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The 7 Best Things To Do For Your Lawn In The Spring

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, May 26, 2020

things-to-do-for-your-lawn-in-the-spring

Here we are, more than a month into the spring season. Do you hear your lawnmower calling to you from the garden shed? If the answer is yes, you're someone who loves to keep your lawn looking it's very best. Maybe you like to host a lot of barbecues and other gatherings in your yard during the warm weather months. Or, perhaps you just like to keep your lawn in tip-top shape! Either way, I have seven things you can do now to enjoy a beautiful, healthy lawn this spring and summer.

  1. Cut Your Grass to a Specific Length. Do some research on the most suitable length for your grass. You want to avoid cutting it too short because this can prompt weed growth on your lawn.
  2. Fertilize. Hold on. Isn't fertilizing done in the fall season? Yes, the rule of thumb is to fertilize your lawn in the fall. However, giving it some fertilizer in the springtime spurs on healthy growth while reducing weeds.
  3. Dethatch the Turf. Do you see any yellowish-brown masses of grass in your yard? This is called thatch. Leaving thatch on your lawn can lead to fungus and prevents the grass beneath it from being nourished by the sun and rain. Furthermore, there are some pests that love to make homes in thatch such as billbugs and chinch bugs. So, dethatch your lawn by raking up these masses of dried-out grass and removing them.
  4. Aerate. During the winter, the soil in your yard can become compacted under the weight of snow and ice which doesn't allow for easy growth of grass in the spring. Aerating your lawn is essentially poking holes in the ground to break up the soil. These holes allow rain, air, and sunlight easy access to the grass roots so they can provide nourishment and really bring your lawn to life! Aerating can be done with a simple pitchfork or you can purchase a tool designed especially for this task. There are some aerators you can roll across the grass that are especially helpful if you have a large lawn.
  5. Overseed. Take a walk around your lawn and sprinkle seed on any bare patches you see. Be sure to give these areas plenty of water on the hot days of summer so the grass roots will grow stronger.
  6. Weed. When you weed your lawn in the springtime, you're cutting down on the amount of weeds you'll see in the summer. That sounds like a good deal to me. How about you? If you don't want to go with a chemical weed killer, there are natural methods to remove weeds .
  7. Rake. Rake dead leaves, sticks and loose grass off your lawn in the springtime. This clears away any debris that blocks sunlight, air, and water from feeding your lawn. Be sure to rake when the grass is dry, so you don't pull up healthy grass crowns in the process of removing unwanted material.

Taking these steps in the springtime can give you a lawn you'll love to care for well into the summer months. Thanks for reading.-Alan

Businesses That Started In A Garage: Mattel

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, May 26, 2020

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Each month, I've written about a famous company that got its start within the walls of a garage. This week's company is known throughout the world as the maker of the Barbie doll. I'm speaking of Mattel, of course! So, let's take a look at how Mattel made its way from a garage to the big time!

The Founders of the Mattel Company

The Mattel company's history starts with Elliot and Ruth Handler along with their friend Harold 'Matt' Matson. Before starting Mattel, Elliot Handler worked as a light fixture designer and artist. He also liked to make dollhouses. His wife, Ruth Handler, contributed her business acumen and creative ideas to develop their company. Harold 'Matt' Matson invested in the young company. In fact, it was Harold's garage in southern California that served as Mattel's first headquarters when the company was founded in 1945. The company's name Mattel is a combination of Matson's and Elliot's names.

Setting Up Operations

The first items sold by the company included picture frames and furniture for dollhouses. A garage was the perfect setting for making these types of items. Elliot, Ruth, and Harold had space for their tools, materials, and other supplies. Plus, a garage gave them the privacy they needed to focus on their work. Soon, Mattel moved on from picture frames and dollhouse furniture to toys that appealed to the musical tastes of kids.

The Uke-A-Doodle Makes History

What was the first Mattel toy that was really popular with the kids? Answer: The Uke-A-Doodle! Introduced in 1947, the Uke-A-Doodle was a musical toy shaped just like a ukulele. A child simply cranked the handle on this colorful toy to make it play a familiar tune such as "London Bridge", "Farmer in the Dell" and "Aloha" along with others. The Uke-A-Doodle was the first in a line of unique musical toys made by Mattel.

