Reusing to help in the garden

my watering can

my watering can

I position this jug under the drip in the bathtub to keep the water. I have a bucket by the door to collect the water to water the veggies at the end of the day or I just take the watering can to the flowers when it’s full. Oh the cardiovascular workouts.

labeling plants and plots

labeling plants and plots

This is a concentrated can of orange juice lid. I’ve got two labeled “bulbs” in other plots in the garden to I know that there’s something there.

to protect the brussel sprouts

to protect the brussel sprouts

We’re coming into the weather for the brussel sprouts, as it gets cooler they’ll get taller. They need to be protected from the wind but not the sun. I cut the bottom off an empty yogurt container, not even washing it since the milk product contains nutrients which are good for the soil.

an old knife to stake a peony?  pansy?

an old knife to stake a peony? pansy?

Hubby brought a cheap, thrift store, mismatched set of cutlery with him when he drove across the country to use until the moving truck arrived. I thought I’d given the set to our babysitter but I apparently missed one knife. I was going to throw it out but then this little flower, whatever it’s called, needed to be propped up.

Reuse around the garden (2)This is a shelter for ladybugs to hibernate and multiply during the winter. We aren’t in the woods or near any so getting sticks to tie in a bundle for the ladybugs is hard. But the day lilies are done and the lignin in the stalks is getting rather hard. I pulled up all the used stalks and tied those to whatever dowel or stake like thing I had to make my ladybug hotel.


Reuse matchless socks or damaged socks

matchless socks

matchless socks

Cut sock in half, a little above the ankle.
1- Hem the foot part to become a running shoe sock.
2- Hem the top part to become a hot coffee cup holder.

3- Cut the feet off a bunch of socks and sew them together in a long snake. Stuff with more matchless socks. Sew the ends shut, draw on eyes and a mouth with permanent marker if you feel like it, and make a door draft stopper.

4- Fold sock in 2,3 or 4, whatever is needed to achieve desired thickness, and sew it together to make a washable mouse pad for your wrist.

5- Bend a metal coat hanger end into a square, put sock around it (probably have to sew in place) and use as a net to scoop bugs out of the kiddie pool.

6- Use to store individual sandals for the winter or travel.

7- Use to hold broken glass or other sharp garbage so it doesn’t rip through your trash bag.

8- To store pruning scissors.

9- To store regular scissors for travel.

10- Sew leg part shut to insulate a water bottle.

11- Make leg or arm warmers.

My husband makes homemade beer so we have a giant, glass jar for part of the process. It’s impossible to dry and we can’t leave it lying around for 2 weeks to “air dry” because we have toddlers. You can’t store it in the basement without saran-wrapping the opening or the bugs get in, but then the water can’t get out. Last night when I had a stroke of genius I popped a doomed matchless sock over the opening! The water can still get out, the bugs can’t get in and the 15 pound jar can go in the basement! Plus, we don’t pollute the environment with plastic wrap.

Other things to do with matchless socks

Stuff a matchless sock with another matchless sock and sew/knot it shut. The sock-ball has the advantage of being very fun when wet outdoors in the summer. It’ll work indoors for toilet paper tube bowling.

Potty training “accident” that didn’t make it all the way into the potty? Wipe up with a matchless sock and you can throw the offending rag in the garbage.

They also make good bean bags if you fill them with small dry beans like lentils. Older children can play hackey sack and teenagers can biff them at each other.

Grownup’s matchless socks hang around for no more than one month before they line the compost bin to suck up the goo that invariably leeches out from the compost bag so I don’t have to wash the mini-bin as often.

Children’s matchless socks hang around for longer because they may not necessarily have gotten eaten by the dryer. They may be wedged under a mattress, or stuck on a doll’s head. But even these, eventually, are officially labeled uni-socks and go out by the same route of the compost bin. Except for the one lucky sock last night.

Natural pesticide

My rose bushes are currently suffering from some kind of destructive insect infestation. I don’t care too too much since I don’t really care for rose bushes, but still I’d like to save some of them. This tip comes from my mom and I saw it in action when I was a kid and there were little worms all over her tomatoes.

also a pesticide

also a pesticide

Technically, it’s not “natural” since soap is a chemical, but you get what I’m saying. Fill a floor washing bucket with water and plop a bar of Sunlight soap in it to dissolve overnight. This is the critical part, it has to be SOAP, not beauty bar (Dove) but PURE SOAP. Tallow and lye. The next morning fill a spray bottle with your soap mixture and soak the plant. Boy do those little worms wriggle, fall off and die! You’ll have to spray at least once a day.

The soap does not harm the plant, only the bugs. Maybe it gets in their eyes and irritates them to death. Don’t spray while the sun is shining on the plant because sunlight through water burns the leaves which will harm the plant.

I just made a batch of liquid soap from some shards I had and I’ve put the excess on the roses.

How to soothe bug bites and chicken pox naturally with matchless socks and oatmeal

The mosquitoes have been particularly attracted to my daughter this year so the poor thing is covered in huge, itchy bumps. Since she’s also got plenty of icing in her hair from yesterday’s birthday party, it’s bath time!

anti itch

anti itch

To soothe her itchy skin I filled the toes of a matchless sock with dry, quick cooking oatmeal (about two handfuls) and knotted the sock shut. I tossed it under the running water in the tub and encouraged her to squish it around the water and on herself.

