Garden Tips!

1. Know your USDA Hardiness Zone. Use it as a guide so you don’t plant trees, shrubs, and perennials that won’t survive conditions in your area. You’ll also get a better idea of when to plant vegetables and fruits in your area.

2. Not sure when to prune? Prune spring-flowering shrubs, such as lilacs, and large-flower climbing roses immediately after the blooms fade. They set their flower buds in autumn on last year’s growth. If you prune them in fall or winter, you remove next spring’s flower buds.

woman holding dirt with worms


3. Apply only composted, rotted manure that has cured for at least six months to your soil. Fresh manure is too high in nitrogen and can “burn” plants; it may also contain pathogens or parasites. Manure from pigs, dogs, and cats should never be used in gardens or compost piles because they may contain parasites that can infect humans.

4. Perennials generally need three years to achieve mature growth. Remember the adage that they “sleep, creep, and leap” over the three-year period.

5. Learn how long your growing season is—your last frost in spring and first frost in fall—so you can start some plants inside or avoid growing them.

deadheading red flowers


6. Deadheading is a good practice for perennials and annuals. Because the goal of annual plants is to flower, set seed, and die, removing the old blooms tells annual plants to produce more flowers. Removing spent flowers also encourages plants to place energies into stronger leaves and roots instead of seed production. Avoid deadheading plants grown especially for their fruits or pods, such as money plant (Lunaria).

7. How much light do plants need? Grow vegetables in a location that gets at least 8 hours of direct sunlight every day. Most vegetables need full sun to perform well. If you have some shade, try growing cool-season crops such as lettuce, spinach, radishes, and cabbage.

8. The best approaches to controlling weeds in the garden are hand-weeding and hoeing. Avoid deep hoeing or cultivating that can bring weed seeds to the soil’s surface. Weed early and often so weeds don’t go to seed. Use mulch to smother and prevent annual weeds.

9. Hostas don’t need to be divided unless you want to rejuvenate an old plant or increase the numbers you have, or because you simply prefer the look of single plants.

close-up of pink hydrangea cluster

10. Not all hydrangeas grow in the shade. Panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) need sun for best flowering. Some top panicle varieties include ‘Limelight’, Little Lime, Vanilla Strawberry, and Bombshell.

11. Don’t clean up everything in your garden in fall. Leave ornamental grasses for beauty and the seed heads of perennials such as coneflowers to feed the birds. Avoid cutting back marginally hardy perennials, such as garden mums, to increase their chances of surviving a harsh winter.

Tomato 'Moskvich'


12. Vegetable gardening tip: The optimal temperature for ripening tomatoes is between 68-77 degrees F. And at 85 degrees F, it’s too hot for the plants to produce lycopene and carotene, the pigments responsible for the fruit color. Once temperatures consistently drop below 50 degrees F, green fruits will not ripen. Tomatoes that have a bit of color change can be brought inside to finish ripening.

13. Plant spring-blooming bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and hyacinths, in the fall before the ground freezes. In general, place the bulb in a hole that’s two to three times the depth of the bulb.

14. Deadhead spent flowers on spring-blooming bulbs so the plants send energy to the bulbs instead of into making seeds. Leave the foliage until it turns brown and can be removed with a gentle tug. The leaves store nutrients needed for the bulb to bloom the following year. Braiding or tying the leaves is not recommended because it reduces the amount of light to the leaf surfaces.

Fertilizing Perennial


15. Fertilizer is not the answer to growing the best plants; soil quality is. Add organic amendments such as compost and well-aged manure to your soil. The best soil structure is crumbly, easy to dig, accepts water easily, and offers oxygen for plant roots. If you choose to use fertilizer, use an organic one to add nitrogen, phosphate, and potash.

pink perfection chinese trumpet lily

16. Late summer or early autumn is the best time to divide and transplant spring-blooming perennials. The most commonly divided perennials are irises, peonies, hostas, and daylilies.

17. If your rhubarb sends up flower stalks, remove them so the plant will focus on foliage production, not seed production.

18. When transplanting container-grown plants, dig a hole larger than the soil ball of the plant to aid with root establishment.

