Best Way to Kill Argentine Ants

Amdro Ant Block

This is the best way to kill Argentine ants I have found, and I have tried many things over the years. Pesticides that did work were outlawed. Borax in sugar water did not work. All the different type of baits, they were not attracted to them. Amdro Ant Block Bait is the only bait they would take back to their nest. Especially works good around citrus trees, where the ants would “farm” aphids on the leaves. I am in Southern California where the Argentine ant has become a big problem. I also find it works on Black ants that build mounds in the lawn.

Over 9 years I have found the best way to use this bait for me is- I use it as spot treatment. The bottle shows using it as a house perimeter block, spreading it around the whole house. I just sprinkle it lightly along ant trails I see, or where I see ant activity. I could see doing the entire perimeter thing if you have them bad in the house, but I don’t. I have more of a problem with them in the garden now. In the beginning the ants would climb the trees and plants and get in the house. By killing them in the planters, they stay out of the house.

Sprinkle it lightly where you see ants. Do not pile mounds of it, the ants will avoid it and pets could get into it. Sprinkle just enough so you barely see it. Don’t let the bait get wet. Put it out in dry weather or after watering. Don’t worry that the granules look big as an ants head (like my neighbor did), they got strong jaws. After opening the container, the bait can get old and loose effectiveness. I find it lasts about a year before it doesn’t work as well and I have to get a new supply. Be patient! It takes about a week to see results. By being patient and not using a spray that kills just the ants you see and leaves a toxic residue, the nest and queen will be destroyed. Amdro is not cheap, but it works. You can get it at Amazon, all major home improvement centers and Walmart.

Hitachi RB24EAP Leaf Blower Repair

Hitachi RB24EAP Leaf Blower

Hitachi RB24EAP Leaf Blower repair for loose impeller. I have had this leaf blower for 6 months, using it once a week with no problems. I like that it is rather quite, starts easy and works well. The other day when I was starting it as usual, it kicked back on me. It backfires and whips the starter cord out of your hand. It has never done this before. My old leaf blower did it all the time. It started on the next try and I used it on the yard as normal. Half way through I could hear something plastic rattling. I finished, turned it off and shook it. The impeller was loose hitting the housing. I got out the drill driver and took out the 8 screws that held the housing on.Hitachi RB24EAP Leaf Blower repair

The nut holding the impeller on was loose. I took it all the way off, fearing that the plastic impeller was damaged. Turning it over I saw it was undamaged. Putting it back together I put  Permatex 24200 Medium Strength Threadlocker Blue, 6 ml
on the bolt threads hoping to prevent it from happening again. I don’t know why they didn’t do it at the factory. Holding the impeller I tightened the nut snug. Anyway the repair only took 5 minutes. I think what happened is when it backfired, going in reverse, it loosened the nut. Even though it needed tightening, I would still buy this tool again. Starts easy and does the job quickly.

Hitachi RB24EAP Leaf Blower repair

Dehydrate Tomatoes

Tomato dehydrator traysThis is how I dehydrate tomatoes. If you grow tomatoes for the same reason I do, because there is nothing like a vine ripened tomato. The ones from the store taste like cardboard in comparison. There are so many varieties to chose from, so I grow more than one and they often come in 6 packs, I plant them all. What happens is a glut of fresh tomatoes. Here is one way I preserve tomatoes.

By dehydrating tomatoes, the flavors are concentrated. They taste great crumbled into salads, over pasta and added to spaghetti  sauce The room needed to store them is just a fraction of the original volume.dehydrating tomatoes

I do use a dehydrator. A simple one I have had for 20 years. I imagine you could dry them in the sun if the humidity is not too high. If you can’t dry them fast enough, mold will grow.Dried Tomatoes

To prepare, just wash and slice the tomatoes into 1/4″ thick slices, put in a single layer on the dehydrator trays, stack in the machine and dry until they snap when twisted. I suggest you do this in the garage- it does smell as the moisture is driven off. Store in freezer bags or airtight containers. If you store in the freezer they will last for years. You can also “can” and freeze tomatoes.Finished dried tomatoes

How to Flash Freeze Asian Green Beans

Asian Green Beans

 

How to flash freeze asian green beans from the garden or if you get a great deal on any fresh green bean at the market. I grow asian beans. I like this variety because it holds up to the summer heat and gives great production. The problem is they come all at once. It seems like you turn around and there is another foot long bean on the vine. Preparing asian beans is the same as any other green bean. By freezing them you can eat them most of the year. This works with other vegetables too. It is simple.

