Saturday, April 26, 2008

Books That Inspire

As much as I love everything Martha, I am known to look and learn from other publications. I have literally hundreds of books on design and gardening. The Homestyle Book Club loves me. Within the hundreds of books that line my shelves and are stacked on the floor, I have books on design and color theory, design history, textbooks on design, and reference books galore on plants and gardening. I also have more whimsical books like classic home remedies from the 50's. My taste in reading material is varied but some books I return to time and time again. The books I look to most are educational but most of all they inspire my own creativity. These are just a few. I'll be sharing more in future posts.


"A Way to Garden" by Margaret Roach (former garden editor and editorial director of Martha Stewart Living) is a classic volume that any and every gardener should have in their home library. "A Way to Garden" takes a poetic look at all the seasons in the garden, from birth to death. It's an incredible journey into the world of gardening.

"The Outdoor Living Room" by Martha Baker, sparks creativity when looking at design and elements of design for the outdoor living space. From structures to textures, "The Outdoor Living Room" is instructional while being inspirational.


"Pottery Barn Home" is a large coffee table book that you want to look through for hours. With classic Pottery Barn style, it features rooms of inspiration all through the house to spark your own creativity. This is a must have for anyone with an interest in home decorating and design.

One of my favorite HGTV television shows is "Divine Design." I love the design style of host Candice Olson. This book, "Candice Olson on Design" features many of the rooms from the popular television show. Her sense of color, her ability to place just the right amount of accessories in a room, and her ability to mix textures always keeps me coming back for more.

Nate Berkus, the 'cutie pie' designer made famous by Oprah, put his rules on decorating to print in this book "Nate Berkus, Home Rules." While not an in depth look at decorating or design theory, Nate feeds that desire for more modern decorating when the mood strikes. With similar design style to Candice Olson, Nate takes his readers through the entire house with great designs that can be incorporated into most any home. Besides, he is adorable.

One of my favorite books from the editors of Martha Stewart Living is "Simple Home Solutions." This book contains so many 'good things' and great ideas in one easy volume. I've turned to this book time and time again when I'm saying to myself, "what would Martha do?"

Another book in the Pottery Barn decorating series is "Pottery Barn Work Spaces." I'm always looking for the ultimate in functional home office design and this book has given me many great ideas. And, wouldn't you know it.. all materials are available at.... Pottery Barn! Imagine that.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Claudine!

I've never known a Princess before - that is, until I met Claudine!

My favorite Princess celebrates her birthday on Saturday. So far, her week long celebration has been fit for not only a Princess, but certainly fit for a Queen!

Claudine is one of those people you're grateful for. She's no-nonsense, 'real,' and shoots straight from the hip. You always know what she's thinking, because she's not afraid to tell you! I appreciate that quality! More so, Claudine is a loving soul. She truly cares about those she loves. She's generous and kind with a willingness to provide comfort when it's needed.

She is a princess, however! With a castle of glitter, cake stands, and dishes, Princess Claudine loves the good things in life. (nothing wrong with that!) She's a "June Cleaver" of the 21st century always making sure that her home is comfortable, (and well decorated for any holiday!), she gives her all to her work, and her husband has a delicious home cooked dinner nearly every night of the week. (how many husbands can lay claim to that?!) She is simply priceless.

Happy Birthday, Claudine!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

New Martha Special on Fine Living

Okay Martha friends, mark your calendars for another special from Martha Stewart Living: "Martha Stewart's Outdoor Living" will air on Saturdays beginning May 17 on the Fine Living cable network.

Fine Living, which airs the daily "Martha Stewart Show" on a day delay, has featured several holiday specials in the past year; Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Each special ran for several consecutive Saturdays and typically aired at 2pm. While exact air times are not yet available keep your eye on your channel guide as May draws closer!

Another special, "Martha Stewart's Cookies" has been airing at various times on the Style Network. This special is a companion to the New York Times Bestseller of the same title. Check your local listings for air times or check .

