Category Archives: Home & Garden

Planting Beans

To the average home gardener the word bean implies only two types, the kidney, snapper string bean and the lima beans, both of which belong to the genus Phaseolus and are native to the Americas. There are, however, a large number of other types, many of which are native to the Old World and include broad beans, soybeans, and Southern Pea Bean, Velvet Bean, Mung Bean and Tepary Bean, to list a few. Beans, as a group, constitute crop plants that are worldwide in culture to provide food for man and animals, to improve soils, for ornament and in some instances, e.g., soybeans, for industrial uses.

Snap or String (Phaseolus vulgaris) are cultivated more generally than any other crop of the bean tribe both for its edible pod and its dried seed. It is a very important home-garden crop in all sections of the U.S. Commercially large acreages are grown for the fresh market, for canning and freezing, and for dry beans.

Bean Varieties

Bean varieties are listed under hundreds of names, many of which are synonymous and are of little importance. Beans may be classified according to:

  1. Use. (a) snap beans for the edible pod, (b) green shell, for the still green immature seed, and (c) dry shell or ripe seed.
  2. Color of pod as green or yellow wax.
  3. Habit of growth, namely dwarfs or bush and climbing or pole. The following varieties are recommended for home garden planting:
    • Green-podded bush—’Tendercrop’, ‘Tender-green’, ‘Contender’, and ‘Harvester.’
    • Wax-podded bush—Pencil Pod’, ‘Cherokee’ and ‘Brittle Wax.’
    • Green-podded—’Kentucky Wonder.’
    • Wax-podded—’Kentucky Wonder Wax.’

Bean Soils and Fertilizers

Beans will grow satisfactorily in most all types of soil but do best in well-drained, warm, sandy loam and loam soils. Growth of the plant is slow and stunted in soils that are either too acid or alkaline and thus a soil pH of 5.5-6.5 is best. Thorough soil preparation is important.

Beans will respond to a normal application of well-rotted animal manure or compost if available, 20-30 bu. per 1000 sq. ft. If no manure is used, increase the fertilizer amount by two lbs.

Bean Planting

Beans are tender to frost and usually are planted after that danger has passed. The seed germinates slowly in soils of a temperature of 60° F. and if lower they may rot. Cold, wet soils result in poor stands. In the North 2-3 or more plantings are made to provide a continuous harvest. In the far South additional plantings are possible.

Bush varieties are planted in drills 1-2 in. deep and 24-30 in. apart. The plants should stand about 2-3 in. apart in the row. Pole beans are planted in hills, 4-5 seeds per hill, and spaced at 24-36 in. between hills. For most varieties the poles should be at least 6 ft. long. Various types of trellises can also be used satisfactorily. Eight or ten hills are adequate for the average family.

Bean Cultivation

Frequent shallow cultivation should be practiced basically to control weeds and to prevent a caking of the soil surface. Commercial growers have used the chemical Premerge or Sinox as a selective herbicide. Again it is not advisable for the home gardener to use these chemicals because they can cause severe damage if not used properly.

Bean Harvesting

Kidney or snap beans are hand picked before the pods are full grown and while the seeds are very small. Harvesting of green-shell sorts is delayed until the seeds have reached full size but are still soft and succulent.

Lima beans (Phaseolus limensis). The lima bean is very tender and, therefore, sensitive to frost and cold or wet soils.

Bean Insects

Both the Mexican bean beetle (a copper-colored, 16-spotted ladybird-type beetle) and the larvae (orange-yellow and fuzzy) feed on the leaves and pods. Larvae are found largely on the underside of leaf. You can control these insects by dusting at 7-8 day intervals and up to 4-5 days prior to harvest with rotenone dust, malathion or methoxychlor. It is important to cover underside of leaves and apply in early morning when plants are damp with dew. Leaf hoppers are green, very small insects that fly quickly when disturbed. Both adults and nymphs attack leaves causing a curling and yellowing condition.

Bean Diseases

Anthracnose, a fungus, attacks the stems, leaves and pods causing elongated, sunken, dark red cankers. The disease is carried from year to year with the seed and the only control is in using western-grown seed; also, do not cultivate or work with the beans when the plants are wet. Bacterial blight appears on the leaves as brown blotches surrounded by a reddish-yellow halo. Control is the same as for anthrax-nose. Mosaics are caused by several types of virus. The affected plants are stunted and have crumpled and yellow-molted leaves. Control lies in controlling aphids which carry the disease and using resistant varieties such as ‘Contender’, ‘Toperop’, ‘Kentucky Wonder’ or ‘Blue Lake.’ Rust shows up as red to black pustules on the leaves, causing leaves to dry up and fall off, carried over from year to year in plant refuse. Burning old bean plants, using varieties which show some resistance, and dusting the plants with sulphur or maneb are possible controls. In the case of pole beans, treat the poles with formaldehyde—1 pt. to 5 pts. of water. Downy mildew on lima beans shows up as a downy white growth. Dust with copper-lime or use maneb as directed on the container.

