Bed Frame Gate, Soybean Lawn Fertilizer and Other Useful Tips

Reader's share their tips for slug control, natural grass fertilizer, making it easier to use a garden sprayer and more.


Soybean meal is a safe alternative to chemical fertilizers for those who have pets in the backyard.


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Frame Your Fence

Just received my issue with the cover story about wood fences, and thought I'd offer this suggestion, which worked out great for me. For an easy and pretty gate, find yourself a fancy bed frame end (people throw these away once in a while, so look around) and put two coats of paint on it. Then just put it between two 4x4's, and you've got yourself a gate. This will work for wire fence too.

—Nick Terrell
Hoopeston, Illinois  

Improve Your Glove Life

To remove pesky lids from hard-to-open jars, cut the fingers off of latex dishwashing gloves. (You can throw these fingers away.) The rest of the glove makes the perfect grabber that will effectively loosen almost any of lid.

Also, here's a good and environmentally friendly recipe I recently came across that cleans brass and copper:

1 1/4 cup baking soda
5/8 cup salt
5/8 cup flour
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup water

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Then apply with a cloth, scrub surface, and rinse.

—Andre Ball
Montreal, Canada  

The Taste Gardens Love

If you own dogs, or other pets, you probably worry about spreading chemical fertilizers on your lawn; try using soybean meal. While it's not a complete fertilizer, it is high in nitrogen and it helped our grass "green up" nicely. It's also considered by many to be one of the finest soil conditioners available, so you may want to try it in your gar den too. You can find soybean meal at most feed stores. I recommend using several light applications instead of one heavy one. The only problem I've found is that our dog likes to munch on it (soybeans are actually used in many dog foods).

—Tom Fulcher
Glenelg, Maryland  

Cucumber Combat

I don't use any fertilizers or pesticides or poisons of any kind. Why should I? Nature has everything we need for every purpose: Roses, for example, love garlic. I have planted many gorgeous rose bushes with nothing but garlic cloves planted around the bush and in the rich soil. Fire ants eat fleas, so at least there's something good about them. If fire ants become a nuisance, however, place a few cu cumber peels around their mound—it destroys the entire mound. And I sprinkle baby powder along the screen doors and windows to set up a barrier that ants will not cross.

—Lauren Turner Atlanta, Georgia  

Creative Can Recycling

While reading the April/May issue, I ran across "A Healthy Slug Remedy" (Lore, issue #137). It sounds like a good idea and undoubtedly works very well, but I think my better half would kill me for using up all the bran for such purposes. Now, I like to drink beer, and there is always that last swallow in the bottom of the can that won't come out. So I bury the can in the ground, all but two inches from the top. The next day it's full of slugs that got in but couldn't get back out.

—Jim R. Sauberan Cuba, New York  

Inflating Your Sprayer

I am an organic-pepper grower who can't afford expensive powered sprayers and find that pump sprayers wear out my arm after a lot of pumping. So I came up with a great idea: I made my air compressor do the pumping for me. I drilled a 1/2" hole in the shoulder of my pump sprayer and then pushed a rubber, tire-valve stem through. It cost about a buck and really does the trick. You do have to be careful about not overinflating your sprayer. I know this because I did, and my sprayer split along the seam. Most will take 45 to 60 pounds per square inch, and some of the new ones have a relief value that makes things easier. I usually fill my sprayer 3/4 full so I don't have to make a trip back to the air compressor.

—Daniel McMillen
Nevada, Texas