Today's Features

  • For some gardeners the tactile experience of maintaining the garden is not really what they're after.  I love the whole process but I realize that most people just want things to look good without too much fuss. There in lies the mission of the Perennial Plant Association's "Plant of the Year" program.

    Each year industry professionals vote for what they think is an outstanding perennial, this year the votes have been cast for Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'.

  • The past couple of years have been tough on both tobacco farmers and companies alike as decreased cigarette consumption and poor growing conditions have hampered the stability of tobacco on the farm and in the marketplace.

    Although we're just getting into the 2009 crop year we've already encountered some obstacles that have been hard to stomach as many burley farmers received production/contract cuts in March.

  • Is there any kind of casserole that is not improved by topping with canned French fried onions? I don't think so. The Green Bean Casserole that everyone has made forever is the first recipe that I used them in. It's on the side of the can of onions (and beans, too) and everyone I know likes it. The only problem I've ever had with this casserole is the temptation to eat the onions that go on top of the casserole while you're waiting for it to bake. (It's always good to have an extra can of onions just in case.)

  • If you are thinking of purchasing a home in the next year, you should be aware of the tax credit that is available to first-time homebuyers.

    In February, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provides first-time homebuyers with a tax credit of 10 percent of the purchase price of a home up to $8,000 or $4,000 each for married persons filing individually. This credit can be used on the 2008 tax returns, due April 15, or 2009 tax returns due next year. Qualifying taxpayers must purchase a home by Dec. 1 to be eligible.

  • Here's a great little sweet that's really easy to make, delicious to eat and very pretty. These Mini-Cheesecakes keep well in the refrigerator for about a week, though I doubt that you'll have them that long.

    You can use a muffin pan with cupcake liners or the foil cupcake holders that stand alone.

    The first time I made these, I used the chocolate-caramel chips, because that was the only kind I had at the time. Since then, I have used regular semi-sweet chocolate chips and the half white/half chocolate chips. They all work equally well in this recipe.

  • I must admit that I am not an organic gardener; however my personal philosophy of gardening has changed a bit in the last few years. I used to reach for the nearest pesticide (as harsh as available) the minute I would spot a problem.

    Now, I guess I am older and wiser, lazier or just a little less of a perfectionist, or maybe it's that I have two beautiful daughters now and I don't want them being exposed to chemicals, whatever the case I don't reach for pesticides unless a serious problem occurs.

  • I have long been taught that fall fertilization is preferred over spring fertilization for many plants, but there are some exceptions.

    We had a tough 2008 growing season with late summer drought and a windstorm that only added insult to injury. Add ice and a generally windy winter and some plants are in need of a little energy boost.

    Summer drought and early fall leaf drop (or the severe desiccation that many deciduous plants experience from the wind storm) means that stored energy may be low.

  • This week I'm featuring sweet onions, two side dish recipes that I tried recently and was quite pleased with.

    The Baked Onions are so simple and delicious, great with grilled meat. (They could be cooked on the grill, too, I guess, though I haven't tried it.)

    The Scalloped Sweet Onions are terrific made with Vidalia onions, which are just showing up on the spring market.

    Baked Onions

    3 large sweet onions




    Butter 1-2 cans beef consommé

  • This week I have several things I wanted to let everyone know about as well as some gardening chores that should or should not be done now.

    It is time to uncover roses and strawberries but you should keep your mulch or covering material handy especially for the strawberries in case we have a late spring freeze.

    After pulling the covering off of the roses, you should incorporate a one-half cup or so of 10-10-10 around each bush to give them a little extra boost for their spring flush. After about four weeks, give them another dose to keep them fed.

  • Traditional farm programs have focused on supporting prices rather than revenues (prices multiplied by yields). The new optional Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program addresses declines in state revenue caused from declines in prices and/or yields.

    The inclusion of state yield protection allows for protection from droughts, natural disasters, and floods.  The ACRE program uses market-based prices and state yields in determining revenue instead of government targets, therefore allowing revenue to adjust to current market conditions as they move up and down.