Archive for the ‘Home & Garden’ Category

Rat Control

by on Wednesday, October 15, 2014 8:21 under Home & Garden.

Read full story

Rats and mice can cause serious problem on the farm or homestead. The major source of rodent damage is the Norway or brown rat (Rattus norvegiaz). He is ably assisted by his cousins the black rat (Rattus rattus) and the house mouse (Abemusculus). Other relatives, the field mouse and the pine mouse, cause damage to orchards and in gardens.

Rats are among the most ingenious creatures known. They police their population so the number of rats does not exceed the foal supply by killing or driving out weak rats. A healthy rat can fall 50 feet without serious injury, and can swim half-a-mile in open water up sewer lines against swift currents.

Rat and mouse control are linked on the stead or farm. Although mice are more problematic in the house, rats can infest both house and barn and are a more significant problem in sheds and other outdoor buildings.

Rat Sanitation

Sanitation means eliminating sources of food for rats and mice, and destroying rodent nests. Begin sealing all stored food from rats and mice. It does not necessarily mean rat proofing an entire building, since many buildings are impossible to completely rat-proof.

Dried and bagged food of all kinds should be stored in tight cupboards or preferably in jars or tin boxes with tight-fitting lids. Ruble scraps not fed to animals must be scrupulously composted; rat-proof compost tins are desirable, but proper composting will net draw rats.

Food that needs to be cured or hung for long periods of time can be hung in attics, or storerooms in ways that protect it from rodent infestation. One way is to hang the foodstuffs from a wire strung from one wall to another. Simply punch a hole in the center of large metal disks and slip them over the wire about a foot from each wall. Rodents can’t get around the disks. If you have a beam flush against the ceiling of a building, cover both ends of the beam with tin to about two feet from the wall on either end. Rats won’t be able to maintain a footing on the metal surfaces of the beam ends. Drive nails into the beam for hangers.

Don’t let surplus garden crops stand for extended periods or overwinter in the garden. Shred, plow under, or otherwise dispose of anything rats would enjoy, particularly mature sweet corn. Baled straw often contains wheat that was not threshed out properly at harvest-time and rats or mice will burrow into the bales for the grain. Do not store baled straw in a barn, or, if you do, use the bales as soon as you can.

Keep all livestock and pet feed in metal containers. Steel 55-gallon drums are ideal for the purpose, since they can still be purchased cheaply or be had for free. Be careful not to use drums in which toxic chemicals have been shipped or stored and wash all drums out thoroughly. Pieces of roofing tin weighted down with a rock or piece of cement block will cover the barrels. Set the barrels on pallets or a platform to keep them off the ground so they don’t rust out. In four drums you can store all the feed six chickens and a pig need in a year.

Larger farms and homesteads need larger grain-storage facilities. There are many metal bins and cribs on the market. Old wooden cribs can be partially rat-proofed with hard-ware cloth or pieces of roofing tin, but rats will always find a new place to gnaw through.

If constructing new buildings, don’t put wooden or composition floors in them unless you really need them. Of course, rats can get into dirt-floored buildings easily enough but they don’t often stay because there is no place to hide. If you build a building with a floor, build it up off the ground so that a dog or cat can get underneath the building to chase a rat. Feed your barn cats underneath the floor of the building to encourage them to hunt there.

Keep all piles of wood and lumber up off the ground with planks and posts. Get rid of piles of rocks, old boards and junk.

Feed your chickens and other animals carefully so that they finish their grain and don’t spill it. Don’t leave mash or other food out overnight when rats are active. Rats will attack baby chicks, unless the hen fights them off, so any building in which you are raising chicks should be rat-proof.

Rat Poisons

Poison is a less than completely satisfactory means of eliminating rats and mice. Poisons like arsenic and strychnine are effective killing agents, but rats who watch other rats die a violent death by strychnine seem to put two and two together and avoid the bait. Besides, such poisons are extremely dangerous to children, pets and farm animals, even if placed in bait stations along rat runs.

Rats sometimes learn to avoid the safer, newer anticoagulant poisons that have been so effective over the past ten years. These poisons often require repeated feedings before they will kill and a rat that gets sick may avoid eating the poison again-it seems to associate the odor of the bait with its sickness. Rats have also shown some tendency to become immune to anticoagulants.

Bait must be placed properly to have greatest effect. Place baits in runways or places where rats seek shelter, but cover them well so that domestic animals or children will not find them. A board may be leaned against the wall over the bait, or the bait may be covered with a box with two-by-three-inch holes in both ends. Rats deprived of earlier hiding places by the cleanup of their shelters may be enticed the bait when it is enclosed in a new place.

Mice in the Orchard

Field mice are not difficult to control in the orchard. They rarely burrow below, and they feed on the trunk, not the roots of trees. If the orchard is mulched, be careful to pull the mulch a few feet away front the in the fall. Field mice build nests mulch but are hesitant to run around in then once cold weather sets in. Placing a wire cylinder around the trunk of each tree is also active against field mice.

