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Home and garden checklist

Published: Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 8CALIFORNIA LIFE


How safe is your home office? More than 10 percent of U.S. employees work from home, which can create hazards around the house.

This is Home Office Safety and Security Week, putting the spotlight on this rising aspect of our households. Home safety expert First Alert offers these tips to help ensure home working spaces stay safe and productive:

• Set up for safety: Keep your work area organized and designed to prevent potential home hazards. Avoid injuries by maintaining a clutter-free office. Keep scissors, staplers and all sharp or heavy office tools away from edges of the desk, especially if you have children. Secure all phone lines and electrical cords along a wall or under a desk to keep them away from all heat sources and traffic areas.

• Protect your assets: Keep all essential business files safely stowed. Consider a home safe or locking file cabinets.

• Safeguard your computer: Keep operating and anti-virus packages up to date. Perform frequent updates to prevent malicious software from invading your computer and your network.

• Be armed with alarms: You'll be spending a lot of time in your home office. Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and test them monthly.

For more tips, click on


• Plant living Christmas trees as soon as possible. If you've placed the tree outside, avoid exposing the root ball to freezing temperatures. Get it in the ground or in a pot. Firs, pines and other evergreens can flourish in containers. (And if planted in a pot, your living Christmas tree can come inside again next year for the holidays.)

• Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

• Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

• Clean up leaves and debris around fruit trees and rose bushes to prevent the spread of disease.

• Start pruning roses. Tbhey've been slow to go into dormancy this winter (many were blooming around Sacramento just before Christmas), but it's time to get to work on this annual chore. Trim off remaining leaves from canes.

• Apply oil to fruit trees soon after a rain to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective. Don't apply on foggy days.

• This also is the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl.

• In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

• Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

– Debbie Arrington

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