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The Garden Mix




Nationally renowned garden expert Melinda Myers helps everyday gardeners find success and ease in the garden through her Melinda’s Garden Moments radio segments. Melinda shares “must have” tips that hold the key to gardening success, learned through her more than 30 years of horticulture experience. Listeners from across the country find her gardener friendly, practical approach to gardening both refreshing and informative! On this page, Melinda shares some more extensive garden tips, which expand on the information provided in her one-minute radio segments.

New tips are added throughout each month, providing timely step-by-step tips on what you need to do next in your garden! Visit Melinda’s website www.melindamyers.com for more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and answers to your questions.
Posts from June 2013


Harvesting & Enjoying Roses
Enjoy your roses outdoors in the garden and indoors in a vase.  Proper harvesting and deadheading will keep your repeat blooming roses beautiful throughout the season.

Cut roses for arrangements in the morning just as the top of the bud is starting to open. Make the cut above an outward facing, 5 leaflet leaf.  Cut flowers back to a 3 leaflet leaf on young plants that may not tolerate or be large enough for this amount of pruning.  Remove the lower leaves, recut the stem on an angle and place in a vase of fresh water.
 
Remove faded flowers to encourage new bloom.  Deadhead single-flower roses back to the first 5 leaflet leaf to encourage stouter and stronger stems.  Remove only individual flowers as they fade within a cluster.  Once all the flowers are done blooming you can remove the flower stem back to the first 5 leaflet leaf.  Always leave at least two, 5 leaflet leaves attached to the plant.
 
A bit more information: Extend the vase life of your garden-fresh cut flowers.  Recut stems on an angle and place in a vase filled with fresh warm water and floral preservative. Set in a cool dark place for 12 hours or overnight.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Creative Staking for Gladiolus, Dahlias and Iris
Stately and beautiful describes flowering gladiolus, dahlias and iris. As long as they are upright and standing that is.  Give them a lift this season with creative staking. 

 Keep glads looking their best with a small piece of lattice and metal or wood supports.  Place the lattice parallel to the ground on short stakes anchored in the ground.  Paint the lattice for added color or to help blend the structure into the surrounding plantings.  Allow the glads to grow through the holes and wait for the flowers and visiting hummingbirds to appear.  
 
Use bamboo stakes to help keep your dahlias and iris upright.  Carefully place the stake next to the plant making sure to avoid the underground tuberous roots and rhizomes. Loosely tie the plant to the stake using twine.  Make a figure eight looping the twine around the stake and the other loop around the plant stem.  Add additional ties as the plants grow.
 
A bit more information: And get creative!  Dig through undiscovered treasures in the garage, shed or basement.  You might find the perfect decorative support.  One gardener put an old slinky to work supporting some of her garden plants.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Pull Now – Benefit Later; Controlling Ragweed
Give your hayfever a break this season.  Celebrate National Ragweed Control Month by removing these unwanted weeds before they flower. 

You, like me, may be one of the many people that suffer from hayfever.  And most cases are caused by ragweed.  Pulling this weed now, before the offensive pollen forms will not only help our allergies this season, but will also reduce next year’s crop of these weeds.
 
Ragweed has dissected leaves on plants that can grow from one to three or more feet tall.  The small green flowers often go unnoticed.  You’ll find these plants in gardens, along roadsides, alleys and any disturbed, dry and other difficult areas where it can outcompete desirable plants. 
 
Most of us keep the weeds under control in our yards and gardens. Many communities have weed outs for invasive plants and might be willing to add this to their list.
 
A bit more information: Enlist the help of friends and neighbors.  Scour alleys, common ways and other disturbed sites where ragweed likes to grow. Always ask permission before entering and weeding on private or public property.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Disbudding Dahlias
Trying to grow those dinner plate size dahlia blooms?  Selection and disbudding will help you achieve your goal. 

Select one of the dinnerplate dahlias like Who Dun it Dinnerplate Dahlia.  This 2013 Dahlia of the Year is hardy in zones 3 to 10.  Those gardening in zones 7 and colder will need to store the tuberous roots indoors for winter. These 3- to 5-feet-tall plants are loaded with flowers that transform from lilac to mauve to lavender-blue and then finish with a display of white petals.
 
Increase the size of these and any dahlias with a bit of disbudding. Remove side buds if you are looking for one large, knock your socks off, bloom per stem.  Disbudding reduces the number of flowers, but increases their individual size. 
 