Planting Bamboo

There are 700 or more species of bamboo in the world, only a select few are native to the United States. They are grasses, belonging to a dozen genera, ranging in size from a few feet to too feet or more. Seldom do they fruit, in the tropics where they are at home they usually are evergreen, but at least 2 species are hardy as far north as Boston, Mass., on the Atlantic seacoast where they have been grown successfully for many years. The farther south one goes, the more species there are hardy, but usually bamboos as such are confined to a narrow strip along the Atlantic Coast from Long Island to a narrow strip of Tex. along the Gulf but including most of all the states bordering the water in between.

On the West Coast, bamboos are grown in southwest Ariz., Calif., and a very narrow strip along the Pacific Coast of Ore. and Wash. Some of the tropical species are grown in Fla. and the warmest strip of land about the Gulf of Mexico as well as southwest Ariz. and southwest Calif., chiefly then in Zones 8, 9 and 10.

Bamboos have woody stems, usually but not always hollow between the joints. They make graceful garden plants; some of the low ones make rapidly increasing ground covers which must be kept under rigid control or they become weedy pests. Some of the taller types grow in clumps. In the tropical regions of the world they are very important economic plants, affording material for building purposes, furniture, tools, weapons and even food, since the young shoots of some are eaten either raw or cooked.

A culm, or vegetative shoot of bamboo, is formed in the spring from food stored in the roots during the previous year, and grows to mature height in a short 5-8 week period. When the shoot matures two ft. high, it is obvious that the growth of this is sometimes so rapid it can be seen with the naked eye when carefully observed against a measuring stick. It is a peculiar habit of these plants that the young growing culm will always have the same diameter at its base that it will have when the culm has reached the final height.

Two types of these grasses are the running bamboos and the clump bamboos. The former sends out underground rhizomes from which new above-ground shoots or culms grow in the spring. These are the hardiest of the bamboos and in fact the 2 Native American species belong in this group, namely, Arundinacea gigantea, the Canebrake Bamboo of the South which can grow 30 ft. high. The former may be used for fishing poles and little else; the latter is sometimes used as cattle fodder. All the so-called running bamboos can become vicious spreading pests if not rigidly restrained in the garden.

It is the tall-growing, often tropical, clump bamboos that have the gracefully arching culms and are so distinctive in the landscape wherever they can be grown. Even though these clumps do not spread as rapidly as the others, roots from a single mature clump may spread out 25 ft. in all directions, absorbing nutrients and moisture from the soil and making it difficult to grow anything else close by. Over 60 species and varieties of running bamboos have been introduced into America, but at present only 24 of these are considered to have sufficient economic or ornamental value to be discussed here.

The running bamboo types briefly mentioned in the following list increase by underground rhizomes and range in height from a few feet to 70 feet. The lowest ones, like the Arundinaria species, are sometimes used as ground covers, but when used this way they should be restrained by metal strips or concrete sunk in the soilabout 2 ft. deep to insure their staying in place. However, in some good soils this barrier may have to be sunk deeper. To keep them a little lower in height, they might be cut off at the ground level every 2-3 years, which makes them denser as well.

Some of the clump bamboos like Bambusamultiplex are used as informal hedges. Even some of the running types like Phyllostachysmeyeri, P. nigra and Semiarundinaria fastuosa are also used this way.

The clump bamboos can be very graceful ornamental specimens. Since these are usually subtropical and tropical species and are usually evergreen, it should be noted that the culms usually take 3 years to mature and harden properly so that their shoots should not be cut for economic purposes until they arc 3 years old. The culms of Bambusa vulgaris are frequently used for making vases and other ornaments, handles for tools, picture frames, ski poles, etc. Those with yellow or striped culms (Bambusamultiplex vars.) are decidedly ornamental, as are clump bamboo, especially with small leaves, is always a thing of beauty, since it usually has a graceful, arching, habit and is always rustling in the slightest breeze.

The edible qualities of some bamboos are noted in the following list. Most of the Phyllo-stachys species are in this group. Not all species are suitable, and some must be cooked, often with changing the water twice, in order to remove the bitter taste. On the other hand, the central part of the new shoot of some can beaten raw, often used in salads.

Usually these new shoots of edible bamboos appear in March, April and May. The period for cutting them is about 3-4 weeks, but it is advisable to mound soil about them to exclude the light and thus prevent them from becoming bitter. The sheath covering the young shoot should be removed, the tough basal part with roots cut off. The tender shoot can then be cut horizontally in sections about in. thick and cooked about 20 minutes. If it is the slightly bitter type, then changing the water after boiling for to minutes proves helpful in eliminating the bitter taste.

Bamboo Propagation

The running bamboos are easily propagated by taking root cuttings, 12 in. long, of the new rhizomes, keeping them moist during the trans-planting operation which should be undertaken any time from Jan. to March depending on the locality. They are planted 5-6 in. deep, usually kept 2 years in the nursery row where they are watered well and not allowed to dry out. They are fertilized with 5-10-5, about one pound or less per too-ft. row. When they are to be trans-planted, it is well to cut the culms back at least two-thirds, and if they are not to be balled, it might be best to cut them to the ground.

Clump bamboos are easiest propagated by division, but only when the weather is warm. It is a mere cutting of smaller clumps or chopping apart of larger ones, but the culms themselves might best be reduced to about 2-3 ft. high when this operation is carried out.

