Editors' Musings

About this Blog

Your Old Farmer's Almanac editors occasionally share our reflections, advice, and musings—and welcome your comments. too.

Subscribe to this Blog

June 11, 2009

The peonies in my backyard always have ants crawling on the flower buds. A popular myth that ants “tickle the buds” or “lick the sugar” to help them open is not really true. The ants are attracted to the sweet nectar exuded on the buds, but the blossoms would open regardless of the ants' presence. The ants do provide protection—they attack other bud-eating pests by stinging, biting, or spraying them with acid and tossing them off the plant. By protecting their food supply, the ants help my... more

June 11, 2009

A new baby was delivered today. She has cream-colored skin and a black head. She's only about ¼ inch long. Her name is Cynthia, and she's a painted lady butterfly larva, or caterpillar. Her scientific name is Cynthia cardui, also known as Vanessa cardui. Painted lady butterflies are found throughout much of North America. The larvae and adults like thistles, members of the aster family, and many other plants. They often are seen in meadows and other open areas. We ordered Cynthia from a place... more

June 11, 2009

As my husband and I worked in the garden this weekend, I noticed the bees visiting my azaleas (okay, not my azaleas, but the neighbor's azaleas). I take extra notice when I see bees since hearing so much about their population declining. Experts are blaming pollution, pesticides, and parasites for bees' disappearance. Jose D. Fuentes is an environmental sciences professor at the University of Virginia. He pointed out that before the year 1800, a flower's scent could travel up to 4,000 feet, but... more

June 11, 2009

Being in a power outage can be very frustrating. Here is some advice that may help you the next time there is a storm and you lose power for a few or more days. To avoid darkness: Attach a strip of glow-in-the-dark tape to your flashlights to make them easy to find. Invest in headlamps. You will have your hands free and can even read a book in bed while wearing one. Stock up on kerosene lamps (visit secondhand stores and flea markets), lamp oil, and wicks before the next storm.... more

June 11, 2009

Since moving to New Hampshire a few years ago, I have been amazed by so-called Yankee frugality—and money-saving acumen. The word frugal can have a negative connotation in today's world but it really means “economic in the use of resources,” according to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. It's quite common for my neighbors to sun-dry clothes, give gifts wrapped in the funnies, and wear clothes with patches. Of course, you don't need to live in my neck of the woods to live simply and... more

June 11, 2009

Have you been intrigued by the increased chatter about root cellars? They seem to be experiencing a revival. I looked back at The Old Farmer's Almanac archives and was not surprised to see some useful information. Here are the highlights of what I learned. There are several great benefits to having a root cellar. Root cellars are an incredibly energy-efficient way to store root vegetables, including beets, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and turnips. You can keep root vegetables stored all... more

June 11, 2009

I think I learned something last weekend about growing tomatoes. A woman at the high school plant sale told me that tomato roots like warmth; they shouldn't be set deep in the soil. Then she picked up a six-pack of long, leggy tomato plants. She pointed at the “bumps” at the bottom of the stem. “Those are new roots,” she said. “Instead of digging down, when you set this plant, dig horizontally. Lay the root ball and the stem in the horizontal 'hole' up to the first leaf. Pull that leaf off.... more

June 11, 2009

I discovered composting rather late in life—but it's never too late to start or, if you get lazy, start up again! Here are tips on how to compost. Composting is a natural process that allows micro-organisms to break down live matter and turn it back into plant food to keep the cycle of life going. Growing up, my family used to spend hours raking leaves into those giant heavy-duty trash bags that take hundreds of years to biodegrade! What do you compost? Most anything organic. This includes:... more

Pages

Subscribe to