Going for quantity? Then leave all the buds intact.  You will have a lot more flowers, but they will be much smaller.  Both methods create a colorful display.
 
A bit more information:  Tall dahlias and those with large flowers need staking.  Put the stake in place at planting to avoid damaging the underground tuberous root. Make sure it is anchored securely in the ground.  Tie lengthening stems to the stake with a soft cloth.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Managing Picnic Beetles
Eat up and clean up to keep those little black beetles from enjoying your harvest.
 
Known as picnic beetles, sap beetles, or little black bugs, these scavengers can be found in overripe strawberries and raspberries, cracks in ripe tomatoes, ears of corn and more.
 
Since they are attracted to overripe and damaged fruit, regular harvesting and sanitation will help keep these pests at bay.  Avoid pesticides that require a waiting period before you can continue to harvest as this delays picking and will result in even more overripe fruit that attracts more beetles into your garden.
 
Some gardeners find trapping effective. You may want to try this popular recipe:  Mix 1 cup water, 1 cup dark corn syrup, one cake of yeast, and a spoonful of vinegar. Place the mixture in a container outside the garden. Use it to attract the beetles away from the garden, trap and drown them.
 
A bit more information:  Any fermenting plant juices will also work. Some gardeners report success using ripe bananas and melon to attract and trap these insects.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Eat All Your Vegetables Day – June 17th
Load up your plate with fresh-from-the garden produce as you celebrate Eat All Your Vegetables Day on June 17th
 
Use this day to inspire new additions to your vegetable garden while encouraging reluctant veggie eaters to try something new.  Once they try some fresh vegetables they may be willing to make them a regular part of their diet.  And, if you get them to grow their own, they are even more likely to partake.
 
Once you’re inspired, look for extra space to add more vegetables to the landscape.  Start by calculating the number of days left in your growing season.  Simply count from the anticipated planting date to the average date of the first fall frost in your area.  Check plant tags and seed packets for the number of days needed from planting until harvest.  Make a list of these vegetables.
 
Then look for vacant spaces in flowerbeds, mixed borders and containers.  And train vines crops up decorative trellises and fences.
 
A bit more information:  Here are a few short season crops you may want to consider.  Plant seeds and be ready to harvest radishes, leaf lettuce, spinach and chard in 40 days.  Beets, bush snap beans, cucumbers and kohlrabi are ready to harvest in 50 to 60 days. Carrots, Chinese cabbage, and turnips take about 10 days longer.
 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Visit a Farmer’s Market and Plan Your Garden
Farmers Markets are on the rise as more and more of us are looking for locally grown fresh produce.  You may be surprised to find one or more popping up near your home. 

Get the most out of your visit with a little advance planning.
 
Check out the internet for a list of farmer’s markets in your area.  Confirm the dates and hours of operation.  Many include a list of vendors with links to their website and the week’s featured produce.
 
Gather those cloth bags used when buying groceries. It makes managing all the produce easier and you will reduce the number of plastic bags headed to recycling or the garbage. 
 
Take cash and lots of small bills.  This makes it easier for the farmer and speeds up shopping.  And you’ll have more time to visit every single booth.
 
Look for and try new and different vegetables.  It will help you plan future additions to your edible garden.
 
A bit more information: Eat first so you buy less or go hungry and plan on staying for a meal or snack.  Many markets serve coffee and pastries or tasty meals.  And take the whole family to enjoy this shopping experience. Many have kids’ activities and music for all to enjoy.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Weed Your Garden Day – June 13th
Break out the cupcakes and balloons and get ready to celebrate Weed Your Garden Day on June 13th.

The thrill of the party may wane a bit when family and friends discover your true motivation.  But, adding a festive spirit to garden tasks can make it more fun and you’re more likely to make them happen.
 
Try a round robin of eating and weeding with friends.  It is a great way to work in some social time and help each other tackle the weeds in the garden.
 
Barter a bit of weeding for a home cooked meal, pie, photography or other hobby or skill you prefer over weeding.
 
Hire some help – it’s ok to admit the weeds won this round.  Once under control, it will be easier for you to keep up with weeding and other garden care.
 
Once the garden is weeded, mulch it to reduce future weed infestations. Shredded leaves and evergreen needles are perfect for flowerbeds and vegetable gardens.
 