Pine mice are often very difficult to control. Persistence is necessary. Dig some of them away from the base of the tree in the fall fill it in with cinders. Spread cinders in able to at least three feet from the trunk. The cinders will help prevent the rodents from tunneling in the soil. Regular snap-back use traps can be effective if carefully set in runs.

Planting Parsley

by on Wednesday, October 1, 2014 15:35 under Home & Garden.

Read full story

Grown extensively in many vegetable gardens, parsley is a biennial herb most often treated as annual.

The culinary uses of parsley are many. Its crisp green leaves are flavorful and nutritious additions to salads. Parsley can be sprinkled over potatoes and its use in flavoring sauces, soups and stuffing is extensive.

Parsley Planting and Culture

Parsley is usually planted in March or April. It is biennial which does well either in open sun or partial shade. Any ordinary garden soil which does not dry out too rapidly, is rich in nitrogen and is not excessively alkaline is suitable.

Since parsley seeds germinate slowly, it is best to soak them in lukewarm water for 24 hours before planting. The seeds usually require four weeks to germinate. One packet of seed should sow a 100-foot row. Place seed in a shallow trench that has been fertilized with compost and well-rotted manure and cover with about 1/4 inch of fine soil. Plant rows about 12 to 16 inches apart. For a thick growth, unwanted seedlings should be thinned so that the mature plants stand at least six inches apart. The leaves also may be clipped. To avoid dam-aging the shallow roots while weeding, plant radishes among the parsley. The radishes will force out weeds and help to mark the parsley rows.

Parsley will overwinter if given the protection of light mulch during severely cold weather. One of the earliest green plants to show in the spring, parsley blossoms in the second year. To prevent the herb from going to seed, the blossoms, which look like Queen-Anne’s-lace, should be cut off as soon as they appear.

In the fall the herb may be dug up, potted and brought indoors where it will continue to provide fresh leaves throughout the winter months. Care should be taken to dig up as much of the root as possible, and some of the outside foliage should be cut from the plant. Potted plants may also be started from seed indoors.

Parsley Harvesting

The first tender sprigs maybe cut as soon as the leaves are well formed. From then on, the leaves, with a portion of the stem, may be cut as needed. Customarily, the outer leaves only are cut. This practice permits the heart of the plant to continue to grow and produce more leaves.

For use as flavoring, the leaves may be cut and dried. The tender parts of the stems are cut from the plants and placed on a screen in a shady, dry, well-ventilated location. When thoroughly dried, they may be crushed and stored in small, tightly covered containers.

Parsley may also be frozen for winter use. Pinch off the foliage and spread it on a cookie sheet. Quick-freeze and store, airtight, in a plastic bag to use a little at a time.

Parsley Varieties

Champion Moss Curled is mild in flavor and crisp. Giant Italian is a strong producer. Hamburg is favored for its prolific growth and hardiness and its thick, edible root.

Planting Raspberries

by on Sunday, September 28, 2014 14:38 under Home & Garden.

Read full story

These shrubs are among the hardiest of the bush fruits and are perfectly at home in the northern United States and southern Canada. The canes are biennial, as in they normally are produced one year, fruit the second year and then die and should be removed in the annual thorough pruning that these shrubs require to keep them in good bearing condition. The new shoots either appear at the base of the plant or as suckers a foot or so removed from the plant.

There are 2 types of red raspberries, those that only fruit once a year, and those sometimes termed “ever-bearing” that fruit early, in the season (July), have a few weeks rest, and then fruit again in Sept. After growing both types, I must admit to liking the “ever-bearing” group better, for in a good growing season it does seem that we have fresh fruit from early summer to frost, with a break of about 2 two weeks. However, some gardeners may not care for raspberries this much or may be away from home in early summer. It also must be admitted that fruits of the “ever-bearing” types may not be quite as large or sweet as the others. So, one has a decision to make concerning the type to plant.

No work is required except seeing to it that all canes are kept within the limits set by the wires. There are other methods, but this works well and, if made of sturdy materials, needs no attention for years.

As noted, pruning is done after fruiting in the late summer, for the crop varieties, or in the fall, winter or early spring for the crop or “ever-bearing” varieties. Canes left may have the tops snipped off at about 41-106 ft. high, depending on variety.
The Black Raspberry (or Blackcap) and the Purple Raspberry are treated in the same manner, except that the shoots tend to be long and trailing and the ends might well be cut off when they have reached their proper manageable height (5-6 ft) which forces lateral growth, especially desirable since these plants only produce 3-12 canes per plant and can get too heavy if the canes are cut off much higher. This heading back should be done as soon as the growth reaches this height.

Propagation is simply by dividing the plants, digging up rooted suckers, or using a sharp spade through the center of a plant from which many canes have developed. The black-caps are reproduced by tip layering, merely selecting a long arching shoot, placing the tip firmly in the ground with just the end showing. This is done in late summer and by the following spring this should be rooted.

Planting can be done in either the fall or the spring, but ether things being equal, early spring is probably best. When properly planted (about 30-45 in. apart in the row for the raspberries and 3-6 ft. apart for the blackcaps) the canes are cut back to about 5 in.

