Diggin’ Spring

Barbecuing with charcoal

May 10, 2012 // 0 Comments

by PETE KRUER Rockford Ace Hardware Last time, we looked at the history and the different styles of BBQ,so our next step is to delve into the original BBQ technique: wood (charcoal). There are two types of charcoal: lump and briquette. Lump charcoal has been made for thousands of years and is consider the purest form. Briquette charcoal is basically sawdust bound by starch and other binders. Henry Ford did not invent briquette charcoal, but he put it on the map as the most popular charcoal used by American consumers. That’s right, Henry Ford of Detroit! You wonder why would Henry Ford be involved in charcoal production? Well most automobiles used a lot of wood in their bodies up to the early ‘30s. Ford was camping in northern Michigan and was telling Thomas Edison he had all this sawdust in his Kingsford, Michigan sawmill. So, Ford got the idea of making charcoal briquettes and marketing for barbequing. That’s right: Kingsford charcoal! Kingsford is not in Kingsford, Mich. or owned by Ford anymore, but it is one of the top selling briquette charcoal in the U.S. Briquette charcoal burning temperature is around 810 degrees Fahrenheit, while lump charcoal burning temp is up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Briquette charcoal burns longer, but lump is easier to control temperature and does not have any additives. In starting your charcoal, you have many options, such as a chimney, charcoal lighter fluid and alcohol jell. The preferred methods are charcoal chimney (newspaper) or jelled alcohol, and both are odorless. The flavor comes from the juices of the food dripping on the coals and vaporizing, and also from any flavor wood you add for smoke. There are many type of grills that use charcoal, from kettle or box to kamado style. You can smoke with all styles, but box and kamado are the most popular for that cooking technique. Most smoking purists use the box style, but the kamado does a wonderful job. Floyd Havemeier at Herman’s Boy has done a great job with the Green Egg, and I also have had success with my Kamado Joe in smoking food. Cooking with charcoal is much easier if you have a thermometer in the cover of your grill. That way you know […]

Time to pull garlic mustard

May 10, 2012 // 0 Comments

Those who love our beautiful native wildflowers and the creatures who live among them can help keep them healthy into the future. Garlic mustard, an invasive species that chokes out local flora, is easy to identify now with its white flowers. Many nature groups in the area are holding events centered around ridding an area of this year’s blooming garlic mustard, but anyone out on the trails can help. Pictured are Lance, Drew and Dana Bultman, who helped pull garlic mustard at Luton Park on Sunday, April 29. Georgia Donovan, president of the local Isaak Walton League, met with members of the Michigan Mountain Bike Association, who maintain the park. She showed them how to identify the plant and to bag them up before they go to seed. To view good pictures of garlic mustard, visit www.ipm.msu.edu/garlicmustard.htm.

Don’t get anxious with planting

April 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

by PETE KRUER Rockford Ace Hardware Well, we just had summer in March! Wow! Now we are having a reality check with April. Believe it or not, we are having average to slightly above average temps and below average on precipitation, but that is about to change. Precipitation is going to be slightly above average for the next eight days. Temps will be about average (50 to 61 degrees). We need to remember not to get to anxious with planting frost-sensitive plants, because lows are going to be around the frost mark. The average last day for frost in Kent County is about the 15th to 17th of May. It is easy to forget that the weather can change quickly in West Michigan. If you have some plants that you would like to protect and give three to four degrees advantage, you can use a product called N-SULATE to cover your plants. Also sprinkling water overnight on the plants can help, depending how bad of a frost. Regarding the use of crab grass preventer, we are getting to the end and broad leaf prevention will be starting soon. Always try to wait at least four weeks between fertilizer applications. So, have patience and enjoy the head start we got this year!

Local company offers awning options for outdoor enjoyment

April 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

Grand Rapids Awnings reopened this year, enjoys long, colorful history David Bayne, president of Grand Rapids Awnings and sister company Muskegon Awning & Fabrication, knows how much Michigan residents appreciate our outdoor living spaces and recreation. His company is the largest awning and fabrication business and has been serving homeowners, boat owners and business owners for more than a century. It was around 1890—as the story goes—when an 18-year-old English boy, Horace Schipp, saw a way to make a living by serving both the residents and businesses of Muskegon, Mich. He began repairing feed sacks, harnesses and awnings, and eventually launched a business that would evolve over the years to become Muskegon Awning & Fabrication. Through the end of 19th century, the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, the company weathered depressions, recessions, wars and more. Various owners and their families, all as dedicated as the company’s founder, continued to lead and grow the business, expanding services, product lines and facilities to meet the needs of a diversity of customers. Today, Muskegon Awning and Fabrication and sister company Grand Rapids Awnings serve homeowners, boat owners and business owners in Grand Rapids, the Michigan Lakeshore, the state, the region and beyond. “We’ve opened Grand Rapids Awnings in order to be more convenient and accessible to Grand Rapids’ homeowners and business owners,” said Bayne. “For over a century, Muskegon Awning & Fabrication has been serving the region, and we believe we’ve lasted this long because of our commitment to providing our customers with quality products and superior service. As part of that commitment to our Grand Rapids customers, we’ve opened Grand Rapids Awnings.” The business is located at 3150 Plainfield Ave., Suite 1, and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday; closed on Sunday. The company is the largest fabricator of awnings in the area, employing 14 full-time people. Bayne said most of the employees have been with the company in excess of 15 years. “This is the nice thing about having a number of people on our staff,” Bayne said. “We have more than one person qualified to complete the work. There are technical […]

Community members ‘pull together’ for nature

May 19, 2011 // 0 Comments

Saturday, May 14, while some were racing in the rain to cross the finish line at the Riverbank Run, others were involved in a different kind of race right here in Rockford—the race to save our beautiful native Michigan spring flowers from being overrun by invasive plants like garlic mustard and Dame’s rocket. About 20 volunteers joined forces on the White Pine Trail between Belmont and 12 Mile Road to pull 28 large blue bags of garlic mustard. The bags will be registered with the Stewardship Network, which hosts a statewide competition each spring to see who can pull the most. So far this spring, over 21,422 pounds of garlic mustard have been registered with the Stewardship Network. That’s over 10 tons! So, what is garlic mustard and why is it so bad? Garlic mustard is an invasive plant that was brought over to the United States by European settlers as an herb. Unfortunately, with none of its native competitors present, garlic mustard has spread virtually unchecked across the country and can be found in over 30 states as well as parts of Canada. Not only do these invasive weeds choke out native wildflowers by out-competing them for space and sunlight, but they also excrete chemicals through their roots, which prevent the growth of our native wildflowers and other plants, including trees. Without a diet of native plants to eat, our wildlife suffers too. The struggle will continue until the plants go to seed. So if you see someone stuffing plants into a bag, stop and thank them or, better yet, join in! For more information about garlic mustard and other invasive species, visit the Stewardship Network website at www.stewardshipnetwork.org or e-mail Mindy Miner at 3mminer@gmail.com.