Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pallet Gardening

Pallet gardens are a fun, inexpensive way to utilize space and maximize plantings.  They are ideal for those without access to their own yard, but can be used by anyone with a love for new ways to garden.  At Strange's, we just put together our own pallet garden, and as you can see, it's in its infancy.  Follow us on Facebook for updated photos as the lettuce seeds we planted grow.  We might also be adding other plants to it, like pansies!

If successful, we will probably post a video tutorial for you to see how to make your own, but for now, we'll list how simple it really is if you are dying to try it right now.  What you'll need:

1 Pallet (in good condition, no nails sticking out or broken boards)
Small roll of Landscape Fabric
Staple gun with staples
2 large bags of potting soil

Decide which side will be the back of your pallet garden, and roll the landscape fabric over the back, sides and bottom to keep your soil from falling out.  Staple along the edges and middle to ensure fabric doesn't sag.  Turn over so pallet garden has open slats face up, and pour first bag of soil over slats.  Push into slats evenly and repeat with second bag of soil.  Plant seeds or 4" plants into slats.  Leave pallet garden flat for a few weeks to allow the roots to grow in and hold the plants in place.

If you try this yourself, be sure to share your progress with Strange's by posting a photo on our Facebook wall!  We definitely want to see what you are doing in your garden.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Spotlight On: Gardening Myth #3

Strange's is back on the case!  We have another myth to investigate and report on, so read on...

Today's Myth: Does adding chewing gum to a mole hole get rid of them?

The claim: Throw chewing gum down the mole hole and the mole will eat it, clogging their intestines before killing them.

Well, the consensus is....this is false!  Well, sort of.  While it's an interesting idea in theory, the problem is that there's no evidence that this has or will work.  Moles usually go after living insects and worms, and some say that they are unlikely to start chewing gum.  For the same reason, baits such as poison peanuts would not work.

However, there are others who claim that the gum trick will work.  One method is to shake up a few pieces of gum with some earthworms so that they are covered with the wormy smell, thus attracting the mole more easily.  Others claim that throwing the gum, wrapper and all, does the trick to trip up moles and gophers.

In the end, both the University of Florida and Ohio State University state that this method is not proven in scientific tests.  While you can try it at your own peril, the most effective method of control is setting a trap in an active tunnel, which many claim is your only surefire way to stop moles from destroying your lawn.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How to: Preserve Your Herbs

As summer winds down and we refocus our minds on Fall gardening, we must still remember to take care of our summer plants so that they are utilized to their completion.  Late summer, as we are in now, is a great time to harvest and preserve herbs you have out in the garden.  Cool weather and shorter days approach, a forecast that herbs don't generally benefit from, so its beneficial to pick your herbs within the next few weeks.  Preserving them will make their flavor last throughout the year -- what's better than using fresh seasonings grown by your own hand?  We will focus on two ways of preserving herbs -- air drying and freezing.

Herbs best for air drying don't  have a high moisture content, so focus on your bay, dill, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, summer savory and thyme for this procedure.

Cut healthy branches from your herb plant and remove any dry or diseased leaves.  Shake to ensure there are no bugs on your branches.  If you must, rinse off herbs with cool water, making sure to dry completely. Wet herbs will mold and begin to rot.

Remove the lower leaves on the last inch of the branch, and bundle several (4-6) branches together, tying at the stem where leaves were removed.  Cut a few holes into a paper bag and place the herb bundle upside down in the bag.  Gather the ends of the bag around the bundle and tie closed.  Make sure herbs are not crowded and hang in a warm and airy room.  Check on every couple of weeks until dried.

Can be stored up to a year in a zip-locked plastic bag or other airtight container.

For herbs with a higher water content, like basil, chives, lemon balm, mint and tarragon, it is not recommended to use the air drying process because they will most likely mold before reaching the dried herb stage.  Instead, try freezing the leaves individually.

