Yard & Garden

How To Winterize Your Pond

Water ponds have became more popular in recent years and many people have added them to their landscapes. The soothing sound of water, the plants and fish all combine to add a touch of nature to your yard. While ponds require very little work in the summer if they’re set up right, preparing your pond for the winter months will take a little more work.

If you have any annual plants in your pond, you might as well pull them up and throw them away, annuals just won’t survive the cold weather. Water lilies on the other hand are quite expensive and you can easily keep them alive through the winter. And, it’s well worth the effort to not have to spend all that money replacing them in the spring.

Take all of the lilies out of the pond and cut down any foilage, cut the buds off as well, but hold on to them. You can try placing the buds in a dish of water and you just might get them to bloom! After you’ve gotten all of the stems cut off, put the lilies in a tub of water with the water just covering the crown of the plant. Place the tub in a cool area such as a basement and just remember to keep them moist until spring.

If you have any bog plants, they can be brought indoors and treated in the same way you would a houseplant. Keep them in a well lit area of your home and make sure to keep them moist. The extra care you take to winterize your pond plants will mostly depend on whether you’d rather just replace them with new ones or save the money and go the extra mile.

If your pond is deep enough, or if you’re winters aren’t severe and the water won’t freeze solid, you can leave the fish in the pond during the winter. One of my friends has a pond and he never removes his fish, I was really shocked to find out that they can survive the top of the water being frozen over! But, they will do just fine!

If the water is going to freeze solid, remove the fish and keep them in a large tub of water through the winter. If you have a lot of fish you may have to use several tubs so that they’re not all cramped together. Use water from the pond to avoid any shock from temperature changes, place the tubs in an area such as a basement and add a pump to provide oxygen.

After everything is removed from the pond, drain all of the water out so that you can clean it. All you need to do is to remove the hose from the pump and hang it over the side of the pond. Remove any plant debris, dirt and algae with a water hose and a brush if you need to scrub the pond.

You can either let the pond remain empty until spring or fill it back up with water. If you’re going to leave it empty, put the pump inside a bucket of water and store it away. To make sure that your pump works properly in the spring, plug it in every few weeks and let it run for a little while to circulate the water. This will help maintain the gaskets and keep them hydrated.

If you decide to fill the pond back up with water, you can either just leave it as it is and allow it to freeze, or place a piece of plywood on top of it to help protect it. But, whether you leave it empty or fill it back up with water, you’ll need to clean it again in the spring before adding the fish and plants back into it.

How To Build Your Own Fire Pit

A fire pit can make your back yard a popular gathering place on cool evenings. But, they can also be enjoyed year round as well. Fire pits are becoming widely popular and they’re very easy to install. They’re also very easy to build yourself.

The location that you choose to install your fire pit should be several feet away from anything! The heat from a pit placed to close to plants and shrubs will damage and even kill them. You also don’t want to place one too close to a pool, fence or your home. The ash and soot generated by a fire pit can be quite damaging.

Although in most communities, something as small as a fire pit don’t require approval, you may want to check your building codes just in case. And, checking with your local utilities before installing a fire pit is very important. You obviously don’t want a gas line or water line right under neath a blazing fire!

Once you’ve chosen your location, mark an outline of where you want the pit to be. Keep in mind that the area needs to be large enough to accommodate the fireplace grate and provide at least one to two feet of space on each side. You don’t want to make the perimeter to large, you won’t be able to enjoy the heat from the fire.

You can use flour to mark the area, or use a stick to dig out a small trench marking the spot. All of the plant life, such as grass will need to be completely removed from the area. If you can remove the grass in layers, you can set it aside to use it to fill in any areas around the pit when your finished with it.

The hardest part of the project is removing the dirt. You will need to dig down and remove around six inches of the soil from the entire area where the pit will be located. Set the soil aside with the grass to use to fill in bare spots later.

After you’ve removed the proper amount of soil, smooth the ground out with a rake. The perimeter of the fire pit needs to be lined with some type of fire proof landscaping material. You can choose to add pieces of rock, or even decorative rocks such as moss rock. If you want to use brick make sure that you purchase fire brick, regular brick will usually explode if they get too hot.

