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Using Flowers To Attract And Repel Certain Critters

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Apr 28, 2020

flowers-to-attract-and-repel-critters

Flowers That Attract Insects and Animals

Lavender

There's not much of a downside to planting lavender in your garden. It attracts bees and butterflies for one. Also, you get to enjoy its lovely deep purple color and fragrance.

Black-eyed Susan

These are hardy perennial flowers that can endure poor soil and dry conditions. Black-eyed Susan's can have petals of brilliant yellow, bronze and even red. They attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Plus, in the fall when the petals fall off of these flowers, finches eat the leftover seeds for nourishment in the cool weather. Praying mantis like to live among these flowers. A praying mantis eats beetles, crickets and other insects that can do harm to your garden.

Zinnias

Zinnias can be found in yellow, red, orange, white, purple and pink. In fact, the only zinnia colors you won't see are blue and brown. These flowers are easy to grow and beloved by hummingbirds and bees.

Marigolds

Planting marigolds is a great way to attract ladybugs to your garden. Why do you want ladybugs in your garden? Of course, they're cute! But, another reason is ladybugs eat mites and aphids that can feed on your flowers making them look like Swiss cheese! Marigolds add splashes of orange, white, yellow or red to your garden.

Flowers That Repel Insects and Animals

Petunias

Petunias are sweet flowers found in red, white, yellow, and purple. They are known to repel insects such as mosquitoes, squash bugs, beetles and aphids. Many people plant them near vegetables to keep these pesky bugs away.

Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums repel fleas, ants, roaches and Japanese beetles. Gold, red, maroon, purple, and pink are just a few of the many colors you can find if you want some of these blooms for your yard.

Lavender

Lavender is a repellant to moths, fleas, flies, and mosquitoes. You can even put some bouquets of lavender inside your home or even in your garden shed to deter flies.

Marigolds

Planting marigolds in your garden can keep mosquitoes and aphids away due to its fragrance. Also, marigolds have been known to keep rabbits at a distance, so they aren't so quick to start munching on your flowers and vegetables.

Geraniums

If you already love these cheerful flowers you'll be glad to know they repel mosquitoes along with other pests. So, be sure to add some red, white, purple and yellow geraniums to your garden this year.

With a little planning, your garden can serve multiple purposes while providing you with a beautiful view out your window.

Thanks for reading.-Alan

12 Natural Methods To Ease Your Spring Allergies

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Apr 7, 2020

ease-spring-allergies

For some, the start of Spring brings sneezing, a sore throat, and sniffling right along with it. Spring allergies can take the enjoyment out of watching the flowers and trees waking up all around us. Good news! There are several natural ways that allergy sufferers can get some relief from spring allergies.

  1. Keep Your Windows Closed. Keeping the windows closed at all times can be tough to do if you like to have a light breeze traveling through your home. But, when you keep them closed, you're preventing pollen from blowing in and settling on your furniture and floors. You won't have to deal with pollen circulating throughout your home and aggravating your allergy symptoms.
  2. Taking a Shower After Being Outdoors. Taking a shower and putting on fresh clothes after being outdoors for an extended amount of time can help relieve your allergy symptoms. Pollen on your clothing, skin or hair can irritate your allergies so showering prevents you from spreading this pollen onto your pillows, the couch, etc.
  3. Try a Nasal Rinse. Have you ever heard of a Neti pot? This is a product used for nasal irrigation. It's the process of moving saltwater through your nasal passages in an effort to remove pollen and other irritants from the area. You can use a Neti pot up to twice a day.
  4. Wear a Face Mask While Outdoors. Wearing a face mask whenever you go outdoors can block some of the airborne pollen from entering your nose or mouth. An N95 filter mask is effective at blocking pollen.
  5. Use Natural Cleaning Solutions. Make it a point to purchase natural cleaning solutions to use around your home. Some of the ingredients used in other types of cleaning products can irritate allergy symptoms.
  6. Acupuncture. When you receive acupuncture you're having needles placed beneath the skin at certain points of the body. These needles stimulate nerves sending signals to the brain to produce chemicals that reduce inflammation. This can be done whether your allergy symptoms are mild or severe.
  7. Vacuum Your Home More Often. Pollen can creep into your home when the doors open. So, vacuuming your home once every couple of days can keep those irritants from mixing in with your indoor air. Be sure to empty the filled vacuum canister into a trash can in your garage.
  8. Wear a Hat. Keep a hat with a brim by your door and put it on whenever you go out. Your hat is a barrier preventing pollen from settling on your hair.
  9. Add Some Garlic to Your Meals. Chopping up garlic and putting it in your soup or on a sandwich can help relieve your allergies. Garlic is spicy and serves to thin mucus reducing congestion during allergy season. Bonus: Garlic is delicious!
  10. Drink Diluted Apple Cider Vinegar. Mix two or three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with water and drink it twice a day. This can raise your potassium level to soothe your runny nose.
  11. Avoid Going Outside in the Early Morning. Pollen is especially abundant from about five to ten in the morning. So, if you like to jog or walk in the morning either wear a mask or change your morning walk into an afternoon one.
  12. Practice Stress Relieving Activities. Stress can aggravate spring allergies and decrease the power of your immune system. So, find some stress-relieving activities to do each day. Reading, yoga, scrapbooking and listening to music are just a few easy things to do.

