Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Garden Sage, Harvest

 After picking your sage pinch off the leaves just below the leaf stem.



Place a single layer of leaves in your dehydrator and dehydrate for a day.


Sort out any bad leaves and set them aside with the stems.


   The innermost leaves are saved for freezing, because they are the most flavorful and tender parts of the plant. I use frozen herbs in place of fresh herbs, when my fresh herbs are not available.

    Stems, bad leaves and other trimmings are saved and used for either smudge sticks or potpourri, as the stems can be very bitter.
     This smudge stick was blended with wild sage, and allowed to thoroughly dry. It is wrapped with a cotton based embroidery thread. The different colored threads are used to color code the sticks so I know what each stick is made from.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

DIY sugar ant poison

DIY sugar ant poison and save.

The basic formula for sugar ant poison is a light syrup and a 5% solution of borax. Basically if you wish to make a large quantity it would be one liter  or 100 mL of light syrup (which you can make) and then add 5 mL of borax. The approximate recipe that we use is [ 2 cups of water add 1/2 cup sugar. Bring water to a Boil ,turn off heat and then stir in sugar until desolved. Remove the light syrup from the burner and add 1  to 1 1/2 level tablespoons of borax. (Laundry soap booster) stir until completely dissolved and allow to cool. 

Once you have your poison syrup made you can dispense it with a squeeze bottle into soda pop bottle caps. You can then place these baited bottle caps wherever you see ant activity. I refill the caps once a day until I see a reduction in ant activity. It may take several months before I see real results but usually I do not see the ants return for several years after I have eliminated them completely.
Caution: 
This ant bait is toxic if ingested in large quantities and you should keep it out of reach of children and pets. Make sure you clearly label all containers with the ingredients,  recipe used, and be sure to include contact information for the Poison Control Center should you need it. Do not dispense more than half a teaspoon per bottle cap so that if it is accidentally ingested it is not in large enough quantity to be fatal.
Note: an adjustment has been made to recipe as it may have been on the strong side, do to a math Error. but you still want a 5% solution.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hummingbird feeder review

Hummingbird feeder review

   Over the year's I've tried a number of hummingbird feeders, in an attempt to attract hummingbirds. They are one of nature's pollinators, consume insects in addition to nectar, build their nest out of spider webs and can fly in any direction. To me they are just plain pleasing to watch and have around.
    To my dismay in the last couple of years an intruder has showed up called the oriole. This bird although beautifully colored in black and orange colors, has turned out to be more of a pest than anything else. They eat my grapes and other fruit, harassed my hummingbirds and steal nectar out of my hummingbird feeders and just plain make a mess. Originally I tried appeasing these intruders by giving them their own feeders with grape jelly. This worked the first year when I only had one or two Orioles hanging around. They left my grapes alone and I didn't mind feeding them. But this last year the feeder has done nothing more than attract dozens more Orioles and they are no longer satisfied with just the grape jelly. These birds are quite intelligent and have learned various ways of getting nectar out of the hummingbird feeders.
Perky-Pet 122TF Aster Top Fill Push-Pull 12-ounce Plastic Hummingbird Feeder
 One of my first hummingbird feeders was this hummingbird feeder above. I liked the elegant design and the idea of filling it from the top. Unfortunately, it was also one of the first hummingbird feeders that I got rid of. If you didn't have the feeder put together just right the nectar just simply drained out. I found it to be hard to put together or take apart for filling or cleaning. I liked the perches on the flowers but quickly found that the Orioles liked them too because then they could rock it back and forth to spill nectar.
The next hummingbird feeder I tried, I liked a lot. This is a First Nature 3091 16-Ounce Hummingbird Flower Feeder I found this hummingbird feeder to be easy to clean, and easy to fill. But once again I found the Orioles liked it as well. They would rock the feeder back and forth and spill nectar everywhere. But because I liked this simple design so much, I still use this feeder when the Orioles are not around.


old version of perky pet hummingbird feeder
So this next one is an old version of one of the Perky Pet designs. I do not believe they make this model anymore and the new one is all plastic instead of glass and plastic. The first problem I had with this one was the glass bottle threads stripped out and it wouldn't stay together. I liked the glass design for better sanitation, but the design might do better with a metal bottom rather than the plastic. The bee guards also helped keep bees out of the feeder, but the Orioles quickly learned to pull these off and I had to put screws into the feeder to keep them from doing this. I do not know much about the new all plastic design but once again the Orioles like to swing the feeder back and forth to get nectar out. Hummingbird feeders without a perch would probably make a better feeder.
    This next design is better than most.
First Nature Hummingbird Feeder, 16 oz
This is a First Nature Hummingbird Feeder, 16 oz that uses slots instead of holes. It is easy to take apart and put back together for cleaning and a largemouth for ease of filling.
I thought the slots might be a deterrent to the Orioles but again to my dismay the Orioles were still able to get nectar out of the feeder.




Blue Bunting 28-oz Glass Hummingbird Feeder.







   This last feeder on the right is the best feeder I have found thus far. It is a Blue Bunting 28-oz Glass Hummingbird Feeder. I like the large capacity glass jar which means I only have to fill it once in a great while. I'm not sure about the glass threading with the plastic as yet, but so far it has worked quite well and I think it will last quite a while as long as I take care not to over tighten the threads. The most impressive feature of this whole design though is the flowers themselves. The flowers are fashioned after trumpet vine flowers and have a fairly deep throat that the Orioles cannot reach the bottom of with their short tongues. The feeder is heavy enough that the Orioles can't rock the feeder back and forth. And the feeders are spaced far enough apart that an oriole cannot sit on one feeder and try to feed from another. The flower perches are too short for the Orioles to use, and I find it quite amusing to watch them try to put their head between their legs in order to try and feed out of the feeder. I don't know if Blue Bunting intentionally designed the feeder so Orioles and other birds could not feed out of it, but I like it a lot. So if your having problems with Orioles and you are not able to find the Blue Buntinghummingbird feeder, try any hummingbird feeder that doesn't use a perch such as the following.
    or   

Monday, July 6, 2015

Using solar light stakes as drip risers.

 Solar light stakes double as drip irrigation risers. 

Did you notice that drip risers look a lot like solar light stakes? So the next time you buy a solar light or get ready to throw out a solar light that doesn't work, think again. Convert solar light stakes to double as drip irrigation risers. All you need is a 1/4-inch drill bit and drill to make your solar light double as a drip riser.
Using your quarter-inch drill bit(or Dremel bit) drill a hole through both sides of the solar light stake. Be sure to drill your hole below the diffuser so if the solar light stops working it can be removed or replaced.Thread your 1/4-inch drip tubing through the light stake and then attach your drip emitter as you normally would. As shown in the photo below.
And there you have it, an upscale, upcycled, recycled solar light stake.You save a couple of bucks and help save the environment. For a little more detail on how to do this project and an extra idea or two watch the following video.