Hummingbird Nectar

SOURCE: https://www.wayfair.com/outdoor/pdp/perky-pet-mason-jar-glass-hummingbird-feeder-jsn1229.html

I love looking at all the different bird that hang out in the yard but one of my favorites is the hummingbird. They really are beautiful birds that zip around the yard all day. I decided to get a closer look so what better idea than to put out a birdfeeder. Hummingbirds have a high metabolism so to supply energy needs, hummingbirds drink nectar from flowers. I wanted to find the perfect mix to make nectar for my feeder:

https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Hummingbird-Food

  1. Make a rich sugar solution to attract hummingbirds to your yard. The sugary sweet mixture will encourage visiting hummingbirds to stay in the area. High-energy food is also important for hummingbirds in the spring because it helps to replenish the energy reserves that hummingbirds use up during migration.
  2. Mix a solution of 1 part white, granulated sugar, and 4 parts warm water. Stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cane sugar is sucrose that falls into the carbohydrate family. Carbs are easily digested and give the hummingbirds the immediate energy they need to keep those little wings flapping. Organic and “raw” sugars contain iron and brown sugar, agave, artificial sweeteners, honey, should not be used either.
  3. Boil the sugar water for 1 to 2 minutes. Boiling the mixture will slow down any bacterial growth that may occur. Boiling the water will also get rid of any extra chlorine that might be in your tap water (which in turn could harm the little hummers.)[2] It is not necessary to boil the solution if you are only making a small amount of food for immediate use.
    • If you do not boil the mixture, you will need to change the food every 1 to 2 days, or else bacteria may grow in the mixture that could harm the hummingbirds.
  4. Do not add any dye to the food. Though hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, red dyes have been known to harm hummingbirds. Natural hummingbird food (nectar) is odorless and clear–there is no need to add dye to your homemade hummer food.
  5. Store the hummingbird food until you are ready to use it. Keep the food in the refrigerator. If you make a large batch of the food, you can keep the extra amount in the fridge until your feeder is empty. This will save you time when refilling your feeder.
  6. Pick the right feeder. Red feeders are the best because the color red attracts hummingbirds. You should hang your feeder in a shady spot if possible because the nectar will stay fresh longer when it is in the shade. Hang your feeder in your garden if you have one. Hang your feeder near a window (but far out of the reach of cats) to be able to enjoy these beautiful little birds.
    • Some hummingbird enthusiasts say that you should only hang a feeder near a window if you have cut-outs of birds on the glass to keep the hummingbirds from flying into the glass and potentially injuring themselves.[4]

There are lots of places to get a great feeder and they range in price from $1 up to $$. Dollartree, Biglots, Target, Wayfair, Amazon, the list goes on. As soon as I put my feeder out the little magic birds came to enjoy!

Gardening 101: How to Use Eggshells in the Garden

SOURCE: https://www.gardenista.com/posts/diy-5-ideas-to-use-eggshells-in-the-garden-pest-control-mulch-fertilizer/

I love finding different ways to help my garden grow, and when it comes to not spending money it’s a win – win! I also keep reminding my boys how important recycling is so bonus teachable moment at home!

Fertilizer

When tilled into the soil, ground eggshells provide your plants with calcium.
Above: When tilled into the soil, ground eggshells provide your plants with calcium.

Though nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are most vital for healthy growth, calcium is also essential for building healthy “bones”—the cell walls of a plant. Composed of calcium carbonate, eggshells are an excellent way to introduce this mineral into the soil. To prep the eggshells, grind with a mixer, grinder, or mortar and pestle and till them into the soil. Because it takes several months for eggshells to break down and be absorbed by a plant’s roots, it is recommended that they be tilled into the soil in fall. More shells can be mixed into your soil in the spring.

By the same token, finely crushed shells mixed with other organic matter at the bottom of a hole will help newly planted plants thrive. (Tomatoes especially love calcium.) For an exciting recycled garden cocktail, try mixing your eggshells with coffee grounds, which are rich in nitrogen.

Finally, eggshells will reduce the acidity of your soil and help to aerate it.