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Is A Network In The Works?

Could Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia be looking at a future Martha cable channel? It seems as though they are exploring the feasibility.

Recently on , three survey links popped up under the homepage television section. The surveys looked to gain insight on other cooking personalities, Martha as a trusted expert in the lifestyle category, and a general survey on lifestyle television. One of the last questions on each survey asked "if" Martha Stewart had her own network would you be likely to watch. Hmmmm... sounds like some exploration to me!

It's a great question. What would you do? Do you think a Martha Stewart Lifestyle channel would be successful? Would you tune in to a Martha Stewart channel? If you were heading up programming, what shows would you line up?

Given the core content areas of MSLO I think a network would be a logical choice as part of the Omnimedia concept. There would be a near endless variety of programming that would cover all aspects of living. Hey.. if Oprah can start her own network, why can't Martha? If Martha Stewart Living Radio is any indication of potential success, a network will soon be born! I think this is something to keep an eye on!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday Fun

The weather decided to cooperate (no rain) and the temperatures were warm and wonderful so I decided to do a bit of plant shopping and a bit of work around the yard.

While I know better than to purchase tender annuals in April, I couldn't resist this new petunia called a "lemon zest" petunia. It's a 'wave' variety and the color is amazing! People were snatching them up left and right at the nursery, so I thought I would purchase one before they were all gone! I will have to watch the weather closely to make sure this one doesn't bite the dust should we get a frost or freeze.

Next up were some common Pansies. These will tolerate the cooler nights, so I feel confident these will give me some 'color' until it's safe for other annuals. I bought quite a few to fill several planters.

A new Rosemary plant was in order. The plants at the nursery are grown in larger peat pots, so there's little waste and plastic pots aren't filling our landfills. I love that idea! Now, to find just he right pot for it! From the garden, my peonies are starting to grow! (the darker purple-ish growth you see) They are loving the warmer weather. These are the most incredible pink peonies ever!

Lastly, this bit-o-wimsy... This banner hangs near my potting bench on a fence. I've had this for years... and it's been outside for the last three years, still looking pretty good! I know it's silly, but she is, after all, my inspiration to do 'good things' in the garden!

And yes, in case anyone noticed, the fence is Bedford Grey. *wink*

Good Morning Sunshine

I've always been an early riser. For me, there is nothing better than the still of the early morning and the first glimpse of the sun as it begins to light the day.

As the sun starts its slow journey for the day the birds start their morning songs beckoning us to wake up and enjoy the day. I'm fortunate enough to have a farmer nearby with several Roosters who crow out their morning greeting. Natures alarm clock.

It's not uncommon to find me on a Saturday or Sunday morning enjoying the morning sunrise with a good cup of coffee. As I gaze to the east, watching the sky turn a beautiful array of colors it prompts me to pause for a moment to be 'in' the moment. There's not a more beautiful moment to be in. Good morning sunshine. Rise and shine.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Hate Garden Ornaments

I will not deny it... I am a garden snob. I, with every ounce of my being, hate garden ornaments or other cutsie additions to a lawn. I just see no purpose to them. The most beautiful garden can be reduced to an eyesore with the placement of a resin squirrel, a gardening granny with her bloomers showing or a pink flamingo. I'm all for making a statement; but a plastic pink flamingo?? No thanks. Not in my garden!

There are some lawn decorations that are just plain ugly (those I described above) but the little scary creatures shown to the right are just plain frightening. See the one with the pipe and the axe? I'm sure he's responsible for the neighbor lady that's been missing since last summer. Gone without a trace. There must be some sort of repellent I can put on the lawn to prevent these evil little men from creeping into my neighborhood. I can't even look at them. They just give me the creeps.

Most of all, I want to just throw up when I see someone do something like this to their yard. Now I ask you, WHY???? Why would anyone think that placing a well worn toilet filled with potting soil and annuals is charming or attractive?!? I don't know about you, but this doesn't quite call me in to explore the rest of the garden! Is this what they call 'whimsy?' Blech! It's pretty disgusting.