I hope some of these natural allergy-relief options are helpful to you and your family. Take care and thanks for reading.-Alan

Businesses That Started In A Garage: Harley Davidson

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sun, Mar 22, 2020

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Google, Yankee Candle, Hewlett-Packard, and Disney are just a few examples of the highly successful businesses that have started in a garage. When you think about it, a garage is the perfect place to start a business: You have the space and privacy you need to bring your business plan to life. Today, I'm going to continue my series featuring businesses started in a garage by highlighting Harley-Davidson. Let's roll on with the story behind these famous motorcycles, sometimes called hogs.

The Beginning

The story begins in 1901 with 20-year-old William Harley, who created a plan for a small engine designed to fit onto the frame of a bicycle. This engine added to the bike's speed as the rider pedaled. In 1903, Harley joined forces with friend Arthur Davidson to take this idea to the next level. They set up shop in a 10-by-15-foot shed/garage and created the first version of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The garage had adequate shelf space for the parts, tools, and other materials necessary for their work. One of the first people to purchase their 1903 model was a school friend named Henry Meyer.

Growing the Business

Soon, this pair of ambitious inventors was joined by Arthur's brother, Walter. The Harley-Davidson business continues to grow as the three men created five more models of the motorcycle they sold to their school friend. The first Harley-Davidson dealer was Carl H. Lang of Chicago, who sold one of the first three motorcycles the company made. As the business grew, the inventors went on to produce more motorcycles. In 1906, they made 50 motorcycles, prompting them to move their operations to a larger building on Chestnut Street in Milwaukee. The inventors hired six employees and even put out a motorcycle catalog.

Getting Recognition

In 1908, the Harley-Davidson motorcycle received even more attention when Walter Davidson achieved a perfect score in the seventh annual Federation of American Motorcyclists (FAM) contest measuring endurance and reliability. Davidson and his motorcycle also set a FAM economy record of 188.234 miles per gallon. People in the world of motorcycles were hearing good things about Harley-Davidson.

Creating Momentum

Harley-Davidson continued developing innovations, including improvements on the design of the V-twin engine and a patent for the Ful-Floteing seat, which was more comfortable for riders of differing sizes. In 1917, after the start of World War I, a third of the motorcycles made by Harley-Davidson were sold to the U.S. military for use in the war.

The Mid-20th Century and Beyond

Harley-Davidson celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1953. Its famous logo featuring the letter "V" for the V-twin engine and the words "American Made" was put on a medallion placed on the front fender of all 1954 Harley-Davidsons. Another highlight of the decade saw singer Elvis Presley posing for a motorcycle enthusiast magazine on his 1956 Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

More Highlights in Harley-Davidson History

  • 1960: Harley-Davidson makes the Topper scooter, the only scooter model the company ever made.
  • 1968: Racer Cal Rayborn claims back-to-back wins on Harley-Davidson's 750 KR at the Daytona 200
  • 1986: The 1340cc V2 Evolution engine is put on the market after being in development for seven years.
  • 1988: A traveling museum featuring classic Harley-Davidson models and memorabilia of the company's history starts a tour around the country.

