainbow and visually displaying what’s in your heart. Using FrogTape, tape off a custom pattern that is uniquely yours and paint it whatever color you choose. Visit for more trend information and ideas. Creative and easy to achieve, these rising trends for 2022 provide inspiration to refresh your home’s interior.





10 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 8, 2022

Spots, Blotches, And Rot, Oh My!—

NOFA Experts Reveal How To Diagnose Plant Disease Issues By Alissa Silber The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut (CT NOFA) hosted its 40th Winter Conference virtually from February 11 to 18. It included more than 20 live sessions, including “Diagnosing Plant Disease Problems” on February 16. The interactive workshop was led by Dr Yonghao Li, a plant pathologist who works in the Plant Disease Information Office at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “When we grow any kind of plants, we always account [for] a lot of the disease problems. The first very important thing is how we can diagnose plant disease problems to identify what kind of problems are on my plants,” he said. Li said there are two groups of plant diseases: biotic/infectious and abiotic/noninfectious. Biotic/infectious diseases are from living organisms such as fungi, bacteria, nematodes, phytoplasmas, viruses & viroids, and parasitic plants. “Those diseases can be transmitted/ spread from one plant to another plant,” Li said. Abiotic/non-infectious diseases are from the environment and caused by temperature, water, light, nutrients, soil pH, and chemicals. In his experiences, the inquiries he gets about plant disease problems tend to be about half biotic and half abiotic. Li noted that it is very important to diagnose plant diseases, because “if we don’t know what’s causing the problem, we can’t solve the issues.” Five Step Approach Li shared his five-step approach for correctly diagnosing disease problems in plants. Step one is to define the problem by identifying the host plant (species and varieties), know what its normal/healthy characteristics are (such as height and leaves), and find what is abnormal or of concern. Step two is to examine the entire plant, garden, or yard to see how many plants are being affected and what are the symptoms and signs. “Symptom means changes in appearance of the plants…wilting, spots, or yellowing are a change of appearance,” Li said. Different symptoms he highlighted were chlorosis, the failure of chlorophyll development (seen as yellowing leaves); necrosis, the death of cells or tissue (seen as brown/

lect a lot of information.” Essential information includes age of the plants, time of planting or transplanting, fertilizer or pesticide application, recent weather conditions, and irrigation practices. The last step, step five, is to determine the causal agent. It is helpful to use references, colleagues, lab examinations and tests, information analysis, and professional judgement. “Always, if you have any issues or any questions about plant disease diagnosis just contact us,” Li said. He shared his office’s website, C A E S / P D I O / P D I O - Ho m e / P D I O Home, and explained that there are fact sheets and useful images people can access. During the CT NOFA workshop “Diagnosing Plant Disease Problems,” plant pathologist Dr Yonghao Li showed three images of tomato plants with brown spots and shared how to differentiate their diseases. From left is a tomato plant with Septoria leaf spots, the other a bacterial leaf spots, and the last has early blight.

A pepper plant can have diseases on its stem, leaves, and fruit, the latter of which is pictured here with examples of phytophthora blight, bacterial spot, anthracnose, Alternaria fruit rot, sun scald, and broad mite damage.

gray spots); a spot, small round necrotic area on leaves, flowers, and stems; a blotch, a necrotic area of tissue irregular in form and larger than a spot; and a scorch, resembles the look of flame or fire on the affected area (often seen on edge of leaves). Also, symptoms include blight, a sudden and extensive spotting, discoloration, or destruction of leaves, flowers, stems or entire plant; rot, the softening, discoloration, and often decay of plant tissue; wilt, the drooping of leaves from lack of water; and vascular discoloration, streaking or darkening of vascular tissue (seen upon cutting the stem).

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Li explained that in addition to symptoms, the other term he mentioned was signs. Signs are an indication of a disease from direct observation of a pathogen or its parts. They can be seen by the naked eye and not just under a microscope. As an example, he said rust-colored spores are a sign of bean or aster rust disease, and they can be brushed off the plant like dust. Step three is to look for patterns, such as its development over time and if the disease is uniform or non-uniform. For step four, Li said, “We need to col-

Plant Diseases During the second part of the workshop, Li said, “I want to talk about how some different vegetables have different disease problem and how we can distinguish them, because they sometimes look similar.” He showed three images of tomato plants, all with brown spots – one was of a Septoria leaf spot, the other a bacterial leaf spot, and the last early blight. He told how he was able to differentiate them because the Septoria had a yellow halo around the spots, while the bacterial and blight did not. Meanwhile, blight has the unique characteristic of little rings in the brown spots. As for tomato plants’ fruit, he showcased how there can be early blight, bacterial spots, and botrytis blight. Also, there can be early blight, late blight, Septoria leaf spot, and botrytis blight on the stems. Li highlighted possible pepper diseases, including bacterial spots on the leaves and phytophthora blight on the stems. “On the pepper fruits there are different kinds of disease problems,” he said. Issues he demonstrated were of phytophthora blight, bacterial spot, anthracnose, Alternaria fruit rot, sun scald, and broad mite damage. Li concluded his presentation by answering attendees’ questions, and he encouraged anyone else with inquiries to reach out to him. To contact Dr Yonghao Li, call 203-9748601 or e-mail For more information about CT NOFA, visit Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at

USDA Measuring Quarterly Bee Colony Loss HARRISBURG, Penn. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will be collecting information about colony loss in the honey industry throughout the United States. The next Quarterly Colony Loss survey will be conducted until the end of April of 2022. This survey collects information about colony inventory and loss from more than 400 producers with honeybee colonies in the Northeastern Region of the United States. “The information from these surveys directly impacts our region’s beekeepers and honey producers,” said King Whetstone, director of the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office. “Beekeepers and producers can use the survey results when making business plans and marketing decisions. Cooperative Extensions use the data to provide needed outreach and education and State Departments and Agencies of Agriculture use the information to set insurance values,” added Whetstone. In this survey, NASS asks participants to answer a variety of questions about their colonies. To ensure all survey participants

have an opportunity to respond, NASS interviewers will contact producers who do not respond by mail or online to conduct telephone interviews. NASS safeguards the privacy of all respondents and publishes only aggregate data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified. Results of these quarterly surveys are published annually in the Honey Bee Colonies report, which will be available on August 1, 2022. These and all NASS reports are available online at www.nass.

Home & Garden - 11

April 8, 2022 - The Newtown Bee

Three Affordable Kitchen Upgrades To Consider (StatePoint) Is remodeling your kitchen on your wish list? Afraid of how much it’ll set you back? HomeAdvisor puts the average kitchen remodel price in the $12,567 to $34,962 range. However, you can buck the trend of costly, complicated updates. Consider these three renovations, all of which will improve the look and functionality of your kitchen, without costing you thousands of dollars: Refresh Fabrics — Reupholstering just one chair means shelling out $150 to $600, according to HomeGuide. If that’s beyond what you’re willing to pay, but you’re not ready to replace a beloved set of kitchen chairs, you can update their look on a budget and in just a few minutes with stretchable seat covers. A good choice for families with kids or pets, these covers are typically machine-washable and can be swapped out as often as you like to suit your mood. From geometric designs to citrus vibes to florals, they’re offered in a range of patterns that will look great with any style. Optimize Your Pantry — Pantries are often tucked away, but you can still give them an eye-catching makeover. For fresh pops of color, paint the pantry door and wallpaper the interior. Group items by height, then use customizable shelving to stretch storage real estate. You may also wish to transfer kitchen staples to uniform containers. This will offer a tidier, more visually appealing look, while helping you make better use of limited space. Whether you opt for mason jars, ceramic canisters, or BPA-free plastic cubes, label containers carefully. It’s the heart of the home, but that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank to create your dream kitchen. New Granite Surfaces — Countertops are the most common feature upgraded during kitchen renovations, according to a 2022 Houzz study, which found that nine in 10 remodelers performed this update. The same survey found that 35% of homeowners are splurging to make it happen. If you’ve looked into granite countertops, you probably learned that it can cost thousands of dollars and take

