Got creepy crawly insects like ants, centipedes, cockroaches, silverfish or bedbugs trying to take over your home or garden? Don’t call an exterminator quite yet. I’m confident this is a problem you can fix yourself—cheaper and faster!

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If you want to treat your home for insects, but you don’t want to poison yourself, your pets or the earth, your very best option is to use food grade Diatomaceous Earth to get rid of centipedes, bed bugs, ants, silverfish, cockroaches, fleas and all other household creepy crawlies.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE), an off white talc-like powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. If you could take a look at it through a microscope you’d see that it resembles shards of glass. When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton (centipedes, bed bugs, ants, cockroaches, bedbugs and fleas do) or placed strategically so that bug crawls into it, the DE cuts into that bug’s exoskeleton, which causes it to dehydrate and die.

Here’s the most amazing thing about DE: It kills bugs but doesn’t hurt mammals. You and your pets could eat it without harm. In fact, many people add DE to their daily diet to promote good health.  Read more

DEAR MARY: Love your column! Now that it is spring, it is time to put out beautiful young plants, hoping for flowers all summer long. My problem…rabbits!  They munch my plants right down to the ground. The vegetables I put in a fenced area are safe, but the bunnies make short work of my perennials and annuals that are out in the open. Any ideas? Connie

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DEAR CONNIE: Short of fencing your entire property and then attaching chickenwire to the lower 18-inches all the way around, there are two labor-intensive tactics that seem to work pretty well: 1)Plant vegetables they hate in with the flowers to repel them: peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn and squash. Not very attractive so perhaps this will be more appealing to you and the rabbits: 2) Plant vegetables they love. Give them the beans, peas, parsley, and rosemary they crave to draw them away. Just plant this rabbit bait far from your lawn and flowers.

DEAR MARY: I know you’re a big proponent of living with cash. I’ve tried it but I really like the convenience of a debit card and am able to better manage my spending with it. The problem is I’m not earning any interest on the money in my checking account—none! Do you know of any high-interest checking accounts that would work well for a person in my situation? Maxine

DEAR MAXINE: These days, “high” interest is a relative term. Thirty-years ago that would have meant 9.00% APY or more. These days? Compared to nothing, I suppose 1.50% APY could be considered “high.” Check the current offerings for savings accounts at Ally Online Bank. Read more

I love the story author Jaroldeen Edwards tells (Things I Wish I’d Known Sooner) of the trip she took with her daughter one bleak and rainy day. She wasn’t that thrilled to drive more than two hours to see flowers some woman had planted. But her daughter was insistent. “You’re going to love this, Mom!” Tell me what mom could resist going along with that kind of enthusiasm.

They drove along the Rim of the World Highway, inching their way toward Lake Arrowhead through fog and drizzle in the San Bernardino mountains, north of Los Angeles, Calif.

By now, Jaroldeen was so agitated, she was certain she was being kidnapped by her daughter. Still not convinced this could be worth the trouble, Carolyn parked next to a small stone church and announced they would need to walk along a path, through huge, black-green evergreens and over a thick blanket of old pine needles.

Just as they turned the corner, Jaroldeen stopped dead—literally gasping in amazement. “There before me was a most incredible and glorious sight! So unexpected and unimagined.”

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From the top of the mountain, sloping down several acres across folds and valleys, between the trees and bushes, following the natural flow of the terrain, were rivers of daffodils in radiant bloom. Every color of the spectrum of yellow blazed like a carpet before them.

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Is there anything more gratifying than a beautiful garden when you just happen to be the gardener? One trip to the garden center to pick up soil amendment, weed cloth and weed killer can pretty much zap all of the joy for the expense that can represent. That’s why I love today’s tips, tricks and, back by popular demand, homemade weed killer.

But first, check out my garden—spring flowers and a few weeds I treated only yesterday.

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GARDEN VITAMINS. While you may have no use for spent coffee grounds, your garden would love them. Used coffee grounds are like mega-vitamins for the soil. They’re rich in phosphorus and magnesium—important nutrients that help plants grow. It’s easy to just sprinkle coffee grounds around the plants and work them into the soil. They’re even the right color. If you’re not much of a coffee drinker, don’t despair. Starbucks has a program called Grounds for Your Garden, where they package up their used coffee grounds in the bags that the beans originally came in and offer them to local gardeners, for free. Pre-packaged bags of Grounds for Your Garden may not be available in all stores. Check with your barista to see if used coffee grounds are available at your local Starbucks. Read more

Being a savvy consumer can mean a lot of things. It can refer to a person who knows how to get the lowest price on whatever he or she is buying. It can also mean finding the best value—the highest quality product for the most reasonable price. Or, it can refer to someone who shops ethically, according to his or her values.

photo credit: GoodEarthFarm.net

photo credit: GoodEarthFarm.net

However you define “savvy consumer,” becoming one requires research and education about the products that you buy according to your individual priorities. When it comes to shopping for food, today’s savvy consumers know where their food comes from, and, if they do things right, they save money, too.

