Under the right conditions, fruits and vegetables can thrive in the desert. Here are a few things to consider if you want your vegetable garden to flourish in a hot, arid environment.
Test the soil for nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Although it depends on what you’re growing, vegetables generally require a significant amount of each nutrient. You may also need to adjust the pH level since arid soil tends to be very alkaline.
Most vegetables need six to eight hours of sunlight a day to thrive. However, many desert climates get more, especially during the summer. To avoid scorching the leaves of your plants, make sure to provide your garden with plenty of shade.
In a desert climate, plants need to be watered at least twice a day to prevent them from drying out. Alternatively, you can set up an inexpensive drip irrigation system.
If you’re interested in cultivating a garden that requires minimal irrigation, you can still grow food. The prickly pear cactus, for example, is entirely edible. Once the spines are removed, you can cut the pads into strips and add them to a salad or cook them with other vegetables. The plant also produces a red-fleshed fruit that’s considered a delicacy.
What to grow
Here are a few food-producing plants that can thrive in the desert:
• String beans
• Hot peppers
How to repair potholes in an asphalt driveway
Potholes in your asphalt driveway can damage your car’s tires and suspension and become a tripping hazard. Fortunately, you can repair them on your own in a few easy steps.
• Start by cleaning out any debris, such as rocks, pebbles, and leaves from inside the pothole using a shovel or stiff-bristle broom. You can also use a hose or pressure washer to remove any stubborn dirt. Once the area is clean, make sure the area is completely dry before proceeding with any repairs.
• Measure the depth and length of the pothole to determine how much asphalt filler you need. If the pothole is more than four inches deep, fill the base of the hole with clay, crushed concrete or limestone for added strength.
• Once you’ve mixed the correct amount of asphalt filler, pour it into the pothole to about one-and-a-half inches above the rest of the driveway.
• Next, pack down the asphalt filler using a hand tamper until it’s level with the rest of the driveway. Make sure the asphalt is very firmly packed to ensure it doesn’t sink when a vehicle drives over it.
If your driveway has several deep potholes or cracks, it may be best to call in a professional to assess the damage and proceed with any necessary repairs.
4 must-have features for the ultimate dream kitchen
Are you updating your kitchen? If so, here are four fabulous features you may want to consider installing.
1. Pot filler
A pot filler is a swing-out faucet on a long, jointed arm that’s generally mounted over the stove. Pot fillers are extremely convenient and prevent you from having to lug heavy, water-filled pots from the sink to the stove.
2. Farmhouse sink
With their white, fireclay basins and tall, stainless-steel faucets, modern farmhouse sinks aren’t only stylish; they’re also wider and deeper than standard kitchen sinks. This helps make cooking and cleaning a breeze.
3. Double oven
Double ovens provide extra cooking space, so you have the flexibility to whip up multiple dishes simultaneously. They’re especially convenient if you do a lot of entertaining.
4. Built-in refrigerator
If you want your kitchen to have a streamlined and uniform profile, a built-in refrigerator is a way to go. Built-in refrigerators sit flush with the rest of the kitchen cabinetry in the space and offer an upmarket appearance.
If you’re designing your dream kitchen, keep in mind, you don’t have to do it alone. Consider reaching out to a home designer or general contractor in your area for help.
A buyer’s guide to washers and dryers
Are you in the market for a washer and dryer? Here are some things to keep in mind as you shop for your new appliances.
Measure how much space you have to accommodate a washer and dryer. Keep in mind that you need to leave room behind both appliances for plumbing and ventilation. You should also factor in how many people will use the machines.
Top-load washing machines with agitators are often the most affordable option, but they tend to be louder, less efficient, and hasher on clothes than high-efficiency top-loaders. Alternatively, you can opt for a front-load washer, which uses a tumbling method to clean clothes. This causes less wear on fabrics and removes more water for quicker drying.
Dryers only come in front-load configurations. If you want to save space, buy front-load appliances with front-mounted display panels so you can stack them.
