• Jun 3

by Rene Hostetler

Ok, so I’ve spent the last week piecing together a quilt for my grandson, Owen.  He’s 9, and the last time I visited him in Colorado he declared that he had outgrown the quilt I made him when he was born and “would you please make me a new one.”  A big one.  Well, yeah, he’s up to my shoulders now!  I readily agreed and started the wonderful pursuit of just the right fabric.  This really is my favorite part because it requires an artistic eye and appreciation for pattern, color and the texture of the fabric.  And once you put it all together it is truly art.

Now, please understand, I’m not what I would call a legitimate quilter.  I don’t call myself a quilter.  True quilters are in a league of their own.  But I do make quilts… or really nice blankets.  The pieces of fabric are sewn together and the batting, top, and back are all tied together, and that is the process which qualifies it to be called a quilt.

This “quilt” for Owen is my 19th or 20th, and it’s kind of funny.  I just realized I’ve never made one for myself.  I think that’s because there is so much of myself in each one, it just has to be a gift.

I’ve been inspired by the beautiful quilts I’ve seen in the shops in Shipshewana and admire the ability, time, and talent it takes to create such artwork.  Shipshewana is kind of known for beautiful quilts.  And you may be surprised to know that not all of them are made by Amish ladies.

Speakers 2014 Shipshewana Quilt Festival

Because quilt making can be called a way of life for some, a very special event was created to recognize and celebrate quilts and those who live this way of life.  It’s the annual Shipshewana Quilt Festival which offers prizes, lectures, workshops and great fabric deals in some of the local shops.

People who are “real” quilters come from all over the country, and there are quilts to be seen from all over the world.  The 2014 Shipshewana Quilt Festival takes place from June 25 to June 28th, and you can learn more about it and see some great pictures at www.ShipshewanaQuiltFest.com.

No, I probably won’t ever win a prize for one of my quilts, but they get so worn out they have to be replaced when a boy reaches his Nana’s shoulders.  And the smile, hug and thank you is reward enough for me.  That, and seeing him all wrapped up in it.  Like me with my arms around him all night long!

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  • May 27

Gardening Tips    by Karen Weiland,  Purdue Master Gardener

I’m always on the lookout for ways to make my gardening life easier and less time consuming.  I have a few tips that I would like to pass on to you that you may find useful.

To keep my garden twine from getting all tangled, I like to place it in an old watering can with the free end coming out the spout.  You can also use a can with a plastic lid, such as a coffee can, cutting a hole in the lid for the free end of the string and you can store the scissors in the can with the string ball.

Mark inches and feet on tool handles with a sharpie to help measure depth and spacing for transplants.

Fill a pump soap dispenser with mineral oil to use on the metal parts of your tools after you have cleaned the dirt off of them before storing until next use.  Using a spray bottle also works well for this.

A mixture of equal parts of water, white vinegar and rubbing alcohol can be used to clean dirty tools and it takes the salt residue off plant pots.

Garden labels can be made from strips of old mini-blinds.  Just cut to the length you need and use a permanent marker as your writing tool.  You can also use a  wine cork pierced at one end with a length or two of sturdy coat hanger wire.

Saucers of cheap old beer works great at attracting and drowning slugs.  Check the traps every day or two and after a rain for a refill.

To get rid of Japanese beetles, fill a bucket with soapy water, hold it under the beetle laden branch and tap the branch.  The beetles will fall off into the soapy water and drown.  Gosh, isn’t that just awful….not!

Got aphids and mites?  Use a forceful stream of water on them.  Just make sure the stream isn’t so forceful that it tears the plant leaves.  You can also wrap a wide strip of tape, sticky side out, around your hand.  Pat the leaves, undersides too, of the infested plants.

Draw your fingernails across a bar of soap before working in the garden to prevent dirt from accumulating underneath them.  When you are finished in the garden use a small brush to wash away the soap.

Make your own hose guide by pounding a length of steel reinforcing bar into the ground.  Slip two clay pots over it, the first one upside-down, the second one right-side up.