Moving Mattel Headquarters to Los Angeles

With the great success of the Uke-A-Doodle, Mattel was incorporated in 1948, moving its headquarters to Los Angeles. This move was the first step toward two decades of tremendous creativity and business success. In 1955, Mattel made a very big splash in the toy industry by placing ads on a popular television show called the Mickey Mouse Club. Just imagine how many kids took notice of Mattel toys after seeing them on their favorite TV show!

Barbie Makes Her Debut

In 1959, Mattel introduced Barbie, a three-dimensional doll. It was Ruth Handler who came up with the idea. She even named the doll after her daughter, Barbara. The Barbie doll had fashionable outfits, beautiful hair, and big dreams for her life. So, it'll come as no surprise that Barbie is the best-selling toy in the history of Mattel. Ken, Barbie's love interest, was introduced in 1961 while Barbie's younger sister, Skipper, came along in 1968.

Mattel's Success in the Toy Industry Continues

Mattel created a lot of other well-known toys including:

  • Hot Wheels in 1968
  • Chatty Cathy in 1960
  • See 'N Say in 1965
  • Masters of the Universe dolls in 1982

Though the company has changed over the years, it has continued to flourish in its different forms. And it all started with a unique vision, persistence, and a garage with plenty of space for creativity. Thanks for reading. -Alan

Surprising Things Around The Home That Will Repel Insects And Other Pests

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, May 19, 2020

lemon-to-repel-insects

Do you have mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, mice, or other pests hanging around your house? Well, this can turn into a big issue if you don't have any pest repellent left on the shelf in your garden shed. Luckily, the ingredients you need to make pest repellent may already be in your pantry. Check out a few ideas I found for homemade pest repellent.

  1. A Citrus Spray. Fill a small spray bottle with water and squeeze the juice from a lemon into it. Spray this mixture on your kitchen counters, windowsills, or wherever you see spiders in your home. Spiders are repelled by the smell of citrus.
  2. A White Vinegar and Water Mixture. Get a spray bottle and fill it with a mixture of half water and half white vinegar. Use it to clean kitchen countertops where you've seen ants. This mixture removes the scent trails that ants leave behind to map out their territory.
  3. A Fake Wasp Nest. Use your creativity to deter wasps from building nests around your home by making a fake wasp nest. Wasps are territorial insects, so they don't like to build a nest within 20 yards of another wasp's nest.
  4. Basil. If you have a fly issue in your home, put pots of basil on windowsills and kitchen countertops and near doors. Flies are repelled by the smell of basil. As a bonus, you'll have a supply of fresh basil to use in your spaghetti sauce!
  5. Dish Soap and Apple Cider Vinegar. Fill a glass full of apple cider vinegar, add six drops of dish soap, and fill the rest of the glass with warm water. Place the glass on your kitchen counter. This mixture lures and kills fruit flies that may be hanging around your kitchen.
  6. Steel Wool. Chances are decent that you have some old pieces of steel wool lying around. Use a ball of it to fill a crack or hole in your wall where mice or moles like to enter your home. Rodents aren't able to chew through steel wool.
  7. Catnip Tea. Boil water, drop some fresh catnip into it, and let it boil for several minutes. Allow the mixture to cool, then pour it into a spray bottle. Spray it into cracks, holes and other areas where cockroaches enter your home. These pests are repelled by the fragrance.
  8. Salt. This sounds like a strange thing to do, but if you have fleas in your home, you're likely to try practically anything to get them out. Get a container of table salt, and sprinkle it on your carpet every day for nine days. Vacuum your carpet every three days, and empty the vacuum cannister after you're finished. Giving your carpeting the salt treatment is one way to kill flea eggs.
  9. Mint Spray. Make a mint spray using peppermint oil and rubbing alcohol to spray on your skin. This mixture repels mosquitoes and spiders. It can also be sprayed around your home.
  10. Cinnamon. Put cinnamon on windowsills, near the base of your walls, and in doorways. The fragrance of cinnamon is a repellent to silverfish and mosquitoes.
  11. Old Coffee Grounds. Put your old coffee grounds to good use by lining them up near a wall where ants like to enter. The smell of the grounds deters ants. Be sure to replace the coffee grounds when they dry out.
  12. An Onion in a Bowl of Water. Put half an onion in a shallow bowl of water. The aroma of the onion will help to keep mosquitoes away as you sit on your patio to enjoy the evening sky.

