Tips for Indoor Plants and Gardening

Indoor PlantsMany of us have felt that fake plants were our only option because we seemed to have the “touch of death” when caring for plants. So, here are some indoor plants or gardening tip that will make you feel like a natural born gardener;

1. Plants will “reach” toward a light source, so rotate your plant occasionally to promote straight growth.

2. Pay attention to the lighting requirements for your indoor plants. If your plant isn’t getting enough light it will appear “thin and leggy” looking. You can alleviate this problem by only buying plants appropriate for the light already in your home, or by providing an additional light source (artificial lighting). Buying plants that need medium to low light are a “safe bet” for most homes. Indoor plants can be placed outside during the warm summer months.

3. Use room temperature water when watering your indoor plants. Soak thoroughly but make sure plants aren’t allowed to sit in water as this can make the roots to rot, proper drainage will alleviate this. Different plants have different watering needs.

4. Give your plants a bath! Plants need to be hosed down to rid them of dirt, dust, and grime. Your plants only need it occasionally. Place your plant in your kitchen sink or bathtub and use the spray attachment to gently rinse it off. Use lukewarm water and allow your plant to air dry before returning it to its regular location.

5. Plants improve the quality of household air but remember plants can suffer if kept in air that is always smoky, stagnate or overly dry. Open the windows and allowing fresh air to come into the house at least several times a week.

6. As with humans, most house plants do well in a daytime temperature range of 65-75 and ten degrees lower at night. Pay attention to your plant, if it isn’t looking well a change in temperature might be all it needs to get back on the right track.

7. Keep the care tag for each plant you buy. This way you will remember the name of the plant and what type of individual care it needs to stay healthy.

8. Your indoor plants need to be “fed” often because vital nutrients are flushed out of the soil each time you water. You can opt to use a slow release fertilizer that is added to the soil or you can use a liquid fertilizer that is added in small amounts when you water your plant. Don’t fertilize in winter, instead, fertilize regularly during growing and flowering stages. (March-October)

If you find it hard to remember when you last fertilized, write yourself a quick reminder on your calendar for when to do it next. Your plants will tell you if you are fertilizing too much by having burned or dried leaves, fertilize less frequently if you notice this.

9. When growing plants indoors in containers, do not use soil from the garden as it does not yield good results. Outdoor soil can contain insects, weeds, and disease-causing organisms that can actually harm other healthy plants already living indoors. Additionally, outdoor soils become compacted when put into small containers. This will lead to problems with the plant’s roots and might also impede drainage.

10. We all need room to grow and plants do too! When you notice that roots are coming out of the drainage hole or seem thick and/ or matted, it is time to re-pot your plant.

When picking a container/pot for your house plants, make sure it will drain properly, many pots are sold without drainage holes! If you find one, then you need to drill a hole in the bottom of the container. Otherwise your plant will almost certainly die. Without a drainage hole, water collects in the pot and causes damage to the roots. If this isn’t an option you can double pot your plant.

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Getting Rid Of Roaches from Your Home

Getting Rid Of RoachesJust the sight of one of these multi-legged, hard-shelled insect crawling across the floor is enough to make your toes curl, and your screams can hit high notes you didn’t realize were possible. But what are you dealing with?

Roaches are a large, disgusting insect, with six legs, and 18 knee joints. (We were sure you’d want to know that.) There are more than 5,000 species in the world, but the most common are the German cockroach, and the American cockroach.

Initially cockroaches may infest your home from the outside, finding cracks, gaps under doors, and other ways to enter the home, attracted by warmth, darkness, and spoiling food or standing water, in things like open garbage pails, unwashed dishes. As big as they may seem, a cockroach can insinuate itself through an opening as thin as a dime when young, or a quarter as an adult. They don’t like light, which is why many homeowners can’t believe it when the cat or dog presents them with the remains of their latest victim. But you can’t depend on your pets to control the population.

