Friday, June 14, 2013

Ticks

It's summer! 

Time for camping, hiking and getting outside to play. Don't let those pesky annoying ticks stop you. Here's how with a simple homemade solution!   

                        



Repellent for your pets:

For pets, add 1 cup of water to a spray bottle, followed by 2 cups of distilled white vinegar. Ticks hate the smell and taste of vinegar, and will be easily be repelled by this ingredient alone. Then, add two spoonfuls of vegetable or almond oil, which both contain sulfur (another natural tick repellent).

To make a repellent that will also deter fleas, mix in a few spoonfuls of lemon juice, citrus oil, or peppermint oil, any of which will repel ticks and fleas while also creating a nicely scented repellent. Spray onto the pet's dry coat, staying away from sensitive areas including eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals. When outdoors for an extended period, spray this solution on two to three times per day. 



For you and your family:

In a spray bottle, mix 2 cups of distilled white vinegar and 1 cup of water. To make a scented solution so you do not smell like bitter vinegar all day, add 20 drops of your favorite essential oil.

Eucalyptus oil is a calm, soothing scent that also works as a tick repellent, while peppermint and citrus oils give off a strong crisp scent that also repel ticks.

After mixing the solution, spray onto clothing, skin, and hair before going outdoors. Reapply every four hours to keep ticks at bay, and examine your skin and hair when back inside to make sure no ticks are on the body.

For pets, add 1 cup of water to a spray bottle, followed by 2 cups of distilled white vinegar. Ticks hate the smell and taste of vinegar, and will be easily be repelled by this ingredient alone. Then, add two spoonfuls of vegetable or almond oil, which both contain sulfur (another natural tick repellent). 
To make a repellent that will also deter fleas, mix in a few spoonfuls of lemon juice, citrus oil, or peppermint oil, any of which will repel ticks and fleas while also creating a nicely scented repellent. Spray onto the pet's dry coat, staying away from sensitive areas including eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals. When outdoors for an extended period, spray this solution on two to three times per day. 
For you and your family:
In a spray bottle, mix 2 cups of distilled white vinegar and 1 cup of water. To make a scented solution so you do not smell like bitter vinegar all day, add 20 drops of your favorite essential oil.
Eucalyptus oil is a calm, soothing scent that also works as a tick repellent, while peppermint and citrus oils give off a strong crisp scent that also repel ticks.
After mixing the solution, spray onto clothing, skin, and hair before going outdoors. Reapply every four hours to keep ticks at bay, and examine your skin and hair when back inside to make sure no ticks are on the body.


Copied from Facebook, great advise!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Hydrangeas, In The Shade


With immense billowy blossoms, hydrangeas flaunt an old-fashioned charm that is hard to resist. Colors also beguile with clear blues, vibrant pinks, frosty whites, lavender, and rose—sometimes all blooming on the same plant!
The colors of some H. macrophylla  flowers are affected by the relative availability of aluminum ions in the soil. Acidic soils with a pH of less than 5.5 produce blue flowers; soils with a pH greater than 5.5 product pink flowers. White flowers are not affected by pH.
Unrivaled in the shrub world, these elegant ladies are easy to cultivate, tolerate almost any soil, and produce flowers in mid-summer through fall (when little else may be in bloom). Hydrangeas are excellent for a range of garden sites from group plantings to shrub borders to containers.

Planting

  • Most hydrangeas thrive in rich, porous, somewhat moist soils. Add compost to enrich poor soil.
  • They prefer full sun in the morning, with some afternoon shade; however, many will grow and bloom in partial shade. This is especially true for the bigleaf hydrangeas (see Recommended Varieties below).
  •  Plant in spring or fall.
  • Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide.
  • Set the plant in the hole and fill it half full with soil. Water. After water is drained, fill the rest of the hole with soil.
  • Water thoroughly.
  • Space multiple hydrangeas about 3 to 10 feet apart.

