An exterminator told my friend that when you begin to see ants, they are the scouts. Stop these and you won't have ants. My son discovered that if you spray them with Windex (or any other glass cleaner), they are exterminated. Keep after it for a while and you won't have ants. We have used this for years. 2 days ago our humming bird feeder leaked onto the concrete front porch...the liquid got down in the crack between brick and concrete so there was not way to flush it out. Ants
appeared quickly, I sprayed them with Windex. Watched through the day and kept spraying them. Now ant free! Safe for kids, pets and environment! It is worth a try before you spend hundreds.
Homemade laundry detergent is all the rage these days but do you ever wonder if it really works? I love the idea of homemade laundry detergent, that costs a fraction of the price but I
want to know that my clothes are actually getting clean, before I jump on the bandwagon!
The 4 basic ingredients of homemade laundry detergent are Borax, Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, Arm & Hammer Baking Soda and Fels-Naptha bar soap. I also added Oxi Clean and doTERRA Wild Orange essential oil, to give it a little extra cleaning power, and a delicious citrus scent. Check out my full post to see how/why each of the ingredients work to create the best, most effective laundry detergent. Click here: http://askannamoseley.com/2013/05/the-best-h...
Edit: This detergent can be used in a front loading washing machine, there are instructions if you click on the link above. It is also safe to use if you have a septic system, I researched all of the individual ingredients and they are all safe to use. My sister has been using this for years on her septic system and she has never had any problems.
Without a doubt - tomatoes are the most important crop we grow in our garden.
In fact, we use ourhome-grown tomatoes and tomato based products nearly 365 days a year.
In thesummertime - we eat them right off the vine, in salads, hamburgers, sauces andmore. In the fall and winter months, we enjoy the tomato juice, vegetable soup,chili, salsa, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, and ketchup that we have canned orfrozen from the summer's bounty.
Here are some valuablehints, tips and tricks we have learned over the years to grow a bumper crop oftomatoes:
1. The When, HowAnd Where Of Planting Tomatoes:
WHEN TO PLANT: Tomatoes are just about the last thing that getplanted in our garden. Tomatoes love warm soil and warm weather. Ifyou plant them too early in your growing season, they can really struggle. It'snot just about preventing frost. Cold, damp spring temperatures can make themmore susceptible to disease, rot and lethargic growth. Here in this partof Ohio, most of our garden goes in around the 15th of May. If its niceand warm out - the tomatoes go in too. But if it's still a little chilly anddamp - we wait until late May to allow the soil to warm up!
HOW TO PLANT: Tomatoes benefitfrom rich, fertile soil. When you plant - make sure to add a few cupsof good compost in the hole along with the plant. And start saving youreggs shells now! Crushed egg shells are an excellent supplement to add to yourplanting hole. They add calcium to the soil as they break down - helpingto prevent the all-too common blossom rot; those black spots on the ends oftomatoes that can decimate a garden. We drop in a few crushed egg shellsper planting hole.
WHERE TO PLANT: Plant yourtomatoes in the sunniest location you can find. It can't be said enough -tomatoes love sun and heat. The more you give them - the better your crop willbe! And remember to rotate where you plant them from year to year - ifyou keep planting those tomatoes in the same spot, they will rob the soil ofall the nutrients needed for great yields and become more prone to disease.
Mulching and Weeds:
We mulch our tomato plants with a 1to 2" thick layer of compost - creating a 6 to 8" compost circlearound each stalk. It helps to regulate soil temperature, keep weeds to aminimum, and soil from eroding during strong rains. Of more importance,it acts as a slow-release fertilizer as it strains through nutrients duringwatering or rainfalls. Mulching also helps keep weeds at bay. Don't let weeds compete for the same nutrients your tomatoesneed. Just a few minutes of daily maintenance pulling small weeds aroundyour plants will keep your garden productive and neat! Make sure as you work in your garden to stay off the ground directly around yourplants - stepping on and around your plan'ts root zone compacts the soil andkeeps them from fully developing.
One last note on mulching. Ifthe season and soil are still a little cool - wait a few weeks for it to warmup before applying the mulch. If the soil is still cool, mulching canactually prolong the soil from heating up.
Whether you use cages, stakes, or ahybrid system like we do (See Stake a Cage), it's critical to provide great support for yourtomato plants! It keeps them off the ground - away from pests and foottraffic, allowing tomatoes to ripen with good circulation and exposure tosunlight.
As the plants grow during the firstmonth - we like to prune out the bottom 3 to 4" of stems andshoots. Why? It makes plants easier to water, and once again allowsthat all important air and light to circulate through the plants and rows. It also makes it a little more difficult for garden bugs and pests tofind their way onto your plants.
Watering tomatoes (and for that fact,your entire garden), is as much about when to water, as it is how much. Never water during the heat of the day. Not only do you lose muchof it to evaporation, but you also can easily burn the foliage of the plants. The absolute best time to water is in the early hours between sunrise andmid-morning. Not only is it cooler and easier on the gardener, but yourplants are not stressing from the heat of the day either. Eveningwatering is your next best choice if you can't water in the morning, althoughit can create mildew if the water sits on leaves through the cool nights.
How Much Water? This is a bigone. When the plants are very young and for the first week or so, youmay need to water daily to get them established. After that - wateringevery day is a no-no. Established tomatoes need about 1 inch of water a week. If mother nature can't supply that - then you need to supplement. If you are experiencing a prolonged dry spell – water every two to threedays with about a 1/2″ of water to the plant at a time. This allowsenough water to go deep into the soil and create longer roots. Why notevery day? Plants that get a little water every day never send theirroots deeper to look for moisture and nutrients - and you end up with a weakroot system, leading to a weak plant.
