Wash Berries with Vinegar, Use Plastic Six-Pack Rings as a Net for Vines, Remove Rust with Broken Bricks, and More Country Lore

Recycle garden hose as grips on wood-handled tools, put soap slivers in pantyhose for an easy hand cleaner in the garden, boil cedar twigs in water for a worm repellent, roll potato eyes in bone meal before planting to keep them pest-free, collect garden debris in a coffee can, put drainpipes around woody trunks to protect from damage by weed eater blades, and other handy household tips from MOTHER’s readers.

| May/June 1989

  • Woman Washing Strawberries
    Wash berries in vinegar to chase out any lurking tiny insects.

  • Woman Washing Strawberries

Wash Store-Bought Produce with Vinegar

My mother taught all her children to wash store-bought berries (especially strawberries) in tepid water with a dash of vinegar in it before rinsing them. Try it; you may be surprised to see the numbers of tiny insects that are flushed out of their comfortable hiding places by the sting of the acidic vinegar. I often remember my experiences with these stowaways when I see people eating fruit right off the supermarket shelf. In addition to swallowing pesticides and herbicides, they may be getting some "bonus" protein, too.

—Lillian S.Murphy, Rohnert Park, California 

Use Six-Pack Rings as Garden Netting

It would be hard to imagine a product with less redeeming social value than the "sixpack net," that assembly of plastic loops used to hold beverage cans together. Not only is the material all but indestructible in the environment, it also poses a potential threat to pets and wildlife that might get caught in its nonbiodegradable nooses.

Several years ago, though, I visited a local restaurant and asked them to save their plastic horrors for me. When I had a ready supply of the six-packers, I used a stapler to assemble them into a dandy net for my peavines--a support that laughs at weather and even lets sunlight through. Best of all, every one of these monstrosities that goes to work in the garden is not littering our roadsides or waters.

—Ketcher N.Southard, High Point, North Carolina 

Protect Hands from Weathered Tool Handles with Garden Hose

The wooden handles on hoes and other garden tools tend to weather after a few years, especially if the tools are accidentally left outdoors through a rainstorm or two. And once that weathering sets in, the once-smooth wood becomes booby-trapped with splinters and is generally pretty hard on gardening hands.

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