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  1. Simple Gardening Tips for this Spring

    • To remove the salt deposits that form on clay pots, combine equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to the pot and scrub with a plastic brush. Let the pot dry before you plant anything in it.

    • To prevent accumulating dirt under your fingernails while you work in the garden, draw your fingernails across a bar of soap and you’ll effectively seal the undersides of your nails so dirt can’t collect beneath them. Then, after you’ve finished in the garden, use a nailbrush to remove the soap and your nails will be sparkling clean.

    • To prevent the line on your string trimmer from jamming or breaking, treat with a spray vegetable oil before installing it in the trimmer.

    • Turn a long-handled tool into a measuring stick! Lay a long-handled garden tool on the ground, and next to it place a tape measure. Using a permanent marker, write inch and foot marks on the handle. When you need to space plants a certain distance apart (from just an inch to several feet) you’ll already have a measuring device in your hand.

    • To have garden twine handy when you need it, just stick a ball of twine in a small clay pot, pull the end of the twine through the drainage hole, and set the pot upside down in the garden. Do that, and you’ll never go looking for twine again.

    • Little clay pots make great cloches for protecting young plants from sudden, overnight frosts and freezes.

    • To turn a clay pot into a hose guide, just stab a roughly one-foot length of steel reinforcing bar into the ground at the corner of a bed and slip two clay pots over it: one facing down, the other facing up. The guides will prevent damage to your plants as you drag the hose along the bed.

    • To create perfectly natural markers, write the names of plants (using a permanent marker) on the flat faces of stones of various sizes and place them at or near the base of your plants.

    • Got aphids? You can control them with a strong blast of water from the hose or with insecticidal soap. But here’s another suggestion, one that’s a lot more fun; get some tape! Wrap a wide strip of tape around your hand, sticky side out, and pat the leaves of plants infested with aphids. Concentrate on the undersides of leaves, because that’s where the little buggers like to hide.

    • The next time you boil or steam vegetables, don’t pour the water down the drain, use it to water potted patio plants, and you’ll be amazed at how the plants respond to the “vegetable soup.”

    • Use leftover tea and coffee grounds to acidify the soil of acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, gardenias and even blueberries. A light sprinkling of about one-quarter of an inch applied once a month will keep the pH of the soil on the acidic side.

    • Use chamomile tea to control damping-off fungus, which often attacks young seedlings quite suddenly. Just add a spot of tea to the soil around the base of seedlings once a week or use it as a foliar spray.

    • If you need an instant table for tea service, look no farther than your collection of clay pots and saucers. Just flip a good-sized pot over, and top it off with a large saucer. And when you’ve had your share of tea, fill the saucer with water. And your “table” is now a birdbath.

    • The quickest way in the world to dry herbs: just lay a sheet of newspaper on the seat of your car, arrange the herbs in a single layer, then roll up the windows and close the doors. Your herbs will be quickly dried to perfection. What’s more, your car will smell great.

    Now, get out there and make your garden look unusually awesome!

    Source: hgtv.com Tips and Tricks from Paul James

  2. 8 Spring House Cleaning Tips!

    1. MAKE DOORMATS WELCOMING
    Shake them, wash them, and swat them with a broom. Give them the toughest cleaning they can take. They’re your front line against tracked-in dirt – so keep them clean enough to function at peak efficiency.

    2. CLEAN CARPETS AND UPHOLSTERY
    Fabrics absorb a lot throughout the winter including dirt, body oil and germs and you need to get them ready for another year of wear. When you’re using rented machines to clean carpets or upholstery first practice in an unobtrusive area to make sure you have an understanding on how the machine works and that the treatment won’t discolor fabrics or cause dyes to run. Move furniture just lightly – not out of the room or against the wall – and place the legs of each piece back on top of small wax paper squares after shampooing. The wax paper will protect your carpet and keep the furniture legs from getting wet as the carpet dries. Open the windows to speed drying process – which can take a day or more.

    3. FINISH YOUR FLOORS
    To protect the floors in your kitchen or other areas of the house from another year of wear and tear, wax or apply a sealer following label directions. The simple method: Use a combination wash-and-wax floor cleaner. No-wax floors don’t need a polishing treatment, but an occasional makeover will keep them looking fresher and add a protective buffer that could help them last longer. If you have wood floors, move furniture and rugs aside, then apply a wood cleaner and either liquid or paste polish to clean and add a new wax coating.

    4. WASH WALLS, CABINETS, BASEBOARDS AND WOODWORK
    The walls may not look as if they need to be washed, but as dust and soot fall to the floor some will cling to vertical surfaces to warrant a seasonal wash. Use a sponge and hand dish-washing detergent, washing the surface in sections. Use two buckets: one for dish-washing detergent solution and another for wringing your sponge. Dry the walls and woodwork with a dry cloth after washing.

    5. VACUUMING SMARTS
    You may go through labor-intensive task of dragging every piece of furniture off the carpet, just so the vacuum cleaner could cover every possible spot. Instead, simply move those big items a little to the left or to the right. Vacuum the area previously occupied by the furniture and then move it back into place.

    6. CLEAN CEILING FIXTURES
    Remove dust and dirt from ceiling fans and air-conditioner vents with a cloth and a vacuum with a soft nozzle attachment.

    7. CLEAN LIGHT FIXTURES
    A stepladder, all-purpose cleaner, a sponge and a polish cloth will do the trick! If you home has skylights or tall ceilings consider investing in extended-reach dust-and-dirt removal tools.

    8. REFRIGERATOR DUTY
    You should clean the refrigerator’s condenser coil, usually found behind the toe grille, with a long-handled bottle brush and a vacuum cleaner with an attachment hose to remove dust and lint. Built-up dust can cause it to overheat and shut down the unit. While you’re at it go ahead and clean the inside of the fridge removing sticky messes and outdated food. Freshen up by leaving some baking soda in the fridge to absorb those nasty smells.

    Source: www.rd.com