Thursday, August 31, 2006

Fall Container Gardening

It was another beautiful day at the Fair. I was out there for 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 4 - today I was talking about fall container gardening. I was joined by Sophie from Minneapolis who helped me put together a beautiful container garden.

She filled the pot with decorative ornamental peppers (not edible) garden asters, purple flowering kale and a rust colored garden mum - perfect for fall. I know, I know - you don’t want to think about fall, but it is coming and I’m going to make the most of my favorite season of the year.

While she was working on planting the container I talked about some of the other plants that work great in containers during the fall. I’ll get that list put together next week and have it for you here.

If you are at the Fair on Friday stop by the KSTP building and say hello. I will be there for 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 4.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

At the Fair with Brad Sattin

It was a beautiful day at the Fair today. I was out there for 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 4 p.m. - talking about plants that are perfect for rain gardens. Here is a photo of myself with anchor Brad Sattin just seconds before going on the air. I’m not sure what was so funny.

Before the segment I spent some time walking around the fair checking out the Adopt-A-Garden program. This year there are 28 gardens around the Fair, mostly around the Agriculture/Horticulture Building. The Fair has had this program for a few years and I was amazed at how quickly these gardens have grown. When you are there, check them out.

Tomorrow (Thursday) at 10 a.m. there will be a special ceremony dedicating the Korean War Veteran’s Garden.

That’s it for today - if you are at the Fair tomorrow or Friday stop by the KSTP building and say hello. I will be there for EYEWITNESS NEWS at 4 p.m. each day.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rain Gardens

I mentioned that I was at the Echo Experience at the State Fair on Saturday, which is just down the street from the 4-H Building - which is another building I like to check out.

In addition to the rain garden that I have already talked about, you can see porous concrete and asphalt which allows water to soak through and then down into the ground instead of washing down into streets which ultimately ends up in our rivers and lakes.

Something else that I saw near the rain garden display is an underground chamber system that runoff water from solid surfaces (roofs, driveways, etc.) can run into. The water can then be used later to say water lawns, flowerbeds, etc. This is a great way to reuse water and keep it from polluting the lakes. These chambers can be connected to form any size - they could be say the size of a football field with grass growing on top it.

I’m getting a day off from the Fair, but will be back out Wednesday - Friday during 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 4 p.m. Stop by and say hello.

Enjoy the sunny day!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Blue Ribbon

Yesterday I was out at the Fair to watch my niece, Kelsey show her sheep. My scheduled segments were dropped on Friday due to the coverage of the tornadoes in Southern Minnesota. It was great fun to see her in the ring with her sheep, even when the sheep was being stubborn and didn’t want to move. A little push and it eventually started moving again. She got a blue ribbon which was great.

Today I was back at the Fair bright and early with meteorologist Rob Koch for the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Weekend Morning - 8:00 hour. We both were in the Echo Experience Building which is just north of the 4-H Building.

There is a lot to see in this building and it makes you look at and think about how we can do things that are better for the environment which in turn are ultimately better for all of us.

If you are there, check out the display on rain gardens it is a great way to filter out pollutants from the water before it gets to the streets which will help keep our rivers and lakes clean. For about a year, I have been trying to figure out how to incorporate one of these into my own yard

Make your day a good one - see you at the Fair.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Grand Opening

Yesterday I was on hand for the Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting of the new Miracle of Birth Center at the State Fair. Until a few years ago, this was known as the FFA Children’s Barnyard. I belonged to the FFA and spent a couple of State Fairs doing work at the Barnyard. It has always been one of if not the most popular destination at the Fair. For those of you that have been in the old barnyard you know that it was crowded, cramped and just darn hard to move around in.

The new home is large and spacious with plenty of room for all the State Fair visitors. It also has a state of the art ventilation system, cameras that allow more people to see the animals, etc. Check it out while at the Fair. I know firsthand that hundreds upon hundreds of volunteer hours went into making this new building a reality.

