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  • Contra Costa Times file

    Come on! It's the time of year to clean up. Do you really want to have to clean up household clutter like this when the weather gets hotter?

  • Bee file

Home and garden checklist

Published: Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 9CALIFORNIA LIFE

The final weeks of winter can seem like the longest. You're aching for spring and eager to get outdoors – if only the weather cooperates.

There's plenty to keep you busy indoors – you just need to focus. Courtesy of State Farm Insurance's Learning Center, here are some suggestions for late-winter projects to make your home safer, cleaner and cozier:

• Clean out clutter. This task probably is still waiting on your list of New Year's resolutions. Give yourself a head start on spring cleaning by streamlining the contents of overloaded shelves and overflowing drawers. Get rid of items you no longer need.

Where to start? In your kitchen, toss out expired goods from the back of your cabinets or pantry, and then rearrange shelves by product.

In the garage, reorganize a cluttered workbench or overcrowded storage cabinet to store items safely. In the bathroom, dispose of expired medications. Corral scattered supplies such as bandages and pain reliever into a first-aid kit.

• Replace slippery rugs. According to the National Safety Council, falls are the second-leading cause of accidental deaths at home. Remove that danger by replacing worn area rugs. Add a non-slip pad under each rug to give it a good grip. A new rug can give a room a new look, too.

• Freshen the kitchen. Give it a quick and inexpensive update with a fresh coat of paint. Refresh cabinet doors with new hardware. Replace a worn faucet or stained sink. Add a pretty tile backsplash.

• Clean your dryer vent. If your clothes are taking longer than usual to dry, this could be a sign that it's time to clean the vent. Proper maintenance also is key to preventing dryer fires. Always clean the lint trap after each dryer run. Regularly inspect the exhaust vent and clean out the built-up lint and debris.

For more ideas, click on


It's starting to feel a lot like spring – which means it's time to fertilize:

• Feed fruit trees before flowers open with a fertilizer specifically labeled for fruit trees.

• Feed other mature trees and shrubs as spring growth appears.

• Feed strawberries and asparagus.

• Feed spring-blooming plants and established perennials.

• Check for aphids on new growth. Knock them off with a strong spray of water or a squirt of insecticidal soap.

• Look out for snails and slugs. Hand-pick them off plants an hour after nightfall.

• In the vegetable garden, plant seed for beets, carrots, celeriac, celery, collards, endive, fennel, jicama, kale, leaf lettuce, mustard, peas, potatoes, radish, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips.

• In the greenhouse or indoors, start seed for summer and winter squash, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. They'll be ready to transplant in late April or May.

• For spring and summer flowers, plant seed for aster, cornflower, cosmos, larkspur, nasturtium, nicotiana, periwinkle, portulaca, rudbeckia, salvia, snapdragon, verbena and zinnia.

– Debbie Arrington

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