Home Help: Balcony gardens
Gardening on your balcony, patio or unused driveway is a great alternative when you cannot raise produce in the ground.
When placing your container garden, look for a full-sun location. Produce needs full sunlight to collect enough energy for a good crop.
"Pots can also be placed on dollies or wheels to follow the sun if necessary," said Nancy Pollard, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. "An old child's wagon will grow lettuce nicely and can be moved to where the sun shines. Taller plants may be too top heavy to move easily. Don't have eight hours of full sun? Try some leafy vegetables in light shade."
If a container holds soil and has drainage holes in the bottom, it can be used for the garden. Big containers are best. They must be able to stay upright with fully grown vegetables in them, unless it is of the hanging variety. Large containers also make it easier to keep the soil moisture from fluctuating.
In the container, use a potting mix, not heavy garden soil. Many have slow-release nutrients or fertilizers already added. The size of the plant determines how much soil it will need. A gallon container will grow about five leafy lettuce plants, but only one plant of Swiss chard collards or kale.
A gallon or two of soil is needed for most pepper transplants. Tomatoes require three to five gallons of soil per plant.
"If you decide to grow cabbage, don't be afraid to harvest a few leaves at a time as you need them, instead of waiting for the whole head to mature," Pollard recommended. "The same is true for herbs like basil or parsley. Farming on your patio puts the harvest close at hand."
Tip of the Week: Maintain air conditioning unit
Things like low refrigerant levels, dirty fans and filters, loose or worn belts and clogged condenser coils can seriously hinder an air conditioning unit’s cooling ability. If your air conditioner is several years old, has never been cleaned or is not cooling, a qualified service person may be needed to perform the necessary maintenance. To reduce the frequency of future cleanings, avoid discharging grass from the lawn mower toward the condenser unit when mowing the yard, and plug air leaks in the home so the unit runs less often.
-- University of Missouri Extension
Home-Selling Tip: Low-cost summer solutions
Does the house you are trying to sell still look like it’s in hibernation? Get rid of the heavy fabrics, and bring in a soft, summery feel. Replace heavy curtain panels with lightweight sheers. Put away the heavy comforter and replace it with a lighter bedspread. Swap out dark accent pillows for soft-colored pillows. These are all low-cost solutions that make your home more welcoming.
Going Green: EPA sets up recycling in Joplin, Mo.
The Environmental Protection Agency set up a special drop-off location in Joplin, Mo., to collect and recycle unwanted appliances, electronics and household hazardous waste after a deadly tornado left the town in ruins in May. The EPA also plans to properly dispose of hazardous materials like propane tanks, motor oil and batteries that were displaced during the storm.
Did You Know …
In its fourth and final round, the Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development departments will provide $5.4 million for permanent housing for 676 homeless American veterans. – HUD.gov
Home Improvements: Using the color wheel inside the home
When choosing a color scheme, simplify the process by using the color wheel. Choose two color schemes, and make one complementary and the other analogous.
Complementary colors are across from each other on the color wheel, and they are used in formal areas of the home, like the living or dining room. For example, red and green; blue and yellow; purple and orange.
Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel, and they are used in casual areas of the home, like bedrooms, dens and family rooms. For example, yellow and green; blue and violet; red and orange.
Garden Guide: What to grow in shady locations
While vegetables and herbs do best in full sun (at least six to eight hours of midday sunshine), some plants will produce a passable crop in light shade. Leaves may be broader and thinner, stems may be taller and skinnier, but a small homegrown harvest is achievable.
Best are leafy vegetables like leaf lettuce, spinach, endive, arugula and other greens. You can also try smaller fruit crops like cool-weather peas or hot-weather green beans. Skip the sun-loving tomatoes, melons, squash and peppers, though, or you will be disappointed. Beets, potatoes, parsnips, turnips and radishes are root crops worth a try, but skip the carrots.
-- University of Illinois Extension
New Product: 2-D glasses convert 3-D films
About 10 percent of the U.S. population has difficulty viewing a 3-D movie, often because of headaches caused by the two different polarized lenses. To help, Amazon.com is selling glasses for $10 that convert 3-D movies into 2-D movies –– accomplished with the use of only one polarized lens –– so no one has to pass up a trip to the 3-D movies with their friends.
GateHouse News Service