Archive for the ‘Home & Garden’ Category

Pigeon Raising

by on Monday, December 8, 2014 1:41 under Home & Garden.

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Pigeons and squabs can be profitably raised on the small homestead. Although they require good housing, they can be raised anywhere in the United States and almost anywhere in the world.

Pigeon Breeds

You should begin breeding with not less than four pairs of mated breeders. (Pigeons mate for life and are sold in pairs.) Buy good stock from a registered breeder. You might be able to find a breeder in your area by checking at a local feed and grain store.

The following breeds are recommended for beginners. They are good producers and raise large, broad-breasted squabs: White King, White Carneaux, Giant Homers, and Giant Runt.

Pigeon Housing

Twenty-five pairs of breeding pigeons may be kept in a pen and loft. The loft must be dry and draft-free. Pigeons need sunshine, and a flying pen is usually constructed in the front of the loft, extending up to the roof, so the pigeons can fly and sun themselves. A pen 6 by 10 by 7 feet high is sufficient. The loft and pen must be mouse and rat proof. Use fine wire mesh.

The loft floor should be smooth so it can be easily scraped. Put two inches of fine gravel on the floor. Open-front lofts can be built in warmer climates, but lofts with opening windows for summer ventilation should be provided in cooler climates.

Never give the pigeons nesting material. It is useless and messes up the floor. Cheap nesting bowls, made of pulp and available at a feed store, will keep eggs and squabs together. After a few months’ use they may be discarded and replaced with new ones.

Each breeding pair will need two nests—one for the current squabs and another for the start of a second nest when the first squabs about two weeks old. Orange crates stacked on top of each other with plywood between serve well as nest boxes and are cheap to place.

Pigeons are very clean and love to wash; a large pan filled with three inches of water should be placed in their flying pen on mornings. After several hours, remove pan, empty, and wash. Pigeons kept in a loft and allowed to bathe regularly don’t attract pests. Keep the floor clean and nesting boxes of manure at least every month.

Pigeon Feeding

If you can’t raise your grains for feeding, buy whole, unmixed. These are cheaper than commercial feed. Use whole yellow corn, wheat, red sorghum, peas, or vetch. Never feed table scraps, and feed lettuce or greens occasionally. Pigeons need grit in their diet to help them crack grains. Keep small boxes of red pigeon grit available in the pen. They need a constant source of fresh, clean water. Make sure they cannot get their feet into the water supply, or they will bathe in it.

Pigeon Care

Pigeons mate at six months, females lays two eggs. The male helps with the nesting, sitting on nest from early morning to late afternoon, the female sits during the rest of the day. This pattern may help in sexing pairs, also tends to be more aggressive, larger and a coarser appearance.

During incubation, a substance “pigeon milk” forms in the crops. This is fed to the young for the first five days after they emerge. After their first day, they are able to digest grain which is fed from the crops of the parents. Since the best characteristic of this tree is that its ears comparatively heavy in its early years, you won’t have to wait forever to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Planting Banana Trees

by on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 23:55 under Home & Garden.

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This is one of the most popular and important tropical fruits. Long-keeping and easily shipped, it is tasty, very digestible and rich in several major minerals and some vitamins.

Banana plants are rapid-growing herbs 5 to 25 feet tall. Their stalks or trunks are succulent, being actually composed of compressed layers of leaf sheaths. After bearing once, the stalks die back to the plant’s true stem, which is an underground rhizome. New suckers on which further fruit is borne are constantly rising from a healthy, productive rhizome. On a plant that is growing well, a sucker bears within 12 to 18 months after its emergence from the soil, but the length of time required to develop fruit may vary with soil and climate.

A hole 30 by 36 inches and 18 inches deep should be prepared for planting either rhizomes or suckers. Dwarf Cavendish may be planted eight to ten feet apart; others should stand no closer than 12 to 15 feet. Plant the sucker or rhizome a foot deep, and fill the hole with a mixture of topsoil and compost or rotted manure.

