Planting a garden can be a bit daunting to those who have never done it. However, once you understand the ins and outs, it can become a favorite pastime. Many people enjoy gardening, because it is relaxing; but it can rewarding, too. Especially when it comes time to harvest.
What soil is best?
The type of soil for your garden is critical. Chop up and remove all grass and weeds, making sure you pull out rocks and sticks. A type of soil, called Loamy soil, is what you want. It is a combination of sandy soil, which is loose and dry, and clay soil, which is nutrient rich but heavy and dense. If you think you have sandy or clay soil, take a sample to our local garden center and ask what you should add to it for loam. For most garden beds, be sure to dig down six to eight inches into the soil so that the earth is nice and loose. You can work additives into the soil, such as manure, peat moss, and, if you have it, compost. These enrich the soil and prepare it for planting, and all are sold at garden centers. Make sure you pull out any weeds, rocks, and sticks from the compost.
You will want to make sure you place your garden where there is plenty of sunlight. If your garden gets at least six hours of full sun every day, you can plant vegetables and flowers requiring full sun. If you get sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon, buy plants that do well in half, or partial, shade.
What to Plant
Flowers are a bit tricky. They fall into two general categories: annuals and perennials. Annuals last only for the season, while perennials come back season after season, going dormant during the freezing winter and then poking up in the spring. Biennials last for two seasons. Annuals bloom all summer and perennials have shorter blooming seasons. Annuals, which include petunias, impatiens, begonias, and marigolds, require more water than perennials. Plant flowers with enough room between them to spread. They will, as the summer progresses.
Vegetables are a different story. Most veggies need good sun and plenty of room to grow. If you plant flowers and herbs around the edges of the vegetable patch, the garden will be prettier and some flowers even keep some pests away. Keep in mind that some veggies don't grow well together. You can check it out here.
Watering is important
All gardens need water. Unless you live in the dessert or rain forest, your garden will need about an inch of water a week during the growing season. Water the garden at least three times a week, giving it a good soak. Water in the cool parts of the day, such as the morning and evening. When the sun is hottest, the water evaporates quickly and does your garden very little good.
Why should we mulch?
Every good gardener knows the value of mulch. Mulch holds in moisture and inhibits weed growth. You can buy mulch, usually as wood chips, or make your own from grass clippings and leaf litter. Most gardeners use the former when the garden is active and the latter during the cold, dormant months of winter. Once the garden is planted, spread mulch so that it’s an inch or two deep. Take care not to mulch up against plant stems but leave some air around them so they don’t rot.
If this is your first garden, I suggest you start small; you can always expand later in the summer or next spring. Be sure to pull weeds when you see them, taking care not to put the plants out by mistake. We all learn from experience, so don’t beat yourself up of your garden doesn’t take off this year because you can always try again next year.
For many of us, there is nothing worse than being stuck at home with nothing to do, sitting in front of the TV or on your phone, and snacking all day long. It’s a habit that, unfortunately, can make us gain unwanted weight. One of the things we all should be doing more of is exercising; whether it’s going for a walk or working out to a video. However, exercising is just part of the equation.
Finding healthier snacks to munch on is one solution. I love to snack, and salty and sweet are my favorites. I could finish off a pack of cookies or chips with no problem. But I know I can’t because I have such a hard time losing the weight. Getting creative with fruits, nuts, oatmeal and peanut butter has helped satisfy my cravings.
Below are a few ideas:
Energy bites – oats, peanut butter and honey are the only ingredients, although you can add mini chocolate chips or flax seed to the mix. 1 ½ cup oats, ½ cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup honey. Mix together, form into balls, freeze overnight, and store in the fridge.
Peanut butter and oat bars – 2 cups oats, ½ cup honey, ¾ cup peanut butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Heat PB and honey in microwave, add oats, cinnamon, and vanilla. Place in a greased 8 x 11 pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
Mixed nuts – according to healthline.com, mixed nuts are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and may help prevent certain cancers, depression, and other illnesses
Apple slices or celery with peanut butter - Peanut butter may benefit heart health. It has been shown to increase good cholesterol and reduce the bad cholesterol.
Cottage cheese, flax seeds and cinnamon – all of these ingredients are healthy alone, but together, they are delicious. Find the recipe here.
Kale chips – kale chips are loaded with fiber and antioxidants. Find the recipe here.
Dark chocolate with almonds – Chocolate, almonds … Yes, please.
Cucumbers and hummus – hummus is made from chickpeas, olive oil and garlic, which can improve heart health and cucumbers have health benefits of its own.
A piece of fruit – fruit can help satisfy the sugar cravings.
Hard-boiled eggs- a great source of protein without the added fat.
