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The Free Press

Gardening wisdom: digging up some myths Four auto maintenance mistakes to avoid this spring Buyer’s guide to windows AND MORE!

Thursday, April 12, 2018 Page B11


Page 12 Thursday, April 12, 2018

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Perfect your perennial garden this spring Repairing your garden after an extreme winter can take some time and effort. But consistency is key to keeping your blooms fresh and full year after year. Mark Beaty, live goods merchant at The Home Depot Canada, shares tips on how to prepare your garden and help your perennials thrive. Preliminary cleanup.

Fluctuating temperatures, frost and salt can all damage your garden throughout the winter, so you want to act quickly to help your plants recover. Once the ground has thawed, clean up any fallen braches, twigs and debris from flowerbeds. Remove any frost-burned leaves and, on a warmer day, soak the soil in your garden with a hose or sprinkler to help flush the salt and any lasting winter residue. Picking your plants.

Perennials can be planted as soon as the ground is workable. Each variety has a distinct blooming period lasting several weeks, so choose plants with different bloom times to ensure continuous colour. While regional assortment varies, some of our most popular perennials are hostas (easy to grow and perfect for shaded gardens), lavender, daylilies (great for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies), dianthus, iris and phlox (with a beautiful fresh fragrance). Maintaining your perennials.

In the first few weeks, newly planted perennials require daily watering to thrive. Keep soil moist to one inch below the surface by watering every day before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. throughout the summer. Prune older, dried flowers to encourage new growth, and at the end of the season, cut your perennials back to 6 to 12” above the soil level. This will help encourage growth the following season. www.newscanada.com

How should I trim my cedar hedge? If you want to enjoy the privacy provided by your magnificent cedar hedge for years to come, you need to know how to trim it. Here are a few tips. The technique Your hedge doesn’t have the ability to regenerate itself. If you cut the old wood off, you’ll have to live with a hedge that has holes or dead sections in it. So only cut off new growth, which is a lighter shade of green, and no more than one-third or half of it at a time. The shape Your hedge should be wider at the base than at the top to ensure its lower section receives enough sunlight. In northerly locales, this trapezoid-like shape also helps cedars to support the weight of the snow. The right time Trim your hedge once every summer. Wait until the end of June — the regrowth will be in clear view, making your job much easier. For more tips, visit a garden centre or plant nursery near you.

Test your gardening smarts with this quick quiz. True or false? 1. After planting asparagus, you have to wait at least two years before harvesting it for the first time. 2. It isn’t a good idea to use mulch in your vegetable patch. 3. Radish tops are poisonous. 4. Coffee grounds can be used to fertilize your vegetable garden. 5. Salicorne, or sea asparagus, plants should be watered with salt water. 6. The peanut is a legume. Answers 1. True. It’s worth it, though: after the initial wait,

you’ll be able to harvest your asparagus for more than a decade. 2. False. Gardening mulch has a slew of benefits, such as enriching the soil, preventing dryness and keeping weeds at bay. 3. False. They’re edible, in fact! Incorporate them in your salads, soups or pesto. Similarly, carrot, celery, beet and broccoli tops are also delicious. 4. True. Coffee grounds contain potassium, magnesium and nitrogen, which enrich soil and help plant germination and growth. 5. True. Salicorn is a wild annual plant that grows near the sea. Its stems can be enjoyed raw or cooked. 6. True. The peanut plant is grown for its fruits, which grow underground; their seeds are the edible part.

