April Plant of the Month

Dark Horse Weigela

Common Name: Weigela ‘Dark Horse’

Type: Deciduous shrub

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Zone: 4 to 8

Height: 2 to 3 feet

Spread: 2 to 3 feet

Bloom Time: April to June

Bloom Description: Pink

Sun: Full sun

Water: Medium

 

Culture:

Grown well in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun.  Well tolerate light shade, but needs full sun for best flowering and foliage color.  Prune to shape immediately after flowering.

Characteristics:

A dense, rounded, deciduous shrub that features profuse, funnel shaped, pink flowers that appear singly or in clusters along the branches of the previous year’s growth in the mid to late spring, with sparse and scattered repeat bloom often occurring on new growth as the summer progresses.  Dark purple leaves retain good color throughout the growing season.  Attracts hummingbirds.

How to Prepare Your Yard for Spring

When it comes to preparing your yard for spring, there are a few things you should do to ensure that healthy looking lawn will come back.  If you neglect spring lawn care, it could affect your lawn for the rest of the year.

First, the biggest task is to rake your yard.  This is to remove all the thatch that can choke out new grass.  Thatch build up that is more than ½ inch is considered excessive.  Also, raking in spring will remove all the dead grass blades that died over the winter, which will become thatch.  There may also be some spots that look like matted patches.  New grass may have a tough time penetrating these areas, but raking will take care of this as well.

Next, you will want to fertilize and apply pre-emergent herbicides.  Many experts recommend a lighter fertilizing in spring and a heavier one in fall, which benefits “cool-season grasses” better.  If you fertilized in fall, there’s a chance your lawn is still “digesting” that when spring rolls around.  Pre-emergent herbicides should go hand in hand with fertilizing.  These herbicides address weeds, such as crabgrass, before the seedlings emerge.  It’s a lot easier to prevent weeds before they start than it is to try to kill them once they’ve started taking over.

Another thing you can do to help your lawn is overseed.  Sometimes your lawn will have some bare spots, whether it be from a dog or traffic, where grass seed is needed to fill those areas.  When you overseed, you should apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer.  Five weeks after the grass germinates, apply a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer.  However, if you decide to overseed in spring, be careful.  Most pre-emergent herbicides with also prevent grass seed from growing.  And if you don’t put down a pre-emergent herbicide, the grass seed will have a tough time competing with crabgrass.  Overseeding can be done in spring but will most likely be more effective in fall.

This may seem like a lot of work to some people, but the green grass that you will enjoy for the rest of the season will be worth it.

April Recipe of the Month

Smokey Grilled Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, finely chopped
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 lime
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3 lb. chicken wings (about 36) split
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 4 ears fresh corn, halved

Directions:

  1. Heat grill to medium-low. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, and chipotle.
  2. Place the sour cream in a bowl. Finely grate the zest of the lime on top, then squeeze in juice (about 2 tablespoons). Add cilantro and feta and mix to combine; set aside.
  3. In large bowl, toss the wings with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Brush the remaining tablespoon oil on the corn.
  4. Grill the chicken wings, covered, turning occasionally for 12 minutes.
  5. Place the corn on the grill. Grill the wings and corn, basting the wings with some of the sauce and turning the corn occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the corn is slightly charred, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve the corn with the wings, any remaining chipotle sauce and sour cream sauce, for dipping.

 

Courtesy delish.com

March Plant/Shrub of the Month

Amber Jubilee Ninebark

Latin Name:  Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Jefam’

Type: Deciduous shrub

Family: Rosaceae

Zone: 2 to 8

Height: 5 to 6feet

Spread: 3 to 4 feet

Bloom Time: May to June

Bloom Description: Pink or white

Sun: Full sun to part shade

Water: Dry to medium

Culture:

Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, although easily grown in moist, well drained soils in full sun.  Prune as needed immediately after bloom and no later than mid-August.  Plants may be cut close to the ground in winter to rejuvenate.

Characteristics:

Noted for its exfoliating bark that peels in strips to reveal several layers off reddish to light brown inner bark, which provides winter interest but is usually hidden by the foliage during the growing season.  Features small pink or white flowers that appear in 1-2” diameter clusters in late spring.  Flowers give way to drooping clusters of reddish fruit.  Leaves up to 4” long are dull green in summer that change to yellow and orange shades in fall.

Thinking About Starting a Vegetable Garden?

Tips and Advice to Help You Succeed

Vegetable gardens can be a wonderful place to relax, enjoy some sun, and maybe get a little exercise.  Do not be intimidated if you’ve never planted a vegetable garden before.  Vegetables are easy to grow, especially if you follow these steps for first-timers.

First, choose a location in full sun for your garden, which means six or more hours of direct sun in the summer.  Fruiting vegetables such as cucumbers and tomatoes need the sun’s energy to grow.  If you don’t have this much sunlight, try to grow only leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach.

Your location also needs soil that is well-drained.  If water sits in the soil for too long after rains, the roots will not be able to breath.  If grass or most weeds grow well, the soil is probably well drained.  If you’re not sure, you can dig a small hole, fill it with water, and measure with a ruler how far the water level drops.  Slower than one inch per hour is too slow.  If this is an issue, build raised beds or choose a different location.

