Waste Not, Want Not

In the Garden

A good source for free green gardening info…
Hey folks, go to www.parkseed.com and take a gander at their most current newsletter. It contains the first in a series entitled “Companion Gardening In The Vegetable Patch”. This week they’re focusing on members of the Brassica veggie family (cabbage), but the info given translates to many other crops as well. You’ll find some great suggestions for flowers and herbs that will help to attract beneficial insects and repel the nasty pests that wreak havoc in the garden. There is also a great section on how to design your garden plan for these plantings to be the most effective. 
Just one of many interesting things that I learned from the article…
Are Nematodes destroying your tomatoes and peppers? Did you know that there is a special marigold that has been developed just for the purpose of controlling nematodes? The folks at Park say to try their “Golden Guardian” marigold…in test crops, this little beauty actually destroyed more nematodes than chemical pesticides! 

Get your roses ready for spring… 
Here on the Texas gulf coast, Valentine’s Day is the traditional day to prune roses. It’s also time to give them a boost of the nutrients they’ll need to start blooming their little hearts out in a month or so. I always side dress my roses each spring with a handful or two of epsom salts and then periodically throughout the season, I bury chopped up banana peels around them. I’m not familiar with the science involved, but my roses seem to love bananas just as much as I do! 

Are your gaslights dimmer than usual or looking worn and dirty? 
It’s much cheaper in the long run if you establish a good maintenance/refurbish routine. To keep your light burning brightly, clean, change out the mantles and refurbish at least once a year. For under $20.00, your gaslight will look like new again!
First and foremost, refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on removing all parts, cleaning instructions, replacing mantles, etc. If your owner’s manual conflicts in any way with what you are reading here…stick with the info that came with your gaslight. This process has worked beautifully for us over the years, but I cannot guarantee that it will be the best way to go for your particular gaslight. Again, refer to your owner’s manual before you do anything. PLEASE!
Try to start early in the day to allow for cool down and drying times. Here’s what you’ll need for the job:
Replacement Mantles (the gauzy thing that burns) 
You’ll find them at your hardware store or any retailer that sells gaslights or built-in gas grills. Be sure to get the correct size! You will need to replace all mantles. We always have extra mantles on hand just in case. 
Replacement Glass Panes (if necessary) You’ll find these at the same locations shown above. 
Rust-oleum Specialty High Heat spray paint 
The great thing about this paint is that it resists heat up to 1200F and it has several applications around the home…use it on your outdoor grill, wood stoves and radiators. The downside is that it comes in a limited range of colors- antique white, black and forest green. You’ll find it at Target, Wal-Mart or any hardware store that normally sells Rust-oleum products. 
Mild Detergent & Soft Scrub Brush 
I like to use dishwashing liquid for this purpose. It’s mild enough that it won’t wreck any plantings that you might have in the near vicinity and it won’t affect the painted surfaces of your gas light.
Turn off the gas to the gaslight. Your owner’s manual should tell you how to do this. Some gaslights have a shut-off valve right on the gaslight. Others may have to be turned off the meter. Consult with your gas company if you do not know how to do this!
Allow everything to cool down for about 1 hour or until all parts of the gaslight are completely cool to the touch. 
Remove the top, then carefully remove the glass panes. Replace any that are cracked or broken. Scrub the glass panes in hot soapy water. You might have to use a plastic scrubber to remove the baked on residue from the flame. Thicker residue may require lightly scraping the surface of the glass with a paint scraper. (Be careful not to scratch the glass!) Persevere! You’ll be astonished at how much more illumination you’ll have when the panes are clean. (P.S. The more often you clean them, the easier they will be to clean.) 
Allow to air dry or dry thoroughly with a lint-free towel. Set aside. 
Using protective gloves, remove the mantles and dispose of according to manufacturer’s instructions on the package of new mantles. 
Gently remove any loose paint or rust with a wire brush or sandpaper. Lightly sand glossy surfaces. 
Dust or vacuum well, removing all trash and dirt that may have accumulated in or on the gaslight. (I have found that my 1000 watt blow dryer works wonders for this.) 
Wash the gaslight pole and top with hot, soapy water. Rinse thoroughly. Wipe the inside of the burn chamber with a damp rag until clean. Allow all parts to dry thoroughly. 
Wrap the mantle mountings with newspaper and tape to secure. (You don’t want paint to get on these!) 
Read all instructions on the Rust-oleum can before starting to paint. According to the instructions on the can, apply several thin coats, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next coat. If you do this annually, two light coats will probably give you good coverage. Don’t forget the top…it bears the brunt of the flame and usually needs the paint the most! 
Remove the newspaper and tape used to cover the mantle mounts. 
Allow to dry thoroughly…overnight is preferable. This gives the paint time to thoroughly dry and all fumes to dissipate. 
Place all of the glass panes in their slots except one. (It’s easier to light the mantles from the side than from the top!) 
Replace the top of the gaslight. 
Install the new mantles according to package directions. 
Simultaneously turn on the gas and carefully light the mantles. Try to use a “matchlight” type butane wand instead of matches to do this. Their flame is less likely to be blown out by the wind. 
Replace the last glass pane.
Stand back and admire your hard work! 

