Stretch Those Landscape Dollars

When purchasing plants for landscaping at a greenhouse, look for pots with several smaller plants in them instead of just one big one. The smaller ones can be spaced through the area you are planting, giving you more for your money.

(tip submitted by SM, SD)

Cheapest Plant Stakes

You don’t have to shell out a lot of money for plant stakes. I’ve used the plastic handles from old brooms and mops. They usually just unscrew from the head, and then I cut them into useable lengths with my hand saw. I can usually get three stakes from one handle. You can even use small, lightweight (and cheap) fiberglass electric fencing posts, cutting to size with a saw if needed. I tie my plants to the posts with pieces of recycled soft fabrics. Old polyester works well, lasts forever and won’t hurt the plants. I got a couple of pairs of old polyester slacks at a yard sale, and I now have a bag full of plant ties for under fifty cents! They also add a little ‘color’ to the flower beds until the plants get big enough to hide them.

(tip submitted by CK, OK)

More Uses for a Worn Out Hose

In a recent column, you advised using a chunk of old hose to pad the handle on a bucket. I use worn out hose pieces to cover my ax head blade and for yard and garden hoes. The chunks of old hose saves the blades from damage.

(tip submitted by MU, IA)

Collar That Tomato Plant

Save the cardboard tubes from aluminum foil, toilet paper and paper towels to use as a collar against the cutworms that love to chomp off those newly planted cabbages, tomatoes, and peppers. Unlike tin cans, the paper will eventually disintegrate into the ground and become part of the soil like wood mulch.

(tip submitted by SA, NE)

Easy Pet Cleanup

Springtime means new babies: kittens and puppies are welcomed into many homes, as well as the older shelter rescued cats and dogs. Until they become accustomed to your home and routines as well as members of the family, you will probably have a few accidents.

To clean up an accident on carpets, use club soda! Simply pour it on the spot and then rub with a clean rag. Let it set for a few more minutes and then blot with a dry cloth. For a final touch, pour on a handful of baking soda from the kitchen cupboard and let sit until completely dry, then vacuum. There should be no stains or odor remaining.

(tip submitted by LK, SD)

Alarm Bells

Summer is near and the children want to spend a good share of their time outdoors.  But, kids, especially toddlers, also like to ‘escape’ from the house or yard whenever possible (when mom isn’t looking!). To help you keep track of the little ones, dig out the big brass jingle bells you tied on the front door at Christmastime. Tie a couple of them to every outside door in the house, and the gates leading off of your property. When the bells ring, you know to go see what kid is going where, and get them back in the yard again when necessary. If you have older children who are supervising younger ones, make sure they know to respond instantly to any ringing bells before that toddler can get a block away!

(tip submitted by AN, MN)

Recycle An Old Rug

Don’t toss that old bathroom rug that has the grippers on the bottom. Instead, put it by the back door to catch the grass clippings, mud from kids playing in the sprinkler, etc. They wash easily and really save on the junk coming in to the house. I’ve even turned these rugs over so the grippers are ‘sunny side up’ on muddy days. The kids and adults can scrape most of the gunk off of their shoes before stepping onto my clean floors. I also have a big mat where they can leave their scraped-off shoes to dry before we wipe them down with water and a damp rag to remove the last of the ‘outdoors’.

(tip submitted by LP, MI)

Summer Fun At No Cost

Let’s face it: Kids love ‘secret spots and hidey holes’ to play in. You can make your children or grandchildren a wonderful play house for indoors at no cost. Simply go to a furniture or appliance store and ask for one of those big cardboard boxes that stoves, refrigerators, overstuffed chairs, etc. are shipped in. Most stores are happy give these away so they don’t have to pay someone to break the boxes down for the dumpster or pay to haul the cardboard to the recycling center or the landfill.

Put the box in a porch or basement where it won’t get wet from summer rains, and then help the children make a play house. The adults will need to use a craft knife or heavy kitchen knife to cut out doors and windows, and then let the decorating begin.

The children can make drawings on inside and outside walls with crayons or colored markers. They can make some ‘furniture’ by stacking up old magazines and taping them together for seating. They could cover them with odds and ends of fabric with help from mom or dad. Old blankets can be folded together to make a couch or sleeping mat. Smaller boxes can be stacked on their sides to make a ‘cupboard’ for storing coloring books, crayons, pencils and markers and small toys.

This is cheap fun for children pre-school through about the 2nd grade, as they can really let their imaginations soar. My grandson uses his as a ‘rocket ship’ some times; other times, a log cabin in the woods when he’s playing camp-out. This really stretches the kid's thinking as they have to come up with ways to decorate and furnish their ‘own space’.

(tip submitted by FC, CA)

Painting Pointer

A reader writes: Did you know you can use old newspapers when you are painting door and window frames? Just wet small pieces of paper and stick them to the glass right along the edges of the frames, then you can paint the wood without smearing paint all over the glass. When the paper dries, simply peel it off of the glass. You will have no messy paint to clean off of the glass!

(tip submitted by Abby S, WI)

Toasted Marshmallows Without Burning

A reader writes: Part of summer fun is toasting marshmallows over the camp fire. Unfortunately, most of them end up burned on the outside before they get soft on the inside. A neighbor taught my children to dip the marshmallows in a cup of water before they hold them over the fire. The wet marshmallow has time to get soft inside by the time the outside dries off and gets nicely browned. It really works!

(tip submitted by SP, IA)

Recycled Plastic Bags

I was recently visiting with a friend last and she showed me a rug her grandmother had made years ago from crocheted bread bags. We surmised that almost any kind of plastic bag would work as well, such as those plastic grocery bags we all seem to accumulate. These rugs wear like iron and are really handy for places like a back porch to catch the dirt and debris from coming in the house.

We inspected the rug closely and figured she must have cut strips about 2 inches wide, starting at the top of the bag and just cutting around in a circle until she reached the bottom of the bag.  She then started to crochet using a fairly large hook and just a single crochet stitch.  She made a strip about 8 inches long and then started the single stitch using the around and around pattern, adding extra stitches at each end so it would lie flat on the floor. Sometimes the bags were white or clear and a lot of them were the colored bread bags. When she got the size of rug she wanted, she simply tied off the end and used the hook to pull the last of the strip through a couple of the stitches.

Most of the rugs she made were either round or oblong and since a single crochet stitch is simple enough even for children, I thought it might make a good summer project as well as teaching recycling as a way to make something good out of what is usually thrown away.

(tip submitted by TK, MT)

Do you have any tips or ideas you would like to share? Email them to Paula at [email protected]  Be sure to mention the "Farm And Livestock Directory" when you respond.

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