Thursday, May 22 , 2014

Give Your Geraniums a Boost

Geraniums are easy-to-grow perennials that bloom beautiful, bright colors. And, according to the National Gardening Association, deer pass them by! But geraniums are picky about one thing…

They love lots of water! But, as with any plant, you have to careful not to overwater—the roots should never sit in standing water.

Here’s a way to keep them happily hydrated without overwatering: After preparing your morning coffee, rinse off the coffee grounds to cool them and remove any residue. Then distribute the grounds in an even layer on top of the soil surrounding the geraniums. The grounds become a marvelous mulch that helps keep in moisture. Note: Be sure to use coffee grounds on full-grown plants only. Geranium seeds have a hard seed coat, and the grounds can inhibit germination.

More help with plants and gardens…


Tuesday, May 20 , 2014

Make Fleas Flee the Natural Way

Cats and dogs love to romp in the grass and bushes...and then they bring stowaways into the house. Fleas love to settle in your carpeting and furniture. If you have fleas in your home, this is a chemical-free way to get them to go...

If you have fleas in your home, vacuum (at least once a week) all the areas where your pet hangs out. Then sprinkle common table salt in all of those same places, and after 48 hours, vacuum again. Repeat the procedure—sprinkle salt, and 48 hours later, vacuum. Hopefully by then, the vacuum will have sucked up all the original fleas and those that hatched during the four-day salting.


Monday, May 19 , 2014

Easy, Nontoxic Weed and Patio Moss Killer

Personally, we think it's charming to see a feisty plant pop up through sidewalk cracks or in between patio stones. But if you're not charmed by pavement weeds and green stuff growing on your patio and want to get rid of it all without harsh chemicals, here's what to do...

Pour distilled white vinegar on the weeds—enough to get them good and wet—but don't hose it off. Let it stay there, and in a few days the weeds will be dead. Vinegar will also get rid of patio moss. Splash on a half-cup wherever you see green growing where it's not supposed to. This is safe and effective for wood and slate patios. Reapply as needed, usually after a heavy rainstorm.

More garden know-how...


Wednesday, May 14 , 2014

Weird Stair-Painting Trick

Spring and home spruce-up go hand in hand, and a staircase often is one of the first things seen by visitors entering your home. So spruce up those scuffy steps with a fresh coat of paint! How do you do that considering that paint needs time to dry and you have to walk on those steps every day? We have two clever ways to do it...

If you want to paint steps to which people must have continual access, take two days to do it. The first day, paint every other step. When those steps are dry enough to walk on a day or two later, go ahead and paint every other other step. While every other step is wet with paint, you use the staircase by stepping over those, taking two steps at a time.

What if people in your home can't manage climbing over every other step? Paint the entire left half or right half (every step on one side), allowing people to use the unpainted half to get up or down the staircase. Make the painted halves slightly uneven so that there isn't a rigid middle seam when you eventually paint the other half (although modern paints usually blend well with dry, just-painted sections). When the first half is dry (usually after two days), paint the other half of the steps. (Be sure to let people know which half is wet and which is dry!) Voila! Now it feels like you live in a new home.

More tips for home renovations…


Friday, May 09 , 2014

Plagued by Pigeons?

Birds (such as pigeons) are nice, but they can make such a mess! Here's what to do if some feathered friends refuse to leave your porch, terrace, deck or patio the way they found it.

Glop up the birds' landing strip—the railing or ledge of your outdoor space—with petroleum jelly or a generous amount of powdered chalk. Those substances will make it uncomfortable for them to land…and the powdered chalk contains calcium carbonate, a natural pest repellent  (You can purchase powdered chalk that climbers and gymnasts use, or make your own by crushing up blocks or sticks of chalk. Just be sure that you don't use powdered paint chalk.) You should have to apply the jelly or chalk only once or twice—birds actually have good memories, and one or two bad landings should keep most of those in your neighborhood away for good.

When the birds have permanently flown the coop, wipe off the excess petroleum jelly and sweep away the chalk. If the outdoor surface is wood, rub the jelly into the wood evenly throughout the area.

More help with pests…


Tuesday, May 06 , 2014

Remove Juice Stains from Your Carpets

Did that cup of juice escape from your hand and land splat on your floor? Now you've got some carpet artwork that you didn't ask for. Try to act fast, but if you can't, this solution should work on a fruit-juice stain that has sat for a bit.

Blot up as much of the juice as possible. Then combine one tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent (use one-half tablespoon if the laundry detergent is high concentrate), one and one-half tablespoons of distilled white vinegar and two cups of water. Gently work the mixture into the fruit-juice stain, and then blot dry. If the stain has sat for longer than an hour or two, you may need to scrub the spot well, rinse, and then reapply the solution. If you think your rug's dyes may be finicky, test this method on a small, inconspicuous spot first to make sure it doesn't fade or smear.


Monday, May 05 , 2014

Free Fertilizer for Your Rose Bushes

Every rose grower should know the secret to a healthy and beautiful rose crop—banana peels! The peels are rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, sodium and silica...so they make a great fertilizer. Here's what to do to feed your flowers...

Save your banana peels, and air-dry them until they're crispyish and crumblyish. Figure on using about three peels per rosebush. Cut the peels into small, half-inch pieces, and bury them around each bush a few inches deep into the soil. Do this once or twice in late spring and again at the end of June or beginning of July.

More great garden ideas...


Tuesday, April 29 , 2014

Sticky Price-Tag Remover

You got a nice batch of bowls (or some vases or mugs) from that pottery outlet, but each one has a price-tag sticker on it. Peeling doesn't work very well to remove the sticker and adhesive, and neither will your dishwasher. Here's what to do...

Dribble about one-quarter cup of white vinegar onto the label. Then pour just-boiled water on the spot, just enough to cover the sticky area. Let the vinegar water sit until cool enough to touch. You should be able to rub off the label immediately.

More tricks to clean...

Friday, April 25 , 2014

Tupperware Stain Eraser

Plastic containers are great storage devices, but they can be easily stained...especially by tomato sauce! Since plastic is quite porous, you don't want to soak it in soapy water and have it forever smell like soap. Here's how to get rid of that greasy tomato sauce ring on your plasticware...

Coffee grounds! Add a drop of grease-cutting dish detergent to a handful (about one-quarter cup) of used grounds, and scrub away at the tomato-sauce stains until all is clear. The coffee grounds absorb and neutralize the grease and tomato color better than a sponge or scrubber can (they just smear the sauce around). After you scrub away the stain and grease, thoroughly wash out your container with warm water and all traces of tomato stain should be gone.

More help in the kitchen...

Thursday, April 24 , 2014

How to Prevent Bathroom Mildew

Some people are not fans of fans. Are you one of them? If you are, what do you do about removing mold-causing moisture in your bathroom if you can't keep a window open all year around? Here's the trick to keep mold and mildew off your walls…

Hot showers and baths produce moisture that can cause mold and mildew. Keep some of that moisture off the walls by leaving a bowl of charcoal briquettes in the bathroom—they will absorb some of the moisture during showers and then give it back to the air slowly through evaporation. You can use an attractive bowl...and maybe place it up high on a cabinet top so you don't even see the briquettes. Wherever you do put it, make sure it's out of the way of children and pets.

More help with mold and mildew…