HEALTHY LIVING: Christmas plants: Amaryllis bulbs well suited here

first_img If you want to make it flower again, cut the old flowers from the stem. Then cut the stem down to the bulb when it starts to wither. Continue to water and feed as usual for at least five to six months. When the leaves begin to yellow in early fall, cut the plant back to two inches from the top of the bulb.  Remove the bulb from the soil, clean it and place it in a dark cool place. Your refrigerator will work just fine unless you have apples next to the bulb, in which case, the amaryllis bulb will become sterile. Keep stored for at least six weeks.  After the chill time, decide when you want them to bloom again, and plant eight weeks beforehand.If all of this seems like too much trouble, you can always plant them outside in your garden. I am a low maintenance gardener. I have many bright red ones that have naturalized inmy flowerbeds. I do nothing special to them and they come back stronger year after year. That’s my favorite kind of plant! For more information, contact Micah Leigh, Jefferson County Master Gardenerat [email protected] or call Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at 409-835-8461. By Micah LeighYou may have received an amaryllis bulb this holiday season, and may be wondering what to do with it. Well, you are in luck. The amaryllis is one of the easiest plants to grow, indoors or out. Native to South America, the amaryllis is well suited to our tropical climate. It comes in several shades of red, white, pink, salmon and orange. There are also multi-colored and striped varieties. The prices can range from $4 to $40 for a single bulb depending on the variety. If your bulb came prepackaged, all you have to do is follow the directions to get it to bloom.If you have a bare bulb that you intend to grow in a container, place it in lukewarm water for a few hours before you plant.  Use a good potting soil and plant the bulb up to its top being careful not to damage the roots. Press the soil firmly around the bulb to hold it in place. Water lightly.  Place the container in a warm place with direct natural light if possible.  Amaryllis will grow under fluorescent light but only if it is left on around the clock. Water when the soil feels dry to the touch.  Once a month, fertilize with a water- soluble plant food. Blooms will appear in 7 to 10 weeks. And they will be spectacular!last_img read more

Bill would reduce judges’ pensions

first_imgBill would reduce judges’ pensions Bill would reduce judges’ pensions Associate EditorA bill filed by Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, calls for amendments to two Florida Statutes which would modify the formula used to determine taxpayer-funded pensions for elected officials, including Supreme Court justices, district court of appeal judges, circuit judges, and county court judges. “We have to come up with ways to reduce cost to the Florida Retirement System and to taxpayers,” Fasano told the News. “Elected officials — including judges — need to take the lead and set the example. If we’re going to change the benefits for rank-and-file members, it should start at the top with elected officials and judges.”If passed, the amendments would go into effect July 1, reducing pension plans for a large number of court employees.The bill works this way:Public employees’ pensions are currently determined by utilizing a multiplier, a number based on the years an employee works and his or her highest salary. Pensions of elected officials are determined by a set multiplier of 3 percent of their average final compensation. For elected judicial officials, the number is higher at 3.3 percent.SB 290, filed last month, would amend F.S. §§121.062 and 121.72 and reduce the multiplier to 2 percent of the average — not final — compensation for all elected officials, including those in the judiciary.Fasano believes the reduction is necessary, especially since fellow lawmakers are exploring reducing benefits for other state employees.“No elected official or judge should be in a higher class than any other government official when it comes to retirement benefits,” Fasano said.“I don’t understand why a judge would be getting 3.3 percent while the rank-and-file government employees get less than 2 percent.”No staff analysis of the bill was available as this News went to press.The bill, still untitled, will be followed closely by the courts, according to the Office of the State Courts Administrator, and the Bar’s Legislation Committee plans to discuss the bill at its January 27 meeting.“This has come up since our last board meeting, so we’ve not yet taken any action,” said Board of Governors member Ed Scales of Key West, chair of the Legislation Committee. “We’ve just been made familiar with the bill, so anything right now would be premature.“We’re certainly watching it very closely,” Scales said.Bar members can track SB 290 — and other relevant legislation — in the “2011 Bill Reports” found within the Legislative Activity section of The Florida Bar website at www.floridabar.org. The Legislature convenes March 8. January 15, 2011 Annie Butterworth Jones Associate Editor Regular Newslast_img read more