Once you’ve gotten the entire edge of the pit lined, you can create a decorative floor. If you expect drainage to be a problem, you can install a drain pipe into the floor of the pit. The bottom can be decorated with gravel, sand or even heat resistant lava rocks.

Whatever you choose to use, there should be at least a two to three inch layer on the entire bottom. This will not only make the fire pit look much nicer, it will also prevent an unsightly mud hole from forming around your pit when it rains.

After you’ve gotten all of this done, set your fireplace grate in the center of your pit. Any kind of wood will work for burning in the pit, but in some communities they prohibit the burning of certain types of wood. Some wood will create noxious vapors, so check with your local authorities before lighting your new fire pit.

Use the extra soil and grass to fill in any bare spots around the pit and in between the bricks or stones you used to line the pit. And, if you’d like to landscape the area, place some plants around the perimeter. Just make sure that you choose plants that won’t vine, or grow over into the pit.

How To Protect Your Roses During the Winter

Roses have always been one of the most popular flowers for avid gardners. There are so many varieties and colors to choose from, that everyone can find at least one rose bush they just have to add to their flower garden.

If you love roses then you’ve probably spent a lot of time taking care of your roses so that they will be healthy and look their best. And, you don’t have to let the harsh winter weather destroy an entire summer’s work.

If you’re lucky enough to have mild winters, you may not need to take any steps at all to protect your roses. Hardy varieties of roses are available that can survive colder temperatures and this should be taken into consideration at the time you purchase rose bushes.

Even the hardy rose bushes might need some protection depending on the area where you live. The type that you have will determine how much or how little you’ll need to do to make sure that they will provide another summer of color for your garden.

For roses to survive through the winter months, they need to be forced into a dormant state. You can help push this process along by dead heading, cutting any more roses from the plants and allowing rose hip to develop. Fertilization should also be stopped no later than the middle or end of October.

Once you’ve had the season’s first hard frost, you can then cover your rose bushes. You want to wait and cover them after all the leaves have fallen off of the bush. Dead leaves and stems trapped around a covered bush will promote insects, mold and other plant infestations.

Insects will look for places to hide from the weather and any leaves at the base of your rose bush is the perfect place! A rose bush that was healthy and insect free when you covered it, might emerge badly damaged or dead when you uncover it.

When there isn’t any leaves left, rake the ground around the rose bush to remove any debris. You can even remove any dead leaves that are lingering on the plant yourself instead of waiting for them to fall off.

Many gardeners prune their rose bushes before covering them for the winter. Use your own judgement when it comes to pruning, it can actually stimulate plant growth and you don’t want them trying to grow during the winter months.

However, if there are really long limbs on the bush, it might make it more difficult to cover them properly. If you do decide to prune some of the limbs, don’t do a thorough job. Just cut away only what is necessary to allow for good coverage of the plant.

It’s a really good idea to tie all of the bushes canes together with twine or other strong string. This will help prevent the winter winds from breaking the limbs. It will also help keep them covered since the limbs won’t be swarming around as bad ripping the covering.

If you really don’t want to prune the bush or it’s a really large bush, you can build a frame for the covering. Metal poles inserted into the ground can even be used to keep the covering up off of the plant and protect it.

Before you cover your rose bushes there is one last step you should do. Get some good soil that is completely dry and pile it around the bottom of the bush. You want the soil to extend to about a foot up onto the bush. This layer of soil will reduce the damage caused by frozen roots.

Heavy sheets of plastic are most commonly used to cover any type of outdoor plant including roses. I have seen some people use thick pieces of cloth. But, using cloth can do a lot of damage. Unlike plastic that will repel water, cloth will absorb it and when the wet cloth freezes it will freeze right to the plant.

Many types of roses can actually live through being frozen. It’s the cycle of freezing and thawing over and over that can be vicious on your beautiful roses. If you have really cold winters, you may want to consider keeping your roses in containers so that you can take them inside a garage or storage shed until spring.

Basic Types of Walk Behind Lawn Mowers and Engines

If your old lawn mower gave out last season and your in the market for a new one, the choices can be overwhelming. There are so many different styles and sizes it’s hard to know which one is the best for your needs.