While stories of contaminated goods permeate the news, the locally grown food movement has been gaining momentum. At the same time, the high cost of food is challenging all of us to find new ways to cut costs without sacrificing healthy eating..

Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) are popping up all over the country. Through a CSA, consumers can choose to buy shares in a local farm and then receive portions of the farm’s produce once it is harvested. In some areas, CSAs have become so popular that there are waiting lists to join.

Go local. Food that has not been genetically altered, harvested prematurely or infused with chemicals to be able to withstand a 1,000 mile or longer journey from the farm to your table tastes better. Members of CSAs tend to eat seasonally. And they eat very fresh produce, which has been proven to be much more nutritious. Read more

In 1970, John Franz, a chemist for Monsanto, discovered that the chemical glyphosate is a potent herbicide that kills just about every kind of plant material imaginable. In no time, the company gave its miracle weed killer the brand name Roundup.

Farmers, especially, went wild for Roundup. Just one problem: It was nearly impossible to kill the weeds without also killing their crops. So Monsanto sent its chemists back to work to develop glyphosate-resistant, or “Roundup ready crops” that have had their DNA altered (genetically modified or GMO) to allow them to be immune to glyphosate. Now farmers could spray with abandon and not worry about their crops.

Farmer on tractor with large sprayer to kill weeds

To say that glyphosate, Roundup, and GMO foods have become a bit controversial would be, to put it mildly. There are some who say that glyphosate causes cancer in animals, and most likely humans, too. They insist that the side effects of long-term GMO food consumption are producing serious health risks for all living things. Despite all of this controversy and outcry about issues surrounding Roundup and GMO crops, so far the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not forced Roundup off the market. It’s a hot-button issue, that’s for sure.


DON’T MISS:  7 Ways to Wage War Against Mosquitoes—and Win!


There is one provable and very compelling reason to not buy Roundup: It’s too expensive! Even if it were proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Roundup is safe as water, I still wouldn’t shell out the high price for the stuff. I kill weeds like crazy with kitchen pantry items that are really cheap and non-toxic: white vinegar, ordinary table salt, and dishwashing liquid.

Before and after  photos best way to kill weeds not Roundup

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If you’re planning a home rehab—or in the throes of that right now—just imagine how wonderful it would be if all it took to make the place like new was a spritz or two of our favorite odor-eliminating, disinfecting and cleaning spray. That’s all it took for some very lucky birds!

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photo credit: MyGardenDelights.blogspot.com

FRESH HOME. I have another use for Nok-Out. I have a gourd birdhouse and I thought it was getting too full of nesting material so I cleaned it out thinking the birds would start over the next spring building a nest in it. I was wrong. I went two years and still no bird nested. I decided to spray it with Nok-Out because maybe a bird could smell the prior resident, so to speak. I sprayed it; let it dry in the sun, hung it back up and now I have a new resident. Love your column. Kathy

Nok-Out is an amazing product, and proven safe for all things aviary! Something else amazing? EC readers get 10% off when they use code: DPL at checkout -mh

CAST IRON RESTORE. Just read your article on cast iron pans. These are better than any non-stick cookware on the market. An easier way to get rid of rust on an old cast iron pan is to fill the pan or pot with Coca-Cola and boil it. This will take the pan down to bare metal and ready to be properly seasoned. Jim Read more

Recently, a friend sent me an S.O.S. asking if I knew of any natural way to rid an apartment of fleas—a method that would not be toxic to small children.

Treating their pets and animals would be the first step, but surprisingly these folks have no animals. The truth is that flea infestations often occur simply because neighborhood cats or dogs like to lounge near their home or they have purchased an infested piece of furniture from a yard sale.

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I headed right for my collection of pest control recipes and retrieved the perfect solution for fleas. I thought you might enjoy knowing that one, plus remedies for all kinds of home and garden pests.

All-Purpose outdoor insect spray. Mix one chopped garlic clove, one chopped small onion, and one tablespoon cayenne powder with one-quart water. Allow to steep one hour, then add one tablespoon liquid dishwashing soap, like blue Dawn or Ivory liquid. This all-purpose insect spray remains potent for only one week, so use it up by spraying the exterior perimeter of the house.

Ants. Repel an ant invasion by washing countertops, cabinets and floors with equal parts water and vinegar.  Read more