Another way of propagating is to try culm cuttings, often successful with Bambusa species, sometimes not so successful with other species. The culm is cut half way above and below anode which bears a small branch. The open ends of the culm are packed with moist soil and the cutting planted horizontally in the soil, taking care that the culm is about 2-4 in. below the soil surface and the branch comes above the soil surface. If done in warm weather and the soil kept moist, rooting and sprouting should take about a month. A third method is that of layering, in which an entire culm is dug up, roots and all, preferably one not over 3 years old, and laid in a trench, 6 in. deep, in moist soil. A leafy branch or two is left at each node so that they are mostly above ground when the culm is buried. After a few months, one carefully digs down to the original culm, saws through it at the internodes but leaves the new plantlets undisturbed for another 2 months, after which time each plantlet can be dug and transplanted.

Cutting bamboo canes is not as simple as it sounds; for the wood should be thoroughly mature—at least 3 years old—and the canes should best be sawed off very close to the ground. Canes can be straightened by applying heat, or by hanging the cane upside down and applying a heavy weight at the end for several months, or merely by applying pressure to flat green canes as they are dried on a flat surface. In fact, canes already dried but curved can be soaked in water and then straightened.

Bamboo Pests

Insect and disease pests on bamboo are not as yet prevalent in this country. Certainly the gardener with only a single plant or two on his grounds need pay little attention to it. The fungi may prove troublesome, especially bamboo smut. However, the few outcroppings of this disease which have occurred in America have been rigidly handled by destroying plants and roots as well, so it seems unlikely that it will do much damage again.


Bees play an important role in nature’s scheme of things. There are some 5,000 species of bees in North America. Most of them are important only to wild plants, but several hundred pollinate cultivated crops (over 100 species, for instance, visit alfalfa).

Value of Bees

The value of those which pollinate only wild plants should not be minimized: they help to keep vital cover on millions of acres not used for farming.

Once we took pollination of our crops for granted. But it’s a different story today. In the past 50 years, under the pressures of a growing population, more and more land was put under cultivation. But the more crops we planted, the faster we destroyed the basic means for full crop return. Forests were cut down, woods and wasteland destroyed and burrows ripped up, destroying the homes of the wild bees.

Concentrated plantings of one crop overlarge acreages left the bees no wild plants to live on when the crop was not blooming; with nothing to fill in the gap in their food supply, they starved and disappeared practically overnight. And when indiscriminate spraying with powerful insecticides came along, the wild bees per acre could almost be counted on the fingers of one hand.

We simply do not have enough honeybees. Farmers in every state, according to the Department of Agriculture, could benefit by having more hives on or near their farms. Some areas need two or three times the number of hives they now have, to insure adequate pollination of the crops grown there.

This is where an increase in wild bees would be of immense help. Such an increase would bolster the efforts of hard-working domestic honeybees and show up in a direct rise in crop yields.

Wild Bees

Wild bees have certain characteristics that make them more valuable than their domesticated cousins. They are hardier, working in cold, rainy or windy weather, when honeybees will not venture from their cozy hives. Thus, they provide good sets of seed and fruit even in bad weather. In parts of New England and eastern Canada, this is especially important to apple growers, for the weather is usually bad there during apple-blooming time.

Practically all wild bees form no colonies, in the sense that the honeybee does. The exception to this is the bumblebee who lives in a colony of some 50 to 500 individuals, with a queen and worker castes. Many new drones and queens are produced each year, but only the fertilized queens live through the winter, each one forming a new colony in the spring.

The other wild bees are solitary dwellers. Each female functions both as queen and worker. She builds her own nest, sealing her eggs in cells with honey-moistened pollen balls for the young to feed on. Once this is done, she has no further contact with her offspring.

Wild bees will nest almost anywhere. Sweat bees and mining bees construct underground burrows. Carpenter bees and leaf cutters chisel their nests in timber, or use old beetle boles. Some wild bees nest in the natural channels of hollow or pithy-stemmed plants; others take their homes in abandoned snail shells or cavities in porous rocks.

The majority, however, is soil nesting. Almost any type of soil, moist or dry, loose or packed, flat or vertical, can be their home. Alkali bees, in some areas the major pollinators alfalfa, nest in fairly sandy soil, often in “communities” of several thousand nests less than an inch apart. Seed growers, knowing that communities like these will insure pollination of their alfalfa for two miles around, protect them from disturbance. If small pieces of land are left unfarmed near the alfalfa fields, the alkali bees will also spread to them and establish new communities there in one season.

Tests by various experiment stations showed that on a cultivated plot situated next to overgrown land, wild bees were four times as numerous as on tilled plots surrounded by other tilled land. To increase your wild bees you can preserve some uncultivated or eroded land specifically for bees. Sometimes bee broods found on land that is to be tilled can be moved into these areas. On cropland, avoid working, flooding or trampling the burrows of ground-nesting bees whenever possible.

Field borders, fencerows, ditch banks, and the sides of roadways should be planted to nectar-producing plants. Kudzu and bicolor or Lespedeza cuneata make excellent bee pasturage, or use whatever is suitable for your region. Pithy-stemmed plants like elderberry, sumac and tree-of-heaven make fine nesting sites. They provide erosion protection and food and cover for other wildlife, too. Multiflora rose fences are very good, and bunch-type perennial grasses along the tops of banks are soil stabilizers as well as nesting sites.

