Picture Snob

August 3, 2011

The problems of an aging lawnmower overcome


I bought a Craftsman lawnmower, a 6.0 self propelled one, my first venture into self propelled. It's really been a good mower, but this year I've had it to the repair shop several times. Once at the beginning of the year for a tune up and blade sharpening and the next two times, it's been the transmission. The belt keeps slipping off, and once broke.

Last evening it happened again as I was mowing the high grass around the new house. It looks so much better now that it's been mowed. It looks as if it had a lawn. It's just an illusion. The high grass is sparce and there's lots of bare ground showing, but the mowed grass will help create a mulch for seeds to germinate. But the mower stopped and at that point I started considering a new mower.

I decided after reading up on mowers and looking at comsumer reports to find the best buy. So many choices! And lots of new features from electric start(tempting) to rear wheel drive(more traction) to self cleaning blade(not really so good--you have to hook up a hose to do the job). There was one feature I like which was the ability to remove the grass bag with the mower running because the wheel stop independently. It also means you can pick up a large rock or stick and remove it before runninng it over without having to start the engine again. All these new features cost of course and noticed that a lot of mowers were not carb compliant enough for Californa.

A friend came by and showed me how to put the belt back on the wheel which is simple enough to do. There were only three screws to undo the cover. But I decided on the replacement mower. This Husqvarna seems to have all the features I want.

At Husqvarna HU800HW (22") 160cc Honda Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

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August 2, 2011

A food dehydrator is a good investment


This is a simple and lightweight dehydrator that has five removable trays. You can dry a variety of delicious nutritious snacks with this great tool for preserving your garden bounty. Dried fruit is a tasty way to stave off hunger without consuming tons of calories.

This dehydrator is designed for efficient, even drying. It handles everything from fruit slices to beef jerky on five spacious, height adjustable trays. It's equipped with an electric fan and automatically rotating trays that spin in both directions. It is designed to prevent the overheating that eliminates food's vital nutrients.

The clear vented lid controls moisture and lets you monitor the process without disruption. Includes 5 stackable rotating trays, fruit leather sheet, drying screen and instructional cookbook.

At Rotating Food Dehydrator

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August 1, 2011

July 29, 2011

The Backyard Beekeepers Handbook for beginners


If you would like to start with bee keeping, this is a good beginners guide which should help you understand what's necessary and fun about keeping bees. The Backyard Beekeeper is now revised and expanded and makes the time-honored and complex tradition of beekeeping an enjoyable and accessible pastime that will appeal to gardeners, crafters, and cooks everywhere.

This expanded edition gives you plenty of information on "greening" your beekeeping with sustainable practices, pesticide-resistant bees, and urban and suburban beekeeping. It is also a handbook for harvesting the products of a beehive and a honey cookbook. The book contains general information on bees; a how-to guide to the art of bee keeping and how to set up, care for, and harvest honey from your own colonies; as well as tons of bee-related facts and projects.

You'll learn the best place to locate your new bee colonies for their safety and yours, and you'll study the best organic and nontoxic ways to care for your bees, from providing fresh water and protection from the elements to keeping them healthy, happy, and productive. Recipes of delicious treats, and instructions on how to use honey and beeswax to make candles and beauty treatments are also included.

At Backyard Beekeeper's Guide

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July 28, 2011

A Stainless Steel Compost keeper for kitchen


Here is a very good container to store kitchen waste until you can take it out to the compost pile. Food scraps can be kept in this odor-eliminating container. It works great for egg shells, peelings, coffee grounds. It ts made of stainless-steel and has a non-slip handle that ensures simple transport.

In addition, the unit's tight-fitting lid holds a charcoal filter for odor-free use for up to six months, plus offers a center knob for easy lid removal. The container will fit under the sink, but the durable stainless-steel construction makes it attractive enough to leave out on the countertop. The surface cleans quickly with a soapy sponge, and Three set's of replacement filters comes included. The container measures 7 by 7 by 11 inches.

At Stainless Steel Composter

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July 27, 2011

Growing Chinese vegetables in your backyard

Growing Chinese Vegetables in Your Own Backyard gives the interested gardener some plant-by-plant advice on planting, growing, and harvesting each vegetable. It includes more than 40 Chinese vegetables and herbs. We are all familiar with the snow pea but maybe not the Chinese pumpkin. For every plant, you will also find simple recipes and tips for culinary uses.