months to have them custom-made and installed. Adding this touch of luxury to your kitchen doesn’t have to bust your budget, involve contractors or mean supply chain hassles. It can actually be an easy, one-weekend DIY project. Using a LuxROCK Solid Surface Granite Countertop Kit from Daich Coatings, you can transform your countertops and island surfaces at just a fraction of the price of a professional granite countertop installation. For about $300, a kit covers 40 square feet of space. This functional and decorative blend of real stone with stunning mineral highlights can be used to give a smooth appearance to countertops, tables or any other surface. And because the authentic stone surface resists stains, heat and impact and is food safe,

it’s a great solution for the kitchen. Each kit includes a prime coat, stone coats, clear epoxy and a clear coat finish, as well as all the tools needed. This revolutionary and exceptionally easy resurfacing project doesn’t require any artistic skills to be a success. Nor does it require technical skills, as sinks, plumbing fixtures and existing countertops don’t need to be removed before application. If you’re someone who likes the flexibility of changing things up every few years, it’s simple to update granite surface colors using another LuxROCK kit when you’re ready. Both this U.S. patent-pending kit and the brand’s textured countertop kits are available online at major home improvement centers. With ingenuity, you can improve its look and functionality at an affordable price point and in just a weekend.

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12 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 8, 2022

Newtown’s Oldest Home, With Modern Amenities, Now A Popular Airbnb Rental

Attic space converted into a bathroom during the 1960s has been converted once more, this time into one of four bedrooms on the second floor.

Hollyhaven owner Mona Maine de Biran.

By Shannon Hicks Recent reviews for Hollyhaven, a 330-year-old timber framed home believed to be the oldest house in Newtown, refer to the property as “amazing” (repeatedly), “beautiful,” “gorgeous,” and “fantastic!” Mona Maine de Biran and her family moved into this historic home in 2010. They have welcomed the public to tour the house and its gardens twice, for the 2012 and 2016 Newtown Historical Society Homes & Gardens Tours. Now, the family is allowing people to rent the home through the popular online homestay booking company Airbnb. Guests have overwhelmingly raved about their experiences. Even in the winter months, visitors have enjoyed what they found waiting for them at the property, from modern amenities indoors and the structure of carefully planned gardens outside. The home dates to 1690, and features

2,263 square feet of living space. The single-family European style country cottage on five acres features five bedrooms, one bathroom, a gourmet-style kitchen, two extensive libraries, a private swimming pool and hot tub, and multiple gardens including a butterfly sanctuary and Zen garden. It was built, according to owner Mona Maine de Biran, by Stefan Crofut. The Crofut family, alternately spelled in old records as Crofoot or Crowfoot, were early settlers in Newtown, farming the land and during the 1800s contributing to the common sheep flock, according to records in E.L. Johnson’s book Newtown 1795 to 1918. Flat Swamp Cemetery #2, one of the two cemeteries on nearby Cemetery Road, is the resting place of at least 36 members of the Crofut family and other locals. Maine de Biran believes the home’s name comes from a pair of “enormous holly trees, about four stories or taller,

at least 250 years old,” that are on one side of the property’s driveway, she said. A sister tree can be seen on the property across the street. The house there, Maine de Biran recently told The Newtown Bee, was built by Stefan Crofut Jr. “I don’t know if it was a thing to plant hollies outside of one’s house for each of the Crofuts that lived around here,” she said. “There are quite a few Crofuts buried in the cemeteries along Cemetery Road, so this was a little enclave of Crofuts, and descendants of Crofuts, so besides the two houses that are left remaining from that legacy, there must have been other houses around." A Real ‘Fixer-Upper’ When Maine de Biran and her family first began visiting Hollyhaven, which was purchased as a weekend retreat for the lower Fairfield County residents, repairs were an obvious need. “The ceilings were crumbling down,”

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she said. “The plaster was chipping and peeling and crumbling away.” That’s where the work began. Years of renovations have included ripping out two upstairs bathrooms (“handyman specials,” she calls them) and converting them into bedrooms; the bedroom on the main floor was wallpapered; “gobs of paint, about 150 years’ worth” was stripped off one fireplace mantel; cabinetry for shoes was installed in the entryway; and the home’s internet wiring was upgraded to ethernet, among many projects. “There weren’t things that were massively broken, but things like the electrical panels needed a big overhaul,” she said. Mahogany counters in the kitchen were kept. “We did nothing with them, they’re just beautiful,” she said. The kitchen also had a lean-to/greenhouse removed. “It was from the 80s and it just didn’t

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Home & Garden - 13

April 8, 2022 - The Newtown Bee

Considered the oldest home in Newtown, Hollyhaven has had extensive renovations and updates during the past 12 years. Its owners are now sharing their piece of history with those who would like to rent it through Airbnb. —Bee Photos, Hicks

fit with the house,” Maine de Biran said. “We tore that down and built a kitchen extension instead, with a banquette style eating area and a table for ten. The house didn’t really have a dining room.” An undersink filter was also installed in the kitchen, providing a secondary system to purify the well water supplied to the home’s faucets. An external room on the southern side of the house was filled with gardening tools and equipment in 2010. It has since been converted into a living nook. The master bath was updated. “That was another 1960s job that just didn’t fit with the house,” Maine de Biran said. She went with an ecofriendly design, she said. A sitting shower was installed, as was slate flooring, which she felt “was more aesthetic to the period of the house.” Mahogany counters that echo those in the kitchen were also installed. A hammered copper double deep basin was added to the room, along with bronzed fixtures. A former birthing room has been converted into office space, with more of the beautiful mahogany accents and custom cabinetry also built into that room. The office is the one room inside Hollyhaven with wall-to-wall carpeting. “It’s a section of the house with no real basement under it, just a crawl space,” Maine de Biran explained.

The seating area off the kitchen features a banquette that seats ten and a chandelier from Provence, France. Maine de Biran says it’s her favorite place in Hollyhaven. “We do family dinners, play games, do fondue here,” she said. “I just love it.”

floor library is the English library. The first floor is also home to Maine de Biran’s beloved piano. A reinforced steel beam was another job done after she bought the house. “I love my piano, and I didn’t want to take the risk that the house wasn’t strong enough to support it,” she said.

A beautiful green Viking stove with double ovens is nestled within mahogany countertops that were left untouched with Hollyhaven met its new owners 12 years ago. The mahogany here inspired additions of mahogany shelving in at least two other rooms, in fact.

Sconces were replaced or are in the process of being recreated to match those still in the house. And yes, the oldest house in town also offers limited wi-fi connectivity — “done intentionally, so that the house forces you to disconnect somewhat from technology,” Maine de Biran said

— and central air conditioning. Its library ranges, as one guest pointed out, from original 1700s manuscripts to books from the children’s series Captain Underpants. There are actually two libraries inside Hollyhaven. The upstairs library is filled with books from France; the first

Extensive Yard Work There was also plenty of outside and exterior work waiting for the property’s new owners 12 years ago. Two months into their ownership they discovered the pool needed to be completely replaced. “We closed on the house in March, and the pool was covered,” she said. “We didn’t open it until Memorial Day, and that’s when we discovered what was there.” Maine de Biran believes the original pool was dug by hand, “probably with help from neighbors.” It had a fiberglass cover, no filtration, and no water evacuation. It didn’t even have steps, she said. ( continued on page 14 )

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14 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 8, 2022

Named “The Red Room,” the first floor bedroom has a queen bed topped by a historic bed cover and canopy from France, a decorative fireplace, small closet, rocking chair, and views over Hollyhaven’s front garden.

