Home briefs

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

GARDEN

To clean heavily encrusted clay pots, scrub them with a steel wool pad after they have soaked overnight in a solution consisting of one gallon of water, and one cup each of white vinegar and household bleach. Some plants are sensitive to the fluorine and chlorine in tap water. Water containers should stand overnight to allow these gases to dissipate before using on plants. Wash the dust off of house plant leaves on a regular basis. This allows the leaves to gather light more efficiently and will result in better growth. Set the pots of humidity-loving house plants on trays filled with pebbles and water. Pots should sit on the pebbles, not in the water. Allow tap water to warm to room temperature before using on houseplants.

-- mobot.org

KITCHEN

Jamie Oliver is offering a lush new view of his pared-down cooking. In his latest television series, which begins airing Jan. 12 on Food Network, Oliver offers quick and easy recipes inspired by produce grown in his garden. Each 30-minute episode focuses on a new ingredient, with Oliver demonstrating uses of it. The premiere features pumpkin and squash, roasted for salad, pureed for soup and baked into cupcakes. It's a simple concept, but Oliver executes it well. And in his trademark style, he spends just enough time with each dish to get you hungry, without lingering over unnecessary details or boring with idle stove chatter. The show is shot in various locations throughout Oliver's gorgeous country home in Essex, England. It is rustic, beautiful and homey. It makes you want to eat whatever is made there.

-- AP

HOME

Q: I want to cover my crawlspace with a plastic moisture barrier, but I can only buy the 6 mil. I have tried to buy the new 20 mil kind but the companies won't sell it to me. What do I do?

A: Companies that sell the 20 mil (20 thousandths of an inch in thickness) plastic vapor barrier material do their own installations. If your moisture problem in your subarea crawl space is normal damp soil and random water puddling -- even if it is year-round -- you would do just as well to install 6 mil material. It may not last as long if you find yourself repeatedly crawling in the subarea, but it will hold back the moisture every bit as effectively as 65 mil. By covering the ground in your crawl space with a sheet of plastic you contain damaging evaporation, thus preventing it causing rot to the wood floor immediately above. If you live in a particularly wet area, you should cover the entire subarea all the way up to the foundation; however, if you live in a drier climate, it is wise to hold the plastic about 6 inches away from the foundation so the earth can breathe. The floor of your home does require a small amount of moisture.

-- AP

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