When I garden and create my outdoor living space, it's not about "cute." Rather, it's about structure, it's about texture, it's about contrast, it's about color. Gardening is painting a beautiful picture and your lawn (regardless of size) is your canvas.

I guess some people still think that velvet paintings of dogs playing poker or Elvis are fine works of art. Outdoor ornaments? They are NOT a good thing!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Martha Says Farewell to Paw Paw

I was saddened today to read on Martha's blog about the loss of her long time companion Paw Paw. Paw Paw passed away on Saturday, April 12.

As a pet owner, I know of the pain, sorrow and loss that is experienced when a pet passes. It's a very lonely feeling and you never quite get over missing them. My heart goes out to Martha. I would venture to guess it's difficult for her. We've seen Paw Paw for years and years and it will be strange to not see him in new photos or see him lazily walking across the studio floor on the show.

This particular photo from Martha's blog today made me well up with tears.

This photo is so symbolic of the love between pet and pet keeper. I remember when my dear cat of 15 years was so sick and had to be put to sleep, I would just bury my face in his fur.. I never wanted to lose the scent of him.. a scent that I knew so well and brought comfort. He was the absolute best friend possible.

What a wonderful life Paw Paw experienced. Martha mentioned that she will always miss him... I can't help but think her readers and viewers will do the same.

The Color Issue

In 2007, Martha Stewart Living added another themed or 'special issue' to it's monthly line up: The color issue.

I was beyond excited to see the May issue of MSL in my mailbox this afternoon. The cover is beautiful. The blue and orange cover pops and calls your attention right away.

Inside the editors look at a full range of color stories:

  • The Power of Color
  • A look at Ombre' - a dyeing technique that creates soft gradations of color
  • A Gardener's Palette
  • Mint Condition - the uses for the bright green herb
  • A Painting Primer
  • Martha shares her love of Peonies
  • Gardening Indoors and Out

As always, there are tempting recipes to try, great home organizing tips, gentle reminders, and Ask Martha.

As an added bonus, there is a pull out brochure/catalog of the new Martha Stewart for 1-800 Flowers line and a nice glossy multi-page ad for Martha Stewart Everyday Garden at Kmart.

Another superb issue. It's always hard to say, "this is the best ever" because the best just keep getting better. Look for it in your mailbox soon or on the newsstands on April 21st.

Introducing Martha Stewart Print it Yourself

If you've been looking for a professional way to print the beautiful invitations, place cards, menu cards or labels found within the Martha Stewart Crafts line - wait no more! Martha makes it easier than ever to achieve professional results with Martha Stewart, Print it Yourself.

Using the online printing tool or downloading templates for Microsoft Word, you can design and print your own materials for your next special occasion. The on line tool is easy to use and takes you step by step through the design process. You can choose from pre-formatted text or your can create your own.

Martha does it again!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Perfect Cup of Coffee

I started drinking coffee at a fairly early age. I remember my first sip, which resulted in this violent projectile spitting of the bitter taste from my mouth. My parents laughed at me. "see.. coffee is for adults," they chided. I started to believe they were right. How in the world could someone drink this stuff? It was hot, it was bitter, it tasted like a mouthful of dirty water from a puddle on the sidewalk steeped with tree bark and bird poop. (not that I know what that tastes like; but it seemed gross enough!)

When I was in high school, the 'cool' people had morning coffee. Well, not to be excluded from the cool people, I would choke down coffee and pretend to enjoy it. "mmmmm... this Maxwell House is great!" I would proclaim. (I was a brand whore even at that age..) Inside, I thought my stomach was going to explode in protest. My best friend at the time, Doug, suggested the addition of cream and sugar to my coffee. He poured me a cup of the repulsive brown liquid and added his secret ingredients. "Try this," he said, handing me the hot bitterness. I took a sip. I took another sip. It was pretty good. Hey, I could handle this coffee thing. I now felt I was a legit 'cool person.'