Having the right lawn mower can make a lot of difference in the ease that you can keep your lawn looking nice. Mowing the lawn isn’t a favorite chore with most people, but it can be quick and easy with the right equipment!

There are basically four different types of lawn mowers that you walk behind and push. There are gas mowers, cordless mowers, electric mowers and push reel mowers. Each one has it’s own advantages and disadvantages.

If you have a large yard or area that needs mowed, a gas powered mower will give you more cutting power. They work much better on dense, tall grassy areas. But, you have to have gas and oil handy in order to use them.

You’ll also have to know how to mix oil and gas for some mowers and it has to be mixed as closely to exact amounts as possible. Mixing it too rich or not adding enough oil can quickly ruin the motor and cause lot’s of smoking as it’s running.

Gas powered mowers have filters that will need to be changed or cleaned regularly. The spark plug will probably need changed or cleaned at least once per year. If it doesn’t have an electric start button, the pull cord can break or come loose and need replaced or fixed.

Having a gas mower is sort of like owning a car, there’s regular maintenance that needs to be done in order to keep it running it’s best. But,  if you need the extra power a gas engine provides it’s well worth the upkeep!

An electric lawn mower can be much easier to use, you don’t have to worry about having gas and oil or mixing it in the correct amounts. The main obstacle with electric mowers is the nuisance of having a cord in the way.

Cordless mowers do away with the use of electrical cords. But, the amount of grass that you can cut depends on how long the battery holds out between charges!

If your yard is a good size or your grass has gotten tall, you will probably only be able to do part of your yard at a time. Then you’ll have to wait hours for the battery to recharge to finish the job!

The only power needed for push reel mowers is you! You just push the mower along and cut the grass. There’s no recharging needed, no cords to get caught and best of all there’s no air pollution!

But, this type of mower can give you quite a workout and you may end up too tired to finish the job! It’s a good way to get exercise and do your part in fighting air pollution though!

When buying a gas powered mower there will be three measurements that apply to the power they provide. Horsepower is the amount of power that can be produced by the motor. The amount of horsepower that goes to the blade is called torque. Another measure of the engines power is in cubic centimeters.

Just because a motor has a lot of horsepower it doesn’t mean that you will have more cutting power. You should check the torque when purchasing any lawn mower, a lot of horsepower won’t do you any good if it doesn’t provide a lot of torque to the blades.

There are two types of gasoline mower engines, two cycle or two stroke and four cycle or four stroke. For the most power choose a two stroke engine, but it will also produce more air pollution!

Lawn Mower Features and What They Do!

Today’s lawn mowers come with lots of different features that can provide a wide variety of benefits and uses. Knowing a little about all of these features can make shopping for a new mower a lot easier.

After you’ve decided what size motor and what type of engine you want, the next main consideration might just be the cutting deck. The cutting deck is the housing that covers the blade.

If you have a really large yard, a large cutting deck can mean that you won’t have to make as many trips back and forth to get the job done. That means that you will be able to decrease your mowing time!

But, if you have a lot of landscaping or lawn decorations a large cutting deck won’t give you much maneuverability around them. Large cutting decks aren’t made for tight places in your yard.

If you have an uneven yard, or a bank or hill that you’ll need to mow, try to get a mower with large wheels. The larger the wheels the easier the mower will be to push, especially if the large wheels are at the back of the mower.

There are now some types of lawn mowers available that have the front wheels attached on casters. That simply means that if you lift the front off of the ground, you’d be able to spin the wheels around.

This feature will give you a very good turning radius in a tight place, you’ll be able to turn the front of the mower easily.  It’s a big help if you have lots of landscaping in your yard.

You’ll also need to decide if you want to mulch your lawn as you mow or if you’d like to collect all the cuttings so that you don’t have to rake!

You can find mowers with either rear collection bags or side bags. But, a mulching mower will help fertilize your lawn every time you mow! There are also 3 in 1 mowers available, these can be adjusted to either mulch, bag the cuttings or can be set to discharge the cuttings out the side like regular mowers.

