Monday, December 29, 2008

Building a Wood Ladder

This is a simple project that should only take a couple of hours to complete.

Start by clamping the two 12' - 2x4's. The rungs are notched into the 2x4 upright 1-1/8" so we need to mark out notches. The top and bottom rungs are 8" from the ends. This is the top of the upper rung and the bottom of the lower one. Offset these marks 2-1/2" (the width of the 2x3 rungs).

Now measure out for the rest of the rungs. Lay your tape measure on the 8" mark made earlier and measure 16" increments. These marks represent the center of the intermediate rungs. Offset these marks 1-1/4" on either side.

Square off the marks you have just made down the face of the 2x4 uprights. Square your marks across the top edge of the uprights as well.

Now it is time to cut the notches. Set the depth of your circular saw to 1-1/8". Start by making the cheek cuts of the notch then proceed to make a series of cuts about a 1/4" apart through the rest of the notch. Do this for all the notches.

Before removing the clamps use your hammer to break out the wood in the notches and clean up each notch with your chisel.

Unclamp the two uprights and set them aside. Now cut all the 2x3's into 19" lengths. Each rung is attached to the upright with exterior wood glue and deck screws.

Now attach them to the uprights starting with the top and bottom rung. Put some of the exterior wood glue into both notches and insert a rung. Make sure the rung in flush to the outside of the uprights. Secure in place with 4 deck screws. Continue this for the reminder of the rungs.

Protect with paint or stain and this ladder will last for years.

About the author: Dave Markel has helped hundreds of individuals improve their wood working skills. Visit his site at Willowbank Wood Working Plans

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Everything You Need To Know About Home-Growing Strawberries

From home-grown fruit plants come harvests which can best be appreciated by someone who has actually eaten them. One's first taste of a truly fine strawberry will soon point up the tremendous gap which exists between such a fruit and the run-of-the-field stuff sold at the supermarket.
Strawberry and Fruit Tree Weeder

The most important of all garden fruits is the strawberry. It more nearly resembles a vegetable in its culture than does any other fruit. It is not surprising that in many truck-gardening areas growers switch from vegetables to strawberries and back again almost at will. Although the strawberry plant is a perennial and beds can be made to last for more than one year, best commercial practice calls for a new planting each year. The plants are grown in rows and for the first season need the same cultivation as vegetable crops. The next season they produce their best fruit. They can be left for four more years, but true connoisseurs usually plow them under.
Strawberry Hummingbird Feeder-24 oz

In the so-called hill system of growing, the mother plant is kept pruned of all runners. This is the method by which the home gardener can produce the largest and best-flavored berries. The plants are usually set 12 inches by 24 inches apart in the bed and kept free of weeds. Usually, a rather heavy mulch is maintained on the bed. The plants are watched constantly to prevent runners from rooting. While very large berries are produced, production per square foot is probably lower than when other methods are used. As can be imagined, the labor required is considerable. About 100 plants are as many as most home gardeners care to cultivate when the hill system is used.

The variety used is important, since not all strawberries do well when grown in this way. The Alpine variety “Baron Solemacher” grown from seed will produce perhaps the finest-flavored berries of all. These have the aroma which makes wild strawberries such a delectable treat. Where it will grow, the English 'Royal Sovereign' produces superb berries by this system. These are of enormous size, deliciously rich and sweet.

The matted-row system is exactly the opposite of the hill method. The mother plants are set 24 inches apart in rows 36 inches apart. After fruiting, the mother plants are encouraged to produce all the runners possible for twelve inches on either side of the row. Any forming outside these limits are cut off. This produces a matted row about 24 inches wide, with a twelve-inch lane between the rows of plants.

One advantage of the matted row is that it provides plenty of plants for setting new beds. The best way to produce these is to use one of the new peat-and-fiber pots in which to root them. These pots come in three-inch round or three-inch square sizes, just right to produce a husky plant. The pot is filled with a rich composted soil and plunged under a likely-looking runner. By late August the rooted plant can be cut from the parent plant and used to plant a new row. Although fall-planted rows require protection for one additional winter, they are usually more productive than spring-planted rows. They can even be allowed to bear a light crop the first spring.

It is a well-accepted rule, however, that all spring flowers should be removed the first season following planting. This keeps the plant from fruiting. Once the spring bloom is over, the June bearers (which produce only one set of flower buds a year) will not bloom again.

The row system of planting is a compromise between the matted row and the hill system. Here, plants are set 24 inches apart in rows 36 inches apart. One runner is allowed to set in the row on either side of the mother plant. In theory, each runner is about eight inches long, so the finished row is made up of plants spaced eight inches apart. Sometimes a second set of runners is allowed to root at right angles to the row. This leaves the mother plant with four runners surrounding it. This is called the hedge-row system, since the bed resembles a series of triple hedges.

Strawberries can be planted in the fall if pot-grown plants are available. These are easy to plant, since they are set just as deep as they grew in the pot. Plants in clay pots will have to be knocked out (removed from the pot), but if in peat-and-fiber pots, they are planted pot and all. Bare-root plants can also be set in fall, but few nurseries have them available at that time. Plants available in spring are usually sold bare-root. They come tied in bundles. Before untying, cut the roots to a uniform length, about four inches below the soil line.

Cut off any dead or weak leaves, leaving only three or four of the new, healthy, young leaves to form the new top. Now the plant is ready to be set. In the average garden there is not much choice of location. The strawberry does not like heavy soils, and if only a clay loam is available, it should be treated as mentioned under soil. A gardener's loam as mentioned in that entry is the ideal toward which to strive, although strawberries will do well in lighter sandy loams.

