Friday, June 29, 2012

DIY aluminum plant tags

Home made aluminum plant tags

So you may have wondered why I didn't use aluminum cans?

Aluminum cans are hard to work with and leave sharp edges. That's not to say you can't use them, just be more careful. If you use an aluminum can be sure to bend the edges over to eliminate sharp edges.        (note: If you can get cut on a piece of paper, you can get cut on one of these tags.) Sorry in this day and age with all the idiots out there, I have to put disclaimers on everything.
The aluminum I use is easy to work with and it's an aluminum that doesn't normally get recycled. It is not as rigid as aluminum cans, but still holds it's shape.
    The plant tags will last for a long time. I have some tags that are over 10 years old. The following is an example of what I put on my tags.

  • Name of plant
  • date planted (moon phases and or planetary  alignment )
  • where purchased (note many stores guarantee plants)
  • original location (if moved or propagated)
  • herb, fruit,vegetable

  • Name of plant
  • Ref number
Then have a catalog with the reference number and all the details about the plant that you could not include on the tag.

    Other ideas are to use the tags on gifts, as Christmas ornaments, luggage tags, or anywhere you need a nice tag.

(Note: disposable pie tins and disposable roasting pans also work very well . )

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Garden pest control

Pest control

Live bull snake
Snakes, real or fake in your garden can help deter pests.  If you cannot tolerate the real thing, then a few fake snakes here and there can be of big help.
rubber snake
The local dollar stores are a good source for rubber snakes. I try to select snakes that look like something you might find locally . I then place the rubber snake in a conspicuous place in the garden and make sure to move the snake periodically. If the snake does not look realistic enough I may take the time to paint the snake with model paint . I use rubber snakes in areas that get a lot of water as they tend to hold up better.
wooden snake

 Flexible wooden snakes are also great for the garden . The one pictured to the left is supported off the ground by a piece of coathanger wire . This gives the snake some animation when the wind blows and as a result does not have to be moved as often. 

This snake I simply zip tied to a fence railing .
It should be kept in mind that no artificial deterrent works 100% of the time .  How effective a deterrent works depends on the type being used and how often it is moved . Even with moving them daily wildlife tends to get used to them.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Coffee grounds

Coffee grounds

So let's talk coffee grounds.
For years I have used coffee grounds to acidif the soil around my plants. I would sprinkle my coffee grounds around my roses , tomatoes and evergreens. But I didn't know you could use coffee grounds to keep pests away from your plants. I was having problems with worms in my cabbages.  A friend suggested that sprinkling some coffee grounds on and around my cabbage  would deter the cabbage worms .  To my surprise it worked and have used it ever since .

homemade scarecrow

Homemade scarecrows

Keeping birds away from your garden can end up being a full-time job . But here are some ideas for reusing items you normally would throw away and save a couple dollars in the process.
If you go to the store to buy reflective tape or some other reflective scarecrow , you're wasting your money. Why pay $5 for a roll of reflective tape when you can use old CDs instead .Take two old CDs and put them back to back, shiny side out. At one edge drill a hole through both, then tye the two CD's together with fishing line leaving a leader to hang from.

Hang them in the garden.  The movement and reflective surface will help deter those pesky pest that think your garden is the latest smorgasbord .
(2)Another idea may require you to think ahead a little bit.
 Remember those Christmas sales the day after Christmas ?Remember to pick up an extra role of that reflective tape or gift ribbon or giftwrap that is on sale for half off . Cut into 1 or 2 foot lengths and hang it like you would the CDs. Then weight the bottoms with large paperclips.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bull snake garden friend

Bull snakes, our garden friends

One of the things to keep in mind this time of year is our friend the bull snake. Snakes are generally not welcome around homes but this one I always make the exception. The snake is responsible for helping keep rattlesnakes away, as well as help keep the rodent population down. He is one of the many reptiles that come in from the desert looking for food. It is very good at mimicking the look of a rattlesnake. If that is not enough, hissing and striking at you as if he were the real thing, will definitely get your attention. Snakes should never be killed as they are a very important part of our ecosystem. Without them rodent populations would explode. For the most part if you leave bull snakes alone they will leave you alone.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rabbit problems

Rabbit Problems
Apple fruit trees

    This is the worst year that my family has ever seen for rabbits. That's going back over 70 years of living in Fallon, Nevada. We have lost several mature dwarf fruit trees to rabbits girdling the trees. In the past the rabbits only bothered the smaller younger trees, but this year due to lack of water the rabbits are eating anything they can find. In the photo above you can see where the rabbits have dug down several inches to even eat the roots.

