Do you Have an Advanced Care Plan?

“Do you have an advanced care plan?” was one of the questions asked of me at a recent doctor’s visit. One can take that question in two different ways. The first thought that came to my mind was, “Boy, I didn’t think my lab results looked that bad!” The thought of the medical team looking out for my future care and wishes never entered my mind. Luckily, it was the second way and not the conclusion I had jumped to. I do have one. Where it’s at, I’m not sure. I really don’t plan on needing it for a couple of more years.

An advanced care plan is another term for an advanced directive. It enables you to record the type of care you want to receive if you become unable to speak for yourself. Besides having a written plan, you may want to TALK to your loved ones about your care decisions.

T – take time to have the conversation with your physician and family.

A – Always be open and honest.

L – Leave no doubt about your values and preferences.

K – Know that advanced care planning is a quality-of-life choice.

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Sunlight’s Health Benefits

I think we all realize that too much exposure to the sun can damage our skin which could lead to skin cancer although a moderate amount of sunlight has health benefits. Here are some of those benefits.

  • 30 minutes of sun while wearing a bathing suit causes our skin to produce a significant amount of vitamin D, which is important for healthy bones and a healthy immune system. If you’re not into sunbathing, 15 minutes of sun on your hands, arms and face two or three days per week provides some vitamin D benefits.
  • Sunlight also gives a boost to our levels of serotonin, a mood- and energy- enhancing hormone produced in our brain.
  • Exposure to sunlight supports your body’s production of nitric oxide, a substance that helps lower blood pressure as well as chronic inflammation, which may have a role in the development of heart disease and certain forms of cancer.
  • Remember, ‘moderation’ is the word when it comes to sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s ultraviolet rays are at their peak. If you are out in the sun for 15 minutes or longer, wear a sunscreen with a (SPF) sun protection factor, of at least 15.

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Minor Burn Treatment At Home

I’d be willing to bet that there aren’t many people out there who haven’t had a minor burn of some kind and treated it themselves or had a loved one treat it. For a minor (second degree) burn to heal by itself, all you generally have to do is the following:

  • Cool the burned area as soon as possible. Run cold tap water over the burned area for 10 to 20 minutes. If the burned area is on the face or body, gently apply cool compresses on the area.
  • Don’t do as my mother always suggested. Do not apply butter, ice or ice water to the burn as these items can cause further tissue damage.
  • If there is a chance of swelling, remove jewelry or clothing from the affected area. It’s a good idea to remove these items even if swelling isn’t a possibility.
  • Wash your hands before treating the affected area and do not touch the burned skin directly to avoid infecting the burned area.
  • If needed, clean the area by gently washing the area with cool water and patting dry. Do not rub.
  • If blisters form, DO NOT break them open.
  • If a blister does not break open, no bandage is needed. If a blister does break open, place a loose bandage over the area and change the dressing if it becomes soiled.
  • Heaven forbid that a bandage becomes stuck to the burned area. If it does, soak the bandage in lukewarm water to help loosen it.
  • See your doctor if you have any concerns or questions about the severity of the burn or if it becomes infected.

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Beneficial Insects

Walking through a farmer’s market a while back I happened to notice a lot of stink bug damage to vegetables in a few vendor sites. That reminded me that the insect kingdom usually gets a black eye because of the damage caused by the different species of ‘bugs’. Not all insects are bad. Here is a partial list of beneficial insects.

  • Aphid Midges – can attack over sixty types of aphid species.
  • Braconid Wasps – females lay eggs in the body of tomato hornworms which the larva then consumes as their first meals.
  • Calosoma Beetle – hard-shelled, 2-inch long, loves to eat caterpillars.
  • Damsel Bugs – thrive on caterpillars, mites, aphids, potato beetles and cabbage worms.
  • Green Lacewings – do an excellent job of controlling soft-bellied pests such as aphids, whitefly, leafhopper, mealybugs and caterpillars.
  • Hover Fly –  larvae feeds on aphids, scale insects and caterpillars.
  • Ichneumon Fly – lays eggs in caterpillars and their pupae, which the young fly then consumes.
  • Lady  Bug – eats its weight in aphids each day.
  • Mealy Bug Destroyer – one mealy bug destroyer can eat up to 250 mealybugs larvae.
  • Minute Pirate Bugs – both the immature stages and adults prey on a variety of small insects such as spider mites, insect eggs, caterpillars,aphids and thrips.
  • Praying Mantis – feasts on many insects pests, including mosquitoes.
  • Predatory Mites – consumes spider mites while feeding on the pollen of plants and not the plant itself, when there are no spider mites around.
  • Soldier Beetles – feed on grasshopper eggs, aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
  • Spiders – feed on a large range including bed bugs, aphids, caterpillars, grasshoppers and fruit flies.
  • Tachinid Flies – consume gypsy moths, Japanese beetles, cutworms and squash bugs.
  • Wheel Bugs – preys on soft-shelled pests.

