Wild Rice Casserole
1 pkg Uncle Bens Long Grain and Wild Rice Original Recipe
ΒΌ cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups cubed turkey or chicken
Cook rice per directions on box. Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion and saute. Add flour, salt and pepper and stir until pasty. Add milk, chicken broth, and stir until thickened. Mix with cooked rice and turkey or chicken. Pour into 2 quart casserole. Bake at 400 degrees uncovered for 30 minutes.

Like us on Facebook  View our profile on LinkedIn 

Don't treat your Leaves like Trash   
The Environmental Protection Agency reported   that in 2011 yard trimmings accounted for 13.5% of solid waste (a whopping 33 million tons). All this organic material releases methane, a greenhouse gas.   For gardeners, turning leaves into solid waste is polluting, and that doesn't include the carbon dioxide generated by gas-powered blowers and trucks used in leaf disposal.
Turns out leaf litter is black gold; a valuable natural resource. Leaves form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and nourishes soil and plants as it breaks down. Critters ranging from turtles and toads to birds, mammals and even bumble bees rely on leaf litter for food, shelter and nesting material. Many moth and butterfly caterpillars overwinter in fallen leaves before emerging in spring.
Not only does removing leaves harm the environment but it also robs your garden of nutrients while destroying wildlife habitat. What's the alternative?  
  • Let leaves stay where they fall. They won't hurt your lawn if you chop them with a mulching mower.
  • Use as mulch in garden beds.
  • Let leaf piles decompose; the resulting leaf mold can be used as a soil amendment to improve structure and water retention.
  • Make compost: Combine fallen leaves "brown material" with grass clippings and other "green material" and keep moist and well mixed. You'll have nutrient-rich compost to add to your garden next spring.
  • Still too many leaves? Share them with neighbors, friends, schools and others. Some communities will pick up leaves and make compost to sell or give away.
  • Build a brush shelter. Along with branches, sticks and stems, leaves can be used to make brush piles that provide wildlife habitat.
  • Pile leaves up around ornamental trees, shrubs, and perennials. After all, every plant in nature evolved to live under a pile of last year's leaves.
  • Play in the leaves!
Don't carry the best of what nature offers us out to the curb. When we treat leaves like trash - we're throwing away an essential part of the web of life. Plus, the less time you spend raking leaves, the more time you'll have to enjoy the gorgeous fall weather.
Though dressed for winter-wooly bear caterpillars burrow beneath fallen leaves for extra protection. Don't blow away their cover. 
For whatever reason, we just can't seem to help ourselves from wanting to tidy up the garden at the end of the season - raking, mowing, and blowing away a bits of nature to be hauled off to a landfill. There's nothing better than when the optimal solution is also the lazy one.
For more information on the benefits of leaving leaves alone. 
Exiled to Siberia
The reason evergreens stay green all year is not simple. Evergreens (trees that keep their leaves year-round instead of losing them all at once) originated in cold, northern climates , where summers are short and winters bitterly cold. Holding onto their needles certainly brings advantages in the spring, because the trees can get going immediately without waiting for new growth. Evergreen leaves start photosynthesizing as soon as conditions allow, wasting no time in growing a new set of leaves every year, like deciduous trees. Not a day is lost. A maple growing in a similar climate wouldn't even have a chance to open up all its leaves before the end of the season.  
Those skinny needles you see on evergreen trees are actually leaves that are rolled up very tightly. They are beautifully compact and adapted to withstand hard, dry conditions. Needles therefore lose little water when it is in short supply. They are also long and thin to shed the snow and contain little sap for freezing.
However, holding on to needles is also extremely risky. Snow lands on the branches and accumulates until the load is so heavy it can break the tree. The evergreen employs two defense mechanisms to avoid this. First, it grows an absolutely straight trunk, with downward-sloping branches. As soon as snow lands on them, they gradually angle down until they are layered on one top of each other like tiles on a roof. This means that most of the snow falls around the tree and not on it. This design also means that their built-in umbrellas intercept one third of the rain that falls. This pyramidal shape also helps evergreens receive the maximum amount of light from sun low on the horizon.  
Today, some people plant trees in climates that are too warm. In these places, evergreens are always hot and thirsty. Evergreens like it cool and moist. Thanks to climate change, fall temperatures are remaining higher and the growing season longer, stressing out the evergreen. In my estimation, deciduous trees will have a better chance of surviving in the future.
An evergreen makes a perfect backdrop for the intricate branching of a deciduous tree in winter.  
A Colorado blue spruce with a deadly fungus. Similar to humans, trees are vulnerable to disease when stressed.  
Evergreens gain a foothold in the cold, harsh climate
of Yellowstone National Park.
For more information on climate change and plants.

Thanks for reading.  
Happy Planting!    


Faith Appelquist

President & Founder


     Like us on Facebook   View our profile on LinkedIn