The fireplace and chimney just in from Hollyhaven’s front entrance have been stripped down to original brick.

Newtown’s Oldest Home, With Modern Amenities, Now A Popular Airbnb Rental ( continued from page 13 )

In its place, a Gunite custom pool and adjacent Jacuzzi have been installed. That was just the beginning of the exterior work for Hollyhaven. The outside of the house itself “was also crumbling and peeling,” so everything was sanded down and repainted. Custom, shatter resistant storm windows were also installed. “I didn’t want to destroy the antique windows, but the antique windows don’t offer much insulation,” Maine de Biran said. “The only way to get around that is to do custom work. You can’t buy a manufactured window. They’re all quirky, and you have to have a snug fit.” A channel was dug, with a rock retaining wall, to curb seasonal flooding issues that also plagued the property. When a winter storm collapsed the roof of the property’s former garage, Maine de Biran had a barn with a gambrel style roof built, “keeping in the style of the property.” Gardens Inspire New Career When Maine de Biran purchased Hollyhaven, its gardens were in shambles. “Somebody must have loved this garden a long time ago. They planted some nice boxwood trees,” Maine de Biran said. By the time she and her family arrived in Newtown, however, “there were weeds that were at tall as I am, and that’s no exaggeration.” The root system of many trees and plants had made their way under brick walkways. Maine de Biran hand dug the property’s Colonial gardens three times before the roots stopped returning. She then relaid the original bricks, before extending the patio with vintage

found brick. A Zen garden with sandbox was created, as was a butterfly observatory “with a mass of butterfly bushes.” The latter was planted to honor the first word spoken in French, papillon (butterfly), by Maine de Biran’s daughter. Forty trees were taken out — “mostly swamp maples, and they were all bad,” she said — but sugar maples and black cherry trees were kept. Magnolias, flowering dogwoods, Rose of Sharon, hemlocks, and evergreens were all installed. A weeping cherry was also added to the property, becoming a daughter tree to one already in place. Fruit and vegetable gardens were also planted. Rehabilitating the gardens did more than beautify the historic property. It led to a new career for Maine de Biran. “It was the gardens that inspired me to get into perfumery,” she said. Maine de Biran is the CEO and cofounder of Kierin NYC, a fragrance company with a focus on clean, crueltyfree, and sustainably sourced ingredients. “I was gardening this place — I totally rehabilitated the gardens in this place before I ever had an idea that I wanted to get into perfumes,” she said. “I think my connection to the gardens and this house, and my love for trying to transform what the weeds had done into something more pleasant for humans, as well as bees and other animals, made me want to create something that also was clean, and green, and sustainable, and gave people joy, and made them smell good, just like my flowers smell good and they make the bees happy. “I love the gardens so much, and I learned so much about nature in my res-

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toration efforts,” she said. “I didn’t know anything about gardening before I started gardening here.” Hollyhaven also, she said, “awakened in me a desire to bring forward from the past some of the good things that I imagine people used to do. I’ve learned how to make bread, and butter. Buying this place, I wanted to make it something like I’d never had.” Maine de Biran bought Hollyhaven about year after giving birth to her first child. “Reaching back into history, and the way I thought people used to connect with nature more, connect with their own spirituality more, to be more in kinship with their family and neighbors, that’s what I wanted for myself and my children,” she said. A Labor Of Love That dream led Maine de Biran to invest an enormous amount of time, love, passion, and financial resources, she said, to create a haven with the perfect combination of contemporary needs. “There are modern necessities that we absolutely need, but at the same time I wanted to bring it back to stripping it down to the naked wood. “I would venture to say there is probably not a square inch of this house my fingers have not touched over the years, from being on the floor, scraping and cleaning,” she said with a laugh. With her children now in high school, and more time devoted to related activities — as well as the fact that Maine de Biran’s business is headquartered in New York City, closer to the family’s home in lower Fairfield County — the decision

was made to share the house with others. “We still do live here for a large part of the year,” Maine de Biran said, “we just have less use for it. But we’re not going to get rid of it, either. My daughter has already said she wants to have her wedding here.” That was how Newtown’s oldest home became available for others to rent. Maine de Biran loves the idea, she said, of fellow Newtown residents having outof-town guests stay in the historic home in addition to those from away who have already discovered its availability. Pulling into Hollyhaven, with its privacy fences and beautiful views, does feel like moving away from the rest of the world. When the pandemic arrived two years ago, Maine de Biran and her family quarantined there full-time. “It was a wonderful throwback,” she said. “We didn’t need masks, and the children were free to run and play. The kids were running through the gardens in the summer, catching fireflies. It was fabulous.” It is, as one guest noted in an Airbnb review, “a really fun, unique experience … The house is very well maintained and upgraded just enough that you have a modern kitchen and bath without taking away from the historical integrity and specialness of the house.” In less than a year, Maine de Biran has earned the coveted Superhost status from Airbnb thanks to 32 overwhelmingly positive reviews. “It makes me so happy to be giving people this opportunity, to live a moment of magic in history,” she said. Managing Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at

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Home & Garden - 15

April 8, 2022 - The Newtown Bee

2022 Garden Guide: A New Year, A New Garden, A Fresh Start! As the blistering cold of winter winds down, the promise of spring no longer seems like a distant dream. The Garden Guide is back with its latest edition to welcome a new growing season and provide inspiration and advice for every gardener, whether last year’s garden was a blooming success, a wilting disappointment, or just never happened. The 2022 Garden Guide, from the editors of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, is available now in digital and print! Every vegetable gardener usually lists tomatoes at the top of their “to grow” list. The guide shares some unique tomato tactics for growing the best tomatoes ever, including a quick-start solution composed of eggshells and hair; dry farming (a method that forgoes irrigation and requires minimal watering); and boosting the plant’s immune system with fish heads and aspirin! Tomatoes are gorgeous and tasty, but why stop there? Consider options for decorative vegetables that are as beautiful as they are delicious! Tasty and eye-pleasing plants like crinkly, deep blue-green ‘Lacinato’ kale; striking, pale green Romanesque broccoli, with its twisting, spiral-shape heads; and ‘Purple Passion’ asparagus (purple asparagus … enough said!) add vibrant colors and textures to the yard … and dinner plate .As most gardeners know, there is always something new to learn with every new growing season, especially when it comes to veggies! The guide asks three experienced gardeners to share their 15 best secrets for veggie gardening. Some top tips: Lavish the soil with love (nourish with organic matter, compost, and manure!), don’t expect to grow a grocery store, and get the kids involved! Speaking of little ones, love and care for nature begins at an early age, which is why gardening with kids is so important! It provides a deep sensory experience, lasting memories, and better mental health and physical wellbeing. The guide includes numerous fun and rewarding activities for little ones who often want to be in the middle of the garden action and not expected to play pretend. An important part of any garden is the little things … that pollinate it. Befriend the birds and bugs that “run the world” by adding native plants to the garden landscape. These not only attract beneficial wildlife (crucial for a thriving garden) but also provide essential energy for species-rich food webs that lead to an overall healthier ecosystem.

