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By Marlena Rice


Fall is finally here: We are all “Roll Tide” – ing, enjoying our riding boots and jeans, and already stressing over who will be hosting Christmas dinner - let alone Thanksgiving dinner. As a mother and a wife, I would especially like to note that I am truly always thankful for my son, my husband, my family, my job, and a multitude of other things. I am really just tickled pink all the time when I think about how God has blessed me. However, today I would like to share with you a list of all the things I am thankful for that only mothers would understand.


This Thanksgiving, and all throughout the year:


·       I am thankful for the kind lady who works at Chick-fil-a, who remembers me and says, “It’s good to see you, you haven’t been here in a while.” Which leads me to be thankful that I am on time for work that particular morning, despite the fact that I was late the day before, and likely to be running late the next.

·       I am thankful for the fact that my two year old finally believes me when I say that bugs will crawl on his butt if he keeps giving me a hard time getting his underwear/pullups back on as we potty train.

·       I am thankful for the logistics coordinator of the new neighborhood Wal-Mart, who strategically placed a miniature toy aisle with mini racecars in direct view of the meat section (because once we take 30 minutes to pick out yet another car, or two, I am then able to quickly pick up the four items we initially came to buy).

·       I am thankful for my boss, who didn’t make me show him the photograph on my iPhone that details why I was late for work. The situation involved a child in a car seat, covered in the morning’s milk and an unseen prayer that an air freshener would just fall into the backseat like a smoke bomb.

·       I am thankful for Ben and Jerry, for making ice-cream concoctions that are so outrageous (and delicious) that when the family is sitting down to watch television in the evenings no one wants “just a bite.”

·       I am thankful for the couch. The one that handles the weight of all three of us, and our huge Great Dane as he leans against to sit at our feet. You have endured baby shoes, spilled milk, spilled chicken noodle soup, the dreaded orange Cheetos powder smears, and everything else that has once left my kitchen or dining room table. And you’ve endured a family that has to sit all but smack right on each other on your cushions while we argue about what to watch on one of multiple televisions in our home.


Happy Holidays, and be Thankful!


Marlena Rice is a local mom and author. Her new book, “Pacifiers, Flatbeds and Barn Wood Thingamajigs, a 'Come to Jesus Guide' for the New, Southern Mom,” will be available on Amazon.com this fall. Follow Marlena on Instagram at marlena_rice.


Photo: Marlena Rice


Caption: Beaux William is in the holiday spirit. He’s thankful for pumpkins, obviously.


Article sponsored by Med Center North.

Find them on the web at: http://www.medcenterurgentcare.com


                                                                           Sponsored by: 

By Derek Osborn


A monthly editorial piece of masterful opinionated writing (insert joke here) regarding life and times in the big town of Tuscaloosa coupled with the musings of a guy nicknamed “Oz.” 


Thinking of escaping the cold winter months by traveling to an exotic locale specializing in fru-fru drinks and men in thongs? Happen to be looking for tips from a native Tuscaloosan who, on average, travels outside of the United States once every ten years or so?


You’re in luck! Your local faux-tourism specialist has got you covered. And for this edition of LoO, my indiscretions are most definitely your gain.


For our 10th anniversary, the missus and I decided to fly off to the tropical paradise of the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana, to be exact. 


One of our traditions when traveling to exotic locales is to pick up a local rent-a-wagon and go exploring beyond the safe havens of the resorts and the traditional tourist traps. This is fun and spontaneous but can also be ill advised at times, depending on the “State of the Island” (in all sincerity, you should always check travel advisories for your desired destination).


The following are tips based on the unplanned Dominican adventure we experienced after attempting to, and eventually succeeding, in the rental of the aforementioned wagon. 


Know a little of the native tongue: You don't have to go full-fledged Rosetta Stone, but it does help to have some knowledge of common phrases without staring at the Griswold translator handbook while attempting to get directions “to…a…beach.”


