Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Cleaning Gardeners’ Hands

By Reena Nerbas

Painting a Fridge

Dear Reena,

We own a white refrigerator; it has the “rough” coating on the front with some black marks that have been imbedded into the material. Cleaning doesn’t seem to do the trick; I think I have to paint it. The hardware store wasn’t very helpful and told me that nothing can be done. Do you know of any paint or finish that I could apply to it to make it look like new? Thanks, I do enjoy your column. Lynette.

Dear Lynette,

I painted appliances once and they looked great for the first few months but after a while they looked worse than before. However, that was a long time ago and so if you are intending to paint, check with a reputable paint specialist for the best paint option. I am also wondering if you have tried erasing the black marks with a rubber eraser or Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or a paste of baking soda and water or Bar Keepers Friend, or WD-40 or Goo Gone (worth a try). Whatever you choose, please test each on an inconspicuous area first.

Sow Bugs

Dear Reena,

We have sow bugs in our house (which are very common in our area). I have heard that keeping moisture out of the basement really helps but is there any other solution to get rid of them? Thank-you, Jean

Dear Jean,

As you mentioned, sow bugs are a real problem in places where moisture and humidity are high. To find out where sow bugs are entering, look near (or in) floor drains or nearby damp wood such as paneling or baseboards. Also, check underneath that cardboard box in the basement you haven’t moved in quite some time. Are you able to caulk openings and put in weather stripping wherever needed? A perimeter pesticide spray may help break the cycle for a short time but will not eliminate the problem permanently. Remember, if you don’t solve the moisture problem, the bugs will return no matter what chemicals you use. You may reduce the populations by sprinkling a small amount of diatomaceous earth, boric acid or borax and icing sugar around the house and in cracks (toxic for pets and small children). Also note that damp or wet mulch will encourage insects, especially if it is not kept below the level of the building siding or stucco. Often pest control professionals suggest keeping mulch levels low around foundations. Glue boards work quite well at catching sow bugs, but will also trap other bugs. A dehumidifier and lots of proper ventilation helps.

Breading Mixture

Dear Reena,

Other than purchasing boxes or containers of breadcrumbs, what can I use to bread meat? Nelly

Dear Nelly,

Firstly, you never need to purchase breadcrumbs! Simply save bread ends or stale bread in an open ice cream bucket. When they dry out, toss them into a food processor to make your own breadcrumbs. Other alternatives to breadcrumbs: Cornflakes, crackers, potato chips, Rice Krispie cereal, rice crackers, or crushed pork rinds.

Handy Trick!

As a professional and personal gardener, there are days where regardless of how many layers and changes of gloves I use, by the end of the day I have dirt under my nails. I wash my dishes; as opposed to using a dish washer as this often helps loosen the dirt but sometimes ….

In any event, last night I was having company and my nails were earthy and did not compliment my apparel. That said, I pulled out an old electric toothbrush I’d been using to clean those holes in the bathroom sink, changed the head, and squirted on some Dawn dish soap. A little hot water in the bowl and away I went. In less than five minutes my nails, cuticles, everything were ‘professionally’ perfect and I wasn’t self-conscious for the entire evening. Great tip for those of us not willing to be known as ‘farmers first’, unless we’re in our gardens. Charlotte

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

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