Interested in a more low-maintenance and “accidentally beautiful” style of gardening? Experience the joy of meadowcrafting! Meadows can be created anywhere: in a front yard or old hayfield, over a septic drain, and even on a rooftop. The guide explains how to craft a meadow from an existing grassy or weedy area (scatter wildflower seeds … which can be a remarkably meditative process) or from scratch (convert a manicured lawn into a true native prairieland). The joy of planting is not limited to the outdoors! Bring the green inside with a dazzling houseplant (or two) for some fuss-free décor (that might even lead to better sleep!). Host an array of edible herb plants in the kitchen, cozy up to an elegant Chinese evergreen in the bedroom, and make a visual statement in the bathroom with a humidity-loving orchid. All of this, plus 2022 gardening trends (think: intentionally slow gardening, embracing “small” fruit, and focusing on the therapeutic benefits of gardening rather than speedy and perfect results), how lessons learned in life and the garden intersect, the joys of giving a gnome a home, the relative ease of growing citrus fruit (even in a tiny yard!), cultivating easy essential culinary herbs (with recipes!), inviting invasive plants to dinner, the winners of the Garden Guide’s tomato recipe contest, and much, much more! The 2022 Garden Guide — like its parent publication, The Old Farmer’s Almanac — is published annually and available for $7.99 USD/CAD online and at local booksellers. A full list of retailers can be found at A digital version of the Garden Guide, plus other resources, is available at Almanac. com/GardenGuide. Also available is The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Planner, an online garden-planning tool that takes the guesswork out of planning, plotting, and planting any garden, no matter its size, shape, or layout. The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Planner — which is free to try for 7 days — can be found at

Also brand-new in spring 2022 is the Flower Gardener’s Handbook. This bountiful, sure-to-be-essential planting guide gets to the roots of growing a flower garden that’s as lovely to behold as it is easy to maintain. The Flower Gardener’s Handbook is the second book in the Almanac’s gardening guide series, following the best-selling Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook (now in its fourth printing!). Readers can share the joy of gardening with The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Guide by uploading plant photos and gardening shots and stories on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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16 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 8, 2022

Spring Lawn Maintenance Tips To Ensure A Vibrant, Healthy Lawn

With the first day of spring If you start to notice grassy approaching, warmer weathweeds such as crabgrass or er signals plants to come out goosegrass, post-emergents of dormancy and start flourlike Drive XLR8, Q4 Plus ishing again. Even if your (not listed below) or Tenacity lawn and garden never went will treat them. fully dormant, you can still Be sure to follow product expect your home landscape labels appropriately during to begin thriving with warmapplication. Lastly, if you er temperatures. notice weeds and you aren’t "Pretty soon, your lawn sure which type of weed it is, and garden will be full of check out our Identifying color and activity again," Common Lawn Weeds blog. says Sod Solutions Content 5. Watch Out for Insects Strategist, Valerie Smith. "If That May Begin Coming you have a warm season Out lawn, your turfgrass will If your lawn has suffered come out of dormancy and if from insect damage around you have a cool season lawn, this time in the past, it is a snow in your area will start good idea to apply a broad to melt and you’ll enjoy a spectrum insecticide at this greener environment." time to prevent them from To ensure a vibrant, coming back again. healthy lawn, Smith offers If the insecticide is a granuthe following advice — and Even if your lawn and garden never went fully dormant, you can still expect your home land- lar product, be sure to water it in so that it soaks into your see our related item on scape to begin thriving with warmer temperatures. soil. On the other hand, if it’s ensuring you have the Each option covers 5,000 sq. ft. If you aren’t sure a liquid product, you will either need to attach it to the proper soil to maximize your lawns and gardens: 1. Begin Mowing the Lawn at a Proper Height which one to pick from, you can learn more in Granu- end of your garden hose or tank mix it. lar vs. Liquid Fertilizers or by clicking the two products Some of the most common of insects in the springtime Again are white grub worms, chinch bugs, sod webworms and The timing for which the first mow of the spring for listed below. Watch this video on how to fertilize your lawn in the billbugs. White grub worms can be found in most turfyour mature, established turfgrass widely varies depending on the area you live in. Grasses come out of dor- Spring: grasses at this time while chinch bugs are more likely to Watch this video about the best granular fertilizer for be spotted in St. Augustine grass, sod webworms in bermancy differently depending on the environment and home lawns and gardens: muda grass and billbugs in zoysia grass. temperatures your area encounters. For example, if you live in South Florida, your grass J4UIQo1I Scotts GrubEx and Dylox 6.2 are often used to treat Next, it is important to mention that if you have a currently existing grub worm infestations whereas Imimay have never entered dormancy at all during the winter. Many homeowners who live in South Florida will warm season lawn, you may start to notice spots of dacloprid-based products like Merit 0.5 G and Merit 2F mow their lawn every other week during the winter— brown or straw-like grass while the rest of your lawn prevent them. Merit 0.5G, Merit 2F, Bifen L/P and oftentimes starting in September and resuming a regu- comes out of dormancy. This is usually a sign of disease. Bifen XTS can treat a billbug infestation. You do not want to apply fertilizer to a lawn with dislar, weekly mowing schedule again in mid-March. Bifenthrin products like Bifen L/P and Bifen XTS are Generally speaking, however, mid-March is about the ease as the nitrogen in the fertilizer will feed the disease also great for chinch bug or sod webworm infestations. time for you to begin your regimen for spring green-up and promote its growth. Learn more about these insects in our Insect IdentificaApply a systemic fungicide first and then wait several tion blog. Read product labels thoroughly before appliand mowing. It’s important to note that the first mow of the spring shouldn’t take place while warm season weeks before following with a fertilizer application. cation. 3. Set Up a Spring Irrigation Schedule grass is dormant. 6. Prevent Disease as Temperatures Begin to Warm Dormant, warm season turfgrass doesn’t need much Up Mowing heights vary for each grass type, but you As previously mentioned, if you have a warm season should never remove more than a third of the leaf blade water until the active growing season kicks in and your from any grass type. If you mow less than this, you may grass starts to green up. In our Winter Lawn Mainte- lawn, circular brown or yellow spots, also known as nance Tips article, we state that if you have a dormant, spring dead spot, may start to show up as it comes out of risk scalping the grass. dormancy. To find out which mowing height your specific grass warm season lawn, it is not dead—it’s just “sleeping”. Although dormant grass requires much less water than Other potential disease outbreaks include brown patch type should be maintained at, view our Lawn Mowing it would while it is actively growing, it will still need and gray leaf spot. Guide. If you notice any disease outbreaks, you may need to Lastly, a good tip for spring is to make sure your lawn water. Once your grass starts to green up from winter mower blades are sharpened so that the mower blades dormancy, you should resume watering your lawn with make applications of a systemic fungicide. Even if you don’t have disease in your lawn, it’s still good practice to apply it neatly slice through the grass in place of ripping them. about 1 inch of water per week including rainfall. If you aren’t sure how to measure how much water preventively to keep disease from taking over — especially If the grass blades aren’t cut neatly, the mower is ripping your lawn is receiving, an irrigation audit may be ben- if you’ve had disease in the past around this time. them and opens the grass up to possibility of disease. Systemic fungicide applications should take place Performing regular maintenance on your mower is eficial to you. Irrigation audits provide measurable good practice for the end of the mowing season or information about how much water each area of your before you apply any spring fertilizer. If you have fungus lawn is receiving within a given amount of time. in your lawn, the nitrogen found in fertilizers oftentimes before spring takes place. The next few tips discuss spring lawn treatment with feeds it and helps it spread. Apply a systemic fungicide 2. Start Your Lawn Off Right with the Appropriate fungicides, herbicides or insecticides. If any of these and wait a few weeks before applying any fertilizer. Spring Fertilizer This Year Read product labels thoroughly. Spring is one of the most important times of the year control products or fertilizers are granular, you will There are a few other optional things that can be done to use a fertilizer. Warm season grasses are coming out need to water the product in so that your lawn absorbs to help lawns thrive in the spring. of dormancy, so you will want to promote healthy roots it. *When watering granular products in, you will already Before the onset of summer heat, lawn patchwork and and the return of green leaf blades. Be careful when making your first fertilizer applica- be watering your lawn with the appropriate amount of light top dressing with a sand and topsoil mix is a great tion of the year though—a lot of homeowners see their water during the week of application. way to recover any weak areas. Plugs can be purchased *The same can be said with any liquid products as to fill in areas of the lawn with bare spots. Learn more grass green up and immediately pull out the fertilizer they are either products that attach to the end of your here. and lawn mower. We advise that you typically wait until the last frost garden hose or require tank mixing with water. Aerating is also an ideal way to help deliver nutrients *Above all, read and follow label instructions thor- and really break up compacted soils. We typically rechas hit. ommend doing this once every couple of years. If thatch If you fertilize your lawn and another frost hits, your oughly before watering any products in. 4. Control Weeds with a Pre- or Post-Emergent that is thicker than 1⁄2 inch, dethatch in late May. grass will go right back into dormancy, and you’ll have Spring maintenance tips somewhat differ from maintea harder time getting it to green up again. This does Herbicide Pre-emergents should be applied during the spring nance practices that take place during the rest of the year more harm than good. With that being said, the date of the last frost varies when ground temperatures reach about 55 degrees because the weather is starting to warm up and everyfrom location to location. In the Florida Panhandle, for Fahrenheit. A pre-emergent herbicide functions to pre- thing starts to turn green again. Although cool season grass doesn’t usually go dorexample, grass doesn’t ever go truly dormant and reach- vent weeds from emerging from the surface of the soil, mant during the winters, snow in a lot of the areas up es its full green-up in early February (depending on as its name suggests. The exact dates for these applications differ depend- north starts to melt and the lawn will receive more how cold the winter was). Even then, you won’t want to apply fertilizer until ing on the area you live in, but generally speaking, pre- sunlight. It is important to partake in spring mainteafter Easter once the last frost has passed. Refer to the emergents should be applied between March 1st and nance so that you can set your lawn up for success for Farmer’s Almanac to figure out the last frost date for March 15th in the spring. the rest of the year. Apply post-emergent herbicides throughout the spring Lastly, if you have a new lawn and are looking to learn your area in 2022. Sod University recommends two different options for as needed to control summer annual and perennial about spring lawn care treatment for new sod, Smith spring fertilization: Lawnifi® Foundation, a slow- broadleaf weeds like crabgrass, goosegrass, sandspurs, recommends starting with an establishment guide for release granular option that comes in 25 lb. bags and dallisgrass, dandelion, chickweed, white clover, knot- the first 30 days after installation and then transition to one of the maintenance guides by visiting https://sodsolasts for three months, and our Lawnifi Spring Fertilizer weed, spurge, dollarweed, doveweed and lespedeza Post-emergent products containing multiple broadleaf Box, a liquid fertilizer program that includes three botWatch a comprehensive video on spring lawn maintetles of liquid fertilizer that can be applied monthly with active ingredients are the best spring lawn treatments as they’re more effective in controlling broadleaf weeds. nance tips online here: a hose-end sprayer.

