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BY DESIGN Experts turn cottage into showhouse, Page 6





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Cultural practices reduce tomato diseases Rotating crops, mulching may be helpful

MARK YOUR CALENDAR The Shawnee County Extension Master Gardeners will present “Spring Lawn Care” at 7 p.m. March 22 at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 S.W. 10th Ave. For more information, call (785) 232-0062 or visit master-gardener.

Ariel Whitely-Noll


fter proper variety selection and in the absence of a resistant variety (see last week’s column), cultural practices are crucial to avoiding tomato diseases. Although these control methods are separated by disease, many issues can be alleviated by following the same practices. Septoria leaf spot and early blight Sanitation measures in the fall reduce the amount of inoculum available for infection the following year. In the fall, deep-plow tomato plots to bury tomato debris, or remove and destroy dead plants. Avoid planting tomatoes in the same area of the garden year after year. Start the year with clean, healthy seeds or transplants. Avoid overhead irrigation to reduce humidity and leaf wetness. To improve airflow, use staking and appropriate plant spacing. To prevent rain splash, use mulch. Avoid composting diseased plant material. Anthracnose Several cultural practices help reduce the incidence of anthracnose. Mulching around tomato plants prevents splashing of spores from the soil onto the fruits. Staking tomatoes

Gardeners can take action to avoid diseases that can affect tomato plants and their fruit. Rotating plants, mulching and proper watering techniques may help. [METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION]

increases air movement and decreases the likelihood of favorable environmental conditions for infection. Avoid overhead watering and remove infected or rotting fruits from the plant. Bacterial speck and spot Control measures for these two diseases are similar. Removing plant debris in the fall, cultivation of weeds, rotation and the use of clean (noninfested) seed and transplants reduce the severity of or prevent these diseases. To reduce humidity and leaf wetness, avoid overhead irrigation. Use staking and appropriate plant spacing to improve airflow. Use mulch to prevent rain splash. Don’t work in the tomato planting area when plants are wet. Bacterial canker The most important means of controlling bacterial canker is using clean seed from a reputable firm and transplanting into disease-free soil. If you have an outbreak of bacterial canker, don’t plant tomatoes or other

crops in the tomato family — peppers, eggplant, potatoes — into that bed for at least three years. Avoid overhead irrigation, which spreads bacteria and allows infection to occur. Avoid working with plants under wet conditions. Sanitize tools such as pruning shears. Use mulch to prevent rain splash. Blossom-end rot Providing even and adequate soil moisture, especially during fruit set, can reduce the incidence of blossom-end rot. For uniform soil moisture, mulch and use a balanced irrigation program. Avoid over-fertilization of the plant with nitrogen, especially if you're using an ammonia formulation. Leaf roll The condition is temporary, and the plant will recover on its own. To prevent leaf roll, keep soil evenly moist — not too wet, not too dry — and avoid cultivation that damages roots. Growth cracks Provide even water and

balanced nutrition to avoid overly lush growth. Limit fruit exposure to sunlight by managing foliar diseases and through proper staking or trellising. Fusarium and verticillium wilt Rotating from tomatoes four to five years to non-hosts may help reduce fungal population levels in the soil, but it won’t completely control these diseases. Both organisms can survive for a long time in the soil, and verticillium has a wide host range. Rotate to cereal crops, if possible, and control weeds, which might be hosts. Remove and destroy diseased plant tissue at the end of the season. Use clean stakes, cages and other items that come in contact with soil and debris. Appropriate fertility and irrigation can help maintain plant vigor and suppress disease. Root knot Root knot may be prevented by avoiding the introduction of the pathogen into the garden or field. Carefully check and discard any transplants showing swelling or galling of the roots. Never introduce soil into the garden from areas where

