Starting a Vegetable Garden from Kitchen Scraps

If you haven’t ventured into vegetable gardening yet, a fun way to start is by growing vegetables you’ve already purchased from the store by using their scraps to start new plants. Rather than throwing away or composting scraps from your vegetables, save them and watch the miracle of regrowth right before your eyes! Here are a few vegetables you can get started with, listed in order from easiest to most difficult.

Green Onion, Leeks and Fennel:

These three are the easiest vegetables to have a continuous supply always ready to use in your kitchen. Simply place the root end in a glass of water with the cut end out of the water. New growth will spring forth and can be trimmed off as needed.

Potatoes:

This is the classic grade-school project that can be fun as an adult as well! Cut the potatoes into pieces and keep in water until sprouts develop. They can then be planted in soil in a container.

Cabbage and Bok Choy:

You can either start the new growth by placing the root end in water or very damp soil. Sometimes soil works better with cabbage.

Garlic:

Place a garlic clove, pointed tip side up, in a container and cover with soil. Choose the largest clove from the bulb you have on hand. Place in a sunny spot in your home. As the greens start sprouting, trim them back, so as the new bulb is forming more nutrients will be channeled into the bulb.

Ginger:

Ginger is easy to regrow but takes more time for the new growth to mature—up to several months. Simply place a cut up piece of ginger in soil and keep in a sunny, indirectly lit, spot. After the ginger rhizome is large enough, pull from the soil, use in your recipes and save a piece to replant.

Avocado:

By far the most challenging to regrow, avocados can be a fun long term experiment. The easy part is getting the pit to sprout by suspending it with toothpicks over a cup of water. The challenging part is maintaining its growth and nurturing it until it’s ready to plant into the ground. It can take anywhere from 5 to 13 years for the tree to grow fruit and some trees never do!

We hope you enjoy starting your own indoor experimental garden from the produce of your choice! Growing plants in the home have many positive effects on our well-being and we think growing something you can eat pays off even more!

 

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Protect Your Furniture From Your Pets

Our beloved pets can be one of the greatest sources of joy in our lives. Unfortunately, they can also be some of the most destructive when it comes to our furniture! We all know that even the best behaved pets can have their moments. Luckily there are a few things you can do to try and prevent our furry friends from cutting the life of your furniture short.

 

First things first—try and groom your pet regularly. By brushing your pet regularly you will prevent the inevitable build up of their fur on every surface. You can also avoid unpleasant odors by being sure to give your dog a wash every month to keep their coat clean. Generally, our feline friends do not required a bath. When you groom your pets it is also a good idea to keep up with their claws. By maintaining a properly trimmed nail you can avoid some of the damage that might happen down the line. Be sure that you use the proper equipment for your pet and do not cut them too short. If you are unsure, it is best to consult your vet before trying this yourself.

 

Next, you will want to be sure to provide your pet with the proper outlets for the scratching and chewing. It is in their natures to engage in these activities so the better you prepare for this, the better protected your furniture will be. If you have cats, try to make sure you provide them with scratching posts that they can use to “scratch” their itch. If you have dogs, be sure to provide them with plenty of toys and bones to chew on. By using these items with your pet and showing them they can scratch and chew all they want on these, they will eventually learn where to go to vent their needs.

 

Finally, if you have any valuables or breakables that you are worried about, be sure to display them out of reach of your pets. This can be trickier with cats who love to climb and are typically fearless when it comes to doing so. Use your discretion, and when appropriate it may be that you have to put that item away so your cat doesn’t have a chance at getting to it.

 

Following these rules will generally help aid you in your quest to protect your furniture from your beloved pets. Keep in mind accidents happen, but by following these rules you can at least try to mitigate the worst of it.  

 

Levi’s 4 Floors knows that pets are a large part of our lives.  Above we have given several ideas for protecting a portion of your home so that you and your pets can live together more peacefully.  In addition, check out our Pet Guard Plus installation service package.  Keep your home in the best shape possible! 

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Naturally Repel Mosquitos

Mosquitos are a pesky bug that can ruin a wonderful day outdoors.  Deciding on the best product to protect yourself and your children from mosquito bites may feel overwhelming. But what if you need a mosquito repellant when you don’t have the time to get to the store?  Below is an idea that can help with products you may have already in your home. 

This recipe is easy to make and safe to use on children. Children are especially sensitive to harsh chemicals. It is in their best interest to use an organic mixture to repel mosquitos.

What You Will Need:

A small spray bottle

2 oz. Distilled or spring water

20 drops of lavender essential oil

2 oz. witch hazel

Directions:

In the spray bottle add contents. Before each use, shake well. Spray directly on skin and clothing. Use the spray as needed.

Other tips for repelling mosquitos:

To keep mosquitos at bay, plant lavender and cat nip around the yard. These pests do not like the scent of either plant, but they are pleasant for humans!

Tiki torches are great for backyard ambiance. Buy the citronella fuel to further repel mosquitos.

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Happy Fourth of July!

May you have a wonderful Fourth of July! 

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Decorating Your Home for the 4th of July

Decorating your home for the Fourth is easy! Gather up things that are red, white and blue!

Start with a flower display of white daisies. Get three glass containers and fill them half way with water. Add a few drops of red food coloring to one container. Add a few drops of blue food coloring to another. Leave one container’s water plain and fill with freshly cut white daisies. Voila you have patriotic water for a patriotic flower arrangement!

With the help of Mod Podge, a small American flag and a jar, can easily be made into a festive luminary. Using a small foam paint brush, brush on a layer of Mod Podge to the back of the flag. Wrap the flag around the jar. Allow the flag to dry and adhere to the jar. Next brush on a layer of Mod Podge to the front of the flag. This will seal the flag to the glass jar. Place a tea light in the jar and display! Place luminaries along entrance steps to illuminate the way in for guests. The luminaries can be placed on table tops or anywhere candle light can be used.

