Another great idea from… The Summer of Living Outdoors on the Cheap For lovers of flower and herb crafts or for the gourmet cook, harvest herbs at the peak of their oil content in mid-summer. You can bundle and hang long stemmed pieces, but for the leaves and smaller cuttings, use a window screen to dry them. Simply strip off the leaves and scatter over a window screen in a single layer. Store flat where there is good air circulation but no sun. A shed or garage is ideal. The same goes for dried flowers for crafts and to garnish winter dishes. Arrange whole flowers or just the petals over the screen surface and set aside until dry. It is easier to use a number of smaller window screens rather than one large one which may become unwieldy. Plus, collecting a variety of them allows you to dry different plants at different time lengths or location. Old metal screens can rust so badly they quickly fall apart but aluminum screens will serve you far longer. Plastic mesh is also preferable because it doesn’t absorb heat. Wash your plants and flowers well before drying, and when you bring in this harvest by the end of fall you’ll be well supplied for the whole winter.
Another tip from The Summer of Outdoor Living on the Cheap It’s difficult to add insulation inexpensively to the walls of an older house, but there is a cheap way to reduce radiant heat gain and loss through your walls. Just add insulation by planting vines, which can be trained to cover your house walls evenly. Their shading effect is considerable, and the dead air space between the vine foliage and the exterior wall is also a very effective insulator. Taller shrubs planted up against the house also provide the benefits of shading and insulating.
More tips for The Summer of Outdoor Living On the Cheap The thick felt used to make hats is usually wool and good insulation material. It can be cut to the shape of your foot and inserted into the knee-high rubber boots (Wellingtons) used during the winter. You might wish to glue them in place. If cork isn’t handy, or if you wish to avoid using cork to protect the environment, wax candle stubs make perfect plugs for holes in garden pots or to stopper bottles of seeds or leftover liquid products for storage.
Another tip from The Summer of Outdoor Living on the Cheap… Ever wonder where to discard the innards, heads, and tails when cleaning fish? Just bury them in the garden at least 8 inches deep so cat’s won’t be lured by odors. Then allow at least a year of decomposition before you plant in the newly enriched soil. This is a very old idea practiced by Native Americans who farmed the flood plains of the Missouri River. They planted these same leftovers beneath their hills of corn, beans and squash. It’s the original poor woman’s fish emulsion, and best of all, it’s all organic too.
Tip: The Summer of Outdoor Living On the Cheap Thread spools were once made exclusively of wood, but now they are often plastic. They can be used for hanging tools in the garage or garden shed. Simply slide a long nail through the center hole of the spool and nail it to the wall. Do the same for a second spool and place it beside the first, allowing 1 to 2 inches between them. This is strong enough to hold the lighter flat hand tools such as leaf rake or broom. Got any other ingenious ideas for wood or plastic spools?
Another green tip for The Summer of Outdoor Living on the Cheap If your plants become chlorotic (their leaves turn yellow while the veins remain green), they may be suffering from iron deficiency. Don’t panic, because a cost-free supplement is at your fingertips. Old-time farmers used to gather up pieces of scrap iron such as wire, tin cans, or virtually anything that rusts and throw them in a bucket of water. When you have a good “rust tea,” add a quarter cup to a gallon of fresh water and pour on your chlorotic plants.
Another green tip for The Summer of Outdoor Living On The Cheap The legs of pantyhose make soft, flexible material for tying trees or vines to support stakes. Young trees become stronger more quickly if allowed to move around a bit while still attached to the stakes. Pantyhose allows this movement without causing abrasions on the bark. The legs also work well for tying climbing roses and grape vines. To weight a branch to encourage it to grow in an arch, add some smooth river stones to the pantyhose leg and tie it to the branch in lieu of a guy wire.