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The 9 Best Places To Road Trip Through Fall Foliage

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Sep 22, 2018

fall-foliage-view

Are you in the mood for a road trip? If so, this is the perfect time of year to travel somewhere new to see the leaves turning brilliant yellows, reds, purples, and oranges. Today, I have some fun ideas for if you'd like to get behind the wheel with your family and set out to admire some beautiful foliage.

The Nine Best Places to Road-Trip Through Fall Foliage

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina. If you want to take a road trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you have an opportunity to see brilliantly colored leaves from mid-October to early November. Mountain maples, American beech, sugar maples, and hickories are just a few of the trees in this tremendous park.
  2. Northwest Ohio, Route 65. This drive takes you on a 50-mile tour of the lovely changing leaves in northwest Ohio, starting on Route 65 and going on to routes 110 and 424. This winding road runs beside the Maumee River from Perrysburg to Defiance, Ohio. Be sure to look for Mary Jane Thurston State Park along the way! The leaves are at their peak color here in late October.
  3. Hocking Hills State Park in Southeast Ohio. Travel to Logan, Ohio, and drive through Hocking Hills State Park to admire the changing foliage all around you. This short 15-mile jaunt runs on routes 664 and 374. There is a walking trail at Ash Cave if you want to get out and walk a bit. Late October is the peak time for leaves around Hocking Hills State Park.
  4. Michigan's Gold Coast. Starting at Traverse City, you can see the changing colors of maple and oak trees as you cruise along for 100 miles near Grand Traverse Bay. I like the idea of traveling to a place to see leaves along with a lot of other interesting sights like windmills, lighthouses, and fishing towns. Mid- to late October is the best time to see leaves in peak color.
  5. Wolf Pen Gap Road in North Georgia. The 11.8 miles of this curvy road are bordered by trees with leaves at their peak color in early November. Be sure to take a look at Lake Trahlyta along your route.
  6. Trap Pond State Park in Delaware. The reds, golds, and yellows of the leaves in this Laurel, Delaware, park will astound you! They are at their peak from mid-October to early November. Enjoy the endless sights throughout this 3,600-plus-acre park.
  7. Scenic Fairfield County in Connecticut. No leaf-peeping season is complete without a visit to Connecticut. Did you know the state has the longest season for fall foliage? Take the Scenic Fairfield County tour and get your fill of beautiful leaves for 115 miles. The best time to take this specific road trip is from mid-October through the end of the month.
  8. Vermont Green Mountain Byway. This 220-mile road trip travels through Waterbury and Stowe. You'll see an abundance of colorful leaves along with a collection of villages, quaint shops, pastures, and other picturesque scenery. The leaves are at their best from the last week of September into early October.
  9. Marinette County Waterfall Tour in Wisconsin. A 125-mile loop takes you on a drive where you can observe changing leaves on elms, birches, maples, and more. Plus, there are 14 majestic waterfalls, including Caldron and High Falls, to see along the way. The peak time for leaf color in this area runs from late September to early October.

No matter where you roam, make sure you consult the fall foliage map to determine the peak time for changing leaves. Thanks for reading. - Alan

8 Gardening Trends We Saw Grow Over Summer 2018

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Sep 22, 2018

hens-and-chicks

The summer of 2018 yielded a lot of popular gardening trends. Did you try to grow some different vegetables or flowers in your garden this summer? Or maybe you challenged yourself by starting a whole new type of garden. Check out eight of the most popular gardening trends from this summer.