While the plant is young, remove all but one sucker, which should be allowed to bear its fruit and be cut back before another sucker is permitted to grow. Older plants may be allowed to develop one new sucker every three months. A plant will grow and bear well for four to six years, after which it should be dugout, the soil enriched and new suckers or rhizome pieces planted. After its first fruit has ripened, the plant may be allowed to grow three to five suckers at a time, depending upon its vigor. All others should be cut out.

Bananas are gross feeders. Because of their heavy growth they need plenty of fertilizer and a large amount of moisture. They do best where the rainfall averages 60 to 100 inches per year. In areas where it is less than that, they will need frequent watering.

Heavy rich mulch should be maintained under the plants at all times. This may be rotted manure, compost or a mixture of manure and leaves or grass.

Because they contain no viable seeds, bananas must be propagated by separating the suckers from the parent plants or by making cuttings of the rhizomes. Suckers two to eight months old are used and are moved in March or April.

Seven- to ten-pound cuttings of the rhizomes are removed, each with two buds, by cutting with a spade or mattock. Rhizome cut-tings can be replanted immediately or held for a few days, exposed to the air, then planted.

Bananas require about 100 days maturing after the young flower buds appear. Bananas which are cut seven to 14 days before ripening may be hung in a cool shady place to develop their flavor and sugar. Their nutritional value will be the same as that of tree-ripened fruit.

After bunches are cut down from the plant, the ends of the stalk are trimmed and the bananas are held at room temper, until thoroughly ripe. Stalks of the plants are cut back and chopped into small pieces.

Proper Table Setting

by on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 23:35 under Home & Garden.

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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.

China

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

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.

DECORATIVE IDEAS

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.

Cow Raising

by on Saturday, November 15, 2014 5:09 under Home & Garden.

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With feed costs as high as they are today, keeping a cow may not save you much, if any, hard cash. But, if you like cows, are willing to spend a few hours each day feeding, watering and milking one and processing its fresh milk, then the animal will indeed reward you, with plenty of dairy products.

Proper housing is of key importance, but generally an existing outbuilding can be converted to a suitable cow barn.

Unless the cow is to be kept in a stanchion, the minimum floor area for a stable is 200 or more square feet. In northern areas, the cow stable should be wind-tight; all winter ventilation should be under control. An economical job can be done, when necessary, by nailing unslated roofing paper over the sides. A cow can stand more cold than generally realized.

The cow may be confined by some stanchion or allowed the freedom of a stall. The box stall is recommended.  Some cows can keep warmer by moving occasionally on very cold nights. Milk production has been found to increase about 10 percent when cows are kept in a stall as opposed to a stanchion.

A calf pen is required. This preferably can be a duplicate of the cow stall

Buying a Cow

A cow that is four or five years old and has had her second or third calf is generally a good choice. She will be young enough to have years of production ahead of her, and old to have shown her milk-producing. There is no reason to pay the high asked-for heavy milk producers. For a cow, the criteria should be gentleness, ease of milking and general good health.

A family milk cow will generally yield about 12 quarts daily for from eight to 12 months, consuming about 18 pounds of hay daily. Jerseys and Guernseys are most often chosen for family cows because they are smaller and do not require as much feed or give as much milk as some of the larger breeds, such as Holstein or Brown Swiss. A Jersey heifer is fit to breed from 15 to 17 months; Guernseys from 17 to 18 months; and the heavier breeds at up to 25 months. After freshening, a cow will reach maximum production during the amend month. She will then decline in production at the rate of 6 to 7 percent a month. A cow that freshens in the fall or early winter usually yield an average of 10 percent more milk and fat than one that freshens in spring or summer.

