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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!

picture source

by John Barker

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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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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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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How to Make a Gasoline Can Caddy0

Gasoline cans are an unsightly nuisance.  Ugh!  Where’s the best place to put ‘em?

That space under the deck stairs is big enough, shaded from all but late afternoon sun, well ventilated, out of the way, and mostly hidden from sight . . .

Okay, so what’s my problem?

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Climbing Hydrangea0

Yes - the mophead varieties are lush and sexy, coveted by gardeners for centuries.  Their massive heads in rich pinks and violet blues (depending on the soil) are  irresistible to many.

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Internet Tools: How to Build an Arbor0

Arbors are a great way to add a level of sophistication to any household exterior.  A decorative arbor allows for vines, hanging plants, unique lighting schemes, and other festive arrangements that simply would not be available otherwise.

But how do you build one? 

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Backyard Pests0

Sometimes it’s tough to enjoy your own backyard amidst the wildlife that wanders into it. This includes everything from slugs and beetles to your neighbor’s exuberant mutt.

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