Through college I worked in restaurants. I would go to class, work, stay up late studying, go to class, work, blah, blah, blah.. I was lacking in sleep big time and coffee gave me the 'jolt' I needed to keep moving. I worked in a fast paced environment where I was on the move from the time I entered the restaurant until I finished my night. Taking the time to pour a cup of coffee, and mix it up with the cream and sugar just seemed to never happen. Who had time to dress a beverage when customers were waiting? Yet, without the evil brown beverage, I would surely fall on my face from exhaustion. That's when I started drinking coffee straight up. Black. Hardcore. John Wayne. Like a man. I'd pour a quick cup, do my best to drink it quickly without burning the inside of my mouth and I'd wait on the next customer. No fuss, no muss.. no empty sugar packets to throw away and no spoons to clean. Grab and go... with renewed energy and vigor.

I've been a black coffee drinker since. The thought of cream and sugar in my coffee just seems wrong to me now. While the fancy creams sound as if they would taste good in my coffee, I've yet to find one that really tickles the taste buds. But this change in coffee preference presents a continual challenge - making the perfect cup. It has to be good. Poorly brewed coffee has no place in my life or in my mouth. But believe me, I've had some pretty horrible coffee in my day!

I've done some research on making the perfect cup of coffee. Those that consider themselves experts have some variance in theory, but there are consistent basics.

Brewing the Consistent Pot

Start with freshly roasted specialty coffee for optimal flavor.Buy only enough coffee for a week (7-10 days) to insure that the coffee will always taste the best.

Make it the right H20 - not H2 oh no!

Use the right water. Remember that 98.5% of coffee is water, so having well filtered and/or softened water is necessary. Always use fresh, cold water. I keep filtered water in the fridge ready for use.

The Daily Grind

Having the proper grind matters. Whole beans keep better than ground coffee. Therefore, the recommendation is grinding your beans before brewing them. Use an appropriate grind for each coffee maker. For a French Press, use a coarse grind, a medium to fine grind for a drip coffee maker, and very fine for espresso. The shorter the brewing time, the finer the grind. (If coffee is too coarsely ground, it will be short on flavor; to fine, it will be somewhat harsh.)
Commercial grinders should be set at auto drip. If the coffee is too coarsely ground, it will be short on flavor. If the coffee is too fine, it will be harsh tasting.


If you use paper filters, use oxygen-bleached filters. Chemically bleached paper filters will add a disagreeable taste to your coffee. Natural, brown filters will impart a woody taste. The ideal filter is a gold mesh filter which imparts no taste but does require cleaning.

How Much is Enough?

When brewing, use enough ground coffee. Start with 2 tablespoons per 6 ounces of water and adjust to suit your taste.
The coffee brewer should always be clean in order to produce the best pot of coffee. As a result, it is imperative that the manufacturer's cleaning instructions are followed. Coffee oil residue will interfere with good flavor.

If You Can't Take the Heat...

After brewing, take your coffee of the burner and transfer it to an insulated carafe. Leaving it on the burner will cause it to become sour and bitter. Never boil or reheat coffee. Keep in mind that the quality of the coffee deteriorates as it sits, even if it is in an insulated carafe. Ideally, coffee should not sit more than an hour, but never more than 3 hours.

I can't start a day without a great cup of coffee. I'm having one as I write. Care to join me?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Martha (wine) By Mail

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Gallo Wines released "Martha Stewart Vintage" in January of 2008 in several markets throughout the United States. Unfortunately, Michigan wasn't on the list of available markets.

Good news! Martha Stewart Vintage is now available through the Barrel Room, "your place online to buy wine." If your state does not restrict shipments of domestic wine, you're able to order from the Barrel Room. Selection and check out are easy (I ordered a couple of each MS product) but the shipping is rather expensive. For the convenience of the online experience, I thought the shipping charges were well worth it!

