LEWIS & CLARK EXPEDITION 200 YEARS AGO 12/03/1804

The father of the Mandan who was killed in the hunting party incident visits Fort Mandan. He gives the captains some dried squash and pemmican, probably in gratitude for their willingness to avenge his son's death. The captains return the favor by offering presents to the man, who seems very happy with the recognition.

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WINTERIZING THE GARDEN

Gardeners need to put their gardens to bed for winter. Flowers and vegetables whose foliage has begun to brown and shrivel should generally be removed before winter. Removing the spent foliage is an excellent way to reduce the chance for fungi and insect pests to over winter.

Herbaceous perennials should be cut back to just above the crown of the plant, the place where the stems join the roots. Annual plants should be completely removed from the garden. Plant refuse can be composted to recycle into organic matter to add to the garden soil next year.

Ornamental grasses provide winter interest in their dried state. In areas where the soil is prone to erosion by wind or water, leaving the dead stems can help hold soil in place. In these cases, plants can be left until later winter or early spring. Make sure to cut back the dead stems before the new foliage comes up.

Pruning of trees and shrubs is generally best left until late winter or spring for most plants. Pruning in fall will leave the cut stems vulnerable to further dieback at the cuts, and, in some years, may encourage buds to sprout during mild weather. Dead or damaged limbs can be removed any time.

Clean up of fallen tree leaves may be needed, especially around mature, large-leaved trees, such as maple, oak and sycamore. But autumn leaves can easily be turned into valuable, soil-enhancing organic matter. Dry leaves can be plowed or tilled under in the vegetable or annual flower beds, in fall, to provide a source of organic matter. Shredding the leaves first will speed the breakdown, so that the leaves will not be visible by spring. Be sure to mix the leaves into the soil, rather than leaving them on top through the winter, to avoid keeping the soil too cold and wet to work in the spring. Tree leaves can be recycled directly on the lawn. Use your power mower or shredder/vacuum to break dry leaves up into smaller pieces. A mulching blade on the mower will speed this process, but even a standard blade will do an adequate job. For large leaves like maple and sycamore, it may take several passes to get a finely shredded product. Once the leaves are pulverized, they will break down quickly. A fall application of nitrogen fertilizer (about 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet) will help speed decomposition of the leaves and also will benefit the grass plants.

Fall leaves also make great composting ingredients, especially when mixed with green trimmings and grass clippings. Again, the smaller the pieces, the faster they'll break down, so shred or chop dry leaves before adding them to the compost pile. If you don't have green trimmings or grass clippings, add a source of nitrogen to the leaves, such as commercial fertilizer or dry cow, horse, sheep or poultry manure.

Last, but not least, shredded leaves can be used as a winter mulch to protect tender perennials through the coming harsh weather. Shredding the leaves will help prevent them from packing down as they get wet and smothering the plants that they are supposed to protect. To provide winter protection, apply a 3-6 inch layer of shredded leaves over the top of tender perennials after several hard freezes. The goal of winter mulch is to keep plants dormant through the winter, so it must be applied after the ground is cold and plants are fully dormant. The timing of application will vary from year to year with the weather, but generally will be appropriate sometime between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

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CHRISTMAS CACTI CARE AND MAINTENANCE

Christmas cacti is an alternative holiday gift plant. There appears to be much confusion about these unique tropical cacti regarding care, maintenance and, especially, on how to get them to re-bloom.

We typically think of cacti as being heat tolerant, but Christmas cacti will keep their blossoms longer in cooler temperatures. Keep the plant in a well-lit location away from drafts from heat vents, fireplaces or other sources of hot air. Drafts and temperature extremes can cause the flower buds to drop from the plant before they have a chance to open.

Christmas cactus is a tropical plant and is not drought tolerant as its desert relatives. The Christmas cactus may drop flower buds if the soil gets too dry. The plants will wilt when under drought stress. Water thoroughly when the top inch or so of soil feels dry to the touch. The length of time between waterings will vary with the air temperature, amount of light, rate of growth and relative humidity.

The plant does not need fertilization while in bloom, but most gardeners enjoy the challenge of keeping the plant after the holidays for re-bloom the next year. While plants are actively growing, use a blooming houseplant-type fertilizer and follow the label directions for how much and how often to feed. While the Christmas cactus can adapt to low light, more abundant blooms are produced on plants that have been exposed to more light intensity. Keep your plants in a sunny location indoors. Plants can be moved outdoors in summer, but keep them in a shady or semi-shady location. Leaves may start to turn a bit red if exposed to excessive light. Too much direct sunlight can actually burn the leaves or may cause them to become limp. When it's time to bring the plants back inside in the fall, slowly adjust the plants to life indoors by gradually increasing the number of hours they spend indoors each day.

If your plant tends to dry out and/or wilt frequently, it may be time to repot the plant into a slightly larger container. Well-drained soil is a must for Christmas cactus. Use a commercially packaged potting mix for succulent plants or mix your own by combining two parts plain potting soil with one part clean sand or vermiculite.

Pruning your Christmas cactus after blooming will encourage the plant to branch out. Remove a few sections of each stem by pinching them off with your fingers or cutting with a sharp knife. These sections can be rooted in moist vermiculite to propagate new plants.

Christmas cactus will bloom if given long uninterrupted dark periods, about 12 hours each night. Begin the dark treatments in about mid-October to have plants in full bloom by the holidays. You can place the plants in a dark closet from about 8 P.M. - 8 A.M. each night for 6-8 weeks or until you see buds forming. Christmas cacti will also bloom if they are subjected to cool temperatures of about 50 to 55 degrees F, eliminating the need for the dark treatments. Plants should be blooming for the holidays if cool treatments are started by early November.

Other species of holiday cactus bloom at different times of the year and have slightly different growth habits. Christmas cacti have scalloped stem segments and bloom at the stem tips. Thanksgiving cacti have 2-4 pointy teeth along the edges of the sections and will bloom earlier than Christmas cactus if left to natural day-length. Easter cacti have rounded teeth along the segments and bloom primarily in the spring but may also periodically re-bloom at other times of year.

We have a great selection of Christmas Cactii available at the garden center to help create an alternative to poinsettias. Come in soon for the best selection.

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RECOMMENDED EXERCISE AND DIET PROGRAM

1. Eat right! Make sure you get your daily dose of fruits and veggies.
2. Take your vitamins and bump up your vitamin C.
3. Get plenty of exercise because exercise helps build your immune system. Walk for at least an hour a day, go for a swim, take the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.
4. Wash your hands often. If you can't wash them, keep a bottle of antibacterial stuff around.
5. Get lots of fresh air. Open windows whenever possible.
6. Get plenty of rest.
7. Try to eliminate as much stress from your life as you can.

OR ... You can take the doctor's office approach.
Think about it, when you go for a shot, what do they do first? Clean your arm with alcohol. Why? Because alcohol kills germs!

SO THE FOLLOWING GREENSCAPE GARDENS EXERCISE AND DIET PROGRAM IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED.

1. Walk to the liquor store = exercise.
2. Put a lime in your Corona = fruit.
3. Put some celery in your Bloody Mary = veggies.
4. Drink on the bar patio = fresh air.
5. Get drunk, tell jokes, and laugh = eliminate stress.
6. Pass out = rest!

The way I see it, if you keep your alcohol levels up, any and all of the flu germs can't get you!!!!