I hope these natural pest repellents/deterrents are helpful to you and your family. Thanks for reading. - Alan

15 Houseplants That Are Safe For Pets

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, May 7, 2020

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If you have dogs, cats, or other animals in your household, you may be hesitant to get a new houseplant. After all, you don't want your pets nibbling on poisonous plants and getting sick. But having pets doesn't mean that you can't liven up your home with a little greenery. Before you back your car out of your garage and head for the garden store, check out this list of houseplants safe for pets.

  1. African Violet: This plant is safe for cats, dogs, and pet birds. African violets need partial sunlight and moist soil to flourish. Bonus: Besides beautiful blue violet petals, you can find these plants with white, pink, or red petals. Why not get one of each?
  2. Spider Plant: Safe for dogs and cats, this low-maintenance plant's long, delicate leaves make for an interesting addition to any room. A place that receives partial sunlight is best for this plant. Also, it needs plenty of water in the warm-weather months and can benefit from a spray or two from a misting bottle.
  3. Areca Palm: If you want a large houseplant that's safe for dogs and cats, this palm is a good bet. Water this plant only when the soil is completely dry, and put it in a room that receives bright sunlight.
  4. Boston Fern: This traditional favorite is safe for both dogs and cats. It needs partial sunlight and a daily misting with a water bottle to remain healthy.
  5. Polka Dot Plant: This dog- and cat-approved plant has green leaves featuring splotches of pink, white, and red. Give this plant direct sunlight, and make sure its soil remains moist.
  6. Peperomia: This houseplant has charming light green and yellow leaves. It needs partial to direct sunlight as well as water whenever its surface soil becomes dry. Stick your finger about a half-inch down into the soil: If it's dry, add water.
  7. Mosaic Plant: Take one look at the white or pink pattern on its leaves and you know how this canine- and feline-safe houseplant got its name. Be sure to keep it in an area with partial sunlight and water it only when its soil becomes dry.
  8. Haworthia: This dark green succulent looks like a miniature aloe plant. It needs to be watered weekly and live in bright sunlight. Dogs and cats are safe around this succulent.
  9. Prayer Plant: Need a plant to add some pizzazz to a small table? This one would be perfect! It's safe for dogs and cats, and it does best in indirect sunlight. Be sure to keep its soil moist at all times.
  10. Bamboo Palm: If you like large houseplants with tropical flair, this one is for you! It's safe for a household with a dog or cat. Water this plant on a regular basis, and keep it in an area with partial sunlight.
  11. Hens and Chicks: This attention-grabbing succulent is safe for a home with dogs, cats, or pet birds. It grows best in an area with full sunlight. To avoid overwatering, test the soil with your fingers. If the soil is completely dry, this plant needs water.
  12. Bird's Nest Fern: If you want another dog- and cat-friendly fern, this one is an appealing choice. It fares best in a place that receives a low level of sunlight. Also, it needs a drink of water each week.
  13. Money Tree: Yep, there's a real money tree! Though it doesn't give you a supply of cash, it does give you greenery that's safe for your pets. Water this tree only when the top 2 inches of soil are dry. Find a place for your tree where it'll receive indirect sunlight.
  14. Swedish Ivy: This is a dog- and cat-safe houseplant also known as Creeping Charlie. It needs water once per week and flourishes in partial sunlight.
  15. Cast Iron Plant: Consider a deep green, distinctive houseplant that's dog- and cat-friendly. This one requires an extremely low level of sunlight. Also, check this plant's soil to see if it's dry before adding water.

If you're thinking about a houseplant that's not on my list, check out the list of pet-friendly houseplants provided by the ASPCA. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Using Flowers To Attract And Repel Certain Critters

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Apr 28, 2020

flowers-to-attract-and-repel-critters

Flowers That Attract Insects and Animals

Lavender

There's not much of a downside to planting lavender in your garden. It attracts bees and butterflies for one. Also, you get to enjoy its lovely deep purple color and fragrance.