Check out the Barrel Room at and order your Martha Stewart Vintage today!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Birthday Wishes for Elaine

Today is a special day as we celebrate the birthday of a dear friend, Elaine. Now, her age is a mystery, since she stopped counting birthdays - but at whatever age, she's forever young!

I've had the pleasure to get to know Elaine since November of last year. In that time, I've been taken in by her kindness, her sense of humor, and her true dedication to those she loves. She's one of those friends you can count on for a kind word when you need it, a hug when you're feeling blue, and a 'high five' when you're celebrating even the smallest victories in life.

Elaine and I share a passion for the great outdoors, getting our hands dirty and nurturing plants into bloom. I look forward to sharing this gardening season with her.

I decided to do something a little different for Elaine's birthday... since we share a love of gardening, I'm going to plant a tree in her honor; A friendship tree. I feel confident that as the tree grows, so will our friendship; and it will be a daily reminder of how very fortunate I am to have such a truly good person in my life. Happy Birthday, Elaine! You're in our thoughts!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Latest Special Issue

The newest issue of "Good Things" touts itself as the 'Best advice from Martha Stewart.'

"Good Things for the Healthy Home" covers 87 topics to help you make the healthiest and smartest choices possible for every room in your home.

On sale Monday, April 14th, Good Things for the Healthy Home will be 'must have' issue of the digest size publication. Who doesn't want to live a healthier, greener life? Martha is the perfect person to show you how!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Growing a Great Lawn From The Ground Up

Nothing sets off your home and garden like a lush, green lawn. It's a living framework that makes trees, flowerbeds and shrub borders look their best. Lawns are the ideal carpet for outdoor recreation and entertaining. They draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and give off oxygen, and they help keep air temperatures cooler in the summertime.

But our love affair with lawns comes with a cost. Each year U.S. homeowners apply more than 3 million tons of synthetic lawn fertilizers and 70 million pounds of lawn pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals pose serious hazards to our children, our pets and wildlife of all kinds. To make matters worse, it's estimated that 65% of these chemicals find their way into our lakes, rivers and underground aquifers. With water shortages and droughts becoming commonplace, it's also becoming much more difficult and more expensive to pamper a chemical- and water-addicted lawn.

Converting to a natural, low-maintenance lawn—one that you can feel good about and that's also low maintenance—is easier than you may think. Here are the seven most important steps to ensure your success.

1. Choose the Right Kind of Grass

One common problem with many lawns, is that the variety of grass is not well-suited to the site. To choose the right type of grass, you need to consider:
  • Climate: Many grass varieties will not tolerate extreme hot or cold or may not thrive in wet or dry conditions. Others are known for their hardiness or ability to resist drought.
    Amount of sun or shade: Most grass varieties require full sun to remain lush and green. If your yard receives less than four hours of full sun, you need to plant grass varieties that are well-suited to shade.
  • Traffic on the lawn: Some varieties of grass are more tolerant of foot traffic than others. If your lawn sees a lot of traffic, choose a coarse-textured variety of grass that doesn't mind some abuse.
  • Special site considerations: Steep slopes, deep shade, rocky areas and walking paths are simply not good places for growing and maintaining a lawn. Consider planting these difficult areas with perennials, ground covers, spreading evergreens, low-growing shrubs or wildflowers. For areas that get lots of foot traffic, consider a gravel path or stepping stones.
2. Improve Your Soil

A chemical-fed lawn typically has a very shallow root system because it receives most of its water and nutrients from above. A natural lawn gets most of its water and nutrients from the soil it's growing in, so the quality of your soil determines the quality of your lawn.

To assess how good (or bad) your soil is, you can conduct a simple test. Use a trowel or shovel to cut out a small piece of sod at least 4" deep. Now take a close look at what's both above and below ground. Is the soil crumbly and soft? Does it contain a dense patch of healthy grass blades and maybe a worm or two? Those are the characteristics of healthy turf.

