Top Ten Gardening and Homesteading Hacks

Here are my top ten all time favorite gardening and homesteading hacks! These simple tricks are too good not to share :) For more detailed info on any of these ideas, click on the links provided.

1. Add a goldfish to your rain barrel to keep mosquitoes from breeding. For ten cents it will eat all of the mosquito larvae and you never have to feed your goldfish!

2. When buying wood for homesteading projects, check the damaged and returned wood at Lowe's and Home Depot to get up to 90% off the sticker price.

3. Lay down decorative metal garden edging or cucumber trellises to keep cats and other animals from digging up seeds in freshly planted soil.

4. Put cardboard down in the bottom of raised beds to kill weeds and grass and then add the dirt on top. The cardboard will decompose allowing plants to root deep in the ground, but only after it has suffocated all of the weeds and grass beneath it.

5. Put a layer of heavy duty chicken wire a few inches off the ground as the base of a chicken run floor to allow chickens to "free range" without pecking the ground bare.

6. Take a 2 liter bottle with a small hole in the top and flip it upside down into the dirt to water plant roots directly and avoid losing water through evaporation in the heat of the summer.

7. Use a spray bottle filled with water to train chickens to BE QUIET!

8. Use a spray bottle with a mixture of skim milk and water to naturally get rid of powdery mildew on plant leaves.

9. For carrots and other small seeds that need to stay consistently moist for germination, plant the seeds, water them in, and then lay a wooden board over the area to keep the moisture from evaporating. Check under the board each day and remove once the seedlings sprout.

10. Use oatmeal, cayenne pepper, and garlic as a natural chicken dewormer.

I hope you enjoy these tips and tricks! Feel free to add your own in the comments!

How to Keep Mosquitoes from Breeding in Your Rain Barrel

We live in South Louisiana. I am convinced that sometimes it is humid enough here for mosquitoes to breed in the air! Ok, so it may not be that bad, but they definitely don't need much water to multiply quickly. We use several rain barrels around the yard for refilling the watering systems for the rabbits and chickens as well as watering our fruit trees and vegetable garden. While there are many fancy (and expensive) rain barrels that have mesh on top to keep mosquitoes out (and I'm not convinced that always works), we use mostly old trash cans with open tops to collect and redistribute water. This creates a huge problem for mosquito breeding! 

Thankfully we found a simple and inexpensive solution that has worked AMAZING! This will set your bank account back by around 10 cents. That's right, less than a quarter! Go to your local pet store and buy a goldfish or two and drop them in your rain barrel. The fish will eat all of the mosquito larvae, taking care of the mosquito problem as well as feeding the fish. We have had our fish in the rain barrels for over a year now. We have never fed them, and they have lived through even the coldest temperatures when the rain barrels were completely frozen over! If you want to get even cheaper, you can always catch some minnows and put them in there, just be careful that you don't scoop them out when you are getting water- they blend in a lot better than goldfish do!