I especially like this tip.  To dry herbs, place a layer of newspaper on the seat of your car.  Place a single layer of herbs on it, then roll up the car windows and close the doors.  The herbs will be dry in no time and your car will smell great!

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • May 20

by Rene Hostetler

I was thinking the other day about how there are just some places that bring the adventurer out in you.  Or maybe it’s that the place makes you feel so comfortable that you are willing to try new things.  Shipshewana is one of those places for me.

It was in Shipshewana that I went shopping in my pajamas for the first time.  I don’t usually appreciate people who shop in their pajamas, but I actually really enjoyed it.  Hey, you don’t have to get up as early to get dressed!  I’m all for sleeping a little longer…especially on a Saturday…in February…when it’s dark…and cold!

It was in Shipshewana that I went to my first auction.  Now that’s an experience and if you’ve never done it, you really should put it on your “bucket list.”  I almost don’t know how to explain it but be prepared for a lot of noise, moving people and dirt!  Yeah, it’s kinda dirty.  Well, you’ve got all that old stuff!

It was in Shipshewana that I had my first taste of kettle corn.  Seriously…I could get addicted!

It was in Shipshewana I had my first and only elephant ride.  Oh, wait a minute that was somewhere else, but they did have an elephant in their Mayfest parade one year!

It was in Shipshewana that I bought the dress I wore to my son’s wedding.  No, it wasn’t the first time I bought a dress, but it was the first time my son got married.  And only time!  Does that count?

I could go on and on, and I’m thinking I’m not done having “firsts” in Shipshewana.  It’s just a happening place and the town is always coming up with fun experiences to encourage people like us to “come on over and set a while.”

Ok, so here’s another first! On June 18 there’s a new event called “Walldogs.”  I’m sure you are as puzzled over that name as I am and it really doesn’t pertain to what happens.  Except the “wall” part.  On that Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday artists will literally be painting some of the walls in Shipshewana.  You can even participate if you’d like.  Kind of like a giant “paint by number” project which will result in beautiful murals depicting all things Shipshewana which visitors can enjoy for years and years.  Still curious?  Check out Shipshewana.com for more info and make some plans to join in.  That will be a true first for everyone involved.  Except, hopefully, the artists!

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  • May 15

Ticks by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

Often found near wooded and highly vegetated areas, ticks seem to be very abundant at this time.  They are blood-sucking, external parasites that require an animal host to survive.  There are about 90 species in the US with the black-legged (deer) tick, American dog tick and lone star tick being the types that are most likely to be encountered by humans here in Indiana.  The lone star tick is most commonly found in southern Indiana but has been found throughout the state.

Adult ticks are very small with an oval, flat body and eight legs.  Ticks do not have wings and therefore have to encounter their host in passing.  Adult ticks most commonly climb upon vegetation such as bushes, trees and tall grasses to grasp onto their host.

Not only does a tick bite cause irritation and discomfort, it also is capable of transmitting serious disease to humans and animals.  After the tick has attached itself and begins to feed, it secretes saliva containing compounds that prevent clotting, increases blood flow and suppresses the hosts’ immune response.  They also regurgitate excess water that has been extracted from their blood meal into the feeding wound.  This is where the possibility of disease causing pathogens is introduced to the host.

There are some old folk remedies that say to apply a lit match or cigarette, nail polish or petroleum jelly to the tick to make it detach from the skin.  Do not attempt these things.  They can kill the tick before it disengages its mouth parts and can cause the tick to regurgitate into the wound and increase the chance of introducing pathogens to the host.  The most effective way of removing a tick is to grasp it behind the mouthparts, as close to the skin as possible, with forceps, pulling gently and steadily until the tick releases its grasp.  Wash the wound with warm soapy water and rubbing alcohol.  Flush the tick down the toilet or place it in a re-sealable plastic bag and throw it in the trash.

