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Gardener proudly holding carrots in the Rapid City Community Garden


Use an old tire to split wood to stop cut pieces from flying away, as a recent video demonstrates.  Featured is a Vipukirves axe from Finland, which costs $267 from one source (or it can be ordered direct from Finland for 203 Euros as well).  

       In other words, if Robert Frost and Ronald Reagan could split their own wood, then so can we--without the aid of power anything.  

     The video show a section of trunk as the base, then the wider (almost racing slick-style) tire.  

      The tire will be more forgiving after inevitable misses. 

      The design of the maul is certainly unique, but we'll leave it someone else to explain the curved projection in the right side.

Trees and shrubs  for $1 seems like a throwback to an earlier period, but Black Hills gardeners can order these from the Pennington County Conservation District for planting at home or property.  See order form on this site, or call (605) 342-0301, ext. 3.

    Trees include Black Hills Spruce and Ponderosa Pines, as well as Apricot and Crabapple.  Some perrennials are also available, such as Feather Reed Grass, Black-Eyed Susan, Purple Coneflower, and Prairie "Upright Yellow" Conflower at $2.

Tomato cages on the cheap.  Nurseries always have an assortment of tomato cages, but the prices won't satisfy the frugal gardener, even the rich one.  It doesn't take much to support a maturing tomato plant.  Rolls of leftover, almost-free wire fencing can be found at most garage sales.  See photo above.

        The wire is most often bound into a vertical tube, the diameter varying.  Horizontal dowels of wood or metal can be found for nothing to stick between the panel openings, usually rectangular, but not always.  More important is to have the opening large enough for hands to retrieve the harvest.

       Of course, spray painting the wire is also an option.

If you love your coffee, your plants may love the effective systemic insecticide effect produced when coffee grounds are used to mulch plants. According to the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society (England), caffine is poisonous to many insects but harmless to plants.  A good source of (free) coffee grounds is your workplace coffee room or many of the coffee shops. Ask! Most will give the grounds away when asked.

As the potting-up season begins, remember this comment by Matthew Biggs, UK garden broadcaster as reported in The Avant Gardener, an on-line newsletter. Biggs states that  research into the behavior of liquid draining through plant pots suggests that broken clay pots are more effective than using coarse gravel. A sudden change in particle size can cause water to remain in the soil above the drainage layer. Irrespective of drainage material used, drainage is improved when pots are raised above a hard surface (such as concrete) using pot 'feet'.

Woman-friendly garden tools.  Women, for example, have up to 75 percent less upper-body strength, up to 30 percent less lower-body strength, narrower shoulders, a lower center of gravity, wider hips and grip strengths 50 percent that of the average male. more

Deer Repellent (home made, courtesy of the Hill City Garden Club).

Put the following in an empty gallon (plastic) jug (with a good lid):
1 egg, 1 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of liquid detergent and 1/4 cup vegetable oil.

Shake well with the lid on. Shake every few days. In2-3 weeks the contents has putrified and reeks. Add water to the contents and sprinkle on the plants you want to protect. Repeat once a week or after a rain.

Harvest the Rain!  Mankind's essential connection with the rain is a relationship that defies measurement.  More and more persons are creating extremely simple and inexpensive water catchment and storage systems by harvesting the rainwater from the roofs of their homes and outbuildings.  more

To make butterfly nectar, mix 1 part sugar to 10 parts water. Or use Gatorade with about 1/2 teaspoon added per cup of Gatorade. (Hill City Garden Club).

Milk jug gardening.
The plastic milk bottle (clear soda bottles also work) can be used as a plant
cloche (see below) to create an artificial environment for a young plant. Rember to cap the 'cloche' at night and open it in the morning. Thought must also be given to securing the jugs against wind. Some push a stick through the top; others push dowels or thin rods into the ground on each side of the jug.  Read more . . .

Mulch with what’s around you.  Ponderosa pines are everywhere in the Black Hills.  Yes, when the mountain pine beetle fells one of your longtime friends, the first thing we do is strip off the bark.  Pine bark mulch can then be ground up into bigger or smaller pieces with a shredder or hatchet.  Some firewise folks will also consider how close organic mulches are to the home, though others will discount the potential threat.  Watch this brief video . . .

Encouraging changes made to plant pots. For more than a decade, nurserymen, municipal waste facilities and enlightened gardeners have been concerned about the huge amounts of difficult-to-recycle nursery pots that appear in landfills each spring after planting season. And slowly but steadily we have seen products that are genuinely newer, better and guaranteed successful (and compostable).  more

Click on picture to read gardening ads--or place one now  


Summer Food in Wintry February


16 Popular Foods You Didn’t Know You Could Freeze

1. Garlic – You can freeze whole garlic, garlic cloves or chopped fresh garlic. Frozen garlic does lose some of its texture, but the flavor remains intact.

2. Corn – You can freeze fresh-picked corn on the cob for up to one year. Pack it in freezer bags — husk and silk and all. For store-bought corn, husk and blanch it before freezing.

3. Avocados – The bad news is that frozen avocados lose their consistency. The good news is that they do not lose their taste, so you can use them for guacamole or dressing. Wash and halve them before peeling. Freeze as halves, or puree them with lime or lemon juice and then store for up to eight months.

4. Mushrooms — You can freeze raw button, creminis and portabellas mushrooms for later use. Chop and slice mushrooms and then spread them on a cookie sheet. Freeze. Then transfer the pieces to bags or containers.

5. Onion – You can save chopping time – and tears – by freezing onion for cooking later. Store peeled, chopped onion in plastic freezer bags. The best part is you can just toss them into your recipes without thawing them first.

6. Hummus – Scoop your fresh hummus into plastic containers. Then drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the top to keep it from drying out. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before mixing and serving.

more such winter gardening from Off the Grid News