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Learn to stay warm when old man winter growls

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Yo-yo weather is here. This time of year, Kentucky’s temperatures can go up for hours or even days, teasing us, right before it slams back down to “Where’s my coat?” temps. We go from comfortable to cold, and back again, giving us four seasons in one day.
I think it’s Mother Nature’s way of gently breaking us into winter. Kind of like the lights in a theater dimming, to let us know the show is about to begin. I just hope it’s not gearing up for a record breaking performance.
In the house, I do everything I can to retain heat. Lined or double drapes is the norm. In years passed, I have covered many of the windows with sheets of heavy clear plastic. It really helps keep the cold out, even with my double paned windows.
Recently, I saw an idea to use bubble wrap instead of the plastic sheets. I wouldn’t want to use it everywhere, because I like to see out, but I could use it on some windows. We all have those shades we never pull up, or drapes that never open all the way. An unheated attic, garage or shed can benefit as well. Light still comes through and the space will stay warmer.
All you have to do is find some packing material store or order online for large bubble wrap. Furniture stores throw it out by the ton, so check there for some freebies. Measure the window, then cut to fit. Clean the window, then spray it with a film of water. It makes the wrap stick naturally. You may want a few pieces of double stick tape for the corners.
The nice thing about using the bubble wrap is that you can cut a little U-shaped peep window in the middle of it, so you can lower a little flap to peek outside anytime you want. It pushes back up and it stays by itself. You could even decorate it for Christmas if you’d like.
Outside, you may have some perennials that are more tender to the cold. You can try bubble wrap, but I’d use leaves. There are plenty around and they don’t cost a dime. Put a short wire cage (6 inches tall) around the base of the plant and pour the leaves into it until it’s full. Think of it as putting a big, fluffy comforter on the roots.
Thanksgiving just a week and a day away and that usually means company is coming. Since we have no idea what the weather will be on that feastly day, you might want to have something on hand to make steps and walks safe.
A spray bottle filled with one third water and two-thirds white vinegar will melt the ice away. All you have to do is spay. It works on car windows too. Do not use it on door locks (try spraying rubbing alcohol into the lock). If you have a lot of steps, then grab the garden sprayer and fill it up. It won’t spoil.
You know we aren’t the only living thing to want to find a warm place to hibernate for the winter, right? Your house may look like the Hilton to some small, furry creatures and they can be very creative at breaking and entering.
To make your home less inviting, get peppermint oil and pour it onto cotton balls. Place the cotton balls around pipes, holes in walls or wherever you think they are entering. It makes the house smell great and keeps the mice out.
Now, it’s crunch time for all outdoor chores. If you haven’t gotten around to it, do it. Unhook the hoses, put up the chairs and tools, and batten down the hatches. Old man winter is on his way and I don’t think he’s in a good mood. Happy Growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is the gardening columnist at The Anderson News. She can be reached via e-mail at paysteen@shelbybb.net.