Monday, June 29, 2015

How to Keep Your Dog Out of Your Garden

How to Keep Your Dog Out of Your Garden

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
Is your pooch pawing your petunias? Here’s how to keep your dog out of your garden and away from your precious plants.
We want our dogs to eat well, but we don’t want them snacking on our heirloom vegetables and prized perennials. Nor do we want them digging up the daffodils.
How can you keep dogs from wrecking your garden?

Spray Nasty Odors

Your vegetable garden is a salad bar for your dog. To keep him away, spray plants with pungent white vinegar or apple bitter. Or plant marigolds between vegetable rows, which repel dogs and other backyard pests, such as Mexican bean beetles, aphids, squash bugs, and whiteflies.

However, don’t apply rabbit or deer repellents that contain coyote urine. Dogs love the smell of urine and will either roll in your sprayed plants or leave an odor of their own.

Sprinkle Yucky Tastes

Sprinkle powdered mustard or red pepper flakes around your plants. A few sniffs and licks of these unpleasant tastes will discourage your dog from returning to the area.

Fence Dogs In or Out

If you’ve got small dogs, a 16-inch fence border ($29 for 6 feet) will mark the perimeter of your garden and discourage them from trampling your seedlings. For large, spunky dogs, encase your vegetables in a chicken wire cage with a top enclosure, which fence out deer and rabbits, too.

Or, contain your dog in a fenced play area that’s roomy and filled with interesting toys and treats. However, if your dog likes burying things, don’t give him a bone; instead offer chews, such as rawhide or bully sticks, that’ll keep him occupied and his mind off burying.

Erect Prickly Barriers

Place pruned rose or holly branches around your garden or plants. The thorns and prickly leaves will discourage your dog from entering the restricted area.
Provide a Pooch Path
If your dog cruises through your garden but leaves the veggies alone, make him a path of his own. You can lay down mulch, or even place a spare piece of carpet along your pet's favorite route. You may have to alter your garden design a bit, but that's better than watching puppy crash through your flowers or zucchini.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"Agri-tainment" - What is it?


Agri-tainment, a combination of two words: agriculture and entertainment. It is used to describe the fun you can have while being in an agricultural environment ... say what? Fun on the farm ! You have probably seen local farmers who have opened up their fields or flocks to the public. Petting zoos, pick your own fruits and veggies, playgrounds, haunted houses and more. It is a way for farmers to increase their income, by charging fees to access the attractions or by selling other goods to visitors, such as refreshments, t-shirts or photos.
At the same time, you the visitor, get to learn "hands on" more about the farming business and livestock. Your kids will likely get a kick out of the fun, animals and the fresh air could tire them out, bonus! Start by looking in your local paper or online to locate a farm near you that offers "agri-tainment". Your support helps your local farmers keep their operations running and educates the next generation as well.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

8 Summer Steps for Healthy Living

8 Summer Steps for Healthy Living

Improve your health with steps so simple you'll barely notice the effort.
By         WebMD Feature        Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
In the warmer, longer, lazier days of summer, the living may not be easy, but your life probably feels less chaotic. Even adults tend to adopt a "school's out!" attitude in summer. That's why this is a perfect time to improve your health in a fashion so seasonally laid back you'll barely notice the effort.
To get you started, WebMD went to eight health experts in fields such as diet, fitnessstressvision, and oral health. We asked them this: If you could only suggest one simple change this season to boost personal health, what would it be? Here are their top eight tips.

1. Give Your Diet a Berry Boost

If you do one thing this summer to improve your diet, have a cup of mixed fresh berries -- blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries -- every day. They'll help you load up on antioxidants, which may help prevent damage to tissues and reduce the risks of age-related illnesses. Blueberries and blackberries are especially antioxidant-rich.
A big bonus: Berries are also tops in fiber, which helps keep cholesterollow and may even help prevent some cancers.

2. Get Dirty -- and Stress Less

To improve your stress level, plant a small garden, cultivate a flower box, or if space is really limited, plant a few flower pots -- indoors or out.
Just putting your hands in soil is "grounding." And when life feels like you're moving so fast your feet are barely touching the stuff, being mentally grounded can help relieve physical and mental stress.

3. Floss Daily

You know you need to, now it's time to start: floss every single day. Do it at the beach (in a secluded spot), while reading on your patio, or when watching TV -- and the task will breeze by.
Flossing reduces oral bacteria, which improves overall body health, and if oral bacteria is low, your body has more resources to fight bacteria elsewhere. Floss daily and you're doing better than at least 85% of people.

4. Get Outside to Exercise

Pick one outdoor activity -- going on a hike, taking a nature walk, playing games such as tag with your kids, cycling, roller blading, or swimming -- to shed that cooped-up feeling of gym workouts.
And remember, the family that plays together not only gets fit together -- it's also a great way to create bonding time.

