Tips for Tucking in your Garden for Winter.

 

Tucking in a garden for winter is mostly about cleaning up and covering up. Hopefully, your trees  and  shrubs  grew stronger this growing season. But too much water from relentless summer rains or overwatering can lead to weakened growth, which is susceptible to winter die-off.

Given last year’s loss of trees through- out the Front Range due to extreme air-temperature   fluctuations,   getting a garden ready for winter dormancy is prudent. In a normal year, shrubs and trees  prepare  themselves  for  winter in response to shorter days and cooler temperatures. You can help your plants get ready for dormancy by following these steps.

Stop fertilizing in late August to avoid stimulating new growth. (And never overfertilize during the growing season, as this can result in weakened growth, too.)

In September, adjust your automat- ic sprinkler system to irrigate twice a week instead of three times. When you blow out your system for winter, usu- ally in late September or early October, switch to hand watering once a week.

Before the ground freezes, do a final weeding and remove any debris. Keep grows, because long grass covered by deep snows can develop brown patches in spring.

After plants go dormant, hand water only when the soil is dry several inches below the surface. But continue water- ing any fall transplants; their root balls should not dry out during their first au- tumn and winter in the  ground.

This is also a good time to prune bro- ken branches and dieback. Wait to do a thorough pruning until just before new growth appears in spring.

In October, stop deadheading flow- ers. Luckily, our perennial grasses and flowers fared much better than trees and shrubs last winter, because they’re

not as susceptible to air-temperature fluctuations, which brings us to an im- portant point. The reason they fared better is because their growing points, where new cells develop, were tucked away beneath mulch.

It’s very important to mulch again in late fall to keep soil temperatures from swinging erratically, which can cause perennials and grasses to weaken or die. Anything light and fluffy works, such as pine needles (but they’re a pain to clean up come springtime), wood chips, straw, hay or leaves. Rake up tree leaves and lightly run the mower over them to shred them into mulch. Liber- ally spread the mulch beneath shrubs and trees, and over flower and vegeta- ble beds to a depth of 1 to 2 feet.

A lightweight frost blanket is a good option for gravel-mulched rock gardens.

It’s a Wrap

To protect against sunscald, wind- burn, drought and transplant shock, spray specialty evergreens, like dwarf conifers, lavender cotton, arborvitae, broad-leafed evergreen azaleas, rhodo- dendrons,  boxwoods,  euonymus and

hollies, with an anti-transpirant like Wilt-Pruf or Wilt Stop.

Both are natural, nontoxic products derived from pine tree resin. Apply it  in late October after several frosts to ensure these species are fully dormant. Research demonstrates mixed results with these products, but some local gar- deners swear by them.

Wrap young trees with a trunk diam- eter of less than 4 inches with tree wrap to reduce sunscald that can result in deep trunk fissures. Be sure to remove the wrap promptly next spring to pre- vent insects from taking up residence. Or put a cylinder around the trunk of young trees and pack it with straw or shredded leaves.

One nice thing about tucking in your garden for winter is you can stop cutting back perennial flowers and ornamental grasses, as this affords some protection to the plant’s roots. Wait until late win- ter or early spring to resume this chore. Let berries, seedpods and rose hips over- winter on plants to give wildlife shelter and food during the harshest months.

Finally, wash and store your garden gloves and tools. Empty and store flowerpots, drain the fuel tank on your lawn mower, roll up and store garden hoses, and put away sprinkler attachments and nozzles. Then start dreaming of next year’s garden and all the lovely plants that will greet you come spring!


This article is provided by Marcia Tatroe, a Centennial gardener who is passionate about planting drought-tolerant natives for a gardening aesthetic unique to this region. In addition, this article is featured in the Fall 2016 edition of the BBB Community Guide.http://www.bbb.org/denver/get-to-know-us/community-guide/

Between the Sheets

Bed Sheets

 

When buying sheets, we often just pick ones that fit our mattress. But there’s more to buying sheets than choosing be- tween a twin, full, queen or king. Here are things to consider so you don’t get short-sheeted in the bedding department.

Threads Gone Wild

A sheet’s thread count refers to its number of vertical and horizontal threads per square inch. In the U.S. market, thread counts have inched higher until now we see sheets with 1,000 or greater thread counts. But those numbers don’t necessarily translate to a softer sheet. In order to achieve very high counts, some manufacturers use shorter, thinner threads and then twist the yarns together to get a higher number of threads per square inch. Many consumers believe a higher thread count means a sheet with a softer feel or “hand,” but that isn’t the case with sheets woven from short fibers.

