September 2, 2014

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Local Columnists

Ticks: Out for blood
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 8:59 PM

By Mark Holtsberry

Education specialist Paulding SWCD

Warmer weather is finally here and with the rising temperatures comes the emergence of ticks that may carry dangerous diseases, and now are looking to feed.

People need to understand there is a risk of getting sick from tick bites when they are outdoors, and that there are things they can do to keep themselves, their families and their pets safe.

Got Milk?
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 8:58 PM


By Nancy Whitaker

Last week some loose cows in Paulding County drew media attention as they were spotted cavorting around and down Oho 500. In fact, the bovines made the Fort Wayne TV news and drew some interested onlookers as well.

Information as to how the cows got out is quite sketchy, but as the pictures depicted, it was quite a sight to behold. This got me thinking about cows and how everyone used to raise cows for milk and food.

‘Buy local!’ The garden version
Sunday, April 27, 2014 9:26 AM

In The Garden


Clichés are just so...cliché. When we see them, our eyes tend to move quickly past them, our brains barely registering the words we just read. Yet we somehow grasp the meaning in a split second, giving clichés inherent value even as we dismiss them as a tired communication tool.

You hear it all the time - “Buy local!” We generally take it to mean that we should spend our dollars in locally owned businesses. It can be a tough row to hoe (cliché alert!) for the smaller independent businesses, as they struggle to maintain their presence alongside the big stores.

It can be a dilemma for the shopper too, because we all only have so many dollars to spend and we want to get the most for them. I will be the first to admit that if I can buy something considerably cheaper at a big box store, that’s where I’m going to buy it. Add to it that many times those stores are more convenient in terms of location as well as being a “one-stop shop,” and it’s hard not to shop there.

But there are compelling reasons to buy your plants and garden materials locally. “Local” can be an ambiguous term, but generally it means a business that is both located in your community and owned by people who live there. Consider these things when you’re ready to get in the garden this spring:

Your local garden center often carries the same plants you might find in a big box store, but if you want something out of the ordinary, you’re more likely to find it in a smaller, independent garden center (IGC).

There’s a lot of thought given by the IGC owner when they make their buying decisions. They want to carry attractive plants that perform well, including those tried-and-true varieties that we’re familiar with, but they also want to cater to those who seek the unusual.

It’s always a gamble as to what will sell well. No business owner wants to get stuck with inventory that buyers passed over. But IGCs also don’t want their business to look like one you’d see in Every City, USA. And besides, those big box stores don’t have as much invested (relatively) as the independently owned ones do.

You know those plants that have a one-year guarantee at the chains? When you return a plant there, the store doesn’t lose money outside of the lost sale. They only pay for the plants that go out their doors and stay out. That loss is borne by the supplier and/or grower. Not so with the smaller independents. So when they offer plant guarantees, appreciate what that means to their business.

IGC owners also care a lot about whether their customers have success with what they buy, and they often choose to carry plants that have a high rate of success for their particular geographic and climatic area. That means happy customers, which in turn means repeat business. Happy customers often share their experiences with others and word of mouth can be the best PR a business can have.

Local garden centers are known to take better care of their plants too, and healthy plants already have a better start in your garden before they even go out the door. As a rule, IGCs are more knowledgeable about plants in general and the ones they carry in particular. They can help you make decisions about what would work best in your individual situation.

Many times, the local garden centers purchase plants as liners and grow them larger themselves. That may mean that the plants you buy locally have acclimated themselves to local conditions, thereby increasing their chances of success in your garden.

Want a certain plant or a large quantity of something? Sometimes local businesses will special order things for you. Good luck trying to get a big box store to order you a couple of flats of something specific.

It’s no secret that the smaller garden centers are struggling. Last month, I spoke with the owner of one of them at the Fort Wayne Home & Garden Show and during the hard part of this winter (which was pretty much all of it), he shared with me that just keeping his greenhouses going cost him $200 a day in propane.

It takes a lot of sales to support costs like that and it’s representative of the things that all businesses have to face, whether large or small. But these things have a bigger impact on the smaller businesses.

Sometimes I think we take our local small businesses for granted. We assume they’re doing okay and that they’ll always be around, but they won’t be if we don’t support them. There’s another cliché that I’m sure you’re familiar with: “It takes a village to raise a child.” It also takes a village to make a village.

Read Kylee’s blog, Our Little Acre, at and on Facebook at Contact her at

Click to read more stories from our Spring Special Section!

Easy ways to get green outside
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:56 PM

By Mark Holtsberry

Education specialist Paulding SWCD

As springtime approaches, here are some recycling tips for your lawn and garden and outside leisure.

Out in nature:

Spring surprises in the woods
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:55 PM

By Kylee Baumle

Since spring and winter decided to call a truce, it’s the perfect time to take a break from your garden chores and enjoy the show that may be going on right now in a woods near you. If you’ve never taken a stroll through the woods at this time of year, you’re really missing out.

Ohio has an abundance of native wildflowers and Mother Nature can be a real show-off. Don’t wait too long to get out there though, because just like the crocus and daffodils and other spring bulbs in your garden, the spring wildflowers won’t last forever.

Celebrate Creation and the earth around us
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:54 PM

By Jim Langham

Some of my earliest memories are the sounds of doves, cardinals and chirping birds singing their morning chorus when I accompanied my mother and grandmother to the garden early to avoid the heat of the summer sun.

I recall getting off the school bus in late April or early May and the aroma of blossoming cherry trees, crabapple tree, lilacs and the spring flowers from our nature-cultured yard surrounding the 100-year old country home where I was raised.

Hoppin' down the bunny trail
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:54 PM


By Nancy Whitaker

Kids look for the Easter Bunny almost as much as they do for Santa Claus. The thrill of hiding an Easter basket filled with goodies never gets old.

Easter is the second most important candy-eating occasion of the year for Americans who consume 7 billion pounds of candy a year, according to the National Confectioner’s Association.

Now there are some parents who are concerned that their children might eat too much Easter candy. Recently while shopping, I saw a display of Easter toys. One of those toys really enthralled me and I really wanted to buy it.

Was your garden winter strong?
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 7:09 PM

By Kylee Baumle

Gardening is an exercise in patience. Ours has already been tried for nearly the entire year so far. So much of gardening depends on the weather and we know how that’s been.

Lots of snow to move, school delays, cars that won’t start, spring that won’t come. Then it does and we go on walkabout through the gardens to assess the damage. Before we can find out what’s made it and what hasn’t, we give ourselves the standard pep talk to bolster our hopes.

Look in The Bible
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 7:08 PM


By Nancy Whitaker

I was raised in a home where Bible reading and teaching was a part of our every day routine. Lots of times in the evenings, we sit in a circle listening to Grandma read the scriptures. So many of those Bible stories and scriptures have not only stuck with me, but they have been my rock and support through the years.

There is always some type of program on television which tries to discredit biblical teachings. They debate the validity of Noah and the ark; the parting of the Red Sea; David killing Goliath and now they are even speculating that Jesus was married.

Cover up with cover crops
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 7:08 PM

By Mark Holtsberry

Education specialist

Paulding SWCD

Cover crops have been enjoying a national rediscovery in the past few years. Healthy plants hold valuable soil in place. Cover crops are plants seeded into the soil in agricultural fields and gardens, either within or outside of the regular growing season, with the primary purpose of improving soil health. Cover crops are unique in that most are planted primarily to boost soil health and not for their seed, fruit, or forage.