Ideally, the cow should have about two acres of pasture for summer grazing: Permanent pastures of bluegrass or mixtures of grassdrop in production in the summer and may have to be supplemented to provide a uniform feed supply. The vegetable garden can furnished with a bit of the animal’s summer feed. Cows will eat pea vines, sweet corn stalks, cabbage leaves, and sweet potato vines.

The family cow’s winter feed consists of hay and a mixture of concentrates. Alfalfa, soybean, alsike clover, or early-cut grass hay are satisfactory. A Jersey or Guernsey cow will need at least ten pounds of hay a day, and a pound of grain for each two to four pounds of milk she produces.

A mixture of ground corn and wheat bran is a good concentrate to feed with hay. Some soybean oil meal or linseed oil meal may be added to the diet of hay and grain for extra protein.

Provide a block of trace mineralized salt in a sheltered box for the cow, or add loose salt to her concentrate mix at the rate of one pound to every 100 pounds of feed.

Give the cow water at least twice daily in winter and more often in summer.

Planting Hyacinth

by on Friday, November 7, 2014 14:34 under Home & Garden.

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The fragrant and colorful Hyacinth, important early spring flower, often arrives before the daffodils are under way.

Hyacinths have several shades of purple, blue, yellow, and salmon, and there are single and double-flowered forms.

Many gardeners are under the impression that hyacinths must be planted in formal beds, are equally attractive when planted throughout perennial beds, along fence or by a stone wall. They can be in a single line or massed in groups. You may even wish them for indoor flowers during the months.

Hyacinths prefer light, sandy soils which warm quickly in the spring. They root deeply; the soil should be and fertilized at least eight inches. Thoroughly incorporate a generous amount of compost, very well-rotted manure meal or dried sludge.

The bulbs should be planted four to six deep and six to eight inches apart. Plant the bulbs at a uniform depth so that they bloom at the same time. This actually depends on soil conditions.

After blooming is over, let the foliage growing until it turns yellow and of its own accord. Good leaf growth for the development of the bulbs next spring’s performance. Begin as soon as the hyacinths stop blooming, and by the time their foliage becomes unsightly the annuals will take their place. The leaves of the hyacinth may be bunched together and tied loosely to allow more room between the bulbs for planting annuals.

Hyacinths tend to “run out” and have to be replaced more often than other spring bulbs, but they will bloom several years if fertilized each season and divided and reset every two to three years as foliage withers.

For blue and purple shades try planting Ostara, King of the Blues or Grand Maitre. For pinks and reds try Pink Pearl, Marconi, Amsterdam, or Princess Irene. Among the desirable white varieties are Edelweiss and Innocence. Orange Boven or Salmonetta is a soft salmon orange.

Storage Shelving

by on Monday, November 3, 2014 1:34 under Home & Garden.

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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.

USING SHELF BRACKETS

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.

PUTTING UP ADJUSTABLE SHELVES

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.

USING BOOKCASE STRAP

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.

USING SHELF SUPPORTS

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.

PLANNING SHELVES

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.

Planting Chrysanthemum Seeds

by on Sunday, November 2, 2014 1:20 under Home & Garden.

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Chrysanthemum is a genus which has contributed several species to the flower garden. Hardy chrysanthemums are among the popular and important garden flowers oust of the long, colorful show they put on in summer and fall. By choosing carefully the hundreds of varieties, the gardeners have chrysanthemum blooming nearly all year round. They can be grown in containers and watered carefully. The dwarfs can be dug with a generous earth when in bud or flower and moved to a dull corner of the garden. Few have such a variety of color and form, are excellent for cutting.

Hardy chrysanthemums require a great maintenance to keep them in top form. If you are a person who has little time to work with, you should avoid having large plants. While they can be propagated, cuttings and seed, most gardeners will divide. Indeed, (or at most, biennial) division in spring may help keep them flowering well. When looking at the clump, you will notice many pale usually with a tuft of small leaves spreading out among the darker roots base of the plant. Each one of these can grow into a large flowering plant by cut off as many as you will need and the rest of the old clump. If you started with larger divisions, use a sharp knife and cut pieces with several new crowns. Small divisions or stolons make the best and they should be set out in full sun in compost or rotted manure, which supplemented with bone meal or sludge are heavy feeders and will benefit from dressings of compost during the growing season. They must be watered carefully at all stages of growth: Drying of the soil in the heat of summer will stunt growth and diminish flowering.

