Friday, June 25, 2010



I headed out to the garden this yesterday morning to take advantage of a slight breeze and cooler temps after we had a good soaking thunderstorm yesterday afternoon day before yesterday. I planted a few seeds with my favorite tool for planting seeds... MY PENCIL! I have marks on the end in half-inch increments.

And since I am showing you my favorite garden tools, here are my other favorites. In fact, these are the only other tools that I need and, yes, the stool is there for me on the days when my back is giving me trouble. Having a square foot garden is so much easier than the tools I used when I was growing up and spent many hours in the garden with my grandfather. I can remember walking behind the tiller and hours upon hours spent with the hoe preparing rows for planting and then fighting the weeds!! I firmly believe that my grandfather would have loved a square foot garden!! Keeping the weeds under control is so much easier because I have so few of them.

Here are a few pictures that I took this morning. The peppers look great and, thankfully, no more brown spots.

This tomato bush is bringing much delight to my 10 year old son. Most of these tasty treats do not even make them inside. I wish I knew exactly what variety this is because I definately want more next year.

This is one of the Early Girl tomatoes.

And the cantaloupe continue to grow... It is fun training the vines to grow up the trellis. The bees are also enjoying the flowers on the vines. How long does it take the cantaloupes to mature for harvest from this point?

After I had planted the seeds, I proceeded to the square where I had pulled the bush green beans. With my handy garden tool (hand cultivator), I wanted to turn over the soil in that bed where I had sprinkled some fertilizer a few days earlier. Well, to my horror a large bed of fire ants had moved into a couple of side sqaures. Before I knew it, they were ALL over me!! Boy, do they hurt!!! This set me off on a journey, what can I do to get rid of these pests without hurting my plants????

I found this website that 10 Tips For Organic Ant Control.

1. Baking soda is poisonous to ants, spinkle it around your plants to ensure ants will stay away.

2. Flour & Baby Powder will keep ants from reaching your plants, ants will not cross the powder – so circle your plants with it.

3. You can use coffee grounds, chili powder, cinnamon, peppermint or black pepper. All deter ants and if you pour coffee grounds directly on an anthill, they will eat the coffee grounds and implode.

4. Grits, instant rice & cream of wheat can be sprinkled around plants. The ant will eat a piece of whichever you sprinkle, drink water and the grain expands and kills the ant.

5. Fill a spray bottle with 1 part vinegar and 1 part water and spray on plants. The acid in vinegar will kills ants.

6. Mix together one-third cup of molasses, six tablespoons of sugar, and six tablespoons of active dry yeast into a smooth paste. Use the mixture to coat strips of cardboard. Keep out of reach of pets and small children. You can leave mixture on a saucer outside anthill and they’ll eat it and die!

7. Fold contact paper in half, with the sticky side out and make a circle around base of plant. The ants get stuck on the paper – problem solved.

8. Cut off the bottom of a paper cup and cut a slit up the side of the cup and coat outside with vaseline and place around base of plant. You can also use packing tape.

9. Mix one cup of borax, two-thirds a cup sugar and one cup water. Dip cotton balls in the solution and place in areas near your anthill Ants will leave the plants alone and ingest the sweet mixture. The borax kills the ants.

10. Diatomaceous Earth is a commonly sold organic pesticide that will destroy the insects outer skeletons, causing the pests to die from dehydration.

Read our update to this post – where we tried some of the methods: Organic Ant Control Update

So... what do you use to control the ants in your garden?


  1. debbie - fire ants are welcomed in my garden, because they actually are quite beneficial. When termites try to setup camp in one of my raised beds, the fireants quickly eradicate them. Ha!
    BTW, cantaloupe is mature 5 weeks after fruitset.

  2. EG... how do I keep them from eating me alive??? I can imagine you setting up camp to watch the war between the ants and termites!! Video camera in hand!!

    And how do you know when the fruit is set?

    I hope you like being a teacher because I have lots of questions!!!

  3. Ugh, I still shudder when I think back to the summer when I got these fire ant bites on my ankle. Keep yourself protected! (But I don't actually know how to do that!?)

    I like your marked pencil idea. Might have to steal it for my next planting. :) I was trying to guess at the depth with my finger, but the pencil would definitely be more exact!

  4. thyme2garden, I have some nice little bites on my arm. The worse thing was that the rest of the day I felt like they were crawling on me!! YUCK!!

    The pencil works great. I use it to make and measure the hole for planting. Nice and neat!!

  5. debbie - I just make sure I don't disturb them as I tend to the plants. You'll know when fruitset occurs - because that tiny little melon will begin to get bigger. :-)

  6. Thanks, EG! It looks like I have lots of melons starting to grow!

    I guess my biggest concern with the fireants is all the kids that like to look at my garden because they are fascinated. I hope I may have some future gardeners on my hand. I wouldn't want the ants to get to them.

  7. EG, I appreciate your patience in answering all my questions!

  8. I mix borax and sugar in equal parts and sprinkle over the ant hills. I've never had fire ants, but it works with other kinds. I wouldn't use it where my dogs are, though. I'd be afraid they'd be attracted to the sugar and lick it up.

  9. Debi- Your garden is looking so great. I especially love the way you have trained your cantaloupe up the trellis. I am trying to grow some this year for the first time. We shall see how they like the cooler Pacific NW. In answer to your question, I have been growing pumpkins as long as I can remember. It was my vegeatble of choice as a little kid and they are still dear to my heart. The "pumpkins" in my profile picture are actually a winter squash called Queensland Blue. I haven't grown it yet - I took the picture at our Farmer's Market. But it's on my wish list!

  10. Granny, I went out on a mission yesterday to find Fish Fertilizer and Borax. The fish fertilizer was easy but the Borax was a different story. Finally at the 6th store, I found one beat up box that looked like it had been on the shelft since the store opened. I grabbed it like I had discovered GOLD, returned home, and prepared a feast of sugar and borax to feed to the fire ants. I will let you know if it works. Thanks for the info!

    Lexa, in my quest for the Borax, I found a package of Jack Be Little pumpkin seeds. FINALLY!!! YIPPEE!! My kids are excited and we will be trying to grow them this fall. For our area we can plant throught July. Here's hoping for success!! I may need to call on you for advice!!

  11. I guess I should have mentioned, you can find it in the soaps and detergents aisle at the grocery store. 20 Mule Team Borax. If it doesn't work on the ants, you can always add it to your dirty laundry ;-)

  12. Granny, I was looking around the soaps and detergents but no one had it. I couldn't believe it!! That is why I felt like I had found gold when I finally found it!!