Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Helpful Hints For Winter.

Hey, thought you could use these..........Brrrrrr

Just a few common Helpful Hints For Winter.

Keep your headlights clear with car wax! Just wipe ordinary car wax on your headlights. It contains special water repellents that will prevent that messy mixture from accumulating on your lights - lasts 6 weeks.

Squeak-proof your wipers with rubbing alcohol! Wipe the wipers with a cloth saturated with rubbing alcohol or ammonia. This one trick can make badly streaking & squeaking wipers change to near perfect silence & clarity.

Ice-proof your windows with vinegar! Frost on it's way? Just fill a spray bottle with three parts vinegar to one part water & spritz it on all your windows at night. In the morning, they'll be clear of icy mess. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which raises the melting point of water---preventing water from freezing!

Prevent car doors from freezing shut with cooking spray! Spritz cooking oil on the rubber seals around car doors & rub it in with a paper towel. The cooking spray prevents water from melting into the rubber

Fog-proof your windshield with shaving cream! Spray some shaving cream on the inside of your windshield & wipe if off with paper towels. Shaving cream has many of the same ingredients found in commercial defoggers.

De-ice your lock in seconds with hand sanitizer! Just put some hand sanitizer gel on the key & the lock & the problems solved!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall is upon us.

Fall is here and leaves are falling.

What to do with all those leaves and clippings?

Compost Guide - Composting Fundamentals
Courtesy of VegWeb, LLC

Introduction to Composting
Composting is the decomposition of plant remains and other once-living materials to make an earthy, dark, crumbly substance that is excellent for adding to houseplants or enriching garden soil. It is the way to recycle your yard and kitchen wastes, and is a critical step in reducing the volume of garbage needlessly sent to landfills for disposal. It's easy to learn how to compost.

There are a tremendous number of options for containing your compost. Some people choose to go binless, simply building a compost pile in a convenient spot on the ground. Others build bins from materials such as recycled pallets, or two-by-fours and plywood. And, of course, there are many commercial bins on the market.
Composting is not a new idea. In the natural world, composting is what happens as leaves pile up on the forest floor and begin to decay. Eventually, the rotting leaves are returned to the soil, where living roots can finish the recycling process by reclaiming the nutrients from the decomposed leaves. Composting may be at the root of agriculture as well. Some scientists have speculated that as early peoples dumped food wastes in piles near their camps, the wastes rotted and were terrific habitat for the seeds of any food plants that sprouted there. Perhaps people began to recognize that dump heaps were good places for food crops to grow, and began to put seeds there intentionally.
Today, the use of composting to turn organic wastes into a valuable resource is expanding rapidly in the United States and in other countries, as landfill space becomes scarce and expensive, and as people become more aware of the impacts they have on the environment. In ten years, composting will probably be as commonplace as recycling aluminum cans is today, both in the backyard and on an industrial scale. Many states in the USA have stated goals or legislative mandates to drastically reduce the volume of waste being sent to landfills. Utilizing yard and kitchen wastes (which make up about 30% of the waste stream in the USA [1]) is a big part of the plan to minimize waste overall.
You can contribute to the 'composting revolution' by composting your own yard and kitchen wastes at home. If you have a large yard, you might prefer the ease of composting in a three-bin system out by the back fence. Cities and towns can promote composting through home composting education efforts and the collection of yard wastes for large-scale composting. Whatever your style of composting, there's plenty of room to get involved!
Composting Fundamentals
Good composting is a matter of providing the proper environmental conditions for microbial life. Compost is made by billions of microbes (fungi, bacteria, etc.) that digest the yard and kitchen wastes (food) you provide for them. If the pile is cool enough, worms, insects, and their relatives will help out the microbes. All of these will slowly make compost out of your yard and kitchen wastes under any conditions. However, like people, these living things need air, water, and food. If you maintain your pile to provide for their needs, they'll happily turn your yard and kitchen wastes into compost much more quickly. Keep in mind the following basic ideas while building your compost piles:
Composting microbes are aerobic -- they can't do their work well unless they are provided with air. Without air, anaerobic (non-air needing) microbes take over the pile. They do cause slow decomposition, but tend to smell like putrefying garbage! For this reason, it's important to make sure that there are plenty of air passageways into your compost pile. Some compost ingredients, such as green grass clippings or wet leaves, mat down very easily into slimy layers that air cannot get through. Other ingredients, such as straw, don't mat down easily and are very helpful in allowing air into the center of a pile. To make sure that you have adequate aeration for your pile and its microbes, thoroughly break up or mix in any ingredients that might mat down and exclude air. You can also turn the pile to get air into it, which means completely breaking it apart with a spade or garden fork and then piling it back together in a more 'fluffed-up' condition.
Ideally, your pile should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge to fit the needs of compost microbes. At this moisture level, there is a thin film of water coating every particle in the pile, making it very easy for microbes to live and disperse themselves throughout the pile. If your pile is drier than this, it won't be very good microbial habitat, and composting will be slowed significantly. If your pile is a great deal wetter, the sodden ingredients will be so heavy that they will tend to mat down and exclude air from the pile, again slowing the composting process (and perhaps creating anaerobic odor problems). If you are using dry ingredients, such as autumn leaves or straw, you'll need to moisten them as you add them to the pile. Kitchen fruit and vegetable wastes generally have plenty of moisture, as do fresh green grass clippings and garden thinnings. Watch out for far-too-soggy piles in wet climates (a tarp may help to keep rain off during wet weather). In dry climates, it may be necessary to water your pile occasionally to maintain proper moisture.
In broad terms, there are two major kinds of food that composting microbes need.
'Browns' are dry and dead plant materials such as straw, dry brown weeds, autumn leaves, and wood chips or sawdust. These materials are mostly made of chemicals that are just long chains of sugar molecules linked together. As such, these items are a source of energy for the compost microbes. Because they tend to be dry, browns often need to be moistened before they are put into a compost system.
'Greens' are fresh (and often green) plant materials such as green weeds from the garden, kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps, green leaves, coffee grounds and tea bags, fresh horse manure, etc. Compared to browns, greens have more nitrogen in them. Nitrogen is a critical element in amino acids and proteins, and can be thought of as a protein source for the billions of multiplying microbes.
A good mix of browns and greens is the best nutritional balance for the microbes. This mix also helps out with the aeration and amount of water in the pile. Browns, for instance, tend to be bulky and promote good aeration. Greens, on the other hand, are typically high in moisture, and balance out the dry nature of the browns. If you'd like specific information on different materials, check the 'What to Compost' section.

