Shade Gardening: What If All You Have Is Shade?

These days many people are looking for ways to put the best food available on their table. One of the best ways to do this is to plant a garden. But when thinking about a garden, the first place that comes to mind is a nice sunny spot in the yard.

While this might be ideal, not everyone has a plot with full sun, but that’s no problem. There are lots of vegetable that will grow just as well with little amounts of sun. Vegetables that are grown in order to harvest their fruit or to use their roots usually need full sun to develop, but if you are going to use the stems or leaves, the plants can often be grown very successfully with just a few hours of sun a day.

So if you have a place in your yard that gets between three to six hours of sun a day, what types of vegetables can you successfully grow?

All types of lettuce and salad greens grow well in shade. Other greens such as mustard, turnip, collards or spinach also do well with little sun. Most beans and peas seem to thrive and produce a good yield in a shade garden. Other vegetables that a shade gardener could try are radishes, broccoli and cauliflower.

A garden in an area that is partly shady tends to need to be watered less frequently because there is less sun to dry out the ground. Also, vegetables that tend to stop producing due to the heat will often continue to produce a harvest longer if grown in a shady area. This means that you will get more produce from the space you have. These are just two benefits to having a shade garden.

Be creative when choosing a space for a shade garden. Add chard to a bed of your favorite perennials. Use large pots and have some lettuce growing just outside your kitchen door, ready to harvest on a night you want a big salad to complement a meal. If you have a window box, radishes or a mixture of various greens would fit in nicely and provide color and interest to the box while also helping to supplement your food supply.

Whatever type of space you have — whether full sun or shade — make the most of it and in this way you can double your vegetable production. And your family can enjoy some nice fresh vegetables beginning in the spring and all the way to the fall.

Is Buying A Used Zebra Printer Or Other Reconditioned Thermal Printer A Good Idea?

Is buying a reconditioned Zebra label printer a good idea? Are used thermal printers worth the money or is it be better to buy a new one?

Zebra thermal label printers, available from Amazon, save time and ink for those who print a lot of shipping labels or other 4×6 labels, and in many cases, a used or reconditioned one is just as good as a new one. There is very little that can go wrong with them.

These durable printers are perfect for shipping labels and a variety of other label types. And since they print by applying heat to heat-sensitive labels, they don’t use ink. That means no cartridges to change.

Amazon offers a variety buying choices for reconditioned Zebra printers. While these printers can cost $300 to $400 new, used printers cost a fraction of that.

I bought my Zebra LP 2844 thermal label printer used and couldn’t be happier. For several years, I printed dozens of labels several times a week. My usage has slowed now, but I still use it more than once a week and I have never had to make any repairs of any kind.

What’s even better, these printers are completely compatible with Endicia, the Internet postage printing outfit that is a popular choice for many sellers and that I was already using with my earlier printer anyway.

You may have some problems if you want to print labels with USPS Shipping Assistant, and any kind of thermal label printer can be a bit cumbersome to use with PayPal’s built-in shipping system.

I print 4×6 labels, the industry standard for shipping labels. My Zebra LP 2844 will not print anything wider than four inches, but it can also print smaller labels if necessary.

Be aware that you may need to buy a new cable if you buy an older printer. Most LP 2844’s can be connected to your computer using modern USB connectors, but some older printers come with a different kind of cable.

Some computers will not automatically recognize a Zebra thermal printer, so be ready to visit Zebra’s website to download the driver you need to make it work on your machine. Note that on some computers, you may have to download a special, more compatible ZDesigner driver from Zebra even though other drivers may also be listed for your operating system. All of these drivers are free, however.

Zebra thermal printers are a great alternative to using sheets of labels in an inkjet or laser printer because the labels feed automatically, so you don’t have to fumble with the sheets or remember the next printing position.

While there are a few wasted labels on each role due to wrinkling toward the end of the roll, you can choose to use flat labels that feed in through the back of the printer instead — as long as you have adequate room on your desk or printer stand for them.

A Zebra printer is also a great alternative to some other thermal printers like the DYMO LabelWriter because they do not need special labels. The labels for many other printers are available from a limited number of sources and often cost much, much more. Remember to compare the cost per label, not per package or roll.

Of course, purchasing a new Zebra LP 2844 printer gets a you factory warranty to guarantee its reliability, but I’m happy with my used one, and I think a used or refurbished Zebra label printer will be perfect for you too.

Register Booster Fan Review: Is Suncourt The Right Choice?