“A 300 thread-count sheet woven from long-staple Egyptian cotton is far superior to a 600 thread-count sheet woven from shorter cotton and twisted thread,” says a Denver linens expert. “The hand and durability are so much better with a long, single, high-quality cotton fiber.” What you are weaving is the most important thing when determining quality and   hand she adds, which brings us to fabrics.

Fabulous Fibers

By far, the most common sheet fabric is cotton, with three main types:pima, Egyptian and American upland. Sheets labeled 100 percent cotton are most likely woven from American upland. This cotton is short-staple cotton, meaning the fibers are short and therefore not as soft as a long-staple fiber.

Pima and Egyptian cottons are long- staple fibers, which can be spun into fine, strong weaves that have greater durability and a much softer hand. Long- staple cottons also include Supima, a trademarked name for sheets made with American pima cotton. Combed cotton means the fibers were combed before weaving to remove the short fibers.

Be aware, though, that some Egyptian cotton sheets are marketed as such, even though they contain a low quantity of true Egyptian cotton.  If you’re looking for the softest sheets, make sure the label says 100 percent Egyptian cotton.

Today’s sheet market also includes other natural fabrics, including silk, wood pulp, bamboo and linen. Silk is incredibly breathable with a luxurious hand. Wood pulp is a trendy textile in today’s market that’s made from sustainable cedar trees. Bamboo is another sustainable fabric that is soft and durable. Linen is a good choice for summer because it’s very breathable, and it absorbs moisture and dries quickly so it retains its coolness. “Linen is very durable and can practically be boiled, and it just gets softer and softer with each washing,” says the linens expert.

Inexpensive non-natural fabrics, like microfiber sheets and cotton sheets blended with nylon or polyester, tend   to be much less breathable and are often thinner, which could make them prone to tears after just a few washes.

What’s In a Weave?

Sheets have certain characteristics according to how they’re woven. For instance, percale and sateen sheets are both cotton sheets that have different weaves. Percale has a simple one-under, one-over weave that results in a matte appearance and a sturdy, breathable sheet. “A great percale sheet will be crisp and cool, and still very soft and luxurious, but without any sheen,” the linens expert says.

A sateen weave is one-under, five- over, which gives the fabric a soft, lustrous and silky feel with a visible sheen. “A sateen woven sheet is not hot by any means, but it’s not as cool as a percale, because the air circulation occurs every five rows instead of every single row,” she explains.

Which sheet you choose depends on your preferences, but keep your body heat in mind. Do you throw off the sheets because of hot flashes or night sweats, or do you constantly pull them around you to stay toasty?

“The typical rule of thumb is percale and linen are more for people who run warm,” she says. “Sateen, silk, wood pulp and bamboo are for those who run cool.” And, of course, flannel sheets are a must-have in Colorado winters.

Other things to keep in mind are the sheet’s laundering needs, your mat- tress depth (so you have enough pock- et on a fitted sheet) and the length of the sheet (so you have a generous fold back). Consider if you’ll need a bed skirt, and check to see if any chemicals were added to the sheets to make them wrinkle free or feel softer (natural-fiber organic sheets are free of chemicals). If you want a fancier look, consider sheets and pillowcases with decorative hemstitching or embroidery.

White and ivory will complement any décor, but don’t be afraid of color in your boudoir. “This is weird,” the linens expert says, “but I always think of what colors make me happy and look good on me when I buy bedding. I want to wake up to a color that makes me look and feel good.”

This article was provided by Carol Brock and is featured in the 2016 Fall BBB Community Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Charities That Should Raise a Red Flag for Donors

Teach for America, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation included in BBB WGA’s list

BBB Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA) released a list of the 10 largest charities (ranked by Fiscal Year 2014 total contributions) that failed to disclose any of the requested information needed to verify the charity’s trustworthiness. The list includes recognizable charities, including Teach for America, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. A charity’s failure to disclose important information relevant to BBB WGA evaluation should be a red flag for donors, and the BBB WGA urges donors to avoid charities that dodge transparency.

“Transparency is the mark of a well-run charity,” said H. Art Taylor, CEO and President of BBB WGA. “Failure to disclose important operations information demonstrates a complete disregard to the importance of trust.