Black-eyed Susan

These are hardy perennial flowers that can endure poor soil and dry conditions. Black-eyed Susan's can have petals of brilliant yellow, bronze and even red. They attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Plus, in the fall when the petals fall off of these flowers, finches eat the leftover seeds for nourishment in the cool weather. Praying mantis like to live among these flowers. A praying mantis eats beetles, crickets and other insects that can do harm to your garden.

Zinnias

Zinnias can be found in yellow, red, orange, white, purple and pink. In fact, the only zinnia colors you won't see are blue and brown. These flowers are easy to grow and beloved by hummingbirds and bees.

Marigolds

Planting marigolds is a great way to attract ladybugs to your garden. Why do you want ladybugs in your garden? Of course, they're cute! But, another reason is ladybugs eat mites and aphids that can feed on your flowers making them look like Swiss cheese! Marigolds add splashes of orange, white, yellow or red to your garden.

Flowers That Repel Insects and Animals

Petunias

Petunias are sweet flowers found in red, white, yellow, and purple. They are known to repel insects such as mosquitoes, squash bugs, beetles and aphids. Many people plant them near vegetables to keep these pesky bugs away.

Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums repel fleas, ants, roaches and Japanese beetles. Gold, red, maroon, purple, and pink are just a few of the many colors you can find if you want some of these blooms for your yard.

Lavender

Lavender is a repellant to moths, fleas, flies, and mosquitoes. You can even put some bouquets of lavender inside your home or even in your garden shed to deter flies.

Marigolds

Planting marigolds in your garden can keep mosquitoes and aphids away due to its fragrance. Also, marigolds have been known to keep rabbits at a distance, so they aren't so quick to start munching on your flowers and vegetables.

Geraniums

If you already love these cheerful flowers you'll be glad to know they repel mosquitoes along with other pests. So, be sure to add some red, white, purple and yellow geraniums to your garden this year.

With a little planning, your garden can serve multiple purposes while providing you with a beautiful view out your window.

Thanks for reading.-Alan

12 Natural Methods To Ease Your Spring Allergies

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Apr 7, 2020

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For some, the start of Spring brings sneezing, a sore throat, and sniffling right along with it. Spring allergies can take the enjoyment out of watching the flowers and trees waking up all around us. Good news! There are several natural ways that allergy sufferers can get some relief from spring allergies.

  1. Keep Your Windows Closed. Keeping the windows closed at all times can be tough to do if you like to have a light breeze traveling through your home. But, when you keep them closed, you're preventing pollen from blowing in and settling on your furniture and floors. You won't have to deal with pollen circulating throughout your home and aggravating your allergy symptoms.
  2. Taking a Shower After Being Outdoors. Taking a shower and putting on fresh clothes after being outdoors for an extended amount of time can help relieve your allergy symptoms. Pollen on your clothing, skin or hair can irritate your allergies so showering prevents you from spreading this pollen onto your pillows, the couch, etc.
  3. Try a Nasal Rinse. Have you ever heard of a Neti pot? This is a product used for nasal irrigation. It's the process of moving saltwater through your nasal passages in an effort to remove pollen and other irritants from the area. You can use a Neti pot up to twice a day.
  4. Wear a Face Mask While Outdoors. Wearing a face mask whenever you go outdoors can block some of the airborne pollen from entering your nose or mouth. An N95 filter mask is effective at blocking pollen.
  5. Use Natural Cleaning Solutions. Make it a point to purchase natural cleaning solutions to use around your home. Some of the ingredients used in other types of cleaning products can irritate allergy symptoms.
  6. Acupuncture. When you receive acupuncture you're having needles placed beneath the skin at certain points of the body. These needles stimulate nerves sending signals to the brain to produce chemicals that reduce inflammation. This can be done whether your allergy symptoms are mild or severe.
  7. Vacuum Your Home More Often. Pollen can creep into your home when the doors open. So, vacuuming your home once every couple of days can keep those irritants from mixing in with your indoor air. Be sure to empty the filled vacuum canister into a trash can in your garage.
  8. Wear a Hat. Keep a hat with a brim by your door and put it on whenever you go out. Your hat is a barrier preventing pollen from settling on your hair.
  9. Add Some Garlic to Your Meals. Chopping up garlic and putting it in your soup or on a sandwich can help relieve your allergies. Garlic is spicy and serves to thin mucus reducing congestion during allergy season. Bonus: Garlic is delicious!
  10. Drink Diluted Apple Cider Vinegar. Mix two or three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with water and drink it twice a day. This can raise your potassium level to soothe your runny nose.
  11. Avoid Going Outside in the Early Morning. Pollen is especially abundant from about five to ten in the morning. So, if you like to jog or walk in the morning either wear a mask or change your morning walk into an afternoon one.
  12. Practice Stress Relieving Activities. Stress can aggravate spring allergies and decrease the power of your immune system. So, find some stress-relieving activities to do each day. Reading, yoga, scrapbooking and listening to music are just a few easy things to do.

