Spring Home Improvement

Local hardware stores ready for spring home improvement season

By Bill Pearson
Staff Writer

    As the snow rapidly disappears, it won’t be long before homeowners will be participating in the annual spring ritual known as yard work. As spring commences, local hardware stores are ready to equip customers with whatever tools are needed whether it’s for yard work or a more pleasurable activity home improvement project such as adding a deck.

bu-lovells-dc-po-15Observer photo/Bill Pearson

    COFFEE SUPPLIES — Lovell’s Hardware staff Mark Lewis, owner Andy Lovell, center, and Dustin Woodard stand in front of the store’s display of Keurig coffee-makers and beverages. The coffee-related items are a major hit this spring with his clients. The new display is located near the cash register to catch the eye of customers purchasing items for their spring home improvement projects.

    For 19 years, Tim Robinson has seen customers enter his Dover True Value Store in Dover-Foxcroft searching for materials to clean their yards or spruce up their home’s interior by adding a fresh coat of paint. Once the yard is clean,  Robinson has observed his customers’ attention turn toward maintaining their yard’s appearance.
    For those customers, Dover True Value has a large lawn grooming equipment selection which includes the popular zero-turn movers.
    “The market has changed in the past few years where zero-turn mowers are becoming more popular,” Robinson said. “We sold about a dozen last year because for someone with a two-plus acre lawn the zero-turn is not only faster, but it does a better job.”
    For those who aren’t in the market to buy new equipment, Dover True Value has a small engine repair team that can fine tune lawn equipment. Robinson has experienced certified technicians Corey Weymouth and Brandon Warstler who fix and maintain small engines.
    The crew at Lovell’s Hardware is also prepared for spring clean-up season. The store has a full stock of wooden and metal rakes, hoes, spades and bagging material to help their customers complete the arduous task of yard work. Wooden carts with wheels have consistently been a customer favorite for performing yard clean up activities. The cart holds a large load  and can be easily maneuvered around the property.
    “The cart is real popular with our female customers. It holds between 2-4 cubic feet of material. It’s maneuverable so it makes a tough job less difficult for everyone,” said Lovell’s Hardware store clerk Mark Lewis.
    Adding a deck onto the house is another favorite activity for those involved in home improvement projects.
    Both hardware stores have the necessary materials to build an outdoor deck or sell the latest models in barbecue grills.
    At Dover True Value, the best selling barbecue grill is produced by Grill Zone. The grill has four main burners plus one on the side. Robinson said the side burner allows for cooking corn while four pieces of meat are grilled on the main section.
    Lovell’s Hardware top-selling barbecue grill is made by Traegar. This grill is fueled by wood pellets. The grill provides the cook to either smoke or cook the meat by using nine different flavored wood pellets. Among the various flavored wood pellets include mesquite and hickory.
    Whether it’s fixing up the house or preparing for an outdoor  feast, Lovell’s staff is ready to wait on customers eager to start their spring projects.
    “We just got a shipment of pressure treated lumber to construct decks. We also have a whole assortment of grills. But if we don’t have it, we can definitely special order whatever you need,” Lewis said. “We have an experienced sales staff here ready to meet whatever need you have.”
    While tools, grills and decks are staples of spring home improvement season, Lovell’s has introduced a new product which has been a big hit with their customers. Lovell’s also started selling Keurig automated coffee-makers which brew both hot and cold beverages. Lovell’s has 32 assorted drink mix varieties available for the unit.
    “When I first heard about Keurig in our store, I was shocked at how popular they were,” said Lovell’s sales clerk Dustin Woodard.
    So if your spring project includes cleaning up the yard, having a barbecue on a new deck or just sitting outside enjoying a freshly brewed ice coffee, a trip to your local hardware store may be all you need to enjoy and survive spring home improvement season.

