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0 comments | Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Homemade Plant Labels



Another great gardening tip comes on making homemade plant labels. Homemade plant labels can be had at a great price...cheap. This information especially comes in handy should you have LOTS of plants.

The most popular plant labels made at home are plastic labels made from mini-blinds. There's always someone throwing out an old pair of mini-blinds and just asking around can award you with more than you really need. Basically all you do with these is cut the mini-blinds down to about six inches and write the plant name on the plant label with a permanent marker or pencil. I've had the best luck with using a pencil. Markers fade too quick for my taste.

Another popular homemade plant label is rocks. Yeah, you read that right, rocks. Just pick some neat shaped ones and mark the plant's name on the rock with a permanent marker.

Not a new homemade plant label by any means is the plastic knife. You know, the ones you have left over from your last family outing? They make perfect plant labels. Again, you can use either a marker or pencil for labeling.

One more idea, and really resourceful, is using empty aluminum cans. Using a pair of tin snips, cut the top and bottom off of the can. Then cut down the length of the can. You should be left with a flat piece of aluminum when spread out flat. Now cut the aluminum can into strips for using as plant markers. These are best marked with an old ball point pen, pressing down hard when writing to make the aluminum "take" the plant name. You can also put a hole in the strips of aluminum and make tags for trees. Simply loop a piece of string through the hole and hang on your tree.

Hope you enjoy these homemade plants labels! They're as fun to make as they are useful.






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Gardening Tips

0 comments | Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Planting in August - Southern States



According to the Farmers Almanac, if you live in the southern states, then August, specifically the 29th, 30th and 31st, is the time to be planting your peas, beans, tomatoes, peppers and other above ground crops. Also good for planting other seedbeds. Just remember that if you didn't get your soil ready for a late crop, there's always next year. You can go ahead and get your seed catalog requests in now and start preparing for next year's garden. The holidays will be here before you know it and more than likely your mind will be occupied with thoughts other than the garden. And before you know it, Spring 2007 will be just around the corner.






Gardening Tips

0 comments | Monday, August 28, 2006

Soil pH Test



Do you have several places in your garden where you'd like to take a soil pH test, but just can't see shelling out the money for those expensive soil pH test kits? Well, have I got just the gardening tip for you. You'll need a cup of distilled water or rain water, some red and blue litmus paper from the drugstore and soil samples from the areas where you are making your soil pH tests. Put one of your samples of soil, about one or two ounces, in a glass vial or whatever else you have handy. Add enough water to cover the soil in the vial. This will usually be about twice as much water as soil. Then hold your finger or hand over the top and shake it for a couple of seconds. Let the sediment settle back to the bottom of the vial and dip your strip of litmus paper into the liquid. If the blue strip on the litmus paper turns red, then the soil is acid. If the red strip on the litmus paper turns blue, then the soil is alkaline. If neither of the strips on the litmus paper changes colors, then the soil is neutral. Simple as that. If you want a more accurate soil pH test, then of course you'll need a professional soil ph test kit, but this will give you a general idea of what soil amendments you'll need for your garden.



Gardening Tips

1 comments

Ashes in the Garden



Who me? Put wood ashes in the garden? Why and what for? Some people will tell you not to put ashes in your garden. Well, okay, this might scare a few people, but remember, we're talking about wood ashes in the garden, not ashes from the burn barrel, where some people might burn their trash. Wood ashes are completely safe for the vegetable and flower gardens. Just use them in moderation as wood ashes are very alkaline. Some tender plants won't take lightly to large additions of wood ash to your garden beds. I was taught long ago to treat wood ashes like lime in the garden. So use it in this way and you should be fine. Hey, and for those of you that think it's a no-no to put wood ashes in the garden beds?? Think of how nature replenishes her forests. FIRE It's a cycle that soil goes through to strengthen itself. Even forest rangers or those replanting wildflower habitats use fire to burn out the unwanted growth thereby feeding the soil in the process. Hey I didn't make the rules, I just follow them....






