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Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that, together, support life. Earth's body of soil (the pedosphere) functions as a medium for plant growth; as a means of water storage, supply, and purification; as a habitat for organisms; and as a modifier of the planet's atmosphere.

Magnolia co-founder and New York Times bestselling author Joanna Gaines will publish her first children's book, We Are the Gardeners, on March 26, 2019 with Tommy Nelson, the children's division of Thomas Nelson, the company announced today.

In We Are the Gardeners, Joanna and her kids chronicle the adventures of starting their own family garden. From their failed endeavors, obstacles to overcome (like bunnies that eat everything!), and all the knowledge they've gained along the way, the Gaines family shares how they learned to grow a happy, successful garden.

Though your riding mower should've been stored away for the winter long ago, it's always a good idea to think about whether or not your lawn equipment is truly protected during the winter and in times of non-use. Without proper storage, your valuable gear could acquire more wear and tear than necessary. With that in mind, here are just a few tips to keep in mind if you're planning ahead for next year's winter tractor and lawn equipment maintenance and storage.

Store Equipment Properly

First and foremost, it should come as no surprise that one of the best ways to ensure safe winter storage of lawn equipment is to read the owner's manual and follow the instructions carefully. They typically involve basic maintenance steps before storage like changing the oil and draining or topping off the gas. Many manufacturers recommend storing the equipment with a fresh tank of stabilized gas:

Add fuel stabilizer to an empty gas can. Then fill the gas can with fresh gas at the pump. That’ll thoroughly mix the stabilizer with the new fuel. Fill the mower tank with fresh gas and screw on the gas cap. Run the mower for 10 minutes to fill the carburetor bowl with stabilized gas. Top off the gas tank and store the mower," writes Elizabeth Flaherty on Family Handyman.

Again, it's always best to consult the manual to determine best storage practices for your particular model

Consider a Shipping Container Shed

Most shipping containers are eight feet wide, 9.5 feet tall, and either 20 or 40 feet long, making them the perfect receptacle to store all types of high-end lawn care equipment. Though you'll need to have enough yard space, shipping containers can be refurbished for countless uses, and they provide incredible protection from the elements. If a shipping container storage shed is out of your budget, make sure you store your mower and other lawn tools in a safe, dry place like a garage. Never leave them out exposed to the elements.

Consider Professional Dry Ice Blasting Services

Though used primarily for commercial uses, particularly in the manufacturing industry, dry ice blasting is incredibly useful for efficient cleaning. Dry ice blasting uses air compressed between 80 and 90 PSI to blast pellets of dry ice at a high velocity to clean a variety of surfaces. That being said, when performed properly and in a controlled environment, dry ice blasting can help to make your riding mower look and feel just like new. The tiny ice pellets are effective at penetrating the inner workings of the tractor, preventing you from having to take it apart and clean it manually. Of course, this isn't necessary for all mowers, and it should typically be performed by a professional. However, there are some cases where systems can be rented for personal use. If you're interested, check out some of the countless videos demonstrating the process on YouTube.

The average American spends, on average, four hours per week taking care of their lawn. That adds up to an average of 208 hours per year, or over eight days. Understanding these proper care tips can help you maximize the durability, performance, and lifespan of your riding mower and other lawn care equipment.

As organisms big and small begin their hibernation for the winter, your landscaping can start to look a bit dreary. You may be inclined to take this season off from tending to the look of your yard, but the winter months give many opportunities to amp up your landscaping prowess. Incorporate these elements into your yard's landscaping and your home will be the natural star of the neighborhood.

Insect Lore makes some fantastic kits for kids to learn about and grow their favorite insects, and now they're teaming up with the World of Eric Carle! For the first time ever, Insect Lore is combining their revolutionary habitat kits with the iconic art of World of Eric Carle for a kaleidoscope of unforgettable experiences through live lifecycle projects. We've done several Insect Lore kits here at Rock Father HQ, so I can tell you that we have some first-hand experience with these and I highly recommend them.