If the sod sample is dry or compacted, the roots may appear weak and shallow. A dense accumulation of dead roots, stems and partially decayed organic matter at the base of the grass is called thatch. Normally this material gets re-incorporated into the soil by microorganisms and earthworms. In poor and/or biologically inactive soils, this organic matter accumulates at the soil surface and creates an ideal environment for disease. Thatch can be removed by vigorous raking or by using a power dethatching tool. Thatch is rarely a problem if you have fertile, biologically-active soil, and your lawn is maintained according to the practices recommended for natural lawn care.

Grass roots and soil microorganisms prefer loose, airy soils. If your lawn has become compacted from heavy power mowers or from foot traffic, spring is a good time to aerate. The objective is to open up passageways in the soil for air, water, nutrients and soil life. Use a manual or power aerating tool. Apply fertilizer or lime (if needed) right after aerating, while the soil is exposed.

Be sure to conduct a soil test to check the pH of your soil. Most varieties of grass prefer a slightly acid to neutral pH (6.5-7.0) A simple soil test will tell you if your soil needs an application of lime to make it more neutral, or sulfur to make it more acidic. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service for a soil test kit, or purchase one and test it yourself.

One of the most important steps you can take to improve and maintain healthy soil is to start a regular practice of topdressing your lawn with compost or good topsoil. Apply ¼ to ½ inch in early spring and rake it down into the turf.

3. Switch to Organic Fertilizers

Once your soil and your lawn are healthy, you may find that there's no need for supplemental fertilizers. But it may take awhile to improve the quality of your soil, and along the way, you'll probably want to apply an organic fertilizer on an annual or semi-annual basis.

There are two different fertilizing schedules for American lawns-one for cool-climate grasses and the other for warm-climate grasses. Before you fertilize, it's important to understand what type of grass you're growing because they can have very different growing cycles.

Cool climate grasses (Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryes, bentgrass, and fescues), grow best in northern climates. They get off to an early start in spring and stay green longer into the fall. When summer temperatures rise above 80 degrees F, they go dormant, and on scorching days, the blades may turn brown. The best time to fertilize these varieties is in the fall, once they break out of summer dormancy and before cold weather sets in. The next best time to fertilize is late spring when the plants have used up the energy they stored last fall. Avoid fertilizing during the heat of the summer while the grass is dormant.

Warm climate grasses (buffalo grass, bermuda, zoysia, St. Augustine, blue grama grass), thrive in areas with hot summers and mild winters. They stay green during the hot months but go dormant and turn brown during the winter. During the summer months they grow rapidly, and store energy for the winter. To encourage this active growth phase, fertilize in small doses from early spring to late summer. Do not fertilize in the fall or winter when the grass is dormant because this will encourage the growth of weeds, not grass.

Grass has a reputation of being a "heavy feeder," requiring lots of fertilizer. But that's true only of lawns that contain little organic matter, worms or other soil life. Chemical fertilizers may feed the grass, but they can also have a negative impact on soil life and soil texture, and do nothing to increase organic matter. Chemicals fertilizers can also over stimulate growth, making turf more vulnerable to disease and insects.

Organic fertilizers release nutrients slowly over time to provide long-term nutrition, improve soil tilth, and encourage soil life. They also provide vital trace nutrients that your lawn needs in minute quantities. Leaving grass clippings where they fall also adds free nutrients and organic matter to the soil. In situation when the clippings are too thick and wet, they should be raked up and composted for later application to the soil.

4. Proper Mowing

Mow your lawn a little at a time rather than waiting for it to get long. The more leafy material that's removed, the more the grass will be stimulated to replace it by using food reserves stored in the root system. Cutting off too much of the grass blade at one time can deplete these reserves faster than they can be replenished, resulting in a weak root system that's more susceptible to disease, and that can't out-compete weeds.

