Farming Advice and Folklore: Dog Days, Garden Pest Plant and Iced Lunch Boxes

Farming advice and folklore from MOTHER and her readers, including dogs running string to line farm rows, sage planted to discourage garden pests and freezing juice to make iced Lunch Boxes for the family.

| March/April 1987

  • Farm dog
    Two of us stood, one on either side of the field, with rolls of string. An end was tied to a dog's collar, the person opposite called and clapped, and in no time the row marker was across the field.

  • Farm dog

MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers share their farming advice, fun tips and country folklore, including using dogs to line up tilled garden rows, planting sage to ward off garden pests and using frozen juice to cool down brown bag lunches. 

MOTHER's Country Farming Advice and Folklore

Dog Days

The sun was blazing, it was 85 degrees, and we were getting mighty tired of trudging back and forth across 50 yards of freshly tilled field. We were stretching string to make straight rows for our huge vineyard, and only the dogs were having fun. So as long as our pets wanted to play, we thought, why not use that to our advantage? Two of us stood, one on either side of the field, with rolls of string. An end was tied to a dog's collar, the person opposite called and clapped, and in no time the row marker was across the field, needing only to be stretched and tied to the stakes. Even with time out for breaks and plenty of water, we and our dogs made short work of a tedious job.

—Brad Brougher
Spokane, Washington

Weed Eaters

What I wanted was green lawn. What I had was a large yard covered with love grass, weeds, and thatch. I didn't want to use chemical defoliants, and the thought of tilling under all that unwanted vegetation made my back ache. So I used what was at hand: a rooster and five chickens. I built them a lightweight, portable, 4 foot by 8 foot covered cage, set it up in the yard, and let them do what comes naturally. In four or five days they ate up or scratched up all the plants, and fertilized the area too. Then I just moved the cage, raked smooth the soil they'd cleared, and sodded or sprigged it with grass. After repeating the process a number of times, I now have that green lawn, and the chickens did almost all the work (and rewarded me with fresh eggs as well).

—Mike Moore
Harrah, Oklahoma

Sage Advice

I was once plagued with aphids and whiteflies, as many gardeners are. Three years ago I started using sage-one seed planted for every three tomato starts indoors, and sage plants around the perimeter of my garden outdoors. I haven't had an aphid or a whitefly since. I also save used coffee grounds (I dry them first and then store them in an old coffee can) and scatter them over my carrot and Cole crops each spring. None of my plants are harmed by worms or bugs, not even by the white cabbage butterflies that are usually such pests.


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