A good tip is to start small.  Too much garden may start to feel like work.  A ten by ten-foot plot of land can raise plenty of vegetables.  You can increase the size of your garden with your experience and enthusiasm.

Fencing your garden is usually a necessity.  Besides keeping out rabbits and other hungry animals, a fence can define your garden visually.  Poultry netting is effective and inexpensive.  Bend the bottom foot of fencing to the outside of the garden to lay right on top of the ground to keep animals from burrowing under your fence.  A two- or three-foot-high fence should be adequate unless deer are a threat, in which case you will need a fence that is five or more feet high.

Your garden doesn’t have to stand alone in the landscape.  Pickets and arbors with climbing vegetables can add character and beauty to your garden.  Also, you can soften the fence line with the planting of shrubs, even tying it into your landscape.  Your garden can look great at the same time of serving its purpose.

There are also great ways to get more from your garden with limited space.  Instead of planting in rows, plant in wide, three to four feet beds.  Also, let vegetables grow up instead of on the ground.  Peas, beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes all can be trained to grow up poles, trellises, or fences.  Anther tip is to use time to your advantage, by planting vegetables that start late after the ones that finish early.

The last tip you need to follow is the maintenance.  Pay attention to watering and fertilizing.  Fertilizers can be used, but the best tip is to use organic fertilizers, such as compost.  This will give the vegetables nutrients and benefit the microbes in the soil – that chemical fertilizers can have a negative impact on.  Also, weed regularly and frequently.  Weeds compete with the nutrients that your vegetables need and are easier to kill when they are small and haven’t spread too many seeds.

For future success of your garden, clean up old plants when they are finished or at the end of the season.  Also, move plants around the garden so that they only grow in the same place every three years.

There you go.  These are some useful tips to follow if you are thinking about starting a vegetable garden.  So, grab a shovel and enjoy a beautiful vegetable garden this summer!

Source: Los Angeles Wood and Composite Decks Construction – Danny Deck Inc., CA.

March Recipe of the Month

Philly Cheesesteak Foil Packs

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. flank steak, thinly sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat grill to medium-high. In a large bowl, toss together steak, peppers, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place steak mixture in foil packs. Fold up packs and grill, 10 minutes.
  3. Open packs, top with provolone, and cover grill to melt, 2 minutes
  4. Garnish with parsley and serve.

 

Courtesy delish.com

December Recipe of the Month

Smoked Standing Rib Roast

Ingredients:

  • 15 pounds charcoal briquets
  • 2 pounds hickory wood chips
  • 1 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 1 (4 pound) standing rib roast, bone in
  • 1/2 cup steak seasoning

Directions:

  1. Start at least 10 pounds of the charcoal in a torpedo style smoker. You need a fairly hot fire. Fill the secondary pan with cold water, and wait for the coals to turn white. Soak hickory chips in bourbon with enough water to cover. Rub the roast liberally with steak seasoning, being sure to coat all surfaces.
  2. When the coals are ready, place the roast on the top grate. Throw a few handfuls of soaked hickory chips onto the fire, and close the lid. Check the fire every 45 minutes or so, adding more charcoal as needed to keep the fire hot. Every time you check the fire, add more wood chips. Cook for 8 to 10 hours, or to your desired doneness. Use a meat thermometer to check the roast. The meat tastes best when rare: 145 degrees F (65 degrees C), but cook to your liking.

 

Courtesy allrecipes.com
garlic shrimp

November Recipe of the Month

Grilled Whole Turkey

Ingredients:

  • 12 pounds whole turkey
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Directions:

  1. Prepare an outdoor grill for indirect medium heat, and lightly oil grate. Rinse turkey, and pat dry.
  2. Place turkey breast side down on the prepared grill. Sear turkey on both sides until skin is golden to dark brown.
  3. In a large roasting pan, mix together the water, bouillon powder, garlic powder, onion powder, poultry seasoning, parsley, and paprika.
  4. Place turkey breast side down in the roasting pan. Scoop the pan mixture over the turkey. Cover tightly with foil and place on grill.
  5. Grill 3 to 4 hours, until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F (85 degrees C). Remove turkey from grill and let stand 15 minutes before carving.

 

Courtesy allrecipes.com

October Recipe of the Month

Honey-Ginger Grilled Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 ( 1 1/2 pound) salmon fillet

Directions

  1. In a large self-closing plastic bag, combine ginger, garlic, soy sauce, orange juice, honey, and green onion; mix well. Place salmon in bag and seal tightly. Turn bag gently to distribute marinade. Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat and lightly oil grate.
  3. Remove salmon from marinade, shake off excess, and discard remaining marinade. Grill for 12 to 15 minutes per inch of thickness, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

 

Courtesy allrecipes.com

September Recipe of the Month

Grilled Chicken Wraps

Ingredients:

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 4 links pork sausage
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 12 slices bacon

Directions:

  1. Slit open each chicken breast. Cut each sausage link in half lengthways, then cut to the length of the chicken breast. Place a halved sausage link inside each chicken breast, then add jalapeno peppers to taste, onion and garlic and seal the chicken with toothpicks.
  2. Season the outside of each chicken breast with Cajun spices/seasoning. Wrap each breast with 2 slices of bacon and secure with toothpicks. Place on a barbecue grill over medium coals and grill until done, about 30 minutes each side. Enjoy!

 

Courtesy allrecipes.com