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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Plot your best spring break by garden guide
For some of us, spring break is an event that involves digging up dirt or breaking ground for a new garden. If you're new to gardening, you likely have many questions, among them which plants to plant and when to plant them. Fortunately, experts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have those answers, determined, in part, through use of a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map (www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone). The map, which divides North America into 11 plant hardiness zones, according to their average lowest temperatures, puts coastal South Carolina, where I live, in hardiness zone 8a. Friends in Kenai, Alaska, where this column is also read, lies in hardiness zone 4a. The reference to these zones are found on plant containers, seed catalogs and seed packets and is the guide we need to make the right plant choices for our gardens. Besides knowing about the zone we live in, it's also important to make a reliable prediction regarding the last frost date for the season so all your hard work doesn't freeze up and crash. If you're new to your area, or want to feel safe about a good time to plant, you'll find frost/freeze maps, with dates, on the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Climatic Data Center's website, at www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/freezefrost/frostfreemaps. Once you know your zone, and have determined a good time to plant, perhaps you'll consider planting an edible kitchen garden. If the benefits of a garden you can actually consume from season to season sounds appealing, Ellen Ecker Ogden's newly released "The Complete Kitchen Garden: An Inspired Collection of Garden Designs & 100 Seasonal Recipes" is a must have. With 14 kitchen garden plans, including layouts for "The Salad Lover's Garden," "The Children's Garden," "The Garnish Garden," and "The Artist's Garden," there's a design for gardeners of every level and taste. Check out the "The Complete Kitchen Garden" at the author's website, at www.ellenogden.com, or wherever fine books on gardening and cooking are sold.

Pioneer Potluck
Although I am not a true Pioneer, I do belong to the Pioneers of Alaska. You have to have lived in Alaska for 30 years before you can join, and I have been in Alaska since 1967. With me, my three kids, and $100 in my pocket, we were going, as my rancher Dad exclaimed, "off to the land of the Icebergs, Igloos and Eskimos!" Never seen an igloo, seen a few icebergs, and have lots of great friends that are Alaska Native. I cherish their friendship and quiet ways.

Coal mine will destroy outhcentral's salmon
The Chuitna Coal mine is still in review. I must agree with Gov. Sean Parnell's statement that he "will never trade one resource for another." How could we when there is so much at stake?

Thanks for breakfast with Santa
Sterling Elementary PTA and Staff would like to express their belated appreciation to Barb Koval, Paul Koval, Danny Koval, Kira Nason, Kate Hughes, Scott Norman, Maryann Carr, Suzanne Launer, Fred Launer, Bijon, Scott Wells, Lottie L, Brianna Sipes, Chantel Warfield, Micah Sterling, Ashton Mahan, Daniel Shuler, Maryanne Rogers, Tasha Grossl, Penny Edin, Billi Ingels, Darci Drury, Tyna Ledda, Lora Sterling, Dinah Mahan, Annette Beck, Krissy Mahan and Sterling Masonic Lodge # 22 (which among others, includes Roxie and Les Little and Paul and Linda McConnell) for all their help in making Sterling Elementary School's Breakfast with Santa a grand success. Many children enjoyed shopping at the Secret Santa Shop after sharing pancakes and punch with Santa and having their picture taken. Without the hard work and dedication shown by these amazing people the school would not have been able to offer our community this wonderful event.

Thanks for making health fair a success
Kenai Peninsula College would like to thank Alaska Health Fair Inc. and our wonderful volunteers and exhibitors for their participation in the 5th Annual Health Fair. We had a record turn out among both participants and attendees at this year's event with over 30 exhibitors, 15 volunteers and 300 students and community members attending the Health Fair on Feb. 16, 2011. We are extremely excited to be able to provide services such as low-cost hearing and vision screenings, lab tests, mammograms and access to health and wellness resources to our local community and look forward to continuing to do so in the future!

A new wave of energy: Company studying tidal power in Cook Inlet
As the liquified natural gas plant in Nikiski prepares for its final shipments, a tidal power company is preparing to begin collecting environmental data in the same area.

Regulatory body nears expiration date
A bill that made its way to the House Finance Committee last week would extend the life of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

Branching out in Homer: Bikes, mushrooms, spoons just the beginning
HOMER -- Riding around town on his tandem bicycle with a bucket of spoons, Homer's Spoon Guy has become a minor celebrity. In his wool cap, sweater and pants, Michael Henri Glasgow can be seen at his booth at the summer Farmers' Market or sometimes riding in parades. Where some carry a knife, Glasgow's sheath on his belt has a couple of spoons handy. If you need finely crafted, whimsical spoons that are works of art, Glasgow's your guy.

Liquid gold: Exploration wells planned to look for Southcentral gas
Two more independent oil and gas companies are gearing up to drill exploration wells on the Kenai Peninsula and Cook Inlet just as a third company is winding down its operation.

Video: Students spend spring break at Challenger Learning Center's Aviation Camp
Students spend spring break at Challenger Learning Center's Aviation Camp... learning how to fly!

Photo: Too good to pass up

Photo: Pedigreed pedestrians

Soldotna man charged with assault
A Soldotna man has been charged with assault and reckless endangerment after he allegedly wielded a loaded shotgun while intoxicated and threatened to kill himself in front of a Soldotna woman and her two young children last Friday.

Borough budget may cut tourism marketing money
The Kenai Peninsula Borough fiscal year 2012 budget process is in full swing and the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council is concerned it could end up on the chopping block.

Leonard Olson
Longtime Alaskan and Soldotna resident Leonard Olson died Sunday, March 20, 2011, at his home. He was 90.

Richard B. Sundvik
Longtime Kasilof resident, Richard B. Sundvik, 78, died Monday, March 21, 2011, at Central Peninsula Hospital with his daughter by his side.

Wayne Martin Brooks
Kenai resident Wayne Martin Brooks, 66, died Sunday, March 20, 2011, at his home with his family by his side after a long battle with cancer. A memorial service will be held in Burden, Kan., at a later date.

Fuel costs drive rate increases at HEA: Time to explore alternatives, says Association's general manager
Utility rates can sometimes be a confusing set of numbers and formulas, but a recent announcement about an Homer Electric Association rate increase is actually pretty easy to explain. Simply, the rate increase is closely tied to the cost of fuel used to generate electricity.

Leave safe cell phone use up to drivers
The phrase "Hang up and drive" has been employed more than once on the roads of Alaska, but soon it may have the force of law. The leading cell phone regulation bill making its way through the Capitol would ban motorists from using all but hands-free devices.

Around the Peninsula

Central Peninsula caregivers meet

Around the Peninsula

Gathering set for retiring Postmaster

Pet Photo: Buddies forever

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