Almost all lawn mowers offer height adjustment for the blade. This allows you to customize how short you want to cut your grass. Cutting it shorter will of course mean that it will be longer before you have to mow again.

As an added safety feature, some new lawn mowers are equipped with levers that must be depressed for the mower to keep running. There are also some mowers that have rubber flaps attached to the back to prevent any objects thrown by the blade from flying out and hitting you.

If you’ve decided to go with a cordless lawn mower, you’ll need to consider the amount of time it will take to mow your lawn. Batteries usually take several hours to reach a full charge and if you have to do parts of your lawn at a time, it can be really inconvenient.

The power with cordless mowers is measured in voltage, the higher the voltage the longer the battery will hold a charge. Typically a 24 volt mower will run for around an hour and a half and cut approximately one third of an acre.

Paying a little extra and getting a 36 volt mower will give you around three hours of cutting time and cover around an half an acre. Choosing the right voltage cordless mower can mean the difference in doing your lawn in one day or doing it in two days!

If you’re planning on purchasing an electric mower, make sure that it has a cord holder. This is essential in keeping the cord out of the way and keeping you from running over it with the mower.

Gas lawn mowers are available with two kinds of starters, an electric starter or the traditional pull cords. If you can afford the difference, opt for an electric starter. You’ll really appreciate it if you have to make a lot of stops and starts with your mower.

However, you can purchase electric starters that can be attached to some basic pull cord mowers. Depending on the type and model that you have you might be able to add your own electric starter.

When it comes to mowing your lawn, you will need to decide if you want a self propelled mower or a push type. A self propelled lawn mower will literally mow the lawn all by itself, all you’ll need to do is steer it in the right direction!

If your lawn is pretty much flat, you might not want to spend the extra money on a self propelled model. But, if your yard is uneven and hilly, a self propelled mower can make all the difference in the world!

If you’ve decided that a self propelled lawn mower is the best choice for you, you’ll want one that has variable speed. This will allow you to set the speed at which the mower moves.

This is very handy if you have trouble walking and need the mower to move at a slower pace. Or, if you need it to move faster. It’s a feature that should be on all self propelled lawn mowers!

How To Choose the Right Landscaping Contractor

Landscaping is one of the best ways to build your homes equity! Adding landscaping to your home that is well designed and properly installed can increase the value of your home by 14 to 17 percent!

There are probably many advertisements for landscaping contractors in your area. Choosing the right contractor for any job isn’t easy and it can even be a little scarey!

There are several guidelines to use when choosing a contractor. With a few extra steps, a lot of knowledge and a little investigative work your project should turn out perfect!

First you should determine what you want the contractor to do. Many people prefer to do some of the basic, easier work themselves to save some money. Before even talking to a contractor, decide whether you want to do some of the work or if you want them to do the entire job.

One of the first things you should do is investigate the company. Though new companies may be very reliable and competent, older more established companies usually have more experience.

Find out how many years the company has been in business. It’s a good idea to check with the Better Business Bureau to find out about the companies reputation.

Don’t be afraid to ask the contractor for references! Only the ones that have had customer satisfaction problems will get “testy” when you ask to see some examples of their work!

If you get references, drive by and check out the landscaping they’ve done. If they give you phone numbers, call the customer and ask them about the experience they had with the company.

Another thing that you may want to know is if the company has all of the certifications and licenses they’re required to have by law. Don’t just assume that because it’s a business they follow the local laws.

Insurance is of major importance. By law the company should have worker’s compensation, liability and comprehensive insurance. This could cause huge problems if one of the companies employees were to get injured while working on your property.

It’s better to make sure that they have the right insurance coverage than to end up being sued! Their insurance should also cover any unexpected damages they do to your home or property. A run-away wheel barrow could put a huge dent in your new car!

It would be great if all landscapers had some kind of training. But, if you’ve ever seen ads for these types of jobs, most don’t require any formal training.

It’s alright for a landscaping company to hire people without training or experience to do the labor. But, there should at least be a supervisor on the job that has a lot of landscaping knowledge to make sure the job is done right!

