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This is the method I’ve been using for several years now to get rid of yellow jacket nests from my yard and garden that does not contaminate the soil.

It works every time; it’s safe and easy to do as long as you follow the plan.

I learned this method from a homesteading group I was part of a few years ago who helped me with organic gardening. You don’t need to buy anything to do this.

chipmunk-with-tomatoThere are many different types of animals that can invade your garden and each requires a unique way to keep them out. The first step to take when you first notice that your garden has been invaded is to identify the creature. Common garden thieves include: deer, squirrel, rabbits, raccoons, birds, gophers, and skunks. Once you identify which creature is ruining your beautiful garden, research a little bit about the animal species. Learn about the animals habits. This knowledge will be crucial in discovering a way to keep the animal out. The next thing to do is to try and make your garden as unappealing as possible to the nearby wildlife.

How To Make Your Garden Less Appealing to the Animals

  • Get rid of nearby hiding places such as brush, tall grass, and possible crawl/burrowing space underneath decks

  • Cover compost piles; raccoons are extremely drawn to compost piles

  • Clean spilled bird seed; squirrels flock to bird seed

  • Tie aluminum cans to tree branches above gardens: the shininess and noise have been known to scare off animals

  • Spray vegetables with a water and hot sauce mixture: it will deter certain animals. Keep in mind that you will need to wash these veggies thoroughly when picked, if you do not like spicy foods. Also, keep in mind that the rain will wash off this hot sauce mixture and will need to be reapplied.

If these techniques do not work there are many other options on keeping animals out of your garden.

Ways to Keep Animals Out Of Your Garden

  • Place physical barriers up that animals cannot enter. It is encouraged that a fence be placed around the garden. Placing mesh or netting over the garden has also been known to help in some cases. This can be found at local hardware stores. This product allows for the plants to still receive the amount of sunlight and water that they need without impeding their growth.

  • Eradication: These are the more gruesome ways of removal, but are effective nonetheless. Types of eradication include:

    • smoke bombs

    • poison

    • scissor traps

    • shooting

  • Scent repellants can be used to keep animals out. Simple research can be done to find out which scents the type of animal avoids, and these can be purchased at gardening stores or can be found at local groceries (ex. lemons, coffee grounds, etc.).

  • Pets can also help keep unwanted animals out of gardens. Cats and dogs have been known to chase off intruding animals.

  • Live traps: are the more humane removal technique. Pest control can be called to help aid the removal, or these traps can be purchased for personal use. These traps catch the animal live, and allow you release the animal a safe distance from your home and garden.

Though vegetable gardens are extremely prone to animal invasion, it usually does not take much to remove these vegetable thieves and the problems that they pose.

Lindsay is a writer for Kyle Law Firm, a personal injury and criminal defense attorney firm in Austin, Texas. Lindsay enjoys gardening very much and does not allow any animal steal her home grown veggies. 

Your First Vegetable Garden: Tips For Success

Starting your own vegetable garden can seem like an overwhelming task. There is a lot of preparation and trial-and-error involved. What are you going to plant? Where are you going to plant it? How big does the plot need to be? How do I care for vegetable plants? What do I do after the harvest season ends? The list of questions and concerns can seem endless.

Planning Your Garden

No one has ever looked back and thought “Wow, I wish I had prepared less for that.” Outside of gardening, careful planning and preparation is a skill that has contributed to many successes and victories. In the preliminary stages of your first vegetable garden, decide what you’ll plant. Tomatoes are common, as are herbs. Researching what can grow best in your area can help, too. Also find out how much space they will need to thrive. Corn, for example, will need more space than carrots. How many plants do you want? This depends on the amount of space you have available. Can you sacrifice several yards or a few feet? Even a small herb garden can fit on a windowsill. If you’re having trouble visualizing how much you want or need, start smaller than larger. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. Plus, you can always make your garden a little bigger next year.

Prepping the Yard

You’ll want to put your vegetable garden in a spot that has at least 6-8 hours of sun per day, as required by most plants. A shady spot can limit their yield and make them more susceptible to disease. If you are having trouble finding a spot in your yard with full sun, you’ll have to adjust which plants you want accordingly. Veggies like lettuce and kale actually grow nicely in partial shade. Preparing your soil for a vegetable garden is fairly foolproof. Vegetables grow best in soil that has high amounts of organic matter and good drainage. To test the drainage capabilities of your soil, water your target area and wait for a day. After a day has passed, dig up a chunk of soil and squeeze it in your hands. If water flows out, your drainage capabilities are lacking a bit. You can improve drainage of the soil by adding compost or consider installing raised beds. Before you plant anything, till the area to loosen the soil and water is thoroughly. It should be ready for plants after several days.