19. Mound your potato plants deep under the soil and store harvested potatoes in complete darkness. Exposure to light turns the skin of potatoes green, an indication that the potato has produced a colorless alkaloid called solanine, a bitter-tasting toxin that, consumed in large quantities, can cause illness. Cutaway any green portions or sprouts on potatoes to avoid the problem.

20. Most in-ground garden plants grow best with 1 to 2 inches of water per week. If not enough rain falls, water deeply once a week instead of watering lightly daily. Frequent, shallow watering only moistens the top layer of soil and encourages the plant’s roots to move there instead of growing deeper.

container of compost and compost materials

21. Don’t send your fall leaves away! Chop them up and use them as compost ingredients. Pulverized leaves can be left to nourish the lawn. After several hard freezes, when plants have gone completely dormant, you also can use 3-6 inches of shredded leaves as mulch over tender perennials to keep them dormant over winter. Remove the mulch in spring.

22. Avoid digging or planting in wet soil; working it damages the soil structure. Wait until the soil is crumbly and no longer forms a ball in your hand (it doesn’t have to be bone-dry) to till or dig.

23. Understand your soil’s drainage. Roots need oxygen, and if your soil is consistently wet, there are no air pockets for the roots to thrive. Many plants prefer well-drained soil, so amend your soil with organic materials to improve the soil quality.

bronze garden mum with yellow disc florets


24. Some plants flower in response to day length. Chrysanthemums, poinsettias, strawberries, and others need long nights to produce flowers. If you want strawberries that flower and produce fruit when temperatures are between 35 degrees F and 85 degrees F, choose a variety labeled “day-neutral.”

25. The roots of walnut trees produce a substance called juglone that is toxic to many sun-loving garden plants, including tomatoes and potatoes. (Black walnuts do not harm many shade-loving plants.) The toxic zone from a mature tree can be 50-80 feet away from the trunk. And the juglone chemical can get into your compost if you compost walnut leaves or nuts.

Thank you for reading 🙂


Garden Tips

Wondering how to start a garden? Find your confidence with these expert gardening tips.

Never gardened before? No problem. Make your grow-you-own dreams a reality with these 10 easy-to-follow tips.

1. Site it right.

Starting a garden is just like real estate it’s all about location. Place your garden in a part of your yard where you’ll see it regularly (out of sight, out of mind definitely applies to gardening). That way, you’ll be much more likely to spend time in it.

2. Follow the sun.

Misjudging sunlight is a common pitfall when you’re first learning to garden. Pay attention to how sunlight plays through your yard before choosing a spot for your garden. Most edible plants, including many vegetables, herbs, and fruits, need at least 6 hours of sun in order to thrive.

3. Stay close to water.

One of the best gardening tips you’ll ever get is to plan your new garden near a water source. Make sure you can run a hose to your garden site, so you don’t have to lug water to it each time your plants get thirsty. The best way to tell if plants need watering is to push a finger an inch down into the soil (that’s about one knuckle deep). If it’s dry, it’s time to water.

Start with Miracle-Gro Soil - hands in Soil

4. Start with great soil.

When starting a garden, one of the top pieces of advice is to invest in soil that is nutrient-rich and well-drained. Achieve this just-right blend by mixing 3 inches of Miracle-Gro® All Purpose Garden Soil into the top 6 to 8 inches of existing soil if you’re planning to plant in the ground. If you’re planting in a raised bed, use Miracle-Gro® Raised Bed Soil, which is the perfect weight and texture for raised bed growing.Display logoOff

5. Consider containers.

When space is at a premium, look to containers. You can grow many plants in pots, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, fruit trees, berries, and shrubs. When gardening in containers, use a pot that’s large enough for the plant it’s hosting, and fill it with Miracle-Gro® Moisture Control® Potting Mix. Not only is it specially formulated to help plants in pots thrive, but it also helps protect against over- and under-watering.

Use Bonnie Plants Veggies & Herbs

6. Choose the right plants.

It’s important to select plants that match your growing conditions. This means putting sun-loving plants into a sunny spot, choosing heat-tolerant plants in warm climates, and giving ground-gobbling vines like pumpkins and melons ample elbow room (or a trellis to climb). Do your homework and pick varieties that will grow well where you live and in the space you have. And to get a step up on success when growing veggies and herbs, start with vigorous young plants from Bonnie Plants® instead of trying to grow from seed.