Everyone knows that a small company just starting out can’t build up a reputation without getting jobs! Using a new company is fine and you may even get a better deal from someone eager to get their start. Just make sure you ask for references and follow through on checking them out!

Never hire any contractor without finding out what kind of guarantee they offer. Find out exactly what is covered and what will be replaced free and what you’ll be expected to pay for.

If the plants, shrubs or bushes they planted die next week, will they replace them? If a retaining wall collapses in a few months, will they rebuild it?

Last but definitely not least, get everything in writing! Don’t ever sign anything without reading it and make sure that the guarantee and all the details are in the contract before signing it!

With a little patience and some extra steps you’ll have a beautifully landscaped yard to be proud of. You’ll be glad that you went the extra mile in the long run!

How To Grow Vegetables in Containers

In the “good ol’ days” everyone had a garden and raised lot’s of fresh vegetables. But, today’s lifestyles either find us without the time to take care of a large garden or without the space to have one!

Not having the time or space for a garden, doesn’t mean that you can’t grow your own vegetables! Many vegetables are now available in compact dwarf and bush varieties and are perfect for container gardening!

The things that you can grow will depend on the size of the containers that you have space for. You can even use your deck for a vegetable garden and have tomatoes growing instead of flowers!

There are many shapes and sizes of containers and the materials will vary. The container you choose is really a matter of preference. Whether it’s clay, plastic or wood, the most important thing is size and adequate drainage.

The container must have several holes in the bottom to allow the water to drain. Standing water can rot the roots and your plants will soon die. You can purchase drill bits for almost any type of material and make extra holes in the container.

A container sitting on a solid surface won’t drain well. You will need to raise it by placing some blocks or something under the edges to unblock the holes.

The size of your container will depend on what you want to grow in it. For plants such as radishes, peppers, lettuce and herbs that have compact roots, you can have a container that is as little as 8 inches deep!

Vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers and beans have larger roots and will require a deeper container. These types of vegetables grow really well in half barrels, large tubs or large pots. You can even use five gallon buckets, if the appearance isn’t an issue!

Many experienced container gardeners recommend using a soil-less potting medium. This type of mix drains faster than dirt, it’s lightweight and easier to move if necessary and less prone to diseases.

Most gardening centers carry soil-less potting mix, but you can make your own. Mix equal parts of peat moss, loamy soil and sand, then heat the mixture in the oven for about an hour to kill any bacteria or insects!

The number of plants for each container should follow the spacing guidelines on the back of the seed packets. The plants will die if they’re crowded and don’t have ample room for both the roots and the plant to grow.

All of the seeds won’t germinate, so plant more than you need and thin them out once they’ve sprouted and gotten a good start. If you’re planning on having several container of one vegetable, you can start them all in one and then transplant them to the other containers.

The downside to using soil-less potting mixtures is that there’s no nutrients. So, if you decide to use this type of growing medium you will need to fertilize your plants regularly.

There are many different types of fertilizers available and some are even formulated for specific plants. If you’re not sure what type to use, talk to someone at your local garden center.

If finding time to fertilize is a problem, purchase fertilizer that is time released. With this type you can add it to the soil and then it will slowly release the nutrients automatically.

Correct watering is essential for any plant and some will need to be watered everyday. The plants water requirements can also usually be found on the seed packets or the plastic sticks that are in the pot when you buy the plant.

The best and easiest way to water your plants is with a spray attachment on your water hose. Just be sure to spray out some of the water before watering the plant, a hose that’s laid in the sun will be full of hot water!

Plants should also be watered either early in the morning or late in the evening. The hot sun can cause water burns on the plants leaves that are wet or have water drops on them!

Gardening can be therapeutic and very relaxing. But, it can also be very rewarding when you creating a salad or dish from home grown vegetables!

Arranging a Flowerbed

When the weather gets warm is the perfect time to get your flowerbeds ready for the warmer months of the year. It will take some effort and preparation, but if you do a little bit of prep work you can have a beautiful flowerbed throughout the season. (more…)

The Best Way to Prune Your Trees

The trees in your yard can provide you with a nice shady place to sit. They can also have an effect on your cooling bills during the summer when they are close to your house.

