Monday, December 18, 2017

Growing Orchids in the Home

A physician and business owner based in Franksville, Wisconsin, Dr. Steven Armus oversees a dermatology practice in addition to operating Native Prairie Restoration, a company that helps residential and commercial clients restore ponds and prairies to their native state. In his free time, Dr. Steven Armus applies his love of the natural world to pursuits such as gardening and orchid growing. 

Admired for their exotic beauty and abundant varieties, orchids are the world’s largest family of flowering plants. According to the American Orchid Society, at least 20,000 orchid species and approximately 100,000 orchid hybrids exist. In nature, the flowers can be found throughout the world, but they are especially abundant in the tropics. 

Although they have a reputation for being difficult to grow, many orchid varieties are adaptable and relatively easy to cultivate in the home. Unlike other houseplants, however, the majority of orchids do not live in soil, so finding the right growing medium is essential. The specific growing medium should be based on the orchid type, but in general, they can do well in pots filled with moss, stones, lava rocks, or bark. 

Along with finding the right growing material, cultivating orchids that thrive and flower requires the correct balance of light, temperature, and moisture. They typically do best in bright and humid areas with mild average temperatures of between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Orchids also require regular watering, but growers should allow their growing medium to dry out somewhat in between waterings.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tips for Making Great Mashed Potatoes

A graduate of the University of Colorado and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School, Dr. Steven Armus has practiced medicine for more than two decades, most recently serving as the owner of Dermatology Consultants of Wisconsin. Also an active gardener and environmentalist, Dr. Steven Armus owns and operates Native Prairie Restoration. In his free time, Dr. Armus enjoys the challenges of cooking seafood and Italian dishes, but feels he has mastered the art of making mashed potatoes.

When making mashed potatoes, the most important consideration is choosing the proper type of potato. A variety of potato that is high in starch, such as a Russet or Yukon gold, should be used over low starch varieties such as red potatoes. The high starch results in light rather than gummy mashed potatoes.

Once the correct potato is selected and peeled, the cooking process can begin. Salt should be added to the water before boiling, since the starches in potatoes absorb water (and salt along with it) during the cooking process. This results in well seasoned potatoes. To ensure they're cooked evenly, potatoes should be started in cold water. Once boiled, the potatoes should be drained completely and mashed gently. Avoid overworking them to ensure they are light and fluffy. Lastly, avoid making them ahead of time. Mashed potatoes are best when served within minutes of being prepared.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

FDA-Approved Ways of Selecting and Storing Seafood

Steven Armus is the owner of both Dermatology Consultants of Wisconsin and Native Prairie Restoration, where he serves as an environmental biologist and a prairie technician. A lover of great food, Steven Armus enjoys cooking seafood.

Fish and shellfish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, compounds known to reduce the risk for cardiac disease. In fact, the US Department of Agriculture recommends that adults eat at least two servings of seafood per week.

In order to gain the full health benefits of eating seafood, however, there are several steps that the US Food and Drug Administration recommends consumers take when choosing and storing seafood:

- When buying, ensure that seafood is fresh. The smell of fresh seafood is usually characterized as mild, not sour and fishy. Avoid anything that smells like ammonia.

- Avoid frozen seafood that has been opened or that shows signs of frozen crystals.

- If you will eat the seafood within two days, it can be stored in the refrigerator. If you intend to keep it for longer than that, pack it tightly in plastic and store it in the freezer.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Caring for an Orchid after It Blooms

The owner of Dermatology Consultants of Wisconsin, Steven Armus also remediates natural areas as an environmental biologist, prairie technician, and owner of Native Prairie Restoration. In his free time, Steven Armus is a passionate orchid grower and a member of the Wisconsin Orchid Society.

Orchid care after flowering revolves around the stem that held the flowers. Also known as the flower spike, this stem can bloom one or two more times if left intact. However, this is only true if the stem is still healthy. 

Healthy stems are green and do not show any signs of rot, such as soft points along the stem’s length. After the orchid has flowered, you can cut a healthy stem at the second or third node to promote another bloom, taking care to leave the stem partially intact.

