Friday, March 29, 2013

Antiquing With Tea

Sometimes you just want the look of a vintage houseware or clothing item, but you either can’t find the real thing – or you can’t afford it. If you are starting with a white fabric/lace piece, tea is an inexpensive way to add instant age to fibers. Antiquing with tea couldn’t be easier. Practically all you need is a container filled with good, strong black tea.

You do also need a mordant.This is a substance (typically an inorganic oxide) that "fixes" (makes more permanent) the tea stain to the cloth. One readily available and easy to use mordant as alum (I found mine in the import spice aisle of a local Hispanic grocery store). Alum looks a little like overgrown rock salt, and it is just as easy as rock salt to dissolve into boiling water.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rue the Day

Rue, (also known asRutaor Common Rue or, more eloquently, ‘Herb of Grace'), is an interesting and lovely herbaceous shrub that will add a unique blue-green foliage accent to your garden.

A small evergreen semi-woody perennial that matures to about two feet tall and wide, rue has been used as a medicinal and "anti-magic" herb for centuries, and was even considered a reliable defense against witches. Keep that in mind as Halloween approaches!

Quite drought-tolerant once established, rue thrives in poor sandy soils and hot, dry sites that receive full sun. A bit of afternoon shade is probably a good idea in Southwest gardens, however. Excellent drainage is a must.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wolves in the Garden

Halloween is the time to ponder on all things creepy. And these large, hairy predators are no exception. They are serious about hunting their prey. They creep about the environs, often in the night, in search of tender morsels such as cockroaches. Don't be squeamish. These hairy hunters are a gardener's best friend. We may not enjoy the fare they do, but their steady appetite of insects makes for excellent biological insect control.

Wolf spiders are hunters.  They do not spin webs to capture their prey.  Instead, they prowl along the ground in search of insects.  They will also eat other spiders since they are cannibalistic.  Wolf spiders are found everywhere.  In the wolf spider family there are over two thousand species worldwide.  Add these to the rest of the worldwide spider population and you have a huge insect eating army.  Their predatory habits are crucial to the health of our gardens.