From its humble beginnings in a 10-by-15-foot garage, Harley-Davidson cruised to the top of its industry and continues to thrive. I hope this inspires you to consider making your garage into the birthplace of your new business! Thanks for reading. - Alan

The 10 Best Things You Can Do For Your Lawn At The Start Of Spring

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Mar 17, 2020

mowing-lawn-at-start-of-spring

Spring is upon us: Is your lawn ready for the new season? Discover what you can do to make sure your lawn is ready to flourish in the spring and summer months.

  1. Seed the Bare Patches on Your Lawn. If you have a lot of bare or discolored patches on your lawn, try overseeding. Overseeding involves throwing down some grass seed and a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. After the grass starts to germinate, put down a fast-release nitrogen fertilizer to complete the process.
  2. Rake Your Yard. Raking your yard at this time of year removes thatch along with twigs, sticks, stray leaves, and other debris. Plus, as you rake, you're removing matted patches of discolored grass and snow mold. So get that rake out of your garden shed and put it to good use!
  3. Check for Compacted Soil. Compacted soil occurs in well-traveled areas of a lawn. When soil is compacted, it's very difficult for grass roots to take hold. Aerating your lawn allows oxygen and sunlight to reach the roots of your grass.
  4. Pull Weeds. Already? Yes! Part of preparing your lawn for the springtime involves pulling those stray weeds that have crept in to get a leg up on the competition. There are some organic weed control solutions available if you want to be even more proactive about keeping those weeds at bay.
  5. Tune Up Your Lawnmower. Of course, you want your lawnmower to be ready to roll when the time comes this spring. Changing its oil, replacing the air filter, putting in new spark plugs, and wiping it down with a damp cloth are all part of getting your mower prepared for the first trim of the spring. Don't forget to buy some fuel while you're at it.
  6. Fertilize Your Lawn. It's best to fertilize your lawn about three weeks after your lawn starts turning green. You want to avoid fertilizing too early because it can promote weed growth.
  7. Get Rid of Grubs. Did you contend with grubs on your lawn last year? If you did, there's a good chance the same will happen this spring. Grubs hibernate beneath a lawn and start to come up in the late spring. If you treat your lawn for grubs now, you can head off the problem before the grubs hatch.
  8. Neaten the Edges of Flower Beds. Mowing your grass is a lot easier when there's a distinct line dividing your lawn and the flower beds. So take time now to do some edging work to neatly arrange the mulch or soil in your flower beds. I think it's a great idea to make a flower bed border using brick, decorative stone, or rubber landscape edging. This makes your yard look all the more appealing.
  9. Water Your Lawn, if Necessary. If you live in an arid area that experiences droughts, then water your lawn regularly just as you have over the winter months. If you live in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, or North, the spring rainfall should provide your lawn with enough water, but if there's a dry spell, you can give it some water to help it along.
  10. Mow Your Lawn. You know it's time to mow your lawn when your grass has grown long enough to cut and the ground is dry. Be sure to research the optimal length for the type of grass you have in your yard.

I hope you enjoy all of the preparations involved in making your yard beautiful this spring and summer. Thanks for reading. - Alan

A Look At What Happens To The Earth During The Spring Equinox

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Mar 17, 2020

plant-growing-spring-equinox

The spring or vernal equinox is almost here: It happens on March 19th this year. But do you know what happens at the time of the spring equinox? If not, this is your lucky day! Discover the incredible changes that take place during the spring equinox here.

12 Hours of Light, 12 Hours of Dark

The Latin word "equinox" means "equal night." This refers to the fact that during the spring equinox, there are 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. In addition, the sun rises due east and sets due west. This happens just twice a year. The other time is during the autumnal equinox. During the spring equinox, Earth's axis is perpendicular to the rays of the sun, and the sun is shining directly over Earth's equator.