It’s time to  start the seeds

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — Finally it’s time to start many of our seeds so we will have seedlings to transplant out in the garden when the weather warms up. Mid-March marks 10 weeks before Memorial Day and 12 weeks until it is safe to set plants out in the garden so they won’t be damaged by frost. Depending on the plant it can take from four to 12 weeks to have the transplants ready for the garden.
    It is important to start with good quality seed. If you are using seed left over from last year, you may want to do a germination test to determine the seed’s viability since different types of seed remain viable for different lengths of time. Also, how the seed was stored can affect the viability.
    Generally seeds need a place that is warm and gets adequate light.
    Remember to start seeds based on when they can be transplanted into the garden. Slower growing plants should be started in March, if possible. Faster growing plants should wait until April or May to star. Vine crops can only grow in a pot for about four weeks before it needs to be transplanted into the garden.
    Late March to early April plants to start: ageratum, alyssum, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, pepper and petunia. Plants to start in April: aster, marigold, tomato and zinnia. Plants to start in May: pumpkin, melon, squash and cucumber.
    Cold tolerant crops can be transplanted as soon as your garden is prepared in the spring. Cold sensitive crops need to wait until after the chance of frost has past (mid-June) or you will need to plant to cover these crops to protect them from late frost. You can use a cold frame, row cover or individual covers in the garden to protect plants from late frost.
    The University of Maine Cooperative Extension, which is located on East Main Street and at 564-3301, has several bulletins on starting seeds and making seed starting equipment that gardeners can download from the website (http://extension.umaine.edu/.).

bu-truevalue-dc-po-1Observer photo/Bill Pearson

    SPRING BARBECUE — Dover True Value Hardware Store owner Tim Robinson shows a popular item his customers buy each spring: the Grill Zone barbecue grill. The four-burner grill is equipped with a side burner which is great for cooking corn. With spring home improvement season on the horizon, Dover True Value has a variety of products designed to help homeowners with spring cleanup, putting an addition on the home or machinery like lawn mowers and barbecue grills. 

Energy-saving tips

    • Switch off electrical appliances completely when not in use. TVs use power when in standby mode.
    • Defrost your refrigerator regularly. When ice builds up, your freezer uses more electricity. If it frosts up again quickly, check that the door seals are strong and intact.
    • Check your hot water temperature. It does not need to be any higher than 140 degrees Fahrenheit for washing purposes.
    • Insulate your hot water pipes to prevent heat loss, and your water will stay hotter for longer. Plus, simply fitting a jacket onto your hot water tank can cut waste by up to three-quarters.
    • Take showers over baths, because a bath consumes five times more hot water, and buy a low-flow shower head for more efficiency and it will pay for itself in no time.
    Source: Penquis

Valley Grange program supports local agriculture

    SANGERVILLE — The East Sangerville Grange invites farmers, gardeners, and homesteaders as well as anyone who is interested in learning more about supporting local food production to attend “Cultivating the Community: An Agricultural Resource Exchange.” The event will bring together nearly 20 presenters to showcase local and statewide programs and projects all aimed at building stronger communities through local agriculture. The program will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 13 at the Grange.
    Each presenter will have five minutes to talk about their program followed by three minutes for questions.
    “This event is about creating excitement and helping people make connections to organizations and resources they might not know much or anything about,” said Erin Callaway, an East Sangerville Grange member who is coordinating the event. “The presentations will move quickly but the idea is to give folks  enough information to spark their interest and curiosity.”
    Local presenters include Ripley Farm, Stutzman Farm, Piscataquis Public Health Council, and the Dover Cove Online Marketplace. There will also be speakers from around the state. Among those speaking  include representatives from  Slow Money Maine, Maine Farmland Trust, and the Somerset Grist Mill.
    The topics will range from group purchasing of farming equipment, Community Supported Agriculture and Brewing, to supporting farms through a regional “Hour Exchange.” Information will also be presented about finding opportunities for farm funding and investment, and efforts to interest youth in farming and agriculture.
    “Cultivating the Community” is free and open to the public. The Grange will provide beverages and baked breakfast treats by donation. Attendees are also invited to bring a “Bag Lunch to Share”—enough for themselves and a little to share if they like—and stay to talk with the speakers after the presentations. Parking is limited, so people are encouraged to carpool and to park along the road. There is a small parking area in front of the Grange that will be reserved for those unable to walk.
    The event coincides with National Grange Month. “The Grange was founded in the late 1800s to support and strengthen the agricultural community,” Callaway said. “It’s exciting to think that because of the resurging interest in local food this mission is as vibrant and meaningful today as it was back then.”
    For directions and more information please visit www.eastsangervillegrange.com, the East Sangerville Grange page on Facebook, or Callaway at 564-7167.

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