7. Discover your zone.

Knowing your “hardiness zone” can help you choose the best plants. Simply put, it describes the coldest place a plant can grow. The higher the zone number, the warmer the climate. So if a plant is “hardy to zone 4” and you garden in zone 5, that plant will survive in your yard. If, however, you’re in zone 3, it’s too cold to grow that particular plant. Find out your hardiness zone.

8. Learn your frost dates.

Planting too early (or late) in the season can spell disaster for your garden. You need to know the last average spring frost date for your area so you don’t accidentally kill plants by putting them out prematurely. It’s also good to know your first average fall frost date so that you get your plants harvested or moved indoors before late-season cold damages them. Discover the average first and last frost dates for your area.

9. Add some mulch.

Apply a layer of mulch that’s 2 to 3 inches deep around each plant. This will help reduce weeds by blocking out the sun, and reduce moisture loss through evaporation, so you have to water less. For a polished look, put down a layer of Scotts® bagged mulch. Or, you can put down straw, shredded leaves, pine straw, or some other locally available material.

Use Miracle-Gro Plant Food - Woman tending her garden

10. Feed plants regularly.

We’ve already talked about the importance of starting with great soil, but that soil works best in concert with regular boosts of high-quality nutrition for your plants. In other words, amazing soil + top-notch plant food = super garden success! So, a month after planting, begin feeding your garden with plant food like Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food. Be sure to follow label directions.

One last word of advice: Stock up on the basic tools you need to make it easier to grow. Get all the details in our Tools for Gardening article. Happy growing!

Thank you for reading 🙂

Things To Do While You Are Stuck At Home

Get Practical

1. Spring clean

Home alone with a lot of energy? Deep cleaning will make you feel like you’ve achieved something and leave you more at ease in your own home.

I’m not talking about a standard clean like you’d do every week. Sure, you’ll probably need to do that too, but when you’ve got a few spare hours, try tackling the stuff that never gets done.

Clean the fridge. Dust the skirting boards. Soap down the walls and get rid of those grubby marks and fingerprints.

Sort out the things you’ve become blind to but that are subconsciously getting on your nerves.

You’ll be sure to feel far more comfortable in your home environment.

2. Clean the windows

Whether or not you see this one as a metaphor for life, it’s an incredibly satisfying job. One that you’ll reap the benefits of for weeks.

Pay someone to do the outside as, let’s be honest, no one has the time, patience, or necessary tools for that, but the inside of your windows is down to you… and it’s probably been a very long time since you cleaned them.

You’ll need plenty of elbow grease and time to do a good job.

3. Have a clear out

Overflowing cupboard? More shoes than you can shake a stick at? Bookshelf stuffed to bursting point?

Our modern society is far too concerned with stuff, and the rate at which we accumulate it can quickly leave us feeling like we’re drowning in it.

Pick one thing to sort through, like your kitchen cupboard or your underwear drawer. Get rid of anything you don’t need or is past its best, and then organize what’s left.

4. Fix something

You know the thing that broke last year and you still haven’t fixed? Now’s the time!

If it’s something serious, you might want to consider leaving it to a professional, and using your free time to look up and contact one. But if it’s something you can do by yourself – perhaps with YouTube’s help – give it a go.

5. Do the laundry

You might think you’re bored, but I wouldn’t mind betting there’s a pile of unwashed clothes that could really do with your attention.

You’ll be thankful you dealt with them when you suddenly find yourself so busy there’s no time for hanging clothes out to dry.

Treat Yourself

1. Have a bath

Is there a bath in your house? Run those taps and dig out the bubble bath from the back of the cupboard. Go all out. Stick on some music, or your favorite podcast. Light candles and incense.

Grab a book, if you can trust yourself not to drop it. Hey, you could even treat yourself to some chocolate or wine… or both. Use this time to utterly pamper yourself and relax those tense muscles.

2. Body maintenance

Let’s face it, we all have times when we let our personal grooming slide a little, whatever our gender.

Life gets busy, and we have a million and one things to do. So, that one time you find yourself kicking your heels, have a maintenance session.

Shave, wax, pluck, exfoliate, moisturize… do whatever it is you want/need to do. It will empower you and boost your confidence.

3. Face mask

This isn’t just one for the women amongst you. Guys, if you’ve never tried a face mask before, now’s the time to start.