Changes Happening on Earth

The spring equinox is connected with the beginning of the spring season. Daylight hours grow longer in the Northern Hemisphere during this time. Meanwhile, daylight hours grow shorter in the Southern Hemisphere. As the daylight hours grow longer and temperatures rise in the Northern Hemisphere, seeds start to grow and plants bloom. The winds are softer, and animals are beginning to come out of hibernation. You're likely to find more hair on the living room carpet as your dog and cat are shedding their winter coats. And not surprisingly, people start getting outside more as the sun is rising earlier and setting later. You may find yourself hopping into the car, backing out of the carport, and rolling down the windows for an impromptu road trip!

The First Day of Spring Is …

According to the astronomical calendar, the first day of spring is March 19, 2020. But if you remember the first day of spring being later than that, you're not wrong. It's actually earlier this year than it usually is! That's because the exact moment when the equinox happens, when Earth and the sun are in the exact right positions, can vary depending on your local time zone. Years ago, the first day of spring often fell on March 21, though lately, it's more often been on the 20th.

However, not all scientists agree on this day as the official first day of spring. Climate scientists use the meteorological calendar instead, which is divided into four seasons with each season lasting three months. These scientists consider the first day of spring to be March 1. Climate scientists have found that using the meteorological calendar instead of the astronomical calendar helps them in their work of gathering accurate statistics and making forecasts.

Interesting Facts About the Spring Equinox

  • Visit El Castillo, a pyramid in Mexico, and you'll see an illusion of a serpent making its way down the steps on the spring equinox
  • Easter takes place on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox occurs. This year, it's on April 12.
  • Some people believe you can stand an egg upright on the vernal equinox because of the position of Earth and the sun. But this is just a myth. Actually, you can stand an egg on its end any day of the year, but it depends on the characteristics of the egg itself and definitely takes patience.

When you take a closer look at the spring equinox, it's hard not to be astounded by all of the transformations that happen when winter turns to spring. I hope you get outside and take in all of the wonderful changes happening in nature. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Gardening Trends To Look Forward to in 2020

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Mar 3, 2020

gardening-trends-bee

Do you want to try a new type of gardening this year? If so, check out some of these top gardening trends for the spring and summer of 2020.

  1. Organic Gardening: This is a big gardening trend for 2020 that looks like it's going to stick around for the foreseeable future. When you create an organic garden, you're not using toxic chemicals that can harm the soil and end up polluting your local water source. Also, the vegetables you grow will be safer for your family to eat. As a bonus, you'll save money on your grocery bill by growing your own organic vegetables!
  2. Gardens That Benefit Wildlife: Growing a garden that benefits wildlife (and people) is becoming very popular with experienced and beginner gardeners alike. Some plants are particularly attractive to pollinators like bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and even bats. Bee balm, delphinium, goldenrod, salvia, and asters are all plants that are attractive to pollinators.
  3. A Garden With Water for Birds and Insects: This gardening trend can serve pollinators and other wildlife by providing them with water to drink during the hot summer months. You may want to add a birdbath to your garden or perhaps create a small fishpond featuring a gurgling fountain. Not only will your water source serve wildlife in your area, but it will set a soothing tone in your garden.
  4. Landscaping With Symmetrical Plants: This trend can give a touch of harmony to your garden or landscape. Bonus: Creating this type of garden is easier than you think. One idea is to put one Baby Gem boxwood on each side of your front steps. Make sure they're identical in size and shape. The trick is to create a mirror image with plants to bring balance to the area.
  5. Growing Dual-Purpose Plants: This gardening trend is sure to be a favorite with green thumbs everywhere. A dual-purpose plant may have a strong scent as well as a colorful appearance. Some examples include scented primrose, viburnum, lilac, and brugmansia. Or you can take a more practical approach and plant dual-purpose flowers that are beautiful and keep the mosquitoes away. Some of these include lavender, bee balm, marigolds, and floss flowers.
  6. Creating a Secluded Area in the Yard: If you'd like to create a quiet place in your garden or yard to read, listen to music, or just think, then this trend is for you. If you have a favorite corner of your patio, put up a trellis and plant some Boston ivy or star jasmine nearby so it will climb the trellis, making your hideaway more private. Planting hedges that will grow tall is another way to enjoy more privacy in your favorite outdoor sitting area.
  7. Keeping Giant Houseplants: This trend is great if you want to enjoy looking at some enormous houseplants in your home this year. Alocasia is known for its large, patterned leaves. Monstera is another big houseplant that can grow to be several feet tall depending on its variety. The fiddle-leaf fig and corn plant are two others to consider.
  8. Growing Vertical Gardens: The vertical gardening trend has always been popular, especially with people who don't have space for a traditional garden. A trellis can be the foundation of a vertical garden of flowering vines. Or consider making a planter out of a wooden pallet and leaning it against a wall of your garden shed or home where it will receive the right amount of sunlight each day.
  9. Growing Dwarf Plants: Create a collection of blooms that take up little space but are just as beautiful as their bigger cousins. Dwarf hydrangeas, dwarf black-eyed Susans, and dwarf zinnias are just a few of the many varieties of plants you can use to create this unique garden.