Picking up good buys on “Garden Jewelry”…
I love to pick up good bargains on “garden jewelry”. Michael’s (a craft store chain here in the US) carries inexpensive metal trellises and garden arches for use in outdoor functions such as weddings. At the end of the growing season here, these arches go on sale for well under $10.00 each. For the price, they add wonderful charm to a garden gate or walk. They’re not substantial enough to bear the weight of a rambler rose, but they are great for other climbing roses and vines such as Clematis, Moonflowers, Climbing Hydrangeas, Boston Ivy, Honeysuckle, Trumpet Vine, Morning Glories, Hyacinth Bean, etc. Before I set out new plantings each spring, I polish my arches up with a good cleaning and a couple of coats of Rust-oleum to fend off deterioration and rust. So far, these $4.00 arches have graced my garden for six years and they still look absolutely charming! 

Extend the life of your garden structures…
Rust and rot at the ground line can subtract years of utility from your metal or wooden garden growing structures. Before installation, fit them with rubber boots to keep their feet dry! 
Here’s what you’ll need for the job:
15 inch lengths of PVC pipe in the same diameter as the “feet” of your garden structure
PVC caps for ends of pipe
PVC glue for attaching caps to pipe ends 
Galvanized bolts that are long enough to go through the PVC pipe. 
Companion locking washers & nuts or cap nuts to secure the PVC pipe to the feet of your structure. 
Clear Acrylic sealant
Electric Drill Press
Clamps to secure everything while drilling
Planer (for wooden structures only)
Hack saw or PVC cutter to cut PVC pipe to length
Measure the diameter of the “feet” of your structure. Purchase your PVC pipe in a diameter that is as close to this measurement as possible. (The square feet of a wooden structure can be easily planed down at each corner to fit into the round PVC pipe.) You will need a 15 inch length of PVC for each foot on your garden structure. 
Insert each foot of your structure down into a section of PVC pipe to a depth of 4 or 5 inches. Designate one side of the structure to be the back side. Clamp down securely and drill a hole through the PVC pipe and the foot. Thread a galvanized bolt through the hole and tightly secure with a nut. (For appearances sake, nuts should all be on the back of your structure .) 
Lay a generous bead of acrylic sealant around the top of the PVC pipe so that moisture cannot penetrate any spaces between the pipe and the foot of your structure. 
Glue a pipe cap on the end of each PVC foot. This will prevent ground water from rising in the pipe and damaging the foot of your structure. Seal top of cap with a generous bead of acrylic sealant.
Complete entire process for each foot of the structure . Allow sealant to harden and set overnight before installing in the garden.
To install, insert the PVC pipe feet into the ground to a depth of 9 to 10 inches. This should be deep enough to support your structure yet will allow a couple of inches clearance between your structure and the ground surface.