Peak tick season in Indiana is early April thru July.  To avoid a tick bite wear light colored clothing (easier to see ticks on you), a long sleeved shirt which should be tucked into pants and those pants should be tucked into socks.  Applying a repellant that contains DEET will also help.  After an outing, remove your clothing and thoroughly check it and your body for ticks.  They will not attach themselves right away, giving you a chance to nab them before they start their dirty work.

There are numerous websites that contain more detailed information.  I urge you to check them out.  Here are a few.
http://extension.entm.purdue.edu http://www.cdc.gov

http://www.in.gov/isdh http://cms.bsu.edu

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in De Kalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • May 12

by Rene Hostetler

My husband and I just took a couple of days away from work and home to relax, reconnect and play.  It was glorious!  But don’t we just always have to find a reason to feel a little guilty about not being productive every minute of every day?  Why is that?

Studies show it is essential for adults to find time to play.  It is a time to forget about stressful work situations and responsibilities.  It improves our overall health and well-being.  It adds joy to our lives which improves our productivity and ability to learn.
It even makes work more pleasurable!  That’s reason enough not to feel guilty, don’t you think?

What other reasons do you need to play?  Our time away certainly helped my husband and I to reconnect and improve our relationship.  It helped us to feel younger and more alive. George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”  Playing boosts your vitality and can even help us resist illness and disease.

Plan some play in your day.  LaGrange County has several county parks open to the public to accommodate your picnic and Frisbee throwing adventures!  Find locations and what there is to do at lagrangecountyparks.org or “like” them on Facebook at .facebook.com/pages/LaGrange-County-Department-of-Parks-and-Recreation to get all the up-to-date information on activities and events.

So grab the kids, your friends, neighbors, spouse and anyone else who looks like they could benefit from some down time.  And, in my world, that would be just about everyone I know!

I remember when I was a kid and my friend from across the street would come to our house, knock on the screen door, and ask my mom, “Can Rene come out to play?”  The answer was always “yes!”

Come on out to play!

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  • May 8


By Karen Weiland, Master Gardener

Believe it or not, there’s treasure to be had in your yard trash and kitchen scraps.  Composting is a convenient and practical way to use waste such as leaves, grass clippings, thatch, plant trimmings, fruit and vegetable peelings, egg shells and coffee grounds.  Finished compost will improve the quality of almost any soil, and for this reason it is often considered a soil conditioner.

The break down of organic matter in your compost pile is facilitated by numerous bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes.  These “chemical decomposers” change the chemistry of organic wastes.  The macroorganisms  or “larger decomposers”  are ants, nematodes, spiders, slugs, earthworms and flies to name just a few.  Because they grind, suck, bite and chew materials into smaller pieces they are considered the “physical decomposers” of a compost pile.

Your compost pile can be placed in some type of structure such as a woven wire bin, a concrete block bin or a bin made from wooden pallets.  It can also be left in an open pile. It’s best to place your composting site in a shady spot with protection from the wind so it will not get excessively hot and dry.  A good sized compost pile is about 4-5 feet in diameter and about 4-5 feet deep.

It is important to have a good balance of materials in your compost pile.  This is done by using layers: alternating carbon-rich materials such as leaves, straw and wood chips with nitrogen-rich materials such as fresh grass clippings and food waste.  The right carbon to nitrogen ratio affects the rate of decomposition and water and oxygen are important ingredients too.  A tip to remember is to use from one fourth to one half high-nitrogen materials in your compost pile. Too much nitrogen in a pile will likely give off an ammonia smell.  If you have too much carbon in a pile it will not produce the heat needed for decomposition. Nitrogen is needed by the microbes in order to break down and make use of the carbon that is found in organic matter.

Use a pitchfork or shovel to turn the pile once or twice a month to keep the materials supplied with oxygen and to bring the outer contents to the center for heating.  The center should reach a temperature of 130* to 140* when it is working properly.  Check the pile occasionally for watering needs.

Compost has so many uses.  Adding it to your garden increases the water-holding capacity, aeration and nutrient exchange sites in the soil. It can be added as an organic media in potting soil or for starting seeds of garden plants.