Trees for windbreaks and stream bank protection that also provide bee food and homes include the Russian olive, American Elm, catalpa, honey locust, basswood, sycamore, wild plum, and many others. In wood lot management, make sure bee trees are not cut down.
Bee plants are often synonymous with soil-saving plants. The legumes used for green manures, orchard cover crops and in rotations provide bee food in plenty. Often a small planting of clover may be all that is necessary, with regular crop plants, to sustain a goodly population of wild bees all year. Improved pastures and grassed waterways should have some clover in their planting mixtures.

Bumblebees will nest in cans containing a handful of mattress stuffing or similar material, hung up in sheltered places in your outbuildings. Certain other species can be induced to set up housekeeping in cans with lids and entrance spouts, partially buried in well-drained soil. Some farmers break open her trees in the woods, carrying the bees home in any handy container to be set up in suitable places around their farms. When walking through your fields, you can break over the stalks of hollow-stemmed plants like canebrake, teasel, milk-thistle, and wild parsnip, to provide nesting and hibernating places.

Some species of native bees are more efficient pollinators than honeybees. Red clover blooms, having little nectar and the pollen at the bottom of a deep corolla tube, are often passed up by the honeybee; but the long-tongued bumblebee does an excellent job on them. Honeybees can steal the nectar from alfalfa blooms without “tripping” them to release the pollen. But alkali, leaf cutter and bumblebees are pollen collectors who trip every blossom they visit.

On rangelands, where it is impractical to supply honeybees for pollination, wild bees have a big responsibility to keep the range plants reproducing year after year. Every range reseeding program should include adapted legumes and other honey-producing plants to increase the wild bees, and thus improve the fodder and fertility of the range.

Honeybees (Domestic)

The honeybee is a social insect. The queen, drone and worker bees cannot live alone. All members of the honeybee colony divide labor to facilitate work, and there is never a time when the whole colony sleeps. Honeybees take rest periods throughout the day.

The single function of the drones (males) is to mate with the queen. They become sexually mature at ten to 12 days. During the afternoon, virgin queens fly to “drone congregation areas” where mating takes place. Drones die in the mating process and are not present in the colony during the winter.

The queen is the most important part of the colony for two reasons—she lays eggs to ensure the survival of the colony and controls the social order of the colony with the chemical substances she secretes. The queen is different from worker bees in that she has no wax glands, no pollen baskets on her hind legs and no modifications on her forelegs. She is also larger and her abdomen is longer and more slender.

Worker bees are female and perform all other tasks for the colony. The worker bee cleans cells, at first, and later feeds larvae. Her next duty is to guard the hive. After these tasks are completed, the worker bee begins to work in the fields. The ability of the worker bee to change from one task to another insures the survival of the colony. She lives for six weeks during the peak honey season, and six months in the winter.

There are three races of domestic (honey) bees: Carniolans, Caucasians and Italians.

Carniolan bees of the Alpine strain can be distinguished by their dark gray abdominal segments with bands of white hairs. These bees are the finest gray bees in existence and the largest of hive bees. The Alpine strain is less inclined to swarm than other bees and is extremely prolific.

Carniolans are very gentle, quiet on the combs, good breeders, and have a long life. These bees are economic consumers of stores, honest workers and winter-hardy. They build regular combs with white cappings well suited for comb honey production. They are brave in defending their hives, but gentle to humans.

Carniolan queens are darker than the workers, and drones are large and gray colored with or without visible bands.

Caucasian bees are somewhat parallel or merit a good second to the Carniolans in comb honey production. The Mountain Gray Caucasian can be compared to the Alpine Carniola except it is smaller and intensely populating. The Caucasians are more immune to American foulbrood than other standard bees.

Italian bees are most commonly used in America and enjoy a high productivity. “Pure “Italians” are three banded. Extra-yellow strains of four bands are found in the United States. The queens are yellower than the workers, and the drones are darker.

Italian bees are more reliable in their swarming habits, but are really no better or worse than other honeybees. However, these bees may rob and may be a menace. Their defense of their home is normal and they are fair in accepting new queens. In general, Italians are known for their good dispositions.

Proper Table Setting

China, glass, cutlery (flatware) and overall linens together make up the overall look of any setting. On to that framework can be added candles and their holders plus the table decorations, which are the icing on the cake. These are obviously areas where you can add personal touches that may be quite different from anyone else’s, and not even very different each time you entertain. But with imagination and flair, you can be creative with all the elements that go into laying a table. Your existing tableware will have the greatest influence on the table settings you create. You will probably instinctively choose designs that suit the style of your home, whether it is elegantly modem, traditional or has a more relaxed country look. Given this starting point, however, there is no reason why your table has to look the same each time you set it. Of course, you may have a favourite look, and you may always want to re-create it. But there will be occasions, such as Christmas, Easter or at special celebrations, when you wish to make your table look more special than usual. The other main reasons for wanting to adapt the look of your table settings are that, as time goes by, fashions in home style change and personal tastes develop. You may want to reflect these changes in your table settings.