The first measure in getting rid of cockroaches is hygiene. If you have stored vegetables that are rotting, open containers of food in cupboards, or unsecured garbage pails, remove all refuse and replace containers with those that seal tightly. Check under appliances, in cupboards, basement corners, and other dark places for traces of a black gritty dirt that has an oily appearance. This is roach feces and a sign that you do have a problem.

Once your home is cleaned, your choices in removing them are to do it yourself, or to have the home professionally treated by a pest control company. Which you choose, may depend on the severity of the infestation. The primary means of destroying roaches are contact poisons/sprays, and residual sprays which leave time released ingredients in your cupboards and on the surfaces where sprayed, that will work over a period of 2-3 weeks.

There are also the infamous “roach motels” that can be placed in your cupboards. Sometimes it may take a combination of several methods, such as an immediate contact kill substance, and then roach motels in places where you have evidence of previous inhabitants. Once your immediate problem is eliminated, you can also take preventative measures, such as sprinkling powdered boric acid in between walls, and around foundations where they may have entered the house. This is generally a safe product, and will be carried on the roaches’ feet, to wherever they are hiding and breeding.

One note of caution: Pesticides can be highly toxic to humans and pets. Spray treatments should never be carried out without proper respiratory protection, and first removing of all food, pets and dishes or other items that your food may come in contact with.

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Kitchen Bread Makers

Bread MakersBread machines or bread makers are fast becoming a small and commonly used appliance almost as much as the microwave oven in many home kitchens. The smell and taste of freshly baked bread is hard to resist, let alone very nutritious for you.

These machines can be considered another of the few miracle kitchen appliances to make our cooking and baking lives more enjoyable. Finding bread machines online has never been much easier, except maybe which one to choose for your family’s needs. Here are some basic tips in finding the right one for you.

Most store bought bread these days comes in one and a half to two pound loafs, so the first tip is look for a bread machine with a two pound capacity. There really isn’t a good reason to make bread size less than a two pound loaf. Also it is nice to have a bread maker with at least 8 different settings. Some of your best choices for settings are: Basic, Whole Wheat, French, Sweet and Express bake.

A bread machine with a view window allows one to monitor the bread baking without raising the lid, saving energy and time. Make sure the loaf pan is non-stick coated for easy cleaning. Most bread makers today come with non-stick loaf pans but there are a few that still don’t. Another great feature to have is the additional ingredients beeper, which comes in handy for adding fruit and more throughout the bread cycle.

Whether it is for once a week bread making or even to everyday use, the bread machine has become a part of the modern kitchen. Make sure you compare different models online to find the perfect one for your family.

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Constructing an Energy Saving Building

Energy Saving BuildingFor new construction, builders can achieve substantial energy savings through Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and ENERGY STAR Qualified Home standards.

The LEED Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. LEED provides a complete framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. Based on well-founded scientific standards, LEED emphasizes state of the art strategies for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. LEED recognizes achievements and promotes expertise in green building through a comprehensive system offering project certification, professional accreditation, training and practical resources.

Newly built homes that earn the ENERGY STAR must meet guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ENERGY STAR Qualified New Homes are should have more energy efficient at least 15 percent than homes built to the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). ENERGY STAR qualified homes can include a variety of energy-efficient features, such as effective insulation, high performance windows and doors, well-sealed and insulated duct systems, efficient heating and cooling equipment, and ENERGY STAR qualified lighting and appliances. These features contribute to improved home quality and homeowner comfort, and to lower energy demand and reduced air pollution.

In addition to offering a high quality product to consumers, builders of energy efficient homes are eligible for a $2,000 federal tax credit under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. A new energy efficient home must achieve 50 percent energy savings for heating and cooling over the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). At least one-fifth of the energy savings must come from building envelope improvements.

A bright future

As the demand for high quality, efficient homes gains momentum, more contractors and builders will look to building performance to add value to conventional homes, setting a new standard in the residential new construction and home improvement industries and empowering their customers to make better choices for themselves, the economy and the environment.

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