One of the most important steps in planting is to set the plant so the dividing line between the roots and the top or crown comes exactly at the surface of the soil. The crown should never be buried nor should roots show above the ground. Firm the soil around the roots so the crown will not be pulled below the surface when the plants are watered. If dirt works into the crown, it may rot.

Regular weeding is important, as strawberry plants make poor competitors for vigorous weeds. Do not cultivate deeply close to the plants and rooted runners, as these are shallow-rooted. In regions where the thermometer can be expected to drop as low as 12 above zero regularly, a mulch is necessary. This is not, as many suppose, to keep the plants from freezing. On the contrary, it is to keep them frozen in early spring and prevent alternate thawing and freezing, which tend to pull the plants out of the ground. Being shallow-rooted, strawberries cannot resist the heaving action of frost.

In the South, a straw mulch is still desirable, largely to keep down weeds. It is of little value, however, if straw full of grain or marsh hay full of weed seeds is used. Clean, grain-free straw is the ideal material, if it can be had. An excellent substitute, much more readily available in most city and suburban areas, is excelsior. Most retail stores will be glad to give the home strawberry grower all he can use.

The mulching material is dumped right over the plants. By the time it settles, there should still be about three inches of it over the leaves in the North. In the South, the tips of the leaves should be showing. In spring, when the daffodils are just showing yellow in their buds, pull away the mulch from the tips of the leaves so they show through. The new leaves will grow right through the mulch, which later will keep the berries clear of the soil.

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homemade confectioners sugar.

Confectioners sugar, or icing sugar is simply made by whipping a cup of white sugar with a teaspoon of cornstarch in the bullet, in seconds you have confectioners sugar and you don't ever have to buy it at the store.
Fruit-Sweet & Sugar-Free: Prize-Winning Pies, Cakes, Pastries, Muffins, & Breads from the Ranch Kitchen Bakery

Also called icing sugar, I've made my own icing from my homemade icing sugar and homemade butter. It beats the bought stuff anytime!

save $ by making your own butter.

Do you already make your own whipping cream?
Just buy a container of whipping cream from the milk products fridges at the grocery store and whip it in the bullet or rotary beaters.
You'll have whipping cream in not time, you can add a little sugar and voila, ready to top your fresh strawberries.
Butter Sugar Flour Eggs: Whimsical Irresistible Desserts

Now if you want butter, simply keep on whipping, without added sugar, add some salt instead and whip it good!
You'll have butter when you find the heavily whipped cream starts to clump together and separate from some liquid which is the buttermilk.
From making your own butter, now you also have some buttermilk for those yummy buttermilk biscuits!
And you're saving $ because butter is quite expensive to buy.

Jon and I love making our own stuff, and we just do small portions so it gets used up quickly enough not to go bad.

homemade peanut butter.

Jon and I make our own peanut butter now.
We use peanuts that we need to shell, we sometimes shell other nuts as well like nuts from christmas nut bags.
We blend the nut with a little sugar and some butter, maybe a little milk depending on what consistency you want, we blend it all in the bullet. It's made in minutes and it tastes awesome.
We keep our homemade peanut butter in the fridge and it gets used up real quickly too!
We once made a batch of cookies out of our own homemade peanut butter, and the cookies were so tender and delicious, I wish I could give you one to try!
The Magic of Skippy Peanut Butter & Juicy Welch''s Jelly Gift Set

What You Need To Know When Making Homemade Aromatherapy Products

If you are one of those that are looking forward to aromatherapy either as a regular healing treatment or a lucrative business it is best if you familiarize yourself with everything about the process before you finally jump on the aromatherapy bandwagon. You can do this by educating yourself through reading aromatherapy references such as online aromatherapy sites, magazines, and books. For further knowledge about the practice, aromatherapy classes are now being offered in various online sites and in various well being centers that can give you hands-on experience and first-hand information. When making aromatherapy products at home, consider the following:1. Keep everything simple. This is ideal for starter because it will veer them away from creating grave mistakes. If you are just starting with your aromatherapy experiments, make sure that you stick first with products that have simple instructions. Start with the basics such as blending, measuring, and combining essential oils. Once you have mastered this process, you can now proceed to more advanced experiments using several varieties of essential oils. 2. Record you experimentations. Before you start with any experiment, make sure that you have a pen and notebook on hand so you can easily record everything about the experiment. What you need is to jot down important details such as ingredients, measurements, proportions, procedure, and processing. Take note of your observations and make sure that your jot down exact details so you can use it as a reference for your next experiment. 3. Be observant about the properties of the ingredients that you are using. This is very important because you will discover which ones go well with the others. Through intent observation, you can also you discover which are the ingredients that complement each other and those that do not. 4. Before breaking any rules, make sure that you have mastered them. This is very important especially in formulas. Before altering a specific formula for an aromatherapy product, make sure that you know everything about it first. This is to ensure that you know what will happen once you reduce or add a specific amount. 5. Never ask somebody to try on your aromatherapy product without getting his or her medical history. This is very important to ensure that there will be no complications or allergies in the person who will try the product. It is always best to try it first on yourself so nobody will blame you if the product is not successful.
This free article is provided by the Free Articles Directory for educational purposes ONLY! It cannot be reprinted or redistributed under any circumstances.
The Aromatherapy Bible