Seed Starters

Because they are biodegradable, eggshells make excellent, no-waste seed starters. For this, reserve some of your deeper shell halves. Sterilize the shelves by boiling them or by placing them in a 0°F oven for 30 minutes. (If you put them in a cooling oven after, say, you baked a roast chicken, you can sterilize eggs without using excess energy.)
Above: Because they are biodegradable, eggshells make excellent, no-waste seed starters. For this, reserve some of your deeper shell halves. Sterilize the shelves by boiling them or by placing them in a 200°F oven for 30 minutes. (If you put them in a cooling oven after, say, you baked a roast chicken, you can sterilize eggs without using excess energy.)

Next, with a nail or awl, make a hole in the bottom for drainage. Add soil and seeds according to the packaging. When sprouts appear, plant them—egg and all—right into the soil. See a complete DIY at 17 Apart.

Pest Control

A coating of crushed eggshells in the garden is said to help deter several pests, both large and small. Deer dislike the smell of the albumen and will stay away.
Above: A coating of crushed eggshells in the garden is said to help deter several pests, both large and small. Deer dislike the smell of the albumen and will stay away.

Apparently you can also use egg’s insides to deter deer. See DIY: Homemade Deer Spray. Be aware, however, that while deer hate the smell of eggs, rodents love it. Therefore, it may not be best to use this deterrent near the house.

Many gardeners also tout the use of crushed eggshells as a snail and slug repellent. But a recent test by All About Slugs in Oregon seems to have dispelled this. If you’ve had any success with eggshells as slug repellent, we’d be curious to know.

Bird Food

Like plants and people, birds also benefit from a bit a calcium in their diet, especially the females who need extra before and after laying their eggs. To make bird food, start by sterilizing the shells by leaving them in a cooling oven after you bake a meal. Then crush them into fine bits and mix with your favorite seed.
Above: Like plants and people, birds also benefit from a bit a calcium in their diet, especially the females who need extra before and after laying their eggs. To make bird food, start by sterilizing the shells by leaving them in a cooling oven after you bake a meal. Then crush them into fine bits and mix with your favorite seed.

Mulch

Like oysters, eggshells used as mulch provide a striking accent in the garden. If you gather enough, you can even apply a layer thick enough to deter weeds.
Above: Like oysters, eggshells used as mulch provide a striking accent in the garden. If you gather enough, you can even apply a layer thick enough to deter weeds.

10 Plants That May Help Repel Bugs Like Mosquitoes, Flies, Spiders, and More

SOURCE: https://news.yahoo.com/10-plants-may-help-repel-160000158.html

When it comes to the inevitable face-off between you and bugs, keeping them away from your immediate vicinity is probably top priority as they thrive during the warmer months. While there are always options like pesticides and bug traps, it certainly doesn’t hurt to explore potential natural solutions before trying harsher chemicals (even though they can be necessary with serious infestations).

That’s where plants come in. There are a slew of different herbs, bushes, and flowers you can put in your garden or outdoor space that have a solid reputation for keeping bugs away. “Plants are in the business of repelling insects, because this is one of the most important ways to avoid insect damage—by feeding,” explains entomologist Roberto M. Pereira, Ph.D., an insect research scientist with the University of Florida. But, of course, plants also need insects to perform cross-pollination so they can survive. “It is an arms race between plants and insects, each trying to survive and prosper,” Pereira says.

Not sure where to start? Below, we rounded up the plants gardeners love to use to repel annoying bugs. They won’t wipe out mosquitoes, ticks, or flies for good—no plant really will—but their unique properties may send pests in another direction while simultaneously sprucing up your yard, garden space, or patio.

Citronella grass

You’re probably most familiar with citronella candles to repel mosquitoes, but the smell comes from a plant called Cymbopogon nardus, which gives off a distinct beach grass vibe. It’s the oil from the plant that’s actually the repellent, according to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC).

But Pereira says you’d need to have a lot of them to mimic the concentrated effects of burning a citronella candle or torch, so you shouldn’t rely on plants alone to keep mosquitoes away.

