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Garden Variety: Spring signals start of season for swarming termites

As the days continue to warm and spring rains soak into the soil, Midwesterners should be on the lookout for swarming termites. For eastern subterranean termites, the most common and most damaging species in northeast Kansas, spring swarms are common and are the way that termites spread to new ...

Fix-It Chick: Replacing dryer cord easier than replacing wall outlet

If you are ready to plug in that new or used clothes dryer, but the plug on the dryer does not match the outlet on the wall, replacing the cord on the dryer is much easier and more economical than replacing the outlet on the wall.Step 1: Take a picture or drawing of the dryer outlet to the ...

Garden Variety: Attract bats to the yard and garden for pest control

If you have ever seen bats swooping after mosquitoes at dusk on a summer evening, you know they are voracious when it comes to reducing the insect population. In fact, a single little brown bat can eat up to one thousand mosquitoes in an hour. Many gardeners (and people who simply enjoy being ...

Garden Variety: Many factors influence the life spans of trees

Like all living things, trees have a life span. How long that life span might be is dependent on a combination of factors including species, site, environment, weather events, pest infestations and others. Understanding how these factors work together can help you determine why a tree died, why ...

Fix-It Chick: Give your bathroom a facelift with a new tub spout

Replacing an old, worn-out tub spout with a new shiny spout can add new life to an otherwise tired bath. If the diverter on the old spout is failing, a new spout may also increase the pressure of the shower. New spouts will not, however, fix a leaky faucet.Step 1: There is no need to turn off ...

Garden Variety: Start growing vegetables from seeds as spring nears

If you want to grow tomatoes, peppers, or other heat-loving vegetables and flowers from seed, late winter to early spring is the time to get started. You will need a sunny window or supplemental lights, pots or trays, potting mix, seeds of your choice and a little patience. While starting ...

Garden Variety: Tree discovery offers hope against chestnut blight

A mature healthy American chestnut tree was discovered a few weeks ago by a Canadian conservationist in far southern Ontario, about halfway between Detroit, Michigan and Niagara Falls. The tree is an anomaly because experts believe it may have survived exposure to a devastating disease known as ...

Fix-It Chick: Purchasing the right ice melt to battle snowy conditions

With so many products available, choosing the right ice melt can be a slippery slope. If you are concerned about the environment, pets, children or concrete, the safest thing to do is to avoid ice melt products altogether. Otherwise, follow these steps to help choose the right product for ...

Garden Variety: Growing citrus fruits inside requires ideal conditions

Homegrown lemons are a rarity in Kansas, but committed gardeners can succeed at growing them and other citrus fruit by creating the right environment. Newer, improved dwarf varieties are the best bet for indoor growing of citrus. Gardeners with sunrooms and greenhouses may opt for larger ...

Garden Variety: Resolutions for gardeners

The arrival of the new year means resolutions for personal improvement for many people. For gardeners, the focus might go to gardening practices. Since the middle of winter can be a difficult time to remember the tribulations of garden season, here are some suggestions to get your resolutions ...

Fix-It Chick: Clean a furnace flame sensor

If your gas furnace keeps cycling on and then turning off within a minute or so, it might be the result of a dirty flame sensor. Most gas furnaces have a small sensor designed to shut off the furnace if the burners do not flame when the furnace is turned on. Over time the sensor can become ...

Fix-It Chick: Make sure your fire extinguishers are working properly

While the chestnuts are roasting on the open fire, take a moment to perform a safety check on all of your fire extinguishers. On Nov. 2, Kiddie Manufacturing issued a recall of 134 fire extinguisher models. Some of these had already been recalled in March 2009 and February 2015. Follow these ...

Garden Variety: Indoor activities to get kids started on gardening

Kids who are exposed to gardening reap many benefits. While much of gardening takes place outdoors in nice weather, there are plenty of simple activities kids can do inside in the winter to learn about how plants grow and about the environment. Even something as simple as sprouting a seed can ...

Fix-It Chick: Jigsaws versatile, easy to use with right knowledge

Jigsaws are affordable, versatile power tools that can cut circles and squares around and through wood, plastic, metal and tile. Using a jigsaw is easy with the right blade and a little know-how.Step 1: Choose a jigsaw with the right options for the job. Variable-speed jigsaws allow fast, rough ...

Fix-It Chick: Installing a GFCI outlet

Ground fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) outlets should be installed in areas where moisture is a concern, such as kitchens, bathrooms and unfinished basements. They should also be used for electrical outlets mounted on the exterior of the home and for outlets that are within 6 feet of a water ...

Garden Variety: Insects are common on tropical plants during winter

Winter is a great time to add to or start a collection of indoor plants, but sometimes plants carry unwanted hitchhikers with them. Mealybugs and scale insects are common on tropical plants this time of year, and may even be found on plants being sold. To avoid bringing these pesky insects ...

Fix-It Chick: 11 tips for last-minute winterization

Are you ready for winter? Here are 11 tips that may help you catch one or two things you forgot to do last month.1. Empty the gas from lawn mowers, garden equipment and gas cans. Wintertime condensation will ensure engine troubles in the spring if gas is left sitting through the winter. If the ...

Garden Variety: The gift that keeps on growing

Amaryllis bulbs are easy to find during the holidays, probably partly because they are easy to package in gift boxes. More importantly, though, they are sold this time of year because they are easy to grow indoors and produce beautiful flowers in late winter to early spring.The flowers produced ...

Fix-It Chick: Patching a tubeless tire

At some point in time, it seems every car tire will eventually wind up with some foreign object stuck into the tire tread. Even if the tire does not immediately start leaking air from the puncture wound, the offending object will compromise passenger safety and ultimately cause irreparable ...

Garden Variety: Winter ideal to replicate woody plants with cuttings

Late fall and early winter is the best time to take hardwood cuttings of certain woody plants (shrubs, vines and trees) to create replicas of them. This propagation method is especially useful for established desirable shrubs of unknown variety such as an old viburnum planted by a previous ...