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Beat the DEET – Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus

If you’re like me, the thought of using insect repellent containing the chemical DEET makes your skin crawl. Yuck! So, I was extremely happy to learn that the CDC has labeled oil of lemon eucalyptus an effective repellent of mosquitoes and ticks. In 2005 the CDC included the EPA-registered product containing synthesized lemon eucalyptus oil in its list of repellents of mosquitoes and ticks. Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) is also called PMD (chemical name: para-menthane-3,8-diol), which is the synthesized version of OLE. It is extracted from the leaves of waste distillate of Eucalyptus citriodora, a tree native to Australia. I’m surprised that I didn’t know about this alternative to DEET sooner. I’m so excited at the thought of being able to walk with...

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Joy

Meet Joy! She was born Monday evening, May 6th. Her mother, Willa, surprised us about a week before she was born and in her cowish ways told us she was expecting.  Her name is Joy because that is how I often feel when I watch the cows. They are peaceful and entertaining. When the new babies come it's a small miracle - just like all new life. Willa is a sweetheart and it seems like Joy will be a sweetie too. She and her momma are letting me pet her. They are so frail the first day but in a few days it's hard to hold them in one place. They just grow so fast.

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Two Ways to Compost

Cool composting is what most of us are doing in our backyards. When piles of feedstock, whether its manure or yard and food waste, are allowed to sit until they break down that is considered cool composting. Cool composting your own yard and food waste this way makes absolutely, wonderful compost that is filled with many microorganisms (keep noxious weeds and diseased plants out). You may want to surround the pile with a fine screen like chicken wire to keep the animals out. Cool composting manure is not an effective way to kill pathogens. If you want to compost manure it should be turned to aerate and the temperature should be monitored. Cool composting does not eliminate weed seeds either....

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Stop the Not-So-Fun Fungi in Their Tracks

Have you ever wondered why one day your seedlings look healthy and the next day they are falling over and drooping? It's caused by a disease from bad fungus known as damping off. Vermicompost can help prevent this disease from attacking your seedlings. This picture from Cornell's website shows seedlings that were grown with and without vermicompost. http://cwmi.css.cornell.edu/vermicompost.htm  This beautiful poster shows how vermicompost helps prevent damping off. Too much information? Don't worry, just add 10% vermicompost to your seed starting and potting mixes to give your seedlings that extra layer of protection.  

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