10 Surprising Ways Lemons Can Make Your Life Easier

Several years ago, my son gave me the bounty from the two fruit trees that pretty much rule his backyard. My Mother’s Day gift of Meyer lemons weighed in at 124 pounds. I know, lucky me!

I had to figure out ways to use, share, and preserve lemons in a big hurry. I juiced, cooked, and baked all kinds of lemon things. And I learned so many ways to use lemons in around the house, too! Who knew lemons could be so useful?

 

 

Lemon tree loaded with huge, lovely Meyer lemons

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Zap strong odors

To remove odors from garbage disposals, you can drop in leftover lemon peels (cut them small so they don’t jam the blade). Or rub lemon juice onto cutting boards that have retained strong odors or stains. Follow with hot, soapy water. Clean the walls and shelves of the refrigerator with straight lemon juice. Rinse well, and then wipe to dry. Read more

Get Rid of Bugs and Crawling Insects Fast and Easy Without Poisons

Got creepy bugs and crawling insects like ants, centipedes, cockroaches, silverfish or bedbugs trying to take over your home or garden? Need to know how to get rid of bugs? Don’t call an exterminator quite yet. I’m confident this is a problem you can fix yourself with diatomaceous earth—cheaper and faster!

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Food-grade DE

If you want to treat your home for insects, but you don’t want to poison yourself, your pets or the earth, your very best option is to use food grade Diatomaceous Earth to get rid of centipedes, spiders, ants, silverfish, cockroaches, fleas and all other creepy crawlies.

Non-toxic, highly effective

Diatomaceous Earth (DE), an off white talc-like powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. If you could take a look at it through a microscope you’d see that it resembles shards of glass. When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton (centipedes, ants, cockroaches, bedbugs, and fleas) or placed strategically so that bug crawls into it, the DE cuts into that bug’s exoskeleton, which causes it to dehydrate and die.

MORE: How to Make Your Own Non-Toxic Natural Pest Control

Only option for bedbugs

Bedbugs are parasitic insects that feed on blood. They’re a nightmare. Bedbugs can enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items.

 

Two fullly grown bedbugs burrowed in the folds of a mattress

Typically bedbugs hide in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night. Fully grown, a bedbug is about the size of Abraham Lincoln’s head on a US penny. Foggers are useless against bedbugs because those ugly critters are so good at hiding in places the fog can’t reach. Bedbugs are even resistant to expensive professional chemical fumigation!

Diatomaceous earth is the only effective option. It is all-natural and safe to use around you and your family. DE acts like shards of glass to puncture insects’ exoskeletons. It then absorbs their internal fluids dehydrating them quickly and effectively. Full instructions for how to treat bedbugs with DE here.

RELATED: This is What You Need to Know About Buying a Mattress

Safe around pets, kids

Here’s the most amazing thing about DE: It kills bugs but doesn’t hurt mammals. You and your pets could eat it without harm. In fact, many people add DE to their daily diet to promote good health.

How to apply

Using a flour sifter, fine mesh strainer, a salt shaker or this Pest Control Bulb Duster, lightly dust the powdery DE in cracks and crevices, along baseboards, windowsills, door frames and beneath and behind appliances, in the garden, yard—anywhere you see those little pests. This is a non-toxic and environmentally safe treatment for bugs and insects, but please wear a face protector because it is fine as talcum powder.

Person apply diatomaceous earth long perimeter of a room using a hand duster

DiatomaceousEarth.com

For flea invested carpet, dust the carpet well with the DE and then pound it in with a broom. Leave it to do its job then vacuum the carpet very well after 24 to 36 hours, emptying the bag or dust collector often.

MORE: 10 Quick and Easy Ways to Get Rid of Pesky Ants

Resource

Food-grade DE is readily available at garden centers and hardware stores. You can get a 10-lb. bag of Diatomaceous Earth from Amazon that includes a bulb duster here. Just make certain you are purchasing food-grade diatomaceous earth, not the variety of DE used in swimming pools, which has been chemically altered and will not work as a pesticide. It must be food-grade and Harris is a brand of food-grade DE you can trust.

One last thing: To do its job as the most effective pesticide ever, DE must be dry. If it gets wet, clean it up and then reapply.