5. Be Good to Your Eyes

To protect your vision at work and at play, wear protective eyewear. When outdoors, wear sunglasses that block at least 99% of ultraviolet A and B rays. Sunglasses can help prevent cataracts, as well as wrinklesaround the eyes.
And when playing sports or doing tasks such as mowing the lawn, wear protective eyewear. Ask your eye doctor about the best type; some are sport-specific.

6. Vacation Time!

Improve your heart health: take advantage of summer's slower schedule by using your vacation time to unwind.
Vacations have multiple benefits: They can help lower your blood pressureheart rate, and stress hormones such as cortisol, which contributes to a widening waist and an increased risk of heart disease.

7. Alcohol: Go Lite

Summer's a great time to skip drinks with hard alcohol and choose a light, chilled alcoholic beverage (unless you are pregnant or should not drink for health or other reasons).
A sangria (table wine diluted with juice), a cold beer, or a wine spritzer are all refreshing but light. In moderation -- defined as one to two drinks daily -- alcohol can protect against heart disease.

8. Sleep Well

Resist the urge to stay up later during long summer days. Instead pay attention to good sleep hygiene by keeping the same bedtime and wake-up schedule and not drinking alcohol within three hours of bedtime.
It's also a good idea to avoid naps during the day unless you take them every day at the same time, for the same amount of time.
There they are: Eight super simple ways to boost your health this summer. Try one or try them all. They're so easy you won't even know they're -- shhhh -- good for you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Mulching - How Much is Enough?

How to Mulch

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon   (
Anyone can learn how to mulch and prolong the life of their landscaping. Here’s how.
Mulching your garden is like flossing your teeth -- preventative, tedious, and vital to health. Luckily, you don’t have to mulch after every meal.
But you should blanket your garden beds at least twice a year -- in early spring and late fall -- to retain moisture and keep down weeds. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to mulch correctly.
How Much is Enough?
If you’re a numbers geek, try this method:
To determine how much mulch you’ll need, multiply the length and width of your garden space (in feet) by the mulch height (about 3 inches, or a quarter of a foot) to get total cubic feet.
Bagged mulch is sold by the cubic foot. To figure the number of bags, divide total cubic feet by the number of cubic feet in each bag.
Bulk mulch is sold by the yard. To figure the number of yards, divide the total cubic feet by
27 (there are 27 cubic feet to 1 cubic yard).
If all that makes you want to pull out your hair, just use one of these easy mulch calculators:
  • Mulch Calculator helps you determine how many bags of mulch you need for your project.
  • Colorbiotics Mulch Tool (iPhone, iPad: free): Not only calculates how many cubic yards or bags of mulch you need, it also helps you pick the mulch color that looks best around your house.
  • Material Calculator (Droid: $1.99): Calculates how much mulch -- and sand, gravel, stone dust, topsoil -- you need, and converts from English to metric units. 
Bags or Bulk?

It depends on what’s more valuable to you -- time or money.
If you want to save money, then bulk is the way to go. In Virginia, for instance, shredded hardwood mulch in bags costs about $50 per cubic yard; bulk is $30 per cubic yard -- about a 40% savings.
Also, delivering bulk mulch, where trucks just dump and run, is about 25% less expensive than delivering bags, which someone has to drag and stack.
If you want to save time, mulch by the bag is for you.
  • Bags are easy to carry to and spread on garden beds. Just rip and dump.
  • Extra bags are easily stacked and stored.
  • You don’t have to sweep up after a bag delivery; you will after a bulk delivery.
Spreading the Wealth
Spreading mulch isn’t a NASA launch: Precision is not required, says Kevin Warhurst of Merrifield Garden Center in Virginia. But you must follow a few guidelines.
  • Pile on 2 to 4 inches of mulch. If you mulch regularly, and several inches have built up, add only 1 inch as top dressing, or remove all mulch, and start fresh. Too much mulch can trap moisture and cause rot, or prevent water from reaching roots.
  • Never pile mulch next to a tree or shrub trunk, which can cause wood rot and foster insect and fungus problems. 
  • To get rid of weeds, put down a pre-emergent herbicide, newspaper, or landscaping paper before mulching. 
  • Spread mulch by hand, which gives beds a neat and finished look. If you must use a tool, use a pitchfork, good for moving mulch into and out of the wheelbarrow. Move the tool side to side to even out mulch. Or, use the back of a steel rake to smooth out the mulch. (Tip: Use a snow shovel to move bulk mulch from pile to wheelbarrow.)
  • Never leave mulch on lower branches and leaves, a telltale sign of careless work.
Want Free Mulch?
Learn how to mulch leaves that overwinter on your lawn and pile up during fall. Leaves make an excellent garden mulch, or rig your mower for mulching and chew them up to feed your lawn.