Con Queso Rice

Rice and beans combine to make a delicious vegetarian meal.

1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 � cup long grain white rice

� tsp salt

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup onion, diced

1 4oz can chilies

1 fresh jalapeno, chopped

1 tsp pepper

4 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, 1 cup reserved

16 oz cottage cheese


To cook rice: bring 3 cups of water to boil, add rice and salt, cover and lower to simmer. Cook 20 min.

Preheat oven to 350. Mix rice, beans, garlic, onion, pepper and chilies in a big bowl. Mix cottage cheese and 3 cups Jack cheese in another bowl. Spray large casserole with non-stick spray. Cover bottom with a layer of rice and bean mixture. Then cover with a layer of cheese mixture, beginning and ending with rice and beans. Bake uncovered for 40 min. Add final sprinkling of 1 cup Jack cheese and cook 5 min more.






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Branching Out with Faith Appelquist



Questions, suggestions or comments are welcome.

Contact Faith at (612) 618-5244 or by email 



Three's Company  


If possible, plant groupings should consist of an odd number of individual plants 3, 5, or 7 for aesthetic purposes. This creates an illusion that all the plants in the design were meant to go together, mimicking the natural world. Unity is created. The design feels more balanced to the eye, visually pleasing and harmonious.

Because of the way our brains perceive a group of objects; odd numbered groups are more visually cohesive than even numbered groups. When the eye perceives an even number, there is a tendency to divide it in half. This visual division disrupts unity. A 'quantity of three' is not easily split in half and is seen as one group.

  • In a pinch, the rule of 1-3-5, 1 specimen plant
    (shade or ornamental tree), 3 large shrubs
    and 5 small shrubs, is a good fall back.
    Variations exist, 3, 5, 7....
  • When there are a large number of plants,
    such as 9, or more, the eye may see this as a
    group and not be able to detect whether this
    is an even or odd number.

Odd numbers allow for staggered variations in height, such as small, medium, and large, that provide more interest and depth.


3 weigela shrubs, and 1 Hydrangea tree make a balanced composition.


Three Sky High Juniper evergreens nestled in a perennial bed , look like they all belong together.


Odd numbers allow for staggered variations in height, such as small, medium, and large, that provide more interest and depth.


For more information on creating unity in the garden.


Many Fertilizer Ideas are based on Myth,
not Science


  • "Properly fertilized trees are better able to
    ward off both insects and disease".
  • "Fertilizing landscape plants promotes their
    general health and vitality, making them
    more resistant to insect and disease attack".
  • "Fertilizer is tree food".

Those are among the myths and unproven assumptions about fertilizing perennials, shrubs and trees in the landscape. There is this notion about fertilizer, and it stems from the thought that it makes plants more vigorous and better able to ward off pests. The data does not bear that out.

Think about where trees evolved...the forest.Trees grow in balance with the available mineral elements.Fertilizing creates increased leaf growth that the tree cannot support with the existing root system, creating stress in the tree. Increased succulent growth is a magnet for insect feeding. Before you fertilize, ask the tree:

  • How's your incremental growth?
  • What color are your leaves?
  • How's your habit?
  • What are you doing?

Let the plant tell you. Remember, the strategy for an annual plant is to have explosive production of flowers and fruit and then die. Fertilize the heck out of it. That's what it wants. That's what it has evolved to do. Trees and shrubs have learned how to survive without our help. If you must fertilize, do it on a case-by-case basis. 

Nutrient cycling in a natural forest.






This spruce tree (left) developed a severe case of spider mites after fertilizing.

Photo courtesy

of Jack Falker











Fertilization dramatically increased bronze birch borer attack

in this white birch.


Additional reading on how trees respond to fertilization.



Thanks for reading. Happy Planting! 



Faith Appelquist

President & Founder



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