Plant Castor Beans to Keep Groundhogs Away, Straighten Garden Hose Kinks with PVC Pipe, Remove a Splinter with an Egg, and More Country Lore

Seal tree pruning cuts with latex caulking, use rock salt to control fleas, prop up heavy blooms with straws, remove rust with vinegar, give your garden as a gift, relieve dry skin with oatmeal baths, get rid of rats with mothballs, fix a loose hammerhead, and other handy tips from MOTHER’s readers.

| September/October 1990

  • Castor Plant
    Castor bean plants should keep groundhogs away.

  • Castor Plant

Through the years we've all discovered a few practical, time-tested solutions to some of the frustrating little problems of everyday life. Here are some of our readers' favorites.

Give Your Garden as a Gift

Last summer, I got requests from friends for seed from our flowers. So I took pictures of my many flowers during the height of their blooming season. Then, in the fall, when it was time to harvest the seed, I decided to create surprises for my friends, neighbors and relatives. I folded in half a piece of construction paper the size of a standard envelope. On the front, I glued a photo of a flower from my garden and wrote the name of the plant. Inside, I included planting and care instructions. To finish off the surprise, I wrapped enough seed in tissue paper for the receiver to start a good-sized flower bed.

— Jeanne Knape, Davenport, Iowa 

Use Straws to Prop Up Heavy Blooms

Ever find your champion peonies, roses, irises or other large-flowered plants bent over from the weight of the bloom? To rejuvenate my bowed blossoms, I wrap a section of plastic drinking straw, split down one side, around the stem at the bend and then use a piece of transparent tape to seal the straw firmly. Since plastic straws come in many colors, you can often make an inconspicuous or color-coordinated stem crutch.

— Chuck Williams, Blacksburg, Virginia 

Remove a Splinter with an Egg

If you have a splinter you can't get out, take an egg, break it open, and get the skin that's around the inside shell. Put some of this egg skin on the place where the splinter is, and in six or seven hours the splinter will have come out enough so you can pull it the rest of the way.

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