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Features (Gardening)

The Frugal Gardener’s advice

      Frugal gardeners save unused seeds from previous years, thinking they’ll save money. 
      Like everything else, the price of seeds increases almost every year. But you don’t save money if the seeds you saved and planted did not germinate or grow as expected.
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Do seeds like salt and vinegar? 

      A good science project can be conducted within a month’s time if you start with seeds. Such studies do not require much space or special light conditions. Seeds are readily available, inexpensive and will provide the diversity you need to make comparisons. For many studies, quart canning jars with screw lids, paper towels, water, salt or vinegar and measuring tools are all you need to study how seeds germinate in different conditions.
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Ideas, research and preparation

      It’s about that time of year when parents come to me seeking ideas for their child’s science project. Most of the time, they are desperate because their children procrastinated in announcing they had to turn in a project idea yesterday.
       Here’s what I tell them:
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Here’s how to water and repot them

     Orchids are so popular nowadays that they are being offered for sale not only in garden centers but also in drug stores and grocery stores as well as big box stores. 
        As houseplants, they have the advantage of producing flowers over a long period of time. They tolerate shade and perform well even when abused. They are also light to ship.
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There’s a lot of work if you’re going to harvest your own fruit

      A Bay Weekly reader bragged to me that he’d created an apple orchard by planting a single tree.
      “So you purchased one of those trees with four to five varieties of apples,” I replied.
      He was crestfallen at failing to fool me.
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Some of what you see is too good to be true

      Seed catalogs fill my mailbox every day. If you’ve ever ordered seeds or plants, I bet yours is filled, too. Every picture and possibility looks good this time of year. But can you trust everything you read in these appealing pages?
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Break, don’t prune the branches

     Make attractive, long-lasting holiday decorations from boxwood and you’ll be keeping your plants both healthy and good-looking.
     The woody European native here since the mid-17th century is best pruned when near-freezing temperatures make the boxwood branches very brittle.
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Buy fresh evergreens and treat them for longevity 

     Wreaths, roping and swags sold in box and grocery stores may have been made in far-away Oregon and Maine, starting back in September, then stored in large coolers under high humidity. If the greens were harvested before the plants were exposed to freezing temperatures, they may well drop their needles before Christmas.
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It takes six to 10 years of attention to get it right

     The most common species of conifers used as Christmas trees are white pine, Scots pine, Douglas fir, balsam fir, Frazier fir, concolor fir, Canaan fir, Colorado spruce and white spruce. Norway spruce are not recommended because they shed needles rapidly if allowed to dry out once. In more southern states, Virginia pine, white cedar and red cedar and often used.
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Unity Gardens grants up for grabs

Plants and flowers aren’t all that grow in gardens. Leadership and civic involvement can also bloom. That’s a motivating idea behind Unity Gardens, a nonprofit that backs its philosophy with dollars.
    So twice each year when Unity Gardens gives away seed money, in the spring and fall, human growth potential is a top giving criteria.
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