Care

For the first year or two after planting and during any drought, be sure hydrangeas get plenty of water. Leaves will wilt if the soil is too dry.
PRUNING!
  • When growing H. macrophylla varieties in Zones 4 and 5, don't prune unless absolutely necessary, and then do so immediately AFTER blooming. Otherwise, remove only dead stems in the spring.
If you need to prune an older hydrangea, it depends on which variety you have.
  • The common Bigleaf hydrangea should be pruned AFTER flowers fade (late spring/early summer). If you prune before bloom, you may not have blossoms the following spring.
  • Oakleaf, panicle, and smooth hydrangeas blossom on the current seasons' wood so they should be pruned BEFORE bloom when plant is dormant, i.e. late winter or early spring.
In the fall, cover plants to a depth of at least 18 inches with bark mulch, leaves, pine needles, or straw. If at all possible, cover the entire plant, tip included, by making cages out of snow fencing or chicken wire, and loosely filling the cages with leaves. (Do not use maple leaves.)


Harvest/Storage

Try drying hydrangea flowers to create a wreath or other decorations around the house:
  • Harvest the heads when the flowers have matured and developed a papery consistency.
  • Remove leaves from stems, and hang upside down in a warm, dry, dark, airy room.
  • When completely dry (usually a couple of weeks), store in a dry location out of direct sunlight.
  • To enhance flower color, spritz dry flowers with diluted Rit dye.




Gardening With Children

A GARDEN FOR CHILDREN



Children learn many lessons while gardening-from math and reading to various aspects of science like botany and weather.  Patience, responsibility, and the pleasures of physical work are additional benefits.  This is most likely to occur when the project is made to be a fun adventure.

Planning With A Child’s Eye
     When planning a children’s garden, make sure that it is a joint project, basing decisions as much as possible on the child’s opinions and suggestions.  Some children will want their own separate plot, while others are content to have a corner of yours.  Choose a size that is reasonable for the number and age of the children involved, as well as your own ability to play a role in it.  An area 6 by 6 feet to 15 by 15 feet is a good size to consider. 
     Starting from seed is usually the most exciting, but only with varieties that germinate easily.  Use transplants with vegetables or flowers that are difficult to start to give better assurance of success.  Kids love to water, so it’s a good idea to provide them with a small watering can of their own.

Selecting Plants For Children
     To keep the spark of interest burning, plan the garden well so there’s something to pick or discover every day. 
     Build a teepee for the pole beans.  There are purple beans or scarlet runner beans to make the teepee colorful.  Children love to sit inside the teepee when the vines have covered it. 
     Plant some popcorn, few snacks are as healthy as popcorn.  Plant seeds in blocks to ensure pollination, and allow the cobs to dry on the stalk.
     Radishes mature fast, so plants these first in early spring or fall, and the harvest begins in about 24 days.  There are many colors to choose from. 
     Baby carrots are another early spring or fall crop.  The round types, such as “Thumbelina” are quickest and easiest to grow, maturing in 50 to 60 days.  Carrots are also available in many colors.
     Looseleaf and butterhead lettuces are easily grown spring crops.  Harvest leaf by leaf in about six weeks after planting, and then continue for another month or so.
     Cherry tomatoes are a favorite because they are good to look at and to eat.  They are the perfect size for little hands.  They are available in red and yellow.
     Squash are very easy and fast to grown.  Children love to gather the yellow squash.  It’s like hunting for surprises.
     Gourds and pumpkins take up extra room, but are very rewarding to the children, especially if they grow a prize pumpkin.
     Sunflowers are tall and fun to watch them follow the sun as it crosses the sky.  The seeds are delicious and very good for the children or to feed the birds.
     Don’t forget to add some flowers like marigolds, zinnias, or nasturtiums for added color and beauty.  And of course, the garden will need a scarecrow.
    
    The important things about your child’s garden is, it teaches your child, your child will be more willing to eat their vegetables, and you’ll be spending quality time with your child.  Have fun!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ginger Candy

by Rosalee de la ForĂȘt




You'll LOVE this ginger candy recipe.
Ginger is a powerful antimicrobial, which is why, like garlic, it has been traditionally used in cooking to help preserve foods and keep them safe for eating. We regularly add ginger to our meals, especially those involving meat.Ginger is also the herb of choice for motion sickness. When making first aid kits for those who often get car sickness I include ginger candy and ginger tincture; both work quickly to quell the nausea.