root knot is known to be a problem. Rotation periods of three to five years with corn or other non-host plants will reduce nematode populations in the soil. Viral disease Virus diseases can’t be controlled once the plant is infected. Therefore, every effort should be made to prevent introduction of virus diseases into the garden. Sanitation is key for prevention of all virus diseases. Infected plants should be removed immediately to prevent spread of the pathogens. Perennial weeds, which may serve as alternate hosts, should be controlled in and adjacent to the garden. The use of tobacco products during cultural practices should be avoided to prevent inoculation of plants with the tobacco mosaic virus. People who use tobacco or work with infected plant material should wash their hands thoroughly in soapy water before handling tomato plants. Control of insects, especially aphids and thrips, will help reduce the likelihood of cucumber mosaic and spotted wilt. Although sprays are available for some of these issues, they should always be a last resort. Starting with resistant varieties and practicing all of these control methods are a solid foundation for healthy plants. If you’re still experiencing disease issues, contact the Shawnee County Extension Office at 1740 S.W. Western Ave. or (785) 232-0062 for further control methods. Ariel Whitely-Noll is the horticulture agent for Shawnee County Research and Extension. She can be reached at

The Topeka Capital-Journal  |  Saturday, March 10, 2018  3

Extension recommends vegetables best for Kansas Plants are tested for state’s growing conditions By Randall Kowalik K-State Research and Extension

OLATHE — K-State Research and Extension has updated its recommendations of vegetable varieties that have consistently been proven to be hearty and resistant to drought and disease, while producing good amounts of fruit. Now is the time for planning and preparation for home gardeners. Gardening catalogs See VEGETABLES, 4

If you are looking for vegetables that thrive in Kansas and produce the best yields, check out the list of recommended varieties compiled by K-State Research and Extension. The plants have been tested in many of the research farms across the state. [SUBMITTED BY K-STATE RESEARCH AND EXTENSION]

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arrive in mailboxes, while email accounts are filled with special offers from online retailers. “I have so much admiration for the copywriters that write those three- or foursentence descriptions found in gardening catalogs,” said Dennis Patton, horticultural agent for K-State Research and Extension’s Johnson County office. “Everything's wonderful, juicy, flavorful, ‘performs better than the next.’” “You never pick up a garden catalog and read ‘This variety of tomato is a dog. It won’t produce.’” That’s not to throw shade on seed catalogs — the companies couldn’t stay in business very long if they consistently sold poor products. It’s not that a new variety of tomato is a risk

because it may not produce; the bigger question is, “Where will it grow best?” “Kansas has ever-changing weather patterns and conditions,” Patton said. “We may start the day as hot or cold or wet or dry, and all that can change within a matter of 24 or 48 hours.” Vegetable and plant varieties recommended by K-State Research and Extension have been tested in many of the research farms scattered across the state. “These are varieties that we know, through repeated plantings, consistently perform well year in and year out. That’s a solid first step on the road to success.” In addition to visiting an Extension office to get a list of these vegetable varieties, there are some electronic options. The official list of Recommended Vegetable Varieties (bookstore.

pdf) has been maintained for many years and was updated in October 2017. The Horticulture Information Center maintains a list of recommended plants ( extension/info-center/ recommended-plants/) that covers vegetables, fruits, ornamentals, trees and more. If you want an in-depth look at a particular vegetable, start with the list of available vegetable publications at hnr.k-state. edu/extension/publications/vegetables.html. Patton said there’s no reason to ignore seed catalogs completely. “Make the K-State varieties the backbone of your garden, and maybe save space for one or two new things that interest you,” he said. “There are so many unique, unusual fruits and vegetables out there — go ahead and put something new in, add a little bit of variety.”

Prepare before planting K-State Research and Extension

K-State Research and Extension horticulturist Dennis Patton says there are three things gardeners can do right now that could make a difference later in the year. Move things around Most of us have heard of the effectiveness of rotating crops, or planting different things in different areas every year. “It's always a good idea to try to move those crops about so you're not always putting tomatoes in the same spot year after year, or peppers, or potatoes, because those crops do pull out different nutrients from the soil,” Patton said. “You can also potentially increase insects and diseases going back to the same spot.” Too much of a good thing “Plant what your family's

going to eat and going to enjoy. If they’re not crazy about okra, don't plant okra, no matter how well it grows,” Patton said. Think about how much of a fresh vegetable your family will likely eat, and add a few more plants if you intend to can or freeze some for later. Get the dirt on what’s happening with soils While the soil is still dormant, it’s a good time to take a soil sample and deliver it to your local Extension office. Your sample will be sent to the labs at Kansas State University, and you’ll get a report detailing what your soil has and, more importantly, what it needs. “Before you put that first seed in the ground this spring, you'll already know if there's any recommendations for fertilizer, pH adjustments that need to be made,” he said. “A soil test will help you hit the ground running for a wonderful season.”