Know the exchange rate of the local currency vs. the U.S Dollar: When you stop to fill up and the amount you owe at the pump is 2,088.79, don’t freak out. We’re dealing in pesos, and in the Dominican that equates to about $46.


Notify your credit card company that you will be traveling outside of the U.S.: Because when the gas station runs your credit card and it declines the sale for fear of a fraudulent transaction, things can get really shady fast if you only have $40 in your pocket.


Notify your debit card company that you will be traveling outside of the U.S.: Because when the ATM runs your debit card and your bank declines the request for fear of a fraudulent transaction, things can get out of hand quick if you still only have $40 in your pocket.


Be prepared to drive fast: While there are traffic laws in place, there is very little enforcement, and the local driving culture could be related to that of the Autobahn combined with total disregard of common road signs. Oh, and because we shorted the gas station 272.45 pesos. And because of the security guard wielding a loaded shotgun.


To be fair, we warned our rental car agent and the gas station attendant that we only had $40. Their response? “No comprende.”


I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.          


Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and daughters Savannah and Anica. 


Article sponsored by Hudson Poole.

Find them on the web at: http://www.hudsonpoole.com

Verner Elementary students have participated in "Trick or Treat for UNICEF" for the last 10 years. UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, helps children around the world obtain life-saving food, clean water, basic health care, and access to education.  

Every year, the students at Verner Elementary think of creative ways to increase their impact for children in need, and this year the students broke all previous fundraising records by raising $3788 for UNICEF.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

By Stan J. Griffin: November 21, 2015

On a wild and wacky day of college football that saw South Carolina fall to FCS opponent The Citadel at home, No. 8 Florida forced into overtime before finally getting past 30-point underdog Florida Atlantic and No. 3 Ohio State beaten at home by Michigan State, Nick Saban's No. 2 Alabama team made it abundantly clear early that it was not about to become yet another victim to the chaos of the day.

The Crimson Tide used an efficient and balanced offensive onslaught, while the Alabama defense registered yet another shutdown performance, to lead Alabama to a convincing 56-6 romp over FCS member Charleston Southern Saturday before a crowd of 100,611 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The Tide improved to 10-1 on the season, guaranteeing a seventh-consecutive season of 10 victories or more, while Jamey Chadwell's Buccaneers of the Big South Conference fell to 9-2.

“I was really pleased with the way our guys came out today," said Saban about his team's big win on Senior Day. "Sometimes we have played a little lackluster in games like this, especially this time of year. With the players, I told them if you’re not inspired to play every play that you play, then you’re kind of cheating yourself because you’re not who you are and how you compete. I certainly was pleased with the way we went out there and executed well. Their guys really played well when they believe in what they do, and they do it well. I was surprised that they didn’t play No. 4 (senior Austin Brown) at quarterback. I thought our guys did a better job on the option today, which was hard to simulate. We got to play a lot of players on both sides of the ball, and I think that’s something that we really needed to do in this game to get those guys some experience and to get more guys ready to play down the road. I thought it was great to recognize our seniors as they have made a tremendous contribution to the program not only on the field, but additionally in the way that they represented off the field with how well they’ve done in the classroom and the kind of ambassadors they’ve been for the University and the program."


Alabama, led by the big efforts of Cyrus Jones, Derrick Henry and Calvin Ridley among others, rolled to a 28-0 advantage at the end of the first 15 minutes, a 49-0 cushion by halftime, and then cruised in the second half, playing a host of reserves and younger players.

The Tide scored on its first five offensive possessions, and also scored on a pair of punt returns for touchdowns by Jones to overwhelm the visiting Bucs early and often.

The UA defense, meanwhile, held CSU to 134 total yards (85 rushing, 49 passing) and eight first downs in the game, holding the Buccaneers to 1-of-10 on third downs while causing two turnovers (one fumble and one interception).

Cornerback Bradley Sylve and defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson both had four tackles each to lead Alabama.