Gardening Tips

0 comments | Monday, August 21, 2006

Ant Control


How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally




I don't have a huge problem with ant control. Most of the toads we have lurking around the farm do a good job of keeping them within bounds. But I do have some friends that have an ant control problem and would like a way to get rid of the ants naturally without all of the harsh chemical ant sprays. A neighbor of mine had some crawling up the wall on his house just several days back and pulled out the ant spray and zapped them. A few days later, I noticed that the leaves on a plant that was nearby where he sprayed the leaves were turning brown and dying off. I would hate to think that ant spray got on my skin, or worse, in my lungs and was doing the same thing. So I can understand my friends wanting a way to control ants naturally. So let's get to how to get rid of ants naturally. I'll list several known ant control methods.

How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally

  • Use an orange oil soil drench mixture of 1 gallon of water to 2 ounces of orange oil. For control, soak the holes where ants are emerging from the ground and also in any places where they congregate.
  • Salt and pepper are not just for the kitchen table. Sprinkle liberally around and into the entrances of ant hills and holes where ants are entering and exiting the soil. Even though the ants may now look appetizing, please do not eat them. This ant control method works with cayenne pepper as well.
  • Grow some mint in pots just for controlling ants. Snip off a few twigs of spearmint or peppermint and layer over the ant hill or ant holes.
  • Breed toads. Toads are our favorite natural ant control method.
  • Make a sugar-water-borax trap. Fill one pint jar with a cup of water. Add a half cup of borax and a half cup of sugar. Mix thoroughly with the water and set in the ground, with the rim only an inch or two above the soil surface. Place a bowl or a curved plate over top of the jar. The mixture will draw the ants to the treasure and the borax will kill the ants.






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Organic Gardening Tips

0 comments | Sunday, August 20, 2006

Dog Days of Summer




Le's face it! The dog days of summer have taken it's toll on gardeners around the globe. I for one have spent much time indoors this summer when the heat was bearing down on the earth's surface. It always seems hotter in the garden and I guess that comes from all of the chores that are awaiting us when we get there. Tomatoes to be picked, old shriveled up vines that have been eaten and re-eaten by the bugs that sneak and hide under the leaves as we pass by. I haven't the energy to work in the heat of the day and when the sun is hidden by the tallest trees around. I peak my head out the door and make my way to the garden's edge. Only it's not long before the ferocious little no-seeums and gnats start nipping on my legs. I head back to the shed for some spray to keep the little buggers at bay for a moment. Now I'm hot from the walk back to the shed so I go back in the house to grab a cold bottle of water from the fridge. On my way back out I see that my favorite show is on and struggle to make it back to the front door. Alas, there are chores to be done in the garden. Back at the garden I start pulling out squash vines that have seen their better days. The tomatoes are still bearing faster than we can preserve and eat them. I miss the squash already and wonder if I have enough time to put out some more before the season is over. I'm thinking that it may be too late. Had the squash bugs left my poor plants alone, I would still be frying some up in the skillet. I already yearn for next year's harvest. So I see that the deer have once again eaten the tops off of the green bean plants. I have harvested maybe three green beans this year, not even enough to fill a pot. There will be a new strategy next year for the deer. High powered electric fence. Maybe enough to make fur fly. I only jest, but these are my fleeting thoughts. They have over 50 acres to browse and they choose my garden. I tried every trick in the book and settled on fishing line around the perimeter of the garden this year. That lasted the longest, but somehow they found their way in. Not next year I proclaim. Next year we will have more green beans than you can throw a stick at. I am angry at them and the lingering heat doesn't help my anger. My thoughts should be pure in my garden. It's my way to get in touch with the earth. Feeling the soil between my fingers. Watching new life sprout from the soil. There is little more to do today so I'll just enjoy being here, in my garden. Had I not first turned the soil, there would be nothing here but another patch of grass. Now there is nectar for the bees and little flying insects. And a shady place for a weary ant to take a break from the midday sun. I'm sure there is much more happening here in this garden that I cannot see and it makes me satisfied to see what I have done. I'm hot and must retreat indoors. These dog days of summer in the garden are just what I need.


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