Planting and Caring for Your Veggies

Plant your veggies according to directions. Some varieties you can plant from seed (like carrots or peas), while others may do better planted when they are already young plants (like tomatoes). After you plant them, give them a nice drink of water, about 1 inch. Don’t water again until the top inch of soil is dry. Typical gardens don’t need to be watered more than once per week, but you may need to supplement that during times of droughts. Remove weeds as soon as they appear, because they are going to be competing with your plants for water and nutrients. You can also keep weeds from rooting by carefully tilling the surface of the soil with a hand tiller. Make sure you have proper lattices in place for vining plants like tomatoes and peas. When your plants start bearing fruit, you are free to pick it whenever you like. The general rule is if it looks good enough to eat, then it probably is.

Emily Kaltman writes for The Grass Outlet in Austin, Texas. She enjoys writing about nature and eating from her family’s vegetable garden. 

Budget Gardening: How To Get Started

organic-produceOne of the most off putting things for those wishing to start gardening, but on a low budget is that they may be put off by the cost of by the perceived cost of starting to garden. Fortunately, gardening doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby to get started in and is relatively cheap.

Whether you have little space or money, you’ll be fine in the garden – so, let’s take a look at some beginners tips to ease you into your green fingered ways.

Equipment

A lot of equipment can be got second hand and also very cheaply. In fact, in a lot of cases people will be only too happy to get rid of it when cleaning the clutter from their sheds or garages. Sites such as Freecycle and others can be great places for picking things up. That said, your own rubbish can double up as useful in the garden. For instance, old sinks, pots and trash cans are all useful in the garden area and can also look quite attractive. Alternatively, most big shops do a range of low cost equipment that will do the trick.

Compost is also very easy to make and you can do so with a lot of the left overs that you have and usually recycle. These can be added to a compost heap and then will end up turning into compost with a little help from you and Mother Nature.

Seeds

Seeds are also easy to come across and if you have green fingers you can also grow plants from cuttings. EBay can be a good place for specific seeds and newspapers and magazines can also throw up some great finds.

Cheap plants are the best for beginners – something that can be considered beneficial for a number of reasons. These plants take little care and are often hard to kill and strong too. They also don’t require much food, or high tech equipment to look after.

Herbs

Herbs are also a good starting point as they work well, grow in pots and once more are very hardy and strong. They don’t cost much and also spread quite well. Of course, if you like to cook, they double up as very useful kitchen flavouring.

Fruit and Veg

If you want to go as far as growing fruit and vegetables then kale, potatoes and radishes are a good start and don’t take much care, or cost a lot of money. Just plant them in some lifted soil or even hire a rotivator for a couple of hours – it doesn’t cost much. Currants and gooseberry bushes are also a good option in the fruit department and grow quickly and taste great. They’re also expensive in shops and so you can save on them by growing them.

These tips show you how low in price it costs to garden. It’s worth it on a number of levels and a real interest for life, so why not give it a try.

Cormac Reynolds is a keen gardener and has written for a variety of websites and home improvement blogs on the area.

Ernie’s Homegrown Tomatoes Review

Join Ernie’s Homegrown Tomatoes

10 Tips for Healthy Living

People complain about how unhappy they are with their lives and how unhappy they are with their bodies. Having or adopting a healthier lifestyle has more to do with just body image issues. No one likes being sick, more so being sick all the time. The saying that prevention is better than cure has a lot to do with how well we treat our bodies.

Treating your body well has everything to do with what we put in and how we then expect or treat our bodies in return. It is not hard really. If you think about it, before we had all this that we have, in the olden days when man lived a much simpler life they ate what they grew and spent a whole lot of time chasing animals. They lived a less sedentary life and get enough oxygen than we now get. We might have made technological advances, think that we have moved mankind to something better but in the process we have adopted bad habits, we love everything that comes easily to us, instant food, machines that can give us instant results and products and we are junk food addicts and lazier people.

You’ll have a happy life when you have a healthy lifestyle. If you feel good your confidence levels also rise and you can extend your life for a while longer to spend with those you love.

Your attitude towards life will also dictate how people respond to you but if you don’t feel as healthy then you won’t have the right attitude that is needed for a healthy lifestyle.

