Earth-friendly gardening tips

Published: Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 12:05 AM
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 12:05 AM

It’s time to plan this year’s garden, and what better day than the week of Earth Day.

We asked local gardening experts for tips on switching to more earth-friendly gardening practices. Here’s what they shared:

Check your soil

Our experts suggested making sure your soil is good before you even start planting. Nick Fabisiak, general manager of Marvin’s Organic Gardens in Lebanon, noted that where houses are built, contractors often strip off the best layer of topsoil, leaving a layer of hard clay.

If you’re working with hard clay, you need to mix in some organic matter to break it up, suggested Cheryl Malott, vice president Deal’s Landscape Service in Beavercreek.

“If you have very rich soil, your plants may do well without fertilizer,” added Five Rivers Metroparks Education Supervisor Betty Hoevl. For organic matter, she suggests compost.

Fertilize naturally

Aside from compost, there are organic fertilizers on the market that can be added to the soil, but as Fabisiak noted, “it can be a marketing ploy” to label products organic or natural. He suggested checking product labels for USDA or OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) certification to make sure they’re genuinely organic.

Particularly with vegetables and herbs, using natural products is important, Hoevl said. “If you use chemical fertilizer with clay soil, your plants will look great, but your tomatoes will taste like paper. You need some organic matter in the soil.”

Fight fire with fire

For insect control, Fabisiak said Marvin’s Organic Gardens owner Marvin Duren likes to “fight fire with fire.” For instance, putting a birdfeeder in the garden attracts birds that then stick around and eat the bugs, too.

It’s also good to learn about insects before obliterating them, Hoevl added. For instance, some insects change shape within a couple of weeks and are no longer a threat to plants. If you’re dealing with those types of insects, she said, you might be able to just rinse them off of your plants for a few days.

Control weeds naturally

For weed control, the only truly all-natural product Fabisiak knows of is corn gluten, which should be applied early in the season, when forsythia is blooming.

Otherwise, Hoevl suggests simply “smothering” weeds — covering the ground with a thick layer of newspaper and topping with mulch to keep weeds from popping through.

Manage disease through prevention

“If you have healthy soil, you’ll have healthy plants,” Fabisiak said. “It’s kind of like people: If you take care of yourself, you don’t get sick” oftentimes, he said.

To maintain healthy soil from year to year, the key is to rotate crops, he said. For instance, Marvin’s Organic Gardens had trouble with diseased plants after planting tomatoes too many years in a row in the same patch. Particularly after planting a nitrogen-hungry plant like tomatoes, it’s important to rotate in peas, beans or another plant that restores nitrogen to the soil, he said.

Clipping off the diseased part of a plant before the disease spreads is another way to control disease naturally, Hoevl said.

Bring in the birds and bees.

Attracting natural pollinators like butterflies, bees and hummingbirds can help plant health too, Fabisiak said. Aside from the standard butterfly bushes, he suggests pineapple sage, which produces red flowers that attract hummingbirds and bees.

Sunflowers also invite birds for insect control, he said.

And an evergreen cover, though it won’t feed birds, provides a nice place for them to harbor, Malott said.

Take a class.

Lectures and classes are available for those wanting to learn more about organic gardening.

Marvin’s Organic Gardens is holding lectures on planting your summer garden, May 11; composting, May 25; and attracting useful wildlife, June 8. For information, go to

Five Rivers Metroparks is holding classes on Compost Kitchen: All About Worms at 6 p.m. Wednesday and Garden Boot Camp at 10 a.m. May 18 at Wegerzyn Gardens, plus many other programs. For more information, go online to

Hoevl says gardeners love to ask questions, so she always has enthusiastic students at her classes.

Gardeners also love to give things away, she said.

“It pays to make friends with a gardener.”

Memorial Day sales: What to buy and what to skip

Published: Sunday, May 28, 2017 @ 2:08 PM

If you’re out and about shopping this Memorial Day weekend, you might be wondering what’s really a good deal and what’s not. A bargain shopper’s greatest fear is spending their hard-earned money on something, then finding it at a better price later on!

To avoid this quandary, here are some tips on what to look out for this Memorial Day weekend.

Read more: 50+ great Memorial Day freebies, deals and sales this weekend

What to buy


Memorial Day weekend is one of the best times to buy appliances from retailers like The Home Depot, Lowe’s and Sears — but it’s not the only time. Though you’ll find savings from these stores up to 42% off, you’ll also find great deals around Labor Day and Black Friday. However, if you’re willing to take a scratch and dent appliance, you can save a ton! Here’s how.

Some notable deals right now:

Read more: 11 ways to pay less for appliances

Outdoor furniture

Patio furniture and outdoor dining sets are being heavily promoted right now, due to the weather getting warmer and demand increasing. You can find a few good deals on outdoor furniture, such as this Garden Oasis 7-piece outdoor dining set for $300 or this 6-piece Mosaic outdoor dining set for $88 at Academy Sports. However, you’ll also find closeout deals on outdoor furniture at the beginning of fall as the weather gets cooler and people spend less time outdoors.


