What’s Trending? Fungus Gnats, Fruit Flies, Drain Flies, n ‘Nat

What are these annoying flies that are populating my kitchen?  Where are they coming from?  How come they never seem to quit hanging around?  These are questions that we are asked every year during the summer months.  Here are some tips for diagnosing which pest you have and for treating them effectively.

Fungus Gnats – are tiny (1-2 mm) small flies that sort of “bounce” through the air.  Their erratic behavior is annoying and makes them tough to catch.  Fungus gnats have very little structure.  Their bodies are thin and their wings make up most of their size.  If you have live plants in a room they are noticed in, or an adjacent room, then you can pretty much figure that fungus gnats are the nuisance!  They breed in soil and the potting soil of our houseplants are often the perfect bedding.  These plants are watered frequently and offer a nice moisture layer for the larvae to grow into mature adult gnats.  If you have fungus gnats, we would recommend cutting back on the watering of the houseplants, using sticky stakes where they are noticed and treating the soil with an insecticide (optional).

Fruit Flies – are small, brownish/black flies, only 1-3 mm long.  They have a thicker body than fungus gnats and fly a smoother path to their destination.  As their name suggests, fruit flies love ripe fruit and vegetables because those areas are seen as the perfect breeding ground for laying eggs.  Any fermenting food or area of moist organic material will be attractive to fruit flies, which includes our garbage cans, compost bins, and even the residues that coat our sink drains.  Fruit fly traps work great in this case because the lure draws them into the traps and the perfectly-sized holes prevent them from escaping.

Drain Flies – are again another tiny fly, measuring only about 1-2 mm long.  They have a hairy body with large wings.  As you would guess, they breed in the slime that coats so many of our drains in our house.  Typically we find them coming from drains in the basement or garage that are rarely used, but they can come up through drains used more frequently in our kitchen or the bathroom.  To find out if it is drain flies that are invading your living space, you will want to place a piece of tape over the drains in question and wait a couple of days to see if any flies are stuck to the tape.  If so, an enzyme drain cleaner will be necessary to effectively clean all of the walls on the drain.  By completely cleaning the drains, the attractiveness of the drains is eliminated, and the fly should vanish as a result.

Take a look at the pictures below, and you will see just how similar looking these 3 nuisance pest can appear!

Thanks for reading,

Derek

drain_fruit_and_fungus_gnats_resized

Now’s the time to: Clean your gas grill

grill cleaning resizedWe are asked everyday, what is the best way to clean a barbecue grill?  The answer will vary slightly depending on the grill and how dirty it truly is.  Regardless, you will want to maintain a clean grill so that you may prevent flare-ups, get more even cooking temperatures, and extend the life of your cooking grates and grill components.  Here are some tips that we have compiled, followed by a helpful video from Weber regarding how to clean one of their gas grills!

Exterior of grill:  Wash with a solution of warm soapy water and a non-abrasive scrub pad or soft sponge.  An all purpose degreaser or grill cleaner will work in this case as well.  Stainless steel surfaces should be cleaned with a stainless steel cleaner, being sure to always wipe in the direction of the grain as to prevent scratches.

Interior of grill:  A plastic putty knife will be your best friend here!  With the putty knife, you will want to scrap the insides of the cook box, allowing the grease and grime to fall down into the catch pan below.  You may use warm soapy water, or an all purpose cleaner/degreaser of your choice to wipe down the surfaces.  The key here is to get rid of grease that might have accumulated.  By doing so, hot grease will not catch fire and cause a flare-up.

Cooking grates:  Our cooking grates probably show the most wear.  To remove the large baked-on food and grease, you will want to preheat the grill for about 5-10 minutes and use a good stainless steel grill brush to knock off the large mess.  If this isn’t enough to clean them entirely, then you will want to let the grill cool down and remove the grates.  Bring them inside, where you may soak them in your sink with a soapy solution or use a grill grate cleaner such as those from Goo Gone or Weber.  If the cooking grates are really dirty, you may choose to use ammonia to clean them.  Simply place the cooking grates inside a black plastic bag and allow it to bake in the sun for a day.  Once removed, the dirt will be loosened up entirely and can then be hosed off.  For step by step instructions, please visit this page on eHow.