Most new washers and dryers come with a variety of energy-saving features such as automatic temperature control and moisture sensors. To make sure your appliances are energy efficient, be sure to look for the Energy Star certificate.
To find the right washing machine and dryer for your home, visit the appliance stores in your area.
Rock out with headphones that can fit over hearing aids
It’s your music. It’s always going to be your music. And you want to rock on.
Two problems. You don’t want to blast the neighbors (very thoughtful) and you wear hearing aids.
Well, here’s something to celebrate. You can wear headphones over hearing aids and it’s not going to further injure your hearing (when used properly).
According to Consumer Reports, audiologists advise keeping headphone use to 80 percent of maximum volume for no more than 90 minutes per day.
Overexposure to loud sounds is the top cause of hearing loss, but it won’t hurt to check with your doctor.
Choosing the right headphone is key.
For Behind-the-Ear hearing aids and Receiver-in-Canal aids, over-the-ear style headphones are an option. The headphone speakers should be at least one centimeter or more from the aid microphone to avoid feedback.
Noise-canceling headphones are best for people who have a harder time hearing over background noise.
Consumer Reports recommends the Bose QuietComfort35, a pricy headphone at $330 that functions using Bluetooth and an audio cable. These deluxe headphones can wirelessly connect to your phone or to a larger stereo system with the cable.
Cheaper is the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x for $150 and the Monoprice HiFi DJ-Style Pro — a very modest $15.
These models would work with In The Canal hearing aids, too. But ITC users can also use on-ear models such as Plantonics BackBeat Sense.
For people who, like President Bill Clinton, wear Completely-in-Canal aids, headphones that are either on-ear or over-ear work. Even some earphones that work inside the ear canal could work.
Try Bose SoundTrue Ultra ($80), a wireless earphone that is both comfortable and delivers good sound.
One good rule is to try out the devices at a store, if possible.
How to choose the right type of wood stain for your project
A fresh coat of stain can breathe new life into wood furniture and flooring. Here’s an overview of the three most common types of stains.
• Oil-based stains are inexpensive, readily available, and easy to use. They’re ideal for large projects because they dry slowly and create a uniform appearance. Oil-based stains penetrate deeply, which provides rich color and a durable finish that often doesn’t require multiple coats.
• Water-based stains are mold and mildew resistant, making them suitable for moisture-prone areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. They dry very quickly, which makes them best suited for small projects. The biggest downside is that they don’t penetrate wood as deeply as oil-based stains, which results in less saturated colors.
• Gel-based stains are often described as a cross between stain and paint. They require less preparation than other products as you don’t need to completely sand the wood’s surface to get a good result. In addition, since gel-based stains coat the surface of the wood instead of penetrating it, they’re especially suitable for woods like birch, cherry, maple, and pine.
If you need help choosing the right stain for your project, speak to the sales staff at your local hardware store.
How to choose the perfect wedding dress
Choosing a wedding dress can be both exciting and nerve-racking. To help you create the look of your dreams, here are a few tips.
Make a plan
Before you try on a single gown, make a list of the criteria you’re looking for in a wedding dress. Do you want a certain cut, style, or length? Do you want to show off your shoulders or hourglass figure? Establishing some criteria will allow you to narrow down the choices.
In addition to your list of criteria, bring along pictures of dresses to show to the bridal store consultant. They can use the information you provide to quickly find several different gowns for you to try.
Try different styles
After the first fitting, you may realize that the dresses that look good in pictures aren’t the right fit for your figure. Don’t worry, your consultant can suggest other styles until you find the dress of your dreams.
Additionally, keep in mind that all wedding dresses need to be altered. Therefore, don’t be dissuaded if a dress is too long, short, or loose.
Whether you decide to buy or rent a wedding dress, choose the one that makes you feel most beautiful. For inspiration, visit your local bridal stores.
Want a second opinion? Bring along someone you trust who knows your style and can give you honest feedback.