  1. Vertical Gardens. This unique style of garden was a special favorite during the summer of 2018. Starting a vertical garden is as easy as setting a wooden pallet against a wall and filling its various levels with soil and your favorite flowers. Many people like them because it brings a garden to eye level, making it even more enjoyable.
  2. A Garden With Water Features. The soothing sounds of water fountains in a garden were very popular this summer. Whether it's a large, Roman-inspired garden fountain with a small bowl overflowing into a larger one beneath it or a simple birdbath with a solar powered fountain, both humans and birds can enjoy their presence in a garden. I especially like this gardening trend. You could even go as far as creating a small fish pond with a soothing trickle of water, lily pads, and, of course, a collection of colorful fish.
  3. Succulent Gardens. A succulent garden brings color and drama to a yard without requiring a lot of maintenance. Woolly senecio, burro's tail, hens and chicks, and panda plant are just a few of the popular types of succulents. They can be planted in attractive containers such as an old fountain, clay bowls, or even a group of elegant garden urns.
  4. Ground Cover Doubling as a Lawn. Planting ground cover such as blue star creeper, miniature brass buttons, or creeping phlox provides more interest and color than stretches of grass around a patio or in between stepping stones. This was a particularly popular trend for people who wanted to reduce their grass-cutting duties this summer.
  5. A Dining Area/Garden. Many people decided to set up a dining area in the midst of their garden this summer. Just imagine a table complete with tablecloth, dishes, and silverware set up beneath a pergola or in a shady area of a flourishing garden. This is the perfect way to dine al fresco while enjoying your beautiful flowers.
  6. Vegetable Planters. This trend puts a spin on a traditional vegetable garden. Instead of having a vegetable garden tucked into one corner of their yard, many people planted their veggies in a collection of large, elegant planters. One planter could be dedicated to growing lettuce, while another holds tomatoes or banana peppers. Keep this trend in mind and consider putting your vegetable garden into the spotlight next summer!
  7. Eco-Gardening. Eco-gardens were a popular choice in the summer of 2018. They are low-maintenance, beautiful gardens made up of plants and flowers that need very little water. Plants and flowers are grouped together according to the amount of water they need so water won't be wasted on plants that don't need as much.
  8. Small Gardens. Small gardens were popular in the summer of 2018 and will continue to be a favorite with many green thumbs. They allow you to be as creative as you want with your garden. Making a small garden can be as simple as planting flowers in pots and containers and placing them in one area on your patio. Not only can you be creative with the types of flowers you plant, but you can be creative with the sizes, shapes, and colors of the pots you put them in.

I hope some of these trends will stir up even more imaginative ideas for future summer gardens! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: gardening trends 2018

The Do's and Don't of Mowing Your Lawn In The Fall

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Sep 19, 2018

metal-garages-storage-building

Alan's Factory Outlet metal garages are custom built in the size, layout and color you want.  This metal garage storage building is built with a vertical style roof, one garage door, two walk in doors and 3 windows with evergreen color sides. 

With the end of summer upon us, you may be ready to roll or drive that lawnmower back into your storage shed so it can get some well-deserved sleep during the cold weather months. Not so fast! Fall is the time to prep your lawn so it can withstand the winter months and be ready to start growing again when springtime arrives. Today, I have some do's and don'ts to keep in mind when it comes to autumn lawn care.

The Do's of Mowing Your Lawn in the Fall

  • Do cut your lawn so the grass measures about 2½ inches tall. Three inches is the absolute tallest it should be. Grass of this length is not likely to fall victim to snow mold during the winter.
  • Do water your lawn if you receive less than an inch of rain in a week. Keep up the watering routine until the end of October to keep your lawn in good condition. I suggest putting a rain gauge somewhere in your yard so you get an accurate reading of each week's rainfall total.
  • Do aerate your lawn so when you put fertilizer on it in the fall, the nutrients have easy access to the roots of the grass.
  • Do rake the leaves covering the grass in your yard. A layer of leaves on a lawn prevents sunlight and water from reaching the grass. Plus, fungus can grow beneath the leaves and harm your grass.
  • Do stop mowing when the grass stops growing instead of stopping on a random date on the calendar.

The Don'ts of Mowing Your Lawn in the Fall

  • Don't mow your grass to shorter than 2½ inches. Cutting grass too short can prompt it to go into early hibernation or cause it undue stress as the cold weather moves in.
  • Don't cut your grass to 2½ inches in height on a single day. Instead, cut your lawn once every six or seven days so you gradually reduce its height to 2½ inches before the cold weather arrives. Only trim a third of your lawn's length at one time so you don't cause it stress.
  • Don't use a mulching mower to remove the leaves from your yard once they start to pile up. It's more efficient to use a rake because wet leaves are heavy and stick together, making it hard for a mulching mower to do the job.
  • Don't forget clean to your mower and otherwise prepare it for storage over the winter so it will be ready to go next spring. You may even want to find a waterproof cover for it in addition to putting it in your shed over the winter.
  • Don't mow your lawn after the first frost. After the first frost, your grass goes dormant, and mowing it will cause major damage to the lawn.