The majority of charities agree to an evaluation, and it’s concerning when charities refuse. Failure to disclose information isn’t just about snubbing the BBB WGA reporting process —these charities are snubbing the people and donors who are asking BBB WGA to verify the charity’s trustworthiness.

We know that publicly-available financial information is simply not enough for BBB WGA to evaluate a charity’s trustworthiness, which is why we evaluate charities on 20 unique standards that also examine a charity’s governance, effectiveness reporting and fund-raising practices, among other issues.”

BBB WGA is releasing its list of top Transparency Dodgers to uncover some of the largest national charities that fail to disclose critical information and underscore the importance of donors researching before they give.

BBB WGA conducts rigorous, comprehensive evaluations on thousands of charities to help donors ensure that the money and time they donate is being spent wisely. To see if your favorite charity is transparent, visit Give.org to check out BBB WGA’s free charity reports.

Full list of BBB WGA’s Top 10 Transparency Dodgers:

(ranked by FY 2014 total contributions)

  1. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  2. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  3. Teach For America
  4. NeighborWorks America
  5. John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  6. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  7. City Year
  8. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  9. Pact
  10. Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Top 10 Transparency Dodgers

Starting with Trust

Building and maintaining trust between businesses and consumers is at the core of what the BBB does, and just as trust is a basic and universal requirement in our personal relationships, it’s also a requirement for a healthy business community.

Because creating trust between businesses and consumers is our mission, we require all BBB Accredited Businesses to adhere to our Standards of Trust, which include advertising honestly, telling the truth, being transparent, honoring promises, being responsive, safeguarding privacy, and acting with integrity. Building trust means the business adheres to those standards in good times and bad, when the customer is watching and when the customer isn’t watching. This is self-regulation at its best

But this only works if customers adhere to similar standards of behavior.  When someone goes out of their way to take advantage of a company, it costs us all. There are certain responsibilities the consumer has to the business transaction. Here a just a few that come to mind:

Research

Know your rights and responsibilities, comparison shop, read contracts, and ask questions before buying. If you don’t take the time to do some pre-purchase research you are only setting yourself up for disappointment – and the fault is your own. The fact is, if you sign a contract without reading it and then file a complaint to get out of it, there’s little to nothing BBB can do for you. The same stands for comparison shopping. If you file a complaint because the new stove you bought turns out to be $100 less at a different retailer, that misstep falls on you –  not on BBB and certainly not on the business.

Truthfulness

Don’t return used goods under the pretense that they are damaged if they are not. This is theft, plain and simple. Businesses offer return policies in good faith. The business cannot resell an opened, used product.  They are forced to dump it at a fraction of the original asking price. Abusing a return policy costs all of us.

Honesty

Show the same level of honesty you expect from a business.  There’s a reason the golden rule works. If a sales clerk makes a mistake in your favor, point it out as quickly as you would a mistake in the company’s favor.

Courtesy

Recognize that store employees are individuals. Treat them as you wish to be treated.

Respect

Don’t make unreasonable demands. Respect the firm’s right to limit services and products offered. Don’t expect to get something for nothing. Turn to your BBB for assistance with a marketplace dispute only if you’ve tried to resolve it directly with the company and that effort failed.

Trust is a two-way street and something that must be earned constantly. Whether a business owner or a customer, we all play a part in that process.

BBB Tip: Good News on Senior Citizens Day!

August 21st is National Senior Citizens Day in the U.S., and Better Business Bureau has some great news: the stereotype of the “little old lady” as scam victim is wrong. BBB research shows that seniors are less likely to be victims of scams because they are more likely to recognize a scam when they see one.

Dancing

Seniors have gotten the message, loud and clear, that scammers target them, especially for investment scams, tech support scams and imposter scams (“Grandmas, I’ve been arrested in Mexico. Please send money!”). Seniors are doing their homework to become educated about con artists and their tactics. Even more surprising, young people – despite their tech-savvy nature – are more vulnerable to scams than seniors.

The research was conducted by the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust (BBB Institute) and is available at BBB.org/TruthAboutScams. BBB surveyed more than 2,000 adults in the U.S. and Canada. Questions were about the respondents’ perceived vulnerability to scams, who they think is most likely to be scammed, and about the factors that helped them to avoid being scammed. The participants did not know that BBB was the sponsor of the survey.