I hope you give one of these fun trends a whirl this spring. Thanks for reading! - Alan

11 Things To Always Check When Looking At A Rental Property

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sun, Mar 1, 2020

what-to-check-when-looking-at-rental-property

Whether you're looking to rent a home or an apartment, you'll want to make sure it lives up to your expectations. Today, I have 11 factors for you to consider when evaluating a rental place for you and your family.

  1. Cell Phone Reception: As you tour a home or apartment, take out your cell phone to see if you get good reception in all of the rooms. If the reception is spotty, you may want to move on to a place with more reliable cell coverage.
  2. Water Pressure and Temperature: Go into each bathroom in the rental and turn on the warm water in the shower. Next, flush the toilet to see if the shower water holds its temperature. Also, take note of whether the shower loses water pressure when the toilet is flushed. The toilet flushing should not affect the water pressure or the temperature of the shower. Having adequate water pressure and a consistent water temperature adds to the comfort of a rental place.
  3. Amount of Lighting: Turn on the lights in the rental to see how much light they create in a room. Is natural light important to you? If so, are there large windows that will supply you with an abundance of sunlight? A large amount of light in an apartment or home can make the space more inviting.
  4. Parking Space: This is an important factor to look at, especially if you're looking to rent an apartment. Does the apartment building have its own parking lot? Or will you have to find a place to park on a busy street? If you're looking for a home to rent, do you want one with a garage or carport? Think about what your preferences are for parking your family's vehicles.
  5. Pests: One thing you definitely want to be on the lookout for is pests. Small, black droppings inside cabinets or on floors are telltale signs of mice. Tiny eggs, droppings that look like coffee grounds, or piles of sawdust in a corner can all be signs that a place has an insect problem.
  6. Level of Cleanliness: Naturally, you want to live in a well-cared-for rental. So be sure to take a close look at the space. Is there a thick layer of dust on the baseboards of the rooms? Is the refrigerator clean and fresh-smelling? Look in the kitchen and bathroom cabinets to see if the corners have been cleaned. A landlord who pays attention to detail when doing cleaning in an apartment or home is likely to keep the property well-maintained.
  7. Noise Level: It's important to find out how noisy the environment is around an apartment or home. It's best to visit once in the morning and once in the evening, so you can get an accurate impression of the noise level as traffic increases and people are out and about in the neighborhood.
  8. Safety Precautions: Check out the safeguards present in an apartment or home by looking for smoke alarms and giving them a quick test. Most smoke alarms have a button you can push to test their operation. Also, ask whether a carbon monoxide detector is present.
  9. Working Outlets. Take along your cell phone to plug into a few outlets in the rental. This is an easy way to make sure they're working. Non-working outlets can be a sign of bigger electrical issues.
  10. Condition of the Appliances: Try the microwave and turn on the stove to see if they're working. Open the refrigerator to see if it's in good working order as well. You want to know that all of the appliances are operational before moving the first box into your new place!
  11. Condition of the Windows and Doors: If you like opening a window or two in the springtime to enjoy the breeze, check to see if the windows can be opened. Also, check the weatherstripping around the doors to ensure proper insulation to keep drafts out in the wintertime.