As well as working wonders for your skin, there’s something incredibly relaxing about the sensation of a face mask.

If you’ve not got a shop-bought one to hand, don’t panic! There’s still no need to leave the house. You can make all kinds of face masks from things you already have in your fridge and kitchen cupboards.

My personal favorite is mashed up avocado with a dash of lemon juice and olive oil.

4. Call a friend

Is there someone that doesn’t live nearby and you hardly ever see, but always puts a smile on your face? Call them, or FaceTime them. Spend a few hours catching up and putting the world to rights.

5. Take a nap

We’re pretty much all sleep-deprived these days, with our hectic work and social lives. And it’s bad news for our mood.

So if you have a few hours to spare, why not make up for all those days you’ve burnt the candle at both ends?

Work On Yourself

1. Meditation

Time to yourself? Well, that means you’ve got no excuse not to try meditation at long last.

Meditation means actually taking the time to listen to your mind and body, quietening all the thoughts that rush around your head every second of every day.

It can be incredibly beneficial for anyone, but especially for those who are going through a tough time in life or feel like happiness is eluding them.

Try a guided meditation video, or one of the many apps that are out there.

2. Start a course

Is your brain in need of a workout? There are all kinds of free courses available online which will expand your horizons and open your mind to a whole new world of knowledge.

Use your free time to find a course that interests you and get started with it whilst you’re excited about it!

3. Learn a language

Okay, so this isn’t something you can do in just a few hours, but you can find a method that suits you and get started.

Commit to spending a certain amount of time learning a new language from scratch, or refreshing your memory of one you’re already familiar with.

4. Read a book

We all spend far too much time looking at screens these days, and not enough time looking at pages. Not that you can’t read a book on a screen, of course.

If it’s been a while since you’ve read a book, or you don’t normally read at all, try spending a few hours submerged in a story.

Sit in a comfy chair with a cup of tea in hand and get lost in another world. Whether it’s an old favorite or a brand-new adventure, nothing comes close to the feeling of being absorbed in a good book.

5. Read the news

With the state of the world these days, it’s very easy to bury your head in the sand and just refuse to engage, but it really is important to keep up to date with what’s going on.

See what’s been happening in the last week, or take a deep dive and educate yourself about a situation you’ve never quite understood.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Planting Tips

planting siberian squill

Denis and Yulia Pogostins

Get your garden off to a good start by planting your perennials at the right time and handling them the right way. One guiding philosophy: Perennial plants are all about the roots. Keeping the roots strong and healthy is the number one consideration when planting perennials. It’s those roots that will keep the plants coming up year after year. Here’s what you need to know about planting perennials to give them what they need to grow up and be beautiful.

Fall or Spring?

Knowing when to plant perennials is essential. Spring is generally the best time to plant, for obvious reasons. The soil is warming, the sun is shining, the days are lengthening and the rain if falling. Spring is also a good time to divide existing perennials that have gotten bigger and better and plant the smaller pieces in other locations.  
Fall is a good planting time for perennials that bloom in the spring or summer. Fall planting gives them time to grow strong roots to prepare for the big flower show the following year. Another plus to fall planting: Nurseries are cutting prices on perennials at the end of the season, so you can save a lot of money. 

Do not plant in the summer. It’s too hot, the days are too long and rain is unreliable in many climates. There’s too much stress for a new plant to thrive. And winter? No. Just, no. 

How Do I Plant?

New plants come in three forms. Knowing how to plant perennials correctly depends on which form you’re planting.

Container-grown perennial plants are the ones you buy at a nursery or plant center, already growing in a pot. They’re the easiest to transplant successfully. Dig a hole twice as wide as the container but no deeper. Pull the plant out of the pot, gently loosen the roots and place in the hole. Fill the hole with soil mixed with compost and water well. Fertilize a week after planting.

Bare-root perennial plants are less expensive than the container-grown ones, but they’re a little trickier. They are just as billed: a clump of plant roots. They’re not for beginners. Soak them in water before planting them in the ground. Add compost to the soil at time of planting and pamper them till they sprout leaves.

Seeds are the least expensive way to start a garden of perennial plants. Growing from seed takes more skill and patience than transplanting container-grown perennial plants. Perennials are slow growing, so if you sow seeds directly in the ground after the last frost you won’t have adult plants till late in the season. Best to start them in the winter, indoors, in small pots and pamper them until they are large enough to transplant outdoors.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Pandemic Survival Tips

What Is a Pandemic?