When the young plants have grown six or eight inches tall, pinch out the tip of each stem to induce side-branching. Pinch again after each six inches of growth until mid-July, after which the plants should be left alone so they form flower buds. This early pinching induces heavier flowering and helps to keep tall varieties more compact. The cushion mums, which mature at 12 inches or less, are self-branching and should not be pinched. Some varieties, such as the football and spider mums which develop very large flowers, should be disbudded to make them look really spectacular. All secondary flower buds are removed, allowing each stem only one bud at the top which opens into a flower that can be five to eight inches across. Such varieties usually bloom too late to mature before frost and the flowers can’t take heavy rains, so they are best left to florists and greenhouses. While some-times advertised as being suitable for the open garden, they are really not.

Almost everyone knows of or owns chrysanthemum plants which seem to survive and bloom year after year with little or no winter protection. Even so, the term “hardy chrysanthemum” can be misleading because too often a newly bought variety which was planted in spring and bloomed in fall dies in the winter. This is often caused by poor drainage; while mums require abundant moisture during the growing season; their soil must never be soggy in winter. Try not to plant them in heavy clays if you wish to winter them in the garden. To prevent alternate freezing and thawing, cover the plants with airy mulch such as straw, evergreen boughs or an inverted basket in winter. To be sure that choice variety survives, dig them with earth balls after frost has killed the tops and store them under light mulch in a cold frame for the winter. In spring, plant several of the stolons and compost the old plants. Treated this way, any hardy mum will grow and bloom well each season.

There are several recognized flower types of hardy chrysanthemums of which the button, pompon, decorative, and single-flowered types are most suitable for the open border. There are many named varieties to choose from in each class, so check the catalogs for those which appeal to you most. The cushion or dwarf types might be the best for busy gardeners because they do not need pinching.

How to Build a Water Garden

by on Friday, October 24, 2014 22:59 under Home & Garden.

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Water gardening, whether on a large or small scale, is one of the most enjoyable, fascinating and trouble-free, once initial construction and landscaping has been complete, forms of ornamental horticulture.

The attractiveness of a water garden extends over a long season. Few garden plants can compare with tropical water-lilies by providing a succession of flowers from June onwards until cut back by frost. These gardens lend themselves superbly to artificial illumination. Both the night-flowering water-lilies and the Giant Water Platter (Victoria cruziana) open their flowers at dusk, to provide a nocturnal display.

The most important consideration before planting and construction of the garden is the site. Full sunlight is essential for successful development of nearly all the aquatic plants. If the garden is shaded, growth becomes etiolated, and less floriferous. Trees growing in the near vicinity of a pool are undesirable as the leaves tend to accumulate in the pool, releasing harmful products as they decay under water. In wind-swept locations, a windbreak of the American Arborvitae or Canadian Hemlock planted at a suitable distance on the north side will prevent damage to the more tender plants, and also assist in extending the display season.

The source of water should be relatively free of salinity as well as industrial and municipal-wastes. Where fish are desired the water should be able to sustain a flora for the small organisms which serve as fish foods; and to have optimum dissolved oxygen content of 47%.

Pool Design

The design of the pool may vary from the formal or traditional with a rectangular or circular shape to the informal or more natural form. For the smaller gardens a simple pattern is advocated, being less complicated to build and maintain. This type is more likely to blend with the landscaping of a smaller garden. Eighteen to 24 in. is an ideal depth. To accommodate shallow water and certain moisture-loving plants, cement blocks or large stones can placed under the plant containers to bring them up to the correct depth of water (2-4 in.).

