Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wet Newspaper Keeps the Weeds Out

I recently came across a post that mentioned using wet newspaper as a weed barrier in gardens or just under mulch so I did some research on it and have compiled a few things that I'd share.  I have put this into practice in my own flower garden as well.  It's also supposed to help cut out the amount of time spent weeding a garden.  I was looking for a way to kill the weeds without killing the flowers or bushes that most chemicals do.  Chemicals don't know the difference between weeds and flowers so it kills all of them.  Anyway, here's what I have gathered.  If you have anything to add, I'm open to suggestions since I am new at this. 

UPDATE:  I did research this method before publishing this 2 years ago and found that using the plain black and white papers generally were fine because of the type of inks they used.  I also found that it best to stay away from using anything printed in color.  If you are ever unsure just contact your newspaper company and they should be able to tell you or find out.  Here is a link that I found that explains it a little more.

Using Newspaper as a weed barrier in a garden 

Use 6-10 layers of newspapers with shredded leaves, straw, and/or coffee grounds on top, its organic so it will break down in the soil and is better for the soil than weed cloth. No need to worry about having too many layers of mulch, more is more often than not better. 

I've found that with the extra nutrients and moisture retention from the thick mulch the plants will grow bigger and crowd out most weeds anyways. 

If you're gardening with rows of vegetables you can change to using wide beds (2 ft wide if against a wall, 4 ft wide if there are paths on both sides). This will also reduce the amount of weeds, since groups of plants reduce the area for weeds to grow in. 

When planting in rows weeds can grow on both sides of the row, so the weed circumference to planting area ratio is large. When planting in wide beds the weed circumference to planting area ratio is smaller, so less weeding is needed.

What Paper to Use
The coarse paper of the standard part of the newspaper is suitable for use as mulch. Do not use the slick or glossy advertising inserts often included with newspapers. This is the same portion of the newspaper that can be recycled. 

Wetting the Paper
Wetting the newspaper helps create weight that will hold the newspaper in place and allow it to mold to the ground. Place a minimum of five layers of newspaper across the ground, and cover them with mulch. Stagger placement of the pages so the seams of one layer are covered by the center of other layers. Shape the newspaper mulch around the desired plants in the garden. 

Covering the Paper
Newspaper is not the most attractive form of mulch available and can blow away once the initial moisture dries. Scatter leaves, sawdust, hay or straw across the wet newspaper mulch. Spray these with a garden hose to hold them in place. Using organic materials as a cover for the newspaper mulch allows both materials to be incorporated into the soil at the end of the growing season. 

Working it Under
A rototiller breaks up the weathered newspaper and works it and the cover material into the ground, where it decomposes. Accomplish the same process with a garden fork or shovel with a little more sweat and effort. Work the newspaper mulch and cover into the ground as soon as the growing season is over to prevent the materials from blowing in the wind.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dog or Cat Urine Smell and Stain Remover

If you're anything like me, I have animals.  Unfortunately, my dog is a 13 year old Beagle.  She, up until the last year or so, didn't have any "accidents".  I guess with age comes with the inability to control how often she goes, so this means we are cleaning up a LOT of  wet spots on our carpet.  We also have a 12 year old black tabby, who for some reason finds it necessary to pee in random spots in our home.  We found out a while back that if we put in some apple cider vinegar in with our wash, it gets the urine smell out of anything... that is if it fits in the washing machine.  Unfortunately, that didn't necessarily work on carpet or linoleum and both animals will go back to the same spot because of the smell from their urine.

Here is a recipe for how to treat accidents and how to clean up the stain and the smells.

Baking Soda
White Vinegar
Liquid Dishwashing Detergent (like Dawn dish soap)
3% Hydrogen Peroxide

 First Step

Mix a solution of fifty percent white vinegar and fifty percent water. You must use a liberal amount of this solution to reach the carpet fibers deep down. Work the solution into the carpet with a scrubbing brush to ensure it penetrates the carpet fibers below.

Then blot the area using the paper towel method above to absorb the vinegar mixture. The vinegar will neutralize the ammonia in the dog urine. If you own a wet/dry vacuum extractor use that to remove excess moisture.

Next Step

When the area has dried or almost dried sprinkle a good handful of baking soda over the soiled area. 

Mix half a cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with a teaspoon of detergent. Plain liquid dishwashing detergent is required. Do not use caustic dishwasher detergent.

Slowly pour the hydrogen peroxide and dishwashing detergent mixture over the baking soda. (Alternatively you can use a spray bottle for the hydrogen peroxide solution). Then work the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide mixture well into the carpet with your fingers or with a scrubbing brush.

Allow the area to dry completely. Once the area is thoroughly dry, vacuum up the baking soda. Use a hard bristled brush to loosen up the baking soda if necessary.

 That's all there is to it. Your carpet will smell fresh and free from urine odor.

 If you don't have hydrogen peroxide on hand you could substitute it in an emergency for a spray laundry stain remover. Check the bottle. If it says 'Oxy' anywhere on the label then it probably contains hydrogen peroxide.