The word “pandemic” stems from the Greek words “pan” (meaning “all”) and “demos” (meaning “people”). Thus, a pandemic is a widespread infectious disease, bacteria, or virus that sickens a large number of people worldwide. When a disease or illness is isolated to one region or country, it’s called an “epidemic.”

Throughout history, humans have experienced a number of pandemics, some of which have killed tens of millions of people. These pandemics include cholera, smallpox, measles, yellow fever, tuberculosis, malaria, and Ebola.

One of the most devastating and well-known pandemics is the Black Death, also known as the Plague, which swept across Europe and Asia during the mid-1300s. It’s estimated that the Plague killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s population or 75 million to 200 million people.

The influenza virus has been the cause of many pandemics. In 1918, a strain of the virus called the “Spanish flu” swept the world. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that this virus sickened up to one-third of the world’s population (around 500 million people) and killed more than 50 million people. Some died within hours of symptom onset.

The 2019 – 2020 Coronavirus Outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) first learned of the 2019 to 2020 coronavirus outbreak on Dec. 31, 2019. According to NPR, experts believe the virus, named COVID-19, originated in the Hunan Seafood Market, a live-animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause a range of illnesses, from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The coronavirus family is zoonotic, which means they can spread between animals and humans through close contact. The CDC reports that they also spread in similar ways. Infected people transmit MERS and SARS through the air by coughing or sneezing.

China has taken major steps to contain the current outbreak, quarantining over 50 million people and building hospitals in a matter of days. However, the virus has spread to other countries.

And according to experts interviewed by The New York Times, the current outbreak is increasingly likely to become a global pandemic. It’s easily transmissible through the air, and cases are spiking rapidly, especially in China, where testing kits are in short supply and there’s a backlog in hospitals and labs.

How the Coronavirus Spreads

Much is still unknown about exactly how the new coronavirus spreads and how quickly it infects others.

The CDC states that the virus spreads by respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs or sneezes. Transmission is similar to other coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, and the CDC believes that COVID-19 spreads as easily as the common flu virus.

Some important questions, such as whether or not a person can infect others when they show no symptoms (called “asymptomatic”), remain unanswered. However, a 2020 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine states asymptomatic transmission can occur.

Coronavirus Symptoms

COVID-19 presents a serious global public health threat and can be fatal.

The CDC believes symptoms of COVID-19 can manifest between two and 14 days after initial exposure, based both on early data and the incubation period for SARS and MERS. Symptoms for the current novel coronavirus include:

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough

So far, people who are most at risk of developing severe complications from the novel coronavirus are the elderly and those with preexisting medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Overall, the WHO estimates that the mortality rate for COVID-19 is between 2% and 3%, although that could change as the situation develops. That’s much lower than SARS, which the WHO estimates has a mortality rate of around 9.6%, and MERS, which the WHO estimates has a 34.4% mortality rate.

How to Protect Yourself From the Coronavirus

The WHO and CDC recommend you take simple steps to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy during the outbreak.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds whenever you return home, after coughing or sneezing, after caring for the sick, before eating, after using the toilet, and after handling animals or animal waste.
  • If you cannot wash your hands, use alcohol or an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • When coughing or sneezing, use the crook of your arm to cover your mouth or use a tissue. Throw the tissue in a closed bin, and then wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. The CDC believes the virus can spread within 6 feet, so keep at least that much distance between yourself and someone showing symptoms.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Follow the same guidelines for preventing other illnesses, such as the common cold and seasonal flu virus.

Pro tip: If you’re planning on traveling over the next few months, you might consider an insurance policy through Allianz Travel Insurance.

Finding Trustworthy Information on the Current Outbreak

There is plenty of misinformation online. False information quickly fuels panic and can lead to fear and hoarding behaviors, such as stockpiling face masks and food, that do more harm than good. At its worst, hoarding can lead to shortages that put medical staff at risk, such as a shortage of medical supplies.

The best way to get trustworthy, up-to-date information on the current outbreak is through the WHO’s situation reports, which they publish daily. The WHO also has a “myth busters” page where it uses scientific information to debunk ongoing myths and hoaxes about the virus.