Give your lawn a leg up for next spring by taking proper care of it this fall. Just imagine how happy you'll be in the springtime knowing that you contributed to the beauty and health of your grass. Thanks for reading. - Alan

The Top 10 Apples Ranked By Sweetness

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Sep 14, 2018

granny-smith-apples

It's so nice to wander the grocery store's produce department or local farmers' market at this time of year looking at the displays of colorful, sweet apples. You likely have a few favorite apples you enjoy in salads and desserts. Of course, there are many apples that are perfectly delicious to eat right off the tree! Today, I'm ranking apples from the tartest to the sweetest. Enjoy!

10. Jonagold. These apples have a tangy, sharp taste with a sweet scent. They were originally grown in New York but also grow in Washington state and across the central area of the United States. Tangy Jonagolds are perfect for cookies, pies, and salads.

9. Winesap. The most suitable adjectives to describe Winesap apples are "spicy" and "tart." This is why many apple ciders are made with Winesap apples. These apples are grown mostly in the eastern part of the United States.

8. Melrose. This fragrant apple is known for its tart taste, but that hasn't stopped it from earning the title of the official apple of Ohio. These apples can hold their shape in an apple pie recipe, making them great for baking. That's good because there's nothing worse than an apple pie with mushy apples; don't you agree?

7. Granny Smith. Whether it's at your local farmers' market or the grocery store, these beautiful green apples are hard to overlook. They are tart and tangy, which makes them very popular for baking. Though the Granny Smith is perfectly at home in American apple pie, this apple originates from Australia. They made the trip to America in the 1960s, when they were grown on farms in Washington state.

6. Cortland. The Cortland apple has a tartness to it that provides a little kick when you bite into it. The white flesh of this apple stays fresh for longer than many apples, making them a popular choice to eat raw. They are grown in the eastern part of the United States.

5. Golden (Yellow) Delicious. A sweet tasting apple that is great to put into desserts or salads, the Golden Delicious also freezes well if you want some slices to eat later on. Golden Delicious are grown in the midsection of the country.

4. Rome Beauty. The appearance of this apple is true to its name. It has a mild sweetness and a perfect shape. They grow mostly in the Midwest. I think a Rome Beauty would be a great addition to a child's lunchbox for school or an adult's work lunchbox, for that matter!

3. Gala. If you make a recipe with gala apples, you don't have to add extra sugar because these apples come with their own sweetness. They are excellent for apple pie, cookies, muffins, and other desserts because they hold their shape during the cooking process. Gala apples originated in New Zealand in 1934, but they're relatively recent to our country, having been introduced commercially in the 1970s.

2. Honeycrisp. This apple has a distinctively sweet taste and is a favorite that is only around for a few months in the autumn. These hardy apples originated in Minnesota. Honeycrisps are memorable in pies, sauces, and salads as well as by themselves.

1. Fuji. Put together American favorite the Red Delicious and the Virginia Ralls Janet and you get the Fuji apple! Fujis are full of sweetness, earning them the number one spot on my list. They originated in Japan in the 1930s and arrived in America during the 1960s. Many are grown in Washington state. Fuji apples are a favorite for eating raw. They can also dress up any salad, sauce, or dessert recipe you have in mind.

If you'd like to add more to your apple knowledge, check out our chart featuring apple varieties. You're sure to discover some new ones to try! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: apples ranked by sweetness

The Fall Gardening Guide Part 2: Southern States

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Aug 31, 2018

carrots

'Vegetables in the Wintertime'

If you live in a southern state, you know the intense heat of the summer months can overwhelm some types of vegetables. You notice that your lima beans, eggplant and hot peppers are flourishing in your summer garden, while your spinach and lettuce are withering away under the sun.

Good news! The warm fall and winter temperatures in the south make it easy to create a flourishing vegetable garden late into the year. This week, I have some helpful tips for creating a fall and winter vegetable garden if you reside in a southern state.

What to Plant in the Fall and Winter

In your fall/winter vegetable garden be sure to reserve space for carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, lettuce, English peas, radishes, beets, and spinach. These are all cool season vegetables containing vitamins A and C along with lots of other nutrients.

