April 24, 2012 |
The risks of owning natural-gas stocks in your portfolio flared with the recent news that Chesapeake Energy's chairman had taken out more than $1 billion in undisclosed loans using company wells as his collateral. Natural gas has proved a frustrating conundrum for investors. For years, the prices of natural gas and crude oil traded together — both up and down. But that tandem relationship broke down in late 2008. Oil prices skyrocketed to more than $100 a barrel, but natural gas plummeted roughly 45 percent just this year, to $2 per MBtu (1,000 Btus)
April 20, 2012 |
It's sad, but not surprising, that cut flowers went the way of fresh food, turning what used to be a local enterprise into a $40 billion global network of industrial floriculture producing "factory flowers" every bit as uniform, unappetizing, and fake-looking as their gustatory counterparts. But as Debra Prinzing explains in her new book The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers (St. Lynn's Press, $17.95), the "slow flower" movement is catching up to "slow food," bringing flowers back to local fields and, in season, into our homes.
March 9, 2012
As Graham Rice says in his new book, "Dry shade is the most inhospitable part of any garden. " This calls for a hearty hear, hear! The book is called Planting the Dry Shade Garden: The Best Plants for the Toughest Spot in Your Garden , $24.95 from Timber Press. It's the latest in a string of more than 20 books by Rice, a household name in horticulture circles on both sides of the Atlantic. Rice lives and gardens in both Milford, Pa., and Northamptonshire, England, and he's well aware of the difficulties of trying to plant in all sorts of dry spots that are shaded by fences, overhangs, walls, buildings, and trees.
February 28, 2012 |
Billionaire and investing icon Warren Buffett said Monday that health-care giant Johnson & Johnson has "obviously messed up in a lot of ways in the last few years. " Buffett is chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the investment company that owns or holds sizable positions in companies in numerous industries. J&J, Wells Fargo, Burlington Northern, and Coca-Cola are among the prominent companies in its portfolio. Buffett said Berkshire has not sold its stake but "we might.
February 24, 2012
Gardeners have gone bonkers over herbs these last few years, and no wonder. They're so easy to grow, they look great just about anywhere, and they're useful. On a warm summer night, few things top a trip out back for a handful of basil, oregano, or chives while the pasta's cooking. (Well, maybe a trip to pick tomatoes.) Better Homes and Gardens is known for its super-simple guides to growing stuff, whether orchids, roses, perennials, or vegetables. Herb Gardening ($19.99)
February 10, 2012
Art Wolk, the bulb guy from Voorhees, is on a bit of a roll. His new book, Bulb Forcing for Beginners and the Seriously Smitten , is out just in time for the Philadelphia International Flower Show, which runs from March 4-11 at the Convention Center and where he's got two speaking gigs. Topic: "Lilies & Tulips & Daffs, Oh My! Using Bulbs to Grow Your Own Winter Flower Show. " This sort of thing gets bulbsters out of bed in the morning. And the take is pure Wolk, who's known almost as much for humor as for horticulture.
February 3, 2012
The Edible Balcony : Growing Fresh Produce in Small Spaces by Alex Mitchell (Rodale Books, $21.99) is a treat to look at - the shelves loaded with pots of lettuce, basil and thyme, the peas and blackberries scrambling skyward, and yes, even the borage blossoms encased in ice cubes for a cocktail on the balcony after dark. The author, a Londoner and former gardening columnist for the Sunday Telegraph, touches on window boxes, hanging baskets, "10 best easy crops," good pots, salvaged and recycled balconies.
January 20, 2012
If you're the handy type, you'll open Handmade Garden Projects , the new Timber Press book ($19.95) by Lorene Edwards Forkner, with a quickened pulse. Me, I assumed it was yet another book about do-it-yourself projects that are ridiculously out of reach for folks like me. Despite the author's disclaimers, I did find an awful lot that I know I could never do - and other stuff that was just plain ridiculous. I've never considered vintage travel trailers like Forkner's, which she calls "my little 'canned ham' beauty," a thing of beauty on the road or surrounded by plantings.
January 6, 2012
Jenna Woginrich has serious Pennsylvania connections. She grew up in Palmerton in Carbon County, a place she's described in interviews as "a small town with street lights, sidewalks and Wonder Bread and mayonnaise. " She also graduated from Kutztown University. Perhaps those stolid roots inspired the homestead dream. For although Woginrich makes her living as a Web designer for Orvis in Sunderland, Vt., she's also a farmer - and now the author of Barnheart , a memoir about "the incurable longing for a farm of one's own. " Woginrich raises chickens, sheep, bees, rabbits, and geese; she grows her own vegetables and bakes a lot of bread.
December 30, 2011
After reading Petal & Twig by Valerie Easton, I wanted to run outside and gather twigs, seed pods, and pine cones, holly and evergreen boughs, and try my hand at an appropriately wintry arrangement. I also wanted to throw out 99 percent of my vases. Suddenly, they're boring! Easton's book (Sasquatch Books, $16.95) is a celebration of seasonal bouquets, a topic many gardeners find irresistible. It appeals to our frugal natures - no need to buy any flowers or greens - and allows us to enjoy the garden year-round.