Stereotypes usually paint scam victims as vulnerable and elderly, or gullible and poorly educated, but those assumptions are wrong. Everyone is at risk but, surprisingly, younger and more educated individuals are actually the most likely to be scammed. Marketplace scams affect one in four North American households each year at an estimated loss to individuals and families of $50 billion, yet most consumers believe they are invulnerable.

“Optimism bias” is the idea that other people are more vulnerable than we are, and it’s associated with risk-taking and failure to pay attention to precautionary advice. It’s one of the reasons young people are more vulnerable to scams than seniors. Seniors may also be less impulsive than younger consumers, and less likely to make online purchases (or exercising more caution when they do, such as researching a company first or only shopping at familiar websites).

More than 35,000 people have reported scams to BBB Scam Tracker since it was launched in 2015. Analysis shows that the top five scams that target seniors age 65 and older, and how often they are conned, are:

Tax Collection Scam: more than 2,400 reported to Scam Tracker, fewer than 1% lost money
Sweepstakes/Lottery/Prizes Scam: more than 800 reported, 10% lost money
Tech Support Scam: more than 500 reported, 30% lost money
Debt Collections: nearly 250 reported, 2% lost money
Government Grants: close to 200 reported, 6% lost money

Although seniors are the most scam-savvy group, too many are still losing money. BBB reminds seniors – and all consumers – to be cautious whenever someone you don’t know asks for money, personally identifying information, access to your computer or records, etc. Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Research businesses at BBB.org.

Improve Ergonomics to Reduce Worker Strain Injuries

Office ergonomics affects workers in industries as diverse as construction, health care, manufacturing, retail and the public sector. It comes into play whenever soft-tissue strain results from improper or repetitive body movements, as well as lack of motion.

Back Pain
What to Do
Working over long periods of time in awkward postures without taking breaks can greatly increase your employees’ risk for musculoskeletal injuries. Proper workstation setup and layout, good fit with a quality task chair and posture changes throughout the day are the most effective ways to reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Reorganizing work so employees can stand and walk every 30 to 45 minutes, for example, is a no-cost approach to reduce the effects of sitting in a static posture.
What Not to Do
Look for these common awkward postures at your employees’ workstations and inform workers of these risk factors for injury:
• Working in a seated, static position for more than 30 minutes without standing or walking.
• Sitting so far forward in a chair that the back is unsupported or, worse, slouching forward over the keyboard.
• Working with elbows extended in front of the body, which creates muscle tension in the upper back.
• Cradling the phone for long periods while performing keyboard/mouse work.
• Entering data from a document that is face down on the desk, requiring awkward neck flexion or twisting.
• Placing contact stress on soft tissues, such as resting wrists on a hard, sharp desktop edge while using a computer mouse.

Post provided by: Pinnacol Assurance. Visit Pinnacol’s Resource webpage

Why is BBB Accreditation Important?

 

The BBB brand has stood for trust in the marketplace for 100 years. More than 90% of consumers recognize the BBB logo and what it stands for. When they see it attached to your brand, they know you are a business they can trust. A company of any size that carries the internationally recognized BBB Mark of Accreditation inherits the added advantage of over 100 years of trusted goodwill in all forms of commerce.

Value of Accred.

Colorado Hail Storms Slam Homeowners

 No Roof Scams Group Offers Homeowners Key Ways to Avoid Roofing Scam Artists

Roofer Checking Hail Damage

Homeowners with roof damage following recent hail storms should take plenty of time and do their homework before hiring a roof contractor, according to a group of nonprofit, government, and business organizations sponsoring the No Roof Scams campaign to fight roofing contractor fraud in Colorado.

The recent storms in Colorado Springs, Eaton, and surrounding communities pummeled homes and businesses with hail the size of golf and tennis balls damaging thousands of roofs. Colorado is number two in the country for insurance claims filed due to property damage from hail, which makes our state a magnet for fraudulent roof contractors. These storm-chasing, fly-by-night scam artists will often make false promises, insist on full payment upfront before work is completed, and sometimes they say they’re inspecting your roof when in fact they are creating damage where none occurred.