When to Plant

When you plant your vegetables depends upon the first frost date in your area. As an example, if you live in Decatur, Georgia you can plant your beans, carrots, Brussels sprouts and broccoli in late August. You can begin to harvest them in October. Just imagine yourself harvesting carrots from your Georgia garden in December! Or, if you live in Florida, there many types of vegetables to plant in October that you can enjoy in the wintertime. Planting at the right time in your southern state can help you make a success of your fall/winter garden.

Tips for Maintaining a Fall/Winter Garden in the South

Watering

Though the weather is cooler in the fall and winter, your garden still needs water. If you don't get two or three inches of rain in a week, be sure to water your garden to keep it in good health. Remember, it's best to water your garden in the morning so the water can soak into the roots of your vegetables.

Choose an Area with Lots of Sunlight

Be sure to put your garden in an area of your yard that receives the most sunlight during the day. You want to give all of your vegetables at least six hours of full sunlight so they can start to develop strong roots before the first frost arrives.

Organize Your Garden with Labels

Maybe you have a collection of labels for your spring garden. Perhaps you have colorful signs for your tomatoes, eggplants, hot peppers and more. Why not make some special labels for your fall/winter garden? I suggest getting your kids or grandkids in on the project by asking them to color your labels and attach each one to a small post, so you can stick them in your garden soil.

Check Your Soil

Set up your fall/winter garden for success by testing the soil before planting. You can get a testing kit at your local home and garden store. You may find that you need to mix some mulch or fertilizer into the soil so it's in tip-top shape for your veggies.

The Benefits of Creating a Fall/Winter Garden

  • Fewer insects will invade your garden during this non-traditional gardening time.
  • Enjoy reduced weed growth in your garden.
  • You get the chance to eat delicious, homegrown vegetables during the cooler months of the year.

When it comes to growing vegetables in the fall and winter, living in a southern state has its advantages. So, give it a try and thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: fall gardening southern states

The Fall Gardening Guide Part 1: Northern States

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Aug 31, 2018

salad 2

If you live in the north, you already know the main growing season is during the summer. But there are many vegetables you can plant now that will grow in the fall and into winter. Today, I've got some information about how to grow vegetables in the fall and winter if you live in a northern state.

Scout Out the Best Location

The first step to creating a fall garden in the north is to find the best location. Look for a place in your yard that receives the most sunlight throughout the day. Remember, the days of autumn get shorter, so you want your fall vegetable plants to get as much sun as they can.

Prepare the Ground

Make sure the location you choose for your garden has well-draining soil. Put down a light layer of mulch in your garden to provide an extra dose of nutrients in preparation for your veggies.

Planting at the Right Time

When it comes to planting a fall garden, timing is very important. You want to plant your seedlings about 30 days before the first frost. In addition, it's a smart idea to choose vegetables that can flourish despite the frost. Some examples of cold weather vegetables include leeks, carrots, collards, parsnips, lettuce, and cabbage. Spinach is another vegetable that is great for growing in the cold weather. I like the thought of enjoying a delicious spinach salad with crumbled blue cheese even as the leaves are falling outside my window. Getting a planting calendar for your state can help you to plan out your fall garden. Plant vegetables that mature quickly so they have a better chance of surviving the dropping temperatures.

Watering

Water your vegetables thoroughly about two days before the first frost. This can reduce the stress your plants experience with the frost. Plus, the moist soil around your plants can hold more heat, which will contribute to the survival of your vegetable plants during this risky time.

Protection

There are things you can do to protect your tender vegetable plants during the cold season. One thing you can do is place a few planting stakes around your vegetable plants. Then, drape a sheet over the stakes to create a canopy. Be sure the edge of the sheet touches the ground but does not touch the plants themselves. Put a large sheet of plastic over the fabric sheet to keep even more heat inside. I suggest attaching the plastic sheet to the fabric sheet with wooden clothespins. If you have very tender seedlings that are struggling against the cool winds, give them some cover. Get a gallon plastic milk jug and cut the bottom off. Place it over your seedling and push the bottom edge of the jug into the ground. This will afford your seedling some sturdy protection.