I hope some of these natural allergy-relief options are helpful to you and your family. Take care and thanks for reading.-Alan

Businesses That Started In A Garage: Harley Davidson

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sun, Mar 22, 2020

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Google, Yankee Candle, Hewlett-Packard, and Disney are just a few examples of the highly successful businesses that have started in a garage. When you think about it, a garage is the perfect place to start a business: You have the space and privacy you need to bring your business plan to life. Today, I'm going to continue my series featuring businesses started in a garage by highlighting Harley-Davidson. Let's roll on with the story behind these famous motorcycles, sometimes called hogs.

The Beginning

The story begins in 1901 with 20-year-old William Harley, who created a plan for a small engine designed to fit onto the frame of a bicycle. This engine added to the bike's speed as the rider pedaled. In 1903, Harley joined forces with friend Arthur Davidson to take this idea to the next level. They set up shop in a 10-by-15-foot shed/garage and created the first version of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The garage had adequate shelf space for the parts, tools, and other materials necessary for their work. One of the first people to purchase their 1903 model was a school friend named Henry Meyer.

Growing the Business

Soon, this pair of ambitious inventors was joined by Arthur's brother, Walter. The Harley-Davidson business continues to grow as the three men created five more models of the motorcycle they sold to their school friend. The first Harley-Davidson dealer was Carl H. Lang of Chicago, who sold one of the first three motorcycles the company made. As the business grew, the inventors went on to produce more motorcycles. In 1906, they made 50 motorcycles, prompting them to move their operations to a larger building on Chestnut Street in Milwaukee. The inventors hired six employees and even put out a motorcycle catalog.

Getting Recognition

In 1908, the Harley-Davidson motorcycle received even more attention when Walter Davidson achieved a perfect score in the seventh annual Federation of American Motorcyclists (FAM) contest measuring endurance and reliability. Davidson and his motorcycle also set a FAM economy record of 188.234 miles per gallon. People in the world of motorcycles were hearing good things about Harley-Davidson.

Creating Momentum

Harley-Davidson continued developing innovations, including improvements on the design of the V-twin engine and a patent for the Ful-Floteing seat, which was more comfortable for riders of differing sizes. In 1917, after the start of World War I, a third of the motorcycles made by Harley-Davidson were sold to the U.S. military for use in the war.

The Mid-20th Century and Beyond

Harley-Davidson celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1953. Its famous logo featuring the letter "V" for the V-twin engine and the words "American Made" was put on a medallion placed on the front fender of all 1954 Harley-Davidsons. Another highlight of the decade saw singer Elvis Presley posing for a motorcycle enthusiast magazine on his 1956 Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

More Highlights in Harley-Davidson History

  • 1960: Harley-Davidson makes the Topper scooter, the only scooter model the company ever made.
  • 1968: Racer Cal Rayborn claims back-to-back wins on Harley-Davidson's 750 KR at the Daytona 200
  • 1986: The 1340cc V2 Evolution engine is put on the market after being in development for seven years.
  • 1988: A traveling museum featuring classic Harley-Davidson models and memorabilia of the company's history starts a tour around the country.

From its humble beginnings in a 10-by-15-foot garage, Harley-Davidson cruised to the top of its industry and continues to thrive. I hope this inspires you to consider making your garage into the birthplace of your new business! Thanks for reading. - Alan

The 10 Best Things You Can Do For Your Lawn At The Start Of Spring

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Mar 17, 2020

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Spring is upon us: Is your lawn ready for the new season? Discover what you can do to make sure your lawn is ready to flourish in the spring and summer months.