If you live in a cold climate, your compost pile will probably go dormant in the winter. No problem -- it'll start back up again when the springtime thaw comes.
A common misunderstanding about compost piles is that they must be hot to be successful. This just isn't true. If you have good aeration and moisture, and the proper ingredient mix, your pile will decompose just fine at temperatures of 50 degrees Farenheit or above.
Hotter piles will decompose a bit faster, however. One way to understand why this is so is to realize that the heat in a hot pile is the result of the collective body heat of billions of microbes that are busy digesting the ingredients in the pile. Generally speaking, a hotter pile means more microbes or conditions that allow the microbes to have faster metabolisms, and therefore a faster composting process. If you'd like to keep your pile as warm as possible, consider the following:
For a pile to get hot and stay hot for a long period of time, the typical minimum size for the pile is one cubic meter (a cube one meter, or about three feet, on a side). A pile this size has plenty of mass in which those billions of heat-generating microbes can live, yet is also large enough that the center of the pile is well-insulated by the material surrounding it. Smaller piles just cannot insulate themselves well enough to remain hot for long, if at all. You can also provide additional insulation to a pile by stacking bales of hay or straw, or bags of dry autumn leaves, around your bin system. Some people even used stacked hay bales to make bin systems (this kind of bin will slowly compost itself, of course).
Composting Questions and Answers:
When is my compost finished?
Finished compost is dark in color and has an earthy smell (like the smell of soil). Usually, it's difficult to recognize any of the original ingredients, although bits of hard-to-decompose materials (such as straw) sometimes can be seen.
There is no single point at which compost is finished -- it's a bit more subjective than that. For many outdoor garden applications, for instance, it can be fine to use compost that still has a few recognizable bits of leaves or straw -- it will finish rotting in the soil. If you plan to use compost in seed-starting mixes, though, you're best off having a well-finished compost, because seedling roots may be attacked by decomposer microbes if the roots contact unfinished compost.
How can I use my finished compost?
To tell you the truth, well-finished compost looks so fine that I'm tempted to eat the stuff sometimes. However, there are several more common ways that compost can be used, on gardens, lawns, landscapes, and houseplants:
Many people put compost into their garden soil by digging it in prior to spring planting. The image shows a potato harvest by apprentices at the UCSC Farm and Garden in 1990. Due to the use of copious amounts of compost, the potato beds yielded about one pound of potatoes per square foot, or about 1000 pounds total from these four beds, each 80 feet long.
Others actually do their composting in the soil, by burying kitchen wastes and other materials in trenches in the garden. Compost can also be used as a 'top dressing' on the soil during the growing season -- in this case it is added in around the bases of plants, where irrigation and soil animals will slowly incorporate it into the soil. On lawns, many people sprinkle/broadcast sifted compost as a top dressing in the spring -- I have been doing this on a 'problem area' of a lawn for several years, in an attempt to improve the soil there for better grass growth. It is also fine to top-dress houseplants occasionally with small handfuls of finished compost.
Compost can be left on the surface as a mulch around landscape and garden plants. This is essentially the same as a 'top dressing' application, described above, but mulches are typically meant to cover all of the soil around the plants that get mulched. Mulches protect the soil from erosion. They also save water by shielding soil from the drying effect of the wind and sun. As they decompose, mulches add nutrients to the soil, and if composed of small-enough particles, worms may slowly eat the mulch and incorporate it into the soil.
Compost tea is made by combining equal parts of compost and water and letting it sit for a while. The liquid can help to provide a 'quick boost' to ailing houseplants or young seedlings and transplants (I recommend diluting it quite a bit for use on seedlings). Stu Campbell, in Let it Rot, says that the same compost can be used to make several batches of tea (2). When you're finished making compost tea, use the mucky dregs as a mulch in the garden or landscape.
How does compost improve the soil?
Compost does several things to benefit the soil that synthetic fertilizers cannot do. First, it adds organic matter, which improves the way water interacts with the soil. In sandy soils, compost acts as a sponge to help retain water in the soil that would otherwise drain down below the reach of plant roots (in this way, it protects plants against drought). In clay soils, compost helps to add porosity (tiny holes and passageways) to the soil, making it drain more quickly so that it doesn't stay waterlogged and doesn't dry out into a bricklike substance. Compost also inoculates the soil with vast numbers of beneficial microbes (bacteria, fungi, etc.) and the habitat that the microbes need to live. These microbes are able to extract nutrients from the mineral part of the soil and eventually pass the nutrients on to plants.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fall is the time to over seed