Remember, just because the summer season is coming to a close doesn't mean you have to stop your gardening activities. Get a plan for some beautiful fall and winter veggies!

In my next post, I'll pass along some advice for growing autumn and winter vegetables in the southern states. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: fall gardening northern states

8 Ways To Utilize A Carport That Doesn't Involve A Car

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Aug 27, 2018

8-ways-to-utilize-a-carport

Everybody knows a carport is a great place to put your car to keep it out of the rain and snow. But that's not all it's good for! In fact, there are plenty of ways to use your carport that don't involve a car or a truck. Consider some creative new ways to use your carport.

  1. Space for a Party! Just think of it: You're hosting a birthday party for a child or grandchild when it starts to rain. Is the party canceled? No way. Set up your chairs, tables, refreshments, games, and more under your carport. It serves as convenient shelter for picnics, family reunions, anniversary celebrations, or any other occasion that calls for a party.
  2. A New Home for Your Bicycles, Lawnmower, and More. Maybe you have a car or two taking up a lot of room in your garage. If so, your carport is an excellent place to store bicycles, lawnmowers, wheelbarrows, motorcycles, and other items that won't fit in the garage but still need protection from the elements.
  3. A Poolside Retreat. If you have an in-ground or above-ground pool in your backyard, a nearby carport would serve as an excellent place for family members and friends to keep an eye on young swimmers. You could place some lawn chairs, a chaise lounge, and a table beneath the carport for people who want to sit outside. Don't forget to bring out a cooler full of delicious snacks for everyone to enjoy! This is a great place to put rafts, inner tubes, and pool noodles as well.
  4. An Environmentally Friendly Structure. Put solar panels on your carport to instantly turn it into a source of green power. If you have an electric car, you can charge it using solar power drawn in by your carport roof.
  5. An Outdoor Retreat. During the warm weather months, you can turn your carport into your private outdoor retreat. Put a small sofa and chairs in your carport to relax on. Bring a radio out so you can listen to the baseball game or bring out your laptop to watch a DVD. No outdoor retreat is complete without a table for snacks. If you have a nearby electrical outlet, you can move a small refrigerator out to your carport for cold drinks. I like the thought of sitting in a comfortable chair and enjoying the breeze while staying out of the sun; don't you?
  6. Storage for Agricultural Equipment. Carports come in many sizes with a variety of roof styles. If you have a farm with tractors, an ATV, and a livestock trailer along with other similar types of equipment, you can use your carport as safe storage space.
  7. An Outdoor Home for a Pet in the Summertime. If you have a dog that likes to stay outside during the warm weather months, a carport can provide sturdy shelter. Put a soft dog bed as well as your dog's food and water bowls under the carport. Be sure to bring your dog inside when the weather turns cold.
  8. A Clubhouse for the Kids. Forget the traditional tree house. Your kids or grandkids can use your carport to meet, chat, laugh and have some fun. You can get an inexpensive area rug for the flooring as well as some soft chairs for them to sit in. The kids can hang some posters from the posts of the carport to give it a more personal touch!

Ready to give your carport a fresh look and a new purpose? Have fun, and thanks for reading. - Alan

What To Do With Extra Garden Vegetables

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Aug 27, 2018

tomatoes-ripe-in-garden

This is the time of year when gardens are brimming with ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, green beans, and more. You might be grateful for a flourishing vegetable garden, but for a lot of people, there are just too many tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, etc., for your family to eat! But don't worry: There are plenty of excellent ways to use the extra vegetables you're harvesting from your garden. Take a look at these ideas.

Donate Your Veggies

Do you have a shelter that serves homeless people in your town or city? If so, think about donating a bag or two of fresh vegetables from your garden. They can be used to make meals for the people staying or working at the shelter.

Give Them to Your Neighbors

Maybe you have a neighbor who doesn't have enough space or time to create a vegetable garden. Fix up a basket of fresh tomatoes, zucchini, beans, and more for your neighbor. They are sure to appreciate the fresh vegetables for salads, entrees, or even snacks. Maybe it will inspire them to create a container garden next spring!

Try Some New Recipes

Use your extra vegetables to add to the list of recipes you know. Make some tomato bread, or whip up some zucchini spaghetti for you and your family. Take advantage of all of these extra fresh vegetables to make something you don't normally prepare for dinner.