My appearance for today at the fair was canceled due to the need to cover yesterday’s storm damage in Southern Minnesota. I’ll be back out there Saturday morning bright and early for the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 8 a.m.

Make your weekend a good one.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Winning Pumpkin

The State Fair was humming like a hive of bees yesterday with folks setting up displays, finishing booths and entering various projects.

A photojournalist and I were on hand for the weigh in for the largest pumpkin contest. This was NO small task. First the entries came to the Agriculture/Horticulture Building. They were then transported to one of the animal barns where the large scales are located. This involved finding a scale that was not being used then waiting for semi trucks of animals to be unloaded so we could actually get to the scale, then waiting for a forklift to move the oversized pumpkins and finally transporting it back to the Ag/Hort Building where they will be put on display.

There were two entries that appeared to be the winners based on how big they looked and surprisingly, they both weighed EXACTLY the same once they were loaded on the heavy duty scale. Since both were sitting on large wood pallets with foam protecting them, they had to be unloaded and then the pallets they were sitting on were weighed. They weight of the pallet was subtracted and we finally had the actual weight of the pumpkin.

About two and half hours after starting, we had a winner. For the third year in a row, Bill Foss won this contest with a pumpkin that weighed 813.5 pounds - now how many pies could that pumpkin make? I’ll try to figure that out another day.

Make the most of your day!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Flash! Bang! Rumble!

Flash! Bang! Rumble!

That’s what it was like here in South Minneapolis last night. I don’t remember when I last jumped out of bed so fast to close windows. I’m not sure how much rain we got, since I forgot to put the rain gauge back out in the lawn after mowing a couple nights ago. We needed the rain and anything we get will help.

It’s Wednesday and off to the Fair I go. I know it doesn’t start until tomorrow. Today we will be putting together a few stories that will be airing during the run of the Fair.

So far I know that I will be out there this Friday for the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS at 4 and 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Weekend this Saturday. I should find out the rest of the schedule today.

My yard and garden fun (it’s not work) will have to wait until after Labor Day when the Fair is over. In the meantime, our cooler nights and moderate temperatures during the day make it perfect for planting. If you are looking to add a few perennials, plant trees or shrubs or get some grass seed down – now is an excellent time to get it done.

I’ll have more here tomorrow and nearly every day during the fair. Until then, have a good one.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ready for the Weekend

It’s Friday already - where did the week go?

A few miscellaneous things for the weekend.

This Sunday from 3-9 p.m. is the Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival at Como Park.

I’ve done a couple segments on this event over the years, plus I’ve attended it a few times and it is very cool. My 15 year old niece tells me that it is not cool to use the word "cool". The word "sweet" is what I should be using. So, this is one sweet event and worth checking out. Wow, I feel younger already.

This Saturday watch the new 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS WEEKEND from 8-9 a.m., I’ll be doing a few live segments from my yard during the hour. It’s been a few months since I was live - it will be good practice for the upcoming weeks.

Oh yeah - less then a week, it is State Fair time. I’ll admit it, I’m a State Fairaholic. (OK I know that is not a word - but play along anyway.) I love the Fair and have not missed it in at least 25 plus years. (I started going when I was really young) Later today I’ll find out when I will be out there doing segments for various 5 EYEWITNES NEWS shows. I’ll let you know when and where you might see me early next week. Make sure you say hello if and when you see me at the Fair - it is always fun to meet viewers.

During the course of the Fair, I will post things here more often, so check back frequently.

Until then, make your weekend a good one.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Revive Your Lawn

If your lawn didn’t fare so well during our long hot days now is the best time of year to put down grass seed. YES, now. This time of year is even better then spring. Why? The soil is warmer, the day and night temperatures are warmer and we tend not to have the huge temperature fluctuations. All of this combined helps the seed germinate and grow. Seeding now ensures that you will have a better looking lawn come spring.