A bit more information:  Woodchips and shredded bark make nice mulch around trees, shrubs and pathways.  Do not put fabric weed barrier beneath these and other organic mulch.  As the mulch decomposes it provides a great environment for weed seeds to sprout and grow through.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Nudge Your Bougainvillea Into Bloom
Nudge your potted bougainvillea into bloom with proper growing conditions and proper care. 

Grow these blooming beauties in full sun.  You’ll get the best flower display during the shorter days of early spring and early fall. Plus the cooler night temperatures of 60 degrees or cooler will also promote bloom.
 
Keep your bougainvillea potbound to further encourage bloom.  Repotting too soon results in lots of leaves and stems and delays flowering.  During the growing season, allow the plants to dry slightly before watering again. 
 
Use a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer with phosphorous, like Milorganite, to meet most of your plants season-long needs.  Or apply a soluble flowering plant fertilizer to moist soil once a month.
 
Prune away any unwanted growth throughout the summer.  And occasionally pinch out the growing tips to encourage more compact growth.  Wear gloves and long sleeves to minimize direct contact with the thorns.
 
A bit more information:  Start new plants from 4 to 6 inch long cuttings.  Stick the cut end into a moist well-drained potting mix or mix of peatmoss and perlite.  Roots should appear in 4 to 6 weeks.  Repot if needed in a slightly larger container.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Shade Combinations for Attracting Hummingbirds
Don’t let shade stop you from attracting hummingbirds to your garden.  Include a few hummingbird favorites in the garden or container plantings. 

Fuchsia is a favorite of shade gardeners and hummingbirds.  Try using one of the upright types like Thalia, Gartenmeister or Firecracker with its variegated leaves.  Add a fern for texture and wire vine as a groundcover in the garden or spiller in the container.
 
Consider adding a few or quite a few Dragon wing begonias to the garden.  The large plants put on a show all summer long with the red and pink flowers.  They combine nicely with impatiens, another hummingbird favorite. And surround this combination with a groundcover or trailer of Silver Falls Dichondra. 
 
Include a backdrop of summer long bloom you and the hummingbirds will enjoy. Train a honeysuckle vine onto a fence or decorative trellis for screening and hummingbird appeal.  Try the mildew resistant Major Wheeler.
 
A bit more information:  For more ideas on attracting birds and butterflies to your garden visit www.birdsandblooms.com . See projects and ideas on attracting wildlife to the garden and you’ll find my answers to common garden questions. Also, be sure to look for my article “Make Room for Hummingbirds and Butterflies” in the June/July 2013 issue of Birds & Blooms magazine.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Buttered Rum, Southern Comfort - Colorful Perennials for the Garden
How about a bit of Buttered Rum or Southern Comfort in the garden?  No, I am not talking about a drink, but rather a few colorful perennials. 
 
Heucherella ‘Buttered Rum’ is a hybrid with coral bells, known as Heuchera. And foamflower, called Tiarella as its parents.  The maple shaped leaves have a caramel edge and are topped with white flowers in spring.

Southern Comfort coral bells have cinnamon peach leaves that mature to amber.  The white flowers on this plant appear in summer.
 
Finish off your planting with a little dessert.  Peach Flambe coral bells have bright peach leaves in the cooler months of spring and fall.  The leaves turn a softer peach in summer and plum purple for winter.
 
Use a combination of these and other coral bells and foamflowers to create a tapestry of color in your partial shade to full sun gardens. Be sure to keep the soil slightly moist throughout the season.
 
A bit more information:  Add some Dolce® Key Lime Pie to the dessert buffet.  This coral bell has chartreuse foliage all season long. The heart shaped leaves are mottled with lime green.  Mix a few with dark green or blue-green hostas for an eye-catching combination.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Reduce your Risk of Skin Cancer when Gardening
Cover up before going out.  Protect your skin from Ultraviolet radiation as you get out and garden. 
 
May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month.  And since gardeners, like our plants, enjoy the outdoors we need to be aware of the risk.  Fortunately, this is a cancer we can help prevent with a few simple precautions.
 
Wear a wide brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses.  Cover up your skin with brightly colored clothing made of densely woven fabrics. 
 
Apply a broad spectrum UVA & UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.  Apply it 30 minutes before going outdoors to garden and every two hours.  You’ll prevent sunburn and skin damage while making it easier to return to the garden each day.
 