Planting Sweet Potatoes

by on Saturday, September 27, 2014 1:54 under Home & Garden.

Read full story

The sweet potato is very nutritious and is an important food in many tropical regions of the world. It is rich in vitamin C and contains more vitamin A than most other vegetables.

An acre of sweet potatoes requires 10,000 to 12,000 plants but 100 to 200 plants will produce an ample supply for the average family. Plants can be purchased from a nursery, or grown at home by sprouting four or five sweet potatoes in a shallow pan of water.

Sweet Potato Planting and Culture

Sweet potatoes can be grown as a garden plant over a wide area of the United States. They prefer a sandy soil, but can be grown in a heavier soil if it is worked five or six inches deep. Ridging is also necessary if optimum size and quality are to be produced.

Start preparing ground for sweet potatoes during April. Make a furrow long enough to accommodate the plants you need with 12 to 18-inch spacing. Place an inch or two of well-rotted compost or manure in the furrow. Then ridge up the soil on top of this band of humus. Ridges should be at least ten inches high to prevent roots from growing too deep for easy harvesting.

Don’t set out the plants until about a month after the average date of the last frost in your area. Sweet potatoes are members of the Morning-glory family and are very sensitive to frost. Use a rounded stick, like a broom handle, to push the roots of the plants four or five inches deep. Water plants after planting to settle the roots.

The area around the plants should be kept free of weed growth until the vines themselves shade out weeds. Don’t worry too much about drought, because sweet potatoes like hot, dry weather.

Sweet Potato Harvesting

Dig the potatoes with a pitchfork before frost hits the vines, for frost on the vines can damage the tubers below. To prevent spoilage, be careful not to damage the potatoes during digging. Let them cure on the surface of the ground for several hours after digging. This helps them keep better in storage.

Sweet Potato Storage

If properly cured, sweet potatoes can be stored and enjoyed for several months. This can be done easily by placing the harvested roots in a well-ventilated place where temperatures are fairly high. For best results the temperature should be around 85 to 90°F. (29.44 to 32.22°C.) and should be held in that range for ten to 15 days. High temperatures are a deterrent to rhizopus rot, a disease which affects potato roots.

Following the curing period, the sweet potatoes should be stored at a temperature of about 50°F. (10°C.) with humidity between75 and 80 percent. During the storage period the sweet potatoes should not be handled or moved until time for use. Storage temperature below 50°F. usually will favor decay.

Planting Spinach

by on Monday, September 8, 2014 19:23 under Home & Garden.

Read full story

Spinach is the most important pot herb or green grown in the U.S. It is included in most home garden plantings. Spinach is rich in vitamin A and high in ascorbic acid, riboflavin plus some thiamine. It is also rich in iron and calcium.

Spinach thrives best during relatively cool weather. It is what we know as a short-day plant and, consequently, when grown during the long light and high temperatures of summer, develops a seed stalk very quickly. In the North it is therefore grown as a spring and fall crop and during late fail, winter and early spring in the South.

Spinach Varieties

There are many varieties listed by seeds men; some of which have curly, crinkled or savoyed leaves, while others are a lighter green with fiat leaves.

Spinach Culture

The lighter sandy and silt loam soils are preferred. Spinach is sensitive to both an alkaline and an acid soil. Soils having a pH range of 6.0-7.0 are excellent. Apply 20-30 lbs. of a 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100 sq. ft. prior to planting and then side dress with several pounds of nitrate of soda when the plants have a leaf spread of 2-3 in. Plant 1 oz. of seed per 100 ft. row and space the rows 12-15 in. apart. Plant only as much as can be used in 4-6 days and make 3-4 sowings at weekly intervals. The last planting should not mature later than mid-June or July. Fail plantings should start about Aug. Cultivation should be shallow and only sufficient to control weeds.

Spinach can be harvested as soon as 5-6 leaves have fully developed by cuing the top root just below the lowest leaves.

Spinach Diseases and Insects

Spinach blight or yellows, is a virus disease spread by aphids. Affected plants show a yellowing of the leaves and stunted, twisted plant growth. Control aphids and use resistant varieties such as ‘Virginia Blight Resistant’. This disease is most common in the fall and winter plantings. Blue mold is a disease showing yellow spots on the upper surface of the leaf and downy purple or blue mold on the underside. It is most prevalent during cool, high-humid weather. No specific control except good drainage, weed control and crowding of plants. Aphids, green soft-bodied insects usually most common in warmer weather, controlled with nicotine sulfate or a malathion dust. Be sure the spray material covers the underside of leaf.

New Zealand Spinach, Tetragonia expansa, is not a true Spinach. The plants are much branched, spreading from 21-24 ft. across and 1-2 ft. in height. The leaves are thick, dark green and are used in the same manner as true Spinach. The seeds are enclosed in a hard, rough pod.

New Zealand Spinach thrives in hot weather and, therefore, is an excellent substitute for ordinary Spinach for summer culture.