You can also get reliable information about the outbreak occurring in the United States from the CDC.

It’s prudent to stay informed about any new outbreak. However, while media reports on the new coronavirus look and sound frightening, it’s essential to put the outbreak in perspective. For example, the CDC reports that so far this season, between October 2019 and January 2020, the seasonal flu has sickened over 19 million people in the United States, killed over 10,000 people domestically, and led to over 180,000 hospitalizations. We’re at a much higher risk of catching the flu than the new coronavirus.

Pandemic Germs

How to Prepare for a Pandemic

According to Harvard Business Review, current models suggest that a pandemic might sweep the globe in three distinct waves, each lasting from a few weeks up to three months. This means that you and your family should be able to survive on your own, at home, for a significant amount of time if you have to.

Preparing for a pandemic is an important part of disaster planning and requires many of the same steps. However, there are some additional precautions you need to take in order to keep your family safe.

Pro tip: If you don’t currently have health insurance, make sure you sign up for a short-term health plan through AgileHealthInsurance. This will make sure you’re protected financially if someone in your family gets sick.

1. Be Prepared to Treat at Home

Healthcare workers will face an ethical and moral dilemma during a pandemic. Do they report to work and help care for the sick, putting themselves (and their families) at risk for infection, or do they stay home and help ensure their loved ones don’t fall ill?

According to a survey conducted by CIDRAP, almost half of healthcare workers admit that they would stay home during a pandemic. Another study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, found that 28% of healthcare professionals agree it would be acceptable to abandon their workplace during a pandemic in order to protect themselves and their families.

Even if only 10% of healthcare professionals opt to stay home during a pandemic, and another 10% fall ill themselves, that’s still a conservative 20% reduction in the medical labor force at a time when hospitals and doctor’s offices will be flooded with patients. There’s a chance that some patients won’t be able to get in to see a doctor at all.

Medication could also be hard to obtain. According to a 2006 study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, 43% of people believe they would have difficulty obtaining medicine should they have to stay home during an epidemic. During the 2017-2018 flu season, which turned out to be only slightly more severe than normal, the LA Times reported that pharmacies in California had medicine shortages.

Supply disruption is also a real possibility during a pandemic. In order to save on storage space and costs, most hospitals and pharmacies only keep enough medicine on hand for a few days, depending on daily deliveries to keep their supplies stocked. In addition, many life-saving medicines are now made in Asia. If a pandemic occurs, there’s a good chance that deliveries will be interrupted or halted entirely. Stores are also likely to sell out of over-the-counter medication quickly.

Stocking up now means you’ll already have what you need should a pandemic occur, and you’ll be less likely to have to leave the house for supplies, potentially exposing yourself to the virus. Consider stocking up on over-the-counter medication like:

Over-the-counter medication can be expensive, especially when you’re trying to buy it in large amounts. To save money, look for sales and coupons and only buy what you need when the price is discounted. Make sure to keep your medication rotated so it doesn’t expire by checking expiration dates every few months.

You should also have a well-stocked first aid kit in your home and know how to administer emergency first aid like stopping traumatic bleeding and administering CPR. Remember, during a pandemic, hospitals will be overcrowded, and an ambulance might not be available to take you or your family member to a hospital should you break a leg or have a heart attack, so you should be prepared to deal with these emergencies yourself. Knowing first aid is an important survival skill and could save the life of someone in your family.

Also, consider stocking up on face respirators so you’re protected if you do have to go out in public. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends using an N95 respirator during public health emergencies, which you can purchase inexpensively on Amazon. The “N95” designation means that the respirator blocks 95% of tiny (0.3-micron) airborne particles.

Keep in mind that a good fit is important for adequate protection, and N95 respirators are designed for adults, not children. You will need to purchase child-sized respirators (which you can also find on Amazon) to protect your children during an outbreak.

2. Plan for a Sick Room

The CDC recommends that during a pandemic, the sick should stay in a dedicated “sick room” and use a dedicated bathroom that no one else will use.

Start thinking now about which room in your home would work best as a sick room. If the room doesn’t have a door, have an extra plastic shower curtain on hand to partition it from the rest of the house. If someone does fall ill, quarantine them to the sick room and clean the room daily with bleach.

