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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

GARDEN

Fluffy, white mealy bugs on house plants are easily killed by touching them with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. Insecticidal soap sprays can be safely applied to most house plants for the control of many insect pests. Amaryllis aftercare: Remove spent flower after blooming. Set the plant in a bright sunny window to allow the leaves to fully develop. Keep the soil evenly moist, not soggy. Fertilize occasionally with a general purpose houseplant formulation. Check stored summer bulbs such as dahlias, cannas and gladiolus to be sure they are not rotting or drying out. Make an inventory of the plants in your home landscape. Note their location and past performance. Plan changes on paper now.

-- mobot.org

HOME

Q. It flooded underneath my wood floor this winter. The water is gone now, but my hardwood floors smell like mildew. What should I do?

A. Your sniffer has indicated the problem and now it's time to take action before the mildew runs rampant and you end up with a $10,000 hardwood floor replacement. Mildew thrives in moist dark areas, so to kill it you must brighten things up and dry them out. Prune back the spring growth outside your windows, pull up the blinds, open the curtains and drapes and flood your house with natural light. Prune shrubs away from foundation vents, and start a fan or three going under the floor and as many above it as well. It may also be advisable to rent a dehumidifier. The fast-moving air above and below your floor will dry out those impossible-to-reach places where only vapors travel. Keep this up all day every day for several days after the smell has disappeared.

KITCHEN

A year ago, the nation's oldest food magazine realized it still had some growing to do. That's when the editors at Gourmet decided their approach -- posting the same content from their print edition and funneling their recipes to epicurious.com's online database -- simply wasn't good enough. Which is why on Jan. 16, the magazine is launching a new and robust Web site jammed with original content, including stories, reviews, videos, recipes, even archival material dating to the magazine's launch in 1941. Contributors to the site will include Southern food historian John T. Edge and writers Deborah Madison, Michael Pollan, Eric Ripert, Heston Blumenthal, as well as Gourmet editor Coleman Andrews. The site also will offer news, including legislation that affects farm and table, travel and culture reports, and videos of the entire first season of the magazine's public television show, "Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie." Epicurious.com, which also includes content from Bon Appetit and other Conde Nast titles, will continue to serve as the primary source for Gourmet's recipes.

-- AP

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