After taking the opening kickoff, it did not take long for the Crimson Tide offense to get going behind the play of Coker and Henry.

Beginning its initial possession at the UA 36, the Tide methodically drove 64 yards in 9 plays, with Henry capping the march with a 17-yard touchdown run, his 20th TD of the season. Despite playing only the first quarter of Saturday's contest, the junior tailback  rushed for 68 yards on 9 carries with two touchdowns.

With just under six minutes left in the opening quarter, Henry capped a 10-play, 55-yard Alabama drive with his 21st touchdown of the season, a 2-yard run to make the score 14-0. His 21 scoring runs ties the UA single-season touchdown rush record of Trent Richardson, set in 2011.

Following a poor punt by the Buccaneers later in the period, Alabama set up shop at the CSU 35.

On the second play of the series, Coker found senior receiver Richard Mullaney on a 21-yard scoring pass in which Mullaney did a nice job of keeping his feet in bounds and corralling the pass. Alabama now led 21-0.

With no time remaining in the quarter, Jones took a CSU punt and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown to make the score 28-0. Jones, the senior cornerback,  also had a punt return for a touchdown in the Tide's previous game against Mississippi State.

"It was a bittersweet moment with it being my last game here with the guys I came in with," said Jones, who also had a forced fumble and recovered fumble on the same play in the contest. "Just with this team, it’s been a special year. I felt good about that, making plays and doing what I had to do.”

About midway through the second quarter, Alabama put together a solid 86-yard drive, and the Tide went back to the air to complete the march as Coker connected with Ridley on a 30-yard TD pass to build the advantage to 35-0.

A few moments later, Jones took another line drive punt by the Bucs and went the distance again for a 72-yard touchdown. He became the first Tide player to return two punts for scores in a game. Alabama's advantage had now swelled to 42-0.

With just under two minutes left before halftime, freshman tailback Bo Scarbrough accounted for Alabama's final points of the first half as he scored on a 1-yard run.
The 49 points scored by the Tide were the most in a half by an Alabama team since scoring 52 points against Vanderbilt in 1990 when Gene Stallings was coaching the Crimson Tide

After a scoreless third period, the Buccaneers struck for their only points of the contest early in the fourth quarter as quarterback Kyle Copeland scored on a 3-yard run to cap a 7-play, 74-yard CSU drive to prevent a shutout by the home team.  A two-point conversion failed and the new score was 49-6.

Late in the fourth quarter, Alabama scored its final points as freshman tailback Damien Harris scored his first touchdown at UA via a 6-yard run.

The Tide racked up 23 first downs in the romp, as well as 403 total yards (195 on the ground and 208 in the air).

Scarbrough, in his first significant action at UA, led the Tide in rushing with 69 yards on 10 carries and a score. Harris added 44 yards on his 10 carries while also adding his late TD.

Coker was an efficient 11 of 13 on the day for 155 yards and two TDs while backup Cooper Bateman completed 7 of 11 passes for 47 yards.

Ridley had 4 catches for 49 yards and a score while Ardarius Stewart also caught 4 passes for 45 yards. Cam Sims caught 3 passes for 25 yards.

Jones totaled 115 return yards on his two big scoring plays. 

He also had three tackles for loss in the Tide win while Jabriel Washington contributed an interception.

"Well, the outcome was probably what we expected," said Chadwell. "I was hoping we would put up a little more of a fight there in the first half. Our other guys came out and competed in the second half, which was good to see. Our main goal was to come in here and not get hurt, not get injured. I think we accomplished that. They’re obviously a good team.”

Alabama completes its regular season next Saturday, Nov. 28 in arguably college football's biggest rivalry, as the Tide travels to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the annual Iron Bowl clash with Gus Malzahn's 6-6 Auburn Tigers. Auburn defeated Idaho Saturday to become bowl-eligible.
Kickoff is slated for 2:39 p.m. CST, and the game will be nationally televised by CBS Sports.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine


It’s a new kind of fundraiser for the Shelton State Community College Foundation: A big doe hunt. The first annual Big Doe Hunt competition, which began on Oct. 15, runs through Dec. 16. Proceeds from the event benefit the Foundation, which helps provide scholarships for deserving students and financial support of the college.

