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Everyday Cheapskate: Carpet the garden and other clever reader tips

NO MORE WEEDS. Some years ago we decided to set out 18 tomato plants and — wouldn’t you know it? — the area we chose for the garden was covered with millions of tiny weeds. Preparation of the soil appeared to be overwhelming. In a moment of amazing creativity, we decided to cover the area with an old piece of carpeting, weeds and all. We made 18 3-inch cross cuts, one for each plant. We lifted each cut, dug a hole beneath and set the plants. We had a very colorful tomato patch (the carpet was yellow), vigorous plant growth and gorgeous easy-to-harvest tomatoes. Even during dry months, our tomatoes grew and produced remarkable yields with hardly a weed. Since then we’ve used old carpeting for our strawberries, too. — Dolores B., Illinois

PAINTING TRICK. When tackling a painting job you may not be able to complete in one day, don’t waste all of the paint in the rollers and brushes by cleaning them. Simply wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. The next day simply remove the wrap and you’ll be ready to pick up right where you left off. — Catherine F., Washington

HAIR RID. My hair stylist recommends this home treatment (cheap) instead of an expensive $25-$35 salon treatment for removing build-up of minerals, conditions, sprays, mousses and gels. Wash hair with a gentle shampoo and rinse in cool water. Towel dry hair. Saturate hair with apple cider vinegar (not white vinegar which is too harsh). Wrap hair in a plastic cup or plastic wrap and heat with a blow dryer for 10-15 minutes. Rinse hair thoroughly and shampoo again. — Jennifer D., Michigan

GARDEN TIE-UPS. Save your old pantyhose or tights to use in your garden. I cut them in long strips and then use them to tie my tomato plants to the stakes or tomatoes cages. They are great for tying other vegetables (string beans, cucumbers, vine plants) to the fences. Nylons are better than string because they stretch and don’t cut off the plants’ circulation. — Sheila G., New Hampshire

ONE FOR TWO. Long lip liner and eyeliner pencils are awkward and don’t fit into the typical makeup bag. Solution: Break one in half and sharpen both pieces. Now you have two manageable pencils for the price of one. — Linda S., New York

DIY PILLOW SLIPS. Because pillowcases have become so expensive, I’ve begun making my own. I buy a fitted sheet and two flat sheets, making sure the second flat is queen sized regardless of the size of the matching set. Out of the queen flat sheet I make three sets of pillowcases. By analyzing a commercially made pillowcase, it is easy to measure and create a pattern and see how it is put together. — Virginia S., Texas

YELLOW BE GONE. To remove the “yellow” from old linens: Dissolve 1/4-cup automatic dishwasher detergent (like powdered Cascade) into a large stainless steel pan (not aluminum) of boiling water. Allow the items to soak for 8 hours. Rinse. Run through regular wash. — Kathy V., Missouri

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