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Thoughts on Watering Tomatoes

While working in the garden a couple of weeks ago, Abraham, the neighbor across the road came over to ask about watering tomatoes. Knowing he didn’t have any plants at his cabin, I asked if he had plants back home. He said he had a couple of plants that were in five-gallon pails and his wife had called asking about watering them as they were wilting. After giving him a few suggestions on watering, I thought that others may have questions as well. Here are a few thoughts on the subject.

  • Mulching – Mulch, if you are not familiar with the term, is an organic layer of straw, leaves, hay, coconut husk, wood chips, pine cone pieces, etc. spread on or worked into the top layer of the soil around the plants. This organic matter will decay over time adding nourishment and tilth to the soil. It aids in water retention and you will not need to water as often as evaporation from the soil is reduced. If it has been incorporated into the top layer of the soil it increases air movement into the soil. Seriously, consider mulching if you haven’t done so before.
  • Water Slowly – Water must enter the soil around the plant and not run off carrying away nutrients and top soil. Water should penetrate the top 6 to 8 inches of soil to stimulate root growth in this area of the growing zone so the plant has access to the nutrients that the plant can reach. If you don’t have some kind of a drip irrigation system that allows the water to slowly seep into the soil, consider installing/using one.
  • Water Regularly – There is no set rule as to how often you should water your plants. Check the soil regularly for a few days to determine when the soil starts turning dry. In some areas you may have to water only once daily whereas in other areas you may have to water 2 or more times a day. If you see your tomato plants wilting mid-day, don’t worry too much as they’ll be back to normal that evening. If they are still parched at sunset you may need to water the next morning. If you see plants are wilting in the morning, it may not be a lack of water but a normal reaction the plant has that minimizes surface area to reduce transpiration from the leaves.
  • Do Not Water At Night – The temperature is generally lower during the night-time hours and in conjunction with moisture on the leaves allows for the likelihood of tomato plant diseases. Do not water at night, even if the plants are droopy.
  • Water early In The Day – If you are using a hose, watering can or other manual means, do your watering in the early morning hours. Drip irrigation, either above or below the ground surface, as long as the water doesn’t get on the leaves, can occur any time of day.
  • Water At The Stem  (At the roots) – Again, the idea is not to get water on the leaves. If you do want water on the leaves or that’s your watering method, do so before the sun come up in the morning. If your water is hard, or if you mix fertilizer or other chemical with the water, DO NOT water the leaves. Do not put the water directly on the stem as this could wash the soil away from the stem decreasing support for the plant. Water a few inches away from the stem, where the roots are spread below the plant.

There are a few other considerations when watering but I’ll save them for another time.

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Leftover Garden Seeds

If you are like us, you have left over garden seeds and hate to throw them away. In fact, if you get to looking around, you may have seeds left over from previous years as well. If you’ve wondered if you can use these leftover seeds next year, this list may be of help. Just remember that treated or pelletized seeds may have a different self life (viability) than those listed. Store seeds in their original containers so you have the needed information available. Put these containers (bags, boxes) into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator, not the freezer, so they remain viable.

Average Seed Storage Times

Dependable 1 Year
Sweet corn

2 or 3 Years

4 or 5 Years
Brussels Spouts

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Basic Vehicle Emergency Kit

According to AAA, 4 out of 10 American drivers would be unprepared if a breakdown should occur. They also state that two-thirds of drivers have never had their battery tested, 1 in 5 do not know how to change a tire and 4 in 10 do not carry an emergency kit. With the heat we’re having this summer and families getting ready to take their annual summer vacation, here are a few things to consider.

Remember that more batteries fail due to extreme heat than to cold. If you haven’t had your battery tested lately or if it has some age to it, now is the time to have your battery checked by a professional. Tires are the same. If you haven’t noticed, you see more pieces of tire rubber laying alongside, if not on, the road during the summer than the winter. I’ve never seen anyone throw pieces of tire out their car window like they do cigarette butts or garbage. Have your tires checked. To avoid the engine overheating, have the engine coolant checked when you have the battery tested and tires checked.

If you do not have a basic emergency kit in your vehicle, here is what it should include as a minimum:

Mobile phone and charger
Warning devices such as flares/reflective triangles
First-aid kit
Jumper cables
Tarp/trash bag
Basic toolkit
Pencil and paper
Duct tape and plastic wire/cable ties
Rags/towels/pre-moistened wipes
Windshield washer solution
Nonperishable food/treats
Drinking water
Toilet paper/napkins

I’m sure there are other items as well. If you can think of other needed items, add them to your kit. For your piece of mind and safety if a breakdown/emergency should occur, having the basics on hand is a necessity.

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