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!