A long-living plant is the perfect gift for Mother’s Day
Everybody’s mother has different tastes, and the plant-loving ones all have their particular favorites. But there’s one thing to remember no matter what your mom likes, said horticulturalist Mark Viette.
“When giving a plant as a gift,” he said, “be sure to choose one that will last a long time.”
If you want to give bright colors, a tropical hibiscus can be kept inside during the winter and outside when the temperature warms up. Yellow, orange or red gerbera daisies are another long-lasting option.
Hydrangeas are great inside or outside of the home, Viette said, but if you purchase a hydrangea from a greenhouse, it is best to keep it in a protected environment.
Orchids, he noted, have surpassed the poinsettia as the top-selling potted plant.
“That’s great, because unlike poinsettias, orchids can be purchased year-round,” Viette said.
Orchids bloom twice a year and should be kept in an area that reaches 40% to 60% relative humidity, with 50% being ideal.
“Orchids like high relative humidity with cooler nights and warmer days,” Viette said. “The leaves should have a purplish color or rosy tint. Be sure to buy an orchid that has plenty of buds.”
Another popular plant that enjoys similar growing conditions is the bromeliad. “Bromeliads are known for their beautiful color in the center of the leaves,” Viette said. “They like bright light and don’t need full sun.”
Bromeliads can be planted outside during the summertime.
Greens go a long way toward good nutrition
Spring is the season for spinach and other leafy greens, including collards, kale, bok choy, arugula, mustard and turnip greens.
Many leafy green veggies are excellent sources of vitamins A and C and contribute calcium, iron, fiber and other nutrients to your diet, according to the National Leafy Greens Council. All greens are free of fat and cholesterol and are low in calories and sodium.
One pound of raw kale yields about 2½ cups cooked kale, and 1 pound of mustard greens yields just 1½ cups cooked greens.
To store greens, wrap them in damp paper towels, then place in a plastic bag and refrigerate. To prepare, thoroughly wash the greens. Remove any roots, stem the greens and repeat the washing process until all grit disappears.
Mild-flavored greens like spinach, kale or chard can be steamed until barely tender. Stronger-flavored varieties like collards and mustard or turnip greens benefit from longer cooking in a seasoned broth. They also should be blanched before adding to soups and stews; otherwise a bitter flavor will predominate.
Don’t cook greens in aluminum cookware, which affects both their appearance and taste.
Spinach, Cheddar and Apple Salad
Here's a fresh, springtime salad using spinach right out of the garden.
Source: Virginia Cooperative Extension
Put down the phone! Studies show distracted driving kills
Put away the phone, and keep your eyes on the road.
A survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed 660,000 drivers use phones or manipulate electronic devices while driving at any given daylight moment. While data is mixed on the dangers of talking on the phone, the evidence is clear for texting or manipulating devices.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a study of over 3,000 drivers indicated crash risk was two to six times greater when drivers were handling a cellphone.
Cellphones and texting may be at the top of the list for distracted driving, but other dangerous activities include adjusting the radio, grooming and applying makeup, operating a navigation system, eating or drinking, and talking to others in the vehicle.
The NHTSA reports 2,841 people were killed by distracted driving in 2018. An estimated 400,000 people were injured in crashes involving distracted driving the same year.
Researchers have found brain activity associated with visual processing and attention is suppressed when drivers are cognitively distracted. This can lead to “inattention blindness,” where drivers fail to comprehend or process information from objects in the roadway, even when they are looking at them.