Participants in the inaugural Big Doe Hunt can purchase a $100 tax deductible ticket, harvest a doe and weigh the doe at one of eight participating weigh-in stations located throughout West Alabama. The winner will be announced during a special celebration on Dec. 17 on the Martin Campus of Shelton State Community College.

By Liz Stephens

I mentioned this in my monthly wrap up of awesome live music in November in Tuscaloosa, but this bears repeating: Go see the TSO on Monday, if you’re looking for something cool to do in town. This is a wonderful, totally unique performance that everyone should enjoy.

Mother Nature is giving Alabamians a spectacular show this fall, as leaves turn vibrant shades of red, yellow and gold. This year’s peak color season arrived a few weeks early, allowing for a stunning display in October and early November. Fall foliage is particularly beautiful around Lake Tuscaloosa right now, as Allison Adams’ photo proves.

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By Courtney Corbridge

If you were to walk into second-grade teacher Tiffany Craig’s classroom at Oakdale Elementary, the first thing you’d be likely to notice is the classical music that fills her room. Craig started playing music after lessons to help stimulate her students’ minds while they worked. At first many of the kids didn’t know what to make of it. Some would say things like, “Oh my gosh, what are you playing? I’ve never heard that!” But now if Craig doesn’t turn on the music, she has students pipe up to say, “Ms. Craig, we need our brain music!”


By Tori Linville

Walter Energy, also known as Jim Walter Resources, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July. With it came the possibility of more than 500 position layoffs. The latest round of layoffs totaled with 265 positions eliminated from the company’s No. 7 mine in Brookwood on Nov. 3.

This isn’t the first time the No. 7 mine has suffered. In the same month the company declared bankruptcy, 180 positions were cut in the Brookwood mine. Heather Bosch, a 27-year-old mother of two, said she decided to help because she knew what the miners and families were about to face.

“I’ve been in their shoes,” she said. “I’ve had no job with two kids, and one of the hardest questions to have a child ask is ‘Mommy, why can’t we have this?’ and it’s so hard to have to say ‘We don’t have the money.’”

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If you are anything like me, you like to plan out your week so you can be best efficient with your time and money.  However, this does not always happen, especially when one needs to make a large meal for many guests.  So, this list of ingredients was put together to help you manage your time well over the Thanksgiving week. 

Christmas Afloat, the lighted holiday boat parade along the Black Warrior River, is returning to Tuscaloosa and Northport on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 5 p.m. The event, put on by the “Pirates of the Warrior” boat club, had been held annually since 1990, but the April 2011 tornado destroyed so many boats, a three-year hiatus was taken.

“We are proud as a Boat Club to bring Christmas Afloat back to Tuscaloosa,” said Ken DeWitt, chairman of the event. “This has long been a local holiday tradition, but our club was battered hard by the storm in 2011, and we are slowly but surely returning to our former numbers.”

President Stuart Bell announced on Wednesday that UA will hire a central diversity officer and develop a new diversity plan.

In a press release, Bell said he’s directed UA’s Strategic Planning Council to include the addition of the diversity officer as part of its work. He’s also charged two senior administrators with assessing the University’s current diversity initiatives.

