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Did you vow to cook at home more often in 2020? Or perhaps to cook more healthfully and sustainably? The first step is stocking your kitchen with the right ingredients and cooking tools. The second step is to have fun — gifting yourself a new kitchen gadget or buying an interesting ingredient can help spark the fire. Whether you’ve been eyeing a kitchen scale or simply need a good cutting board, set yourself up for success with some handy kitchen gear.

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Turf grass is the groundcover of choice for many property owners, mainly for its rich, carpet-like appearance. But grass is thirsty, demands frequent maintenance and provides little wildlife appeal.

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Smart phones that respond to signals from plants? Laptops that coordinate irrigation at dozens of vineyards? Remote weather stations programmed to text frost alerts?

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Felder Rushing is not a man to be hurried. This former county extension agent turned folklorist, author and lecturer is an advocate of slow gardening — emphasizing the process over the product.

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Grass isn't always the best groundcovers for a yard: It's thirsty at a time when water is becoming scarce; it attracts fewer pollinators; it requires expensive chemicals to maintain, and it must be disposed of if you bag as you mow.

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Take a look at new shoots growing on a favorite shrub or vine and you'll see that the bases of these shoots may be beginning to toughen up, their once soft, green outer layer turning brown and woody.

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Along with the sunscreen, book, toys and snacks we haul to our waterside of choice this summer, we need a beach towel or two.

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Plants need water to keep cool, pump minerals up to their leaves and grow. And in many regions and many seasons, they can fend for themselves getting water.

AP
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Tomato seedlings that were planted neatly near garden stakes are already beginning to take matters into their own hands, and if allowed to grow willy nilly will turn into a tangled mass of vines with tomato fruits — many of them rotting — hidden in a dark jungle of stems.