The art of successful table setting is to be clever with the crockery, so mix, match, adapt and adorn your dinner service to suit the mood and the occasion. The effective way to mix pieces from different sets is to link them by colour. So by collecting all white or all cream, for example, you can create a wonderful overall effect from pieces that were not necessarily designed to match. Another way is to collect two different but harmonious colours, black and white for example.

Under plates, too, provide a lot of scope. Buy brass to lend sparkle at Christmas or other celebrations, or coloured glass to add a new look on any occasion. Alternatively, you could put clear glass plates on top of those from the main set, with something decorative between, such as leaves, fabric or flowers that will show through and can be changed to suit the mood.

Whatever style of cutlery (flatware)you choose, a collection that complements the overall setting will enhance the look of the table.

Highlight the gold rim of elegant porcelain soup cups by contrasting it with brass. Even if your dinner service is plain, it will look richer if set on metal. Add a gold tassel and wrap party favours in gold organza for very special occasions.

Cutlery (flatware)

Knives, forks and spoons can have a wonderful sculptural quality to them, which may be used in many ways in a table setting. The formal and obvious way is to lay them, in accordance with etiquette, soldier-like on either side of each plate. But try adorning the cutlery, tying it in pairs or threes with ribbon, raffia or string. You could also tie in a place card, or tuck in a flower, leaf or, if you wish, a chandelier crystal, a tassel or a shell for extra decoration.


Glass is so beautiful that it needs little decoration, but it is lovely to make something special of, say, a pre-dinner cocktail. Frosting the rim with egg white and caster (superfine) sugar is a traditional idea, and one that always delights. Tassels, ribbons, cords and beads can be tied decoratively around the stems of glasses, or golden wire wound around them in graceful imitation of Italian wine bottles.

It is not difficult to be innovative with linens. Napkins can very easily be equipped with unusual ‘rings’, embroidered or embellished with beads. Nor do table cloths necessarily have to have been purpose-made. Any suitable length of fabric — bedspreads, saris, sheeting or curtain lining — will do. When a fabric is not too expensive, you can embellish it with stamps, stencils or fabric paint; choose to appliqué or embroider it, or stitch on less obvious trimmings, such as buttons and shells, pebbles and even twigs.


Create a table decoration that is as simple as a few seasonal flowers in a vase or as elaborate as a formal arrangement. But the real creativity comes when you add your own flair, perhaps transcending the obvious. Wrap vases in almost anything from brown paper to string to give myriad new looks. Place flowers in vases, ready-tied to give them natural-looking support; if the container is glass, the securing string will add to the decoration. Gild flowers, foliage and berries, and add fruits or vegetables to a floral arrangement. Stand flowers with straight, sturdy stalks, on plates or in shallow bowls, tied to keep them in an upright position.

Fruits and vegetables make wonderful organic table arrangements. As well as the more obvious grapes, pears, figs and pomegranates, use pumpkins and marrows (squashes),perhaps decoratively carved and internally lit with a night-light. Gilding fruits and vegetables, or tying them up with string or raffia, adds the extra touch to make them different.

A witty reference to silver chain decanter labels can be made with a necklace. There is something sensuous about this one, made of chandelier crystals and feathers.

Evocative of American Indian dress, a leather thong bound round and round natural linen, then trimmed with a few game feathers, looks fabulous.

Planting Pear Trees

Pear trees fit well into an organic home-stead. Pear trees are quite hardy and grow well on deep, well-drained loam soil with ample moisture. A heavy mulch or permanent leguminous cover crop produces the best growth. Avoid excessive nitrogen fertilization—it encourages disease—but mulch or barnyard manure is perfectly safe.

Pear Tree Planting and Culture

Dwarf pears are generally planted 12 feet apart in each direction; full-sized trees, 16 to 20 feet apart. Nearly all varieties require cross-pollination; any two varieties that blossom at the same time will cross-pollinate each other. Pear trees are well adapted to espalier training, and thus are a good fruit for small gardens.

Pears are generally planted as one-year-old whips, which are headed back to 30 inches. At the end of the first summer, all except three evenly spaced branches are removed. Each year, these are headed back moderately and three or four shoots are left to make secondary branches. Once the tree comes into bearing, only a little pruning is necessary. Remove enough wood to induce new shoot growth and thin to prevent overbearing.

Pear Insects and Diseases

Fire-blight fungus is one of the most serious pests of pears. Very few trees are completely resistant and those that are usually produce poorer fruit.

Fire blight attacks leaves, flowers, fruit, branches, and trunks, making the infected portions blackish as if they had been scorched. There is no known cure for the blight except surgery. Trees should be inspected for blight every two or three days from blooming time to midsummer. When it is found, the infected portions should be cut out, using sterilized instruments. The cut should be made at least six, and preferably 12 inches back toward the roots. All material removed should be burned.

Pears are not bothered by many other diseases or insects, but occasionally scabs, psyllids, curculios, or codling moths may attack them.

Pear scab appears as a velvety olive-green spot on the fruit, becoming black and scabby at maturity. On the leaves the scab makes black spots. The disease is favored by warm, damp weather which also fosters blight. Remove any leaves or fruit infected with scab, and keep the area under the tree free of fallen leaves and fruit.

Psyllids are jumping insects which produce honeydew that invites infections of fungal molds harmful to the tree. The insects attack the blossoms and prevent fruit set. The best preventive measure is a thorough dormant-oil spray in the spring.