Remember to buy the right type of grass seed for your conditions - sun or shade and put down a seed starting fertilizer at the same time that you seed. Keep the seeds/soil moist and you should see the grass germinating in 7-10 days.
I’ll be out tonight, putting down some grass seed on the slope in front of my house. I have to keep the lawn looking good for the neighbors across the street.

Have a good day.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Iris & Daylilies

Most perennials prefer to be transplanted, divided or dug and moved in the early spring. There are a couple of exceptions.

Iris and daylilies both can be divided and transplanted now. This is a great way to add more plants to your own yard or share some of your plants with others. Both daylilies and iris should be divided every 3-5 years. This helps increase the number of blooms that the plants will have.

Tonight, I will be out with Harley (the dog) digging up a few daylilies from the garden on the south side of the house and moving them to the back.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Containers and Planters

This past spring, when it was time to plant the pots and containers around my yard - some 40 plus, I mentioned that I was doing all of them in a white theme with lots of foliages mixed in.

As you can tell from the photos, the containers and planters have thrived. Even those plants that have no flowers, but unique textures and shapes in their foliages look great. You don’t have to use flowers to create a great look.

Most of these planters have some type of herb mixed in such as thyme, rosemary or oregano. Not only do those plants add the texture that I’m looking for, but with a few snips with a scissors, I have some great herbs to use in my cooking and grilling.

Enjoy your day.

Friday, August 4, 2006

Topsy Turvey

Last spring I mentioned the 'Topsy Turvey' technique as a way to grow tomatoes and that I was going to give this technique a try.

This system involves growing the tomatoes upside down. I planted three of these, hung them from large shepherd hooks pushed into the ground on the south side of my house in the full hot south sun. I can report that I would give this method two thumbs up.

I planted three types of tomatoes using this system - a cherry type, roma and a steak type. The cherry tomatoes are already ripening. The other two have large tomatoes on them that should be ripening soon. Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches with fresh from the garden tomatoes are not to far off.

Enjoy your day!

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

On Tuesday night the 70+ foot Linden tree that stood in my backyard fell to the ground. My best guess is that a combination of age, some decay, the dry conditions that weakened the roots and then the heavy rains caused it to fall.

Here are a couple of pictures taken 24 hours apart - one with the tree down and the other with it gone. In just one hour, four men hauled away what had taken 50 plus years to grow. It is amazing how it can be here one day and gone the next.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

It’s hard to believe that I escaped the heat of Minnesota and went to California where in Sacramento and Lake Tahoe it was cooler then here. I have two very good friends who live in Sacramento and have a cabin on Lake Tahoe. The record-breaking heat that we have been hearing about in California had lifted when I arrived last Thursday for my annual summertime visit. The temperatures (day and night) were cooler the entire time there then it was here.

Here is a picture of one of my favorite places to visit while in Lake Tahoe. It was taken from a narrow hiking path in the mountains overlooking Lake Tahoe I make the trek up the mountain and along this path every summer while there. It was in this very spot a few years ago that at 7:30 a.m. I came across a black bear and her two small cubs. Luckily black bears don’t attack humans and this mother and cubs wasted no time climbing the nearest trees.

As fast as they climbed the trees, I wasted no time going back down the mountain to the cabin, never reaching the small water reservoir at the end of the path that year.

While out there, I had a discussion with my former college roommate Mike about using native or lower maintenance plants that can survive the extremes of heat and cold. With the hot weather we have been experiencing, it may be a good time to look at some of those lower maintenance plants.

We also talked about the importance of mulching - wood chips and other mulches all help keep moisture in the soil resulting in the need for less watering. All of my perennials, trees and shrubs have a thick layer (4 plus inches) of cypress mulch around them. I like cypress mulch because it stays in place, breaks down slowly and does not attract insects. I add a bit to the top of each area every few years. It makes a big difference, resulting in less watering.

Make your day a good one and cross your fingers for some more rain during the next few days.