If you just want one citronella plant, though, consider placing it in a pot near an outdoor seating area. “This plant gives off very little aroma—you can smell it if you crush the leaves—and so would only work if you were sitting right up close to it,” says board-certified entomologist Nancy Troyano, Ph.D., director of operations education and training for Ehrlich Pest Control.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a tall, perennial grass that’s native to tropical and sub-tropical climates of Asia. It looks a lot like citronella grass, and also has similar mosquito-fighting properties, Pereira says.

One scientific literature review found that lemongrass oil offered up to 95% protection against certain types of mosquitoes for 2.5 hours, while another study found the oil can deter stable flies in a lab setting. Keep in mind, though, that it was the oil that was studied—not the plant itself. But if you’d like to add a few to your yard to see if they help, it’s a great place to start.

Mint

Many commercial bug repellents contain plant essential oils, and peppermint oil is one of the most promising when it comes to warding off mosquitoes, research suggests, as well as certain spiders. But it’s not clear why, exactly, some bugs don’t love it, Pereira says, although the strong smell may have something to do with it. And again, studies have mainly been done on mint oils, not the plants.

Another hack to consider: You can combine 10 drops each of peppermint, thyme, and rosemary essential oils mixed with water in a spray bottle. Then, spritz the solution around your garden to help repel flies, fleas, mosquitoes, aphids, antsspiderschiggers, and more.

Catnip

Catnip is known for its ability to give your feline friends a mellow buzz, but the herb also has some bug repellent properties. One study found the essential oil from catnip can help deter houseflies and mosquitoes. Another study from Iowa State University also found catnip oil to be a more effective “spatial repellent” than DEET, the most popular ingredient in insect repellents. Same caveat, though: Catnip oil isn’t the same as actual catnip plants, but the results are promising enough to warrant adding a few to your yard if you don’t have cats to worry about.

Sage

This herb has a reputation for getting rid of ants, flies, and mosquitoes, but there isn’t a ton of science to support the claims outside of mosquitoes. Research has found that having a pot of sage around can offer up to 32% protection against certain types of mosquitoes. Since that’s 32% more protection than you’d get with no repellent, it’s not a bad idea to consider sage in the future, especially if you enjoy adding fresh sprigs to your meals.

Petunias

These colorful annuals have the potential to keep away bugs like aphids, certain beetles, leafhoppers, and squash bugs. But, keep in mind that you need them to bloom to do their thing. Petunias’ potential bug-repellent properties “may only be there if flowers are present,” Pereira says.

Marigolds

Marigolds contain pyrethrum, an insecticidal compound that’s used in bug repellents. There isn’t a ton of research on the effects of marigolds on insects, but gardeners have long sworn by them to keep annoying pests, like mosquitoes and destructive nematodes, at bay. These annuals, while gorgeously vibrant, have an off-putting smell that many bugs (and people!) don’t seem to like. Try using them to create a pretty border around your patio, or place potted marigolds near common entryways, like doors and windows. (Just keep arrangements away from tables, where they may attract bees and wasps!)

Rosemary


This spiky herb, thanks to its particularly pungent scent, may help keep mosquitoes away, Troyano says. In fact, research
has found that, when compared to 11 other essential oils, rosemary had the longest repellent effects on mosquitoes, and may even deter other insects like aphids and spider mites—just note that these results were all based on rosemary oil.

Lavender

Research has found that lavender can be effective at repelling mosquitos and other arthropods. It’s not clear why the flowering plant can act as a repellent, though—it could just be that the smell doesn’t appeal to bugs, Pereira says. “What is pleasant to you does not have to be pleasant to other humans, other mammals, other vertebrates, or other animals including invertebrates such as mosquitoes,” he says.

Basil

A study published in the Journal of Vector Ecology found that basil—specifically hairy basil—knocked down and killed certain types of mosquitoes 100% of the time. Here’s the thing: This was tested in essential oil form, which is likely to be more potent at fending off mosquitoes than the actual plant. Overall, though, Pereira says the plant “produces a repellent odor” that mosquitoes don’t like.


Five Foods You Can Substitute For Garden Fertilizer

SOURCE: https://modernfarmer.com/2020/06/five-foods-you-can-substitute-for-garden-fertilizer/

If you love to garden and recycle here are some great tips to do both, modernfarmer.com has food substitutes to help your garden get the nutrients it needs from same place as you your kitchen!