If you broke out the grill only to discover it was in serious need of repair or irretrievably broken, it might be time to take a look at a new grill! There are some decent sales on grills right now, but October is also a great time to shop for grills as the summer grilling season winds down.

Here are a few good buys:


Mattress retailers are cranking up the savings on mattresses right now. Mattresses are typically the best deal around Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Labor Day, among other holidays. February is also a great month to buy a mattress, according to Consumer Reports.

For more on how to pick the best mattress for you, check out Clark’s guide on the best mattresses for your money.


As it turns out, May is one of the best months to buy a new car, according to True Car — as are October, November and December. This is due to new models of the following year beginning to arrive in June. If you’re thinking of buying new, Consumer Reports ranked the top 10 new cars of 2017, considering factors such as road tests, predicted reliability, owner satisfaction and safety.

If you want to save the most money on the car, check out why Clark says it’s best to buy used.

What to skip

Generally speaking, TVs, electronics, laptops and tools are not the best deal right now, so it may be best to wait for these types of items.


When it comes to tools, we’ve seen prices increase over the last several months, but heading into Father’s Day, prices on tools are expected to drop. Be on the lookout for tool deals at stores such as The Home Depot, Lowe’s and Sears!


TVs are generally the best deal around Black Friday or in January before the Super Bowl — especially if you’re looking for a brand name. But if you’re like Clark and you don’t care so much about the brand, there are a few deals around on TVs, like this 55″ 4k TV for $300 at Walmart.


Laptops are typically the best deal around the back-to-school season and heading into the Black Friday shopping season, so it may be best to wait for a deal on a laptop, unless you find a good one-off deal like this 11.6″ 4GB HP Chromebook for $99.


Since new furniture styles come out in the spring, January and February is the best time to take a look at furniture to get the best price. Definitely skip this category unless you find a great one-off deal! However, if you plan on buying used (usually a fraction of the cost of buying new), yard sales are in full swing and you might have some luck finding gently-used furniture at a huge discount.

When it comes to getting the best deal, the best rule of thumb is to always price check and do tons of research on the item you plan to buy before taking the plunge.

Read more: 10 best deals of The Home Depot’s Memorial Day sale

Other stories you might like from Clark Deals:

This is definitely the craziest playground slide in Dayton

Published: Tuesday, July 12, 2016 @ 11:42 AM
Updated: Sunday, May 28, 2017 @ 12:44 PM

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to fly through a forest?

You may not be able to sprout wings, but you'll definitely be zipping through the trees on one of the craziest series of playground slides in Dayton at the Archeological Adventure Zone at Carillon Historial Park.

>> MORE: 6 hidden playgrounds to explore this summer

There is admission to enter the greater park, but once you've gotten your thrills, there's plenty of interactive exhibits both inside and out to help you come back down to earth at a less-than-extreme speed.

>> SUMMER FUN: Dayton Summer Bucket List: 50 things to do this summer

>> FREE EVENTS: 20 things to do with the kids this summer

>> MORE: Cool off at these spray parks and splash pads

WATCH: Cat nurses orphaned puppies at shelter

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017 @ 8:44 AM via Okefenokee Humane Society

A cat named Miracle is nursing newborn puppies at the Okefenokee Humane Society.

On Monday, a man brought seven puppies to the humane society, saying he couldn’t care for them.

He said his dog, the puppies’ mother, had been shot and killed by a neighbor.

That person told police the dog tried to attack him and his children and he had to shoot it.

>> Read more trending news

The dog’s owner said she just gave birth to puppies the day before and must have been protecting them.

“I really felt like we could help (the puppies) in some way, and then Miracle happened,” said Danielle Barcomb, a humane society employee. “So I put these two puppies that I've been fostering up to her, and she took right to them like they were her own.”

Barcomb said it’s not recommended to put such young puppies with another litter that isn’t the same age, but they really didn’t have any other options.

“Love knows no bounds,” Barcomb said. “Doesn't matter if you're a different species or not, you're just a mom trying to give love to some babies.”

To learn more about how you can help the Okefenokee Humane Society, visit their YouCaring page or their Facebook page.

Deer the goat makes stop in Dayton

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 5:08 PM

A Florida man has been traveling around the country with his therapy goat Deer.

Eric Brown of Destin, Fla., made a pit stop today in Dayton. 

He has been on the road with Deer since April 2015. 

STORY: Large iguana on the loose in Beavercreek reunited with owner

Brown is the founder of the Rock Club foundation, which he hopes one day he can turn into a national nonprofit. The mission statement of the Rock Club Foundation, according to its Facebook page, is to empower the people by encouraging creativity, igniting passion and spreading love. 

"We are here to help people smile," said Brown, "and help people come to terms with their own destiny and own realities." 

STORY: Cop rescues baby deer from drain

Brown also has other people who travel with him, and he said all are welcome to join the road trip. Brown plans to help out at soup kitchens and other service areas around the city. 

Brown said he's not sure where he will head next. 

Anyone who wants to support Brown and Deer can go to their go fund me page at 

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