The seed germinates slowly and, therefore, may be treated for several hours in hot water prior to sowing. Some gardeners prefer to start the plants in a hotbed and then transplant them into the garden when 2-3. in. tail. Normal planting distance is 3 ft. between rows and about 2 ft. in the row. Actually, only 5-6 plants are sufficient for the average family. Cultural practices are similar to those for ordinary Spinach.

Spinach Harvesting

The tips of the branches are cutoff. New shoots will develop so that a continuing supply will be available throughout the entire season. Good growth is essential to develop soft, succulent and tender growing points.

A prostrate, succulent annual, grown as a vegetable, native to Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South America, especially for its tender young stems and leaves which are cooked and eaten like Spinach. Plants are taller, more vigorous and tougher than Spinach but it makes a good substitute for growing in hot weather. Leaves are alternate, flowers few, small and without petals, leaves ovate, often triangular, up to 5 in. long.

Planting Corn

by on Friday, September 5, 2014 18:19 under Home & Garden.

Read full story

Sweet Corn is adapted to a wide range of climatic conditions and, consequently, is grown in all sections of the U.S. It is grown for the fresh market in both the southern and northern regions, but by far the largest acreage in the North is grown for processing and freezing. This crop grows best during hot weather and is frost-tender.

Sweet Corn Varieties

Each seed company lists many varieties; therefore it is difficult to suggest varieties that are available in all sections. Most of the older varieties such as ‘Golden Bantam’ and ‘Country Gentleman’ have been replaced by hybrids such as ‘Sugar and Gold’, ‘Golden Beauty’, Earlibelle’, ‘Butter and Sugar’, ‘Gold Cup’, ‘Golden Cross Bantam’, and ‘Jubilee’, listed in order of maturity. ‘Country Gentleman’ and ‘Stowell Evergreen Hybrids’ are popular white varieties. There are many other varieties that are excellent and therefore it is recommended that seed catalogues be checked for those that are listed for a particular region.

Sweet Corn Soils and Fertilizers

Sweet Corn is grown on all types of soil. A well-drained sandy loam to a silt loam is preferred. This plant has a very deep and extensive root system. Deep and thorough soil preparation is therefore important. Three to four bu. of well-rotted manure per two ft. of row worked into the soil will improve the water-holding capacity of the soil and provide some plant food.

Sweet Corn Planting

Sweet Corn is injured by frost and the seed germinates poorly in cold wet soil. Planting should be delayed until these conditions are satisfactory. Some gardeners start the seed in paper bands or pots in the hotbed and then transplant into the garden to get corn a week or two earlier than by direct planting out of doors. Sweet Corn can be planted in hills or in drills. Hills should be spaced 18 to 24 in. apart in the row and the rows spaced at 36 in. Three plants are adequate per hill. In drills the rows are spaced at 36 in. and the plants thinned to stand6-8 in. apart. Crows and starlings may scratch out the seed just prior to its germination. The seed should be treated with a crow repellent which can be purchased at a garden center.

Sweet Corn Cultivation

Cultivation of Sweet Corn is similar to that of other garden crops, namely shallow and sufficient to control weeds. Where corn is planted in hills, black plastic 18 in. wide may be placed over the row with holes for each hill. This not only controls weeds but also tends to conserve soil moisture. Herbicides are widely used in commercial corn plantings for the control of weeds. The most satisfactory material is Atrazine, but again this is very selective and cannot be recommended for the home gardener with a few short rows of Sweet Corn.

The removal of suckers and hilling of corn plants is not necessary or recommended Harvesting

Highest quality, sweetness and tenderness of the kernel are reached when harvested in the milk stage of maturity. At this stage the kernel is soft and succulent. As the kernel content changes to a doughy consistency it loses its sweetness and increases in toughness. Flavor and succulence are quickly lost after picking if exposed to high temperatures, say 75° to 80° F. At these temperatures 30-50% of the sugar may revert to starch in 4-5 hours. At temperatures of 32°-38°F, the original quality may be retained for several days.

Sweet Corn Insects and Pests

Corn earworm, a stout striped worm, feeds in the silk and kernels near tip of ear. Although they do not survive freezing, they migrate northward and are destructive when the ears are maturing. Spraying or dusting the silk at 2 or 3 day intervals with insecticide is safe and effective. European corn borer and southern corn borer tunnel stalks and eat kernels. Spraying with insecticide when the stalks are first visible in the whorl and repeating in 7-10 days should give good control. White grubs and wireworms eat the seed and roots and soil treatment with insecticide is desirable following sod. Corn flea beetle spreads bacterial (Stewart’s) wilt disease and, following mild winters when the beetle survives, a careful spraying program with insecticide on early corn is recommended. Army worm can strip the leaves from corn in a short time. They are most destructive in late summer and a thorough treatment of corn and surrounding vegetation with insecticide is advised. Chinch bug is destructive in Midwestern corn fields but seldom needs special control in home gardens. Stalk borer bores into stalks when they are small and ruins them. Spraying is seldom practical. Japanese beetles eat the silk but can be handpicked successfully if sprays for other insect pests are not used.