But, they trees have a big impact on the total look of your landscaping! Taking care of the trees in your yard is just as important as taking care of your bushes and plants!

Pruning is a very important step to make the trees in your yard attractive! By pruning you can give the desired shape to your trees and also help keep the trees height under control!

The best time of the year to do any shaping of your trees is in the spring when all the new growth is just starting. Only minimal or necessary pruning should be done through the summer. Pruning done through summer months will help to encourage new growth.

The only pruning that should really be done in the fall, is to clear the tree of dead limbs and such. Trees that have a lot of sap shouldn’t be pruned during the winter months. The only trees that do well when pruned in the winter are deciduous trees.

Sometimes you can’t pick the season to trim your trees. Limbs that are growing into or over power lines may need to be pruned immediately. And, limbs that over hang your roof can cause the roof to rot and eventually leak and should be cut when necessary.

Before doing any pruning, take a good look at the trees shape from all sides. If there are parts of the tree that need to be cut out, then you may not be able to get the exact shape that you want.

You need to check for broken limbs, limbs that cross over each other and crowded limbs. Other things to look for are low growing limbs and limbs that are too close to the trunk of the tree.

Using the proper tools to prune your trees will not only make the job easier, it can protect the health of your tree. Handsaws can be used for the larger limbs and pruning shears can be used for smaller branches. But, what ever tool you use should be sharp so that the cuts are straight and not all jagged!

Sharp tools will help ensure that the trees bark remains undamaged. Damaging the trees bark can cause the limb to die and if the damage is bad enough, it can kill some whole trees!

There are a few tricks to help avoid tearing the trees bark when cutting larger limbs. You should make a cut at both the top and bottom of the limb about 1/4 - 1/2 inch apart. Make the two cuts just offset from each other leaving the main center of the limb uncut.

Once you’ve gotten the two cuts made, then go back and finish cutting the limb off. For heavier limbs, you can tie a rope around the limb and fasten it to a higher branch. This will keep the limb from just suddenly falling and jerking the bark loose!

Most professionals use to apply tree paint to cover the newly exposed area. But, even professionals have realized that the tree will heal faster if it’s left to heal naturally!

Another very important factor to consider when doing your own pruning, is the structures or items near your tree. What seems like a small limb high up in a tree, may be larger than you think and destroy something if it falls on it!

How To Keep Your Roses Disease Free

One of the main problems in growing roses is insects and diseases. Roses are especially susceptible to aphids, although the newer hybrid roses are more resistant than the general garden roses.

The three most usual diseases that roses suffer are rust, powdery mildew and black spot. Knowing how to diagnose your roses and treat them can keep them from dying out.

During cool or wet weather roses may develop powdery mildew. The mildew is around in the air all of the time, but when the weather and temperature meet certain conditions it will attack the plant.

It appears as powdery patches on the roses leaves, but may also be seen on the plants stems. The plant will begine to loose it’s leaves and the buds won’t open to bloom.

Planting your roses where they’ll receive full sun can help deter powdery mildew. You can usually spray the mildew off with a water hose. But, if it’s gotten really serious then you’ll need to prune the infected leaves. Keeping the plant free of infected leaves will keep it from spreading to other parts of the plant.

The weather conditions also produce rust on your roses. Once again, cool and moist days are the culprit! Removing all of the infected sections of the plant is about the only way to get rid of rust.

Another problem with rust is that it continues to thrive in soil and on the leaves that have fallen from an infected plant. If you replant in the same area that an infected plant grew in, then the new plant can also get rust from the soil.

Rust will usually shows up early in the growing season and will appear in bright orange places on the leaves and stalks. After the plant has been infected for awhile, the spots will start to turn black.

Black spot is another disease that often attacks roses. Although this disease occurs under moist conditions much like the others, instead of cool temperatures, black spot develops in warm conditions.

It will appear as a black or sometimes dark brown blotch on the plants leaves and they will begin to turn yellow and soon fall off. If the disease isn’t controlled it will spread and eventually kill the entire plant.

