It's time to prep that outdoor furniture for the onslaught of beautiful mild, sun drenched days ahead of us. Don't be daunted by the task of cleaning all those chairs, tables and cushions. Follow a few simple tips and use the proper cleaners and your outdoor space will be ready for entertaining friends and family in no time.
White plastic furniture
Create a solution using a mixture of 2-3 tablespoons of automatic dishwasher detergent and a gallon of
warm water. Using a clean cloth, wipe down furniture and rinse cleaner off with a hose.
Wicker, teak and other wooden furniture
Use a stiff, short bristled brush and a solution of wood oil soap, like Murphy's and warm water. Gently brush debris and staining from furniture. Rinse thoroughly. Dry well so that the wood doesn't become compromised.
Make solution of one teaspoon dishwashing detergent, one quart warm water and one tablespoon borax. Using a spray bottle, spray cushions thoroughly. Allow the solution to sit on the cushions for fifteen minutes and then rinse thoroughly with a strong hose stream. Stand cushion in direct sunlight to dry.
Wrought Iron Furniture
Using a solution of warm water and a few drops of dishwashing detergent, wipe furniture off with a damp cloth. Rinse with hose.
Visitors to the farm are usually surprised to learn that we water the entire garden and landscape with only reclaimed rain water. Our system, which collects and stores rainwater from our
barn's metal roof, provides 100% of our annual watering needs. The best part, it was extremely easy to install, and can be inexpensively adapted to almost any home, shed or roof with a gutter.
We spent the past week hooking our tanks back up from winter storage - and within 24 hours - we had just over 150 gallons stored from a single rain. It's been over a year now since we first completed the rain collection system - and I honestly don't know how we survived without it.
It gives us access to free water, and with our two plastic tote tanks, can collect as much as 550 gallons from a single downpour. And that's only using rain from the back portion of the roof! This spring, we will add a third tank fed by the front gutter - increasing our storage to just shy of 900 total gallons - enough to handle our watering needs for nearly two months of complete drought.How it works:
The system collects rain water from a simple adapter made to fit our existing barn's gutter. The barn has a standard gabled metal roof measuring 13 wide' x 32' long on each side. A 32' section of guttering runs along the bottom of each side of the metal roof, slanted slightly to carry all of the water to the eastern side of the barn. From there, both sides empty into standard downspouts.The front downspout (not used currently), runs down and out to the field for normal drainage. On the back downspout however, we installed a simple 2-way in-line diverter (See Picture). When the metal lever is slid to the left, rain water is diverted into a 275 gallon storage tank located below the downspout. When all tanks are full, the switch can be slid back for normal drainage.From the main storage tank, we pump and fill a second 275 gallon tank installed above our garden. With that, we can water all of our plants quickly, using gravity and a standard garden hose connected to the tank.To increase capacity and mobility, we are adding a second diverter to the front gutter this year. That will fill a 3rd tank mounted on wheels - giving us the ability to pull water anywhere it's needed with our tractor. That will be a huge time saver when it comes time to water the newly planted grapevines and fruit trees on the hill this year.
Here is a look at the system's components and cost:
Totes: $40 each We found ours for $40 each after searching on Craigslist. You can also check with local food plants that may receive their raw materials in them. One word of caution - make sure you know what was originally in your tanks and that it is safe. Our tanks were used to hold maple syrup and molasses - simple food products that can be cleaned out and re-used. You will want to avoid using tanks that held harsh chemicals. Most tanks come with a 6" threaded cap on top, and a 2" threaded outlet valve at the bottom. You can convert the bottom 2" valve to accept a standard garden hose with a few adapters found at your local hardware store.
Diverter Switch : $15 You can find standard gutter diverters at your local home improvement store for about $15 - they install in minutes with rivets or screws.
Threaded Valve and Hose Adapter: $15 Your local plumbing or hardware store can hook you up with a simple threaded connection valve to convert the 2" drain at the bottom of your tank to handle a regular garden hose. We also installed a ball valve ($10) on our tank for an extra shut off point.
A couple of final notes on collecting and using rainwater:
Keep It Dark: You will want to keep the water from getting direct sunlight to keep algae from growing in the stagnant water. Algae can only grow if there is light. If your tank is translucent like ours, you will want to cover it. We use a black waterproof material (like grill cover material) to cover ours once the summer sun and heat become a problem. Not only does it dress it up, but it keeps the water and the flow line crystal clear.
Keep It Closed Off: No matter what system you use to store your water, you will want to keep it covered. Water that sits is an open invitation to mosquito larvae . Our totes came with 6" caps and lids on the top. We simply cut out the hole for the downspout, and then sealed the edge with some inexpensive foam.
Know What To Use The Water For: We only use our reclaimed water for watering plants or washing off equipment ,etc. Since we do not treat it in any way, we do not use it for drinking.Check to make sure your allowed to collect rain water. It sounds crazy, but in some states out west you are not allowed to collect rain water, as the water rights still belong to the state. So to be on the safe side, check with your local or state government to make sure it's legal where you live.
Happy Gardening!! - Jim and Mary.
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Make your own dog shampoo that is better for your dog and inexpensive! These are the three main ingredients: 1) 1 cup generic brand uncolored antibacterial liquid hand soap 2) 1/4 cup glycerin (found in the pharmacy section near the rubbing alcohol) 3) 1 cup white vinegar. Mix all ingredients in two quarts of warm water (I use an empty apple juice bottle) and pour it over your dog. I still use baby shampoo for her face and do not get this mix in her eyes or ears. It pours on, soaks in,
suds up and rinses off much better than any other dog shampoo I have ever used. The antibacterial hand soap kills any bacteria on the dogs skin (which is what makes them smell "doggy"), the vinegar balances the ph in their skin so they don't get flakey and itchy and the glycerine makes their coat soft and shiny. I've been using it for a couple of years and it is the best! As soon as my dog sees me mixing it up she gets into the bathtub and waits for her massage and bath.
Commented on Feb 03, 2013
If only this helps..My "Grand Dogs" are so bothered by itching...Athens, Ga. Jeanne K. Briscoe
This is my lighted gazing ball that I lovingly refer to as my "Fairyball". It's made from a standard gazing ball that can be purchased at most garden or craft centers and an old log we
fished out of a river while camping. We let it dry for a year, then drilled a hole right up through the center and ran an extension cord up through the hole to plug the strand of lights into. Colored LED lights have been the best string of lights because they do not get hot inside the glass ball and burn out. Its on a timer and glows 365 days a year down in my shade garden.
We've been working on changing out our ugly brass doorknobs, with some more stylish looking Satin Nickel handles. It's amazing what a difference it makes! http://www.graphicsfairy-diy.com/2013/01/new...