Plants thrive on a number of micronutrients, but the three common ingredients found in store bought fertilizer include nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium—otherwise known as NPK. And all of these essential nutrients can likely be found right in your home. If you don’t want to leave your house to purchase plant food, chances are you don’t have to. We’ve put together a list of five foods likely in your kitchen that you can use instead of making a trip to your garden store for fertilizer. 

Photography by Glevalex on Shutterstock

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds contain about two percent nitrogen, 0.06 percent phosphorus, and 0.6 percent potassium by volume. They also contain many micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, boron, copper, iron, and zinc.

You can sprinkle them about in your soil with a quarter-inch layer and work it in with your hands. 

As a bonus, many gardeners say that coffee grounds can act as a pest repellent to snails and slugs. However, there is very little research to prove this. 

Photo by Avelina on Shutterstock

Egg Shells 

Eggshells contain calcium, which plays a role in the strength and thickness of plant cell walls. Broken down egg shells on average contain 39.15 percent calcium, 0.4 percent nitrogen and 0.38 percent magnesium.  

You can rinse out your eggshells or let them dry in the sun. You can also create a liquid fertilizer using your shells in a mason jar full of water. After four weeks of sitting in the water, it will be ready to start fertilizing with. 

Add one cup of this mixture to one gallon of water and water accordingly around your plants. 

For a dry fertilizer, take your dry eggshells and blend or crush them up. Blending the eggshells into a powder will speed up the fertilization process. Whether its powder or tiny shells, sprinkle them on the soil around your plants. We recommend you use 4-5 eggs for each plant you want to fertilize. Mix the shells into the soil and add water.  

Photo by NaturalBox on Shutterstock.

Milk  

Milk contains all three common ingredients found in fertilizer. As we all know, it’s also a healthy source of calcium. Researchers have recently suggested that it can be used for a fertilizer substitute on farms.

To use milk as a fertilizer, combine 50 percent milk or powdered milk with 50 percent water. Pour the mixture around the plant’s roots for best results. You can also apply the solution on your plants leaves using a spray bottle. 

Photo by nadianb on Shutterstock.

Fish 

Using your fish scraps as a fertilizer will help provide all three common nutrients found in fertilizer. Fish are especially good for a nitrogen boost. 

You can grind up your fish parts to make your own fertilizer. It’s recommended that you use a hand grinder or a stick blender as opposed to a kitchen blender. Work this into your soil and bury the chunks of fish at the roots of your plants. 

Alternatively, you can make a mixture that contains one part fish, three parts sawdust and one bottle of unsulfured molasses. Put your ingredients into a container with a lid for about two weeks until the fish is broken down. Ensure you are stirring the mixture daily. 

When you’re ready to use this on your garden, you can use about one tablespoon of your mixture per one gallon of water. You can spray it on your plant’s leaves or at the base of plants.

Photo by Pavlo Lys on Shutterstock.

Banana Peels 

Banana peels can hold up to 42 percent potassium and up to 25 percent phosphorous. Other beneficial nutrients in the peel include calcium, magnesium and sulfur.

There are a number of ways that banana peels can be used as fertilizer for your garden. You can soak them inside a mason jar and use the water from the jar as a fertilizer. 

If you have them inside the jar, make sure your banana peels are fully immersed or else they will turn moldy. Keep the banana peels in the water for about a week. You can use this mixture with five parts water and water your plants how you would normally. 

Alternatively you can dry out the peels for a day in the sun and break them up into tiny pieces. Add them to the soil anywhere from the surface to about four inches down.

IDEAS FOR A DOG-FRIENDLY PATIO

SOURCE: https://www.pardeehomes.com/trends-and-design/tail-wagging-ideas-for-a-dog-friendly-patio/?utm_source=organic_social&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=pardee_la_facebook&utm_content=pardee_blog

We love our doggies so much that when we usually look for a place to live we need to make sure our doggies will like it too. So if there is a yard we start to design it and we need to make sure there is a great space just for them too! Pardee Homes.com has great patio space ideas for your doggies see below:

Create a hydration bar.
Just like their humans, dogs need lots of water – about an ounce of fluids per pound of body weight per day.  Large breeds can consume several cups of water daily, so having a readily accessible supply of clean water is important. Set up an area, ideally near a water source, for your dog’s hydration bar. Make sure it is in the shade to minimize evaporation.