Lay herb leaves flat on a cookie sheet and freeze.  Once frozen, move individual leaves to an airtight container and keep in freezer.  Doing it this way will prevent the leaves from freezing together.

Another way to enjoy herbs year round is to create your own kitchen herb garden.  Place pots near a south or east-facing window, and invest in a grow light during the colder months.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Spotlight On: Gardening Myth #2

Strange's is back on the case!  We have another myth to investigate and report on, so read on...

Today's Myth: Does yellow clothing attract flying insects like bees & mosquitoes?

The claim:  Wearing yellow clothing outdoors attracts mosquitoes and bees to your body, resulting in unwanted bites and stings.

Well, the consensus is....this is false!  Yellow will not attract flying insects to you specifically, and may even help to deter them.  Insects are attracted to ultraviolet and blue light, including black and florescent.  Yellow lights or the color yellow can actually help prevent mosquitoes from biting you, because yellow is a color they can hardly see and when they do see, the color confuses them.  Mosquitoes use heat as one way to locate their victims.  The possibility of mosquitoes attacking is also less likely when you wear light-colored clothing, like white and yellow, because light colors have a tendency to reflect heat.  Darker color clothing, like navy blue and black, tend to absorb heat from the sun and therefore would be more likely to attract a mosquito.  Light, not bright, colors also repel bees.  

Other ways to avoid mosquito bites would be wearing bold patterns, since dark solid colors are easier to spot.  Mosquitoes are also drawn to certain odors, perspiration being one of them, so wearing loose, cotton clothing will more likely protect you than wearing something that makes you sweat.

Of course, these aren't foolproof ways to avoid getting bit by mosquitoes, and we suggest investing in one of the great many products Strange's carries to repel flying insects that bite.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Spotlight On: Garden Myths

Ever heard a gardening myth and wondered if it was true?
Gardening myths have always been around, and with the arrival of the Internet, have been shared from around the world, making it hard to sift through what works and what doesn't. Gardeners want what's best for their plants, which is why we are always trying to find the organic and natural way to lush green foliage, health, longevity, and big, beautiful blooms.

 Here at Strange's, we are ready to crack the myths. This is the first of hopefully many blog entries highlighting a certain myth that you may have wondered (and hoped!) was true.

Today's Myth: Does Epsom salt help roses and other plants grow?

The claim: Add a few tablespoons of Epsom salt to the soil around your roses, vegetable plants, and houseplants for more blooms, fruit and healthier foliage.

Well, the consensus does!  Epsom salt is composed almost exclusively of Magnesium Sulfate, two minerals that are crucial to healthy plant life.  The Magnesium is beneficial to plants at the beginning, as the seeds begin to develop.  It infuses with the seed, strengthening plant cell walls.  Magnesium also assists with the creation of chlorophyll, as well as helps the plant to soak up phosphorus and nitrogen, which serve as vital fertilizer components in the soil.  Magnesium is believed to help with increasing the amount of fruit or blooms on your plant.
Sulfate aides in the production of chlorophyll, improving the health and longevity of the plant.  It joins with the soil to make nutrients more effective for your plants, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.  

Specifically, how do you use it?  It varies from plant to plant, but for roses, for example, before planting, throw in 1 Tb. of Epsom salt into the hole before placing the rose bush.  If your roses are already planted, water with 1 Tb. of Epsom salt dissolved into 1 gallon of water.  For flowering and green shrubs, work in 1 Tb. of Epsom salt per nine square feet of bush into the soil over the roots.  For tomatoes, create the same water and Epsom salt mixture listed above and water every two weeks with said mixture.  For potted plants, dissolve 2 Tb. of Epsom salt into 1 gallon of water and water at least once a month.

Epsom salt sounds like a great product that every gardener should have -- who knew?  I guess we'll be finding out all sorts of neat gardening secrets, so until next time!  Is there a gardening myth you want Strange's to prove right or wrong?  Drop us an email at and it could be our next topic!