If you are just embarking on a new healthy lifestyle, it might take a while to get used to the changes because you have to adjust your relationship to food and your own body. Once you get on the way and actually start, in a couple of days you will feel the difference.

There are 10 simple tips for healthy living that you can follow:

1.      Avoid processed foods; these are harmful to our health. They are convenient but there is nothing healthy about food that is preserved with chemicals. They are quick but it doesn’t mean that you can’t take 30 minutes of your day preparing fresh foods. If you have no idea, try finding quick 30 minute meal ideas.

2.      Exercise at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. It doesn’t have to be something rigorous; you don’t have to get some costly gym membership you can’t commit to. A simple daily walk is enough for healthy living.

3.      Eat your fruits and vegetables. Studies continue to show that eating 5 types of fruits and vegetables can reduce a lot premature death.

4.      Smoking is bad for someone who wants to live a healthy lifestyle. Cigarette companies even warn smokers of this but unfortunately this is a habit that some people have no qualms about starting. It looks cool to puff away but your lungs won’t thank you for it. If you don’t smoke don’t even start, if you do try as much as you can to stop. You can get help with stopping by talking to your doctor or pharmacist to give you something to help you.

5.      Reduce your salt intake. Salt has been linked to high blood pressure which leads to strokes and other heart diseases.

6.      Cut stress out of your life. Stress causes all kinds of problems from ulcers, heart diseases, weight gain and ulcers. Combat stress by meditating and doing yoga, treat yourself to massages and just take care of you mental health as best as you can.

7.      Reduce your caffeine intake or cut it out completely. Some tea contains caffeine, so does chocolate and some soft drinks. There are decaffeinated versions of coffee that you can take if you like the taste of coffee that much. Caffeine itself causes things like insomnia, headaches and anxiety.

8.      Drink water. The average amount of water you should be drinking is 2litres per day. Two liters sounds like a lot but if you break it down to an 8 glass taken at regular intervals throughout the day. Water helps flush toxins from your body and helps regulate your digestive system.

9.      Reduce your alcohol intake. Alcohol has been attributed to liver diseases and it speeds up the aging process. Women who worry about looking younger should first think about the simple changes they can make, like reducing their alcohol intake to no more than 3 units a day. A unit equals half a glass of wine or 87.5 ml, 1 measure of spirits (40%) and half a pint of 4% beer. Men should drink no more than 4 units.

10.  Moderation is important for healthy living. Everything should be done in moderation. The food you eat the alcohol you drink the coffee you take the exercise you undertake, the time you spend “resting” infant of the TV. Everything. It is okay to indulge once in a while but have a limit.

It is all about balance!

This is a guest article from Praveen writing on behalf of Awesome Cuisine, a popular Indian Recipe website showing you how to prepare Healthy Fast Food at home.

Becoming a Professional Bee Keeper

Some people mistakenly believe that beekeeping is a simple task. In fact, it takes commitment, dedication and some skill. Beekeeping can become a professional activity, providing an individual with steady income.

What does it take to become a professional beekeeper? The answer to this question involves several requirements and basic steps. A beekeeper can make money through the production of honey, wax, bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly. All these products can be created through specific procedures that a beekeeper needs to master.

Basic Beekeeping Prerequisites

To become a professional beekeeper, a person needs to get several questions answered.

It is of uttermost importance to find out whether you are allergic towards bees. All people experience pain and swelling if a bee stings them. Allergic people, however, experience a more severe and threatening reaction.

Blood tests can be used to determine if a person is allergic to bees. You can also know how your body reacts if you have been stung before. If you experienced no severe swelling and pain, you are not allergic to bees.

Professional beekeepers are knowledgeable. They read and know a lot about bees, keeping bees and making different products. Information can be found through a basic web search or through reading specialized beekeeping literature.

Knowing All About Beehives

Once you know everything about the basics, you will have to determine where to position the beehives and how many of them you would need.

You will need a garden or a lawn, where the beehives will be placed. For best results, you need a space that is not neighboring houses. You risk disturbing your neighbors otherwise.

Beginners should start with two or three beehives. Beehives and bees should be purchased solely from licensed providers. A new beekeeper should get started in May so that bees have the chance to grow strong and survive the winter.

Professional beekeepers will also purchase all the equipment needed to take care of bees. This step might be somehow expensive but if you are serious about it, you will have to get professional tools.

Medicines and Veterinary Care

Beekeepers should also make sure that they have the medications needed to keep bees healthy.

