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.”

Where to find king cake in Dayton (for Fat Tuesday)

Published: Thursday, February 23, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Those of us in the Dayton area tend to look at King Cake as a bit of a novelty. However, those from or living in the Gulf Coast area take it very seriously.

Commonly enjoyed on Fat Tuesday -- which will be celebrated on Feb. 28, 2017 this year -- the origin of the King Cake goes back to Biblical times as part of the celebration of the Epiphany, celebrated on Jan. 6. Its popularity spread across Europe as a Christmastime delicacy before making its way to the North America. 

French settlers brought the recipe to the Gulf Coast in the 1700s, where the cinnamon-flavored treat was later associated with Carnival season.  

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King cake recipes have transformed into various forms over the centuries, with a small baby doll being included somewhere inside the cake itself to symbolize the birth of Jesus at parties. 

Tradition holds that the party guest who gets the piece of cake with the doll in it will be blessed with good fortune and be crowned the king or queen of said party. But royalty has its obligations as well, as the winner must provide the King Cake the following year.


Ashley’s Pastry Shop - 21 Park Avenue, Dayton 45419

* Big Sky Bread Company - 3070 Far Hills Avenue, Dayton 45429

* Dorothy Lane Markets - Oakwood, Washington Square and Springboro 

* Ele Cake Company - West Carrollton, Beavercreek and Austin Landing 

* Evans Bakery - 700 Troy Street, Dayton 45404

Pineapple pizzagate forces Iceland president to back off ban

Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 @ 6:41 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 @ 6:41 PM

            Pineapple pizzagate forces Iceland president to back off ban

Hawaiian pizza is not for everyone. It’s a decadent, tasty treat to some, but for others ham and pineapple are the worst topping choices ever created.

Iceland’s president waded into the fray last week when a student asked him a question about pineapple on pizza. (Ham wasn’t mentioned, by the way.)

>> Read more trending news  

 Guðni Th. Jóhannesson said he found the combination “completely disgusting,” USA Today reported, and would ban it if he could.

By Tuesday Jóhannesson was forced to back down from his remarks on banning it after a social media storm, dubbed pizzagate, erupted.

“I like pineapples, just not on pizza,” he posted on Facebook. “I do not have the power to make laws that forbid people to put pineapples on pizza.”

“Presidents should not have unlimited power. I would not want to hold this position if I could pass laws forbidding what I don’t like. I would not want to live in such a country,” he said.

Dear President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson,
We cant believe you.  Poor Iceland. However, we forgive you because our guess is...

Posted by Homegrown Tap & Dough - Arvada on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Instead, Jóhannesson, made his own recommendation for the best topping.

“For pizza, I recommend seafood,” he wrote on Facebook.

Jóhannesson is Iceland’s youngest president ever at 48. He was sworn into took office last August.

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson: people should try fish on their pizza!

Posted by Farerskie kadry on Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Carillon Park to no longer host Germanfest Picnic or its own German heritage festival 

Published: Thursday, January 05, 2017 @ 12:53 PM

UPDATED: Dayton History stated on Friday that they are no longer planning to host a German heritage festival. 

>>> FULL STORY: Dayton History cancels plans for German Festival at Carillon Park <<<


Liederkranz-Turner’s 34th annual Germanfest Picnic will not be held at Carillon Park.

Instead the park will hold its own 10-day German heritage festival, said Brady Kress, Dayton History’s president and CEO.

“The festival is going to be bigger and better than what they ever did here before,” Kress said. “It is no longer financially beneficial to us to continue to partner with them.”

Dayton History is the non-profit organization that operates Carillon Historic Park and several other historical sites. 

The new festival will be held Aug. 11 to 20 at the park located at 1000 Carillon Blvd. in Dayton.

Germanfest Picnic was planned at the park for Aug. 11 to 13. Those dates are still advertised on the German club’s website.

John Koerner, Germanfest Picnic’s longtime chairman, said he was taken back by news of the new festival.

He said he only found out Wednesday that the Dayton History wanted to end its festival when he received a letter from Kress.

“I think it is disingenuous to undercut (us) and have their own festival,” he said. “They are going to try to build off everything we did over the last 33 years and that really annoys me.”

GermanFest is the 127-year-old club’s largest fund-raising event, bring in as much as $75,000 annually.

