Tag Archives: preparation

Preparing to Overwinter Your Herbs

August 29, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

September and October can be some of the most rewarding months for a gardener. Plants are fully grown and pumping out as many fruits as they can before the first frost. It’s like they know their time is up.

But it doesn’t have to be the end for some plants if you know how to help them out, according to Tony Cirian of Cirian’s Farmers Market on 50th and Leavenworth. Most herbs, for example, are as simple to grow indoors as they are outside. So if you’ve developed a taste for fresh basil on your tomatoes or tarragon in your scrambled eggs, don’t despair the coming winter. These tips will keep you in fresh herbs no matter the cold:

  • Let annuals go to seed. Annuals, such as basil, cilantro, chervil, borage, and dill, are going to seed by now (and probably have been ever since temperatures started soaring). Collect the seeds and plant them in pots right away. Set the pots inside under a grow lamp or in a very warm windowsill. Keep them just moist until you start to see shoots.
  • Salvage smaller mature annuals. Dill, cilantro, and chervil are too tall to transplant easily and probably don’t have many useable leaves left anyway. Cirian says that you can pot up smaller annuals such as basil and parsley (actually a biennial) if they still have leaves to harvest; they’ll last a bit longer if you bring them inside, but they will die eventually. “You might get an extra month or so out of them,” he says. But by that time, the seeds you planted will have germinated. You’ll only have a small gap, if any, without fresh herbs.

Know the needs of your perennials. Perennials are essential additions to an herb garden, but they can vary in their care:

  • Rosemary, for example, is technically a tender perennial but isn’t usually hardy enough to endure our Zone 5 winters, according to Cirian. You can attempt to pot up the entire plant and bring it inside. Cirian does warn that the plant will get a bit woody and lanky over the winter. “It’s just not getting the sunshine and warmth to be really vibrant.”
  • Tarragon is another perennial that benefits from potting up over the winter for extra protection. It can be handy to divide a root clump, leave a few plants outdoors, and just bring one inside. (Note that Russian tarragon is unfortunately more commonly sold, though it tastes more like a weed than the licorice flavor of French tarragon.)
  • Other perennials, such as chives, common thyme (thymus vulgaris), sage, oregano, and lavender, are easily left in place throughout the winter and will come back nicely next spring. To enjoy them inside as well, root thyme, sage, oregano, and lavender cuttings in pots. Keep the cuttings moist until you see new growth. You can add chives to your winter kitchen by digging up a clump and dividing into pots.
  • Some perennial herbs can be invasive and so should only ever be grown in pots. A large pot of mint or lemon balm adds a fresh smell to your patio and can easily be moved inside before the first frost.

To make the most of your indoor herb garden, use potting soil (never garden dirt) and only water once a week. “You don’t want that root system to rot,” Cirian says. He adds that there’s not much need to fertilize over the winter, as “potting soil already has a slow-release food.” Just make sure light and warmth are in good supply, and that’s all it takes to keep yourself in fresh herbs all winter long.

 

Create a Family Fire Escape Plan

July 22, 2013 by

Talking with your family about a fire escape plan is always a good idea, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). After all, the more prepared you are for an emergency situation, the more likely you’ll avoid devastating consequences.

Here are some tips from the NFPA for creating your plan:

  • Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes, discussing multiple ways to get out of each room.
  • Choose an outside meeting place (e.g., a neighbor’s house, a light post, a mailbox, or a stop sign) that’s a safe distance from your home.
  • If there are infants or young children, older adults, or family members with mobility limitations, assign a family member to assist them in the event of an emergency (and a backup person, too, in case the designee isn’t home in the event of an emergency).
  • Be certain everyone understands the fire escape plan by practicing the plan twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible.

For more information on fire escape plans and how you can better prepare your home for emergencies, visit nfpa.org or omaha-fire.org/just-for-kids

Preparing for Road Trips

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Road trips can be a lot of fun, but they can also turn into a nightmare if you aren’t prepared. There are a few items that should be checked before you set out for your destination to ensure that your vehicle is as ready for the drive as you are.