Step up the shade.
After water, shade is the second most important factor for a dog-friendly backyard. Since dogs don’t sweat, they have a harder time cooling down. Watch how sunlight crosses your patio and yard throughout the day. If the area is in full sun, create shady areas for your dog. A covered patio – especially one with ceiling fans to circulate air – makes for an ideal outdoor getaway for dogs and families. You can also create shade by strategically planting native, non-toxic trees and shrubs or investing in umbrellas. For the truly pampered pet, customize an awning-covered dog bed or add a cooling dog mat.

Designate a doggie dig space.
For some dogs, there’s nothing better than spending the afternoon digging a new hole. Instead of fighting this natural instinct, direct them to a parent-approved designated dig space. Find a shady corner of the yard for your dog’s personal sandbox, where they can dig for toys and roll in the sand all day long.

Make room for lounging.
A comfortable and cool dog bed will have your pup loving the indoor-outdoor lifestyle of your Pardee home. Look for one with a removable waterproof and antibacterial fabric cover for easy washing.  What size bed is right? Measure your pup from nose tip to tail, and add about a foot. For the VIP treatment your dog deserves, try an elevated bed that allows for greater airflow on warm days.

Choose dog-friendly plants.
Remember that many plants are poisonous for dogs. Among those are aloe, sago palm and many other common landscaping varieties. And, even those that aren’t listed as toxic can still wreak havoc on a dog’s intestinal system. Place potentially harmful potted plants in hanging baskets, plant stands or ledges beyond fido’s reach. And be mindful of plant toxicity when reviewing backyard landscaping options.

These Expert Gardeners Share How to Plant a Victory Garden on a Budget

SOURCE: https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/save-money/cheap-garden/

Backyard gardens are sprouting up all over the country.

Many people are worried about their grocery store produce options and hearing about disrupted supply chains, which has led a lot of them to dig in and learn about growing their own food.

But along with that surge has come shortages of some elements necessary for growing and maintaining a productive backyard garden.

Seed Savers, a 45-year-old Missouri-based organization that collects, grows and shares seeds, is no longer taking orders because it’s out of stock with the recent surge in demand. Potting soil is a hot commodity at home improvement stores, and the term “victory garden” is becoming more common, just as it did during World War II.

“There was already a modern resurgence of the back-to-the-land movement and it’s increasing, especially now,” said Danny Green, who runs Woodcrest Farm in Hillsborough, N.C., with his parents. 

Green said families can get their own victory garden started without a lot of space.

“You don’t need to do a ton to grow some high quality food,” he said.

Green should know. He and his wife moved from Brooklyn, New York, where he worked in theater production with the Blue Man Group, to his family’s farm four years ago. He’d never been a farmer, but now he raises cattle, hogs and poultry, and he grows enough food in a one-acre garden to supply a Community Supported Agriculture co-operative.

He has one primary piece of advice for aspiring vegetable growers.

“Grow the foods you like to eat that are possible to grow for this time of year and where you live,” he said.

Tomatoes are some of the easiest vegetables to grow, Green said.

“If you like tomatoes, that’s a good one to start with,” he said. “Anyone can grow tomatoes just about anywhere, and they are much better than what you buy in the grocery store.”

Expert Tips for Starting a Productive Victory Garden

Robin Clemmons planted her first food garden 15 years ago as a teacher to show preschoolers how seeds grow. Now she’s the Volunteer Gardener in Residence at Daystar Life Center, where she and a small group of other volunteers harvest 30 pounds of produce each week that is distributed to area residents by the center’s food pantry. The garden has 650 square feet of raised beds. 

When starting your garden, Clemmons said to be aware that you can plant seeds from some foods, such as peppers, from what you buy at a grocery store or a farmstand. However, she said those seeds won’t be as certain to produce fruit and veggies as new seeds from a packet. 

In addition, vegetables take different amounts of time to grow, and grow at different times of the year depending on the geography and climate.  You will need to do some research to determine your growing zone and how that affects what and when you can grow.

