Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pop Those Veggies Into a Pot

Short on yard space and still want to beat the high cost of grocery store veggies? You can create your own container garden on a patio with just about any type of vegetable. Granted, it needs to be a sunny spot for at least 6 hours every day. And you'll need good a good soilless mix and fertilizer. Bugs are also sure to be competition, so be prepared.

Next, plan on watering frequently - probably every day. Containers tend to dry out much faster than the ground.

Choose any size pot, but keep the depth in mind when making your selection. Also, it needs to have good drainage, so roots won't get soggy.

Plants with shallow roots:

Plants with deeper roots:

You can typically get one tomato plant or up to five pepper plants into a 15-gallon pot. Lettuce will be quite happy in a one-gallon container while you can stuff a couple of broccoli plants into a 5-gallon pot.

Now, you can watch your garden grow - right at the back door!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What's So Bad about CFLs?

The green move marches forward and CFLs, or compact fluorescent lights, are part of the troops. They're backed by environmentalists - to the point that our regular incandescents will be phased out (illegal) by 2012.

While the Handy Imp is getting the green on, there are just a few m-i-n-o-r things about CFLs that aren't so good. Here's the short list. You can also visit Our House and Garden's Handyman section for the nitty-gritty.

-CFLs contain mercury. Small dabs, for sure, but that's enough to warrant a massive cleanup if you break one. Even then, you might not get it all. If you break one and your clothes come in contact, throw them away. It's a bit intense, and think what would happen if all those bulbs broke at once in a landfill near you?
-Once you turn them on, they must remain on for 15 minutes. Really not sure how that's going to impact overall energy savings. You can't simply dash into a dark room and flick the switch on, then off.
-CFLs won't fit all sockets - especially three-ways and canister or recessed lights. Nope - those will take additional adaptors. Forget chandeliers at present.

In the Handy Imp's opinion, mercury contamination is the #1 concern. Sure, drive all the way out to an authorized collection center, if you can find one - use a little extra gas to get there while you're at it.

How many others will just pitch those compact fluorescent light bulbs in the trash? It's not illegal after all. Think of the potential for exposure between your home and the curb before the trash truck arrives.

Just do some research before you make the "switch."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pick a Peck Of Potted Peppers

As grocery prices rise, it may be time to start thinking about growing some of your own foods. You don't to own acres of land for that, either. Some vegetables will grow well in containers, including peppers. To stay on the sweeter side, bells are a favorite. Even better, they can be sliced and frozen. The texture might be a little softer, but they're great for pizza, stir-fries and a host of other treats.

You will have to tend them carefully as they are very attractive to bugs. Use a specialty spray for use around food and you'll have plenty of green bell peppers to pick in no time. Harvest them at the green stage or be patient and they'll become a beautiful and sweeter orange or red. If you do that, however, you'll probably only have one harvest. Get them while they're green and you can have several batches well into fall.

And in case you don't what the heck a peck is - it's equal to 2 gallons or 8 dry quarts. And for those who pickle, that translates into ten 12-oz. jars.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Stemming Loose Floral Arrangements in Glass Bowls

Fresh-cut flowers can brighten any space. They're so cheerful arranged in a glass vase, but can be difficult to keep in place, if you're going for perfect placement. Here's how to keep those loose stems in place so you can have just the right balance.

Use masking tape or even regular clear tape to create a crisscross pattern at the mouth of the vase or container. Make it a "loose weave" so there's room to add water. Poke holes in the tape or simply slide the stems in between the weave. The flowers will stay in place for a perfect arrangement. Once all the stems are in place, the tape won't show.