Sweet Corn Diseases

Bacterial wilt is described under flea beetle. Corn smut produces large, grayish-white galls called “boils” which usually ruin the ear. The “boils” contain a mass of spores. Fungicides are impractical and cutting and burning before the spores mature is suggested for home gardens. Treated corn seed is recommended for planting using fungicide on home grown seed.

Planting Blackberries

by on Friday, September 5, 2014 6:07 under Home & Garden.

Read full story

This name is used here to include all types of trailing berries, i.e., Logan-berry, Boysenberry, Youngberry as well as the commonly known Blackberry. Blackberries are grown commercially in N.Y. as well as in the Willamette Valley of Ore., parts of Calif. and elsewhere. They are not as hardy as raspberries. They grow best on fertile, well-drained soils and those soils that are in windy areas or areas of late spring frosts should be avoided. They are easily propagated by tip layering, that is, merely inserting the tip of a cane in the soil in the fall, and digging up the young rooted stem the following spring. They are also propagated from suckers or root cuttings.

Plants are set 5-10 ft. apart depending on the training system used. The plants themselves should be planted as early in the spring as possible and cut back to about 8—to in. high after planting.

Blackberry canes are biennial, that is they grow vegetatively one year, produce fruit the next and then die, and should be removed. Varieties differ in the length to which the canes grow. Some varieties, especially those grown in the eastern United States like ‘Darrow’, ‘Bailey’ and ‘Eldorado’, are mostly self-supporting but the loganberries and boysenberries, as well as some Blackberry varieties grown on the Pacific Coast have long trailing stems that must be trained on a trellis, otherwise they would fall to the ground.

If the planting is to be grown without a trellis, the plants should be spaced about 2-3 ft. apart in the row and the rows 8-9 ft. apart. Young shoots will come up between the plants, but strict cultivation should be such that it will keep these suckers to a strip of soil. If this is not done the plants can become a tangle, very difficult if not impossible to manage since they have rigid thorns making any pruning a disagreeable task that is almost impossible unless thick gloves are worn and long-handled lobbing shears are used. Mulching can be practiced, but the suckers coming up between the rows should be eliminated from time to time.

Pruning is best done in the early spring, eliminating those that have borne fruits as well as any weak or broken canes. Those canes remaining (if no trellis is used and these are self-erect varieties) should be about 8 in. apart, and the laterals should be reduced to about 8-12 buds each. The new canes start growing rapidly in June, and the tip of these should be pinched out when the canes are about 21-3 ft. tall. This will have to be done at weekly intervals since the canes do not all mature together, but it does promote sturdy, compact, plant development. When harvesting is over the old canes can be removed any time.

Those varieties with long, trailing stems are usually trained to a wire trellis of from one to several wires. Plants are spaced about 2 ft. apart and the canes tied to the wires. Some growers use a simple stake, one to each hill. The stake is about 5-6 ft. tall and the canes merely wrapped around the stake in spiral fashion and the ends clipped off at the top. The canes can be trained on single wires, wrapped around them, or on 2 wires or tied fan shaped to several wires. This takes more labor perhaps but often results in a higher yield.

Blackberries should only be picked when they are fully ripe and about to be used. They do not ripen all at once but over a period of several weeks in July and Aug. They respond to the application of nitrogenous fertilizers in early spring, but the amount should be controlled by shoot growth and fruit production.

Blackberry Varieties

In the eastern United States, the varieties generally are ‘Darrow’ (best); ‘Bailey’ (good); ‘Eldorado’ (good but difficult to find in nurseries true to name). There is a sterile type that has been distributed which blooms well but does not produce fruit. This should be dug up and discarded wherever it has been planted.

On the West Coast, ‘Evergreen’ and ‘Thornless Evergreen’ are very popular varieties, especially the latter, a sport of ‘Evergreen’, for the canes are easily handled. Fruit is firm and has a good flavor. Large quantities are canned; it accounts for the largest Blackberry acreage in Ore., ripening in Aug. and Sept. These of course are not hardy in the eastern United States.

Other varieties are ‘Cascade’ with red fruits, ‘Marion’ with shining black fruits, and ‘Pacific’.

‘Boysen’, or the Boysenberry as it is called, originated in Calif., is dark wine red and is not reliably hardy in the East. It is best grown on a trellis for the canes are 8-to ft. long. They ripen from early July to late Aug. It has an excellent flavor and is popular locally where grown.

The ‘Logan’ or Loganberry also originated in Calif. in 1881. It is vigorous with long canes which are best trained on a wire trellis, but it winter-kills in most parts of the country other than parts of Calif., Ore., and Wash. The fruits are dark red, of medium size and tend to be a little soft hence it is grown mainly for juice and wine, for the fruit does not ship well. It ripens from late June through July.

