Archive for June, 2010

Pepper Wax for Critters

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

I bumped into some friends in the Pelham cafe this weekend who mentioned that their impatiens are being eaten by squirrels. They wanted to know if peppers would be a good deterrent for the squirrels, who apparently are eating their flowers up. I have never heard of squirrels eating impatiens so I googled “squirrels eating impatiens” and found mentions of squirrels and even cats eating impatiens. Both blog posts recommended spraying hot pepper on the plants to deter this from happening. Further researching the hot pepper spray, it was also mentioned as a deterrent for pigeons and rabbits.Rabbits are critters we are starting to see with regularity in Pelham and rabbits eat a wide variety of greens. A recent Snapple cap informed me that Australia was originally populated with 24 rabbits by the colonials and within 6 years there were 6 million rabbits on the continent. Though I take that with a grain of salt given that another cap claimed that one in eight Snapple “facts” are fake, the impressive ability of rabbits to reproduce is well known and so if we are seeing rabbits regularly in Pelham now, there will be a heck of a lot more of them in the near future, so we all better get busy with the pepper wax if we want to save our gardens.  Here is a popular recipe from the garden blogs that is also recommended for killing aphids and other sucking insects as well:

1 pint of hot peppers
1 bulb of garlic
2 tbs dish soap 
2tbs vegetable oil
1 5 gallon bucket and 4 gallons of water
cheese cloth

Puree the peppers and garlic then add a little water and puree more.
Add pepper mix to water and cover. Let the mix sit over night. Strain through cheese cloth into a 2 gallon garden sprayer. Add soap and oil.
Spray plants leaves stems and around the trunks on the ground. DO NOT Spray in the heat of the day or when the plants are in direct sun as it can burn the plants. Must be reapplied after rain or watering.

Read more: Crabbergirl’s Hot Pepper Spray Recipe | Controlling Pests & Diseases you don’t have the time to make your own, there are hot pepper waxes available through outletters like Amazon:

Good luck saving your impatiens, flowers, veggies and herbs from all those hungry animals!bunnies.jpg

How Much Should You Pay for Garden Materials

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Selecting Garden Materials: Quality vs. Price

Now more than ever, so many of our decisions are based on price. When making choices about garden areas here are some considerations:

1)      What will the space be used for? Who will use it and how?

2)      What are the materials of the house and pre-existing work done in the area?

3)      What colors, textures, “looks/styles” do you (and anyone else involved) like?

4)      Have you made a plan that considers and balances the above?

5)      How much money do you have for the project?

6)      What are the available choices given what’s already present?

7)      How much time will you get out of each choice and is it worth it to spend a little more now if it means longer term resolution to the use of the space?

If you can make it through the first three questions, it should be easy to make a plan and execute it from there. Plans don’t necessarily have to cover exact materials, they can be what we call “concept drawings” that designate “I want a retaining wall here, and a tree there” but not necessarily the materials that will go into the wall or the exact tree. Once you have a concept that is functional then comes the budget. This plus the pre-existing conditions will help with the material selection.  For example I have a back yard (currently being used to store lumber scraps and overgrown shrubs); I have come up with a plan/concept for it that involves planters, a patio area, moving and replanting existing material, enhancing the access to this area so we (our whole family) use it more.

Once you have a plan, as I do, there are usually  three budgetary ways to execute it, high, low, and medium material quality and prices. In my case, all the previous garden work from the last owner was low end in terms of materials. Not that they look cheesy, they just were not premium selections and being a landscape designer, I think have certain standards  (the joke being that inaction has caused this area to look worse than the lowest end solution). On the high end, you get quality materials that will in all likelihood last longer and look better let’s say stone walls which though lovely will add another material to compete with the stucco house and the pre-existing railroad tie retaining walls. On the medium, less so and less expensive-maybe block walls with stucco to match the house, and on the low end you get value but less curb appeal using a railroad tie wall. In my case, it seems like a no brainer, pick up the stucco or match the railroad ties but the price difference between these even these materials vs. the feeling and quality that each material exudes can make this a tough decision.

Having executed low cost choices and then redone them a few years later, I have kicked myself for not ponying up  extra money and doing it “right” the first time. However, ultimately, if you have considered the seven questions above, you are better off opting for the inexpensive solution rather than nothing at all. Just make sure you thoroughly understand the lifecycle of the materials you are considering and make sure you can make the chosen material work for your needs  today. Incremental improvement is still improvement after all.