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Designers turn cottage into showhouse Fundraiser to benefit Child Care Aware By Jan Biles

A few weeks ago, designer Monica Parsel walked through the four-bedroom house in the Westboro neighborhood designated to be featured during this year’s Designers’ Showhouse Tour. By the time she had returned to her job at Winston Brown Construction and told the construction company’s owner, Jake Brown, about the 3,761-square-foot, cottage-like house, Parsel had already envisioned the makeover she would give to some of its rooms. “I was immediately drawn to the space, but I was conflicted because of the time involved,” she said, explaining she has a full schedule of design and sales duties at Winston Brown. “But it’s hard not to fall in love with this cottage. It’s hard to stay away from places in Westboro.” With the support of Winston Brown, Parsel will be among the 13 home and landscape designers who will be volunteering their time and talents to renovate the cottage for the annual tour. She will be focusing on the kitchen, dining room and sunroom. “It’s such a compliment that they asked me to be involved,” said Parsel, who has volunteered as a designer for three previous tours. The 38th Designers’ Showhouse Tour will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 21 through May 13, at

1551 S.W. Westover Road. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.                                               The tour is a fundraiser for Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas, which supports the development and learning of young children by offering programs and services that improve the quality and accessibility of child care for working families. The home tour is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year. In the past, Child Care Aware selected a home in the community and asked the homeowners to move out while a team of designers transformed the house. This year, the Designers’ Showhouse board decided to purchase a fixer-upper and renovate Monica Parsel, a designer at Winston Brown Construction, is it from top to bottom. making over the kitchen, dining room and sunroom of this year’s After the fundraisDesigners’ Showhouse. Parsel’s design, which will transition the ing tours, the house will sunroom into a hearth room, will incorporate the cottage-like look be put on the market. All of the home with a more industrial, chic feel. [JAN BILES/THE CAPITALmoney from the sale, tours JOURNAL] and sponsorships will go to Child Care Aware. Going with the flow Parsel’s vision for the kitchen, dining room and sunroom was to decompartmentalize the rooms to create a more connected, casual and open family space. The kitchen was gutted, with plaster walls removed so old electrical wiring could be replaced. The room will feature a gas range with customized rustic hood, large single sink, dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, pantries for storage and a movable wooden island, as well as bench seating and storage off the door opening to a breezeway. The kitchen walls will See COTTAGE, 7

The Designers’ Showhouse, 1551 S.W. Westover Road, will be open for tours April 21 through May 13. Proceeds will benefit Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas, which supports the development and learning of young children by offering programs and services that improve the quality and accessibility of child care for working families. [JAN BILES/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL]

DESIGNERS’ SHOWHOUSE SPRING TOUR What: A fundraiser for Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas that features a 1948 home that has been given a makeover by local designers When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 21-May 13. Guided group tours are available on Mondays, by reservation only. Where: 1551 S.W. Westover Road Tickets: $10 in advance, $12 at the door Information, tickets and group tour reservations: Call Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas at (785) 357-5171.