Fall (Sept.) is the time to over seed burned out lawns and plant shrubbery. You have 'til Oct. 12th. in CT. this year for overseeding lawns.

If your like most of us in the CT. Valley, your lawn may look like mini dried up hay fields due to the lack of rain and hot weather months of this past summer. Don't worry though; most lawns will begin to reassert themselves and start growing again in the cooler temperatures of fall. If you wish to, now (Sept.) is a great time to over seed your yard. You may want to repair the burned out areas or just fill in a sparse lawns with more seed; which will give it a better weed protection. The thicker the lawn, the less chance weeds have of finding a soft bare area to germinate into. The seed will have plenty of time to germinate before the winter snows, and you can apply a time release Starter fertilizer or a Winter fertilizer to it this fall after you see some germination happening. Next spring, jump right into a Fertilizer with weed preventer; since your lawn has already begun germination, the weed preventer will not harm your new seed and will stop weed seeds from germinating into your lawn.

If you had a summer that was harder then most, you may have noticed some of your shrubbery burned out as well as your lawn. This year was a bad one for shrubs that may have been under stress for any number of reasons. Besides the lack of rain and extreme temperatures; shrubs can be stressed due to the fact of being newly planted; insect damage; or decease. Most times these go unnoticed 'til it's too late or severely damaged. Check the plant by snapping a Woodie twig off the plant and look for any signs of green still in the plant. You can save a plant by cutting it back some if it still has life in it; or you may just decide that it is better replaced then cut down smaller then the rest of your landscaping. Either way, now is the time to do this before you have to start raking leaves and pruning back perennials. It's coming faster then you think, so start now with the repairs if needed and get a jump on a healthier looking lawn in the spring.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Koi pond fish.

Ken's now sells pond Koi.

Follow this link to Ken's website and see the quality Koi starter packs you can now purchase direct from one of the leaders in quality Koi farms, Blackwater Creek.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rainwater harvesting

Rainwater harvesting
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Rainwater harvesting is the accumulating and storing, of rainwater. It has been used to provide drinking water, water for livestock, water for irrigation or to refill aquifers in a process called groundwater recharge. Rainwater collected from the roofs of houses, tents and local institutions, or from specially prepared areas of ground, can make an important contribution to drinking water. In some cases, rainwater may be the only available, or economical, water source. Rainwater systems are simple to construct from inexpensive local materials, and are potentially successful in most habitable locations. Roof rainwater can be of good quality and may not require treatment before consumption. Although some rooftop materials may produce rainwater that is harmful to human health, it can be useful in washing clothes and in other tasks. Household rainfall catchment systems are appropriate in areas with an average rainfall greater than 200 mm (7.9 in) per year, and no other accessible water sources (Skinner and Cotton, 1992).

