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Praying Mantis for Your Garden1

I’m a huge fan of cheesy 1950s monster movies.The image above sends me way back to the Saturday morning Creature Features that I loved as a kid.  Check out the trailer for this fine piece of cinema:

I love how pretty much the entire movie is encapsulated in less than two minutes.

In truth, the praying mantis isn’t a monster.  Well, I guess it sort’a is, as the female kills then eats the male after breeding (sounds like my ex-wife… I barely escaped.  Okay, that’s mean; she didn’t really try to eat me).

But these predatory attributes can benefit your garden when it comes to natural pest control.  Praying mantises have quite an appetite.  They eat aphids, crickets, flies, grasshoppers, moths, each other . . .You get the picture.

Unfortunately, they also eat insects that are good for your garden, so you want to be careful that they don’t get out of control.  It’s easy to go overboard as you can purchase entire cases of praying mantis eggs in various garden and pest control stores.

Personally, I’m just glad that they aren’t anywhere near the size of that monster in the movie.  Imagine what life would be like trying to avoid those things!

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by John Barker

Cactus Sinks0

Cactus Designers, a group of French freelance designers based out of Lyon, recently combined efforts with Vaskéo to create some  extraordinary sinks.

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Woodman, Spare that Tree0

We have a very old maple in our yard. Its large branches have held many swings and rope ladders over the years. The leaves have provided shade on the south side of the house and years of leaf mulch for the gardens. But its days unfortunately are numbered. The great trunk is marred with deep vertical lesions showing definite signs of disease.

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Tool Tip: His and Hers Oven Thermometers0

I got a new $10 gadget from the hardware store, all because I undercooked a chicken pot pie.

My husband (jack-of-all-trades and licensed electrician) confirmed that the oven wasn’t reaching the right temperatures after I complained for weeks about baking calamities and roasts that wouldn’t brown without the broiler.

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Internet Tools: How to Build a Chest0

Count down to Father’s Day.  One week to go.

How about a different way to spend the day with your Dad this year?

Choose a design, gather and/or purchase all the supplies, and work on a building project together.  Start on Father’s Day and then make plans to get together again to finish it up.  Or spread it out throughout the summer for some truly memorable time with Dad.

We’ve got advice on making a bar for the basement, building a concrete bench for the yard, and right here in this post – constructing a chest.  Here are some excellent websites to get you started.

Woodworking Super Center:  The toy chest on this sit would be a great multi-generational project.  Maybe Dad and Grandpa can make it for the kids.  Maybe kids and Dad could build it together. The design features a lovely decorative panel and the instructions include photos.

Amateur Woodworker: A somewhat bare-bones set of instructions for a basic storage chest that can also double as a coffee table.  A good project to learn or practice dove tail joints.

Rod’s Woodworking Shop:  This site is more detailed than either of the two above.  The project is a hinged blanket chest made of oak.  Annotated photos, diagrams, a materials list accompany the instructions making this an excellent resource.

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Garlic Bug Repellent0

Killing bugs without killing your plants is a tricky affair.  When you spray with over-the-counter chemicals, you might get rid of the bugs, but you’re still adding unnatural (and sometimes low-level toxic) elements into your garden’s chemistry.

However, non-toxic, natural bug killers that will minimize your plant’s suffering do exist.

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Poison Ivy0

Even the thought of this stuff makes me itch. And how to control it is no easy task.

Poison ivy clings to surfaces with hair-like rootlets growing out of the stem. It may be low-growing, climbing, or take on a bush form. It climbs toward the sun but thrives in shade as well. It is not a particular plant and enjoys areas with short, hot summers and cool to cold winters. It lives in a wide variety of soil conditions from poorly draining clay sites to sandy, well-drained sites. It’s a hardy beast.

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Think About The Trees When You Renovate0

The benefits of having trees around us has been proven time and again. The National Arbor Day Foundation tells us their shade cools us in summer, saving 50% on air conditioning costs. In winter, they provide a windbreak which can reduce heating bills by as much as 30%. But often, trees aren’t the first thing to come to mind when planning a major home renovation like the addition of a new room or two.

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Energy Miser0

Summer will soon be upon us, my friends.  And my A/C will be cranking as hard as possible to keep my house at a nice, chilly 80 degrees.  Yeah—80 degrees.  It’s damned hot here in Florida, and it makes me cranky.

Last season, I shared with you how much money you could save with a Black & Decker AutoSwitch.  Now, I give you:  the Energy Miser.

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Weed Killing Salt0

I have some health issues, and I have absolutely no problem talking about any of them.  Ask away and I’ll answer.

But one answer you won’t get from me (at least yet) is that I suffer from hypertension.

And that makes me happy because I LOVE salt.

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