Some vegetables grow really fast, which is great when you’re gardening with kids or even if you’re just impatient.

“If you have kids or even if you want to see progress fast, grow radishes. You can see those in 20 days,” Clemmons said. “Beans grow really fast, about an inch or so a week. That’s why they called it ‘Jack and the Beanstalk,’ not ‘Jack and the Pepperstalk.’”

She offered these tips for starting your own victory garden.

Planning Your Victory Garden

1. Your garden can be as small as 6’x1’, with six vegetables planted a foot apart. However, a good size is 3’x10’.

2. Most vegetables like eight hours of direct sun daily.

3. Some of the easiest plants to grow are okra, peppers and tomatoes.

4. Some of the fastest are cucumbers, squash, radishes and beans.

5. Plants that grow well in hot months throughout the country include beans, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, summer squash and tomatoes. (Check out the Urban Farmer site for a guide to what to plant each month based on your location.)

Preparing Your Soil

6. It takes about three weeks to prepare your soil, so take that into consideration when planning your gardening calendar.  (For most of the United States, that means planting in late May.)

7. Mark your garden plot, then cover it with black plastic (like a garbage bag) to solarize the soil. This will kill the weeds, grass and everything else growing underneath without having to use chemicals.

8. After three weeks, till your soil and spread a layer of manure mixed with compost about half a foot deep across the whole garden.

Planting Your Seeds

9. Get the seeds you want for your garden. Seed packets cost $1 to $3 and are available online and at stores offering curbside pickup.

10. Dig holes to fill with a little bit of topsoil and your seeds or seedlings.  The directions on the seed packets about how deep to plant the seeds and how to space them out matters a great deal, so pay close attention.

11. Plant several seeds to get one plant because not all of them will produce. You will need to thin these out later.

12. If you have a small space, grow some of your food vertically. Peppers grow up a stake about three feet tall, so tie the stalk to it as it grows. Cucumbers need to twist around a tripod or criss-cross trellis. The vine will find its own way and attach as it grows. In a larger garden, cucumber plants can grow across the ground.

How to Get Help When You Get Stuck

If you have questions you can’t figure out, call in reinforcements! Almost every county in America has an agricultural extension website with many tips and resources. Some have apps to guide you along the way. Both Clemmons and Green said extension offices are a very useful resource for new gardeners. 

Green also suggested asking neighboring gardeners what garden centers offer the best selections and guidance. In addition, most communities have gardening-related Facebook groups available for help.

How to Build a Raised Bed for Your Victory Garden

“The quickest way to start a garden is with raised beds,” Green said. “If your yard has no soil or if you have no yard at all, you can still do raised beds.”

He shared these instructions for building a simple raised bed.

1. Clear a 4-foot-by-8-foot section of grass and weeds, then dig up and till the dirt.

2. Take four boards that are six inches tall and make a 4-foot-by-8-foot box by nailing them together at the corners.

3. Again, anything that will hold the soil will work, such as the biggest plastic tub you can find at a garden center or a large plastic laundry tub. Just cut out the bottom.

4. Add potting soil and compost then plant your seeds.

5. If you plant seedlings, you get a month or more head start on the process.

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance writer and editor in St. Petersburg, Florida, and author of the book Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps and Lessons Learned.

Refresh Your Outdoor Space

SOURCE: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/easy-diy-yard-projects/?identityID=5c9d809701baacfe0006d1a6&MID=2020_0422_NL_Multi_Article&RID=5505286082&cid=eml_promo_Marketing_NonPRSL_MultiArticleNL_cons.11430202_2020_0422_NL_Multi_Article-article2-blogs

Dig out your work gloves, change into old clothes, and take on the following seven outdoor tasks because the benefits are manifold. You’ll not only get away from your home office for a few hours, but you can wave to a neighbor (from across the street) and add some pretty curb appeal, too.

1. Pull weeds

The yoga studio is closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t squat down in the dirt and clean up your flower beds. Lay out an old yoga mat or towel to kneel on, and get low to pull some weeds. You could also lay some stones around your flower beds or along walkways in the garden to delineate and highlight your work.