Gardening wisdom: digging up some myths Gardeners have 1,001 tricks up their sleeves when it comes to boosting their harvest. Some of those techniques are proven, but others are simply the product of urban legends. Here are three common misconceptions, debunked. 1. Soap vs. insects Many amateur gardeners will tell you that mixing dish soap and water creates a “green” insecticide. Not true! Most dish soaps contain antibacterial, stabilizing and chemical compounds that can be toxic to ve­ getation. They may destroy aphids and beetles, but they can also kill your plants. Use a detergent-free, biodegradable insecticidal soap instead. 2. Rhubarb vs. compost Some gardeners are convinced that rhubarb leaves and compost don’t mix. They’re wrong. Rhubarb leaves are indeed

poisonous because they contain oxalic acid, but this natural compound degrades quickly. Don’t hesitate to use rhubarb leaves to enrich your compost — their high acidity is great for restoring balance to chalky soils and limestone. 3. Beer vs. slugs Lots of gardeners try to trap slugs by enticing them with beer. According to popular belief, because slugs are attracted to malt, they’ll be unable to avoid drowning in the beer trap. However, this isn’t entirely true. If you leave some beer out in a container, the slugs will indeed converge next to it, but a majority won’t drown. As a result, you’ll have attracted them, and they’ll probably chow down on your garden all the same.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s perfectly fine to use rhubarb leaves in compost.


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Thursday, April 12, 2018 Page 13

Backyard Mechanical We Do It All

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Want to ask a question about a car problem or book an appointment? Check us out at www.backyardmechanical.com or call us at 250-423-6389 • 250-423-1436 or visit us at #36 Shadow Road, Fernie

We would like to thank all of our regular customers for their continued patronage and we also welcome all new customers.


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Why is it important to check your fluids come spring? Lubricant, coolant, cleaner — there are various fluids in your car that play several important roles when it comes to your engine’s health. And since the mechanical components of your car are under heavy strain throughout the winter months, it’s important to check your oil and other fluid levels when the weather lightens up in order maintain their effectiveness. Motor oil Motor oil is subject to significant temperature variations during the cold season. These changes are responsible for the formation of moisture, which reduces the effectiveness of the oil’s lubricating properties. That’s why it’s important to drain your fluids every spring, even if you don’t drive much during the winter. Alternatively, if you use motor oil designed to withstand extreme cold, come spring, it will need to be replaced with one that’s more suitable for summer weather. Other fluids During the summer, coolant prevents your engine from overheating. So it’s important to check on it before the summer heat wave finally hits. To preserve the mechanical parts of your car for as long

as possible, your brake and power steering fluids have to be carefully maintained — your mechanic will make sure they stay at the appropriate levels so that your car continues to work at peak performance. Last but not least, take a second to check your windshield wiper fluid: have you filled it since the last snowstorm? Don’t wait until you need it to find out!

During the winter, motor oil undergoes temperature variations that foster moisture formation and reduce its effectiveness. Change it in the spring!

Did you know? To prevent serious injuries, avoid leaving loose objects on your car’s dashboard or seats — in case of impact, a box of tissues can become a 50-pound dead weight.

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Four auto maintenance mistakes to avoid this spring There’s no getting around it: if you want your car to run smoothly for years to come, you need to perform some basic upkeep. Start this spring off on the right foot by avoiding these maintenance faux pas. 1. Changing your tires at the wrong time. Changing your tires as soon as the snow starts to melt is a risky bet. Play it safe and wait until snowstorm warnings wind down and the temperature outside climbs above 7 °C. Anything lower, and the rubber on your summer tires will stiffen and lose traction. It’s an equally bad idea to keep your winter tires on year-round. Not only are snow tires less efficient than summer models, but you’ll also wear them out twice as fast if you don’t make the switch. 2. Neglecting spring tune-ups. Over the winter, the fluids that keep your car running smoothly are put to the test. It’s important to check their levels come spring and to refill as needed. Don’t forget to take a peek beneath your car as well; rough winter roads often take a toll on your vehicle’s underbelly. 3. Putting off spring cleaning. There’s more to a good

spring cleaning than a shiny, sleek car. Dirt and salt accumulated over the winter can damage the paint and cause rust to form, so get scrubbing without delay. 4. Lugging around winter gear. Bags of sand or salt, shovels, traction aids and ski racks all increase the weight and wind resistance of your car, which drives up fuel consumption. Still not eager to wash your car this spring? Get ready for rust. You’ve been warned!