Rainwater harvesting is an innovative alternative water supply approach anyone can use. Rainwater harvesting captures, diverts, and stores rainwater for later use. Captured rainwater is often used in landscaping, because the water is free of salts and other harmful minerals and does not have to be treated. It is also useful in attracting and providing water for wildlife.

Implementing rainwater harvesting techniques directly benefits our state by reducing demand on the water supply, and reducing run-off, erosion, and contamination of surface water.

In many communities, 30 to 50 percent of the total water is used for landscape irrigation. Capturing rainwater for use in the landscape makes efficient use of a valuable resource, reducing water bills and reducing demand on water supply.

Rainwater harvesting can also help to prevent flooding and erosion, turning stormwater problems into water supply assets by slowing runoff and allowing it to soak into the ground. Reducing run-off also helps to reduce the contamination of surface water with sediments, fertilizers, and pesticides in rainfall run-off.

There are a number of types of systems to harvest rainwater ranging from very simple to the complex industrial systems. Generally, rainwater is either harvested from the ground or from a roof. The rate at which water can be collected from either system is dependent on the plan area of the system, its efficiency, and the intensity of rainfall (i.e annual precipitation (mm per annum) x square meter of catchment area = litres per annum yield) ... a 200 square meter roof catchment catching 1,000mm PA yields 200 kLPA.

Have you ever thought of collecting water in rain barrel that is very unattractive and can only hold 50 gallons of water? Well the future is here, the Rain X-change Rainwater Harvesting system from Aquascape has been introduced! The great thing about The Rainwater Harvesting system is that you are bringing a the natural beauty of a waterfall or fountain to your yard but at the same time can hold 500 or more gallons of water into an underground basin that is then filtered by the waterfall. The worst part of a rain barrel is that trying to get the water to where you want to use it can be a pain. The Aquascape system has a booster pump installed inside or outside your house that feeds right from the basin which can be hooked directly into your garden hose or drip irrigation system for full pressure. You can also collect water not only from the roof but from your patio, walkway or driveway using permeable pavers.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Northeastern United States:
Big brown bats commonly use bat houses in the Northeastern U.S.

This is very timely:
the latest newsletter from The Texas Gardener' Seeds said: Put up a bat house to encourage the presence of these shy animals. Bats consume 3,000 or more mosquitoes and other insects nightly, and bats are less likely to be rabid than dogs are. Need another reason? Bats are responsible for up to 95 percent of the seed dispersal essential to the regeneration of forests. Contrary to believe, bats will not just attack people for no reason. They feed on small insects not humans. Bats are extremely important. Yet due to years of unwarranted human fear and persecution, bats are in alarming decline. By putting up a bat house you are helping by giving them a home. You will also benefit from having fewer yard and garden pests, and will enjoy learning about bats and sharing your knowledge with friends and family.
So add a Bat House to your yard, and relieve yourself of those little bugs like Mosquitoes.
Where you mount your bat house plays a major role in the internal temperature. Houses can be mounted on such structures as poles, sides of buildings and tall trees without obstructions. Houses placed on poles and structures tend to become occupied quicker than houses placed on trees. Bat houses should face south to southeast to take advantage of the morning sun. In northern states and Canada, bat houses need to receive at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. It is also advantageous to paint the house black to absorb plenty of heat (when baby bats are born, they need it very warm). Use non-toxic, latex paint to paint your bat house and only paint the outside. Your bat house should be mounted at least 15 feet above the ground, the higher the house the greater the chance of attracting bats. Bats return from migration and awaken from hibernation as early as March in most of the U.S., but stay active year-round in the extreme southern U.S. They will be abundant through out the summer and into late fall. Most houses used by bats are occupied in the first 1 to 6 months (during the first summer the bat house was erected). If bats do not roost in your house by the end of the second summer, move the house to another location.

What types of bats can I expect to see in my bat house in the Northeastern states?
Throughout the northern two-thirds of the U.S. and Canada, the Little Brown Bat (Myotis launchings) and the Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) use bat houses. They can also inhabit the Southeast, but are generally replaced by the South-eastern Bat (Myotis Australia). Pallid Bats (Antrozous pallidus) are found in arid areas. The Evening Bat (Nycticeius humeralis), Eastern Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus subflavus), Yuma myotis (Myotis yumanensis) and the Mexican Free-tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) will also use bat houses. Any bats that roost in crevices or under bridges and in buildings are likely tenants for bat houses.