2. Sow seedlings and forced bulbs

Now’s the time to get those bulbs and seedlings in the ground. Plant any water-forced bulbs you’ve been caring for during the colder months, transfer seedlings to outdoor pots, and start the seeds for annuals.

If you’ve got nada to plant, head outside and see what’s blooming, and then bring it back into the house to propagate indoors. Gray-Plaisted recently clipped some forsythia branches to force in some water inside, and she plans to cut apple blossoms next.

3. Pick up sticks

You need to do a spring cleanup anyway, so why not get the whole family to pitch in?

“Clean out your garden beds with a rake, and trim bushes that didn’t get pruned last fall,” says Gray-Plaisted.

Also, do a clean sweep of your lawn. Picking up the sticks that dropped during the winter will make it safer for the lawn mower to pass when it’s time to cut the grass.

4. Organize and clean tools

If the weather’s still not great where you live, head into the garage and assess your gardening gear.

“Go through your toolshed or workbench, and see what you can purge or donate to a community garden group,” suggests Julie Coraccio, an organizing professional and author of “Got Clutter? 365 Journal Prompts.”

Once you’ve determined which shovels and trowels have made the cut, give them a good scrubbing to remove dirt and rust. Dry them carefully, and then store on a peg board.

5. Refresh your mailbox

Let’s face it: Your mailbox could probably use some attention. Whether it’s leaning to one side or nicked all over thanks to repeated dings by the snowplow or your newbie teen driver, it’s time to tackle this eyesore pronto.

Fix any blemishes, and apply a fresh coat of paint or even a new set of house numbers. And for extra curb appeal, plant some brightly colored annuals around the base of the post.

6. Create a gardening tote

Have you ever tried to balance a big bag of potting soil, fertilizer, weed killer, and five other gardening tools? It’s not a pretty sight. The fix: Create a personal gardening bag, either by repurposing an old canvas tote you have or ordering a new one. Get your initials stitched on the outer pocket, or add your own design or iron-on decals.

7. Rehab garden pots

Brown terra cotta is the default at most gardening centers, but this drab look isn’t so exciting once you bring your plants home. To make your pots really stand out, consider giving them a pop of color with either acrylic or spray paint.

To start, wash pots well and let them dry thoroughly in the sun or inside overnight, keeping in mind that it might take more than a day to air out the water. Next, use a clay pot sealer or paint primer as both will help the paint you apply last longer. Dab each one with paint using a foam sponge brush. You’ll probably need a couple of coats for the best color coverage.

Happy Earth Day 2020

SOURCE: https://newsd.in/earth-day-2020-heres-history-theme-and-significance-of-the-day/

Earth Day 2020: Every year, Earth Day is observed on April 22. This year’s celebration will mark 50 years of Earth Day. Earth Day is recognized as the world ’s largest secular commemorative event, with more than one billion people attending this event every year to change people ’s behavior and trigger policy changes.

Now, with the destruction of climate change becoming more and more obvious every day, the fight for a clean environment is becoming more and more urgent.

Theme for Earth Day 2020:

This year’s theme of Earth Day 2020 is climate action. Coping with the great challenges of climate change, but also huge opportunities has made this issue the most urgent topic for the 50th anniversary.

History of Earth Day:

Earth Day is a unified response to crisis environment-oil spills, smog, and rivers are so heavily polluted that they catch fire.

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans (at that time, 10% of the US population) took to the streets, university campuses, and hundreds of cities to protest ignorance of the environment and demand new development paths for the planet.

The first Earth Day was praised for launching the modern environmental movement and is now recognized as the largest civic activity on the planet.

Celebration during lockdown:

Earth Day is April 22 every year. No specific time can be observed during the day. It is often mistaken for “Earth Hour” at the end of March. In “Earth Hour”, as a commitment to the earth, people turned off unnecessary lighting from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm.

At the same time, NASA encourages people to use #EarthDayAtHome tags to share photos and images of how you observe Earth Day at home. Because the coronavirus lockdown, people around the world are at home, let us make this Earth Day worthwhile, and contribute to building a better planet.

How did you celebrate Earth Day during lockdown recycling, planting a tree, or maybe grow a small garden. Whatever you did I hope you woke up to feel the sun on your face and the super clean air we have been breathing these past few weeks!