Did you know? That characteristic new car smell is a mix of chemicals whose emissions may cause headaches and fatigue. It’s recommended that you roll down the windows during the first few months of driving.

Did you know?

Did you know?

The mirrors on large trucks create blind spots that can be up to 13 feet long — more than enough to hide a car. When you pass a truck, be sure to make eye contact with the driver through the mirror to avoid an accident.

The speed rating indicated on the side of a tire refers to the maximum speed that the tire can safely withstand. Be sure to buy tires with the same speed rating as the original set or higher. Otherwise, your vehicle’s handling and braking could be affected.

Did you know? If you can’t avoid a pothole, you don’t always have to brake suddenly: when your tire has the time to hit the bottom of the hole, the impact is far more severe. This will make the potential damage worse than if you simply allowed your car to roll over it.

Did you know? In addition to contributing to the premature wear of your tires, inadequate pressure and poor wheel alignment will significantly raise your fuel consumption.


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Buyer’s guide to windows Buying new windows is a big investment. Here’s what you need to know to make the right choice. ENERGY EFFICIENCY Make sure you choose windows that’ll provide you with good energy efficiency, such as Energy Star certified models. Consider the U-factor (a measure of heat loss), watertightness and wind resistance of each model. TYPE There are four main types of window: 1. Casement windows open with a crank and are highly weatherproof. 2. Sash windows, slightly less weatherproof than casement windows, comprise two sections that slide up and down. 3. Awning windows pivot from top to bottom, meaning they can be opened even if it’s raining out. 4. Sliding windows comprise two panels that open laterally. This is the most affordable option, but also the least watertight. Your choice of model will depend on the style of your property as well as municipal regulations (some places require that a certain type of window be used for a building’s façade, for instance). FRAME Window frames, which should match the architecture of your home, are available in

different materials: • Wood is aesthetically pleasing and eco-friendly, but requires quite a bit of upkeep and is vulnerable to insects, weather and moisture. • Aluminum window frames are robust, durable and low-maintenance, but require a costly thermal break to counter their conductivity. • Fibreglass, on the higher end of the price scale, is light, durable, easy to maintain and weather resistant. • PVC is the most common material for window frames. It’s resistant to moisture and corrosion and requires very little maintenance. However, it must be relatively thick in order to withstand temperature variations, leaving less room for the glass pane. • Hybrid window frames combine two materials to reap the benefits of each (e.g. PVC for the interior frame and aluminum for the exterior frame). GLASS Glass used in North American windows is typically double-paned, meaning it contains an air pocket that improves insulation, or even triple-paned for further effectiveness. Gases with superior insulating properties such as argon or krypton may be used instead of air. The glass can also be covered in a low-emissivity (Low-E) metallic film

6 easy spring cleaning projects Warmer days are here and what better way to spend them than … cleaning? Although enjoying the great outdoors is probably high on many a to-do list come spring, by the end of winter, homes can probably do with a much-needed overhaul. Owners and renters can rely on temperate days to throw open the windows and engage in some easy spring-cleaning projects. The earlier one begins spring cleaning, the more quickly he or she will be able to head outside and bask in the warm spring sun. Spring cleaning tasks can be stretched out across several days to make the jobs more manageable. While certain spring cleaning tasks can be time-consuming, many projects can be started and completed in 30 minutes or less. 1. Look up Start by looking up at ceilings, molding and ceiling fans. Chances are strong that some cobwebs and dust have formed in these areas. Always begin cleaning by working from the top downward so you don’t have to clean any tables countertops or floors twice. Static-charged dusting cloths work well to catch and contain dust. Use a pillowcase on ceiling fan blades to clear the dust and keep it from cascading to the floor. 2. Blinds and curtains Heavy window treatments can be removed and replaced with more gauzy fabrics. This lets in more light and warmth from the sun. Many curtains can be freshened up right in the laundry, but blinds may require a bit more effort. If the blinds can be snapped out of the brackets, place them in a tub full of vinegar, dish soap and water. Allow them to soak and then rinse with the shower nozzle. Stationary blinds can be cleaned with using an old sock over your hand dipped in a vinegar-and-water solution. 3. Change linens Remove and launder bed linens. While the