Save Them for Later

Consider canning your vegetables so you can enjoy them later. Canning vegetables gives you the chance to teach your children this valuable skill. If they are too young to help with the actual canning process, I suggest getting them to write the labels and stick them on the jars. Freezing your fresh vegetables is another way to keep them until a later time. With a little effort, you can enjoy the benefits of your vegetable garden throughout the year.

Harvest the Seeds for Next Year

Slice up some of your extra vegetables to get the seeds. Dry the seeds, put them in an airtight container, and place the container in a dark, cool place like your garden shed. Be sure to label the containers so you know what types of seeds you have. You can plant the seeds in your garden next spring. The skins and other parts of your extra vegetables can go into your compost pile.

Make Some Extra Cash

If you're the entrepreneurial type, you may want to set up a roadside stand to sell your extra vegetables. You can separate them into wooden bins or baskets with a handwritten label for each one. Or you may want to bring some small baskets and put several vegetables in each one, so you end up getting rid of all of your inventory. If you have a farmers' market nearby, ask if they have some extra space for a small vegetable stand. The people who buy your extra veggies will get additional nourishment, and you'll get a little cash in your pocket.

I hope you put your extra vegetables to good use this summer and fall. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Backyard Plants You Didn't Know Were Poisonous

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Aug 7, 2018

foxglove

A backyard brimming with colorful flowers and plants is a beautiful sight. But did you know that some of the plants in your backyard could be poisonous to you or your pets? Today, I'm taking a closer look at some common backyard plants that are poisonous to eat. Also, I have some information on common plants that can cause a rash if you touch them.

Plants That Are Poisonous to Humans

  • Water Hemlock: Water hemlock is one of the most poisonous plants in North America. If even a little bit of this plant is ingested, it causes a rapid pulse, tremors, muscle twitches, and convulsions.
  • Foxglove: The nickname of this plant is "dead man's bells," so it's no surprise that every part of foxglove, including its flowers, seeds, stem, and leaves, is poisonous. Ingesting this plant causes vomiting, diarrhea, and even delirium.
  • Rhubarb Leaves: Ingesting rhubarb leaves causes symptoms such as stomach pains, difficulty breathing, eye pain, red urine, weakness, and a burning throat. These symptoms usually occur about an hour after eating the leaves.
  • Buttercup: This deceptively beautiful flower can cause nausea, convulsions, and a burning throat if ingested. The sap, flowers, and seeds of this plant are all poisonous.
  • Mistletoe: Every part of this seasonal plant is poisonous, including its berries. Nausea, stomach pain, fever, and hallucinations are just some of the symptoms of mistletoe poisoning.

What to Do if You Ingest One of These Plants

If you ingest any of these plants or flowers, seek medical attention immediately. Bringing a sample of the plant to the ER can be helpful in getting a diagnosis and treatment. Fast treatment can sometimes be the difference between life and death.

Plants That Are Poisonous to Animals

  • Daffodils: Daffodils are a lovely sign of spring, but it's best to keep your dogs and cats away from these hardy flowers. Excessive salivating, tremors, vomiting, and heart problems are all symptoms that your dog or cat may have been eating daffodils. I suggest avoiding daffodils in your garden if you have a dog that loves to dig up bulbs!
  • Lilies: Many types of lilies are poisonous to dogs and cats, including lily of the valley, peace lilies, calla lilies, and amaryllis. If you suspect your dog or cat has eaten one of these lilies, look for symptoms such as vomiting, extreme lethargy, diarrhea, and excessive thirst.
  • Tulips: Tulips are friendly spring flowers, but they are poisonous to dogs and cats. If your dog or cat has excessive drooling, lethargy, abdominal pain, dizziness, or difficulty breathing, it may have ingested tulips.
  • Wisteria: Wisteria is poisonous to dogs and cats. Some of the symptoms of wisteria poisoning include confusion, repeated vomiting, dehydration, stomach pains, and diarrhea.

What to Do if Your Pet Ingests One of These Plants

Take your pet to the veterinarian right away if you suspect that it has eaten any of these plants. If you see your dog or cat eat one of these plants, take a sample of it with you to show the vet so the diagnosis is made quickly.