Grass roots tend to grow about as deep as the blades grow high. Therefore, don't mow your grass shorter than about 2 inches. For better drought resistance and to help shade out weed seeds, try "mowing high", which means keeping your lawn at a height of 2½-3".

Don't mow your lawn when it's extremely hot or when the grass is dormant. And try to keep your mower blade sharp. A dull blade injures your lawn by tearing rather than slicing the blades of grass. It can also pull out tender new growth.

5. Proper Watering

The amount of water a lawn requires depends upon many factors, including weather conditions, grass variety and soil type. Sandy soils, for example, drain quickly while clay soils retain moisture longer.

Water your lawn deeply and consistently or not at all. Shallow watering promotes shallow rooting and weak growth. Watering to a depth of 6 to 8 inches encourages deep rooting for a stronger lawn. In general, you'll probably need to run your sprinkler for 2 to 4 hours, and maybe more, to water deeply and thoroughly.

After watering, insert a spade into the lawn and tilt it forward to see how far the moisture has spread. If you are not getting adequate moisture into the soil, and you are not able to devote time and water to the lawn, do not water at all. The grass will stop growing and will begin again when the weather cools and/or the rains return. It's important to decide at the beginning of the summer whether you'll water your lawn or not. To vacillate between watering and not watering stresses the lawn.

6. Controlling Weeds

Healthy soil and proper lawn maintenance will go a long way toward controlling weeds. In fact, weeds are often indicators of infertile soil or stressed turf. Here are some common signs of a troubled lawn:

Moss indicates a shady, acid and infertile soil.
Nutsedge indicates that the soil is too wet and poorly drained.
Crabgrass indicates that the turf is not dense and healthy and that you may be mowing too low to shade it out new weed seeds that are trying to germinate.
Dandelions may indicate a potassium deficiency.

Obvious weeds can be hand pulled or removed with a dandelion digger. the area should then be reseeded. If 50% or more of your lawn is weeds, it may be best to start over. Rototill a small section of your lawn at a time, (preferably in the spring before weeds start growing).

Immediately reseed the area and water lightly every day until the grass seed germinates and the roots get well established. Be sure to use the proper grass seed for your growing conditions, and add organic matter and correct the soil pH (if needed).

7. Controlling Insects and Disease

As with weeds, a healthy, properly maintained turf will minimize insect problems. Two common insect pests in lawns are white grubs and chinch bugs.

White grubs are the larval stage of several types of beetles. Grubs chew on the roots of turf and can sometimes kill entire sections of lawn. Apply Milky Spore, a bacteria, or beneficial nematodes, to control.

Chinch bugs appear during the summer months. They suck the grass blades to withdraw the moisture and inject a toxic saliva that can then kill the grass. Severe infestations can be controlled by spraying a quart of premixed insecticidal soap with a tablespoon of isopropyl alcohol. Spray the lawn every 3 to 4 days for two weeks.

If the infestation is serious and you must apply an all-purpose chemical insecticide to your lawn, keep in mind that many of them can be toxic to earthworms and other beneficial soil life that act as predators against the "bad bugs". Over time, you may be actually increasing insect problems rather than solving them.

Lawn diseases are difficult to recognize because the symptoms often resemble nutrient deficiencies and insect damage. If you think you have a fungal disease, contact your local nursery or extension agent for a diagnosis. Most fungal diseases can be avoided by following proper lawn practices:
Do not overwater
Do not water in the late evening.
Plant a mixture of grasses rather than one variety to reduce disease spread.
Remove accumulated thatch.
Mow high.

If your lawn is addicted to a chemical diet, you and your lawn will need time to make the transition. Improving the quality of your soil and the health of your lawn is usually a multi-year project.

