Home & Garden

Gardener's almanac

Vegetable hardiness — I guess the temperature has dropped below freezing at my house, but I can't see much loss of plant life because of it. If you're wondering how low the temperature can go before hurting your garden vegetables, here's what to expect, from Ward Upham of K-State:

* Semi-hardy crops that can take a light frost but are damaged by temps in the mid- to upper 20s are beets, Chinese cabbage, collards, Irish potatoes, Bibb lettuce, mustard, radishes, spinach Swiss chard and leaf lettuce. Covering these plants when cold weather is forecast can extend the harvest.

* Hardy plants that aren't damaged until temps get in the low 20s include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, turnips and kale.

* Root crops including beets, carrots, potatoes and turnips can essentially be stored outside even after the leaves of the plants have been damaged and killed by frost. Mulch the plants and harvest as needed until the soil starts to freeze in late November to December.

Community garden looking for volunteer manager — The Hilltop community garden just east of Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St. Joseph Campus is in need of a volunteer leader. The garden is one of the programs of the Sisters of St. Joseph Dear Neighbor Ministries and is located on Bluffview between Lincoln and Harry. The garden has been growing since 1997 and is usually full.

"If we could get somebody thinking of gardening, they would have the winter to plan," said Pat O'Donnell, director of mission advancement at Dear Neighbor Ministries. The volunteer — or volunteers; "maybe it's a couple of people who want to work together," O'Donnell said — will work with the people who rent garden plots, help lay out the plots in the spring and basically manage the garden.

"Somebody new might bring a whole new level or new imagination or things we haven't thought of," O'Donnell said. If you're interested, call Kit Lambertz at 316-684-5120.

Countdown to Illuminations _ Botanica will be alight for the holidays starting next Friday and going for three straight weekends, Friday through Sunday nights, with an additional Thursday night the last weekend. Hours will be 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 27 to Nov. 29, Dec. 4 to Dec. 6, and Dec. 10 to Dec. 13.

The cost is $7 for adults ($6 for Botanica members) and $3 for children ages 2 to 12. Members will also get a special discounted price of $3 on Dec. 10. This year, tickets can be purchased at QuikTrip as well as at Botanica (Botanica members must buy their tickets at Botanica to receive a discount).

In addition to the lights, the event will feature live music, warm drinks and homemade treats to purchase and visits with Santa.

Luminary Walk _ A sampler of chestnut treats and a nativity display will be among the features on this year's Luminary Walk at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston. More than 1,000 candles will light the arboretum's paths, and thousands of electric lights also will be aglow this Friday and Nov. 28 and on Dec. 11 and 12. Hours are 5:30 to 8 p.m.

The theme of the first weekend will be "Chestnuts Roasting Over an Open Fire." Visitors can have s'mores by bonfires, and cookies and hot almond tea will be served. For $2, a "chestnut taster's ticket" will provide a sample of roasted chestnuts, chestnut hummus, soup and other chestnutty dishes. The recipes will be available along with bags of chestnuts for sale to make the dishes later at home for Christmas dinner. Supplies of chestnuts are limited, so call ahead at 620-327-8127 to be sure you have a ticket.

The theme of the second weekend will be "Ecclesiastes 3: To Everything There Is a Season." Displays of nativity scenes from various collectors will be showcased in the visitors center.

The cost of the luminary walk is $5 for adults, $3 for students and $2.50 for children 5 and over (ages 4 and under are free). A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Harvey County Homeless Shelter.

Metal artist John Scott's wreaths of unusual copper and metal pieces will be for sale, as will sweet gum ball wreaths as seen in Martha Stewart Living and other nature-related Christmas decorations.

"Through the luminary walks, we offer visitors a way to experience the beauty of nature during the holidays," arboretum director Julie Torseth says. "Our horticulturist, Scott Vogt, adds something new each year (look for the interesting objects hanging from the trees). Our wish is that everyone who attends takes home a special memory and a decorating or cooking idea to use."

Food drive — Donate six pantry food items or $6 to the Kansas Food Bank and receive six free roses during the annual Rio Roses food drive through Nov. 30 at the gift shops at Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St. Francis and -St. Joseph.