Start with red, white and blue sand. Fill the tops of potted plants with the colorful sand. This adds a subtle yet interesting effect. You can even get creative and make designs if you like. To keep it simple just keep the color of the sand the same for each pot.

If you have string lights hanging outdoors, consider changing the bulbs out with red, clear and blue light bulbs. This will make a beautiful festive gleam while watching fireworks and enjoying the holiday evening!

The excitement and mood of this wonderful holiday doesn’t need to wait until the fireworks begin.  With these ideas, your guests are sure enjoy the extra effort of these decorations at your festivities!

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How to Properly Harvest Lettuce

Growing your own lettuce is a great way to eat a fresh salad anytime, all throughout the season. It is a common misconception that once the lettuce is ready to harvest, you dig up the plant and that is the end. People are under this impression because when you buy the plant at the grocery store, you typically are buying the whole head of lettuce; including the base. This plant is quick to come back and provide you with more lettuce all throughout the season. Find out how to properly harvest this leafy vegetable.

Scissors are the best tool to use for this. Garden pruning shears are too short to get the job done. The goal is to make a clean cut all the way through the diameter of the plant. Gather the plant together with your free hand, so it is easy to make one simple cut to harvest the entire plant. Using your clean, sharp scissors decide where you are going to cut. The length should be about 2 inches from the base of the plant, at the dirt.

Place the leaves in a colander or strainer and rinse it off at least three times. Do not use anything to clean the lettuce, except water. Place wet leaves on a clean dry paper towel so they can dry out. Let the leaves dry for about an hour or use a spinning produce dryer.

To store the produce, use a relatively large plastic container that has a flat bottom and a lid that fits. Add a paper towel to the bottom of the container. Then lay several pieces of lettuce on the towel. Then add another paper towel and lay more lettuce down. Continue to do this until the container is filled to the top. Careful not to cram too much in the container. You do not want to have pressure pushing down on the lettuce leaves. The paper towels absorb any extra water in the plant and keep the produce fresher for a longer period of time.

This technique can be used for any type of lettuce, along with most types of leafy vegetables.  Using this method of harvest and storage, you should have plenty of lettuce all summer long.

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Today We Remember

Today is a day of remembrance and one of thanks.  We would like to thank all of the service men and women who have given everything for our country.  Thank you. 

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Which Space is More Successful

These two images both portray a contemporary living room. However one is more successful than the other. Find out which space works the best and why.

In image #1, the brown space feels cold, despite  having a fireplace. The dark brown paint can be considered warm, but in this application it is not inviting. Between the leather sofa sitting on the shiny hard surface floor and a glass accent table, the space feels cold. A warm wood floor or carpet could solve this. In image #2, the gray space feels warmer. Gray is usually considered a cooler color.  The reason image #1 feels less inviting than image #2 is because there is a harsh contrast, between the dark brown and the clean white. It is true that contrast is needed in any space. However this can be taken overboard. The gray living room in image #2 works because the subtle gray is accented with a warm and sunny yellow.

In image #2 the tree and fruit add a natural element to the area and bring in warmth and life. Image #1 has a palm, but the palm is not full enough to stand out against the dark brown. A plant with fuller leaves would work better in image #1.

The rug in image #1 is not wide enough for the space. The rug in image #2 is wider, yet not quite wide as it should be. If the rug in image #2 was as wide as the sofa, the space would look more balanced. If the rug was as wide as the fireplace in image #1, the space would gain more warmth and balance.

Proportions are important in any room. The proportions are a little off in image #1. The one lamp is tiny and almost invisible. Such a large wall needs artwork. Because the lack of anything on the dark wall, the area feels heavy on the bottom and unbalanced.

An important point to remember: when decorating a space, make sure that you incorporate a variety of textiles and elements to make the room a success. Keep in mind where the eye is drawn to and make sure the space is balanced and the furnishings are proportionate.

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Keep Flower Arrangements Fresh Longer

Fresh floral arrangements bring a beauty into your home that is hard to replicate any other way.  Their scent is a wonderful addition to your home, although only if they stay fresh.  Find out how to keep your arrangement looking fresh for much longer.

Select a clean vase and fill it up slightly less than halfway with cool water. Add the flower food that typically comes with the flowers you purchase. Cut the stems before adding the flowers to the watered vase. Using scissors, cut the bottom of the stalk diagonally rather than simply cutting the stalk straight across. This provides the flower with more surface area to use when drinking in water. It is important to cut the stem because the ends may have dried out or hardened with time, making it hard for the plant to take in water and nutrients.

Keep the water clean. Leaves or any part of the flower should not be under the water. Make sure to remove any leaves or buds that have fallen into the water. This will cause the water to become polluted and therefore make the arrangement wilt much faster. It helps to change the water completely every day or two. Keeping the water clean is a key element to keeping the arrangement looking fresh for longer.

Place a finished arrangement in an area that stays rather cool. Keep the arrangement out of direct sunlight. Also make sure the flowers are not placed right in the path of an air supply vent.

Add a crushed aspirin tablet to the water. This will help keep the flowers from ageing as fast. Add a couple drops of alcohol or white vinegar to keep the water clean. Using one of these two agents keeps mold and bacteria from growing in the water. Keeping the water clean and keeping organic plant matter out is the key to the longevity of an arrangement. Make sure the flowers have plenty of clean water to drink by checking on the arrangement daily!

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Happy Mother’s Day

May this be a very special day for all of the very special women in our lives.  Happy Mother’s day!

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