Blackberry Insects and Pests

Blackberry sawfly and raspberry sawfly may strip the leaves in early summer. They are easily killed with insecticide. Red necked cane borer kills many canes by boring in the pith. Careful pruning holds these in check. Blackberry psyllid and rose scale cause abnormal and weakened canes. Spraying with insecticide is effective. In the Northwest the blackberry mites cause the “redberry” disease. These gall mites overwinter in buds. Spraying with fungicide when canes are dormant is suggested. The tarnished plant bug can be a serious pest also, but can be effectively controlled by spraying the plants just before the first flowers open with insecticide. Cane borers sometimes produce irregular swellings or galls in canes, and infested canes are weakened and may die. They should be cutout and burned. Wild blackberries may have this insect and they should be dug out and destroyed if nearby.

Preparing for Paperhanging

by on Thursday, September 4, 2014 17:45 under Home & Garden.

Read full story

Unrestricted access is a must for paperhanging. When working on just the walls, move all the furniture to the centre of the room and cover it with dust sheets (drop cloths). When tackling the ceiling too, it is best to remove all the furniture completely if there is space to store it elsewhere in the house; otherwise group it at one end of the room so that most of the ceiling can be done, and then move it to the other end to complete the job.

Next, take down curtains and Hinds (drapes and shades) and remove wall-or ceiling-mounted tracks. Turn off the electricity supply at the mains, then disconnect and remove wall or ceiling light fittings as necessary, covering the bare wire ends thoroughly with insulating tape before restoring the power supply to the rest of the house. In the USA, ceiling roses, wall switch plates and socket outlets can be unscrewed and removed without disconnecting the wall receptacles or switches. Isolate, drain, disconnect and remove radiators, and unscrew their wall brackets. Call in a professional electrician or plumber for these jobs if you are unsure of how to do them safely.

Take down pictures, and remove other wall-mounted fittings such as shelves and display units. To make it easy to locate the screw holes afterwards, push a matchstick (wooden match) into each one.

Start paper hanging at the centre of a chimney beam (fireplace projection) if the wall covering has a large, dominant pattern. Otherwise start next to the door so the inevitable pattern break can be disguised above it.

Work outwards from the centre of a dormer window so the design is centred on the window recess.

If the walls and ceiling are at present painted, they need washing down to remove dirt, grease, smoke stains and the like. If they are decorated with another wall covering, this will have robe removed and any defects in the surface put right. Finally, they need sizing — treating with a diluted coat of wallpaper adhesive to even out the porosity of the surface and to help to improve the ‘slip’ of the pasted wall covering during hanging.

Measuring up

The next job is to estimate how many rolls of wall covering will be needed to decorate the room. If using a material that comes in standard-sized rolls, simply measure the room dimensions and refer to the charts given here for the number of rolls needed to cover the walls and ceiling. They allow for atypical door and window area; fewer rolls are needed for a room with large picture windows or wide door openings. If using a paper-backed cloth covering which comes in a non-standard width, measure up each wall, and ask the supplier to estimate what length of material you will need; such materials are too expensive to waste. Walls are sufficient roils with the same hatch coverings in the USA vary in width number; colours may not match exactly and length but arc usually available in-between hatches.

Planting Grapes

by on Saturday, August 23, 2014 12:56 under Home & Garden.

Read full story

Grapes are frequently prized fruit producing plants in the home garden. They need room in which to grow; they need annual and heavy pruning if they are to produce many fruits; they need spraying and fertilizing. In most areas, home-grown grapes are not difficult to grow, but they do need some sort of trellis or support. You have less opportunity to grow grapes, if you have a small garden.

They can be divided into 3 general classes as far as cultivation in the United States is concerned. Vitis vinifera is the European grape, many varieties of which are grown in southern Europe. In the United States they can be grown only in Calif., the Northwest Pacific Coast states and to some extent in Ariz. They can not be grown successfully elsewhere, but in those states they are almost the only ones grown, for they are superior to our Native American grapes and their many hybrids.

The second great group of grapes is derived from the native V. labrusca or Fox Grape, native to eastern North America. There are many hybrids of this type, some of them crossing with V. vinifera. One of the most popular of the V. labrusca hybrids is ‘Concord’, widely grown throughout the greater part of the country east of the Rocky Mountains and especially in the northern and northeastern United States.

The third group of grapes derived from V. rotundifolia, the Muscadine Grape, is grown only in the South where they will produce in the climate there and other grapes will not. Consequently, the home gardener selects the varieties he chooses to grow from one of these 3 groups, depending on the part of the country in which he lives.

Grapes prefer a sunny well-drained soil. Most of the commercial grape-growing areas in the East are located near large bodies of water which reduce the advent of frosts in the early fall, and give the fruit a chance to ripen fully. Areas near the Great Lakes, in Ark. and Mo. are in this category. Frost “pockets,” or low spots where early frosts occur, should not be used for planting grapes. Fortunately they will grow on a wide range of soils.