Do a monthly skin exam from head to toe and follow up with your physician if you see any suspicious changes.  And consider seeing a dermatologist, like I do, on a regular basis.
 
A bit more information: Consider gardening in the morning or late afternoon to reduce your exposure to the sun.  The Skin Cancer Foundation shares this tip “if your shadow is shorter than your are, the sun’s harmful UV radiation is stronger, if your shadow is longer, UV radiation is less intense.”  Visit their website for more tips on keeping your skin healthy as you garden throughout the year. 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Add Color to the Fall Landscape with Asters
Add some color to your fall garden with Asters. Brighten up your container gardens with a few of these fall beauties. Or create fall containers filled with asters, ornamental grasses and pansies. Set them in a pretty pot on your front steps to welcome guests to your home. Or place on decks and tabletops as a seasonal centerpiece. Move them into the garden as they fade. Or add to the compost pile where they can eventually help improve your garden's soil. Use asters to replace fading annuals or fill in voids in your garden. They grow and flower best in full sun with well-drained soil. Asters are hardy in zones 4 to 8, but can be grown as an annual anywhere they are sold. Leave the plants intact for winter to increase overwintering success. Northern gardeners often cover the plants with evergreen boughs or straw once the ground is frozen. A bit more information: The plant taxonomists have been at it again. The plants we commonly call Aster have been reclassified and names for these new groups include Symphyotrichum, Ionactis, Eurybia, and Doellingeria. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Eco-friendly Crabgrass Control
Reduce crabgrass problems in your lawn and garden with a few basic lawn and garden care practices. Crabgrass is an annual weed grass with a small fibrous root system. The wide grass blades lay flat on the ground. Each fall they release hundreds of seeds before dying. Crabgrass thrives in hot dry weather. Reduce the problem in your lawn by mowing high and often. The taller grass shades the soil, preventing many weed seeds from sprouting. Leave clippings on the lawn and fertilize at least once, preferably in the fall, to help your lawn grass outcompete the weeds. Pull the plants in the garden before they set seed. This will reduce the number of weeds you'll be fighting next year. Mulch the garden with shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic material. The mulch will help prevent many of the weed seeds, including the crabgrass, from sprouting. It also helps keep roots cool and moist. A bit more information: If cultural control measures have failed, you may consider the organic pre-emergent crabgrass killer made from corn gluten meal. Apply in spring about the time the forsythias are in bloom. These chemicals prevent seed germination. This means both the weed and good grass seeds will be affected. Wait until late summer or fall to reseed or overseed treated lawns. And as always be sure to read and follow label directions carefully. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Starting Roses from Seed
Expand your garden and have a little fun by growing a few plants from the seeds of your favorite rose. Collect the rose hips, those berry-like fruit on your roses, as soon as they are fully colored. Cut open the rose hip exposing the seeds. Soak the seeds 12 to 24 hours, drain and mix with equal parts of moistened sphagnum moss and vermiculite in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least three months. You can begin planting the seeds anytime after the chilling period is complete. Plant seeds in a container filled with a mixture of sphagnum moss and vermiculite. Keep the mixture warm and moist. Move to a sunny window or under artificial lights as soon as the seeds sprout. Then transplant seedlings, if needed, after they form two sets of true leaves. Just remember seedlings may not look like the original plant. A bit more information: You can also start new roses from cuttings. Take a 6 to 8 inch cutting from a healthy stem. Remove any flowers and buds. Dip in a rooting hormone and plant in a well-drained potting mix. You'll have roots in about 3 weeks. Keep in mind you cannot propagate patented roses. These rights belong to the breeders that introduced the plant. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Fall Webworm
As you drive through your community in late summer or fall you may spot webby nests in the branches of apple, ash, birch, cherry, sycamore, walnut and willow. These are the home of the North American native fall webworm. This pest attacks more than 100 species of deciduous, those that lose their leaves in winter, trees and shrubs. The pest is a green and yellow caterpillar that spins its nest near the ends of the branch. These worm-like insects eat the leaves on the branches near their webby nest. Fortunately this is a cosmetic problem since it occurs late in the season and only a few branches are affected. Keep your plants healthy and they'll be better able to tolerate the feeding. Several natural predators and parasitoids help keep the populations in check. You can knock the nest out of the tree with a stick or a strong blast of water if desired. A bit more information: An organic insecticide, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), is effective against young caterpillars. Apply it to the leaves surrounding the webby nest early in the season. As the webworms eat the treated leaves they stop feeding and eventually die. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Dividing Spring and Summer Blooming Perennials
