Homemade Red Lily Beetles Deterrent

Homemade Red Lily Beetles Deterrent If you grow lilies, you’ve probably noticed red lily beetles chewing on them. Instead of using poisonous commercial sprays to deter them, make a homemade red lily beetles deterrent from something you probably already have in your kitchen. Continue reading

Squirrel Deterrent

It happens every year, the nuts on Gramma’s trees and the fruit in our are little orchard are growing beautifully. They get just about ripe, and suddenly BAM! they’re gone. Where have they gone, they’re taken by the squirrels of course. Between ourselves and Gramma, we’ve tried almost every deterring technique known to man, save one: Plastic Bags. Believe it or not, this simple solution works better than all the rest.

Just tie a few plastic bags to the trees with fruit or nut and allow them to blow in the wind. The presence of the bags (and probably the noise as well) does wonders to keep the squirrels away, which means we’ll actually be able to enjoy the fruit of the trees we worked so hard to take care of. And so as not to deprive the squirrels of everything, we have a bunch of butternut and walnut trees in our yard that they’re welcome to.

Rub-on Transfer Garden Wagon

Rub-on transfers can give new life to old wood. They look hand-painted, but are so much simpler.

I had one of those little wooden garden wagons lying around in storage. It was weathered and beat up, not much to look at, so I decided to try a little experiment. The materials required for this project are pretty simple:

Something to paint (in this case I used a wooden garden wagon, but the rub on transfers will work of most surfaces)
Spray paint of your chosen color
Rub-on transfers
Popsickle stick
Spray varnish.

To begin this project, spray your entire item with two coats of paint. You can also paint it with a brush, but the spray paint is much faster, espcially on wood. Let dry overnight.

To use the rub-on transfers (these can be found in almost any craft store, I got mine at Joann Fabrics), cut around the shape you want to rub. It’s ok if you have white around the image because most rub-on transfers don’t transfer the white part. Lay your transfer picture-side down on your item and use the popsickle still to rub the back of the transfer. Use a circular motion and rub the entire transfer. You’ll be able to see through the backside when the transfer leaves the backing paper. Carefully pull off the backing paper.

Continue this process using as many rub on transfers as you need to complete your project. When finished, coat the entire project with a layer of spray varnish. This will help prevent the transfers from getting scratched off. If you plan to you item an an outdoor decoration, the varnish is especially important.

Be Bee Friendly

Without bees there is no pollination, and without pollination, there is no food. Be Bee Friendly.

Colony Collapse Disorder is a problem currently talked about a lot among beekeepers. No one knows the cause of it, and therefore, no one knows how to fix the problem. But a problem is exactly what it is. For reasons unknown, the bees will suddenly lose their sense of how to return to the hive. Without the hive, the bees die, and without the bees returning, the hives die. Hence the colony of bees collapses.

Outside of the bee community, it not widely talked about, and many people believe that colony collapse disorder doesn’t affect them. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, as bees feed us all. They are the primary source of pollination for many of the world’s main food crops. Without bees there is no pollination, and without pollination, there is no food.

While there is not yet a known cause for colony collapse disorder, there are things we can do to help bees. First and foremost, don’t kill honeybees. Killing members of an endangered species (exactly where honeybees are heading toward if something doesn’t change) only weakens the group further. A single honeybee can carry up to 100,000 grains of pollen in a trip. Killing even one bee makes the hive sacrifice that 100,000 grains of pollen and thus the honey that would have been made from it.

During the spring, when the hives separate and swarm off, many unhappy people find themselves host to a swarm of hundreds of bees trying to make a nest in their house. Once again, do not spray these insects. Instead, call around the community looking for people who collect bees. You can even post ads on sites like craigslist offering free bees to anyone who wants to come and get them. In most community there are bee groups with people who go out every weekend collecting renegade swarms. They are more than happy to remove them from your property for you.

Another way to help bees is to plant flowers that are attractive to bees, giving them an ample food supply. Asters, sunflowers, hollyhocks, crocuses, roses, blackberries, pumpkins, lavender, butterfly bush, and honeysuckle to name a few are all bee-friendly plants. Having an available water source is always a boost for them as well. The main staple food in most bees’ diets, however, is clover. As such, a person wanting to help bees should never spray their lawn. Not only are the toxins themselves a danger to bees, but spraying kills all the clover that the bees so greatly need.

If you want to take it a step further, consider actually raising bees. Not only does it produce a sweet treat for you, it helps increase bee populations. If the thought of raising bees and collecting honey is less than thrilling to you, consider raising bees for the sake of the bees. This is probably one of the healthiest ways to raise bees. In this method there is no profit of honey sought, a person simply gets the bees, gives them a home, and leaves them alone, letting them live as though they were completely wild.

Last but not least, even if raising bees yourself is out of the question, you can always support those who do raise bees by purchasing local honey. Not only does this keep people raising bees, it is also a healthy alternative to store bought honey. Due to the local pollen that the bees put into local honey, it helps reduce the symptoms for people who suffer from seasonal allergies. Buy local, be bee friendly.

Pumpkin Seed Saving

I think my cows’ favorite time of year are the post Halloween weeks. Not only do they get all the moldy jack ‘o lanterns, but they also get all the left-over squash, gourds and pumpkins that weren’t carved or sold at the market. Before we make bovine meals out of the unused orange fruits, however, we always cut them open to save the seeds.

Seed saving is a great way to get a jump start on the following year, as it means not having to order from the seed company and wait for the seeds to arrive. Best of all, the seeds you save yourself are free. Seed saving can also produce some very odd squash and pumpkin varieties when seeds are saved from different types that were perhaps grown too closely together in a particular year. And if you save your seeds year after year, you’ll always know what type of pumpkins you have.

If you want pumpkins and squash that will be true to seed, try a quick internet search to be sure that the seeds from your particular pumpkin won’t revert back the mothering gene. As makes sense, take seeds from the pumpkins you want to produce. If you want big pumpkins next year, take them from big pumpkins this year, if you want smaller pumpkins next year, take them from smaller pumpkins this year. Of course growing conditions will always have a large affect on pumpkins, but it’s best to at least start with what you want if hope to have a chance of finishing with what you want.

To save seeds, fill a dish with lukewarm water. Cut a pumpkin in half and start pulling out the seeds with your fingers. Only take seeds that are plump and unsprouted, avoid any thin, papery seeds. Put the seeds into the bowl of water and knead them through the liquid to wash them free of the pumpkin gook.

Lay parchment paper on a cookie tray. Using your fingers as a strainer, pull handfuls of pumpkin seeds out of the dish and spread them across the cookie tray. Leave the cookie tray in dry area and stir the seeds around every few days to ensure that they dry evenly. Once completely dry, store the seeds in a canning jar until spring planting.

As an added bonus, when you’re saving seeds, you can also make a healthy snack of roasted pumpkin seeds, or wait until the seeds are dry and cover them in chocolate.
Copyright © Amber Reifsteck ~ The Woodland Elf