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Homework: Penn State Master Gardeners to teach frugal gardening basics

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“Landscaping With Trees in the Midwest,” by Scott Zanon

Frugal gardening workshop set

Penn State Master Gardeners will have a workshop on frugal gardening Sept. 25 at the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Preservation Resource Center in Wilkinsburg.

This class will cover the basics of planning a vegetable garden: siting, preparing the soil, selecting plant and seed varieties (including hybrids and heirlooms), starting plants from seed, planting, tending your plants, troubleshooting problems, harvesting, extending the season, getting the most out of small plots and putting the garden to bed for the winter.

It also will look at straw-bale gardening — a type of raised bed and/or container gardening — as one type of frugal gardening.

The free workshop is from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at the center at 744 Rebecca Ave., Wilkinsburg. Registration is requested by contacting Mary Lu Denny at 412-471-5808, ext. 527.

Drug take-back is Sept. 27

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 27.

Dozens of law-enforcement agencies and other sites will be accepting expired, unwanted or unused controlled, noncontrolled or over-the-counter medications. Liquid products and creams in their containers will be accepted.

Participants should remove any personal information from the bottles or packages. Sharps and syringes will not be accepted because of the potential hazard posed by blood-borne diseases.

After the collection, the Drug Enforcement Agency will safely dispose of the medications.

For a complete list of collection sites, go to www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html

Choose the right tree for your site

You wouldn’t buy a crib and expect your kid to sleep in it till he’s 18.

So, why would you plant a dawn redwood six feet from your house?

Yet, Scott Zanon sees that kind of heedlessness in landscaping all the time. That’s why he’s written “Landscaping With Trees in the Midwest,” a book intended to help readers to choose trees that will thrive and enhance their properties.

It’s all about putting the right tree in the right place, Zanon said.

That dawn redwood, for example, might grow to be 100 feet tall and 25 feet wide. Plant it too close to your front door, and, in a few years, you’ll have to hack your way out.

The book profiles 65 trees Zanon considers desirable, photos of the mature trees and close-ups of noteworthy features such as flowers, leaves or bark.

Zanon gives readers the essential facts about each tree: how big it will get, how fast it will grow, what sun and soil conditions it requires, and other important considerations.

His book is published by Ohio University Press and is priced at $26.95 in paperback. It’s available from bookstores and online booksellers, and can also be ordered from the publisher at www.ohioswallow.com.

Make your home less appealing to pests

Pest-control pros say there’s much you can do to make your home less inviting to creepy crawlies:

• Start by inspecting your home, inside and out. Make sure your window screens are in good repair. Look for cracks and gaps in the foundation and around windows and doors. Seal any problem areas with caulk or use hardware cloth or mesh.

• Check that your crawl space access door fits properly. Inspect other areas that could offer bugs shelter: soffits, pipes, dryer vents, doorjambs and utility-wire holes.

• Take a look at your landscaping. Trim overhanging tree limbs that might provide an insect or rodent on-ramp to your home. Cut vegetation so it’s at least three feet from your home. Don’t allow soil or mulch to build up around the foundation. Siding shouldn’t touch soil or mulch, and firewood should be stored away from the house.

• Moisture also attracts insects, particularly termites and carpenter ants, which can damage your home’s structure. Find and eliminate the source of any damp areas. To prevent or reduce mosquitoes, eliminate standing water on your property.

— Staff and wire reports

Send Homework items to Features in care of Sue Jones, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, D.L. Clark Building, 503 Martindale St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212; fax 412-320-7966; or email [email protected].

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