Recycling is very important to me as it is to many other people. This is one way of reducing the waste that goes to our landfills.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • Apr 29

New Lawn Grass Choices

by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

An attractive, well-kept lawn can be an important aspect of a homes’ landscape.  It adds value to a homes’ appearance, aids in soil erosion, reduces mud and dust and it produces oxygen.  Planting a new lawn or even doing some over-seeding requires some knowledge of selecting the best seed for the area.

Cool season turf grasses grow best when the soil temperatures are between 50 and 65 degrees F and air temperatures are between 60 and 75 degrees F.  Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine and turf-type tall fescues are all considered cool season grasses.  Types of grasses used in the lawn will determine the level of care they will require to look good.

Turf-type tall fescue and fine fescue grasses will require less fertilization than Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass.  Most lawns are pretty much made up of a blend of bluegrass varieties.  Kentucky blue grass will give you a velvety, carpet-like appearance but will require about 2 to 4 pounds of nitrogen, applied 2 to 5 times annually, to keep it that way.  Fine and turf-type tall fescues require about one third to one half of the nitrogen needed by the bluegrasses.

Mixing Kentucky bluegrass with creeping red fescue provides a good turf for lawns that have both sunny and shaded conditions.  There are some fine fescue grasses called hard and sheep (blue) that will prove to be low maintenance.  They grow in clumps of bluish-green and are usually mixed with Kentucky bluegrass that will fill in between the clumps. They tolerate drought conditions, need less fertilizer and are slow growing.

When it comes to handling drought, the turf-type tall fescue may be just what you need.  It has a larger root mass than other lawn grasses and can handle grub damage along with summer heat stress and has good tolerance to wear from foot traffic.  It is not a huge nitrogen hog as it only needs one to three applications per year.

Speaking of nitrogen, returning grass clippings and leaves to the lawn will provide about one third of the nitrogen needed by a lawn during the season.  A thick layer of grass clippings is not a good thing.  Keep it light.  If you are applying three applications of nitrogen a year on your lawn, returning the clippings with each mowing could account for one of those applications.  Also, when you mow the grass at a height of about three inches it aids in water loss to evaporation and helps it to withstand drought in that the plant develops a larger root mass.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • Apr 25

by Rene Hostetler

We make a big deal of making memories around here.  We do that because we believe that when you take the time to come to Shipshewana, it’s all about the experience you have while you are here.  We believe that because everyone creates their own Shipshewana story.   Everyone makes memories.

Mine began back in 1987 when I bought an Amish made quilt from Shipshewana, Indiana.  I was living in the suburbs of Chicago then and loved shopping in Long Grove, Illinois.  Because of my husband’s ancestral connections to the Amish (yeah…Hostetler), I was curious and intrigued by all things Amish.   This particular shop specialized in Amish made quilts from Shipshewana.  It was then and there that I decided that Shipshewana must be a special place based on the beauty and intricate needlework of that quilt.

The next year my family moved to Indiana, and I was now close enough to experience this special place personally.  I thought nothing of driving an hour just to peruse the shops, find one little treasure, and always, always making time to visit JoJo’s Pretzels because there just wasn’t anything like it anywhere else!  Of course, that was when JoJo’s was the size of a closet with a counter and an oven and JoJo herself behind the glass rolling out the pretzels!  Everything about JoJos has changed since those early days except for the taste of those buttery pretzels hot from the oven.  They are still worth an hour drive!

Since that time my memories of Shipshewana fill my home represented by several large pieces of furniture, plants in my yard, dried flowers in my daughter’s wedding bouquet, spices in my pantry…and yes, I still have my lovely quilt.  Like my memories it has kept me warm, filled my heart with gratitude and even though it is worn and shows signs of age, I still treasure it for all it represents.  It is the beginning of my Shipshewana story.

Do you have a Shipshewana story?  I’d love to hear it!  What memories have you made?

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  • Apr 21

Preventing Crabgrass

by Karen Weiland, Purdue Master Gardener

Crabgrass is an annual weed that can become a rather pesky problem in a lawn.  I think it is impossible to not have a little crabgrass in a lawn, but there are both cultural and chemical steps that can be taken that can reduce the growth of crabgrass patches in lawns.