The most important thing to remember when evaluating a rental place is to take your time. If you feel like the landlord or manager is rushing you through a tour, I'd take that as a sign to move on to the next possibility. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Businesses That Started In A Garage: Yankee Candle

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sun, Feb 23, 2020

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Today, we have the next addition to our series exploring businesses that got their start in a garage. Many businesses that have started in garages have grown into some of the most well-known companies today! It just goes to show that a garage can be the perfect space to think, imagine, and create. This business makes fragrant, colorful products that can soothe your nerves, bring back childhood memories, or even make you hungry. There's an excellent chance you have at least one of their products in your home. Have you guessed the business yet? It's Yankee Candle! Let's take a look at this flourishing business that got its start in a garage.

Beginning the Business

The story of Yankee Candle started in 1969 with a 16-year-old boy's desire to give his mother a beautiful Christmas gift. The founder of Yankee Candle, Michael Kittredge II, didn't have money to purchase a gift for his mom, so he put his mind to work and made a candle in his garage. He used melted crayons and a milk carton. Though he didn't know it, he'd just made the prototype for his future business. As a twist in the story, Kittredge didn't give the candle to his mother: A neighbor saw it, loved it, and convinced him to sell it to her. The young entrepreneur used the money to buy supplies to make two more candles. And yes, he gave one of those to his mother! He sold the other one and purchased more candle-making supplies with the proceeds. For the next four years, Kittredge grew his candle-making business in his parents' garage.

Taking the Business to a New Level

Yankee Candle continued to flourish as Kittredge sold a growing number of candles. He hired a staff to help him make the candles and soon had a team of 12 employees. It was time to move operations to a larger space. Kittredge rented an old paper mill for $80 a month. Though the building was 200 years old with no heat or electricity, Kittredge and his staff persisted in their goal of making fragrant, colorful candles. Kittredge used the upper floors of the paper mill for candle-making and the first floor as an outlet store.

The Sweet Smell of Success

In 1974, Kittredge's unique candles got a lot of attention at the Boston Gift Show. This recognition led to the opportunity to sell his candles through national retailers. By 1983, Yankee Candle was making $1 million in sales per year. In time, more than 500 Yankee Candle stores would open up in shopping areas and malls. As an interesting note, in 1986, Yankee Candle began putting full-color labels on their candles: Before that, the illustrations on the candle labels were colored in by hand with colored pencils.

Enduring Success

Today, Yankee candles are still available in stores, but many are purchased from mail-order catalogs and online. In 1996, the Yankee Candle website launched, sending the company's sales to more than $100 million per year. In 1998, Michael Kittredge II sold the company and retired. However, the candle business called him back in 2009, when he helped his son to start Kringle Candle.

It's hard to believe that such a huge business as Yankee Candle began with an idea for a Christmas gift for Mom. But that's the story behind Michael Kittredge and his popular candles. Thanks for reading. - Alan

8 Things To Do Now To Prepare For Your Spring Garden

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Feb 5, 2020

prepare-for-your-spring-garden

It's February, and I know you really want to get out there to start digging and planting in your garden. Well, it's a bit early for all of that. However, there are plenty of things you can do now to lay the groundwork for a flourishing garden this spring.

