Cheddar Cheese Potatoes with Sour Cream
6 medium baking potatoes
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese - ½ cup reserved cheese
4 Tablespoons butter
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup minced onion
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Boil potatoes until barely tender, about 15 minutes. Drain. Cool slightly; peel. Shred with box grater into a bowl.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with non-stick spray. Cook onion and butter in small saucepan about 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cheese and combine just until cheese is slightly melted. Add sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Fold into grated potatoes. Pour in prepared dish Top with remaining ½ cup cheese.

Bake about 30 minutes. Serves 6

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The High Cost of Neglecting
the Urban Forest 
City trees are the street kids of the forest. They are subjected to an appalling amount of stress, disregard, neglect, and blatant abuse. The average life for a boulevard tree is 10 years. Silver maples live 125 years or more in their natural environment. Bur oaks live 300 years and yet we have urban trees dying in their kindergarten years. As trees mature, they produce more benefits and services to society, not less. Trees are the only part of infrastructure that actually appreciates in value while the rest depreciates .

Too often trees are considered amenities, something nice to make the project look better. Landscape designs are being sold to city councils for approval that show large trees Photoshopped into the plan brochure. The projects won't be approved without the trees. The people buying the project think some day they will have tree-lined streets. Too often the project can't deliver that promise because the space doesn't provide enough room for the mature tree to grow without damaging infrastructure, or the trees aren't maintained because there is not a long- term management plan. There are no consequences to the failed design. The future owners and taxpayers are burdened with the cost of concrete and tree replacement, and the inability to achieve the original shade-lined promises. They are sold a lie.

Decision makers should manage trees as assets including financing proper planting, pruning, removal, pest and disease management, and giving trees enough soil to grow. Invite a consulting arborist to the table during the planning stage. Provide enough money in municipal budgets to ensure trees have long- term care. Word contracts such that all planting and pruning shall abide by ANSI 300 Standards and ensure that it is enforced. Create incentives if trees pass the ten year mark.

If we simply rotate out trees when they grow too big for the limited space we have left for them, or plant a new tree year after year, in the end it's you who pays the price. Plus, we don't reap the incredible benefits and ecosystem services big trees provide.

I can imagine the Photoshopped image of trees in the planning stage of this taxpayer funded park. In the end all that's left is an empty shell that cannot be saved, until one day it will be chopped down. A little while later a new tree will be planted and the drama will begin all over again.

To grow big trees, municipal budgets need to be properly funded for ongoing maintenance, like protection against vandalism.

Yep, it's dead. An all too familiar sight barely registers with the public, who ultimately pays the price for faulty design.

No amount of water can save this tree. Cities are good at planting trees, bad at watering them, and even worse at putting them into good living conditions. 

For more information on the Costs of Not Maintaining the Urban Forest.
Space Invaders
On a bright, sunny afternoon last week, my house was once again swarming with lady beetles (aka lady bugs) suffering from the delusion that my home was their home. This petite invasion is underway throughout our area as the multicolored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia) seeks winter refuge in homes, schools, and office buildings.
Multicolored Asian lady beetles are an exotic insect and not native to the U.S. As early as 1916, deliberate attempts were made to introduce Asian lady beetles into the U.S. from Asia, to be used for biological control of certain pests in the U.S. We are not exactly sure how or when this lady beetle arrived, but by the mid-1980s, it was firmly entrenched from Florida to Washington State.

What's up with the unsavory habit of invading our homes? Are these ladybugs simply rude or are they hopelessly goofed up? As Old Man Winter approaches, Asian lady beetles seek protected locations such as crevices and cracks in rocky cliffs and outcroppings to escape the ravages of winter. Throughout the cities and suburbs rocky cliffs are scarce, but homes and buildings are plentiful. Any cracks around windows, breaks in stone foundations, or unscreened vents in the attic, can allow entry to your home.
Once inside, the beetles settle in and become dormant for the winter, but on warm days in the late winter and early spring they may become active and find their way to sunny windows, where they attempt to escape. To prevent this, repair screens on your windows and vents, caulk your foundation, seal air conditioners, and eliminate points of entry to your home. As the little devils collect on windows, walls, and doors vacuum them up and throw the bag in the garbage. Dispatch them permanently. One word of caution; when disturbed, they can release a smelly, bitter, secretion. This neat trick is called reflex bleeding and it is their way of delivering a nasty surprise to a would-be predator.

I try to look on the bright side. Overall, these ladies provide great service in my garden and I welcome them each spring. By Halloween though, it's another story.

Harmonia axyridis is a prodigious killer of aphids 
and other nasty pests in our gardens.

For more information on Lady Bugs invading your home

Thanks for reading.  
Happy Planting!    


Faith Appelquist

President & Founder


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