Pear Varieties

Among the favorites of the disease-resistant varieties are the Bartlett, Seckel, Clapp Favorite, Gorham, and Other blight-resistant varieties include Moonglow and Magness. These bear sweet fruit. Colette is a dwarf variety in ripens in mid-August to early September. Nelis is a tasty, yellow green pear and very large fruit. Beurre Bosc and D’Anjou produce hardy fruit.

Soft Furnishing Sewing

Most items of soft furnishing are expensive to buy ready-made but they can he made just as successfully at home and much more cheaply. Curtains and drapes, cushion covers, bed linen and table linen require the minimum of sewing skills and little equipment beyond a sewing machine and an iron.

The choice of fabric plays a major part in setting the style of a room, creating accents of colour to enliven a neutral decor or providing a means of coordinating different elements effectively in a loom. Colour is an important consideration when furnishing a room —light shades tend to open it out, while dark and vivid shades tend to enclose it. Many people tend to play safe by choosing neutral or pastel shades which, although easy to live with, can look rather boring and impersonal.

Making soft furnishings at home is the perfect way to experiment with colour and make a visual statement. Most items require a few metres (yards) of fabric at the most. A good point to hear in mind when selecting fabric is that there are no hard-and-fast rules, apart from trying not to mix

too many different colours and patterns in one setting. Most good stores will supply swatches of furnishing fabrics without charge for colour matching at home.

Another consideration is that the chosen fabric should be suitable for the intended purpose — for example, heavyweight cloths will make up into good curtains and cushion covers but will he too stiff to make a successful tablecloth or bed valance. Many of these details are primarily common sense but, when in doubt, be guided by the sales assistant’s specialist knowledge.

Stamping is a quick and effective way of repeating a design on a wide variety of surfaces, using many different mixtures of paints and inks. It does not require a great deal of specialist equipment; many of the items used are found in most households.

Craft knife: a sharp-bladed craft knife is essential for cutting your own stamps our of thick sponge or foam. Use a cutting mat to protect your work surface, and always direct the blade away from your fingers.

Lino blocks: linoleum blocks are available from art and craft shops and can be cut to make stamps which recreate the look of a wood block. You will need special lino-cutting tools, which are also easily available, to accurately scoop out the areas around the design. Hold the lino with your spare hand behind your cutting hand for safety. Always cut away from you. Masking tape: use for masking off areas of walls and furniture when painting. Natural sponge: available in various sizes, use for applying colour washes to walls before stamping.

Paintbrushes: a range of decorator’s brushes is needed for painting furniture and walls before stamping. Use a broad brush to apply colour washes to walls. Stiff brushes can be used for stippling paint on to stamps for textured effects, while finer brushes are used to pick out details or to apply paint to the stamp. Pencils, pens and crayons: use a soft pencil to trace templates for stamps, and for making easily removable guidelines on walls. Draw motifs freehand using a marker pen on medium- and low-density sponge. Always use a white crayon on black upholstery foam.

Rags: keep a stock of clean rags and cloths for cleaning stamps and preparing surfaces.

Ruler and tape measure: use these to plan your design.

Scissors: use sharp scissors to cut out medium- and low-density sponge shapes, and are especially useful for cutting out the basic shapes. Also handy for cutting out templates. .Sponge rollers: use to apply the paint evenly over the whole stamp. Small paint rollers can be used to load your stamps, though you will need several if you are stamping in different colours. Use a brush to apply a second colour to act as a highlight or shadow, or to pick out details of the design

Storage Shelving

Wall-mounted shelving is either fixed or adjustable. With fixed shelving, each shelf is supported independently using 2 or more shelf brackets, which are fixed both to the wall and to the underside of the shelf. With adjustable shelving, the shelves are carried on brackets, studs or tongues which are slotted or clipped into vertical support strips screwed to the wall.

Shelves can he made of natural wood or manufactured boards. Ready-made shelves are usually made of veneered or plastic-coated chipboard (particleboard). The latter traditionally have either a white or imitation wood-grain finish, but pastel shades and bold colours are now more widely available. Otherwise, you can cut shelves from full-sited hoards: chipboard, plywood, (medium-density fibreboard) and blockboard are all suitable.

There are many types of adjustable shelving on the market, with uprights and brackets usually made of metal but occasionally of wood. All operate on broadly the same principle. Start by deciding on the position and spacing of the uprights; this will depend on what sort of shelf material you are using and what load it will carry. Hang the uprights on the wall, making sure that they are perfectly vertical and level with each other. Finally, clip in the brackets and fir the shelves.

You may also want adjustable shelves inside a storage unit. There are 2options. The first involves drilling a series of aligned holes in each side of the unit, then inserting small shelf-support studs. The second uses book-case strip — a metal moulding with slots into which small pegs or tongues are fitted to support the shelves. You will need 2 strips at each side of the unit.


1. Select the correct bracket spacing, and then attach the shorter arm of each bracket to the underside of the shelf, so that it is flush with the rear edge.

2. Fix the shelf to the wail with a Screw driven through one bracket, check that it is horizontal and mark the remaining screw positions. Let the shelf swing downwards 011the first screw, then drill the other holes.