By Stan J. Griffin: November 18, 2015

After a long regular season, and then two rounds of the state high school football playoff following that weekly grind, the season is still alive for six schools in the Tuscaloosa/West Alabama area.
Also alive are dreams of possibly advancing to the Super Seven state title games at Tuscaloosa's Bryant-Denny Stadium, with those contest set to begin on Dec. 2.
First things first, however, and those title aspirations must be put on hold for now as most of the remaining area teams must be focused on taking care of business in quarterfinal play Friday night.
One team, however, that will actually be playing for a state title this Friday is Webb Tutt's Marengo Academy Longhorns.
The Longhorns, led by quarterback/running back Hayden Huckabee and defensive end/tight end Cason Cook among others, have rolled to a 10-1 record, and are now set to play for the AISA Class AA championship at Troy University in Tutt's first season as Longhorn coach.
No. 4 Marengo Academy, which ousted Pickens Academy last week 48-7 will go up against 12-0 Edgewood in a rematch of last season's title game, which Edgewood captured 55-25.

By Liz Stephens

It’s that time: Time to start planning your music festivals for 2016. And really, you need to – it is an expensive habit. Luckily for those of us who aren’t rolling in the dough, many of these festivals have payment plans…OR they announce early enough to allow us to save some cash ahead. And now we know the lineup for next year’s big Hangout Music and Arts Festival in Gulf Shores May 20-22. It’s a doozie. You’re going to want to go.

Why? The lineup. That's why.

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is making another campaign stop in Alabama. Trump will hold a rally at the BJCC this Saturday, Nov. 21, at 11 a.m.

Secretary of State John Merrill confirmed Trump’s upcoming visit.

“I am confident that Mr. Trump’s appearance will be welcomed with enthusiasm, just as it was in Mobile,” said Merrill.

Tuscaloosa’s Child Abuse Prevention Services (CAPS) is hosting its first annual “Play for Prevention” fundraiser on Friday, Nov. 20 at Band of Brothers Brewing Company. The event is a fundraiser for CAPS, and a fun one, so if you love to get out and play games, here’s your chance to do it for a great cause.

Students from Holy Spirit Catholic School participated in the BEST Robotics competition sponsored by Shelton State Community College and Mercedes Benz on October 31. Team members included Holy Spirit Students Alex Kincaid, Danika Louw, Olivia Wyatt, David Fonseca, Kameron Woolverton, Zach Davis, Daniel Fonseca, Hallie Oswalt, Natalie Merchan, Abraham Moreno, Marty Maggi.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

By Stan J. Griffin: November 16, 2015

As the No. 2 Alabama football team steps away from conference play this week for a Saturday battle against Big South Conference opponent Charleston Southern, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban acknowledged Monday that much of the emphasis of this week, as per usual, is improvement in his own team from its last game, a 31-6 win over Mississippi State on Saturday.

"We got off to a little bit of a slow start (against the Bulldogs) in the game and just didn't seem to have the energy, especially offensively, to pay attention to detail and get the kind of execution we needed against a very good defensive team," he said. "We played a lot better in the second half and made some big, explosive plays that made a big difference in the game. Defensively, we did a good job of affecting the quarterback (sacking MSU quarterback Dak Prescott nine times) and played well in the red zone. That was probably the difference in the game. We probably didn't tackle as well in space as we'd like to, and we gave up a few big plays that we probably shouldn't have. Those are things that we definitely need to work on and try to fix."

Saban noted that senior tailback Kenyan Drake, who sustained a fractured arm during Saturday's game, had successful surgery Monday and will likely be out at least a couple of week.

"Then (after that period where he cannot play), it will be, how functional can he be at this position with what he has," he said, also noting that freshman defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick is day-to-day in terms of practice this week, and he will be questionable for Saturday's game.

Fitzpatrick suffered a sprained knee against MSU, and he and Drake both suffered their injuries during second quarter play against the Bulldogs.

This week's contest marks the last game in Bryant-Denny Stadium for Alabama's seniors, and Saban spoke about that fact, and praised the senior players for their representation of UA both on and off the field.
"It's the last game for a lot of our seniors who have had a great career here and contributed and had a lot of success, and I certainly hope that our fans will show the kind of appreciation that we all should have for what their hard work, and their blood, sweat and tears have contributed to the program over the last four or five years," he said. "A lot of good people and a lot of successful guys, and guys that are going to be successful in life. They've been great ambassadors for the University of Alabama and this program. We're just very thankful for them for what they've contributed."