Many Chinese herbs and vegetables are very easy to grow in containers as well as in traditional beds. Container gardeners will find a section dedicated to plants that thrive in containers and specific advice on how to keep plants healthy, happy, and productive in their small gardens.

There is also a chapter on water gardens. Water chestnuts, taro, arrowhead, and Chinese lotus can be grown successfully in tubs as small as 25 gallons. Best of all, water gardens never need to be watered, mulched, or weeded. If you're interested in expanding your range of vegetables and love Chinese greens and exotic vegetables, this book will get you started with great advice and detailed instruction for both growing and cooking.

At Growing Chinese vegetables

Read More in: Plants

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July 26, 2011

Pac Choi is a perfect winter vegetable


This chinese cabbage will grow well planted in July or August and allowed to over winter in mild areas. It grows to about 10 inches and the leaves are mild and thick making them excellent for stir frys or salads while the stalk is thick and a good substitute for celery. The slight mustardy flavor of Pak Choi makes it a delightful addition to stir-fries, soups, noodle and meat dishes, and salads, if the young leaves are used

Pac Choi, sometimes spelled Bok Choy has spread throughout the world after being brought to Korea and Japan. It has been used in Chinese cooking since before the Ming dynasty. Pac Choi contains a high amount of Vitamin A and also some Vitamin C. It is easy to grow and will take a light freeze.

At Pac Choi

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July 22, 2011

Mid summer planting for fall harvest


After harvesting early-maturing vegetables such as salad greens, radishes, peas and spinach, gardeners can plant other crops in midsummer for fall harvest. Some root crops, greens and other vegetables can be successfully grown from late June, July or even August plantings. It's important to know the average first frost date in your area, in order to calculate when to plant these late vegetables so they'll mature before being killed by cold weather. Find the average first fall frost dates in your area.

Some vegetables will tolerate a fair amount of frost and keep growing even when temperatures are in the low forties. Others can't tolerate frost and stop growing in cool weather. Bush snap beans, for instance, mature in 45-65 days, but even a light frost (temperatures between 30º and 32ºF) will kill the plants. Kale, on the other hand, takes just as long to mature, but plants continue to grow when temperatures are cool, and can survive cold down to about 20ºF. So cool-season vegetables including kale and others in the cabbage family may be the best choice for mid-summer sowing, because an earlier-than-expected frost won't kill them before they're ready to eat.

Many of the cold-tolerant vegetables actually have better quality when grown in cool weather; it's said that the frost "sweetens" them. Carrots usually taste better after a frost and both broccoli and brussel sprouts withstand hard freezes.

At Organic Carrot seeds

Read More in: Plants

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July 21, 2011

How to attract birds to your yard and garden


Wildbirds.com has this advice about attracting birds to your yard for you to enjoy and identify:

Plants & Flowers that Will Attract Birds

Planting a few flowers around your yard will attract hummingbirds and butterflies this summer. Longer-term, planting fruit trees for food and evergreens for shelter will make your yard more attractive to the birds for years into the future.

Here are some plants that will attract birds:

Bachelor Button
Black-eyed Susan
California Poppy
Purple Coneflower

Small Trees
Cedar (Juniper)
Crab Apple
Eastern Hemlock
Japanese Maple

Shrubs and Vines
English Ivy
Virginia Creeper

Don't forget to provide safe places for birds to hide. Dense trees around the perimeter of your yard will attract birds. Make a diagram of your yard and plan how it will look in five years, ten years and beyond. A pile of brush in a corner of the yard will give smaller birds a place to hide from Hawks.

At Birding Basics

Read More in: Plants

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July 20, 2011

Oriental lettuces liven salads and stir frys


It's a good time now to replant lettuce and particularly the varieties of mustard greens that do well in hotter weather. You might try planting a short row every 15 days to have tasty salad all through the summer.

These same lettuce varieties can be used with other vegetables to add a spirited
tang in stir frys as well as salads. This packet of seeds contains Green Endive, Tango, Black Seeded Simpson, Oak Leaf, Arugula, Red Sails, Grand Rapids, Mizuna, and Red Salad Bowl. That's quite a collection of various tastes and textures.

At Gourmet Mesclun Blend

Read More in: Plants

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