  1. Seed the Bare Patches on Your Lawn. If you have a lot of bare or discolored patches on your lawn, try overseeding. Overseeding involves throwing down some grass seed and a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. After the grass starts to germinate, put down a fast-release nitrogen fertilizer to complete the process.
  2. Rake Your Yard. Raking your yard at this time of year removes thatch along with twigs, sticks, stray leaves, and other debris. Plus, as you rake, you're removing matted patches of discolored grass and snow mold. So get that rake out of your garden shed and put it to good use!
  3. Check for Compacted Soil. Compacted soil occurs in well-traveled areas of a lawn. When soil is compacted, it's very difficult for grass roots to take hold. Aerating your lawn allows oxygen and sunlight to reach the roots of your grass.
  4. Pull Weeds. Already? Yes! Part of preparing your lawn for the springtime involves pulling those stray weeds that have crept in to get a leg up on the competition. There are some organic weed control solutions available if you want to be even more proactive about keeping those weeds at bay.
  5. Tune Up Your Lawnmower. Of course, you want your lawnmower to be ready to roll when the time comes this spring. Changing its oil, replacing the air filter, putting in new spark plugs, and wiping it down with a damp cloth are all part of getting your mower prepared for the first trim of the spring. Don't forget to buy some fuel while you're at it.
  6. Fertilize Your Lawn. It's best to fertilize your lawn about three weeks after your lawn starts turning green. You want to avoid fertilizing too early because it can promote weed growth.
  7. Get Rid of Grubs. Did you contend with grubs on your lawn last year? If you did, there's a good chance the same will happen this spring. Grubs hibernate beneath a lawn and start to come up in the late spring. If you treat your lawn for grubs now, you can head off the problem before the grubs hatch.
  8. Neaten the Edges of Flower Beds. Mowing your grass is a lot easier when there's a distinct line dividing your lawn and the flower beds. So take time now to do some edging work to neatly arrange the mulch or soil in your flower beds. I think it's a great idea to make a flower bed border using brick, decorative stone, or rubber landscape edging. This makes your yard look all the more appealing.
  9. Water Your Lawn, if Necessary. If you live in an arid area that experiences droughts, then water your lawn regularly just as you have over the winter months. If you live in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, or North, the spring rainfall should provide your lawn with enough water, but if there's a dry spell, you can give it some water to help it along.
  10. Mow Your Lawn. You know it's time to mow your lawn when your grass has grown long enough to cut and the ground is dry. Be sure to research the optimal length for the type of grass you have in your yard.

I hope you enjoy all of the preparations involved in making your yard beautiful this spring and summer. Thanks for reading. - Alan

A Look At What Happens To The Earth During The Spring Equinox

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Mar 17, 2020

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The spring or vernal equinox is almost here: It happens on March 19th this year. But do you know what happens at the time of the spring equinox? If not, this is your lucky day! Discover the incredible changes that take place during the spring equinox here.

12 Hours of Light, 12 Hours of Dark

The Latin word "equinox" means "equal night." This refers to the fact that during the spring equinox, there are 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. In addition, the sun rises due east and sets due west. This happens just twice a year. The other time is during the autumnal equinox. During the spring equinox, Earth's axis is perpendicular to the rays of the sun, and the sun is shining directly over Earth's equator.

Changes Happening on Earth

The spring equinox is connected with the beginning of the spring season. Daylight hours grow longer in the Northern Hemisphere during this time. Meanwhile, daylight hours grow shorter in the Southern Hemisphere. As the daylight hours grow longer and temperatures rise in the Northern Hemisphere, seeds start to grow and plants bloom. The winds are softer, and animals are beginning to come out of hibernation. You're likely to find more hair on the living room carpet as your dog and cat are shedding their winter coats. And not surprisingly, people start getting outside more as the sun is rising earlier and setting later. You may find yourself hopping into the car, backing out of the carport, and rolling down the windows for an impromptu road trip!

The First Day of Spring Is …

According to the astronomical calendar, the first day of spring is March 19, 2020. But if you remember the first day of spring being later than that, you're not wrong. It's actually earlier this year than it usually is! That's because the exact moment when the equinox happens, when Earth and the sun are in the exact right positions, can vary depending on your local time zone. Years ago, the first day of spring often fell on March 21, though lately, it's more often been on the 20th.