In terms of Saturday's 3 p.m. game (SEC Network) against Charleston Southern, Saban said third-year coach Jamey Chadwell will bring in a very talented Buccaneer team.
"Charleston Southern is 9 and 1, and probably one of the best teams in their FCS division, and they're ranked in the Top 10 in almost every current category, and one of the top defenses in that league, as well as very productive offensively," he said. "A different style of offense than we've played against, a lot of option and split back and a lot of options that we have not played against and their quarterback Austin Brown does a really good job. He's a very athletic guy who can run as well as he is a good passer. So this is going to be a challenging game for us from a preparation standpoint. Their defense has created a lot of negative plays and very quick. They play a 3-4 and they do a good job in their pressure package in creating negative plays, so this is a good team that we're playing, and hopefully our players will have the kind of respect they need to go out and play good, positive and winning football against them."

He said there are similarities between Charleston Southern and the Georgia Southern team that Alabama played in 2011, in terms of the Buccaneer option offense. But he added that Georgia Southern ran more of a Georgia Tech-style true option offense, and that Charleston Southern presents more multiple formations which create adjustment issues for an opposing defense relative to remaining sound on the option.

When asked about the play of junior defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, who was a key  part of Alabama's effective pass rush against MSU Saturday, Saban began his response with a lighthearted reference to the inadvertent hit that he took from the 6-foot-3, 283-pound lineman before that game started, leading to a noticeable abrasion on the coach's cheek.

"The first thing is knocking the hell out of the coach," he said, drawing a big chorus of laughter from the assembled media. "Jonathan was a really good high school on-the-edge pass rush guy, very, very good. I think he has gotten bigger and developed a lot of strength to where now he can rush off the edge, but he's a really effective inside rusher because he's gotten bigger and stronger. Certainly he plays the run a lot better and he's athletic and he can still move. I think that's the biggest difference, he just gotten, each year he's been here, a little bigger and stronger. He's always been very athletic and great first-step quickness. He does a great job of using his hands and moving his feet, which is critical in being a good pass rusher."

Asked about the process that goes into the scheduling of non-conference tilts against opponents such as Charleston Southern, the Tide coach said Alabama is sometimes limited in terms of its option when trying to assemble a schedule.

"We don't have a lot of choices," said Saban. "It's not like when you go into a restaurant and you get the menu and say, 'OK, we can play these 24 different teams, which one do we want to play?' Most of the time we're bargaining and begging to get anybody to play us, and so we don't always have a lot of choice, and especially lately where since we went to 14 teams in the league, it put the SEC schedule back a little bit in terms of when we got it so (the Tide was forced to fill in their schedule as well as it could), so those things have been challenges for us in scheduling, and we're going to continue to do the best we can in trying to get the best opponents, but we always don't have a lot of choice."

Alabama junior running back Derrick Henry and Allen earned SEC Player of the Week recognition following the win at Starkville Saturday, the league office announced on Monday.
Henry was named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the fourth time this season after rushing for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries against the Bulldogs. He has rushed for more than 200 yards in consecutive games and three of the past four overall, with each coming against teams ranked in the top-20 nationally. Henry broke free for touchdown runs of 74 and 65 yards to extend his school record of consecutive games with a rushing touchdown to 15, the longest such streak by an SEC player in the last 20 seasons.

In his first season as the team’s starting running back, Henry has amassed 1,474 yards and 19 touchdowns on 240 carries for a 6.1 yard average. He is currently the national leader in rushing touchdowns and ranks second overall in yards rushing. The junior tailback has performed his best in the Tide’s six games against ranked opponents, averaging 178.7 yards per game (1,072 yards) and scoring 12 touchdowns.    