The future of the event will be among the chief discussion items when the 400-member organization holds its annual meeting on Sunday, Jan. 8.

Kress said hosting the event no longer makes financial sense for the park.  

“People think we are public park, and we are not. We are a charity,” Kress said. “It became very obvious it was not a winning proposition for Carillon. We just cannot do this this way.”

GermanFest Picnic has been held at the park all but three of its 33 years.  It returned seven years ago. 

 “We invited them back into the park and started paying them,” Kress said. 

He says the park loses money and sees a drop in sales at Culp’s Cafe and Carillon Brewery during the festival. He said he could not quantify the amount of money lost or paid to the GermanFest Picnic.

“They walk away with tens of thousands of dollars, and we are left with the park to repair,” he said. “In its current form, it is a losing proposition for Carillon Park. Our sales in the brewery are terrible that weekend. As a nonprofit, we cannot in essence subsidize other groups’ fundraisers.”

Kress said the park only gets money from the sales of water and sodas during the festival. He said the club has refused to share proceeds from other sales in the past. 

“At the end of the day, they are keeping all the proceeds from the events other than soft drinks and water,” he said. “It hurts Carillon.” 

Koerner said he was baffled Kress’ statement, saying the the club pays the park $6,500 annually and has paid more the past two years for trash disposal. 

“The festival has been held at Carillon Park all but 3 of its 33 years,” he said. 

GermanFest Picnic left the park about 10 years ago for the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. 

Liederkranz-Turner and Dayton History worked out an agreement seven years ago to have the festival return. 

A five-year agreement was extended two years ago, but not renewed last year.

Alcohol sold at the festival is acquired under Carillon’s liquor licence, but Koerner said the club reimburses it.  

“I don't know how the hell he says he pays for us,” Koerner said. “I pay for the tents. I pay for the security. I pay for the golf carts. I am just appalled that they can try to yank this up from under us.” 

Koerner said more than 1,000 volunteers work thousands of hours annually to put on the GermanFest Picnic. 

As much as $10,000 annually in money and club rents are giving to a list of groups that includes Boy Scouts, United Rehabilitation Services, Special Olympics. A portion the money raised from the picnic pays for scholarships the club grants. 

He said the park is not being a good community partner. 

“We have a limited number of (members), but our associates, friends and family number in the thousands,” he said. “To think they would try to take it over and confuse people and ruin it really annoys me.” 

When all is said and done, Kress said the decision to end the agreement is a tough business decision, but one that needed to be made for the benefit Dayton History and fit in to its mission and will enhance the brewery. 

The new heritage festival will feature 10 days of beer, brats, music and other entertainment. It will be open weekdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends.   

“It is going to be a 10 day blowout throughout the whole park. It is going to be really fantastic,” Kress said. 

“It’s a real revamping and expansion of what we have always done here.”

The park has changed dramatically over the years, as has Dayton History’s needs, Kress said.

GermanFest Picnic was the last of three large festivals that outside groups held held at the park.

AleFest Dayton left the park in 2011. 

>> MORE: Beer festival changes venues after 11 years 

Fleurs de Fete, formerly called Fleurs et Vin, was held there and benefited AIDS Resource Center Ohio, now Equitas Health, for a number of years. 

The event founded in 1990 by Heidelberg Distributing Co. and Arrow Wine & Spirits to benefit local charities was moved to Welcome Park near UD Arena and Welcome Stadium in Dayton in 2015.

Carillon Brewery opened on the grounds of Carillon Park that year and created complications with state licensing laws.

Fleurs de Fete returned to Carillon last May, and now benefits Dayton History. 

Police call dog that ate heroin stash 'one tough pup'

Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 @ 5:28 PM
Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 @ 5:28 PM

            Police call dog that ate heroin stash 'one tough pup'

Police in Texas rescued a puppy left in a truck Saturday, after the dog consumed an unknown amount of heroin.

The dog was left in truck while its owners were allegedly switching price tags inside a Home Depot. The owners were arrested for "heroin possession and for fraudulent destruction, removal, or concealment of writing," according to the Carrollton Police Department.

>> Read more trending stories

Our many thanks today to Dr. Stacie Fowler and the staff at North Texas Emergency Pet Clinic for nursing...

Posted by Carrollton Texas Police Department on Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The dog was taken to North Texas Emergency Pet Clinic for treatment of opiate overdose and is expected to make a full recovery.