MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers share their farming advice, fun tips and country folklore. This issue Cliff Truman shares how to make a device that eliminates stooping while sowing; Kenn Roman uses coffee filters when transplanting; W. Gorka ties fruit trees into an arc to ensure growth; Clinton Youts runs over fertilizer with his tiller; Maragret Kucharek shares syrup-making advice; Grace Haddad stores winter clothes in a water; and moth-proof plastic garbage can; Pamela Colberg tacks twine to roof leaks to stop the noise.
When planting time came around last year, wife Frances said to me, "Clif, can't you rig me up something so I won't have to be stooping all the time?" So I picked up a 3-1/2-foot length of 1-inch tubing that was lying around, cut a half-gallon plastic milk jug in half, and then wedged the spout end of the carton down into the tube and secured it with electrical tape. It's no big deal, but Frances says it works just dandy: faster sowing, better seed spacing, and best of all — no stooping! — Clif E. Truman, Haltom City, Texas
When it came time to transplant 500 aloe vera plants I was selling, I was faced with the problem of plugging the four holes in each of the one-gallon pots the plants were being moved to: I wanted to insure good drainage while losing as little soil as possible. My solution? A generic brand of coffee filters! — Kenn Roman, Phoenix, Arizona
I was proud when I first planted my fruit trees. Every time I passed them on my way to putting out the garbage, I got a special feeling. Then several years passed without a single one bearing fruit, and a new feeling started to come over me: a murderous, ax-wielding kind of feeling. Luckily, I heard of this trick just in time. Early in the spring (as soon as it's warm enough for your fingers to tie string), bend a young branch of each tree into an arc and tie it down. Then just leave it be until the following spring, when you'll cut the string. In the meantime, new fruit stems should have developed all along the bent branch. Believe me, it works — it saved my fruit trees and my sanity! — W. Gorka, Hamtramck, Michigan
We go to a neighbor's barnyard every spring and get old manure for our garden plot. Last year I got tired of struggling with the hard-packed fertilizer and ended up running my tiller over it at about half-throttle. This farming advice really made a difference! Chopped up fine, the manure was much easier to dig up and load. — Clinton Youts, Center, Colorado
Since moving onto our homestead six years ago, we've gleaned many helpful hints from the pages of MOTHER. So we thought we'd reciprocate with this bit of country lore for maple syrup makers. Once the syrup reaches about 220 degrees Fahrenheit and is almost finished, break an egg into the bubbling sap and let it boil for a few minutes. When you remove the egg, a lot of the impurities will come out with it, and you won't have to strain the syrup as much. — Margaret Kucharek, Grayling, Michigan
With warm weather just around the corner, it'll soon be time to put away your sweaters, mittens, and other woolens. I've found that a new plastic garbage can makes a great "storage chest" for such items. Find one with a tight-fitting lid, and your clothes will be dry and mothproof. — Grace Haddad, North Royalton, Ohio
I was trying to sleep through a torrential rainstorm one night, when my roof sprang a leak. Well, the rhythmic pings of the drops hitting the pan I stuck under the drip didn't do much for my attempts to doze off, and I hated to think about what the water splashing out of the pan was doing to my wooden floor. Then I hit on an emergency solution: I cut a piece of twine as long as my ceiling was high and thumbtacked one end to the spot where the drops were forming. I placed the other end in the pan and, to and behold, no more racket! It was only a temporary fix, but it got me a good night's sleep. — Pamela Cobberg, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Through the years we've all probably discovered a few practical, down-home, time-tested solutions to the frustrating little problems of everyday life. Why not share your best "horse sense" with the rest of the MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers? Send your suggestions to Country Lore, THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Hendersonville, NC. A one year subscription — or a one year extension of an existing subscription — will be sent to each contributor whose tip is printed in this column. — MOTHER
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