Home & Garden - 17

April 8, 2022 - The Newtown Bee

Soil Management Makes All The Difference CHARLESTON, S.C. — Have you ever heard of the saying that you are what you eat? The same can be said for your lawn’s health starting at the source of nutrient uptake, i.e., the grass’s roots and the soil it inhabits. According to Sod Solutions Content Strategist, Valerie Smith, the quality of your soil plays a huge factor in the overall health of your lawn and garden. Grass soil and garden soil provide nutrients, water, air, and a place of anchorage for roots. On the other hand, soil can also contain insects, diseases, nematodes, or overall poor nutrient quality. Read on to get general understanding of soils, soil pH levels and how lawn soil interacts with plant roots so that your lawn is vibrant and healthy. Soil Types — Soil types matter because they vary in pH and nutrients. If you understand your soil type, you’ll have a general idea of which nutrients it usually has or lacks. There are three types of soil: sandy soil, clay soil, and loamy soil. How to Manage Sandy Soil — Sandy soil is coarse and gritty to the feel and water moves through it quickly, so it has a low water holding capacity. For this reason, sand is poor in nutrient content. Smith says sandy soil’s nutrient content can be improved by regularly adding organic material, such as top dressing, compost, or well-rotted manure. This will help improve (slow down) drainage, increase the water holding capacity and as a result increase plant nutrient uptake. How to Manage Clay Soil — Clay soil is reddish brown and is fine and powdery when dry. In contrast to sand, water moves through it slowly, so it has high water holding capacity — typically, too much. Clay soils can be rich in plant nutrients, but the pH is often too high or low, so those nutrients are not available to plants.

According to Sod Solutions Content Strategist, Valerie Smith, the quality of your soil plays a huge factor in the overall health of your lawn and garden.

Clay soil can be improved by adding organic material, such as top dressing, compost or well-rotted manure. Smith says this will improve (increase) drainage and provide more appropriate water holding capacity. Organic material will also lighten heavy soil. How to Manage Loamy Soil — Loamy soil is dark brown and contains clay and sandy soil in moderate proportions with some organic material. Water moves through it at a moderate rate, so it has a moderate water holding capacity. It is rich in plant nutrients. For this reason, loamy soil is ideal for growing healthy grass, according to Smith. Why does pH matter? — pH is a way to explain the amount of hydrogen ions in a solution. In other words, the more hydrogen ions in a solution, the more acidic the soil. When it comes to your lawn or garden’s soil pH, it’s helpful to think of the pH as the mouth to your plants by which it consumes nutrients.

Smith says the pH scale ranges from 0, or highly acidic, to 14, or highly alkaline. The mouth of your grass is “wide open” when it has a pH of 6.0-7.0, which is neutral and ideal for growing healthy grass. This means that your soil is in the ideal range to receive nutrients. Plants grown in soils that are too acidic or too alkaline cannot adequately access plant nutrients, whether they occur naturally in the soil or are applied in the form of fertilizer. If you are applying fertilizer to your lawn without knowing the pH to your soil, Smith suggests you could very well be wasting your money. Don’t do it. Instead, invest more time and money in determining the pH balance of your soil first. The pH kits are inexpensive and reliable. However, Smith highly recommends collecting a soil sample and submitting it for analysis in order to receive a professional, thorough diagnosis of your

soil. Soil testing options are often inexpensive and cost around $10 in some cases. Learn more here. Soil Health and Nutrition — One of the best ways to manage your lawn and garden soil is by feeding it the proper nutrition it needs. Imagine you could opt for a fertilizer that is easier to apply, is effective over a wider soil pH range and requires less product and less work. Lawnifi, a cutting-edge fertilizer, reduces the age-old problems associated with ionic nutrient lockup. Lawnifi is powered by Catalyst TechnologyTM, which nano-sizes its nutrients so that more of them are absorbed through the roots and leaves. Since Lawnifi nano-sizes its nutrients, larger amounts of nutrients are efficiently delivered to plants. The amount of product that needs to be applied is significantly reduced while using 80 percent less nitrogen and yielding better results. With less nitrogen usage, Lawnifi fertilizers work to balance carbon-nitrogen ratios (C:N) in your soil for optimum soil and microbial health. Lawnifi is also packed with micronutrients that are essential to your lawn’s overall health. Soil types vary depending on the climate and location you live in. This doesn’t mean that managing your soil has to be difficult though. Smith believes that even the worst of soils won’t stand a chance against you with these tips. Want to learn more about achieving a great lawn? Check out more Sod University tips and subscribe to our weekly newsletter by visiting Sod Solutions has helped successfully develop and release to the market over 20 different turfgrass varieties over the past 27 years, including Palmetto and CitraBlue, St. Augustine, EMPIRE and InnovationTM Zoysia and Celebration , Latitude 36 and NorthBridge Bermudagrass.


