Randy Pench / Sacramento Bee file

Home and garden checklist

Published: Saturday, Apr. 20, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6CALIFORNIA LIFE


Are you feeling greener? Monday is Earth Day, an annual celebration of conservation and a reminder that, with a little effort, we all can be Mother Nature's best friend.

Recycling has become second nature to many families.

Why recycle? Here are some reasons:

According to a list of "Recycling Myths" compiled by Harvard University, it takes 95 percent less energy to recycle aluminum than it does to make it from raw materials. Creating products from recycled steel uses 60 percent less energy.

Likewise, using recycled newsprint to create more newspapers (such as The Bee) saves 40 percent of energy costs. Recycled plastics saves 70 percent and recycled glass, 40 percent.

Not only does recycling use less energy, it saves landfill space. Recycling also helps wildlife by reducing habitat destruction and soil erosion associated with logging and mining for virgin materials.

Speaking of newsprint, here are some ways to reuse this newspaper:

• Window and mirror cleaning: Try your favorite glass cleaner and newspaper instead of a roll of paper towels.

• Surface cleaning: Sprinkled with white vinegar mixed with water, newsprint can tackle many household jobs, from glass to floors.

• Spill cleaning: Newspaper absorbs as well as paper towels. (But don't use it on a light-colored rug.)

• Seed germinating: Use damp sheets of newsprint to keep seeds moist.

• Deodorizing the refrigerator: Newsprint absorbs smells. Line a shelf in the fridge with newspaper and leave overnight; the odor should be gone in the morning. A wadded-up ball of newsprint will absorb odors out of plastic containers, too.

• Mulching the garden: Around plants, use several sheets of newsprint (preferably with mostly black-and-white print and photos), then top with wood chips or compost to keep down weeds.


As April warms, gardening chores beckon. When is the soil warm enough to plant summer vegetables and flowers? Try the old "sit" test. If you can sit five minutes in shorts on bare ground, the soil is warm enough to start planting for summer.

Did your soil pass the test? In the vegetable garden, plant seeds for lima and snap beans, beets, carrots, celery, chard, cucumbers, endive, fennel, jicama, melons, mustard, okra, potatoes, radish, soybeans, spinach, summer and winter squash, turnips and watermelon.

Start to set out tomatoes as ground temperatures warm. Tomatoes need nights above 50 degrees. Wait on peppers and eggplants until early May; they like it hotter.

Plant summer bulbs including dahlias, lilies and gladioluses.

Weed, weed, weed. Pull them out before they flower.

– Debbie Arrington

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