Growing Cat Grass in Your Garden

SOURCE: https://www.petmd.com/cat/care/evr_ct_how-to-grow-cat-grass

One of the special treats I grow in my garden is for my Lula, she loves cat grass. I started out buying her some at the farmers market until I found seed kits at the store and started growing my own. Some stores also carry just seeds and you can reuse the containers from kits.

Nibbling on grass is a natural behavior for all cats. If you have an outdoor cat, chances are it’s part of your kitty’s daily routine. But if your pet spends all of its time indoors (like most domestic cats), you may want to consider growing cat grass in your home.

Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

“Research has not yet shown why cats eat grass, but we have several ideas,” said Carlo Siracusa, animal behaviorist of University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “In the wild, cats eat grass after they have eaten their prey. In many cases, the grass causes the cat to vomit. We believe this is nature’s way of helping the cat expel the parts of their prey that are indigestible.”

Even if your indoor cat has never caught a mouse or bird, she will instinctively be attracted to cat grass. Why? “It’s a behavioral instinct,” Siracusa says. “Grass is also a form of fiber that helps cats either throw up hairballs or digest them by acting as a laxative.”

Another theory is that cats may eat grass for some trace minerals and the vitamins A and D. Grass also contains chlorophyll, which, before the discovery of antibiotics, was a remedy for pain, infection, ulcers, skin diseases and anemia. Grass also contains folic acid, which helps with the production of hemoglobin, the protein that moves oxygen into the blood to help kitty’s circulation. Plus, there’s the benefit of breath cleansing chlorophyll.

What is Cat Grass?

Not to be confused with catnip, which is a member of the mint family, cat grass is typically grown from rye, barley, oat or wheat seeds. You will find a variety of kitty grass kits at your local pet store, which contain everything you need, including seeds, soil and a potting container. All you’ll need to provide is water and sunlight, and within one week, your cat will have her very own organic garden for safe, healthy nibbling.

“Cat grass is safer than outdoor grass which may have been chemically treated with pesticides,” Siracusa said. “It also gives your cat a healthy alternative to nibbling on houseplants and flowers, many of which are toxic to cats.”

Talk to your veterinarian before you bring any flowers or plants, including cat grass kits, into your home.

Is Cat Grass Safe?

Cat grass is a safe alternative to outdoor grass, which can be treated with weed killers or other pesticides, and to certain houseplants, which can be toxic. It provides your cat with an opportunity to engage in a natural behavior. For outdoor cats, an indoor garden provides a healthy alternative to nibbling on the neighbors’ possibly pesticide-laced lawn. For indoor cats, it offers a delicious taste of the outdoors.

SOURCE: https://www.biglots.com/product/cat-grass-kit-0-88-oz-/p810419608?pos

How to Grow Cat Grass

Your cat grass kit will likely come with easy-to-follow directions, but here are some basic tips for caring for and growing cat grass:

  • Before sprouting, seeds should be kept damp but never soaked. Once sprouts appear, use less water.
  • Allow three to seven days for seeds to sprout.
  • The grass will be ready for your cat to eat in 10 to 14 days after sprouting, or once it has reached a height of four inches, and will last one to three weeks.
  • Continue to keep it in natural light and water daily with a spray bottle.
  • Do not over water, as this causes mold.
  • Allow your cat to eat directly from the container.
  • When the grass starts to wilt or turn color, plant a new container.

The Valley Hive

SOURCE: https://www.thevalleyhive.com

Here is another great place I love to go to The Valley Hive, I first saw them at the Calabasas Farmers Market they are there every Saturday. I picked up a few of their honeys for my son and mom, they just have so many choices! They also carry beeswax soap and candles, I wanted to check out their shop since I drove by it a few times. Wow I am glad I did they have a nursery, honey, and lots of great gifts. What I didn’t know is they also do beekeeping class to learn how to start your own hive or if you want to understand how hives work. They have a great display in the shop of a bee colony behind glass and give you a full history of how they pick their queen. And in the spring they sell bees for those that are serious about a beehive! Please take the class first, I would love to if I were not so scared of being stung ouch:

The Valley Hive Beekeeping Experience $75.00