If there are any soft spots along the stem, or if it has turned yellow or brown, remove it altogether. Doing so prevents the stem rot from spreading throughout the plant, and allows the orchid to refocus its energy on developing its roots. You can cut away the soft spot with a sterile blade that can either be discarded after use or disinfected with fire or alcohol. Be sure to cut at the base of the plant, and apply a fungicide to prevent fungal disease.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Importance of Controlled Burning for Prairie Restoration

Saturday, August 5, 2017

American Landscapes - Prairies

A physician and entrepreneur, Dr. Steven Armus owns and operates Native Prairie Restoration, a company dedicated to restoring natural prairie environments on behalf of its clients. In fact, as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado Boulder, Dr. Steven Armus studied biology with an emphasis on native habitat preservation.

Emily Dickinson once wrote:

“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee.
And revery.”

This is not far from the truth, as prairie ecosystems are sustained in part by the interaction between native prairie flowers and grasses and important pollinators, like bees and birds. Prairies are characterized by vast planes of grassland dotted by the occasional tree. They’re also defined by climate features such as moderate rainfall and temperatures.

Unfortunately, America’s prairie landscapes are threatened. Once, central North America was dominated by prairies, but today only 5 percent of the continent’s original prairies survive. Prairie loss is largely a result of habitat destruction, competition from invasive species, and climate change.

There are myriad ways Americans can get involved in saving what remains of the country’s prairies. For instance, they can support efforts to prevent soil erosion and endorse measures to restore wetlands, which contribute beneficially to grassland ecologies.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Counseling Clinic at Guest House of Milwaukee

An experienced medical professional, Dr. Steven Armus serves as the owner of Dermatology Consultants of Wisconsin LLC in Franksville, where he treats patients with various skin conditions. Additionally, he uses his skills as an environmental biologist to help restore prairie areas with Native Prairie Restoration. Outside of his career, Dr. Steven Armus supports his community through local charities, such as the Guest House of Milwaukee. 

The Guest House of Milwaukee provides shelter and meal services to those without permanent homes, which is what one might expect. The shelter, however, offers a number of other programs which are aimed at treating the whole person and providing them with a level of care beyond a warm bed at a hot meal. One of these services is counseling through a clinic that provides mental health care and addiction recovery assistance. 

A Wisconsin-certified mental health center, the Guest House’s counseling clinic works with clients to help them deal with drug and alcohol abuse issues, as well as learn how to cope with any mental illnesses they may have. The clinic also points them in the direction of other community resources that will help them along their recovery journey.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Process to Starting a Community Garden in Milwaukee

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Steven Armus serves Dermatology Consultants of Wisconsin as physician and owner. An environmentalist, Steven Armus also owns Native Prairie Restoration and is actively involved in community gardens in the Milwaukee area.

The city of Milwaukee defines community gardens as land that is used to grow plants. Community gardens, which can be operated by public entities, nonprofit organizations, or individuals, often engage in composting as well as the sale of produce they grow.

Starting a community garden in Milwaukee is a multi-step process. Initially, a permit must be obtained from environmental nonprofit Groundwork Milwaukee by filing an application, which is later sent to the appropriate alderperson for approval or denial. Applicants are advised to reach out to their alderperson early in the process to make them aware of the proposed garden. If approved, city staff will then provide a seasonal garden license, and if rejected, the city will notify the applicant. 

Detailed information on the process can be found at

Monday, April 10, 2017

Five Important Aspects of Prairies and Why to Protect Them

In addition to his role as physician and owner of Dermatology Consultants of Wisconsin, Dr. Steven Armus serves as prairie technician and environmental biologist for Native Prairie Restoration. Dr. Steven Armus possesses more than a decade of prairie restoration experience and provides consultation on how to restore original prairie states. The following list covers the importance of prairies and their continued protection:

1. Provides habitats to native species – Prairies provide habitats for wide variety of native species, including birds, reptiles, insects, butterflies, mammals. Protecting and restoring prairies ensures the continued survival of these animals and helps prevent the decline of creatures that depend on grasslands and prairies to maintain healthy population numbers.

2. Delivers soil enrichment – The diverse range of plants and wildlife that inhabit prairies enabled these lands to undergo thorough decomposition cycles for thousands of years that contributed to the formation of rich soil. The process leads prairies to offer some of the richest soils in the world.

3. Promotes healthy crops – The rich soil found in prairies provides an abundance of nutrients to planted crops and promotes the growth of healthy, high-yielding crops and produce. States with tallgrass prairies like Iowa produce some of the top quality agricultural products in the country.

