Harvest 2011

  • Written by Brad Sherman, Winemaker/Owner, Michael Florentino Cellars.

This is the time of the year that winemakers love and dread at the same time. The excitement of the harvest is here. The cool summer was offset by the hottest September in Washington history. This has us on par with last year’s late harvest, but with some lower acids.    Many whites are pressed an in the stainless steel tanks fermenting, while others are still hanging a little longer and all are hoping the light rains will not have any ill effect. The earlier ripening grapes like Merlot are being harvested from the hotter regions and we slowing starting to harvest other varietals. It will be a very short harvest this year and the wineries will soon be full of grapes fermenting from wall to wall. If your local winemaker looks a little warn down, remember there is a lot on his mind. They are monitoring the weather, the fruit, the wine that is fermenting and the space they hope they have for the fruit they have on order.  Even with all that is on their mind, they always appreciate those customers that are interested in the process they love.

This is the perfect time to visit the Woodinville Warehouse District and experience the harvest first hand. You can still try your favorite wines, or venture out and try something new.  Many wineries will have some fresh grapes and may even allow you to try some of the fresh pressed fruit. You may even get the pleasure of trying some of the fruit that is partially fermented. The combination of alcoholic infused fruit juice that is carbonated by the fermenting yeast if a very unusually treat.   It is the season we all look forward to — harvest 2011.

Why do horses need vitamin mineral supplements?

  • Written by Del Johnson, M.S., P.A.S. Certified Equine Nutritionist, CEO - Equine Nutrition Inc.

Horses evolved grazing over large areas eating a wide variety of plants from the mountains to the valleys. During the last 50 years their environment has changed. The typical horse is confined, eating 2 or 3 species of plants.These plants have been produced by intensive farming methods. This creates a situation prone to nutritional deficiencies. Here is why:

1. Horses eat only a few species of plants. This lack of variety increases the likelihood of deficiency. Different feeds contain varying levels of nutrients. For example, humans have hundreds of food sources from all over the world (including meats which are full of necessary vitamins and minerals.) Horses are strict vegetarians eating only a few types of plants from a limited geographical area. This lack of variety increases the probability that horses will be deficient.

2.  Plant products that are farmed using high production methods are increasingly deficient.

3.  For example, in many areas, five cuttings of alfalfa are produced off the same ground year after year. This decreases the trace minerals available to the plants. Crops are fertilized with sulfur containing fertilizers which greatly decreases the availability of trace minerals like selenium.

4.  Storage decreases the vitamins in feeds. Typically hay is cut in the summer and stored until the winter, often nearly a year, sometimes longer. Hay loses 50 percent of its vitamin A content after six months of storage.

More Households Using Cleaning Services Even in Tight Times Customers want free time for family, friends, fun

  • Written by (Grassroots Newswire)

Even in a tricky economy, more and more households are getting outside help. What precious free time people have they don’t want to spend scrubbing the toilet.

“People want more balance in their lives and the free time that they do have they want to spend with their families or friends,” said Randall Shear, owner of The Maids of Seattle. “Knowing that the house will get a good scrubbing not only frees up time but reduces stress for many of our hard-working customers.”

The Maids International, an Omaha-based franchisor, reports use of home cleaning services is on the rise in many markets across the U.S. Customers include dual-income families, single-parent households, members of the military and retired couples.

In more than 100 U.S metropolitan areas with franchises of The Maids, people such as Karleen Dell’Ova say regular service from their local team is the last thing they will give up.

“I would give up my iPad, my iPhone, whatever to have The Maids,” Dell’Ova said. “I told my husband that when he retires, The Maids will be the last thing to go.”

Dell’Ova has used The Maids of North Hampton, N.H., since 2003. With their two children grown and out of the house, she and her husband Vin moved to a retirement community in nearby Durham.

She wanted some help and a neighbor recommended her cleaning woman. Dell’Ova gave her a try. “It did not work for me,” she said. “I wanted a company.” She uses The Maids once a month and the schedule keeps her on track with routine upkeep but spares her the heavy-duty stuff. She appreciates how fast the team works and loves returning home to a spotless house.

“They know the house,” she said.

