Cooler temperatures create ideal conditions for planting a tree

If you think spring is the only time to do major work in your yard, you just may be surprised. Fall is actually the perfect time to work on landscaping.

"Fall is an excellent time for planting," said horticulturist Mark Viette, host of a gardening segment on Real Virginia, Virginia Farm Bureau’s monthly television program. "It is for sure one of the most ideal times to plant trees and shrubs, because the plants aren’t as stressed by the heat and soon become dormant."

Trees are available in containers or with the root ball wrapped in burlap.

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"With the balled trees in burlap, you need to plant them wider instead of deeper," Viette said. "The general rule of thumb is to dig a hole wider as opposed to deeper. If you had a 1-foot (diameter) container or burlapped tree, you need to dig a hole that is 2 feet wide. If you don’t do this, and plant too deep, the plant will stress and sink over time."

Tree roots typically grow in the upper 12 to 18 inches of soil, and they spread out two to three times as wide as a tree’s canopy, Viette said.

Also, be sure to plant trees with the burlap on, Viette said. "When you remove the burlap you run the risk of damaging the root ball. You don’t want to drop them on the ground, or you will stress the root system. Once you plant your tree, cut the burlap around the top." Peel it back, and drop the excess material into the bottom of the hole. Fill in the hole around the plant with the same soil that came out of it.

If your lawn isn’t filling in properly, consider aerating. Core aerating opens up the lawn and airs it out. You can then apply grass seed.

“You don’t have to have a perfect lawn,” Viette said. “A few weeds and clover are just fine, but a well-rooted lawn helps prevent erosion and run off of sediment into streams and waterways.”

To patch missing or brown spots, over-seed little sections by loosening the surface with a rake and then tossing grass seed over the spot.

Viette suggests mowing grass to 3 or 4 inches to help prevent weed problems.

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Safety on the road: It's all about seeing and being seen

Virginia pedestrian deaths reached a record high in 2019, so Drive Smart Virginia is reminding drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to share the responsibility of road safety—especially during Bicyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Month in September.

The organization’s “See and Be Seen” campaign advocates for motorists to drive without distractions and to be aware of other road users. The initiative also urges bicyclists and pedestrians to avoid distractions, obey traffic laws and increase their visibility by wearing bright and reflective clothing and using flashing lights.

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Drive Smart Virginia’s annual report revealed 126 pedestrians and 13 bicyclists were killed on Virginia roads in 2019, and an additional 1,896 pedestrians and 754 cyclists were injured.

When sharing roads with vehicles, cyclists should ride with traffic, and pedestrians should walk facing traffic, as far away from vehicles as possible.

Virginia law requires drivers to yield the right of way to pedestrians at any clearly marked crosswalk. Motorists also must yield in extensions of sidewalk boundaries at the end of a block, and at any intersection without sidewalks where the legal maximum speed doesn’t exceed 35 mph.

Drivers are required to maintain a 3-foot distance from pedestrians and cyclists on roadways. (Click to Tweet)

Greens are age-old nutritional powerhouses

Kale, collards and other leafy greens have been around for thousands of years, and now many health-conscious people are finding new ways to prepare them.

For many years, cooks have seasoned greens with pork fat and overcooked them until the bright green leaves became olive green and the sweet flavor turned bitter.

Today, people’s busy lifestyles and focus on health have led to sautéing greens with a healthier unsaturated fat like olive oil, and adding flavors such as garlic, fresh lemon juice, red wine vinegar and herbs.

Packed with nutrients, just one quarter-cup serving of kale provides 206% of a person’s daily allowance of vitamin A and 134% of vitamin C. It is also rich in calcium and iron and has zero grams of fat.

The same amount of cooked collard greens offers 220% of a person’s daily allowance of vitamin K, 29.5% of vitamin A and 14% of vitamin C. Collards also are rich in folate, which builds red blood cells and helps prevent anemia, and they contain calcium for building bones.

Additionally, both collard greens and kale contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that are critical in preventing macular degeneration—the leading cause of central vision loss for people 50 and older.

Winter Greens Salad

Winter greens can taste bitter, but don't let that turn you off. The vinegar and citrus in this recipe for a delicious winter green salad help to brighten up any bitter flavor.

Source: Virginia Cooperative Extension

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