3. Insert plugs for masonry wall fixings if needed. Swing the shelf hack up and drive in the remaining fixing screws. Tighten them fully so that the screw heads pull the brackets against the wall.


1. Decide where to posit ion the shelves, then fix the first upright to the wall by driving a screw through the topmost hole. Do not tighten it fully.

2. Pivot the upright until it is vertical. Mark the position of all the other fixing holes. Swing the upright aside, drill the rest of the holes and drive in the screws.

3. Use a spirit level to make a mark on the wall, level with the top of the first upright and at the required distance front it. Fix the second upright there.

4. Mark the upright positions on the rear edge of each shelf. Align the back of each bracket with the edge of the shelf and with the mark, and screw it on.

5. If the shelves are to fit flush against the wall, cut notches at the upright positions to fit around them and then attach the brackets as shown.

6. Position the shelf brackets by inserting their tongues into the slots in the uprights. The weight of the shelf will lock them in place. Adjust the shelf spacings as wished.


1. Mark the positions of the top ends of the strips to ensure that they are level, then mark the screw posit anis to a true vertical and screw on the strips.

2. Insert pairs of pegs into the strips at each shelf position, checking that their lugs are properly engaged in the slots. Lift the shelf into place.


1. Use at simple pre-drilled jig to make the holes for the shelf supports in the sides of the unit. A depth snip will prevent you from drilling too deep.

2. Drill 2 sets of holes in each side of the unit, with the top of the jig held against the top of the unit to guarantee alignment. Insert the supports.


Think of how to make best use of your new storage area. It is a good idea to make a rough sketch initially, in order to take account of factors such as the height of books or record sleeves, or the clearance that ornaments or photographs will require. Aim to keep everyday items within easy reach— in practice, between about 75 cm/2 ft 6 in and 1.5 in/5 ft above the floor. Position deep shelves near the bottom so that it is easy to see and reach the back. Allow 2.5-5 cm/l-2 in of clearance on top of the height of objects to be stored, so that they are easy to rake down and put back.

Think about weight, too. If the shelves will store heavy objects, you must choose the shelving material with care — thin shelves will sag if heavily laden unless they are well-supported. With 12 mm/1/2 in clipboard (particleboard) and ready-made veneered or melamine-faced shelves, space brackets at 45 cm/18 in for heavy loads or 60 cm/2 ft far light loads. With 20 mm/1/4 in chipboard or 12 MM/V2 in plywood, increase the spacing to60 cm/2 in and 75 cm/2 in respectively. For 20 mm/1/4 in plywood, MDF (medium-density fibreboard) or natural wood, the bracket spacing can be 75 cm/2 ft6 in for heavy loads, or 90 cm/3 ft for light ones.

Storage Organize

Gardening brings with it an extraordinary amount of practical paraphernalia. Tools, pots, and planters, potting compost, raffia, string, seeds, and baskets are but a few of the sheds can become an attractive part of the garden architecture if decorated. For tools and equipment, garden sheds bulky and space-consuming examples are the classic solution that most gardens can accommodate, though smaller gardens may be restricted to a mini-shed or tool shed, which can be as small as 30 cm/12 in deep and so can be tucked into a corner. However,

Another solution is to put your goods on show. Garden pots can be very visual and, displayed on weatherproof shelves; can become part of the decorative appeal of the garden. This is an excellent solution for very small gardens and patios, which still need space for the practicals. Instead of buying ready-made garden shelving, you could build your own from timber and treat it with exterior-quality paint. Metal shelves can be given a new life using car spray paint or specially manufactured metal paint, which can even be sprayed straight over old rust.

All shelves should he attached firmly to the garden wall — avoid attaching to the house wall since this could lead to water damage. Once fitted, use the shelves for displays, to store tools, or for bringing on young seedlings, which can look delightful planted in ranks of terracotta pots.

Means of disguise

In an ideal world, garbage bins and recycling containers would be beautiful in themselves, but unfortunately, in reality they are seldom an attractive sight. They are necessary, however, and they do need to be accessible.

You can spend a little effort painting them, using a screen of plants to hide them or camouflaging them with a trellis with plants growing up it. Trellises have the advantage of being compact, long-lasting and attractive.

In spite of its utilitarian name, the potting shed is far more than a useful storage area and behind-the-scenes workroom for the gardener’s al fresco performance. For many gardeners, it is a rustic refuge from everyday concerns, a quiet and solitary place for contemplation and gentle activity, which may or may not be of a horticultural nature.

Potting sheds are seldom shared. In households of more than one individual, one person will generally claim territorial rights and others will trespass at their peril, for here the gardener’s true nature may flourish without interference. Tidiness is optional. Some people will hang meticulously cleaned tools in serried ranks, while others fling rusting relics in heaps on the floor. Pots may be carefully cleaned and sorted ready for use or left where last discarded, according to inclination. Compost (soil mix) is neatly sacked and stacked or thrown with abandon over every surface. Most of us come somewhere between the two extremes, for while we admire orderliness, a natural impatience engenders a tendency towards disorder, and in this one area of our lives, we feel completely free to be occasionally tidy and well organized, but rather more often not.