Turkey roll-ups- a satisfying and healthy snack. Find the recipe here.
For the past 50 years, starting with the very first Earth Day, people have been encouraged to reduce their use of energy, purchase reuseable materials, and recycle their trash. While some suggestions have been easier to convey than others, some of us still have a long way to go before we can say we lead a "green" life.
No one is expected to stop driving their cars, live off the land or buy everything that is recylable (unless you want to!). All that is really asked of you is that you become aware of how much energy you are using, how much waste you are putting curbside every week, and how you can reduce your carbon footprint.
A carbon footprint is defined as the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Everyone has a carbon footprint based on how much energy they use, such as what kind of car, what kind of light bulbs and what kind of appliances you use, even what kind of food you eat. You can calculate your own carbon footprint here.
If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, here are a few ideas:
Courtesy of Pixabay
COVID-19 might be keeping people home as we celebrate Earth Day April 22, but that doesn't mean we can't help raise awareness of the importance of taking care of the planet. Organizers are going digital in their efforts to reach more people. For 24 hours on Earth Day 2020, social and digital platforms will be available to the world in the forms of global conversations, calls to action, performances, video teach-ins and more. Access the website here.
The theme for this year's Earth's Day, and its 50th Anniversary, is "Climate Action." Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable. Climate change refers to the wide range of Earth's average weather conditions, such as the increase in droughts, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, etc.
The first Earth Day was held in response to this crisis, as well as to raise awareness about what we, as a society, can do to alleviate the threats to our planet. On that day, April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took part in parades, protests and sit-ins, to do their part in raising awareness.
According to earthday.org, the first earth Day is credited with launching the modern environmental movement, as well as the Clean Air, Clean Water, the Endangered Species Acts, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds outlined some additional mitigation efforts for counties known as Region #6 April 16. This includes Linn, Black Hawk, Allamakee and other counties in northeastern Iowa. She stopped short of ordering a shelter-in-place for the entire state, but made it clear these counties needed to adhere to certain rules to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Restrictions include canceling all social gatherings for the counties included in the region. While some exceptions will be made for funerals, weddings, and other religious services, Gov. Reynolds also said "people should not be gathering with anyone outside of their immediate household and should limit leaving their residences for essential reasons only, like grocery shopping or medical appointments."
The governor called on employers to provide employees the chance to work from home, if at all possible. And if it's not, they should take all precautions to protect the health and safety of workers.
People are again being asked to take personal responsibility and “make every reasonable effort” to remain six feet away from others.
The new mitigation efforts for Region #6 go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Thursday and will be in place until April 30.
Information Courtesy of KCRG
Most schools and work places conduct drills to remind us of how to be safe during a storm. However, with so many people experiencing social distancing and working from home, families should talk about what to do in case of a severe storm. Don't wait until a storm is on top of you to figure out your safety plan.
You should make a basic emergency kit. You should have these things in your storm kit:
- Water (one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days)
- Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
- Manual can opener for food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
- Shoes (so you don’t cut your feet if you have to walk across debris)
Those are the basics, and you may have other things you need to add. Consider these items:
- Medicine, including prescription and over-the-counter
- Glasses and contact lens solution
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
- Pet food and extra water
- Important documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
- Complete change of clothing
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
- Books, games, toys, etc. for kids
If this seems like a lot, a checklist can help. You can download one here.
If you’re at home, these are places to go or things to consider for your sheltering:
- The basement or lowest floor of your home.
- Away from windows.
- In an interior room – that is, a room that doesn’t have any walls to the outside. These are usually a bathroom or closet.
- Underneath something sturdy such as stairs, a table, a workbench, etc.
- Cover up with pillows or blankets.
- Protect your head, even if you’re just putting your arms over it. If you have a helmet (such as a bike helmet), wear that.
If you’re not at home, these are your main sheltering choices:
- The designated storm shelter. Sometimes these are marked with a green sign that says “STORM SHELTER” or something similar. If there isn’t a designated shelter, go to the restrooms.
- If driving, go to a sturdy building and shelter there. If there are no buildings, a ditch is often the best option because most objects will tumble over a small low spot. Do not shelter under a bridge or overpass! Debris can easily get thrown into them and you will have no protection.
The Coronavirus is a serious matter and requires many people to be isolated for a long period of time. The best thing we all can do is to stay home. Being cooped up can make us all a little stir-crazy, but all we can really do is make the best of it. Until we get the "all clear," here are a few ways to help pass the time, courtesy of Indy's Child:
And ... when all else fails, break out the board games and make up your own rules! Stay well!