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How to Make Your Own Non-Toxic Natural Pest Control

Recently, a friend sent me an S.O.S. asking if I knew of any natural pest control to rid an apartment of fleas—a method that would not be toxic to small children.

Treating their pets and animals would be the first step, but surprisingly these folks have no animals. The truth is that flea infestations often occur simply because neighborhood cats or dogs like to lounge near their home or they have purchased an infested piece of furniture from a yard sale.

Illustration showing bugs and rodents that can be repelled with natural pest control

I headed right for my collection of pest control recipes and retrieved the perfect solution for fleas. I thought you might enjoy knowing that one, plus remedies for all kinds of home and garden pests.

All-purpose outdoor insect spray

Mix one chopped garlic clove, one chopped small onion, and one tablespoon cayenne powder with one-quart water. Allow to steep one hour, then add one tablespoon liquid dishwashing soap. This all-purpose insect spray remains potent for only one week, so use it up by spraying the exterior perimeter of the house.

Ants

Repel an ant invasion by with this natural pest control: Wash countertops, cabinets, and floors with equal parts water and vinegar.

MORE: 10 Quick and Easy Ways to Get Rid of Pesky Ants

Aphids

Mix 1-gallon water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and 2 tablespoons liquid dishwashing detergent. Spray on plants where aphid damage is evident.

Read more

Secrets for How to Grow An Edible Garden Just About Anywhere!

If you’ve given up on the idea of growing an edible garden this year, I’ve got good news. Even if you rent and your landlord won’t allow you to dig up part of the property—no problem. Even if you don’t have time to tend a full-size garden; even if you don’t have time to build square-foot boxes.

 

photo credit: OliveandCocoa.com

 

You don’t need a big yard and “perfect” conditions. In fact, you really don’t need any acreage at all. There are myriad ways to you can get started today growing your own food. It’s easy, too! You don’t need acreage and “perfect” conditions to get started. You can do it now with what you have, where you are.

There are myriad ways to you can get started growing your own food. You can do it now with what you have, where you are.

In a black plastic trash bag

Seriously, you can grow a garden in a trash bag. The easiest way to get started growing stuff in plastic bags is with potatoes. To get started you’ll need a heavy duty black trash bag, a shovel, a knife, potting soil, “seed” potatoes and agricultural sulfur—available at any garden center.

Find a complete step-by-step tutorial for how to get your bag planted and those potatoes growing here.

On a deck

Even in a small space like a deck or patio, you can grow many different vegetables and enjoy an amazing harvest for your efforts. There is nothing quite like making meals with herbs and vegetables that you have grown yourself—that you can harvest fresh, right outside your back door.

Check out these 11 tips for growing vegetables on a deck or patio.

Read more

Secrets for How to Grow An Edible Garden Just About Anywhere!

If you’ve given up on the idea of growing an edible garden this year, I’ve got good news. Even if you rent and your landlord won’t allow you to dig up part of the property—no problem. Even if you don’t have time to tend a full-size garden; even if you don’t have time to build square-foot boxes.

 

photo credit: OliveandCocoa.com

 

You don’t need acreage, a big yard or “perfect” conditions. In fact, you really don’t need any acreage at all. There are myriad ways to you can get started today growing your own food. It’s easy, too!

In a black plastic trash bag

Seriously, you can grow a garden in a trash bag. The easiest way to get started growing stuff in plastic bags is with potatoes. To get started you’ll need a heavy duty black trash bag, a shovel, a knife, potting soil, “seed” potatoes and agricultural sulfur—available at any garden center.

Find a complete step-by-step tutorial for how to get your bag planted and those potatoes growing here.

On a deck

Even in a small space like a deck or patio, you can grow many different vegetables and enjoy an amazing harvest for your efforts. There is nothing quite like making meals with herbs and vegetables that you have grown yourself—that you can harvest fresh, right outside your back door.

Check out these 11 tips for growing vegetables on a deck or patio.

Read more

This is How to Make Cut Flowers to Last Twice as Long

Whether they come from your garden, the market, or you receive them as a gift, you can persuade cut flowers to remain beautiful for at least a week—maybe two, or even longer!—when you are careful to follow a few fabulous flower secrets.

