Western Mountains and High Plains
Nature Observer's Handbook
If you received a gift certificate as a present, put it to good use with the purchase of a good gardening or wildlife book. Among my favorites, especially for those of us with younger children, is The Nature Observer's Handbook, by John W. Brainerd (The Globe Pequot Press, 1986; $9.95). As the author writes: "All outdoors awaits you!" He presents ways to observe, experience, and record the intricate beauty of nature -- from the concrete or urban landscape experience to our untamed wilderness. Adults will enjoy it as much as the younger set.
Clever Gardening Technique
Cooking Oil Can Be a Real Bug Killer
Some research entomologists have come up with a recipe for a homemade insecticidal spray that works on aphids, whiteflies, and those dreaded spider mites. Prepare a concentrate by combining 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent (such as Joy or Ivory) with 1 cup vegetable cooking oil. Then, to make the spray, mix 1 to 2-1/2 teaspoons of the oil/detergent mixture with 1 cup water.
Spray on infested plants, making sure to cover the tops and undersides of the foliage, as well as infested stems. It is sure to get rid of the pesky invaders by suffocating the adults and hatching eggs. (Caution: Some plants with waxy leaves may be sensitive to the oil. With those types, use a lower concentration of oil or just use the soap solution alone.)