Bees need treatment against some of the most common diseases that affect them. Read about such conditions, what results they cause and how to prevent the disease from occurring.

You might use the services of a vet occasionally. Veterinarians can examine bees and determine how healthy they are. An inexperienced beekeeper might have difficulties determining if bees are suffering from a certain condition.

Love and Respect for Nature

If you want to be a professional beekeeper, you will need to learn how to love and respect nature. You will be successful only if you enjoy the activity.

Professional beekeepers are curious about the details of this business and they are daring enough to experiment. Honey can be produced in a number of ways and learning how to do that will guarantee the success of the beekeeper.

Technologies are constantly improving and people are discovering new ways to increase production and to make beekeeping an even more winning activity. A professional beekeeper needs to have an open mind and the desire to become better. This is the only way to make sure that the business will turn out to be a successful one.

Jamie Highland writes about various family, animals, and baby topics. For more info or to check out the bee baby shower theme or some baby shower gifts, visit My Baby Shower Favors.

Ernie’s Homegrown Tomatoes Bonus

As you know, being a member of Ernie’s Homegrown Tomatoes comes with some really cool benefits – mainly being taught how to grow tomatoes from an expert. You won’t have to do any trial and error or investigating on how to do it because Ernie is going to show you exactly how he does it every year. It’s entirely duplicatable.

In addition to learning Ernie’s steps and secrets to growing highly productive tomato plants, there’s a bonus to go with it.

We have a growing library of resources as you need them:

  • How to identify and deal with various tomato plant diseases
    • Blossom end rot
    • Early and late blight
    • Mineral deficiencies
  • How to identify and deal with various tomato plant pests
    • Cutworms
    • Tomato hornworms
    • Tomato fruitworms
    • Nematodes
    • Stink bugs
    • Leaf footed bugs
    • Birds, squirrels, chip monks, rats, deer
  • Interviews with master gardeners and experts on a variety of topics, for example:
    • The 5 Laws of Vegetable Plant Growth – Jim Kennard
  • Charts and tables
    • Companion plant recommendations

How about that for a bonus?

Corn On the Cob On the Coals

Super-Super-sweet corn- on-the-cob is such an All-American summer tradition. I can’t help but think of slathered-on butter and sea salt.

For the Volunteer Appreciation Picnic at the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, they had a circular stone pit filled with white-hot coals. Laying atop the charcoal briquets were large roasting ears of sweet corn.

Those coals radiated some powerful heat and it was a scorcher of an evening, but the smell of the barbeque and something reminiscent of buttered popcorn wafting on a light breeze was delectable.

When served, the able cook pulled back the long, fibrous leaves (called husks) to reveal the steaming tender/sweet kernels of bi-colored deliciousness, and without removing them, he wrapped them in foil as a handle-of-sorts (no one got charcoal smears on their clothes) . I asked some questions, and the server said those husks act as a ‘steamer’ for the corn.

I admit I have never seen this done before, and was intriguing, so I wanted to try it here at home on the grill. My Dear Husband ( the DH) is a grilling pro and knew just what to do – as far as I’m concerned, he’s the best! It was great with steaks and grilled zucchini :)

You have always heard of ‘roasting ears’ of corn, well this is how you can do it:

GRILLED ROASTING EARS (CORN)
All the roasting ears you can eat
1 large tub water
Soak unshucked ears of corn in tub of water after cleaning tips of any undesirables. Let soak about 1 hour or however long so that water penetrates husks good. Place over very hot coals and turn as husks turn white, yellow and occasionally brown from burning. This process will cause the husks to steam the corn on the cob. When husks are no longer green it is ready to serve.

(I have read about how they use large banana leaves in the tropics to wrap meats and fruit and steam them in the coals. Plus, the flavor of the fire just makes everything taste better. I would love to experiment sometime with cooking like that, but I think the leaves have to be green and wet when you start or they will just burn up!!)

Sweet corn should be out there on the road side stands soon, or you may be ready to harvest if you planted this year. Whichever, putting up some freezer corn could become your next family tradition.

I bought a corn-kernel ‘slicer-offer’ so we can freeze this sweet treat to enjoy through the winter. I’ve heard it cuts kernels off without much mess and gets all the sugary juice, too. In that case, I will want a couple more for an assembly line production. I can’t wait to do it!  Enjoy this last bit of summer while it lasts, friends.