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18 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 8, 2022

Top Eight Garden Trends For 2022 Unearthed With the March 20 equinox past us and warmer weather on the horizon, many homeowners and garden lovers will be thinking about investing in their garden space. To celebrate the change of seasons, experts from OnBuy Garden Furniture Sets have compiled a tailored list of eight of the most in-demand and emerging gardening trends set to soar this spring — having scraped more than 1.2 million pins on Pinterest — detailing what’s inspiring the world’s gardeners. To accompany the data, Shroopa Patel, Category Manager at OnBuy Garden Furniture Sets has provided commentary on the top three trends and insights on how to achieve these popular styles to help transform your outdoor space into a spring sanctuary. Top Gardening Trends The 3 most up and coming gardening trends according to the analysis are: 1. Balcony Gardens - 265,259 Pinterest pins The most in-demand gardening trend for spring 2022 is balcony gardens – with an impressive 964 boards and 265,259 pins on Pinterest. With 56% of the global population living in urban areas, balcony gardens are a great way for city-dwellers to elevate and maximise smaller outdoor spaces and are an easy trend to follow for any novice gardeners due to their low upkeep. To start your balcony gardening, Patel shares that: “For balcony gardening, a lot of focus will be on your choice of plants," Patel says. "For example, if it can’t handle much weight, then it is better to choose plastic or rice pots instead of ceramic pots. For shady balconies facing north, shade-loving plants such as winter aconites, begonias and lettuce are great choices to grow and

brighten up the space. We also recommend planting space-saving plants such as tomatoes, spring onions, radish or attaching a plant trellis to your balcony wall to make full use of limited outdoor space.” 2. Garden Recycling - 233,247 Pinterest pins Spring is the perfect time to think about greener habits and to start upcycling, which will also save money. Examples from Pinterest users include repurposing old furniture, like chests of drawers, to create garden planters and rustic potting benches. “Let your creativity out! There are lots of ways to make your garden more ecofriendly and closer to nature by using recycled materials. For example, turning your glass beer bottles to garden fences, unwanted sinks to flower planters, plastic bottles to watering cans, tree branches to plant supporters, or old bowls or tea cups to bird feeders. Be adventurous and enjoy the DIY process," said Patel.

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3. Wild Gardens - 212,502 Pinterest pins In third place and following a low-maintenance theme, are wild gardens – with 212,502 pins. A clear trend for spring 2022 appears to be a move away from more obviously designed spaces into more relaxed and naturalistic gardens, with 36,000 Google searches last month for “wild garden” and rising search interests for wild garden related furniture and flowers. To recreate a wild garden within your own grounds, floriculture expert Patel at OnBuy suggests: “Don’t be afraid to let your grass grow. Long grass is the perfect habitat for butterflies, wildflowers and bee systems to flourish. Consider planting a small wildflower meadow, not only will it look beautiful due to the vibrant pops of colour, but it will attract a variety of ecosystems into your outdoor space. We recommend planting countryside favourites bluebells, red cam-

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pion and purple-loosestrife.” Other Top Trends At the end of the list and a clear, emerging trend is jewel-toned gardening with 17,965 pins. This trend emerged after jewel-toned magenta pink was reported by WGSN, the world's leading trend forecasters, as its colour of the year for 2022 – which promotes a sense of ‘positivity and escapism’ – making it the perfect choice for an outdoor oasis. Patel reports that: “With Google Trends showing a 190% increase in search volumes for “jewel tones” in spring last year, it is clear that this is the colour of the year for spring gardens," Patel says. "For a bold statement this season and to bring the beauty of rare gemstones into your garden – bright tones of exterior paint in lustrous cobalt blues and uplifting fuschia pinks can liven up uninspired furniture – from table legs and pergolas to sheds and fences. These striking colours are a stylish choice for anyone looking to draw attention to focal points within your garden.” Among the remaining trends are: 4. Water Features - 177,929 Pinterest pins A 2021 feature at points out that adding an outdoor water fountain will probably not directly increase the value of your home, but it will very likely increase appeal if you're looking to sell. And for what can potentially be a lower price point for a landscape feature, it could be worth your investment. An outdoor water fountain is not a run-of-the-mill landscape addition, but many people love water features for their calming properties that can provide a relaxing retreat in the backyard. 5. Wildlife Gardening - 154,966 Pinterest pins According to, as wilderness disappears and the human-

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Home & Garden - 19

April 8, 2022 - The Newtown Bee

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dominated landscape expands, butterflies, songbirds and other creatures are left without places to live. The good news is that residential landscapes can be home for both humans and wildlife. We can share our landscapes with the plants and animals with which we have coevolved. The first step when gardening for wildlife is to determine the priority species. Then identify the food, water, shelter and other resources each animal requires. 6. Garden Allotments - 127,275 Pinterest pins A recent item at Urban Leaf ( identifies an allotment (British term), or in North America, a community garden, as a plot of land made available for individual, non-commercial gardening or growing edible plants. Community gardens became popular in the United States during World War I and II, and were then called “Victory Gardens.” They were an indirect aid to the war effort and food scarcity that came along with it, and were also consid-

ered a civil morale booster, as gardeners were able to feel empowered by their contribution of labor and then rewarded by the produce grown. 7. Minimalist Gardens - 96,367 Pinterest pins The folks at Exterior Worlds Gardens & Landscaping ( say minimalist garden design is not a specific style of gardening, but rather an aesthetic principle based upon the perspective that less is more. In these gardens, plants are carefully selected, and unusual materials are integrated into the vegetation. Hardscapes are used to define geometric shapes and linear movements that correspond to the architecture of the house and to other structures on the landscape. To combine the most in-demand spring gardening trends this season, experts from OnBuy Garden Furniture Sets recommend planting jewel-toned wildflowers, such as pyramidal and green-winged orchids, in your outdoor space in preparation for the upcoming Spring Equinox 2022.

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20 - Home & Garden

The Newtown Bee - April 8, 2022

Available At Library, ‘Kill A Watt’ Meters Help Figure Energy Costs By Eliza Hallabeck With winter and its related energy costs still in mind, many homeowners may be wondering why their electric bills are so high. One way to monitor a home’s energy use is to find out how much power some of your home’s devices cost to operate — and C.H. Booth Library on Main Street can help. Jennifer Nash, assistant director of the C.H. Booth Library shared that the library has all kinds of “nontraditional circulating items” available to patrons. Beyond books, patrons can also check out sewing machines, board games, an auto car scanner that explains why a check engine light is on, and even a sump pump. Library patrons can also sign out Kill A Watt devices that plug right in to outlets and measure electrical device usage, allowing the homeowner to calculate how much electricity each device or appliance uses and how much each one costs to own and use. Nash told The Newtown Bee that Kill A Watt meters can be checked out at the library’s circulation desk. “It’s a great way to determine how many kilowatts per hour an appliance uses,” said Nash. Once the user knows how many kilowatts a device uses per hour, they can compare that figure with their electric bill to calculate how much that device cost to run for the month. An announcement from the library about the devices reads: “This device is a monitor that assesses the efficiency and electricity usage of household appliances. Plug it into your outlet, and then plug in the appliance you would like to assess into the Kill A Watt meter. Then the unit starts accumulating data. “You can take a look at the number of kilowatt-hours used, and the device will also show you how much time has elapsed since you plugged it in. This allows you to project how many kilowatt-hours the device will use in a week, month, or year. And since we are billed by kilowatt-hours used, you can calculate how much it is costing you to use the device.” Nash said the Kill A Watt Meters are available to anyone with a Connecticut library card. The devices can be checked out for three-weeks. “With Earth Day coming up... It’s a great way to do your part,” said Nash. The library’s announcement also reads, “You may be surprised to find out how much your devices consume, even in standby mode. Once you know, you can start saving money by putting those devices on a switched power strip to turn them off when not being used.” Nash pointed out that learning how much a device coasts to run might

Using a borrowed “Kill A Watt” measuring meter from the C.H. Booth Library, it was discovered that this backlit digital wall clock and calendar costs about three cents an hour to operate.

