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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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Q and A: Strawberry Attacking Raccoons, Bratty Winter Ants, Hydroponic Tea, Soaking Lemons, and More!

Please feel free to email me with questions you have about sustainable living.  I receive an awful lot of ads and press releases, of which about 99.9% of them I ignore (there are no ads on this site!) – so don’t send ads unless it really pertains to what we discuss here.  Questions and resources, however, are very much welcome!

And please, please, please answer any of the following questions in the comments – you all know more about some of this than I do!!

Questions

How Do You Get Rid of An Ant Problem?

From Viki:

I live in a centennial farm house. The kitchen floor is actually not on a traditional foundation rather it is apx. 2 foot off dirt with actual bolders of sort holding up the joists with a reinforced (over the years) stone foundation. These dirty little ‘pisants’ mostly show themselves come dead of winter-I live in MI. I have done traps. I kill when found. I swear they are the goffiest to kill as you can actually squeze them into nothing and away they go again.TINY brats. Do you have any recommedations for this problem. What is their normal habitat?  Are they living in the 100+ year old floor boards? I am at wits end.  Thanks for any info you have or have heard of. Viki

Viki, I’ve had that experience as well – the ants seem to like to come in when it gets cold or rainy.  I would trace the ants to wherever they’re coming in, and then spray where they’re coming in.

At the same time, you have to be very diligent of taking away all the food they might find.  I had a severe ant infestation once, in Los Angeles, and ended up buying a lot of air tight containers to put up dog food, flour, crackers, pastas, everything they might find.  I had to keep the counters free of all crumbs.  And I even had to make the bathroom clean because they liked eating soap!  But once I was diligent about that for about a month, the ants stopped looking in my home.

Lastly, if you have a yard, they might be coming from somewhere out there.  Check around your yard and see if you can find the hill.  There were also some great comments in this post that might help.

Good luck!   -Melinda

Why Do You Soak Lemons Overnight To Make Marmalade?

From Robert:

I thought  Meyer was Myer, boy was I wrong.

I am starting your recipe this afternoon and need a point of clarification, please.

You have us add the water to the lemons and “let stand overnight”, is the o/v nite necessary?  Otherwise I’d have this canned by supper. {fresh rockfish w/ a lite sause, orzo w/ a bit of the sauce and a green salad.}

Likely I won’t hear back by then so I will follow the instructions but I would like an answer to the why when you can spare the time.

Thanks a bunch
Robert

Hi Robert,

Letting it stand overnight allows the pith (white interior part of the skin) to soak.  The pith is what makes marmalade gel – it’s the reason you don’t need to add gelatin to marmalade, but you do need to add it to berry jam for example.

I have not tried to make it without soaking overnight.  It’s possible it would work but would take longer to gel… but it is also possible that you will not be able to get it to gel at all.  So if you want some tonight for fish, and you don’t really care if it gels much, try a small batch and see what happens!  (And do let me know if you try it – I’m interested to hear!)  But for longer term storage, I highly recommend the overnight soaking.

With all my best,
Melinda

How Do you Grow Tea Hydroponically?

From Monica:

I think your [Camelia Sinensis] article is great and was wondering whether you know anything about growing this plant hydroponically?

Thanks in advance.
Linda.

Hi Linda, unfortunately I’m not a hydroponic grower so I can’t help you – does anyone know???

How Do I Discourage A Raccoon From The Garden?

From swift:

there is a raccoon attacking my strawberry patch, how do i get rid of it?

Hi there, I wrote an article a while back about how to deter bunnies – there may be some things there that could help.  But I’ve never had to deal with them myself, except as innocent onlookers.  Anyone have any good advice for deterring raccoons?

How Do I Email Your Post?

From Nanette:

there’s an ant infestation in my daughter’s condo.  i would like to send her [your article]… because right now she is using RAID!  how do i copy this and send it to her?

Hi Nanette,

Down at the bottom of each article, there is a program called “ShareThis”.  (It’s located right under the “Similar Posts” section.)  If you click on “ShareThis”, the very first option that appears is “Email”.  Just click “Email”, and it will send the article!

