Soybean meal is a safe alternative to chemical fertilizers for those who have pets in the backyard.
ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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
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.