MAKEOVER MASTERS Here is a list of the designers who are working on this year’s Designers’ Showhouse, a fundraiser for Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas. • Kitchen, dining room and sunroom: Monica Parsel, Winston Brown Construction • Main-floor powder room: Sarah Kellogg, Kellogg Interiors • Living room: Jan Davis and Brandi Whisler, Carpet One Floor & Home • Study: Carolyn Cox, The Open Window • Master suite: Megan Rahmeier, McPherson Contractors Inc. • Guest suite: Michelle Butler, Ms. B Designs • Second-floor powder room and oasis room: Megan Moss, Megan Moss Designs • Second-floor south bedroom: Carolyn Ward •Jack-and-Jill bath: Lorrie Dickey, Lowe’s Home Improvement • Second-floor northwest bedroom: Caroline Bivens, CB Designs • Transition spaces: Leslie Hunsicker, Leslie Hunsicker Interiors • Landscaping: Schendel Lawn & Landscape

The Topeka Capital-Journal  |  Saturday, March 10, 2018  7

Vacuum system sucks dirt from home Installation can be done with existing walls By Paul F.P. Pogue Angie’s List

If you’ve ever hauled a bulky vacuum from room to room and silently cursed as you ran out of cord length just short of finishing a hallway, a central vacuum system could solve your problems and ease some of that back strain. Much like a central heating, ventilation and air-conditioning unit, a central vacuum system runs pipes throughout the home’s interior walls. Those pipes connect to a main vacuum and power unit, typically in a garage or basement. Suction ports, which are nearly as unobtrusive as electrical outlets, are placed throughout the home. This allows you to connect a hose directly to the wall in any room of the house, flick a switch, vacuum the room and be done. Just detach the hose and move on to the next

COTTAGE From Page 6

be in soft colors to create a “light and airy” feel, with countertops in darker tones, Parsel said. The color of the cabinets, which will run the full height of the room, will match the trim. “There will be some industrial things to balance off the cottage feel, to create a balance between the feminine and masculine,” she said. The informal dining room features built-in cabinetry along its south wall, which Parsel will paint to match the kitchen cabinets. “It would be expensive to replicate, and it adds to the

A central vacuum system offers a quieter, more convenient and more powerful way to keep your home clean. [DREAMSTIME/TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE]

room to keep vacuuming. What are the benefits of a central vacuum? A central vacuum system comes with numerous benefits. The main power unit’s location makes vacuuming quieter and less disruptive — the noise won’t be as bothersome to

charm of the house,” she said. Sconces that match the one over the kitchen sink will be installed on the cabinetry. Its middle doors will be removed to reveal custombuilt pull-out drawers. Because of limited wall space, the dining room will be painted a darker tone, and artwork will hang from its molding. Parsel plans to transform the sunroom into a hearth room that showcases its brick fireplace. “This space has a lot of sweet character, so it’s important that it stays,” she said. Parsel will “tone down” the redness of the brick with a plaster treatment and install a box-beam mantel — echoing the stove hood in the

your pets and children. It’s also more powerful than a portable vacuum, even though you no longer have to haul a heavy unit around the house. Traditional vacuums recycle the suctioned air right out of the main unit and back into the room, but a central vacuum draws the dirt, air and particles all the

kitchen — to create a warm space with a casual, rustic feel. Carpet throughout the three rooms will be replaced with hardwood floors. Bridging rooms Parsel’s industrial and chic look for the kitchen, dining room and hearth room inspired, in part, the direction Jan Davis and Brandi Whisler chose to go with their redo of the home’s 17-by18-foot sunken living room. Davis has worked on 27 Designers’ Showhouses since 1988, while Whisler has helped with four. Both are designers at Carpet One Floor & Home. The living room features a large fireplace and a large window that is

way down to the central unit. Then, it exhausts air outside like a dryer vent. Because traditional vacuum systems kick up air and stir up debris when they recirculate the air, they can cause big problems for those who suffer from allergies or asthma. But a central vacuum system sucks all of it out of the home. You can purchase a variety of add-ons to improve the system, such as retractable hoses that slide right back into the walls, or baseboard suction, which allows you to sweep dirt to the baseboard and suck the dirt away with the flip of a switch. How much will a central vacuum system cost? You’ll be investing about $1,500 up front for a central vacuum system, and that goes up with installation or additional features. On the positive side, you’ll never need to buy a vacuum again. A central