Stenciling Equipment


A variety of materials can he used for stencilling, from special stencilling paints and sticks to acrylics and latex. Each has its own properties and will create different effects.

Acrylic stencil paint: acrylic stencil paint is quick-drying, reducing the possibility of the paint running and seeping behind the stencil. Acrylic stencil paints are available in a wide range of colours, and can be mixed for more subtle shades.

Acrylic varnish: this is useful for sealing finished projects.

Emulsion (latex) paint: ordinary household vinyl emulsion can also be used for stencilling. It is best to avoid the cheaper varieties, as these contain a lot of water and will seep through the stencil.

Fabric paint: this is used in the same way as acrylic stencil paint, and comes in an equally wide range of colours. Set with an iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it will withstand washing and everyday use. As with ordinary stencil paint, do not overload the brush with colour, as it will seep into the fabric. Always back the fabric you are stencilling with scrap paper or newspaper to prevent the paint from marking the work surface. Gold leaf and gold size: these can be used to great effect. The actual design is stencilled with gold size. The size is then left to become tacky, and the gold leaf is rubbed over the design.

Metallic creams: these are available in many different metallic finishes, from gold to copper, bronze and silver. Apply as highlights on a painted base, or use for the entire design. Creams can be applied with cloths or your fingertip.

Oil-based stencil sticks and creams: the sticks can be used in the same ways a wax crayon, while the creams can be applied with a brush or your fingertip. With either one, there is no danger of overloading the colour, and they won’t run. The disadvantage is their long drying time (overnight in some cases); also, the colours can become muddy when mixed. Sticks and creams are also available for fabrics.


Stencilling does not require a great deal of special equipment; many of the items used are commonly found in most households. A few tools, however, will make the job easier.

Brushes: it is worth investing in a set of good stencil brushes. The ends of the brushes should be flat and the bristles firm, to let you control the application of paint. A medium-size brush (4 cm/11/2 in diameter) is a useful, all-purpose size, but you may want to buy one size smaller and one size larger as well. You will need a selection of household paintbrushes for applying large areas of background colour, and small artist’s paintbrushes for adding fine details. Craft knife: use for cutting out stencils from cardboard.

Cutting mat: this provides a firm surface to cut into and will help prevent the craft knife from slipping. Masking tape: as the stencil may need to be repositioned, it is advisable to hold it in place with masking tape, which can be removed fairly easily from most surfaces.

Paint-mixing container: this may be necessary for mixing paints and washes. Pencils: keep a selection of soft and hard artist’s pencils to transfer the stencil design on to cardboard. Use an ordinary pencil to mark on your object the positions of the stencils before applying.

Stencil card (cardboard): the material used to make the stencil is a matter of preference. Speciality stencil card is available waxed from specialist art stores, which means that it will last longer, but ordinary cardboard or heavy paper can also be used. It is worth purchasing a sheet of clear acetate if you wish to keep your stencil design, to reuse time and again.

Tape measure and rulers: some patterns may require accuracy. Measuring and planning the positions of your stencils before you begin will aid the result.

Tracing paper: use to trace and transfer your stencil design on to stencil card

How to Grow Okra

Okra is primarily a hot-weather tropical and can be grown in both northern and southern gardens. A tall-growing annual gumbo grows best in the southern states, where two crops of it can be grown near.

Okra Planting

Okra thrives in any well-kept garden soil in full sunlight. If the soil is wet, the seed tends to rot, so good soil is necessary. These woody plants can take on all the food given to them. Because okra grows rapidly, nitrogen is particularly needed. Poultry manure is splendid material for okra beds. Since it is very strong, only about one-tenth as much chicken manure as other animal manures can be used. Compost, leaf mold, peat moss, and wood ashes can be used to advantage to improve poor soil in the garden. Peat moss and leaf mold are usually acid and a slight amount of lime should be used along with either of these two materials. These soil builders should be plowed under in the winter well before the planting time, or in a small home garden they can be spaded under in the early spring.

The rows should be at least three to five feet apart. The stalks are bushy and can become quite large when well fertilized and during rainy seasons. Scatter the seed in drills or plant loosely in hills and cover to a depth of one to two inches, according to the compactness of the soil. The seed should be separated three or four inches to allow space for the development of the stems. If weather is warm, germination should take place within a few days. But if there is a heavy rainfall in the meanwhile, the soil should be lightly cultivated between the rows and the crust broken up over the seed by means of a garden rake. This is suggested where the soil contains clay or is heavy. Sandy loam will probably not need any such treatment, as the seed will come through when the soil has been drained or the water has been evaporated by the action of the sun. After plants become established, thin them to stand 15 inches apart and mulch lightly.

Okra Insects

The okra plant is not subject to attack from many insects, but the bollworm may be a problem. It bores into the pods and thus injures them. The stinkbug also attacks the pods, piercing them and extracting the juices. Since damage from the latter occurs late in the season, the loss is very little. Blister beetles and leaf beetles often feed upon the foliage of okra but these pests do little harm to the pod and scarcely influence the production of pods at all. Handpicking usually keeps these insects well under control.

Okra Harvesting

Okra pods should be harvested daily when they are one to four inches long. They should still be soft and should be only half grown if pods are eaten. If it is necessary to keep the pods 24 hours, they should be spread out and slightly moistened.