3. Stock Up On Food, Water, & Household Supplies

The Department of Homeland Security recommends that families have at least a two-week supply of water and food to prepare for a pandemic. Supplies for a month or more are even better. Typically, you’ll need one gallon of water per person, per day, for drinking and hygiene.

Building a long-term food storage pantry means you won’t have to put yourself at risk of infection by going to the store, and you’ll be insulated from the food shortages that could very well occur during the panic of a pandemic.

So, what should you stock up on? Focus on shelf-stable foods that your family already eats and enjoys. This might include:

  • Rice
  • Dried beans, lentils, or peas
  • Protein bars, granola bars, or fruit bars
  • Canned soups, fruit, and vegetables
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate
  • Powdered drink mixes
  • Nuts and dried fruits
  • Beef jerky
  • Pasta
  • Instant soup mixes
  • Flour
  • Baking essentials (such as baking soda, salt, and yeast)
  • Sugar
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Dried milk
  • Evaporated or condensed milk
  • Trail mix
  • Applesauce
  • Comfort food (such as cookies, candy bars, and chocolate)
  • Oils (such as olive oil, vegetable oil, and coconut oil)
  • Crackers
  • Oats
  • Pancake mix
  • Cereal (including hot cereals like Cream of Wheat)
  • Chicken, beef, and vegetable bouillon cubes
  • Liquid seasonings (such as soy sauce, vinegar, and Sriracha)
  • Liquid sweeteners (such as honey, maple syrup, chocolate syrup, and agave syrup)
  • Spices (such as salt, onion flakes, cinnamon, and ginger)
  • Packaged foods (including macaroni and cheese and instant potatoes)
  • Canned meats (such as tuna, sardines, oysters, chicken, turkey, pork, sausage, and Spam)
  • Formula or baby food (for very young children)

You should also stock up on the supplies you’ll need to stay healthy at home. These items include:

  • Hand soap and sanitizer
  • Bleach or other surface cleaners
  • Toilet paper
  • Kleenex
  • Prescription medication
  • Fluids with electrolytes (like Gatorade and Pedialyte)
  • Garbage bags (for medical waste disposal)
  • Plastic gloves
  • Diapers (for very small children)

Again, it can get expensive if you hit the stores to stock up on all of these items at once. Instead, purchase items slowly, over time, and only when they go on sale or you have a coupon. Don’t forget to stock up on food and supplies for your pets too.

Pro tip: Make sure you download the Ibotta app before shopping for food and supplies. You will receive a $20 welcome bonus just for downloading and using the app.

Although the chance of an outage is remote, it is possible that utilities and power supplies might be interrupted or stop entirely if a large portion of the working population falls ill or has to stay home to care for sick family members. Have enough supplies to survive without power for several days or weeks, including flashlights, lanterns, a hand-crank or solar-powered radio, and the ability to cook food without electricity, such as with a solar oven cooker.

4. Make an Emergency Plan

If a pandemic is suspected, the CDC reports that it’s likely schools will close early to prevent the spread of the disease – and they could be closed for weeks or even months. How would you care for your children if you were still expected to report for work? Under what circumstances would you stop attending work in order to protect yourself and your family from illness? Do you have enough in savings to stop working for a period of time if necessary?

It’s important to ask yourself these questions before a pandemic occurs. With a plan in place, you won’t have to worry about what you’re going to do if the worst should happen.

Start thinking now about who might be able to care for your children during such an emergency. Consider other family members, friends, neighbors, or members of the community. Talk to these people beforehand to find out how you could help each other during a pandemic.

Next, find out how your company might handle work absences during a pandemic. Do you have the ability to telecommute? If not, what would you need to get started?

You should also make a list of community organizations you can contact to receive help in the form of information, medical assistance, food, and other supplies. A good place to start is the Red Cross. You might also want to talk to local officials about how they would distribute emergency assistance in your community during a pandemic.

Last, make sure you have enough in your emergency fund to survive for a period of time without a regular income.

Pro tip: If you don’t currently have an emergency fund set up, start now. Ideally, you want to have enough money to cover several month’s worth of expenses but start at $1,000. Place these funds in a high-yield savings account or somewhere like Bask Bank where you can earn valuable travel rewards. This way you’ll have easy access to the money if needed.