You need to blanch them in boiling water for just a minute or so, until they turn bright green. You need to do this or they will be rubbery when you thaw and cook them. Plunge them in ice water to stop the cooking. You just want to cook the outside. Put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Put in freezer for 10 minutes until the water on the surface has frozen. If you fail to do this, before putting them in a freezer bag, you will have a solid block of frozen beans. By freezing the outside, they wont freeze together. You will be able to take out of the bag just what you need. When I want to cook some beans, I take out a hand full place in a covered dish and add a teaspoon of water. Microwave for a minute and a half or steam them. Try freezing vegetables. It is a great way to preserve the taste a nutrients of fresh vegetables.

 

 

Review Hitachi RB24EAP Leaf Blower

Hitachi RB24EAP Blower

This is a review of the Hitachi RB24EAP Leaf Blower. I bought it six months ago and now feel I have enough time using it to give my views. I bought it off Amazon Hitachi RB24EAP 23.9cc 2 Stroke 170 MPH Gas Powered Handheld Blower (CARB Compliant)
and received it promptly. I read the reviews and knowing Hitachi to make good products I took the chance. I am happy I did. (NOTE: I did have to do a simple repair on this unit after 6 months. See it here). Update: I have now owned 1.5 years and it is still running great. It gets used once a week, 52 times a year as we do not get winter in Southern California.

Un-boxing it I noticed it was nicely made. With high quality looks and nice plastics used. It came boxed in 3 pieces. It was a very tight fit attaching the blower tube to the main body. I thought it was defective, but it was just tight. Putting the blower on its back and forcing the tube on worked. The nozzle attached easily. There is only one. A fan one would be a nice addition.

Hitachi RB24EAP Leaf Blower Box

After filling the gas tank part way with premix (it does not come with premix oil), I put the choke on and attempted to start it. I say attempted, because it would not start. With “Damn I am going to have to send it back” going through my head, I did some trouble shooting. In the end- I could see the intake hose for the fuel had shifted in transit and wasn’t sitting at the low point in the gas tank. It wasn’t getting fuel. Using a pencil I pushed it down to where it needed to be. this time it started after several pulls. It is an easy pull starter cord and doesn’t kick back like my old blower.

After starting I noticed it was quite at idle. Even after increasing the speed it is not that loud. It puts out a large amount of air. I am just using it to clean off walkways and driveways around the home. I can get most of it done just at idle speed. Revving it up increases the amount of air moved, not necessarily the velocity. I don’t know how good it would be on wet heavy leaves. I will find out soon enough. It works good for my needs.

Some of the cons- It is a bit heavy (8.5 pounds), bulky and gets tiring. But the work goes quickly. I use it on a quarter acre yard. If I had more, I would get a backpack blower. The choke and stop switch are reversed to what I am used to. The choke is on when it is down. Pushing up on the rocker switch turns it off. Turn the choke on to start and when it does back it off quickly as the engine will sputter until you do.

These cons are more annoyances. The pros are-It does start easily. When it is warm, it starts real easy with a quick tug. It is quite, well made. it even has a keeper for the gas cap. I can cleanup the yard quickly. That is what I bought it for and I would buy it again.

How to Build a Square Foot Garden Frame

Square foot garden frame

This is how to build a Square Foot Garden Frame from 2x6s and 4×4 lumber. Mel Bartholomew, years ago, wrote the book Square Foot Garden and this frame is based on his 4 foot square design. Any wider and you can’t reach to the center. You can find info. all over the web on designs. This is how I did mine.

I made the sides from 2″x6″ common lumber 43 1/2″ long. End posts are 4″x4″s  9″ long. When I do it again I will use 2″x8″ lumber for the sides to get more depth. Then the 4x4s will be 3″ taller than the sides.

Square foot garden frame cutPosts Square foot garden

The posts are cut to a 30 degree angle for decoration. I used a table saw. You could use a mitre saw or even a circular saw with a cutting guide. Pre-cut the 4 posts and clamp them together for a stable surface, if you do it with a circular saw.

Attaching sides square foot gardenframe attached square foot garden frame

Using a Kreg Pocket Hole Jig I attached the sides. You could use dowels. Pocket hole screws were easiest. Since I didn’t used treated lumber, I don’t expect this frame to last forever. Using caulk, primer and paint will help it to last longer. I use thin strips of wood stapled together for the grid. You could just use string tacked to the sides.

Square foot garden frame plantedSquare foot garden trellis

The best thing I added was a trellis to the north side of the frame. I grow beans and peas on this. It is made from 1/2″ electrical conduit you can get at any home improvement store. You will need two 10 foot sticks of 1/2″ metal conduit, four conduit clips and 2 corners. You will also need trellis netting. The conduit was cut 60″ tall for the sides and 45 1/2″ for the top. It is best to cut and mount the sides loosely first and then measure the top length. There can be variations.

trellis cornerattach trellis to frame

I have been using this frame for 4 years now. What I would do different. Make the sides with at least 2x8s instead of 2x6s. Deeper the better. Look around on the web on how to make the soil. I used some from a local fertilizer place and it was terrible. Locate the frame where it gets sun all day.