They are all but climbing the trees in order to strip the bark and eat it. Some have girdled trees as high as 24 inches off the ground. We have painted the remaining trees with a water-based latex house paint, and sprinkled the ground with moth ball crystals, in hopes of deterring further damage.

    As you can see they have not limited themselves to eating just fruit trees. Wind breaks that were planted to stop wind erosion have also suffered the onslaught of these rabbits. And in desperation the rabbits are even eating toxic plants that they would not normally eat, such as greasewood which is full of turpentine.



     Unfortunately the fruit trees that have already been completely girdled have been lost and there's not a whole lot that we can do about it. There are companies that do make plastic wraps the go around the fruit tree but are usually designed for younger trees. Using wire hardware cloth is an option, as is feral cats or a good watchdog, but some of the rabbits have learned to dig under the hardware cloth and avoid the dogs. Even though we have killed large numbers of the rabbits, their numbers seem to be replenishing from the rabbits moving in off the desert. With no food and water, rabbits could be one of this year's biggest problems.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tree pruning

Winter is a good time of year to be pruning your grapes. So I've included a short video on how to prune your grapes.[Note: you should never prune your grapes after they have budded out or they will bleed to death.] For additional information keep in mind that your local government extension office can provide you with advice and answers about your livestock and crops. The service is available to anyone, and can provide advice on livestock as well as farm and garden crops.
If you have any questions feel free to post them in your comments and I will do my best to answer your questions.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pruning trees

This time of year in northern Nevada were thinking about planning our garden. We should also be thinking about pruning our trees, shrubs and grapevines. Pruning should be done before plants bud out. You have until about the middle of March to get your pruning done. You should also keep in mind that this is a great opportunity to get some free trees and shrubs by propagating the cuttings. Propagating plants is easy if you know how. The first step is knowing which plants can be easily propagated by cuttings. Deciduous trees and shrubs(plants that drop their leaves in winter) are the easiest to propagate. Before plants bud out, I will take cuttings from those plants I wish to duplicate. Cuttings should be no bigger than your finger and no longer than 18 inches for best results. Cutting at an angle just below a bud makes your bottom of your plant cutting. Then measure up 18 inches and just above a bud make a straight cut for the top of your cutting. Place this cutting in a jar or tub of water, with the water just below the last two buds at the top. The stem that is exposed to the water should develop roots within one to two weeks. Be sure to change out your water daily for the cuttings or they will begin to rot instead of root. An other method you can use when the weather is warmer and the soil is workable, is digging a trench to place your cuttings in. The last two buds should be above the ground. Be sure and keep the soil damp but not soggy and in one to two weeks you can dig up your cuttings. At this point you should have roots on your cuttings and you can replant them where you want them. Note: Tag your cuttings so you know what plants you are rooting. It also a good idea to keep track of which plants you took the cuttings from, so you know which ones did well.

free trees version 3.1.wmv

This is a video I did on getting free trees from cuttings. An updated video will be done as soon as weather permits. It should be noted that not all cuttings will root using this method. If your cuttings do not root, and the cuttings are still alive, try using a rooting powder and bury them in the ground. Be sure to leave one or two buds above the ground and keep  soil damp but not wet.
    For further information on tree or plant propagation check your local library.  They are a great source
of information and usually are free to the public.
   Other sources of information are your local it may also be a good place to to buy inexpensive windbreak trees and shrubs. But keep in mind that you may have to order in advance and buy in larger quantity. Also be sure to use a good pair of bypass shears like these. I have a pair of these shears and they have lasted me many years.The investment in a good pair of shears is well worth the money and if oiled at the end of each season should last a lifetime.
  Also be sure to use a disinfectant wipe in between each plant that you are working on so as not to spread disease.