Here’s the link to the Organic Ant Control article, in case you’ve lost it!  http://1greengeneration.elementsintime.com/?p=1154

Hope that helps!  Let me know if I can help further.

Have a lovely day,
Melinda

Resources

Seed Saver’s Exchange

From Corrin:

[Removed due to an unverifiable source.]

Answers?

Please help answer the questions above!  Leave a comment below, or if you’d rather, send me an email.  If  you enjoy these posts and find them useful, please let me know.

Thanks, everyone!

Similar Posts:

10 comments to Q and A: Strawberry Attacking Raccoons, Bratty Winter Ants, Hydroponic Tea, Soaking Meyer Lemons, and More!

  • Raccoons: electric fence. Seriously. Set it up with a small solar panel to power. (Idea came from a friend’s blog called “Denman Island Diary”)

    Ants: I second the keeping all food put away. We had two infestations in an earth-bermed house. After cleaning totally (with vinegar), the next rule was to never go to bed with dirty dishes left in the kitchen. Never had another infestation after that. Good luck!

    Hydroponics: my sweetie’s had great success growing a wide variety of plants hydroponically. They are planted in various media, including rock wool, expanded clay balls, and coconut coir, and watered with nutrient solution. We haven’t tried tea but there is nothing that hasn’t done well. In fact, we got a lot of stuff to overwinter on a protected porch: peppers, dill, parsley, and snow peas. Try it!

    Lemon gelatin – interesting, Melinda. I thought it was the seeds. So the pith is the true source of natural gelatin or an additional one? If you know, let me know so I can pass it on to my canning friend. Actually, last year she had trouble getting her lemon marmalade to gel but it worked after she tied the seeds up in a little cheesecloth bag, per my instructions, to boil with the fruit. Perhaps soaking the pith overnight sould have worked, too.

    • Chile, thanks for your fabulous comment!!

      Re: gelatin, it’s my understanding that both pith and seeds have natural gelatin. Meyer lemons have a significant amount of pith, however, so there is no need to use the seeds. With less pithy regular lemons, if you’re not getting enough gelling, it makes sense to tie up the seeds as you do. Certainly if you’re making berry jam, using lemon/orange seeds (or lemon/orange pith) should work as well as packaged gelatin.

  • The best ant solution I’ve found (although not organic by any means unfortunately) is the Terro ant trap. This brand was suggested to my father by an exterminator and every time we’ve used them the ants have been taken care of. They are similar to the little houses–you cut a bottom piece out and the ant either drowns in the clear liquid or gets out and carries it back to the nest.

    If the ants are coming from an external source or seasonally, then you might have to use a few traps a season I imagine. However it should take care of the issue….

    • Simply Authentic, thanks for your comment. I’ve seen some organic alternatives that are very similar, but haven’t used them – let me know if you find one and try it! However, from what I’ve read, the solution in organic and non-organic traps is a sweet ingredient that animals might lick – so I have been afraid to use them for fear of my dog thinking it tasty.

  • Signe Marie

    Hello and thank you for this wonderful website, a visit here is always an inspiration!

    I just wanted to share with you one of the greatest natural ways to stop ant invasions, a tip my mother taught me: Cinnamon! If you can locate the place where the ants get in, just pour a small amount of cinnamon in the hole or crack. My guess is that the ants cannot breathe or walk in the cinnamon, I have managed to stop several invasions from one day to the next. Of course it will smell of cinnamon if you have large cracks to fill, but for smaller holes the smell quickly wears off.

    • Hi Signe Marie, I used to use cinnamon when I lived in Los Angeles – it was the ONLY thing that worked for me. I totally forgot about that – thanks for sharing your story!

  • We got a dog. That kept the raccoons from attacking the potted plants we had on the porch last year.

  • Hydroponics is easy. You simply mix the nutrient solution like General Hydroponics MaxiBloom like it says on the back of the bottle and pour into your grow system of choice (DWC, ebb and flow, aeroponic, NFT, or medium-based like coco coir. There are very little tweaks that need to be done depending on what you are growing.

    • Ok, Red Icculus, that sounds easy enough. I have a question: what is the main purpose in growing plant hydroponically versus in soil? Is it aesthetics? Does it taste better? I guess I’ve never had the urge to try it!

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