Grape Propagation

Many grapes are easily grown from hard woodcuttings and are then on their own roots. The home gardener can easily do this or he can layer stems on the ground. However, it is unfortunate that in many areas of the country, especially on sites of older vineyards, various diseases and insects take their toll of grapes by feeding on the roots. Recently there has been much work done in ascertaining which rootstocks arc “resistant” to these problems, and some excellent resistant rootstocks have been produced by various state and federal experiment stations. Popular varieties are then grafted on these so-called “resistant” root-stocks, with the result that the vines are far better able to grow in areas where disease and insect pests injure or destroy “own-rooted” types. It probably pays most home owners to play it safe and obtain varieties which have been grafted on resistant rootstocks.

Such plants should be watched carefully, for shoots from the roots if allowed to develop would produce grapes usually inferior to the clone grafted on them. All shoots coming from the rootstock should be removed; a rule to follow in growing any kind of grafted stock.

In New York at least, one of the best of the resistant rootstocks is ‘Couderc 3309′, but others are undoubtedly available in other areas. The local state experiment station would give the latest information on this score.

Grape Planting

One-year-old vines are the ones usually planted either in the spring or in the fall, but, if planted in the fall special care might be taken in northern areas to mound the soil about the base of the vine to prevent them being “heaved” out of the soil by alternate freezing and thawing winter weather.

Vines are usually planted about 8 ft. apart and cut back to about 2 buds. Mulch might well be placed about the plant but no fertilizer should be used at planting time. One should remember that grapes are very susceptible to injury from overdoses of fertilizers or chemicals used in weed control. Extreme care should be taken in applying these materials.

Grape Trellis

Grapes must have a means of support. The old-fashioned grape arbor was one method of supplying this, but there are so many other ornamental vines now available that if an arbor is used in the garden, a vine more decorative than the grape is usually selected. Grapes are easily grown on a wire trellis consisting of 2 wires, attached to sturdy posts about 10 ft. apart. One wire should be about 30 in. above the ground, and the second about 36 in. above the first.

The vine is trained to a single stalk with a branch trained each way on the 2 wires, often referred to as the 4-arm Kniffin System. Although there are other methods of training grapes, this is by far the most popular system and the easiest one to use for the home gardener.

Grape Pruning

This is best done in winter or very early spring before the sap begins to flow. If the pruning is done late in spring the cut ends will “bleed” profusely and, although there is no evidence to prove this is harmful to the vines, certainly it does not seem to be desirable if it can be avoided by pruning while the vines are dormant. Pruning when the vine is in leaf just removes so many food manufacturing organs from the plant and this is decidedly harmful when done at this time.

Grapes are borne on shoots that grow from buds on 1-year-old canes. The whole idea is to allow just enough of these to develop to produce the number of grapes that the vine will reasonably support. If left unpruned, the vine will get very woody, clogged with dead wood, and will produce far too many small, poorly-developed bunches of grapes. To maintain a vigorous vine, reduce the old wood to a minimum and replace this with young canes.

Grape Harvesting

Grapes grown in the home garden should not be picked until fully ripened on the vine. This brings up the problems in some areas of birds eating the berries before they are picked. We have been very troubled with this situation, but finally corrected it merely by throwing a large piece of saran cloth or netting over the 6 ft. trellis, covering the vines from ground to top on both sides. In this way, the grapes receive normal amounts of sunshine and air and one can check the ripening process. The cloth is put over the 2-wire trellis about 3-4 weeks before the fruits normally ripen. This is another good reason for growing grapes on a simple 2-wire trellis, for this is very easily covered, whereas a large arbor would not be.

Grape Insect Pests

Like other fruits, grapes require that a specific schedule for pest control be followed in order to produce a profitable crop. Early in the season flea beetles cat the buds, grape plume moth cripples the buds and cane girdler cuts off the new shoots. A dormant spray with insecticide kills the eggs of the plume moth and controls the grape scale and the cottony maple scale. Sprays of insecticide control the leaf-eating insects and the grape tomato gall which makes globular galls on the leaves and stems. Japanese beetle, rose chafer and the light-loving beetle have a strong liking for grape foliage. Insecticides give control without excessive residue.

Grape phylloxera, which is primarily a root aphid, nearly prohibits the culture of European grapes on their own roots. In America, American varieties or others grafted on them are grown. Spraying with insecticide helps to check the gall-making form on the leaves. The most important insect pest of the fruit is the grape berry moth. The first generation eats the leaves and buds and the second and third generations eat the berries. When preparing to pupate they cut and fold parts of the leaf to form a shelter. A single worm may infest several berries. Careful spraying with insecticide, especially when the berries are about half grown, is necessary.

Grape Diseases

Black rot is a serious fruit disease although it is also present on the leaves and canes. Infected fruit becomes hard and brown before it dries to the well-known mummies in which the disease overwinters. Destruction of infected fruit and sprays with fungicide just before and just after bloom is effective. Downy mildew infections on the leaves are controlled by the above treatment.

A regular schedule prepared by local authorities in pest control should be followed.

Planting Asparagus

by on Saturday, August 23, 2014 0:55 under Home & Garden.

Read full story

In the early spring the home garden offers few pleasures greater than the cutting of the luscious early spears of an established asparagus planting. It was because of its habit of producing early shoots that the ancient Greeks named the plant asparagos, meaning to swell.