Flavorizer bars:  Like the cooking grates, heavy messes on Flavorizer bars can cause hot grease to puddle and flare-up.  Build-ups can also lead to corrosion of the bars over time, so it is very important to keep these bars clean.  Weber calls them Flavorizer bars, but they are the bars/panels that sit below the cooking grates and protect drippings from falling directly on the burners.

Burner tubes:  Simply brush the burner tubes clean with a grill brush.  You will want to brush them in the opposite direction of the direction that they run, so as to push dirt away from the holes instead of back in.

Catch/grease pan:  Scrap catch pan free of build-ups with a putty knife.  Use soap and water if you desire.  Never line the catch pan with aluminum foil.  Empty the grease pan if full of drippings.

Thanks for reading everyone, and happy grilling!

Derek Satterfield

 

Helpful Tip: Use Painters Tape to Create a One-of-a-Kind Ascent Wall

ascent wall top imageWant to make a statement in a room but not sure how to do it?  Try painting an ascent wall!  This wall can be solid color, two tone, striped/patterned, or could have shiplap, wallpaper, or any combination there of.  Just be creative and we are confident that you will love the look!  

Recently, my wife and I painted an ascent wall in our nursery and we couldn’t be happier with the results!  Below, we provide a couple of tips in making a painted ascent wall a success!

First off, interior latex paints dry to the touch in just a couple of hours, however, they will not fully cure for about 1 week.  Rather than waiting a week between paint color applications, use delicate surface painters tape to be sure not to peel up freshly painted walls.  For example, in our project, we painted the base color one day, allowed that to dry 24 hours and then taped off the pattern we wanted to create and then painted the second color.  The next day, we did the same process again, and we were done!  In just 3 days, we were able to complete the project and get perfect crisp edges between the colors, thanks to delicate surface painters tape.  We stock options from both 3M Scotch and Frogtape when it comes to delicate surfaces.

Secondly, when removing painters tape (no matter what the surface) be sure to follow these 2 simple tips for best results…

  1. Remove tape by pulling at a sharp angle.  This will ensure that the tape does not tear and rip like it often does when peeling quickly at a 90 degree angle.  For an example, please reference our image to the right.
  2. For the cleanest lines, be sure to remove painters tape once the paint is dry to the touch.  The Scotch brand website will recommend to wait about 24 hours, but we feel that this can be expedited to about 12 hours or so.  When ready, simply run a putty knife (or utility knife) over the edge to break any bond that the tape might have with the newly painted surface.  By removing paint promptly and scoring the edges with a blade, you will help to prevent little chips and imperfections that might result when the tape is removed.

ascent wall mood image

 

 

What’s New? Charles Viancin Food Covers – New Styles

charles viancin 2017New this summer to the Charles Viancin line-up of food covers are some fun new styles!  Including watermelon, crystal cut, hibiscis, grape leaf and more.  We have lots of new colors in silicone heat pads as well.  Stop by our Housewares Department for the full selection of Charles Viancin products.

Just how are customers using Charles Viancin food covers?  These silicone covers have many uses including…

Storing Food – use them in the refrigerator to contain food odors and to create seal that is airtight around any glass or metal pan or container.  These food covers are reusable and more convenient then messing around with wax paper, aluminum foil, or saran wrap.

Serving Food – use as quick and simple covers over casseroles, salads, and other serving bowls.  The silicone covers keep bugs out of food and makes for easy removable when serving.  Great for buffet tables as well.

Heating Food – use on the stovetop when heating up sauces and other foods that may splatter lots.  Also, use in the microwave to prevent messes.  BPA free and microwave safe.

Stop by and see our full assortment in our Housewares Department.  We have food covers in many different sizes from small to extra-large.  We also have wine bottle stoppers that are fun and functional.  Great for parties and great for gifts.