Ginger is one of those spices that does everything. Rather than seeing it as a "Jack of all trades" without ever truly performing well in one area, I see it as a renaissance spice; doing it all and doing it extremely well.
Ginger originally comes to us from Asia and nowadays most of the ginger found in North America is grown in Jamaica.
Ginger is found fresh in most US grocery stores all year round. Quality ginger is firm and vibrant looking. If ginger at your store is wrinkled or soft, request that fresher ginger be made available.
If you take a bite of fresh ginger you’ll notice it’s quite spicy! If you compare fresh ginger with dried ginger you’ll notice that the dried ginger is even spicier. Fresh ginger is classified as warming, while dried ginger is hot. Because of this we use them for different purposes, with more caution being used with dried ginger, as it is more heating.
You know how some people can experience discomfort after eating food that is too spicy for them? The same principle applies here.
Let’s look at a few ways in which ginger can be used.
Ginger tea is often drunk after meals to help with the digestive process. Anytime a meal doesn’t sit right with me, I reach for ginger tea and any digestive disturbances are calmed quickly.
But why wait to drink ginger after eating when you can include it in your meals!
Ginger excels at helping relieve many different kinds of pain.
Ginger can calm spasms, making it a great ally for women with menstrual cramping. Ginger can reduce pain receptors and is often used by those with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis to reduce pain. It works especially well for those with arthritic pain who also feel cold or who know that heat can relieve the pain.
Herbalist Steven Buhner recommends cooled ginger tea as an external wash for burns. Not only does it prevent infection, it also acts as a pain reliever.
Ginger is a perfect herb for many symptoms of colds and the flu.
Fever: In the beginning stages of a fever when you feel cold and are shivering, a strong ginger tea is a great way to help your body warm up. In herbalism we call this a stimulating diaphoretic.
Congestion: Ginger keeps mucous flowing and can break up thick congested mucous in the sinuses and lungs. We call this a stimulating expectorant.
Sore Throat: Ginger is antimicrobial and pain relieving. Taken as a tea or as an infused honey it soothes painful sore throats.
Coughs: I recently came down with a cold and I was coughing nonstop especially at night when I laid down to sleep. I found that by sucking on a ginger candy it quelled my cough and relieved my sore throat, and I was soon sleeping peacefully.
Now...ever want to know how to make candy? This is healing candy. :)
Ginger candy can bring welcome relief for colds and the flu or even motion sickness but is also a sweet and spicy treat.
To make this ginger candy recipe you’ll need...
  • A pound of fresh ginger
  • About a pound of sugar
  • Water
  • Saucepan
  • Kitchen scale (very helpful)
  • Wax Paper
Begin the ginger candy recipe by preparing the ginger. I don’t feel that it’s necessary to peel ginger. However, if you’d like to do this I recommend using a spoon to gently scrape off the papery sheath. Once the root is either peeled or well washed, slice it fairly thin, but not paper thin.
Place the sliced ginger into the saucepan and cover it with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30-40 minutes. It’s done when the ginger has become more translucent.
Drain off the ginger tea and reserve 1/4 cup. The rest you can drink but you may want to dilute it a little since it’s going to be very strong!
To determine how much sugar you will use, weigh the ginger. You’ll use the same amount of sugar by weight. So if your ginger weighs 8 oz then measure out 8 oz of sugar by weight.
Return the ginger to the saucepan along with the sugar and the 1/4 cup of ginger tea.
Turn the stove to medium high heat and stir the ginger frequently. The sugar will quickly dissolve and what will remain is the ginger and the sugar liquid. Once this starts to simmer turn the heat down to medium and continue to stir very frequently.
In between stirrings lay out a sheet of wax paper on the counter.
Total stirring time will be around 20 minutes. During the twenty minutes the liquid will continue to reduce and will finally crystalize. Remove the pan from heat once the mixture looks fairly dry.
Warning: If you don’t stir often enough the mixture will easily scorch.
Lay the ginger out on the prepared wax paper and allow to cool.
Once cool keep these in a covered container in a cool place. They should keep for at least a couple of weeks.
I hope you enjoyed our ginger candy recipe. Now you know how to make candy!