  • Make sure to check all fluids—antifreeze, power steering, brake, transmission, and windshield wiper.
  • If you aren’t current with your oil changes, get it changed before leaving.
  • Inspect your hoses and belts for wear and tear. If something looks askew, take it to a trusted mechanic and have them take a look.
  • Check all tires, including the spare, to make sure that they’re in good shape and that the tire pressure is correct.
  • Be certain you have a jack and lug wrench in case you need to change a tire.
  • Check your battery to make sure there are no corrosions, cracks, or leaks.

I recommend doing all of these things a week in advance in case there are any problems. This should give you adequate time to take care of any repairs. There are also some items that are important to have along with you in case you do have car issues.

  • Gas can. Don’t wait until the tank is too low to fill up. On a road trip, it can be hard to know how far the next gas station will be.
  • Water. Make sure to have plenty of bottled water; the summer heat can be extremely dehydrating.
  • Phone charger. This should be used your entire trip to ensure your cell phone has a full charge.
  • Shade. Bring window shades, towels, and hats.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses. Just because you’re in the car doesn’t mean your skin and eyes can’t get sun-damaged.
  • Flashlight. Nothing is worse than being stranded in the dark.
  • Maps. We often use phones or the GPS on our vehicles, but having an actual map is necessary in case our electronics fail.
  • Walking shoes. Make sure you have shoes that are comfortable for walking in case you have to “hoof it.”

Be sure to prepare for your road trip and carry along a few extras just in case. With these few tips, you should be well on your way to a fun, safe trip.

There’s No Place Like Home

April 25, 2013 by

If you’ve spent time in the Midwest, you are no stranger to tornados. Many of us could share a story of “the Big One” or a storm we’ll never forget. Hopefully, with stories come memories of survival and preparedness. The following tips can help you prepare for when the next tornado strikes.

Who’s at Risk?

Tornadoes strike most often between March and June in the central U.S., but they’ve been reported in all 48 continental states, at all times of the year. Older adults need to take additional actions, like having their medications accessible and giving themselves plenty of time to get to shelter.

What to Do if a Tornado is Coming

Seek shelter immediately! If you’re away from home, your best bets are basements or interior corridors of office buildings, tunnels, or underground parking lots. Avoid auditoriums, upper stories of office buildings, trailers, and parked vehicles. And stay away from windows. If you’re out in the open, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area and protect your head. Stay away from poles and overhead lines.

If you’re driving, drive at right angles to the tornado’s path. If you can’t escape the path of the tornado, get out of the vehicle to avoid being overturned and crushed. If you’re at home, head for the basement and take cover under a heavy table or workbench. If you don’t have a basement, go into a windowless room in the center of the house. If that’s not possible, stay away from windows and cover yourself with a rug for protection against flying glass and debris.

Know the Difference Between a Watch and a Warning

A tornado watch means conditions are right for the formation of a tornado. Stay alert, and be prepared to take shelter. A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted in your area. Take shelter immediately!

What to Prepare

Here are suggested items for your emergency kit: One gallon water per person per day for at least three days; a three-day supply of non-perishable food; battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert, and extra batteries; flashlight and extra batteries; first aid kit including a whistle to signal help; prescription medications and glasses, including medical equipment like test strips or syringes, if needed; pet food and extra water for your pet; a sleeping bag or warm blanket; change of clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes; fire extinguisher; matches in a waterproof container; personal hygiene items; moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation; disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer; and paper cups and plates, plastic utensils, paper towels, and a can opener.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends preparing a survival kit of basic needs (food, water, etc.) for 72 hours for the home and car. Visit ready.gov for a complete list of emergency preparedness items. When a tornado strikes, there is often little time to gather items or get to a store. Make your own kit and store in a plastic tote, or purchase a kit from National Safety Council, Nebraska for $45 or $69 at safenebraska.org or call 402-896-0454.

Adapted from National Safety Council. NSC makes no guarantee as to and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency, or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances. For more information, visit safenebraska.org.