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WATER-USE RULES ... The City of Palo Alto has launched a new Water Efficiency Compliance webpage, explaining the current water-use requirements for landscaping projects. The city's Development Services Department began enforcing the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance on Feb. 1. The rules reflect aggressive water-use requirements for landscaping projects. The requirements apply when an applicant submits a building permit that includes a minimum landscape scope of 500 square feet for new landscapes, 2,500 square feet for rehabilitated landscapes, rehabilitated projects with an aggregate landscape of 2,500 square feet or less, or projects using treated or untreated gray water or rainwater captured or stored on site.

PRUNING HOW-TOS ... If you look up at your trees or look at overgrown bushes and wonder how to prune them back without making them look like balls or a bad haircut, the City of Palo Alto has a workshop for you. "Pruning, Propagation and Deadheading" will be held Saturday, Oct 15, from 9:30 a.m. to noon in the Lucie Stern Community Center Community Room. In this class you will learn how to prune, propagate and deadhead plants to improve and maintain their health. Bring your shears and a few sample branches from your garden. You will learn how to properly prune and how to maintain your shears. Go to

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? ... When you planted those green beans it seemed like you'd never have to many but now your harvest is overflowing. You can give some away, but you can also pick them, cut the ends off, cut in equal pieces, blanch in boiling water for exactly three minutes, put in an ice bath, spread out in Ziploc bags and freeze. That way you can have fresh green beans even in winter. Before putting the bags in the freezer, Garden Design columnist Kevin Lee Jacobs suggests using a straw to "suck" the air out of the bag, effectively forming a vacuum. Too many sprigs of rosemary or thyme? Try spreading the sprigs out on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and freeze. Toss gently and the leaves will come loose from the stems. Discard the stems, shape the paper towel into a funnel and store the leaves in a container in the freezer.

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Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details