Using a “Kill A Watt” meter borrowed from the C.H. Booth Library, a Newtown Bee staff member measured the hourly cost to operate a SNOOZ brand white noise machine, a 20-year-old 18 cu ft refrigerator, and a digital wall clock/calendar.

prompt homeowners to replace an older appliance with a newer more energy efficient option. A Newtown Bee staff member offered to attach a Kill A Watt meter to their 20-year-old, 18 cubic foot refrigerator freezer, their brand new SNOOZ brand white noise sleep machine, and a fiveyear-old backlit digital office clock/calendar with audio chimes to gauge how much each costs to operate. Currently, that staffer is paying a standard service rate of 11.484 ¢/kWh from Eversource. Over 21.5 hours, the Kill A Watt meter showed the fridge consumed 1.03 kw, so

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using the meter’s data, we divided the kWh by the length of time measured to get 0.05 kw per hour. Finally, multiplying that by the kWh cost, we learned that fridge actually costs about $1.44 per day on average to run. That number is approximately $13-$15 more per month that a similar contemporary fridge according to one regional utility company. So, maybe it would pay for our staffer to begin looking for a new and more energy efficient refrigerator. Applying the same math to the sleep machine, which registered 0.04 kw over about 11 hours of use, (.004 kw x 11.484 kWh) that sleep aid device costs about four cents a night to use. And the electric digital wall clock and hourly chime used about 0.07 kw per hour, costing about eight cents a day. Other Ways To Save Energize Connecticut — which is designed to help state homeowners save money and use clean energy and is an initiative of the Energy Efficiency Fund, the Connecticut Green Bank, the State and local electric and gas utilities with funding from a charge on customer energy bills, according to — has tips and more to help homeowners save money on electricity. One of those tips includes looking for Energy Star certified products. According to Energize Connecticut, “When you buy an appliance, there are two price tags: the price of the appliance and the cost of the energy (and sometimes water) to run it. Choosing energy-

Among the many non-traditional offerings to borrowers and card holders, Newtown’s C.H. Booth Library will lend you this “Kill A Watt” meter so you can measure the daily cost of operating various home or office electrical devices and appliances.

saving Energy Star certified appliances can reduce those operating costs by 10 to 50 percent compared with standard models and even more compared with older models in your home. The Energize Connecticut sponsors work with retailers and manufacturers to promote Energy Star appliances. Energy Star is a widely recognized and trusted label on products that meet strict energy efficiency requirements set by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy.” Among the many online offerings, Energize Connecticut has an “Energy Solution Wizard” that helps people find information to specific topics. It also offers information on rebates and financial assistance availability, like a program that offers “a $30 rebate... to Eversource and United Illuminating electric customers that recycle their qualifying, still working refrigerator or freezer.” Eversource’s Home Energy Solutions program can also provide eligible customers with on-the-spot energy-saving improvements and custom recommendations, while connecting you to rebates and incentives to make larger improvements — regardless of the heating fuel you use, if you’re a homeowner, renter or landlord. This can be done through: Virtual Pre-Assessment: This initial, no-cost service is available through live, virtual discussions with an Eversource authorized technician. If needed, your technician will schedule an in-home visit at a later date. In-Home Visit: An authorized contractor will conduct important safety tests, and install weatherization and energysaving improvements. Home Energy Solutions Income Eligible: Eversource offers enhanced incentives and savings opportunities to qualified customers. If you qualify for Eversource’s income-based assistance programs like Matching Payment Plan (MPP) or New Start, you are already qualified for this Home Energy Solutions – Income Eligible program. Other energy-saving programs may also be available through the community where you live. Education Editor Eliza Hallabeck can be reached at

Home & Garden - 21

April 8, 2022 - The Newtown Bee

Spring Cleaning? Your Junk May Be Worth A Fortune! (StatePoint) If your family is like most, you have “junk” in your basement, garage or attic, such as sports cards, memorabilia and toys. Before you toss them out during spring cleaning, consider that the prices of sports cards, games and other ephemera are skyrocketing. How can you determine if your stuff is valuable and, if it is, how can you sell it? A widely accepted rule for sports cards, memorabilia and toys is that older items are worth more. However, these days even more recent items are also commanding high prices. “Vintage sports cards from the early periods of a sport are almost always highly collectible, especially of Hall of Famers,” says Al Crisafulli, Auction Director at Love of the Game Auctions, an internet sports and memorabilia auction that helps families sell collectibles. “But don’t assume sports cards or other memorabilia have to be old to be valuable. Modern cards of such stars as Tom Brady, Mike Trout, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter and others can sell for lots of money.“ He is offering tips to help determine if your belongings are valuable: Older Sports Cards — Cards from the 1960s and earlier are collectible, and those from before the 1940s can be extremely valuable. Big-name Hall of Famers like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Honus Wagner, Mickey Mantle and others bring high prices. With old cards from the 1880s and early 1900s, look for tobacco and candy brands, such as Old Judge, Piedmont, Sweet Caporal or American Caramel. Really old Sports memorabilia from the 19th and early 20th Century, such as photographs, postcards, bats, gloves and balls are also collectible.

When opting to sell sports items, consider a specialty auction, such as Love of the Game, which has the expertise to professionally research sports items and maintains lists of bidders specializing in this area, to get top dollar. More information is available at Modern Cards — Prices on recent baseball, basketball and football cards have risen rapidly. The three keys are condition, star power and cards from early in player careers. Do you have major current stars, like Mike Trout, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady and LeBron James? Or do you have greats from the recent past, like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Derek Jeter or Joe Montana? Check if your cards are denoted as Rookie, Prospect, Draft Pick or other indicators they’re from a player’s first season. And condition is king, as cards that look pack fresh with sharp corners and a well-centered image command highest prices. Additionally, unopened packs and boxes from almost any year can be valuable. Memorabilia — Do you have old advertising posters depicting sports stars or famous entertainment personalities together with food, tobacco or sporting goods brands. Many original signs, store displays and promotional items are collectible, especially those dating from the early 1900s into the 1960s. But low-quality reproductions aren’t. Look for memorabilia spotlighting sports heroes, superheroes, early Walt Disney characters and Star Wars subjects. So, while you’re spring cleaning that attic, basement or garage, don’t rush to the garbage. Before throwing out old “junk,” determine if it’s valuable!

Choose The Best Wallpaper Design For Any Space (StatePoint) Thinking about using wallpaper to transform your walls from drab to fab? You’re in good company. Wallpaper’s popularity is on the rise in both residential and commercial spaces and gaining an edge over paint. Why? Experts believe this trend reflects a growing recognition of wallpaper’s unique benefits. It’s cost-effective, protects the wall surface from accidental marks and scratches, and offers personalized self-expression at a reasonable price. “We experienced consistent monthover-month wallpaper sales increases throughout 2021. We attribute this to consumers’ growing desire to customize their spaces with designs that reflect their personal style and aesthetic preferences, while retaining the option to change things up as frequently as desired with removable wallpaper,” says Michael Jones, general manager, Spoonflower, a leading custom, print-on-demand wallpaper and home decor digital marketplace. According to Jones, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the right wallpaper for your space. Here, he offers a few insights to help you get started: Type First, determine how long you’d like the wallpaper to remain on your walls. Some types of wallpaper are more suitable for long-term use and others are best for those who wish to change their designs with the seasons or on a whim. For this reason, Spoonflower offers three types of wallpaper: 1. Prepasted Removable Smooth: Long-lasting, but fully removable (and recyclable), this option is great for

homes, rental spaces, accent walls or temporary art installations. 2. Peel and Stick Removable Woven: Removable and repositionable, this option won’t leave a residue behind. Whether you’re renting or you love to stay on-trend, temporary wallpaper is a great alternative to traditional wall coverings. 3. Traditional Pebble: This traditional wallpaper has a subtle leathered texture, matte finish, is paste-activated and is highly durable. Not only is it PVC-free, it is also moisture resistant. Design To take the guesswork out of wallpaper design selection, consider heading to a wallpaper digital marketplace. In the case of Spoonflower, which features over 1 million designs, the biggest challenge you’ll face is the enormity of selection. However, you can easily narrow down your choices by searching for designs based on category keywords, color or by styles, such as Mid-Century Modern, Cottagecore or Paisley. For those with a specific design already envisioned, the site even allows you to upload your own design and have it custom printed on wallpaper. Before committing, consider ordering two or three swatches so you can compare them in your own space and assess the best fit. This can help ensure your final design selection is completely tailored to your preferences. To learn more and to get the process started, visit Thanks to new wallpaper technology and an ever-growing library of designs available, making a customized impact on the look and feel of your spaces has never been easier.