“Personal attention and outstanding customer service are hallmarks of The Maids,” said Shear. “We treat every house like it is our own.” or call 1-800-The-Maids.

Winterize your home for long-term payback

  • Written by ARA

You may not want to think about it, but winter will be here again before you know it. Of course, winter means it’s time to turn the heat back on, which can be a strain on your home energy budget.

“Older windows are a common culprit of air leakage in the home, but today’s replacement options have insulating values that are moving closer and closer to the insulating value of a wall,” says Chris Pickering, vice president of marketing, Ply Gem Windows. “If your home has original windows, having new energy efficient ones installed can make a significant difference in comfort, while also saving energy.”

For instance, installing highly insulating R-5 windows in a replacement project previously would have been cost prohibitive to most consumers. With new glass technologies now available, windows that achieve R-5 performance (U-value of 0.22 or lower) have become much more affordable. Ply Gem Windows offers an R-5 option on many product styles at multiple price points.

“Air leakage through holes, gaps and cracks is another one of the biggest causes of home heating and cooling loss,” says Mike Kontranowski, strategic marketing manager, Dow Building Solutions. “It accounts for a significant amount of the energy used in most homes, with older homes being especially vulnerable to air leaks.”

Bulbs: Easy Care Color

  • Written by Pat Roome, for Molbak’s
P3012245Want to be greeted in early spring by brilliant blooms? Then it’s time to pull on the garden gloves and get busy planting bulbs for spring color and inspiration.

Planting bulbs

Bulbs perform best in well-drained soil; soggy soil can induce rot and inhibit healthy growth. A rockery, a sloping bank or a raised bed provides good drainage. Bulbs are also great in container gardens. Most bulbs are hardy and easy-to-grow; they make beautiful displays in sun or shade, even ice and snow. Choose bulbs that are big and heavy with skins intact. All bulbs require a period of cool temperatures to grow healthy roots – so fall is the perfect time for planting.

Prepare the planting soil by loosening it down to 6 inches. If the soil is heavy and compacted, add compost. Tulips and daffodils need to be buried 4” deep, small bulbs only an inch or so. Plant bulbs at least 4 inches apart, plant farther apart if you want them to spread and naturalize.  To create a longer flowering bulb bed, plant larger late-blooming bulbs first, like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, add soil up to the top of the bulb then plant small early-blooming bulbs, like snowdrops, crocus and early daffodils, between the big bulbs. Cover them with soil.

Protecting your buried treasures

Do you have bulb-stealing voles or squirrels? (By the way, moles are meat eaters and don’t eat bulbs). After planting a bulb, set a low growing ground cover plant right on top. Choose Lysimachia nummularia (creeping jenny) or Viola odorata (sweet violet) over small bulbs. Vinca minor (periwinkle) looks spectacular under-planted with daffodils. Try topping bulb beds with aromatic woolly and red creeping thyme.

Feed now for brilliant blooms

At time of planting, apply an organic fertilizer with high phosphorus and potash such as Dr. Earth Bulb Food or Espoma Bulb Tone on the soil surface and let fall rains water it in. Or make your own formula; I use 3 parts dolomite lime, 2 parts bone meal and 1 part 5-10-10 fertilizer.

Great plant combinations

Early arriving snowdrops create a graceful effect under a low growing Japanese maple. Scatter colorful Anemone blanda (windflowers) under shrubs to create a blue, pink or white mat of cheerful daisy-like flowers from March to May. Alliums are architectural and modern looking; schubertii and globemaster are eye-catching varieties in garden beds. Plant bulbs around Hellebores, columbine or flowering currant for a brilliant display of early spring color. For the new gardener, “Perfect Partner Bulbs” are bulb packages pre-selected for compatibility and color harmony.

Learn more

On October 1 from 12:30-1:30 p.m.,  I will be presenting a free seminar, Year-round Color with Bulbs. Please join me for time-saving tips and creative ideas to brighten your garden with bulbs. I’ll also explain how to force bulbs for holiday blooms.

Pat Roome is a long time Master Gardener, a landscape designer and consultant and has lived and gardened in the Seattle area for many years. She can be reached at (425) 454-1308 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..