You can start weaning your lawn off chemicals by switching to a low nitrogen organic fertilizer. Apply once in early spring after the soil has begun to warm up and apply again in early fall. Organic nutrients are released slowly over the entire growing season so they're available as they're needed. This promotes more consistent top growth as well as root growth. It also results in fewer problems with nutrient runoff, as the nutrients are not water soluble and most stay right in the soil.

The transition to healthy soil and healthy turf may take several years. During that period you should carefully monitor your lawn for weeds, pests and disease. Once your natural lawn is well-established and happy, you'll find it will require much less fertilizer, water and attention. Make a habit of checking on top growth and root growth, soil pH and soil texture. Your lawn will reward you with a lush carpet of green that's far safer and more enjoyable for you, your family and the environment.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Way to Garden - Margaret Roach

One of my favorite books related to gardening is a decade old classic called "A Way to Garden" by Margaret Roach. Margaret was the first gardening editor of Martha Stewart Living and most recently was the Editorial Director until her retirement (as she says, "at an young age") in early 2008. Margaret also co-hosted the radio show "Homegrown" with Andrew Beckman on Martha Stewart Living Radio.

Margaret's approachable personality and her sense of gardening style made Margaret one of my favorite people and authorities in the world of gardening. She approached the art of gardening with a 'real' viewpoint and not a lot of mumbo-gumbo text book methods. In her book, she wrote in a poetic manner about the cycle of life in the garden. It changed the way I looked at my gardens, appreciating all the seasons and the cycle of life each plant goes through.

Margaret is back with her own blog, A Way to Garden. Chocked full of valuable resources, beautiful photography, and Margarets warm personable style, this blog is going to be a daily stop for me. I hope it will be for you as well.

Martha Stewart Framed Photography

If you have been a reader of Martha Stewart's blog on you have seen some of Martha's camera work with the various pictures that accompany her daily entries. Martha is now making her photography available to the public through a new business venture "Martha Stewart Framed Photography."

Several of Martha's best camera shots will be available for purchase on her website.
For a brief time on Thursday, the framed photography site was up and running with some additional information: All the prints are matted and framed using archival materials and processes. Each framed print comes with a certificate of authenticity and some are signed by Martha herself. As the site was under construction, only a few prints were available and prices range from $1,200 to $250. There was no description of size or framing materials. Customers need to register with the site to purchase. There was also a link at the top of the site to request a catalog - which was not working as of yet.

As of this morning (Friday) the site was 'down' again with it's 'coming soon' message. I guess I was lucky to get an early glimpse as it was being constructed!

I have long admired Martha's 'eye' for capturing a great shot with her various cameras. Several of the photos that she's posted to her blog were nothing less than stunning! I'm looking forward to seeing the entire collection which I assume will change from time to time.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A New Beautiful Arrangement

Martha has always taught us: one of life's greatest pleasures is decorating with flowers and plants so their beauty can be enjoyed every day.

Starting April 2nd, the expertise and talents of two well-known brands join together to create a wonderful selection of uniquely beautiful floral gifts.'s fresh cut flowers, delivery capabilities, and excellence in customer service make them a perfect partner to the inimitable floral styling of Martha Stewart.

Martha Stewart for has created a variety of floral arrangements and gifts featuring some of her most-loved seasonal blossoms, including gardenias, hydrangeas, lilies, peonies, and roses. And Martha's personal collection of vases, planters, and bowls provided the inspiration for the line's quintessential vase forms. These specially designed vases—produced in ceramic, metal, and glass—bring a lovely balance and harmony to the flower presentations, and offer a keepsake memento of the thoughtful gift.


Two delivery choices are available to ensure that customers can receive our fresh, beautiful arrangements exactly when they want them. Same-day delivery is now available through our network of local florists, or next-day delivery, sent direct from the grower. Only the very best blossoms are cut and conditioned to deliver longer flower enjoyment than you may have thought possible.

Whether decorating for an occasion, remembering a loved one, or simply making any day special, let her bouquets, plants and gifts inspire you to give the gift of Martha Stewart for