Pool Construction

The best material for pool construction is concrete—preferably reinforced—poured into wooden forms. The site selected should be excavated to the necessary depth and outline. Provision for drainage should be made as this will facilitate periodic cleaning. The drain can be run to low ground or sump built nearby. Galvanized iron pipe 2-3 in. in dia. is excellent.

Puddled pools, with curved sides can be constructed. They may not possess: the permanence of a pool built with forms, but are less expensive and not so much trouble to build. They allow one to build a pool to almost any shape with a minimum of complications. After excavations are completed and provision made for drainage, the floor and sides are covered with a 3-4 in. layer of gravel or crushed stone which is then consolidated. Reinforced rod or mesh is then placed over this, layer. Six inches of concrete is then poured over the floor and sides, insuring that the reinforcing is raised evenly to work the concrete around it. The final smoothing can be carried out as the concrete commences to set. Burlap can be placed over the pool, and kept moist for a week or so in order to prevent the concrete from drying out too rapidly.

Freshly poured concrete will release a considerable amount of calcium, which subsequently causes the water in the pool to be too alkaline for both plants and fish. The pool can either be painted with one of the water-proofing com-pounds, or better still given an artificial “curing” or maturation treatment. This consists of several fillings and flushings—followed by a thorough scrubbing with a solution of vinegar—then drained and refilled for planting.

Prefabricated Pools

Prefabricated pools mainly of fiberglass com-position have become increasingly popular. They are obtainable in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, are extremely durable, and long lasting. All that is necessary is to excavate the depression to fit the pool, place in position, level and firm. Some of the more elaborate fiberglass pools are obtainable in 2 depths—to accommodate a variety of plant material. Heavy-duty polyethylene can also be used, its disadvantage being its limited length of life compared with the other types of pools. The excavated area is smoothed, all stones removed—then covered with a layer of sand. Then cover with a double thickness of the plastic film, allowing an over-lap of at least 6 in. on all sides. This can be covered with soil or better still with stones. Even the smallest garden can feature an aquatic display—wooden or metal tubs, half barrels, even kettles, can be used to provide a focal point of beauty, when planted with the smaller varieties of water plants.

Bog Gardens

A companion bog garden can enhance the pool, and provide a site to grow an extensive range of unusual plants such as the giant-leaved Gunnera manicata, bog primulas, certain native orchids and insectivorous plants, to name just a few. A bog garden does not have to be water-logged. All that is necessary is to allow the roots access to water at all times. Making an artificial bog garden is considerably less complicated than building the pool. The area selected adjacent to the pool is excavated to a depth of 12-15 in. The base can either be lined with heavy-duty polyethylene and lightly perforated or flat tiles. These are placed over-lap-ping to prevent too rapid drainage. The area is then filled with a mixture of 2 parts field soil, and 1 part coarse peat. An ideal arrangement is to provide a slow trickle of water from the pool to the bog, insuring a uniformly moist condition.

Natural Pools

Many natural pools or ponds can be utilized to create water gardens. Some of the drawbacks include aquatic weeds which can offer severe competition; varying water levels; muskrats; and stagnation. A stream can be dammed and an area excavated to provide deeper, reasonably still water conditions. Spring-fed pools are often not practical for the tropical water-lilies, due to cool water temperature. Natural pools provide the gardener with maximum scope as regards landscaping the area around the pool, emphasis being to blend the pool with the surroundings, and to create as naturalistic an effect as possible.

In states where severe frosts occur, some form of winter protection for artificial pools is necessary. Logs or any floating object will take care of the effects of alternate freezing and thawing. For large pools expansion joints every 15 to 20 ft. will greatly reduce the danger of frost damage. Provided the crowns and roots of hardy water-lilies, lotus and other hardy plants are below the frost line, they will winter over satisfactorily.

Rat Control

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

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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.

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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.