Renovation & Design

Special feeder will keep birds from snacking on garden


A flock of sparrows feasts in a bird feeder, not in a prized vegetable garden.

Question: I’m wondering whether you can suggest a way of controlling the sparrows in my garden other than trapping them. They are taking over my produce and devouring my lettuce, raspberries, peas etc. I must do something or there will be no purpose in trying to grow anything.

— Sam

Answer: The fastest way to a bird’s heart is through its stomach. Put up a backyard bird feeder and birds will hopefully become distracted and leave your garden alone. A very low tray will work well for birds that are ground feeding; these include native sparrows, quail, towhees and doves. Other options are to plant big rubber snakes along the ground or stand a scarecrow or plastic owl in the garden. You can also cut old CDs in half, punch a hole in the top, string fishing line through the holes and hang them in the garden. However, the most effective way to keep sparrows out of the garden is by draping the plants with netting or fencing. Just as a side note: blueberries, plums, holly and pine tend to attract sparrows.

Question: Do you have a solution on how to remove grease that seems to be baked onto the bottom of my old cast iron frying pan? I have tried some commercial cleaners, but they didn’t work. Maybe you have a remedy that will work. I hope so. You have such interesting hints in your articles. I try not to miss any of them, but I haven’t been able to find anything pertaining to this problem.

— Carol

Answer: Begin by washing the pan with dish soap and water. Next, take a little vegetable oil on a paper towel and wipe around the inside and outside. Put the pan in the oven on about 225 for a few hours. Enjoy your pans and do not worry; even though they may not look clean, they are clean. If you are not happy with the appearance, consider trying oven cleaner on your pans (make sure to use in a ventilated area).

Question: I am trying to incorporate fish into our family diet. How do I determine how long to cook fish?

— David

Answer: Measure the thickest part of the fish and cook it for six to eight minutes per half-inch in a 425-degree oven.

Question: We order pizza and my kid’s always leave the crusts. What a waste! Any suggestions of what we can use leftover pizza for?

— Trent

Answer: Cut the crusts into small pieces and add them to soup i.e. Mexican tortilla soup or tomato soup. Store crusts in the freezer and use as needed.

Question: What is the easiest way to clean a blender?

— Max

Answer: Fill the blender nearly half full with hot soapy water, secure lid. Turn the machine on for a few seconds. Clean in a snap!

Question: My friend mentioned you have a simple way to kill poison ivy. We have a cabin with poison ivy in the brush along the lot lines. We have young grandkids coming to the lake and would not like to see them getting it.

— Brenda

Answer: Kill poison ivy by mixing four litres cider vinegar, 26 ounces’ table salt and 4 or 5 drops dish soap. Shake until dissolved (so that the salt does not plug the nozzle) put in a sprayer. Spray poison ivy two or three times. Beware: this recipe will kill all greens that it touches. Have fun with your grandchildren!

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.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: Ask a question or share a tip at


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