Image courtesy of cchealth.org
With all the information circulating about the Novel Coronavirus, we are all bound to get a little overwhlemed. But don't panic; the best we can do is try to prevent the spread of the virus by doing our part: Wash your hands, stay away from others who are sick, and stay home if you suspect you may be ill.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person; between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is important to protect yourself from the virus, but you also want to do your best not to spread the virus to those who may be more vulnerable.
Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions, such as heart, lung disease, or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness, according to the CDC.
The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and can range from mild to severe:
Four Ways to Protect Yourself:
One of the keys to staying healthy is to practice, and being aware of, good hygiene. Wash your hands often, especially after you shake somone's hand, or when you touch door handles or knobs in public places, public keyboards and mouses, shopping carts, or after using the restroom and before you eat.
Though most people wash their hands regularly, we aren't always aware of when we touch public surfaces and then put our fingers in our mouths simply by habit; smoking, chewing gum, or when eating candy or snacks.
More information about how to protect yourself, as well as the most up-to-date information about the virus can be found at cdc.gov.
How to make your own hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes:
2/3 cup rubbing alcohol (70% or higher)
1/3 cup aloe vera gel
5 drops of essential oil for fragrance
Mix ingredients together in a box until blended, and then transfer to a bottle that will be easy for the sanitizer to be dispensed. Warning: Wear gloves if necessary-rubbing alcohol by itself can damage the skin if exposed too long.
2 cups water
1 cup rubbing alcohol (70% or higher)
10 drops essential oils
1 roll paper towels
Container big enough for the wipes (for example, a large plastic cereal container.)
Mix warm water, rubbing alcohol, and essential oil together in a bowl. Place paper towels in a container that just fits them. I use a large glass cylinder container that was made to store food, but you could tear off the paper towels and place them in a large rectangular container. You just want the container to not leave much space around the paper towels, so they absorb the liquid. Pour liquid over paper towels. Pull the cardboard tube out. Pull the first wipe out of the center. Keep container covered.
You can also make baby wipes into disinfectant wipes. Simply add 1 cup of rubbing alcohol above 91% to the container, making sure each on is saturated with the alcohol.
*Courtesy of amindfullmom.com
There is no doubt we are at the peak of the flu season. It seems as though everyone knows someone who is suffering with flu-like symptoms. With so many people coming down with Influenza A, it is a good time to review what the flu is, as well as ways to prevent and treat it.
There are three types of flu viruses: A, B, and C. Type A and B cause the annual influenza epidemics that affected 20% of the population. Type C also causes flu, but the symptoms are not as severe.
Flu symptoms can come on quickly. Symptoms include:
For those who think they have the flu, it is important to stay hydrated, especially for older people and children. Dehydration is one of the main reasons people end up in the hospital during a bout with the flu. You should also stay home from work if you suspect the flu, so you don’t run the risk of exposing others. Get plenty of rest and follow your doctor’s orders, too. The flu usually lasts 3-7 days, but can last longer if there are complications.
For those who have Wellmark health care insurance coverage, a program called Doctor on Demand is available that enables you to video chat with a care provider in the comfort of your own home. More information can be found at weelmark.com.
The CDC is encouraging those who have not been vaccinated for the flu to do so as soon as possible. However, you should be aware that you are still susceptible to the flu for two weeks following the vaccination.
To prevent the spread of germs, practice good hygiene by washing your hands often and covering and containing your coughs and sneezes. Disinfecting door knobs, handles, phones, keyboards, and anything else that is touched often will also help stop the spread of germs.
For more information about flu vaccinations, symptoms, and prevention, visit cdc.gov.
The holidays are over. Not what? It’s winter, we’re stuck inside, and the next day off isn’t until spring. It’s normal to feel a little down after the holidays, but if that “down” feeling lasts longer than a few days, or it seems to be happening with the changing seasons, you might want to talk to your doctor. It could be Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
Though SAD can happen with any of the seasons, it is typically seen during the winter. Symptoms include low energy, change in sleep or eating habits, having trouble concentrating, and feelings of worthlessness, among others.
Although no one seems to know why some people develop SAD, while others don’t, there seems to be a few consistent factors:
There are several treatments available for SAD sufferers, including light therapy, psychotherapy, medications, and stress management activities, such as meditation, exercise, yoga, and tai chi.
If the symptoms come and go, it could simply be a case of the winter blues. Though spring is the only real cure for that, we can keep ourselves happier and more positive by spending time with friends and family, start a new craft project, spend more time at the gym, take up yoga, or learn how to meditate.
It’s still a good idea to get the symptoms checked out with your doctor, especially if you notice you are losing or gaining weight, sleeping more than normal, and can’t seem to find the energy to do the things you once loved to do.