Bring color to your front porch or patio with flowers

Planters filled with beautiful greenery and bright, bold colors can add cheer to any home landscape. Whether hanging from a hook near a walkway or accenting a front or back porch, they serve as a welcoming “pop” of color.

The formula for a healthy flowering planter starts with an appropriate container, potting soil, the right amount of water and proper light, said horticulturalist Mark Viette of Augusta County.

Start with a sturdy container. Viette recommends one that has ample drainage so, when the plants are watered, there’s an avenue for the water to escape.

“A quality potting mix must be used in your containers,” Viette emphasized. “Soil dug from the ground should not be used, because it can become compacted in the container when it is watered.”

Viette also recommends using a slow-release or organic fertilizer.

Water is the single-most important need of your plants, Viette said. “If plants are kept outdoors, the sun and wind will constantly dry out your pot.”

When watering plants, soak the planter thoroughly, until excess water begins to run out of the bottom. (Click to Tweet)

When watering plants, soak the planter thoroughly, until excess water begins to run out of the bottom. Using a gentle stream of water that doesn’t damage or hurt the plants is key.

Depending on soil and weather conditions, the plants may need to be watered daily or every other day.

Your plants may require full sun, partial sun, partial shade or a combination. “Be sure to read the labels of the plants before deciding what to put in your container,” Viette said. “Be sure to group plants together depending on their needs and where you plan to place your pot or hang your basket.”

Pork packs a powerful protein punch

When trying to decide what to make for dinner, consider Pork The Other White Meat®. Pork offers some healthy and easy options for meal planning.

Pork is packed with protein and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Ounce for ounce, pork tenderloin has less fat than a skinless chicken breast. And food scientists are finding ways to make it leaner every year.

The tenderloin is the leanest cut of pork, with only 120 calories for a 3-ounce serving and 2.98 grams of total fat.

Other lean 3-ounce cuts include boneless loin roast, which has 147 calories; boneless loin chops, which have 153 calories; and boneless ham, which has 123 calories.

According to the National Pork Board, pork also contains 57 percent of the daily requirement for thiamin, which helps metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fat. A 3-ounce portion has 37 percent of the daily recommended allowance of niacin, which is involved in the metabolism of sugars and fatty acids. And it contains the same percentage of vitamin B6, which is important for the normal function of enzymes.

Chipotle Pork and Black Bean Nachos

Ground pork and black beans add big flavor to this spicy, cheesy party favorite.

See Recipe

Use this home checklist now to avoid spring storm-related issues later

Spring has sprung and so has Virginia's severe weather season. Warm and humid weather creates the perfect condition for thunderstorms. With this in mind, attention to items on this home checklist could save you a lot of money and stress down the road.

  • Check hoses and water lines to make sure they don't leak and are securely attached to all appliances and plumbing fixtures, including the washing machine, refrigerator icemaker, toilets and dishwasher.

  • Check for stains or other signs of water intrusion in the attic on the underside of the roof. Check the areas around eaves for water damage.

  • If you can do so safely, clean out the gutters, and flush them with water. If you are uncomfortable getting on a ladder or roof, hire someone for this task. Repair all cracks, corrosion, loose fasteners and joint separations.
  • Look for trees that touch or reach over your home, as well as for broken branches hanging from trees. Safely remove them if you can; otherwise hire a licensed and insured contractor to take them down.

  • Clear the heating, air conditioning and ventilation outside unit of leaves and debris, being careful not to bend or damage the cooling fins. You can use a garden hose or leaf blower to remove most of the debris.

  • Check around doors, windows and other breaks in the siding for areas that need caulk or expandable foam to seal them. Vacuum them out before using outdoor-rated sealing products.

  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, using the test buttons. If your detectors are more than 10 years old, replace them. When the time changes to daylight saving time, replace the batteries in your detectors if they have them.