This Incredibles 2 special feature is presented in collaboration between Clorox and The Rock Father™ #CloroxIncrediblyClean

Last summer, I found myself in Anaheim, California during one of the incredible adventures that I sometimes get to have as part of my work. Since our first daughter was born in 2009, I have largely been an “at-home dad,” shifting many of my powers toward domestic duties while my wife maintains a career outside the home. There are occasions, however, where I spring into action for a special mission, usually hopping on a plane and leaving our Third Coast home en route to the East or West Coast (mostly West). For the D23 Expo in Anaheim, I was working with Disney and wound up there in the room when a select audience got to see the very first footage from Disney•Pixar’s The Incredibles 2. Later, I called my wife in Illinois and told her that what I saw was like watching our lives unfold on-screen… maybe sans the laser vision, but definitely the messes. Oh yes, those incredible messes!

When it comes to enjoying life outdoors, there's nothing that I enjoy more than gardening. If I had the time, I'd work on our garden and landscape all the time - and while that's not possible, I do try to spend as much time out there as I can, and I love to involve our girls - The Rock Daughters™ - wherever possible. Adding color to the landscape is a fun thing to do, especially when you work with perennials and bulbs that will return year after year. Not only will you have some cool colors that bloom throughout each year, but it can be a savings in cost and labor as well. For summer, lilies are some of the best bulbs around, and that's why the folks at Bulb.com have named the lily 2018's "Summer Bulb of the Year." The girls and I just planted 25 of them...

Just because your chickens live in a coop doesn’t mean they – and more likely – you, can’t appreciate a few touch ups. Backyard chicken keeping expert Lisa Steele has been sprucing up her coop creating Pinterest-worthy DIY touches you’ll want to copy for your own feathered friends’ humble adobe. Her books (available through Amazon - an affiliate of The Rock Father™ Magazine) and website have been a constant source of inspiration for flock masters everywhere, and this fall that library grows with the release of 101 Chicken Keeping Hacks, due out in September. Here's just a few ideas for a Pinterest-worthy coop...

Although it's still too cold for my liking here in Illinois, it's spring, and that means that it's time to start thinking about gardening... and our insect friends. There's a lot of helpful bugs that inhabit the landscape, and for years the folks at Insect Lore have been helping kids learn all about the life cycle of butterflies, praying mantises, ladybugs and ants. We've raised butterflies here at Rock Father HQ in the past, and right now I've got a praying mantis egg and some youthful ladybugs hanging out with me in my office. This Friday, April 6, 2018 - you're invited to join The Toy Insider, Insect Lore and The Rock Father™ for a fun-filled Twitter Party in which we'll be showing off all of the fun kits from Insect Lore while giving YOU a chance to win! You must RSVP to play along! Check out the video below to learn more...

Ready for a Chia PREDATOR? While we don't know if that will be a thing, a surprising announcement arrived just before the start of New York Toy Fair this weekend - National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA) has acquired the company behind Chia Pet and The Clapper. NECA has taken control of both Joseph Enterprises, Inc. (JEI) and Joseph Pedott Advertising and Marketing, Inc. (JPAM), which join the NECA family of specialty entertainment companies. NECA promises that these are  "poised for cross-company collaboration."

As I type these words, we're in the middle of the biggest snow of the season here in Northern Illinois - another 6" having fallen overnight. Prior to the proper winter season, the last thing we finished outside was the construction of a massive new deck here at Rock Father HQ... but we finished in November, no time to enjoy it last season. Now, looking ahead to warmer temperatures for 2018, it's window-shopping season, and the folks at Char-Broil have just launched a new collection that's caught my eye - a new outdoor modular kitchen, available at Lowes. Outdoor kitchens have been a growing trend these past few years, but they've also been cost-prohibitive for a lot of families. Now, Char-Broil has brought the concept into reach for a much wider audience. Available now, the Modular Outdoor Kitchen includes the 5-Burner TRU-Infrared™ Gas Grill, the Outdoor Stove Top, Refrigerator, and more. Check out a preview...

We've been fans of Playmonster's My Fairy Garden collection since we first discovered them a year or so ago. Having placed a fairy garden outside as part of our landscape every year, The Rock Daughters™ always have a habit of playing with the statues out there, and they're not really made for that since they're not toys. My Fairy Garden solves that problem by providing a real garden environment that kids can play with inside. Each kit comes with everything you need to build and grown the perfect spot for your fairy figures, and there's always room to expand, with a wide array of accessories and additional fairies available. Our original garden, the Magical Cottage, is still going strong, and this fall we added a new one to the mix - the Bean Blossom.

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