Late summer through early fall is a great time to dig and divide overgrown spring and summer blooming perennials. The soil is warm, air much cooler and the plants will have time to adjust to their new location before winter. Dig and divide plants that have stopped blooming, flopped over, or have a dead center. Use a sharp spade shovel or garden fork to dig up the plant. Cut the clump into 2, 4 or more pieces. Remove the dead center and add it to the compost pile. Some gardeners use two garden forks back to back to pry the clump apart. I prefer a sharp linoleum knife or drywall saw. Though some fleshy rooted plants like daylilies and willow amsonia may require a hatchet or machete. You can replant one piece back in the original location after amending the soil with compost. Use other divisions in other areas or share with friends. A bit more information: The old adage "Divide spring blooming perennials in fall, fall blooming perennials in spring and summer blooming perennials in spring or fall" is a good guideline. But experienced gardeners have all stretched these limits. Sometimes necessity and your schedule determine when you divide perennials. Proper post-transplant care will give your plants the best chance of survival no matter when you divide them. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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National Acorn Squash Day
Bake it, broil it, microwave it or stuff it– acorn squash that is. And if you didn't grow your own, visit the Farmer's Market and buy it. Acorn squash is typically acorn shaped, dark green with longitudinal ridges. They are ripe when the fruit is a solid deep green and the rind is hard. Use a knife or pruners to remove the fruit from the vine. Leave an inch or two of stem attached to the fruit, if possible, for better storage longevity. And be sure to use any blemished or frost damaged fruit as soon as possible. Store this and other winter squash in a cool, preferably 50 to 55 degree, dry location. Place the fruit in a single layer spread out to avoid fruit from touching. The better the air circulation the greater the storage longevity and less likely one rotten squash will affect its neighbors. If space is limited, don't pile more than two high. A bit more information: September 7th is National Acorn Squash Day. This member of the squash family contains vitamins C, B6, A, thiamine and more. You'll get the best nutritional value and flavor by harvesting it at its peak. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Bluestem Goldenrod
Add some bright yellow to your late summer and fall garden with Bluestem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia). This plant is also known as wreath goldenrod and naturally grows in open woodlands and bluffs. It is hardy in zones 4 to 8 and is native to 32 states in the continental U.S. and 3 Canadian provinces. Bluestem goldenrod grows about 18 to 36 inches tall and wide and works well in native gardens, woodland gardens, borders, meadows, cottage gardens and more. The cluster of bright yellow flowers occur along the stem and attract butterflies and other beneficial insects to your garden. Grow the plant in full sun to part shade and well-drained soil. Bluestem goldenrod tolerates clay soil and once established, it is drought tolerant. This fall bloomer is basically pest-free and the deer tend to leave it be. A bit more information: Fireworks goldenrod (Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks') is a popular ornamental cultivar. It is hardy in zones 4 to 8 and grows best in full sun with moist to wet, well-drained soil. The plume-like flowers that top this 2 ½ to 3 feet high plant resemble fireworks. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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Eco-friendly Control of Thrips
Poorly developed flowers, stunted plants and silvery streaks on leaves are indications thrips may be feeding on your plants. These tiny insects have file-like mouthparts they use to puncture the outer surface of leaves, stems and flowers and suck out plant sap. They are very small and difficult to detect. Hold a white piece of paper under the plant and shake. Or remove the petals of damaged flowers, place in a sealed jar with 70% alcohol and shake the jar to dislodge and detect the pests. Control is difficult and often not needed as the damage is discovered after the thrips have finished feeding. Provide the proper growing conditions and care for your plants. Avoid excess nitrogen that promotes lush succulent growth these pests prefer. And remove spent flowers that tend to harbor the insects. Manage weeds in the garden and keep thrip-susceptible plants away from weedy areas where the pest populations tend to be high. A bit more information: Beneficial insects like predatory thrips, green lacewings, minute pirate bugs and some parasitic wasps feed upon plant damaging thrips. Invite these good bugs into the garden by planting a diversity of plants and avoiding persistent pesticides. Visit the University of California IPM online for more details on this pest. For more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com
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