When the bath is over you throw the soggy sock in the trash and have one less matchless sock and one less itchy kid.

You can also dab a bug bite with vinegar to neutralize the poison that makes it itch, but I couldn’t bring myself to make her bumps sting, even a smidge, just to itch less later. She wouldn’t have understood. I would have cried.

This set up also works excellently for chicken pox, soak the kid twice a day. When our son was one, he had the chicken pox. We’d dunk him every time he threatened to scratch and the oatmeal bath stopped him.

Natural bug management (slugs, ants, ticks, fleas, fruit flies & ladybugs) & keeping biting ones off you

Boiling water
There are very few annoying problems that can’t be solved by boiling water.
1- Mold. I found mould growing in the top of the garbage can lid. No problem. I poured a kettle’s worth of boiling water over it and that pretty much took care of it.
2- Anthills – boiling water and borax.
3- Weeds growing up through your walkway, boil ‘em; they die.
4- Kiddie pool just a little too cold, one or two kettle’s worth.
NOTE: My aunt is a very specialized nurse and has a washing machine that will boil your clothes. To quote my Microbiology teacher “everything burns”.

for bug control

for bug control

1- Throw the ones you find into the fire, a temporary, stop-gap solution.
2- Kid-friendly, effective poison: used coffee grinds or diatomaceous earth (a powder made up of pulverized sea shells. The slugs slide over it and it slices them to death, the coffee grinds work about the same way)
3- Apparently the caffeinated killer is a pot of brewed coffee, but methinks my husband would have a problem with that since he drinks the whole pot.
4- Put the grinds in the watering can, add water and water everything slug prone.
5- Geese or ducks. There are certain breeds of fowl that LOVE slugs. You can borrow them from a farmer or rent them for a day and they will pick your yard clean.
6- Drown them. Bury a glass jar with a wide mouth so the opening is level with the ground and fill it with beer. They’ll drown themselves so fast they’ll solidify into a mass in the container. Replace often.

Attracting Ladybugs
In case you didn’t know, ladybugs are very good for a garden. They eat aphids and entertain children. You can “build” a ladybug habitat by tying a bunch of sticks into a bundle and securing it somewhere safe. The ladybeetles will build their nests in the hollow spaces, spend the winter there and reproduce prodigiously.

Some garden centers sell jars of ladybugs and jars of spiders. Try not to kill spiders in your yard, just relocated them to the corner of the rose bushes.

With warmer weather come ticks in our neck of the woods. So far only wood ticks, not the dreaded Lyme disease carrying tiny deer tick. To find a tick: pat anything that itches to make sure it is not an attached tick for if you scratch you risk tearing the head off and leaving it imbedded in your skin. To kill a tick:

1- flush down the toilet

2- wrap in a paper towel and light on fire. They explode. REVENGE!!!

3- put a squirt of dish detergent in a bottle and fill with water. The soap removes the air bubbles from the tick’s legs so it can’t float/swim and crawl out of the container. Yes, they are thin enough to slither out of a closed bottle. This is the best option if you are unsure as to what type of tick you’ve just captured. You can take the dead specimen to your local wildlife office and have them identify it for you.

To remove an imbedded tick: I’ve heard of so many things but honestly the only thing that’s worked for me is to pinch the skin with my nails below where the tick is attached and squeeze it out. Other options:

1- put a dab of Vaseline on the tick, apparently this cuts off the oxygen to the tick and they let go in order to breathe.

2- light and blow out a match. Touch hot end onto tick and the pain makes them skedaddle.

3- soak a cotton ball in dish detergent and rub the tick. The soap irritates and makes them let go, then they get trapped in the fibres of the cotton ball.

The very dry summer here has been wonderful for flea breeding. We’ve found a few in our house and they seem way bigger than they did when I was a kid. They’re like a small fruit fly. Anyway, if you manage to catch one in your fingers, open your pinch at the bottom of a large jar of soapy water. Same killing premise as the ticks.

At night, set a flea trap. Fill a white plate with soapy water and lay it on the floor under a lamp. The fleas leap for the light and land in the water to DIE. Vacuum frequently and I’m sorry to say, especially if your vacuum bags cost $5 each, burn the bag or the fleas just crawl out to repopulate.

Fruit flies
Drosophilae have begun materializing all over our house, mostly centered around the compost container. We made a seredipitous discovery of what will attract them to their deaths. A yeast bread starter.

Put some water, tbsp of sugar and tsp of yeast in a bowl. Cover with saran wrap and poke a few holes in it. When the fruit flies fumble into the openings, either flick them down into the barm to drown, or, my favourite, squish them to the side of the bowl. Empty bowl, repeat.

Hubby came up with this when he made pizza dough and the flies were all over the cloth on the rising dough like flies on poo.

Other home remedies work too although not as quickly as this yeast option. Apple cider vinegar, beer or wine in a bowl with holey saran wrap.