Note: If you are still looking for a late summer trip, I can think of nothing better than to visit the Creation Museum’s amazing gardens, fantastic robotic dinosaurs extensive exhibits, as well as the I-MAX-style planetarium. If you are passing through Cincinnati around Christmas, be sure not to miss the live nativity and village in Bethlehem, as well as the fantastic light shows and stirring dramatic presentations at Christmas Town.

Jacqueline writes for Deep Roots At Home.

15 Ways to Recycle Used Water

Water is a precious resource. Even when it seems there’s plentiful water for all our needs, we cannot lose sight of the fact that water resources are either depleting or getting polluted. Recycling water helps not only to preserve water stores, but also helps save the environment. You can recycle water at home, at schools, at your workplace and just about everywhere. It’ll take you a few additional minutes every day to recycle water but the extra time is well spent.

Recycling Water In The Kitchen

1.        Rinse your washed utensils in a plastic tub of water instead of using the dishwasher. Dishwashers, whether you load them fully or not, use a great deal of water. Best of all, you can use the rinsed water to water houseplants, or to clean sinks, toilets and floors. If the water contains grease, add a few drops or lemon dish soap, or mild baby shampoo to make the water grease free. 

2.        Always rinse vegetables in a bowl of water instead of under the running tap. Save the water and use it in your garden. It doesn’t matter if the water contains bits of mud or even veggie peals. All of it is good for your plants outside.

3.        You can use the water in which you boil your pasta and use this starchy solution to prep your soups. You can also save the water leftover from boiling veggies, and add it to your soup stock. If you don’t want to use saved cooking water in food, you can always use it to water plants, shrubs and herbs.

4.        Don’t throw away water that’s been left out in glasses, half drunk. This water and the leftover water in half-drunk water bottles can be boiled and drunk again. If you don’t want to drink water that’s been left out, you can always use it to wash dishes.

Recycling Water In The Bathroom

5.        If you turn your shower on and let it run free it heats up, catch the free flowing water in a bucket. This is clean water and you can use it to feed outdoor plants, feed animals, water your lawn, trees and shrubs.

6.        Instead of draining your bathtub after bathing, use it to clean tiles, mop floors, and wash your car or walls. You can even pour the used bath water into outdoor tree wells. Check with your plumber if he or she can fit your tub’s outlet to an indoor or outdoor water recycling system. This way, when you finish your bath, you can turn on the recycling system to drain the water from your tub for other needs.

7.        Take baths instead of using showers. Nearly 7 to 10 gallons of water is lost down the drain when you shower. When you take baths instead, you can save all the bathwater to water your lawns, wash your car and so on.

Recycling Water In Your Garage and Driveway

8.        When you wash your car with water and soap, let the soapy water drain into your lawn or into your shrubs. Soapy water won’t hurt your lawn and shrub plants. Park your car close to your lawn and shrubs when you wash it.

9.        Wash your car using water in buckets. This way you’ll know how many buckets of water you’re using. When you hose your car down, you will lose sight of the gallons you’ll be wasting.

10.     Dry sweep your driveway instead of hosing it down. You can get best results if you dry sweep your driveway before you wash your car. That way, you can place your car in your driveway and wash it, allowing the soapy water to clean out your driveway.

Recycling Water Using Innovative Recycling Systems

11.     You can help save several hundred gallons of fresh water in your home by installing a gray water recycling system. A gray-water recycling system can save 35% of bath and shower and over 30% of the water that you would otherwise flush down the drain. This system is connected to your home’s plumbing system. It automatically treats used water from your kitchen, bathroom and laundry rooms for reuse.

12.     When it rains, the water just goes straight in our sewerage system. That’s so much clean, chemical free water that you could put to good use. Use rain collection barrels to collect rain water. If your area gets lot of rain, installing a rain harvesting system might be a good idea as well. You can use stored rain water to feed your livestock and water plants.

Recycling In Your Garden

13.     When you water your flower pots, excess water usually drains out. Place plastic buckets under the flower pots to capture this excess water and reuse it in your garden.

14.     Plant smaller plants and shrubs close to your larger trees, shrubs and your lawn. This way, when you water your lawn or border shrubs, your herbs also will get some loving attention.

15.     If you have a sizeable garden, it’ll be a good idea to dig small ponds of a couple of feet in diameter and layer them in plastic. Dig these close to your shrubs and lawn. When it rains, excess water from lawns overflow and you can catch the water in these little ponds and use the water for to feed other plants.

Marina is a freelance writer and enjoys writing about specialty products like full length floor lamps, chaise lounge chairs and a lot more.