Until modern times asparagus was a medicinal plant. The early and abundant supply of green spears restored men who must have struggled through the long winter upon a poorly balanced diet. But like many other medicinal plants asparagus later became a garden favorite, and its popularity is still increasing.

Asparagus Planting

It is possible to grow fine asparagus plants from seed if care is taken to see that the seedbed is properly drained and well pulverized and that the seedlings are trans-planted without too much injury to the root system. But an established planting reaches the cutting stage much sooner if one-year-old roots of the best disease-resistant varieties are used.

To establish a planting of asparagus it is best to select a site to one side of the garden. This site should be free from shade; the soil should be rich, deep and well drained. The location should be so arranged that the permanence of the planting will not interfere with the cultivation of the rest of the garden.

In the spring as early as the ground can be worked, a trench 12 inches deep and about ten inches wide should be dug along the line where the first row is to stand. In the bottom of this trench place a three-inch layer of mature compost humus. If well-rotted manure is plentiful, this may be added. This layer should then be well dug into the bottom of the trench. The second row should be made not closer than four feet from the first.

One-year-old crowns should then be placed in position about 18 inches apart and ten inches below the level of the garden. The crowns should be covered with a two-inch layer of sifted compost humus and well watered. During the summer the trench should be slowly filled with a mixture of fine topsoil and composted material. Cultivation will tend to fill the trench, but it is advisable not to do the filling too rapidly or the growing plants are likely to be stifled.

Whatever care you take in the setting our will be well repaid to you later. Careful siting is important. The careful, deep preparation of the area is of great value because the powerful fleshy roots of the asparagus plant often thrust their way five to six feet downward and spread out almost an equal distance in their search for the heavy supply of plant nutrients needed for the production of the large spears. Because of this, the plants require more garden space than their feathery brush would seem to indicate, and because of the great depth to which the roots develop, you will find it wise to see that an ample supply of rich organic matter is deeply placed before setting out the crowns.

After the planting is established it will thrive with little care for many years. But as with all vegetables, asparagus should be kept free from weeds and the damaging influence of trees, and should receive each season a liberal supply of added organic material. This supply can be arranged in two ways.

In the spring the rows should be ridged. Ordinarily this is done by drawing up to the row a good quantity of the topsoil between the rows by using a hoe. If you use compost in mead of topsoil to form these ridges, this will serve two purposes—bleaching the shoots by excluding sunlight, and adding valuable plant nutrients to the soil.

After the cutting season, it is good practice to sow a cover crop of cowpeas, soybeans, etc. These should be planted between the rows of asparagus. A cover crop of this type discourages the growth of weeds and when dug under adds greatly to the organic content of the soil.

But the organic material added during ridging is the most important. This ridge should be several inches high; if shallow, the shoots will tend to open before assuming sufficient length. Even if you decide to grow “green asparagus,” that is, unbleached asparagus, you will find it necessary to form shallow ridges to overcome the tendency of the crown to get too close to the surface. This slow upward movement is caused by the formation each year of new storage roots on the uppermost side of the crown.

Asparagus Harvesting

If a good growth is made the first year, it is possible to cut the shoots lightly the following spring, but it is generally better to encourage plant growth and to delay cutting for another season. Spears should be cut when about six inches high. Some gardeners cut them two inches below the ground level, others at the surface.

In cutting, place the knife blade close to the spear, run it downward the desired depth, and then turn it enough to cut cleanly through the spear but no more. Careless jabbing during cutting time can cause very serious injury to a planting of asparagus.

As winter approaches, the rows of asparagus should be lightly mulched with straw or similar material to prevent frost from penetrating too severely into the crowns. The brush should not be removed or burned but should remain as a part of the mulch. This mulch should be removed in the spring and the ground lightly cultivated.

Asparagus Pests and Diseases

The asparagus beetle is considered a serious menace; it is very difficult to get rid of and does much damage. But most of the serious damage done by this beetle occurs when it is allowed to overwinter in the adult stage by finding concealment in fallen sticks, trash, leaves, and the like. In this case it emerges in the early spring to feed upon the young asparagus shoots. Garden cleanliness and fall cultivation will prevent the insects from overwintering. An old method for controlling asparagus beetles was to turn chickens, ducks or guinea hens loose in the asparagus planting. These birds invariably do an efficient job of wiping out the beetles and their larvae.

Asparagus rust is a plant disease affecting asparagus. Small reddish pustules appear first on the main stalks. These pustules, when they burst, release a fine rust-colored cloud of spores. Sometimes an entire planting is rapidly infected and dies. But the degree to which asparagus rust does damage is very largely dependent upon local conditions. The spores require dampness for germination. Areas subject to heavy dews and damp mists are poor locations for asparagus.

Asparagus Varieties

Mary Washington is a reliable, rust-resistant variety and a favorite of many gardeners. Roberts Strain is also rust-resistant and is a heavy producer. Paradise is an early variety and very productive.