Allen was recognized as the Southeastern Conference Defensive Lineman of the Week after a dominant performance in Starkville. The junior defensive end finished the day with seven tackles, including three tackles for loss (-17 yards), to go along with three sacks, one forced fumble, and a quarterback hurry. Allen is the first Alabama player to record three sacks in a game since Courtney Upshaw did it against Auburn in 2010. The Alabama defense collectively totaled nine sacks, representing the most by any unit in a single game under head coach Nick Saban.  

In addition to those honors, Saban and his coaching staff recognized ten Crimson Tide standouts as players of the week following the win against MSU.

Henry, Cam Robinson and ArDarius Stewart were the honorees on offense, while  Allen, Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster represented the defense. Kenyan Drake, Adam Griffith, Cyrus Jones and Bradley Sylve made the special teams list.

It was announced by the SEC Monday that the Nov. 28 Iron Bowl contest between Alabama and Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium will begin at 2:30 p.m., with CBS televising the game.

Courtesy of Crimson Magazine

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It’s not what you think

By Amelia Pilsch

In an early Master Gardener class, when the topic was preparing soil for planting, a member asked the speaker about “lasagna gardening.” Now, I had never heard this term before, and it felt a little sketchy when the speaker appeared to brush over the question.  I asked my seat mate about it, and later, "Googled" it to learn more.

Preparing a new garden bed using the lasagna method refers to building a garden by adding layers of organic materials that will “cook down” over time, resulting in rich soil that will help your plants thrive. Also called sheet composting, you don't have to dig at all - you simply layer your materials directly on top of the ground where you’ve planned your new garden, even on top of the grass

Being a single, teacher person, and getting a little long in the tooth, I thought my days of creating a new garden space were over. Honestly, cutting the grass has even become a chore, but I still prefer that chore over the alternate, indoor kind. The idea of creating a new bed without the hours of back breaking labor seemed very appealing to me. Plus, I already had a space in mind and, I’d been saving an inspiration picture...don't judge me. I decided to give it a try.

I started my garden in the fall after a friend built the trellises along the wall. I used my garden hose to outline the new space, then covered the entire area in cardboard and newspaper. Here's a tip: I filled my garden cart with water and soaked the newspaper to keep it from blowing around before I added another layer.

The paper and cardboard are an invitation to earthworms, they love paper and are vital for good soil. Earthworms aerate the soil as they move by burrowing small holes. They process organic matter in their bodies and return vital compounds to the soil, increasing the nutrients available to plants.

The second layer that I added was peat moss. I have learned that using peat moss is environmentally unfriendly and non-sustainable. I'd recommend mulch instead. Sometimes, peat moss can turn into a wet, mushy bog, but not to worry, my bed is fine. I topped the peat with wheat hay, covered the entire concoction with a tarp and left it for several weeks. From time to time, I’d uncover the space, add another layer and wet it with the hose. I used manure, mushroom compost, more hay, grass clippings, and hardwood leaves.

When spring came, I started adding items to my new bed. I decided to experiment with espalier, training a shrub to grow flat against a wall using my trellises. I selected Camellia Sasanqua "October Magic" because I needed something evergreen and loved the idea of having blooms in the fall. I also added three dwarf lorepetulums. Existing plants included a hydrangea, a gardenia, irises and day lilies. Instead of a fountain, I installed a bird bath.

I needed a way in and out so I put in pavers, but hope to replace those with personalized, stepping stones, mementos of my family. It's still a work in progress but that is the beauty of gardening isn't it?

Follow Tuscaloosa County Master Gardeners on Twitter @TuscCoGardeners

Photos: Amelia Pilsch


Article sponsored by First South Farm Credit.

Find them on the web at:  http://www.firstsouthfarmcredit.com/home.aspx



The annual Wagner’s Turkey Trot is set for Saturday, November 21. This two-mile race is a great way to get new runners involved, and it’s also a way to increase membership in the Tuscaloosa Track Club.

Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.



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