  1. Create a Plan for Your Garden. Draw a map of your garden and figure out where you want to locate your plants. I suggest incorporating the idea of companion gardening into your plan. When you have a companion garden, you're placing plants together that can benefit one another. For instance, tomatoes and basil are companion plants. Basil serves as a deterrent to pests such as spider mites and aphids, so they won't attack your tomatoes.
  2. Put In an Order for Seeds. Once you decide where to put your plants in your garden, it's time to order the seeds! It'll be nice to have all of your seeds ready to go when the time comes.
  3. Start Growing Seedlings Indoors. Why not give some of your plants a head start? Get a seed tray and grow some seedlings indoors so they'll be extra strong when they go into your springtime garden.
  4. Clean and Organize Your Gardening Supplies. A spade, shovel, rake, pruning shears, and wheelbarrow are all likely to be in your collection of gardening supplies. This is an excellent time to go out to the garage or shed to clean your gardening tools and get them ready for use in a few weeks.
  5. Plant Bulbs. It's not too late to plant bulbs: If you forgot to plant them in fall, you can do so now. Get some tulip and daffodil bulbs and start planting.
  6. Start a Compost Pile. A compost pile is beneficial for a lot of reasons. For one, you can use the compost as fertilizer in your garden. This allows you to save some money on your gardening budget. Plus, you'll be putting banana peels, lettuce, potato peels, newspaper, and coffee grounds on your compost pile instead of in your local landfill.
  7. Clear Away the Weeds. Take a look out your window and you'll see that weeds have a way of sneaking into your garden at any time of the year. Clear them away and rake the ground so it will be ready and waiting for your seedlings and seeds.
  8. Create Labels for Your Plants. This is a fun thing you can do to make your spring garden all the more special. Putting labels next to your veggies is an easy way to locate them at a glance. You can use bright white paint to put the names of each of your vegetables on pieces of wood. Or gather a bunch of old clay flower pots and write the name of a vegetable on each one using a black permanent marker. It's completely up to you how creative you get with your garden labels.

See? There are lots of things you can do right now to prep for a beautiful spring garden. The more planning you do, the better your garden will look. Thanks for reading! - Alan

The Best Bird Seed To Attract Certain Birds To Your Yard

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Feb 4, 2020

Best Bird Eating Bird Seed

Do you love watching wild birds visit your bird feeder during the winter months? If so, you probably have some favorites. Perhaps you enjoy seeing a bunch of bright red cardinals, playful sparrows, or bossy blue jays. Why not put out the type of seed that makes your feeder a hit with your favorite birds? Today, I have some suggestions on various types of bird seed to keep in your storage shed so you can keep your feeder filled for your feathered friends this winter.

Safflower

Wanna see a chickadee? If the answer is "yes," put safflower seed into your bird feeder this winter. Cardinals, sparrows, titmice, house finches, and mourning doves are also big fans of safflower. One advantage of using this seed is that it's attractive to a variety of birds. Plus, it's said to be a deterrent to squirrels, who tend to hang around bird feeders for a quick meal.

Thistle Seed, aka Nyjer Seed

If you're a fan of American goldfinches, juncos, or mourning doves, thistle seed is a good choice for your bird feeder. It also appeals to indigo buntings. This seed contains a lot of nutrients that can help birds survive the cold weather. One thing to take into account is that while this seed is popular with small birds, it can be expensive. Putting your thistle seed in a sock bird feeder can reduce the amount of seed that ends up on the ground.

Striped Sunflower Seed

If you want to attract cardinals, evening grosbeaks, blue jays, and other large-billed birds, then striped sunflower seed is a good bet for your feeder. Striped sunflower seed is easy to find but can be more expensive than other types, like black-oil sunflower seed.

Red Millet Seed

Red millet seed is inexpensive and found in many mixes of bird seed. Ground feeders like doves, grackles, and robins may eat it, but it's not one of the most appealing types of seeds, so you may have a mess left over on the ground if you put a mix with red millet seed into your feeder.

Cracked Corn

Cracked corn attracts blue jays, crows, sparrows, cowbirds, and doves. Cracked corn is too large for some smaller birds to eat, but you can mix it with other types of seed, so you have something for every visitor. Cracked corn is affordable but can be dusty, so you may have to clean out your bird feeder more often.

Shelled Peanuts

Cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, magpies, grackles, and starlings are all attracted to a feeder with shelled peanuts. It's best to use a metal feeder with a mesh design for your shelled peanuts so they are less likely to fall on the ground. One downside to putting out shelled peanuts is that if they become wet from the rain or snow, they quickly start to rot.

So whether you want to attract a certain type of bird to your feeder or you want to feed a crowd, making seed available can help a variety of birds through the winter months. Also, consider putting out a dish of water in a sunny area for the birds. Pecking at frozen snow or ice to get water can really drain their energy. The birds living around your house will thank you! Thanks for reading. - Alan

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