At the first sign of black spot, remove the affected leaves. You need to also remove any leaves that have fallen on the ground. And, spreading a layer of mulch several inces thick around your rose bush can also help prevent the disease.

One effective home remedy for black spot is to mix equal amounts of fat free milk and water. Apply the solution to both sides of the leaves and the stem with a spray bottle. The mixture will actually cause the growth of a fungus that prevents black spot fungus!

There are some precautions that you can take to keep your roses healthy and growing beautifully! Make sure to plant them in a sunny spot so that the leaves and stems can dry quickly after a rain or watering.

Try to water the bases of the plant, taking care not to get the leaves wet. And, always water your plants early in the morning so that they’ll have plenty of time to dry. It’s very important that you begin treatment at the first sign of a problem.

The best way to control insects on your roses is with organic treatments. The less chemicals that you apply, the healthier your plants will be and the better they’ll grow.

One way to naturally treat insect infestations is with other insects! Many insects such as lady bugs will actually pick your plants clean of any so called bad bugs!

A few aphids aren’t a major problem, but they will quickly multiply! Aphids literally suck all of the sap out of the plant and this can be devastating to a younger plant.

They can easily be removed by spraying them off with the water hose. If there’s a large infestation of aphids, you can add a few drops of liquid soap to some water and use it to spray the plants.

Many roses are now disease resistant, read the packaging or talk to a knowledgeable person at your nursery to select the right ones. With a little attention and loving care your roses can be both bug free and fungus free.

4 Methods for Tree Stump Removal

When cutting down a tree one of the most difficult things to do is to remove the stump. Removing the stump of a tree can also be very expensive. If you leave the uncut stump in the ground it can cause diseases like honey fungus. Leaving a stump in the ground can also have a negative affect on the vegetation surrounding the stump. Whichever way that you remove a stump you should not wait, as it can cause the aforementioned negative effects. (more…)

Cooking in a Chiminea

Cooking – Not For All Chimineas
It is possible to cook in a chiminea, but not all models and materials are recommended for use in cooking. Although the chiminea in Mexico was originally developed as an oven, many models today are built to lower standards for decorative purposes only.

Most clay chimineas that you buy in home and garden stores are intended for decoration only, and should not be used for cooking. There is a high danger that if they are used as a cooking instrument, the clay will shatter, causing a huge mess and even injury to the cook and to your guests.

Cooking on a painted chiminea is another major health risk. The paints used can be toxic, and may release dangerous fumes which can taint your food and threaten your guests.

Unpainted cast iron, aluminum, ceramic, and natural stone chimineas can often be used as cooking implements. However, before doing so you should read your owner’s manual to be sure that cooking is recommended.

Some chimineas are specially designed for use in cooking, and these are the safest to use as grills.

Before You Cook with a Chiminea
Even if your model of chiminea is recommended for cooking, it’s a good idea not to have a barbeque on the same day that you take it out of the box. Chimineas should be seasoned with small, cool fires before reaching the temperatures required for cooking. A few seasoning fires will harden your chiminea and make your food taste better.

Cooking Ideas for the Chiminea

• Chimineas do not typically get very hot, so roasts and other large meats might be out of the question. However, you can slice meats and vegetables, place them in a heat-proof container, and set them with some liquid and spices amidst the coals to slow cook.

• Wrapping potatoes and other vegetables in aluminum foil and setting them among the coals is another great way to cook in a chiminea.

• You can also remove the chimney (being sure only to do this while cool, if you have a cast iron chiminea, which can become very hot) and place a grill over the opening. In this manner, you can barbeque meats, sausages, seafood, and vegetables.

• Using sticks or long metal skewers, you can roast marshmallows or sausages in the opening of the chiminea.

• Some chimineas have cooking racks that can be used to bake bread or rolls.

By following these tips, you can discover whether your chiminea is safe to use for cooking, and create fun and delicious quick meals on your patio. Gathering around a chiminea is even more fun if you and your guests can enjoy a meal or the delicious taste of roast marshmallows while doing it.

Benni Jenyfari is a freelance author for Only Cookware and the Outdoor Heating Guide providing unbiased information and advice to help consumers with buying cookware sets and chiminea online.

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