A register booster fan is a rather simple device that increases the amount of air coming out of a vent to help improve the air circulation in a room and at least make the occupants feel that the temperature is more comfortable.

One of the most popular brands of register booster fans on the market is Suncourt. The Suncourt HC300 Flush Fit Register Booster — available from Amazon — is among the most commonly available models.

Suncourt HC300 Register Booster Fan
Suncourt HC300 Register Booster Fan

According to the company, these Suncourt air register boosters can increase the airflow coming out of a vent by up to 85 percent, but does that rise result in increased comfort for those in the room?

They Really Work

Some online reviews have been somewhat critical of similar register booster fans, and that’s to be expected. People who find that the device functions as it says it will rarely bother to write online reviews. For the most part, only those who are dissatisfied sound off.

Some people are also confused by exactly what these air vent booster fans do. They don’t actually lower the temperature of the air coming out of the vent. If the air coming out is already cold, however, but it’s simply not blowing with as much velocity as it should, these fans work great.

That’s right: Suncourt register booster fans work as advertised for most users, making them a great value for the small price they cost. And since they can help lower electric bills by keeping homeowners from having to change their thermostats, they are an especially good deal.

Only One Small Issue

A problem could arise, however, if the air vent you want to boost is not located near an electrical outlet. These fans have to get power from somewhere, and many models don’t have a battery option. That means the fan must plug into an electrical outlet.

Some people find this required electrical connection unsightly, but these electrical cords are no more unsightly than any other. It’s a good tradeoff anyway. Having to have a cord running from your air vent is a small price to pay for a room that’s much more comfortable than before.

Most models are intended to fit into a 4-inch by 10-inch vent, but adapter plates are available to allow Suncourt register booster fans to fit into other sizes of vents.

Some manufacturers claim a 3 to 5 degree reduction in the temperature of a room when a register booster fan is in place. That certainly seems possible since these ingenious devices push air that was simply drifting out of vents into the portions of the room where occupants can benefit.

Ordering a register booster fan like the ones shown on this page from Amazon is probably your best bet. The fans already come with a generous warranty, but Amazon’s return policy makes getting your money back quick and simple if you decide the device isn’t for you.

You probably won’t want to return your vent booster fan, however.

Once you feel for yourself how much difference one of these fans makes in the comfort of your home’s hardest-to-ventilate rooms, you’ll want to order more.

Doctor Who Movie Available In America on DVD

For years, you couldn’t get the Doctor Who movie on American DVD. Legal rights issues made it unavailable here — although it was available in the U.K. That never really seemed fair to me — but no matter. The problem has been solved.

Now, you can see it here and judge it for yourself.

Doctor Who: The Movie (Special Edition) — available from Amazon — a British-American joint venture aimed at potentially launching a new TV series on Fox, is routinely slammed among Doctor Who fans as a nasty and aborted chapter in Doctor Who history best locked away and forgotten.

But it’s not that bad. It’s just as entertaining as most Doctor Who episodes.

Paul McGann’s Doctor is funny, quirky and intense – perfect to follow Sylvester McCoy’s reign as the Time Lord. In fact, McCoy gets the first twenty minutes of the film to himself before the Frankenstein-themed regeneration sequence. The Seventh Doctor’s final appearance is a strong performance and perhaps the best part of the movie.

The Doctor movie has much more to come, however.

Once Paul McGann settles in, the plot gets murky and takes turns most Who purists wish it had not. The fact that McGann’s Doctor is half human is an integral part of the plot and can’t be swept under the carpet as easily as some fan would like. The effort even features an American-style car chase, of course. The Eighth Doctor’s performance, however, is solid throughout.

The TARDIS stars in this story alongside The Doctor, Grace, Lee and The Master. Even when poor camera work in some of the TARDIS scenes makes the mostly adequate special effects look like spray-painted Styrofoam and flashing lights, the time machine looks grander than ever. Even the high-tech TARDIS of the new series pales beside this one. The old girl has class.

While Yee Jee Tso’s performance as Lee is wooden and amateurish, he does not have enough dialog to do much serious damage to the production. Eric Roberts first does a nice impression of the previous Master’s voice, but after a line about getting used to his new body, Roberts’ own mannerisms turn a menacing foe into something that eventually becomes like a perturbed Liberace.

The plot of the Doctor Who movie wraps up with convoluted convenience, but the story ultimately does not leave a bad taste in the mouth. It’s a good effort and worth seeing. Just don’t watch too closely.