There are several advantages to growing fruit shrubs that are native to your area. In addition to improving the look of your yard, many of these plants produce edible berries. Here are three species to consider.
1. Black chokeberry
This easy-to-grow ornamental shrub will brighten up your yard in spring with its white and pink blooms. After admiring the flowers, you can harvest handfuls of the black berries, which are rich in antioxidants and can be used to make jam, juice, and wine.
This plant produces large, flat clusters of tiny white flowers that have edible petals. As for the berries, they must be cooked prior to eating them. Failing to do so is likely to result in an upset stomach. However, their tart taste makes them a great option for pie fillings, jams, and syrups.
3. Highbush cranberry
Though it’s different from a regular cranberry, this bright red fruit does have a similar taste. The berries are naturally high in pectin, which makes them ideal for making jams and jellies. Keep in mind, however, that this shrub can grow up to 13 feet tall.
Before you select a fruit shrub for your yard, make sure it’s well-suited for the climate in your area. Consult the hardiness zone on the plant’s label or speak with a specialist at your local garden center.
Winterize now for a cozy December
Here’s how to stay warm this winter and save on heating and repair costs.
Your home’s exterior:
Clean the gutters so ice dams don’t form and cause damage.
Replace cracked caulk around roof vents and around the chimney.
Install a chimney cap to keep critters and objects from dropping in. A cap will also keep rainwater from dripping down into the fireplace.
Put door sweeps on those that don’t connect with the threshold. Use caulk around windows and doors as needed or masonry sealer on brick.
Rake away debris and weeds from the foundation and seal any cracks. Install a plastic cover on the crawl space access door and seal some of the vents.
In the garage: Clear enough space to put your car inside on very cold nights. Check your snow blower and generator to be sure that they run. Buy a new snow shovel if you need one and have a bag of ice-melt on hand.
In the crawl space:
Wrap exposed pipes with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation. If frozen pipes are a significant problem for you, wrap the pipes with heating tape. Be sure it is activated in cold weather.
Check heat ducts for air leaks, whether they are in the crawl space, attic or basement so all the heat goes through the vents. Fix any breaks or gaps with a metal-backed tape.
In the attic:
If you can see the ceiling joists, add insulation. Don’t use paper-backed — it can cause moisture problems, according to the experts at MSN Real Estate.
In the house:
Get the furnace checked and the central air conditioning unit winterized at the same time.
Be sure the fireplace damper isn’t open unless you make a fire. Woodstoves should have glass doors that are closed when the stove is not in use.
Install socket sealers over unused electrical outlets on outside walls and reverse ceiling fans so they push warm air forward and force it to circulate.
Kids’ Corner: Do black panthers really exist?
Did you know that black panthers aren’t actually their own species of cat? Here’s some information about these felines that may surprise you.
A genetic mutation
The term black panther refers to any wildcat, such as a leopard, jaguar, or cougar, that has melanism. This condition occurs when big cats produce an excessive amount of melanin, a pigment that turns their fur and skin black. However, if you look closely, you’ll notice they aren’t completely black. These animals still have the typical markings of their species, which are masked but not eliminated by the excess of black pigment.
A practical characteristic
For some felines, a black coat can be an advantage when hunting. Melanism allows these wildcats to camouflage themselves in the jungle at night and surprise their prey. This type of pigmentation also helps wildcats avoid certain infections. Consequently, it’s not surprising that this trait continues to be passed down, making melanism a relatively common mutation.
In addition to big cats, several other animals can sometimes be affected by melanism, including wolves, dolphins, and alligators.
Time to plant spring-flowering bulbs
Do you always admire spring-blooming flowers in your neighbors’ gardens? If you want to see a profusion of blooms in your own yard next year, the work starts in the fall.
Late October and early November are the best times to plant spring-flowering bulbs. Here’s how to do it.
First, select a site that has good soil and good drainage so bulbs will continue to flower year after year.
For tulip, daffodil, and hyacinth bulbs, prepare the soil 8 inches deep or more. Plant them six inches deep, measured from the bottom of the bulb, and six inches apart.
For small bulbs such as crocus, glory-of-the-snow, and grape hyacinth, prepare the soil six inches deep. Plant bulbs three inches deep and three inches apart.
Lastly, broadcast a tablespoon per square foot of 12-12-12 or 13-13-13 analysis fertilizer and water well. When the ground freezes, mulch with two inches of fine mulch or straw.
Can you feed your cat fruits and veggies?
Are you wondering if you should feed your cat fruits and vegetables? Even though they contain vitamins and antioxidants, not all produce is safe for cats to consume. Here are a few things to consider before giving your feline fruits and veggies.
Cats are carnivores, and they require a meat-based diet. Consequently, they have problems digesting many plant-based foods. In fact, the high fiber content of fruits and vegetables can cause your cat to have digestive issues. If you decide to feed these foods to your cat, make sure they don’t account for more than 10 to 15 percent of their diet.
Always wash and peel your fruits and vegetables before feeding them to your cat. Vegetables should be cooked. Remove any seeds, pits, rinds, and inedible skins.
Certain fruits and vegetables can be toxic to your cat. The following are poisonous and should be avoided at all costs:
• Citrus fruits
The following fruits and vegetables are considered safe in moderation:
• Green beans
Remember to always consult your veterinarian before making changes to your cat’s diet.
Take care with dog costumes
Maybe your golden retriever would look just like a lion if you put a mane on him for Halloween.
Or maybe he would look like a dog being tortured.
Dressing up your dog for Halloween is a fun idea, and there are lots of costumes available. Just make sure your dog can tolerate it.
Dogs with thin coats that are used to wearing sweaters are probably the best candidates for costumes. Avoid covering their ears and head, if you can help it.
Covering a dog’s natural coat can trigger anxiety. So if your pooch has to go to a Halloween party, rehearse first. Put the costume several times (on different days) before the event. Praise the dog and play with him while he is wearing the costume. Then remove it quickly. During the event itself, plan to make an entrance and then remove the costume after a short time.
If your dog responds to the costume by licking, pawing, or frantic running, do the fella a favor and don’t make him wear a costume.
For dogs that tolerate costumes, make sure the fabric doesn’t interfere with walking and doesn’t trip them. Don’t cover their ears, eyes, mouth or nose.
Be on the lookout for an overheated dog. That costume over the dog’s natural coat could be very hot.
5 ways to prevent Fido from being dognapped
The demand for dogs increased during the pandemic. As a result, dog abductions are also on the rise. Consequently, it’s a good idea to help keep your pet safe by taking the following precautions.
1. Keep them on a leash
Don’t let your dog freely wander in public. Use a strong leash or double tether so your pup can’t break loose and run away.
2. Don’t leave them unattended
Never leave your dog alone in a car or tied up outside a shop. This provides the perfect opportunity for thieves.
3. Lock your gate
If you must leave your dog in your yard unattended, make sure that your yard is fenced and your gate is locked.
4. Spay or neuter them
Some thieves will steal dogs in order to breed them. If your pet is spayed or neutered, it can help deter potential abductors.
5. Beware of strangers
Be suspicious of anyone who’s asking a lot of questions about your dog. Be evasive and never brag about your pet’s breed. It’s also a good idea to avoid posting too much information about your dog on social media.
Unfortunately, even with these measures, your pooch could still get dognapped. Microchips, however, can help reunite lost or stolen pets with their owners. Consider talking to your veterinarian about having your dog microchipped.