In areas that have been heavily soiled with dog urine you may have to repeat the process again.

 ****This recipe is for one small area of dog urine. For larger areas you will need to adjust the quantities of ingredients used. Feel free to experiment.****

***NOTE: Vinegar neutralizes the ammonia in the urine and peroxide breaks down some of the components in the urine which cause odor and stains. Baking soda absorbs any remaining odors.

How to neutralize pet odors

For pee accidents on tile, I’ll neutralize the urine with sprays of vinegar, clean up the mess and then scrub my floors with lemon juice and salt to make sure the odor and urine is neutralized.

 For big messes that require me to mop the floors, I’ll mix 3 parts water with 1 parts vinegar to use as a mop solution for my floors. My house usually has a slight vinegar smell afterward but once I open my windows, to let in some fresh air, the vinegar smell is gone in an hour or so.

To freshen up the dog beds,  I spray mists of lemon juice and water over their beds with a plastic spray bottle.  I let the beds air dry and they are left with a fresh lemony scent.

For yellow stains on carpet and rugs, I rub in a paste made up of baking soda and water. Then, I let the paste sit on the stain for 5-10 minutes before cleaning the paste off with water. The area is then left to air dry.

To neutralize urine ammonia in rugs and carpets, I spray a solution of equal parts water mixed with vinegar onto the area and let it air dry.

Soft Scrubbing Type Cleaner

Here is one for cleaning counter tops, sinks or any area that needs some scrubbing without the worry of scratching the surface.  I used this on my glass top stove and it did beautifully!

 Homemade “soft scrub” Type Cleaner
There are no measurements necessary for this one. Simply put a small amount of baking soda in a bowl and add liquid dish detergent until you have smooth paste or frosting like substance. This very well on sinks and counters and won’t scratch the surface.

**Recipe from**

Homemade All Purpose Cleaners

***CAUTION: NEVER mix bleach with ammonia or vinegar.  It will cause toxic fumes that are extremely dangerous***

My Homemade Cleaner
In a clean, empty gallon milk jug put:
2 Tablespoons ammonia
1 teaspoon dish detergent
1 pint (2 cups) rubbing alcohol
4 drops food coloring – optional
a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a nice fresh scent, I use red
Fill the rest of the gallon jug with hot water. Pour into spray container to use.
Here is a cleaner you make right in your spray bottle:

All-Purpose Cleaner
2Tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon Borax
Hot water
a few drops of a mild dish detergent
10 drops of essential oil, optional

In a 16 spray bottle put vinegar, borax and hot water. Swish around until borax has dissolved. Add the drops of dish detergent and fill the rest of the bottle with water. Add the essential oil (I like using orange or lavender).

All Purpose Cleaner in a Bucket (for big jobs like walls)
½ cup ammonia
¼ cup vinegar
¼ cup baking soda
Mix the above ingredients with 1 gallon of warm water and use for basic cleaning jobs around the home. Double the above ingredients for cleaning shower walls or other extra heavy duty areas.

**Recipes from**

Homemade Floor Cleaners

Homemade Floor Cleaner
1 cup white vinegar
1 gallon warm water
Mix in your cleaning bucket and use this to clean vinyl type floors.

Wood Floor Cleaner
½ cup vinegar
1 gallon water
The most important thing to keep in mind while cleaning wood floors is that they can not get overly wet. When you use the above mixture, dip your sponge mop into the solution and squeeze until almost dry. Then mop. Never put the cleaner directly on the floor. Dry any streaked or wet area with a clean towel as you go along the floor.

**Recipes from**

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Homemade Laundry Detergent
(For Front or top load machine) 

Yield:  Liquid Soap recipe makes 10 gallons (5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads) 

4  Cups - hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar/Ivory/Zote (Fels-Naptha carries health concerns)
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda* (or washing soda) - in the laundry detergent isle
½ Cup Borax


- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken. 

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel) 

-Optional:  You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

 *Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online  (at Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!

**Recipe from**

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Ingredients: (Yields 80 loads)

 •2 cups Borax
 •2 cups Washing Soda
 •1 Cup Kosher salt
 •10 packages unsweetened lemonade (citric acid)
 •A container to store it in

 I just added everything to the container I was going to store it in.   I stirred it and broke up some clumps.  Then I shook it to get it good and mixed up.  When I labeled it I made sure I put "1 tbs per load" so that my husband would know how much to use and I left the 1tbs in there. 

For a rinse aid, I put vinegar in the rinse aid compartment.  I have already used this recipe on a load and my dishes look beautiful!!!   

The cost of this averages $4.50 a batch.  My husband and I were spending $14 for 115 loads of the cascade action packs or $6 for a box Cascade Complete which supposedly doesn't need any prewashing but the directions say "For Best Results, Fill Both The Pre-Wash and The Main Wash Cups Completely." 

Anyway, I hope you find this recipe useful.  So far I'm loving it. 

Edited:  We had to substitute Lemi Shine (1/4cup for one batch) for the Lemonade packets. Be sure to include some rice when making this and put it in a good air tight container or it will become one big clump and won't be usable.