The best and environmentally friendly way to control it is to create a dense, healthy crop of turf-grass.    Mowing at the correct height for the turf specie will help.  This height is normally 2 ½ to 3 inches.  Mowing any lower than this will thin blade presence which can allow sunlight to reach the crabgrass seed.  When needed, irrigate deeply.  Light watering promotes shallow rooting of turf-grass which will not tolerate drought conditions well.  Hand-pull any crabgrass plants.  It is a fast growing weed that can take over an area quickly.  Lastly, follow the recommended fertilization schedule which is to apply nitrogen in two applications in the fall: one in September and one in October or November after the final mowing.  I use Labor Day and Halloween as my reminders.

There may be conditions in which a pre-emergence herbicide will need to be applied to help control the spread of crabgrass.  This annual weed germinates when the soil temperature reaches 55 to 60 degrees F for 3 to 5 days at the ¼ inch level.  Most likely this will not happen until sometime in April or May, depending on the weather. Pre-emergence herbicides need to be applied at least two weeks prior to germination for them to be effective.  Very often you will find these herbicides combined with fertilizers.  It is recommended that fertilization in the spring be kept minimal, so look for a product that contains a slow release nitrogen in the form of methylene urea, sulfur or polymer-coated urea.  Avoid the quick release products.  To get the most bang for your buck these products will need to be watered in after application.  Do not use these herbicides on newly seeded areas.

It is very important when working with any chemical to read, understand fully and follow all label directions.  In trying to be environmentally friendly, use herbicidal control only if necessary.

As always, Happy Gardening!

More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange Co., 636-2111 in Noble Co., 925-2562 in DeKalb Co. and 668-1000 in Steuben Co.

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  • Apr 18

by Rene Hostetler

The winter of 2013/2014 will certainly be one for the weather history books, and even though we experienced its last gasp (we hope!) earlier this week with that dusting of snow we woke up to on Monday, it’s finally over!  And this winter, like every other, has somehow mesmerized us into believing it will never be warm again.  We will never see green grass, a tree bursting with leaves, or flowers opening up to the sun again.  Somehow the black and white of winter causes us to temporarily forget how colorful our world can be.

Thankfully we have good memories for once nature wakes up again, we do too.  We open up the windows and welcome it back with enthusiasm.  We smile more.  We are all in a good mood.  We play our music a little louder in our cars.  Take walks.  Invite people over.  Come back to life!  We remember!

We all know that Shipshewana has been open all winter long for those diehards who love to shop In their pajamas in February and can’t get through the cold days without a shopping fix.  Totally understandable, and we want you to know we are here for you!  But, let’s be honest, this is when Shipshewana comes back to life as well!  The preparations are in motion all winter long and like squirrels who have stored away their winter provisions, these preparations have gotten us through the grey of winter and now we are ready to bring out the color!

The shops are bursting with new merchandise, the flea market is making its paths smooth, the Visitor’s Guides are fresh off the printing press and the celebrations are ready to begin!  We call these celebrations festivals and everything is in order for you to bring all the relatives and come join the party!

Starting the celebrations just as soon as we possibly can next Saturday, April 26th, we begin our season with Kite Kommotion!  Kites dance in the sky, kids make their own, and competitors come from all over the country to show us some serious kite flying.  Look to the skies from 11am to 3pm.
Pure.  Colorful.  Fun.

Here in Shipshewana, it’s a tradition to celebrate the origins of our town the first weekend of May and this year’s theme, “Paint The Town,” gives us a hint of things to come as well as the fun activities planned for May 2nd and 3rd.  Bring the family to enjoy music, magic shows, buggy races and, of course, the eagerly anticipated Mayfest Parade!  The candy will be flying promptly at 10am and the streets will be lined with happy kids of all ages!

We are all about making memories here in Shipshewana!  Plan your day the Shipshewana way.
Come make a few of your own and remember spring!

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