4. Improves water quality – Native prairies and grasslands protect watersheds and improve water quality by providing natural sediment control that prevents erosion. The density of plants above the soil and their complex root systems prevent wind and water erosion, respectively. Plants also hold topsoil in place to reduce the amount of soil washed into rivers and streams, while serving as filtration systems. 

5. Conserves natural heritage – The protection and restoration of prairies helps converse the cultural and natural heritage of states where prairies and grasslands once flourished. Prairies are among North America’s most endangered large ecosystems due to rapid population growth and the subsequent conversion of prairies to urban areas and pastures.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Emergence of Silver Coins in Ancient Rome

 A respected presence in the Wisconsin dermatology community, Dr. Steven Armus serves as head of Native Prairie Restoration and guides a company that combines environmental and horticulture expertise. An outdoors enthusiast, Dr. Steven Armus also enjoys activities such as coin and stamp collecting. 

One of the early centers of coinage was ancient Rome, which first produced coins in the 4th century BC, which supplanted the cumbersome “aes rude” bronze weight system. More portable and created from metals obtained from throughout an expanding empire, the Roman coin had a widely recognized value extending beyond borders. 

The first example of a figure on a Roman coin was under Julius Caesar, who selected his own profile as a fitting image. This was followed by Brutus, who also placed his image on one side, with a pair of daggers representing the assassination of Caesar on the back. 

As Rome relied more on its coins for financing expansion, more coins were placed in circulation and the amount of silver in even high-value pieces dropped from pure to 50 percent to as low as two-percent silver. These low-silver-content coins were given a fine silver finish, but this did not prevent the hoarding of more valuable pure silver pieces. Starting under Marcus Aurelius, the coins were stamped in ways that indicated the specific silver content, which was typically five to 10 percent.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tarpon Fishing in Costa Rica

Serving Native Prairie Restoration in Franksville, Wisconsin, as a prairie technician and environmental biologist, Steven Armus enjoys the outdoors. Away from his professional work, Steven Armus takes tarpon fishing to Costa Rica. 

Also called The Silver King, tarpon can grow over 7 feet long, weigh over 300 pounds, and live in both fresh water and saltwater. While very difficult to hook, and even harder to hold onto, they are often caught as trophy fish, as they aren't usually eaten. When hooked, a tarpon will almost always thrash around, making reeling it in extremely difficult. 

In Costa Rica, the Rio Colorado on the northern coast is one of the most notable destinations in the world for tarpon fishing. Tarpon are most commonly caught in the dry months, from January until May. However, the seas in January and February can often be rough and unpredictable, while March brings smooth waters and overall favorable conditions.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Guest House of Milwaukee’s Cream City Gardens

A trained physician and entrepreneur who has enjoyed success in areas as diverse as practice management and pond remediation, Dr. Steven Armus is the owner of Native Prairie Restoration, located in Franksville, Wisconsin. A keen gardener, Steven Armus lends his talents to The Guest House of Milwaukee by volunteering in the nonprofit’s community gardens.

The organization operates the Cream City Gardens, which provide produce to the Guest House, in addition to members of the community and the food pantries overseen by the Friedens Community Ministries. The gardens have a transformative effect, allowing the group to create an active and healthy urban farm that serves those in need while also offering opportunities to the people the guest house actively shelters and provides for. 

The Urban Agriculture Training Program, for instance, is used to teach some of the basic skills of gardening, agriculture, and the basic tenets of urban agriculture in particular. Many who graduate from the program go on to find work in farmer’s markets, supermarket produce departments, and other urban projects.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Guest House of Milwaukee Endeavors to Help the Homeless

After graduating with an MD from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Steven Armus went on to a medical career in Racine, Wisconsin. Currently working as a prairie restoration consultant, Steven Armus also donates to the Guest House of Milwaukee.

The Guest House of Milwaukee had its beginning in 1981, when increasing numbers of homeless residents caused Milwaukee's Central City Churches to push for a neighborhood solution to the problem. The county government made an old emergency room lobby available for a shelter. In 2015, the Guest House added 8,000 square feet to its facility including a modern commercial kitchen with more dorm and restroom space. 

Despite the progress made in serving the disadvantaged, there are still approximately 1,500 individuals homeless every night in the city, while there are only about 1,000 available beds. Of these homeless men, 39 percent suffer from some form of mental illness, and 20 percent are veterans.