Mike Palmer Property Maintenance All major Excavation credit cards Drainage accepted Tree Removal and Pruning Landscape Design, Installation & Maintenance Masonry Installation & Repair Mike Palmer, owner Asphalt Installation 23 Merlins Lane, Newtown & Repair 203-648-3832 Snow Plowing

3rd Generation CT Arborist

Tim Wilder Tree Care BUYER BEWARE: Arboriculture is a licensed trade!

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You Thank our for Y ss! Busine


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“Your time is valuable, and we value your time!” 61 Church Hill Road, Newtown Propane


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22 - Home & Garden

We Have Ready-To-Go Roll Off Services & Containers That Fit Your Needs! For SMALL Clean Up Jobs: 4 & 6 Cubic Yard Size Containers 4 Cubic Yards (4.5ft L x 6ft W x 4ft H) 6 Cubic Yards (5ft L x 6ft W x 6ft H)

The Newtown Bee - April 8, 2022

Addessi Fencing, LLC ..........................................................8 Advanced Appliances LLC .................................................18 Al’s Upholstery ...................................................................18 Apex Glass ..........................................................................20 Art And Frame .....................................................................8 Associated Refuse Hauler ..................................................22 Bethel Power Equipment ...................................................23 Brautigam Land Surveyors P.C. ........................................17 Buzaid Appliances ..............................................................13 Carmine’s Plumbing & Heating ........................................18 Danbury Overhead Door, Inc .............................................18 Fine Floors By Mathison ...................................................10 Hollandia Nurseries ...........................................................24 Holmes Fine Gardens ..........................................................7 Kosheluk Pump Service .....................................................19 L&R Power Equipment, Inc .................................................5

For MODERATE Clean Up Jobs: Light-duty Mini Roll Off Services 10 Cubic Yards (12ft L x 8ft W x 3ft H) 12 Cubic Yards (14ft L x 8ft W x 4ft H) 15 Cubic Yards (14ft L x 6ft W x 4.5ft H)

Lenahan Land Clearing .......................................................4 Little Stevie’s Tree Work....................................................18 Lou’s Everything Store & Salvage ....................................18 Mike Palmer Property Maintenance .................................24 New England Dry Stripping ..............................................14 Newtown Hardware ...........................................................21 Newtown Power Equipment ................................................6 Overhead Door Company Of Brookfield ...........................15 Pro Chek Home Inspection ..................................................2 Roger W. Wagner Painting .................................................14 Stony Hill Hardware ..........................................................18 Superior Remodelers, LLC ..................................................9 Svanda Painting, LLC, Mark ...............................................6 Swenson Granite Works ....................................................12 Tier 1 Landscapes Design & Tree .....................................11

For LARGE Clean Up Jobs: Our Biggest Trucks & Containers 20 Cubic Yards (22ft L x 8ft W x 4ft H) 30 Cubic Yards (22ft L x 8ft W x 6ft H)

Tom Saint Painting & Remodeling .....................................3 Vacuum Mart ......................................................................18 Wilder Tree Care, Tim .......................................................21 William’s Architectural Millwork ......................................19

Home, Property Owners: Prepare Now For Severe Spring Weather

Serving Newtown for 40 years

Please contact us for more information

203-426-8870 Newtown Business of The Year — 2010 & 2016 Serving Newtown Since 1982

According to the National Weather Service, the spring severe weather season is upon us: "…three months of danger that can imperil the unprepared." Data published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reveals that severe weather events are becoming more frequent and more devastating, said Gregory Geaski, a disaster recovery specialist with SERVPRO of Newtown And Southern Litchfield County. He said NOAA reported during the period from 1980-2021 saw an annual average of 7.4 "billion-dollar" weather and climate events (adjusted to today's costs). When they looked at only the five most recent years (2017-2021), the annual average grew to 17.2 events. Last year alone (2021) delivered 20 "billion-dollar" weather or climate disaster events. "It's not unusual to see severe weather in the spring," says Geaski. "Whenever you have warm, moist air colliding with cool, dry air, you have the conditions for creating a thunderstorm, along with the possibility of lightning strikes, floods, hail, high winds, rip currents, even wildfires and tornadoes. "The problem is, you can't prevent these severe weather events and you can't predict very far in advance when and where

they will hit," he added. "The only sensible approach is to take steps in advance to protect your family and property, especially as these disasters become more common." Geaski urges Newtown area home and business owners to check out state and federal resources online for tips on planning and preparing for a severe weather emergency now, as the spring severe weather season arrives. One such resource is the National Center for Environmental Health of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which offers suggestions for creating an emergency kit and preparing family members for severe weather emergencies at "Each year, SERVPRO professionals across the country respond to scenes of weather-related mayhem, helping families and business owners recover from flooding, fire, wind damage and more," said Geaski. "While we are standing by to help whenever we are needed, we hope that our neighbors in the Newtown area will heed this warning from the CDC: '…prepare for storms, floods, and tornadoes as if you know in advance they are coming, because in the spring, they very likely will.'" For more information about SERVPRO, visit

Home & Garden - 23

April 8, 2022 - The Newtown Bee

BETHEL POWER EQUIPMENT Serving the Community for Over 60 Years

We Have EXPANDED! Sales ★ Service ★ Parts ★ Equipment ★ Pre-owned ★ Rentals BETHEL POWER EQUIPMENT 6 Francis J. Clarke Circle Bethel, CT 06801

PARK CITY POWER EQUIPMENT (Formerly Lewis Lawn Mower)

873 Wood Avenue Bridgeport, CT

(in Bethel’s Clarke Business Park)

(203) 333-6572

(203) 790-5889


u Visit O 2nd Store

Purchase from Bethel Power or Park City Power and receive


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Shop the area's largest showrooms with America's #1 brands on display Professional service for all makes and models with the area's fastest service time

24 - Home & Garden

Nursery & Farm

103 Old Hawleyville Road Bethel, CT


The Newtown Bee - April 8, 2022

s Year ing 8 5 r Ove till Grow S and


TO: Mom & Dad

FROM: Your Kid .00 DATE: 2022 AMOUNT: $100 To be applied on purchase of merchandise at:


Gift & Garden 95 Stony Hill Road Bethel, CT

Gift Certificate

Hollandia Nursery AND Hollandia Gift & Garden 103 Old Hawleyville Road, Bethel, CT 203-743-0267 95 Stony Hill Road, Bethel, CT 203-792-0268

Hollandia Gift Certificates are always apppreciated

Complet e & Install Design ati Ser vices on

Come Visit our 21 acre Farm & Nursery in Bethel, CT. Complete Gardening supplies • Nursery Stock • Our 25 greenhouses are filled with beautiful plants. Trees • Shrubs • Top Soil • Sod • Grass Seed • weed • Grub Control • Perennials • Annuals • Hanging BasketsSupplies • Vegetables•• Bird Feeders Stock • Houses•• Trees • Complete Gardening Nursery Bird Seed • Statuary • Pottery • Gifts Top Soil • Compost • Mulch • Sod • Grass Seed & so much more!


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