However, not all scientists agree on this day as the official first day of spring. Climate scientists use the meteorological calendar instead, which is divided into four seasons with each season lasting three months. These scientists consider the first day of spring to be March 1. Climate scientists have found that using the meteorological calendar instead of the astronomical calendar helps them in their work of gathering accurate statistics and making forecasts.

Interesting Facts About the Spring Equinox

  • Visit El Castillo, a pyramid in Mexico, and you'll see an illusion of a serpent making its way down the steps on the spring equinox
  • Easter takes place on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox occurs. This year, it's on April 12.
  • Some people believe you can stand an egg upright on the vernal equinox because of the position of Earth and the sun. But this is just a myth. Actually, you can stand an egg on its end any day of the year, but it depends on the characteristics of the egg itself and definitely takes patience.

When you take a closer look at the spring equinox, it's hard not to be astounded by all of the transformations that happen when winter turns to spring. I hope you get outside and take in all of the wonderful changes happening in nature. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Gardening Trends To Look Forward to in 2020

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Mar 3, 2020

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Do you want to try a new type of gardening this year? If so, check out some of these top gardening trends for the spring and summer of 2020.

  1. Organic Gardening: This is a big gardening trend for 2020 that looks like it's going to stick around for the foreseeable future. When you create an organic garden, you're not using toxic chemicals that can harm the soil and end up polluting your local water source. Also, the vegetables you grow will be safer for your family to eat. As a bonus, you'll save money on your grocery bill by growing your own organic vegetables!
  2. Gardens That Benefit Wildlife: Growing a garden that benefits wildlife (and people) is becoming very popular with experienced and beginner gardeners alike. Some plants are particularly attractive to pollinators like bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and even bats. Bee balm, delphinium, goldenrod, salvia, and asters are all plants that are attractive to pollinators.
  3. A Garden With Water for Birds and Insects: This gardening trend can serve pollinators and other wildlife by providing them with water to drink during the hot summer months. You may want to add a birdbath to your garden or perhaps create a small fishpond featuring a gurgling fountain. Not only will your water source serve wildlife in your area, but it will set a soothing tone in your garden.
  4. Landscaping With Symmetrical Plants: This trend can give a touch of harmony to your garden or landscape. Bonus: Creating this type of garden is easier than you think. One idea is to put one Baby Gem boxwood on each side of your front steps. Make sure they're identical in size and shape. The trick is to create a mirror image with plants to bring balance to the area.
  5. Growing Dual-Purpose Plants: This gardening trend is sure to be a favorite with green thumbs everywhere. A dual-purpose plant may have a strong scent as well as a colorful appearance. Some examples include scented primrose, viburnum, lilac, and brugmansia. Or you can take a more practical approach and plant dual-purpose flowers that are beautiful and keep the mosquitoes away. Some of these include lavender, bee balm, marigolds, and floss flowers.
  6. Creating a Secluded Area in the Yard: If you'd like to create a quiet place in your garden or yard to read, listen to music, or just think, then this trend is for you. If you have a favorite corner of your patio, put up a trellis and plant some Boston ivy or star jasmine nearby so it will climb the trellis, making your hideaway more private. Planting hedges that will grow tall is another way to enjoy more privacy in your favorite outdoor sitting area.
  7. Keeping Giant Houseplants: This trend is great if you want to enjoy looking at some enormous houseplants in your home this year. Alocasia is known for its large, patterned leaves. Monstera is another big houseplant that can grow to be several feet tall depending on its variety. The fiddle-leaf fig and corn plant are two others to consider.
  8. Growing Vertical Gardens: The vertical gardening trend has always been popular, especially with people who don't have space for a traditional garden. A trellis can be the foundation of a vertical garden of flowering vines. Or consider making a planter out of a wooden pallet and leaning it against a wall of your garden shed or home where it will receive the right amount of sunlight each day.
  9. Growing Dwarf Plants: Create a collection of blooms that take up little space but are just as beautiful as their bigger cousins. Dwarf hydrangeas, dwarf black-eyed Susans, and dwarf zinnias are just a few of the many varieties of plants you can use to create this unique garden.

I hope you give one of these fun trends a whirl this spring. Thanks for reading! - Alan

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