the first thing visitors see when they walk through the home’s front door. “Brandi had a great idea for the fireplace, because it’s off-center in the room,” Davis said. The designers will install a hexagonal-shaped, marblelooking tile from the floor to the ceiling around the fireplace. The tile then will extend in a “free fall” on the left side the fireplace, from the mantle to the floor. Hunter Douglas Silhouette ClearView shadings, with PowerView remote control and a separate sheer back panel to diffuse light, will be installed on the window. The color scheme will lean heavily on grays and golds. Black furniture pieces

vacuum system boasts a lifespan of about 40 years. You also won’t be constantly replacing filters or emptying debris as with a standard vacuum. The unit’s larger reservoir means you’ll only need to empty the unit a few times a year. You don’t need to have new construction to install a central vacuum. A professional installer can retrofit it into your wall with minimal cutouts and fuss. Installers don’t require a license, but in addition to checking their references, ask your installer if they have proof of training from the product manufacturers and/or certification on installation of central systems from the Vacuum Dealers Trade Association. A central vacuum can add resale value to your home. What’s more, it makes an interesting conversation piece that might help your home stand out from others when you’re showing it.

borrowed from Home At Last and Warehouse 414 will add depth to the room, while unique handrails by Muddy Creek Iron Works will be installed to give more definition to the room’s two levels. Whisler said the design community in Topeka is “close-knit,” and the Designers’ Showhouse is “an opportunity for two months to see your friends almost every day.” They also believe the commitment required to participate in the fundraising showhouse for Child Care Aware is well worth the effort. “The cause is so good,” Davis said. Contact niche editor Jan Biles at (785) 295-1292.

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1950s home transitions to cozy country cottage Family mementos incorporated into design By Mary Carol Garrity Tribune News Service

Everyone needs a few “happy places” — spots where they can go to escape from it all and refill their hearts. One of my friend Nancy's happy places is her cozy cottage, with its snug-asa-bug-in-a-rug rooms that look out over a placid little lake. Lucky me. Nancy's cottage just happens to be three doors down from mine, which makes me mighty happy, too. When husband Dan and I first got to work renovating our lake cottage, Nancy was intrigued. She and her

husband, Don, live in a small town in rural Missouri. But they were longing for a small house in Kansas City, where they could come for the weekend, enjoy the arts and entertainment venues they love, welcome their children and grandchildren, and fish. Don had visions of long sunny days fishing off the deck of their pontoon, without a care in the world. When the fixer-upper down the street came on the market, I gave Nancy a jingle to see if she was interested. The 1952 home needed lots of work, and even more imagination, to turn it into the English country cottage Nancy envisioned. I'm so thrilled Nancy asked me to be a part of the fun. Dan and I learned a lot when we redid our cottage, so I had

more than a few cautionary tales to share when they started working on the living room of the cottage. Nancy wanted the living room to feel peaceful and welcoming, like the cottages she fell in love with on her vacations to the Cotswolds in England. The soft, vintage-inspired floral fabric conveyed the mood perfectly, so she decided to wash all her furniture in it. Echoing the same fabric on each piece of furniture made the small seating area feel more spacious. The room reminds me of the movie sets from some of my favorite Nancy Meyers films, like “The Holiday.” Nancy had lots and lots of lovely family pieces just See HOME, 10

This small 1952 home in Kansas City needed lots of work, and even more imagination, to turn it into the English country cottage its owners had envisioned. The soft, vintage-inspired floral fabric used on the furniture helps create a peaceful and welcoming mood. [MARY CAROL GARRITY/TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE]

Prequalifying for a loan key to home-buying goal Application process takes only a few hours

loan, the application process and the costs involved.

By Jan Biles

What does prequalifying for a home loan mean? Madl: To prequalify means

Editor’s note: This is the final story in a four-part series about real estate issues. Other stories in the series can be found at If you’re looking to purchase a new abode, prequalifying for a home loan can make the process go a little smoother — and maybe get the keys in your hand a little quicker. Andrew Madl, vice president-Lawrence market at Mid-America Bank, recently answered questions about prequalifying for a home

that we (bank officials) have spoken with the borrower and reviewed their entire financial picture, including analyzing income, current debt, assets, etc. Once we know their current financial status, we find a loan product that best fits their needs.