Soil Fertility andFertilizing
Tomatoes need fertile soil to growstrong and healthy. If you follow along with our blog, you know we're notbig fans of man-made fertilizers - so what is the answer when it comes tofertilizing? Well, if you use compost in your planting holes and as a topdressing, work in green manure and cover crops to your soil in the fall orspring, and practice plant rotation - there really is no need for syntheticfertilizers to get a great crop of tomatoes.
If you want to give your plants anall natural boost - you can apply compost tea - a simple solution of watersoaked and steeped in fresh compost. The water absorbs the naturalnutrients from the compost and becomes an "all natural" liquidfertilizer. We apply it to the soil around the base of our plants (notthe leaves - it can burn them) a couple of times early in the growing season toget our plants off to a great start. Well, truth be told, we also do itso our plants can look a little bigger and brighter green than mybrother-in-laws :)
- Jim and Mary
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You may chuckle at the name - but "Stake-A-Cage" really is the best way to describe the trellis system we came up with a few years ago to effectively and inexpensively tie up our
tomatoes and peppers. We get a lot of questions about it on the blog - so we thought today we would explain it in detail, along with details at the end of the post on how to make your own.
A few years back, with the garden planted, and about 45 tomato plants growing quicker than we imagined - we knew we needed to give them support and fast! After suffering sticker shock at the prices of tomato cages and stakes in the store, we decided to see what we could come up with ourselves.
We had some left-over welded wire fencing from building the outdoor run for the chicken coop, along with wooden stakes we had used to stake out the area where the coop and barn would go. So - in desperate need to tie up some tomato plants that were falling over - we used wire cutters to quickly cut the fencing into small grid panels. Next, we attached them to the wooden stakes with fencing nails we had on hand - and the Stake-A-Cage was born.
After we put a few up - we started realizing that we had something! Not only did they go together easily - they looked great and had a lot of advantages over the commercial cages or old wooden stakes we had used in the past.
For starters, it combines the best of the two old ways used to tie up tomatoes; the strength of strong wooden stake with the ease of a wire trellis cage.
Although stakes are strong in the soil - it's always been hard to tie the vines to them as the plants grow larger throughout the season. And although cages provide a better support for the tomato plants - they become hard to pick through as the plants grow. Not to mention our cages always seemed grow right out of the ground and topple over as the season progressed.
Hence, the use of the Stake A Cage. The support of a 4' long wooden stake - attached to an open-faced wire mesh grid. Strong and durable and cheap! It combines the durability of staking tomatoes with the ease of a cage. Better yet, by keeping the wire grid flat and not making a true cage - you can tie your tomatoes easily to the grid - and when it comes time to pick - you won't have to reach through the cages to get to the goods. The fruit and vegetables are right in front of you - and easy to harvest.
We have used ours now for three seasons and they are still going strong - and you can make them yourself with little effort for about $2 a piece! That's a far cry from the $5 to $25 you can pay for cages, stakes and trellises found in the stores!
How To Make Them:
Wire Cutters, Hammer, A Chop Saw or Jig Saw
2x2 Lumber For Stakes
Fencing Nails (Sometimes referred to as U - Nails)
30" High Welded Wire Galvanized Fence with 2" x 4" Mesh Grid (You can buy a 25' roll which makes enough for about 16 cages for tomatoes, or 25 for peppers)
There are a couple of options to make or buy your stakes. If you are starting from scratch, the easiest option is to buy inexpensive 2x2x8 framing lumber at your local home improvement / lumber store (usually for around$1.25. each) If you buy them in the standard 8' pieces, you can simply cut in half to make 2 from each board.
After using up the grade stakes we had on hand, we made the remainder of our stakes from scrap 2x4's and 2x6's. Running them through the table saw lengthwise to make 2x2's and then cutting them into 4 foot pieces.
To make a sharp point on the stakes - we then used a chop saw (jig saw works great too) to cut angled points into the end of one side. If you angle all four sides - it makes for a sharper point to drive into the ground.
***One extra note here: Since we use these in the garden and around our plants - we have always used regular, untreated lumber. Yes, it's true that it will not last as long as treated lumber - but if you store them each winter - you should be able to use them for a good 5 years. When they do start to go bad - you can simply remove the metal grid, and put on a new stake for the next 5 years! The wire mesh is galvanized, so it will not rust and can be re-used over and over.
Once you have your stakes ready - the rest is a piece of cake! Roll out the galvanized welded wire roll, and using wire cutters - just snip off 18" wide sections for tomatoes, or 12" sections if you will be using them for peppers.
Center the wire grid on the stake with the bottom of the wire about 16" from the bottom of the stake. (This is to allow the stake to be driven in to that depth) Then nail in 3 fencing nails, securing the wire to the stake. You have your very own Stake-A-Cage!
- Jim and Mary
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With the weather warming up, some of you may be planning to plant some tomatoes. Follow our tips that we've garnered from experience over several years of growing tomatoes and you'll be making your first 'mater sandwich before you know it!
If you are in need of new flooring but don't have much money to spend (or even if you do) then this fits the bill! I created this floor out of brown paper, Elmers glue, stain and
polyurethane. It was easy to do (albeit time consuming) and is very durable. This room is 10 X 12 and cost about $80, but future rooms will cost about $30 since I have plenty of leftover supplies. Click through to read the tutorial....http://www.domesticimperfection.com/2013/03/paper-bag-floors-a-tutorial/