Plants That Cause Skin Irritation

  • Poison Ivy: This well-known plant with groups of three leaves grows practically anywhere, including the woods, roadsides, or even beside your garden shed. If you touch or even lightly brush against this plant, you'll see redness, swelling, and blisters on your skin within a day of exposure. The best treatment for poison ivy is a topical cream to stop the persistent itching.
  • Poison Oak: This plant has deep green leaves and yellow flowers that contain urushiol, which is the allergen. Touching this plant causes an itchy rash and swelling that is treated the same way as poison ivy.
  • Poison Sumac: This poisonous plant is found near lakes, creeks, and other bodies of water. Every part of the plant causes a rash on the skin if it's touched. The treatment for exposure to poison sumac is the same as for poison ivy.
  • Wood Nettle: Wood nettle has dark green, serrated leaves with small, prickly hairs on them that can sting the skin. The sting of a wood nettle lasts for only an hour and can be lessened by washing the spot with soap and water.
  • Stinging Nettle: The sting of this plant is sharp and accompanied by a burning feeling on the skin. The sting can cause itching and sometimes produces hives. It lasts for about 24 hours. For relief, wash the area with soap and water. Then, combine baking soda and water to make a paste to lightly cover the area and reduce itchiness.

Also, be sure to wash your clothing in hot water after taking a hike in the woods. This gets rid of any dust or allergens you picked up along the way.

Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: poisonous plants

How To Build The Best And The Brightest Bonfire

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Jul 27, 2018

bonfire

Have you ever wanted to build a bonfire to enjoy with family and friends? If so, I have the information you need to get started! This week, I've dug up some tips for how to safely build a bright and beautiful bonfire.

Find a Safe Place for Your Bonfire

The first step in the process of building a bonfire is to find a clear, flat area of ground. Make sure there are no buildings, trees, or bushes nearby. You don't want to take any chances of your fire spreading to surrounding structures or vegetation.

Preparing the Area

The next step is to dig a shallow pit for your bonfire. Think about how big you want your bonfire to be as you gauge the diameter of the pit. The average pit is about three feet in diameter. The pit should be wider than the height of your bonfire materials. Finish the prep by using rocks to create a border around your shallow pit.

Collect Your Materials

Dry leaves, wood shavings, and dried bark are all examples of tinder. Tinder burns quickly to get your bonfire started. After gathering a collection of tinder, it's time to find some kindling in the form of thin sticks and branches. Look for sticks and branches that are about the width of a pencil. A solid supply of kindling will keep your bonfire burning brightly. Lastly, look for some fuel wood. These are sticks and branches about the width of your wrist or bigger. At this point in your preparations, I suggest getting a bucket or two of water or even a fire extinguisher. You'll want to have those on hand before you light the fire.

The Setup Process

Begin by putting your pile of tinder in the middle of your shallow pit. Next, using your kindling, build a tepee over the pile of tinder. The key here is to leave an opening on the side of your tepee so wind can enter the structure, giving more fuel to your flames. After using most of your kindling, build an outer layer for your tepee using your fuel wood. Be sure to avoid covering the open space on the side.

Lighting a Bonfire

Of course, there are many ingenious ways to start a fire, but the long matches used to start a fire in a fireplace are very effective. Light one of these matches and stick it through the tepee into your pile of tinder. This is the best way to get it started. To keep the fire going, add more kindling.

Putting Out the Fire

When the flames start to die down for the last time, it's time to put the fire out. Get a bucket of water and sprinkle it slowly onto the fire. After the water puts out the flames, use a long stick to stir the ashes so you know they are all getting wet. When there are no more flames and the hissing sound is gone, hold your hand near the pit. If the area is cool, then the fire is completely out. Cover the pit with sand or rocks to make doubly sure that there are no stray embers. Sometimes, it takes 20 to 30 minutes to put out a bonfire.

Tips for Making Your Bonfire a Flaming Success

  • Lint from a clothes dryer works great as a source of tinder for your bonfire.
  • Check the direction of the wind before starting your bonfire so you can use the breeze to your advantage.
  • Dry twigs and branches are what you need for your fire. A branch or twig that snaps easily is thoroughly dry.

Be safe, and good luck with your bonfire. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: bonfire

 

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