The No Roof Scams coalition advises homeowners to avoid being victimized by fraudulent contractors by doing the following:

  • Take your time when selecting a contractor.  Many contractors use fear tactics such as telling homeowners their ceiling or roof may collapse without immediate repairs.  Don’t fall for this ploy.
  • Most legitimate local roofing contractors do not knock on doors after a storm.  This is a classic technique utilized by out-of-state contractors who have no local presence.
  • Check out contractors before hiring anyone with two of Colorado’s excellent resources.
  • Get more than one estimate; make sure any contract includes all information required by Colorado law (http://coloradoroofing.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/SB38FactSheet-20122.pdf).
  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until all the work is completed.
  • Never sign a contract with blanks or statements like “see insurance estimate, etc.” – fraudulent contractors may enter unacceptable terms later.
  • Under Colorado Law a contractor cannot pay, waive or rebate the homeowner’s insurance deductible.

Organizations participating in the No Roof Scams campaign include:

  • Better Business Bureau – Denver/Boulder
  • Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Colorado Division of Insurance (Department of Regulatory Agencies)
  • Colorado Roofing Association
  • Insurance Institute for Business &  Home Safety
  • National Insurance Crime Bureau
  • Property Casualty Insurance Association of America
  • Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association

Follow #NoRoofScams to learn more about how consumers can avoid being the victims of unethical roofing contractors and find reputable roofing contractors.

Fundraising Events: Advice for Donors

Fall is approaching , and many of us look forward to time spent outdoors with family and friends. As the variety of fundraising events varies from one charitable organization to another, donors have more opportunities to choose. These include walkathons or races, concerts, raffles as well as other games, auctions, and galas.

But before you go, there are a few things to consider when handing over your cash.  Here are some helpful questions and answers you might ask:

Q: What charity or charities does the event sponsor?

A: Some events are sponsored by a single charity; others may involve several different organizations partnering for a shared cause.

Q: What activities or programs do the benefiting charities provide?

A: Don’t assume you can tell what the charity does from the name alone. Check out the nature of the charity’s program service activities. How is it specifically addressing the problem or need the event is promoting?

Q: How much of the money collected will go to the benefiting organization(s)?

A: This depends on how the event is organized. Is the charity one among a number of benefiting groups for the event? Did they organize it themselves or hire an outside fund raising firm? Whatever the circumstances, the charity should be able to clearly explain its answer to this question to all participants and donors.

Q: Is my participation fee or donation tax-deductible?

A: IRS Publication 526 explains that, for a charity event such as a banquet or ball, you can deduct only the amount that is more than the fair-market-value of the benefits you receive. For example, if you pay $100 for a ticket to a charity fund raising dinner at a hotel, and the usual price for a similar meal at the hotel is $25, then only $75 of the ticket would be deductible. In most instances, the charity will disclose the amount of the purchase that is deductible on the event information.

Remember to research the organization with the BBB first. Visit BBBDenverNonprofits.org to find local BBB Accredited Charities.

Pokémon GO Players Fall for Phishing Con

The sudden success of Pokémon GO has scammers cooking up ways to cash in on the app’s popularity. The latest is a phishing email that fools victims into thinking they need to pay for the game.

How the Scam Works: 

You receive an email addressed to Pokémon GO players. The message reads: “due to the overwhelming response to our new Pokémon GO app and the need for more powerful servers we can no longer afford to keep your account as free.” The developers are now charging $12.99 a month, and your account will be frozen if you don’t upgrade.

The email urges you to click a link, log in to the app store and purchase the “full version.” Don’t do it! The log-in form isn’t run by an official app store or Ninatic Labs, the game’s developers. It’s on a third party site, and it is a way to steal users’ passwords.

Unfortunately, this is not the only Pokémon GO scam out there. Before the app launched, scammers lured victims with the promise of getting early beta test access to the game. Then, a fake version of the game appeared in some app stores. As long as the app stays popular, scammers will devise new ways to fool players. 

How to Spot a Phishing Scam:

Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. Do not click on links or open files in unfamiliar emails.

Check the reply email address. One easy way to spot an email scam is to look at the reply email. The address should be on a company domain, such as jsmith@company.com.

Don’t believe what you see. Just because an email looks real, doesn’t mean it is. Scammers can fake anything from a company logo to the “Sent” email address. 

Consider how the organization normally contacts you. If an organization normally reaches you by mail, be suspicious if you suddenly start receiving emails or text messages without ever opting in to the new communications.  

Be cautious of generic emails. Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Be especially wary of messages you have not subscribed to or companies you have never done business with in the past.

For More Information

Read Variety’s coverage of the scam on their website.

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam). To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).