Happy summer everyone!!

Helpful Tip: Turn Hydrangea Blooms Blue with Sulfur

hydrangea mixed colorsHydrangea blooms of pink, blue, white, and even crimson or purple flowers are true standouts in our gardens at this time of the year.  One question that we get frequently is how to change the color of your hydrangea’s blooms?  Here are some quick tidbits…

If blooms are white generally speaking, you are committed to this color.  You will not be able to change the color of the blooms because white varieties will be white perennially.

If blooms are pink or blue, then you can switch to the reverse by treating the nearby soil with either sulfur or lime depending on the target pH level.  For blue blooms, you will want to acidify the soil to a pH level below 6.  You can do this by applying garden sulfur (or aluminum sulfate).  For pink blooms, you want a more alkaline soil (between 6 and 7) and you will want to apply garden lime, hydrated (powdered) lime, or a similar product.  If unsure the exact pH level of your soil, stop by for a simple pH soil test kit in our garden department.  By knowing the pH of your soil currently, you can then judge how much sulfur you would need to apply to get the soil pH to the desired level.  You can over-apply garden sulfur, so be sure to follow the instructions on the sulfur that you are using.  If one application was not enough to change the bloom color, then you can follow up with a second application about 1 month later.

Thanks for reading, and happy gardening!

Derek Satterfield

hydrangea pink

Spend a Little, Save a Lot: Wet and Forget Keeps Moss, Mold, and Mildew Away from Surfaces

wet and forgetHave trouble with mold and mildew on your deck, siding, or roof?  Are you able to clean the stains, only to have them return again in the fall or spring?  If you are tried of always playing catch-up around your home or garden, then try Wet and Forget moss, mold, and mildew stain remover!  Not only does it wash away the stains, it leaves a residue on treated surfaces that will prevent regrowth for up to 12 months.

How does Wet and Forget for outdoor surfaces work?  This blue liquid concentrate is diluted and applied through a pressure sprayer; a simple garden sprayer will do perfect!  Saturate the problem surfaces with the product.  One gallon of ready-to-use product will cover anywhere between 125 and 375 sq ft (just depends on the porosity of the surfaces).  Once applied, Wet and Forget started “eating” away at the stains and killing the live growth.  The stains are pulled to the surface, where they are rinsed away by rain and wind. It is important that surfaces are exposed to rain water when used outside.  If not, they then it is best to rinse sheltered areas once a week to activate the solution and to remove the stain.  Please note, stains take on average about 1-2 months to completely rinse away, however, you will generally see results after just a couple of days (or rainfalls).  Just as the name suggests, you simply “wet” and then “forget”.  No power washing, no scrubbing, no scraping necessary!

Will Wet and Forget prevent stains from coming back?  Yes, this is one of the most unique aspects of Wet and Forget.  Not only will stains be rinsed away, there is a surfactant in this product and a residue that remains on all treated surfaces.  This residue prevents regrowth of moss, mold, mildew, and lichen for up to one year.  It is great for hard-to-reach areas such as siding and roofs, and for mold-prone areas such as shaded areas around the home, or other high humidity, poor drainage areas outside.

What surfaces can Wet and Forget be applied to?  Wet and Forget has very few limitations when it comes to surfaces.  You may to almost any outdoor surface including concrete, asphalt, pool surrounds, fiberglass (great for boats!), brick, painted surfaces, ceramic pots, composite or wooden decks (stained or painted), canvas awnings, gutters, siding (vinyl, aluminum, wood, or stucco), roofs (asphalt, fiberglass, steel, clay, shake, or tile) and so much more.

It seems that so many of us have trouble with mold and mildew on exterior surfaces, hence the reason we recommend Wet and Forget so frequently.  It is great for removing stains, but equally good for preventing them.  During these summer months, consider pretreating problem areas with Wet and Forget so that mold and mildew stains do not form during the fall and early spring of next year.  Ideally, if you get in the habit of applying Wet and Forget once a year, you can totally eliminate stains from forming.

