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Growing mushrooms means drilling holes in a freshly cut hardwood log in which to place fungal plugs. (Henry Homeyer photograph)

Notes From the Garden: Growing Mushrooms at Home

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

About 20 years ago, I started growing mushrooms outdoors on logs. It’s a simple process that involves drilling holes in freshly cut logs and inserting little wooden plugs that I buy called plug spawn. Then I let them develop in the shade of a hemlock tree where they generally produce mushrooms in a year or less. Pretty easy. The best …

A Handyman for That Honey-Do List

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tired of waiting for that honey-do list to get done? Consider hiring a handyman instead to tie up all those loose ends around your house. Just make sure to follow these five tips: ∎ Understand pricing. Many handyman services, but not all, charge an hourly rate and a fee for travel. Yvonne Costin, owner of Grandma’s Handyman Service in Aurora, Colo., charges $75 …

Notes From the Garden: Tired of Winter? Time to Start Forcing Blossoms

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I’ve been hearing from friends who are sick of winter. We’re only about half way done with it, but we haven’t had a break — no January thaw this year — and the snow keeps building up. I have to admit that I’m a little tired of shoveling and paying to get my roof cleared. So what can a gardener do? There’s plenty. …

Wise to Winterize Outside the Home

Sunday, November 23, 2014

It’s wise, before the snow flies (or as soon as possible if flakes have already flown), to take the time to prep your home and property for winter. We hear often about emergency service calls that could have been avoided if homeowners had taken time to winterize or …

Notes From the Garden: Now Is the Time to Prepare Bulbs for Blooms in March

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I love to ski and snowshoe. I don’t mind shoveling snow and lugging in firewood for the woodstove that chugs along day and night these days. But there are limits to my patience, and by March I’ll ready for green growing things and some fresh flowers. So I …

Tips for Saving Water

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hauling water in a five-gallon container a couple of hundred yards from communal spigot to campsite has reinforced my tendency to conserve. You, no doubt, have reasons of your own. Here are water-saving tips, compiled from a variety of sources: Turn off the water while you brush your …

We Should Care About Skilled Trade Shortage

Sunday, November 9, 2014

It’s a fact that I’m not handy. When I need something done at home, I use the proven service providers I found on the list that bears my name. I’m grateful for the skilled professionals who use their hands and their heads to solve our home maintenance and …

Notes From the Garden: Clearing Away the Harvest’s Remains

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

By now, Jack Frost (or Jill Frost, if you prefer) has wielded the scythe of death in my garden — and probably yours, too. He came early in September, treading lightly but knocking off my tomatoes, basil and squash plants. Then in late October, he came again, finishing …

Lead Paint Remains A Threat in Homes

Sunday, November 2, 2014

If you or someone you know is planning work on a pre-1978 home, please make time to take precautions against the possibility of lead poisoning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 500,000 U.S children ages 1 to 5 have elevated lead levels in their …

Notes From the Garden: For Subtle Fall Colors, Look to the Oaks and Beeches

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I took a walk this week along a country road and was delighted by the colors of the fall leaves. The reds — maples, largely — have fallen, but the yellows and brown are still on some trees and lovely. And once you develop an appetite for the …

Before You Have a Plumbing Crisis ...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Plumbing has always been one of the most frequently searched categories on Angie’s List. Naturally, if the sink is stopped up or the commode’s kaput, you want it fixed, and fast. That’s why I advise homeowners to establish — before an emergency — a connection with a highly …

Tips to Cut Risk of Fire

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Here are some tips from Leviton, manufacturer of electrical devices and lighting controls (dimmers, switches), to help reduce the number of electrical fires. ∎ Extension cords are intended only for temporary use. Each year 3,330 residential fires originate near extension cords, the Electrical Safety Foundation International says, often …

Brassicas From the Garden Go Straight to the Table

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

At this time of year I eat one of the “three B’s” from my garden every day: broccoli, Brussels sprouts or kale. All right, don’t get on my case. I know kale doesn’t start with a B. But …