Why is it important to prequalify for a home loan? What advantage is there in doing that? Madl: It is important to

get prequalified for many reasons, a few being: • The borrower will know

what type and size of loan they qualify for, which helps them know what type and size of home to shop for. • It helps the Realtor know what price range and type of home to show them. • In this market, with homes selling quickly, it is helpful to have a pre-approval letter in hand, so when the right home comes along, the buyer is prepared and ready to make an offer at that moment. What are the steps in order to prequalify for a home loan? Madl: First, a borrower must

complete a loan application. This can be done in person, over the phone or (in an) email. The application allows us to analyze the income, assets and current debt. Then, we sit

down and review the process with the potential borrower and go over the whole process. Who can assist a person who wants to seek a prequalifying loan? Who can provide guidance? Madl: Any one of our loan

officers would be glad to help.

Is there a cost involved? If so, how much? Madl: There is no cost

to getting pre-approved. However, once the borrower and lender agree on the terms and a contract has been signed to purchase a home, the borrower will have the closing cost, pre-paids and down payment due at closing. We go over all of this in the intro/application meeting.

How long does it take to learn if you’ve successfully prequalified for a loan? Madl: We can com-

plete this process within a few hours.

Is there other information that is important to know about prequalifying for a home loan? Madl: The borrower should

be prepared to provide and discuss the following, when applicable: tax returns, W-2s, retirement account statements, current debt obligations, pay stubs, etc. Usually, most borrowers know an estimate on where each account is at, so if doing a phone call, it is easy. Contact niche editor Jan Biles at (785) 295-1292.

The Topeka Capital-Journal  |  Saturday, March 10, 2018  9


Workshops focus on native plant gardening


RSVP to take part in foundation’s 4-part series

A blooming chance

The Capital-Journal

If your thumb is more brown than green, you might have some trouble getting your flower garden started. The Better Homes & Gardens website provides this list of annuals that can be grown easily from seeds: • Marigold • Bachelor’s button • Castor bean • Cleome • Cosmos • Larkspur • Morning glory • Moss rose • Nasturtium • Sunflower • Zinnia Source:

The Grassland Heritage Foundation is kicking off its four-part Native Plant Gardening Workshop Series on March 15 at the Carnegie Building, 200 W. 9th in Lawrence. The series focuses on the benefits of and methods for gardening with native plants. The series includes presentations, native garden tours, plant sales and online and print resources. “Native Plant Gardening Basics,” the first workshop in the series, will feature prairie ecologist Courtney Masterson, who will talk about aspects of starting and enlarging native gardens, including site assessment and selection, purchasing and

planting. The program starts at 7 p.m. “Landscaping with Native Plants,” at 7 p.m. April 10 in the Carnegie Building, will feature Patti Ragsdale, owner of Happy Apple’s Farm. Ragsdale became fascinated with native plants while studying wildlife management at the University of Missouri. She has been growing, selling and planting display gardens since 2014. Subsequent workshops will include garden tours at Happy Apple’s Farm and the KU Medicinal Plant Research Garden, as well as additional gardening programs. To RSVP for the workshops or for more information, email More information can be found at the Grassland Heritage Foundation website, grasslandheritage. org, or its Facebook page.

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HOME From Page 8

sitting in her basement, ready to use in the cottage, including an antique desk that belonged to Don's grandfather, who was a stonemason. The trout hanging over the desk was the first fish Don caught. When he was just 9, Don made the model boat, which sits on top of the desk. His mother sewed the sails for him. It's still seaworthy: Don and the grandkids have taken it for a spin on the lake.

When they first purchased the cottage, Nancy was down on the dock with her granddaughter, Cora. A gaggle of geese waddled about nearby, and Nancy knew it was a fortuitous moment. So she named the cottage Little Goose. The paint is barely dry in the newly renovated cottage, but this family has already begun to fill it with memories. I'm so glad some of them include me, too. This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at She can be reached at

An antique desk in the lake cottage displays a model boat and other mementos treasured by its owners. [MARY CAROL GARRITY/TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE]

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At Home Living 031018  
At Home Living 031018