The first thing is to know the enemy. Actually, there are two: 1) bacteria and 2) drought. Defeat both and your flowers will last and last. You will be amazed!

bunch-of-fresh-lilac-flowers-in-glass-vase-close-up-on-white-background

 

Start with a clean vase

Scrub it with soap and hot water, rinse well and fill with tap water.

Disinfect

Add 1/4 teaspoon of liquid chlorine bleach for each quart of water. This will slow down the growth of bacteria and fungus in the water without harming or affecting the flowers. Measure carefully! Trying to eyeball this very weak ratio of 1/4 teaspoon per quart of water could backfire.

Remove leaves below the water line

You want to remove any leaves on the stems of cut flowers that will be below the water line. Submerged leaves will quickly rot and promote bacteria and algae growth.

Condition the stems

Cut flowers will die of thirst even when standing in water if the stems have not been conditioned to draw that water all the way to the blooms. That’s because when cut, a flower stem quickly seals its “wound,” preventing it from drawing water.

Just before plunging the stems into the vase of water cut stems at a 45% angle to allow for the greatest amount of water as possible can be absorbed.

Read more

This is How to Make Cut Flowers Last Twice as Long

Whether they come from your garden, the market, or you receive them as a gift, you can persuade cut flowers to remain beautiful for at least a week—maybe two, or even longer!—when you are careful to follow a few fabulous flower secrets.

The first thing is to know the enemy. Actually, there are two: 1) bacteria and 2) drought. Defeat both and your flowers will last and last. You will be amazed!

bunch-of-fresh-lilac-flowers-in-glass-vase-close-up-on-white-background

 

Start with a clean vase

Scrub it with soap and hot water, rinse well and fill with tap water.

Disinfect

Add 1/4 teaspoon of liquid chlorine bleach for each quart of water. This will slow down the growth of bacteria and fungus in the water without harming or affecting the flowers. Measure carefully! Trying to eyeball this very weak ratio of 1/4 teaspoon per quart of water could backfire.

Remove leaves below the water line

You want to remove any leaves on the stems of cut flowers that will be below the water line. Submerged leaves will quickly rot and promote bacteria and algae growth.

Condition the stems

Cut flowers will die of thirst even when standing in water if the stems have not been conditioned to draw that water all the way to the blooms. That’s because when cut, a flower stem quickly seals its “wound,” preventing it from drawing water.

Just before plunging the stems into the vase of water cut stems at a 45% angle to allow for the greatest amount of water as possible can be absorbed.

Read more

Grow Your Own Food One Square Foot at a Time

For years I’d tried to grow a decent vegetable garden. It was the high cost of fresh basil—$3.50 for a few measly, wilted fresh basil leaves, ditto for a pound of somewhat reddish tomatoes and mostly pink strawberries—that prompted me to try.

I started with tomatoes, basil, and peppers (a salsa garden!). In no time, I added zucchini and cucumbers to my repertoire—even corn one year.

 

But I have to be honest. My harvests have ranged from disappointing to mediocre. Only that one year did my garden produce enough to share with others. I’m still trying to remember how I did that. So far, I’ve been unable to duplicate the results.

Uniquely talented

One thing I do quite well is weeds. I try not to take too much credit here, but I have to tell you I’ve never seen anyone else grow weeds quite as successfully as I do. And I can take them right through the season until they actually re-seed themselves for the next!

Oh, the effort

While I love the concept of a garden that’s not only nice to look at but actually produces something we can eat, I’m not 100% in love with the anxiety, pressure, guilt, backaches, leg cramps, and fear of needing hip replacements.

There has to be a better way

While in the past my efforts to grow a garden have been more of a hobby than a serious endeavor, I feel that changing. The high cost of food—specifically produce—tells me it’s time to get serious. We need to become more self-sufficient, but in a cost-effective way.

True cost? Yikes!

While I feel that I’ve mastered weeds, I’ve failed miserably in cost-effectiveness. I shudder to imagine the true cost of the pathetically tiny bounty I’ve garnered over the years.  That doesn’t mean I’m ready to give up on vegetable gardening, only that I’m ready for a new way to do it.


RELATED: Grow Tomatoes at Home Even If You Don’t Have a Garden


 

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