linens are in the wash, thoroughly dust all furniture and vacuum the carpets. Move furniture so you can reach areas where dust gathers, such as under the bed or dresser. 4. Grout cleaner Grade school science lessons can be put to use as you look to remove stubborn dirt. Combining baking soda and vinegar produces a reaction that causes the formation of gassy bubbles. These bubbles can help to break up dirt that clings to crevices, such as grout between tiles. Some light scrubbing and then subsequent rinsing can rid surfaces of hard-to-remove dirt. 5. Vacuum vent intakes Many houses are heated by forced-air systems. The air intake vents can become clogged with dust and other debris. Vacuum these vents so that air flow is not impeded. Let the heat run for a few minutes to catch any small particles that become dislodged, and then change the furnace filter. 6. Clean out the refrigerator Now is a great time to remove any of those mystery containers growing fuzzy experiments in the back of the refrigerator. Take the food out of the refrigerator and use a food-safe cleaner to scour the shelves and inside of crisper drawers. Spring cleaning is a necessary task, but it doesn’t have to be a headache. Break up the work into manageable chunks of time, and projects won’t feel like such a hassle.

Thursday, April 12, 2018 Page 15

that reduces heat loss. SPACER AND WEATHERSTRIPPING The spacer contours the glass and ensures that it’s watertight. Choose a non-metallic spacer to minimize condensation. As for weatherstripping, it should be made of a material that’s durable and able to

withstand temperature variations — rubber is usually a safe choice. Finally, even the best windows won’t perform well if they’re poorly installed — call in the professionals to benefit from quality workmanship.

Canada is divided into four climate zones that are used to determine the ideal U-factor and energy efficiency for windows in any given location. To make the right choice, visit www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca to find out which zone you’re in.

Prepare HVAC systems for warmer days ahead The arrival of a new season can be an exciting time. Homeowners may have renewed vigor to start home renovation projects or even tackle some cleaning and organization tasks. Before the weather starts to warm up too much, homeowners may want to evaluate their home cooling needs and ensure that all equipment is in good working order. Spring air conditioning inspections and tuneups are essential steps in system performance. Homeowners should not take for granted that a system that performed optimally last year will do so this year when temperatures climb. Various factors, including weather damage, dust and grime, mechanical wear and tear, and even rodent or insect infestations, can compromise HVAC systems. Since HVAC systems have so many moving parts, a thorough inspection of such systems can save headaches and money down the road. According to Heating Ontario, the extreme weather conditions that come along with fall and winter can be especially taxing on homes and the systems that keep them comfortable. During a spring visit, an HVAC technician will perform maintenance on the air conditioner and make sure it is ready for the heat of summertime. This maintenance may include cleaning the unit, checking controls, calibrating the thermostat, lubricating moving parts, checking refrigerant levels, tightening electrical connections, and clearing any clogs. Homeowners are urged to also change the filter at the start of the cooling season. Correcting any issues in the HVAC system well in advance of the arrival of warm weather can help ensure comfort when air conditioning is needed. As an added advantage, homeowners should install programmable thermostats if they do not already have them to keep cooling as cost- and energy-efficient as possible.

Hourglass Window Cleaning Don’t let dirty windows be a pane in the glass! hourglasswindowsfernie@gmail.com | 250-859-0700 | www.hourglasswindowcleaning.com


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Special Features - Leap into Spring 2018  

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Special Features - Leap into Spring 2018  

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