5. Explore Natural & Herbal Medicines

While it’s important to have over-the-counter medications on hand to treat symptoms, it’s just as important to have an herbal medicine kit in your home to complement commercial medicine. Some herbal remedies are a great frugal flu treatment and can even be more effective than store-bought medicine.

Herbs such as elderberry and oregano oil are very effective in preventing illness, as well as lessening the severity and length of an illness once it starts. They’re also great natural remedies to keep your kids healthy during a prolonged illness.

6. Practice Prevention Now

Several simple actions can dramatically reduce your risk of catching (and spreading) an infectious disease. The CDC recommends that you:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with hot soapy water whenever you come back from any public place or have been around anyone who is sick.
  • Keep your hands away from your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Stay home when you’re sick, and don’t go out until you’ve been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.

Start practicing these actions with your family today, especially if you have younger children. If you get into these habits now, they’ll be second-nature to you should a pandemic occur, reducing the risk that someone in your family will get sick.

Pandemic Prevention

Final Word

It can be frightening to think about experiencing a severe pandemic. Plenty of movies like “Contagion” and “Outbreak” play on these fears and show us, in terrifying detail, what it might be like if a pandemic ever became a reality. Preparing in advance is one way to alleviate some of these fears.

If you have the ability to take care of your family at home for a significant period of time, you won’t have to worry about going to the store and exposing yourself to the virus. You also won’t have to worry as much about packed waiting rooms at the doctor’s office or hospital. The more you prepare now, the more in-control you’ll be should the worst occur.

Do you have enough supplies to care for your family at home during a pandemic? What areas do you need to work in order to be prepared?

Thank you for reading 🙂

House Cleaning Tips

How to Clean Your Washing Machine

  1. It’s recommended that you clean your washing machine at least once a year, so it’s a great task to add to your Spring Cleaning list! Our step-by step tutorial will make the process fun and stress-free! (Promise!)
  2. We all know that cleaning a microwave can be a daunting task.  It’s a time consuming, smelly task and can require a lot of elbow grease to get the job done. But if you Steam Clean your Microwave it will be left smelling great and grime-free in no time!
  3. If you’ve ever had to change a duvet cover, you know what a pain it is.  But after watching this video on How to Put on A Duvet Cover from Crane and Canopy, you’ll wash your duvet ten times more often! This seriously changes everything!
  4. Here is a simple trick on how to clean your vents AND make them super easy to clean in the future.
  5. You’re only one hour away from having your kitchen appliances sparkling like new! Here is our step-by-step method on cleaning your microwave, dishwasher and refrigerator in 1 hour!
  6. If your fridge needs even more TLC, here are 3 refrigerator cleaning tips you do not want to miss!
  7. Learn how to clean the oven glass in an easy way that takes less than 20 minutes of your time!
  8. Cleaning your stove can be a daunting task, but one that can really set the mood for your entire kitchen! Here is how to clean your stove in a simple way that involves ZERO chemicals and not even a whole lot of elbow grease!
  9. How to clean your kitchen sink and why it is so important to stay on top of this simple task!
  10. I really need to clean my dryer vent! This tutorial is a great reminder, from Pretty Handy Girl
  11. How to clean your window tracks, from Ask Anna
  12. How to remove candle wax from a wall or carpet!  This cleaning tip will help you easily remove wax when it spills.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Spring Cleaning Hacks

how to clean your kitchen sink
  1. Rub wax paper over your faucets to keep them shinier and water-spot free!
  2. Cleaning ceiling fans can be a real pain! It typically involves covering the entire bed or couch with a sheet so the dust doesn’t fall all over, then vacuuming again and again (and again!) to make sure it gets picked up… I seriously HATE it! Problem solved completely by using a pillowcase to clean ceiling fans.  (Tip from Real Simple)
  3. Toss your Legos in a mesh bag and then put the mesh bad in your washing machine. The easiest, least painful way to get them all clean fast!
  4. Clean your mattress by sprinkling baking soda over the top of it. You can add some lavender drops to make it smell pretty too!
  5. Clean your blinds with a sock! Mix equal parts vinegar and warm water in a bowl. Put your hand inside the sock, then wet it with the vinegar mixture.  Wipe the dust and dirt off your blinds and watch as it cleans the top and underside the same time!

Thank you for reading 🙂