Check out the Video below that introduces all of the products that Wet and Forget makes…

 

Helpful Tip: Clean Dryer Vent Pipes to Prevent Overheating / Fires

We wash our clothes, we dry our clothes, and we remove the lint trap.  This happens day after day and week after week.  Over time, lint pushes past the trap and collects in areas of the exhaust pipe.  The more turns and the longer the reach, the more likely this lint will remain in the pipe and begin to collect to problematic levels.  It is important to monitor and clean your dryer lint pipes every couple of months to be sure that a dangerous situation is avoided.

In fact, there are over 20,000 fires caused every year in the US because of our dryers.  Most of them having to do with poorly vented dryers or clogged vent pipes.  If a buildup is noticed in your exhaust, you will want to clean immediately.  The best way to do so is with bristle brushes and we have several options to choose from.  There are circular ones that can be pushed and pulled to free up lint.  There are long, dryer lint trap brushes that can used to loosen lint deep inside the dryer.  We recommend using a combination of the two to clean all areas from lint.  When reattaching the exhaust, be sure that all connections are secure and that the vent flap on the exterior of the house is unobstructed and working properly.

lint pipe

What’s New? Keep Plants Alive While on Vacation with Plant Keeper

plant keeperPlanning a vacation this summer, and not sure who to call upon to water the houseplants? Try calling upon the Keeper… Plant Keeper that is!  New to our Lawn and Garden Department is this exciting product that keeps plants alive for up to 2 weeks.  It is simple to use… simply dilute the concentrate in water to create a gel-like consistency.  Then apply to the tops of your houseplants before leaving.  The gel will slowly work its way down into the soil and releases water as the soil dries out!  The result is a continuously drip of water to the roots of the plant.  This process keeps them alive so that you don’t come home to lifeless plants.  Use it on houseplants this summer, and continue using it during the holiday season for your live Christmas tree.

Helpful Tip: Rolling the Edge of Paper Leaf Bags Helps Them Stand

paper leaf bagsIf you use paper lawn bags to clean-up around your yard, it is easy to get frustrated when the bags fall over or collapse when trying to fill them.  Next time you are working in your yard with paper leaf bags, try rolling back the top edge all the way around.  You will immediately find that the bag stands up better and is easier to fill, as a result.  We hope that you enjoy this quick tip!

What’s New? Sweet Peet – The Best Mulch on Earth

sweet peetIt’s new to our store once again – it’s Sweet Peet!  This all natural mulch take ones full year to make.  Sweet Peet is a super fine grade mulch that has a unique composition.  What makes it so unique, you ask?

  1. Sweet Peet retains moisture better than mulch.  In fact, it has a water holding capacity of twice its weight (other mulches hold little to none).  The Sweet Peet retains water and slowly releases it to the root zone during dry weather conditions.
  2. Sweet Peet decomposes into humus in just one year’s time – no need to remove the old, dried up product because there won’t be any the next season.  It’s great for vegetable gardens because it will break down over the course of the year and turn into nutrient rich humus that will eventually dissolve into the ground.
  3. Provides nourishment for healthier and more vigorous plants.  Sweet Peet contains agricultural manure that makes plants love this stuff even more!
  4. Improves soil health by encouraging beneficial microbes to populate.
  5. Suppresses weed growth because of it’s naturally occurring carbon to nitrogen formulation.  Weeds and weed seeds are destroyed during this patented process.

Sweet Peet has many uses around your garden.  Use as a typical mulch for an elegant look around your plants.  The moisture retention does a fabulous job at keeping roots cool and moist.  You can also mix it with old or poor soil as an amendment to improve drainage and soil structure.  I have had great success using it has a topper to potting soil – it looks great and helps to retain the moisture so that watering is less frequent and soil consistency stays ideal.

Consider Sweet Peet in your garden this year.  I love to recommend it around garden areas and for the tops of potted plants, but you can use it anywhere else you would typically use mulch.  We are confident that you will love the look and the results!  Stop by our Garden Department to see our product sample.