Mosquitoes, black flies and no-see-ums
Conquered by the barbarian bug hordes I had a coup de foudre (French expression for “My God why didn’t have this obviously brilliant thought before?!”) about keeping the bugs out of my ears, hair and neck.

I first tried a bug jacket, which keeps the bugs off your arms, but I couldn’t see enough through the face screen and if I unzipped it, the bugs could get in. The solution is a headscarf, somewhat like a hijaab. It’s tight and protects the hair, neck and most of the face from both the sun and the bugs.

I fold a red beach sarong in half, pin it together à la headscarf with clothespins and put my gardening hat on top to hold the whole thing steady. If I’m burning dead wood I tuck the extra ends inside my shirt. You can use a curtain, tablecloth, or sheet too. I learned how to tie it all together on youtube from makeupaddikt:

She’s gorgeous and also shows you how to do the most incredible eye makeup.

It’s not a religious headscarf, it’s a swamp headscarf. I wear a long sleeved shirt and pants to keep the bugs off the rest of me because the bibittes (French for bugs) around here drink bug spray for breakfast then go look for blood.

Crochet sun hat free pattern

crochet sun hat

I’ve got the brim pointed down to hide my face, but I’ll flip it back up to gardening outside.

This is a very easy pattern, although divining it was a lot of work for me and I had to undo the hat 4 times to get it right. You of course will not have this problem.

The reason I had to come up with this pattern is because my daughter appropriated MY gardening hat for herself. It must have been too stylish to be left on my head and she took it.

I used a 3.5 mm crochet hook and three balls of Bernat cotton yarn in three different colours because I went to the local thrift shop and bought a bag of yarn for $3. You of course will probably get three balls of the same colour. You’ll need another ball or two if you want a wider brim.

My head measures 53 cm around so this hat fits me.

Ch3, join into a ring
Ch1, make 7 sc in ring (8 sts)
Make 2 sc in each sc around (16 sts)
*sc in first sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep * around (24 sts)
*sc in first 2 sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep * around (32 sts)
*sc in first 3 sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep * around (40 sts)
*sc in first 4 sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep * around (48 sts)
*sc in first 5 sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep * around (56 sts)
*sc in first 6 sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep * around (64 sts)
*sc in first 7 sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep * around (72 sts)
*sc in first 8 sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep * around (80 sts)
*sc in first 9 sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep * around (88 sts)
*sc in first 10 sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep * around (96 sts)
*sc in first 11 sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep * around (104 sts)
*sc in first 12 sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep * around (112 sts) *NOTE: If I were to make another hat for myself I would try omitting this last row of increased sts to try to get a very snug fit on my head for windy days. If you did this the following total number of sts in brackets would no longer be correct, but follow the instructions anyway.

Sc in each sc for 16 rows (this will use up the first ball of yarn)

*sc in first 2 sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep from * around (154 sts)

Sc in each sc for 1 row

*sc in first 7 sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep from * around (173 sts)

Sc in each sc for 8 rows

*sc in first 9 sc, make 2 sc in next sc* rep from * around (186 sts) *NOTE; this is not an even division of available stitches, just overshoot your row marker a little bit. It doesn’t matter at all.

Sc in each sc for 8 rows

*sc in first 9 sts, make 2 sc in next sc* rep from * around (204 sts) *NOTE; this is not an even division of available stitches, just overshoot your row marker a little bit. It doesn’t matter at all.

Sc in each sc for 2 rows
When you start coming to the end of your yarn, work a few slip stitches to smooth off the edge of the brim.

This will be the end of the third ball of yarn and give you the size hat that you see in the picture. If you want a wider brim, use more yarn; smaller brim, less yarn.

This pattern is copyrighted by Anna Merlini 2013, you can use it to make your own hat but please give me credit for the pattern. You can’t use this pattern to make hats to sell.

DIY Garden border and free watering can

I found a chipmunk in my outside garbage can yesterday.  It’s the same fellow that lives in my rain gutter and I believe, ate some of my spinach.  I harvested the remainder of the spinach before he could get it.  It isn’t raining much this summer so the spinach wasn’t doing spectacularly anyway.  Although compared to how I usually garden, which is to kill everything, the spinach is doing great!

In other gardening news, I finished putting in the log border around the garden that lines the walkway.

This border serves a number of purposes to make my life easier: one- it’s pretty, two- it keeps the lawn from growing into the garden, three- I sunk the log deep enough that I can run the lawn mower over it, thus eliminating the need to weed the edges by hand. 

I’ve been despairing my lack of an official watering can all year, using two big buckets to haul water up from the swamp by hand instead.  The trouble is that the large opening of the bucket creates a severe force of water hitting the plants and dislodging the dirt around them, hence the need for the softer opening of a watering can.  Since it isn’t raining much I decided to scoop the rinse water from the dishes into a container to water the vegetables.  Upon trying to find a suitable container I lighted upon an empty jug of liquid laundry detergent- now my new watering can!  The spout is small enough to pour without damaging the plants and I didn’t have to spend any extra money.