Thursday, November 4, 2021

Easy (Not Pretty) Remedy for Soil Gnats

Before I blog about any more of the excursions my daughters have taken me on, I want to write about a discovery I made.  I love the outings and I have written about most of them, but I have not published all of them.  I will eventually and they will be included in my blog books.  As much fun as they are for us, it probably isn't that interesting to read about.  You all know how it is looking at thousands of other peoples vacation photos.  

Although this problem may be well known to gardeners, until recently I have never had any experience.  It all started in the fall of 2020.  It may have started years before, but I didn't notice or make the connection.  The problem is soil or fungus gnats that hatch in the soil.  I always thought they were probably fruit flies even if I didn't know the source.  I was wrong. 

I love putting my house plants outside for the summer.  They thrive much better with fresh air, natural humidity and sunlight.  The downside is that some plants get infested with various insects like aphids, leafhoppers, or in my case soil gnats.  These gnats look like little tiny mosquitoes or fruit flies.  It seems that last year my lemon trees were infested the worst.  I'm not sure why.  So far this fall, I have very few so it may be connected to weather conditions during the summer.

These gnats are not very harmful to the plant, but they are very annoying when they fly around, although they stay pretty close to the plant during the day.  I did notice they are attracted to light because I see them at night when the reading lamps are on or sometimes in a sunny window.  These gnats lay eggs in the top 2-3 inches of soil.  I have found the drier you can keep the top soil, the less gnats.  

There are remedies.  You can re-pot the plant in fresh sterile soil,  there are insecticides which is never my first choice, or sticky strips to catch the gnats as they fly around.  The sticky strips can be bought from a garden center or online.  There are several brands to choose from and they work fairly well.  

These are small yellow sticky strips.  They come with a small clip and are placed in the flower pot.  As the gnats fly around and land, they stick.  The more you catch, the better because they can't lay more eggs and start the hatching process all over.  These sticky strips don't contain any poisons so they are safe for pets, although getting the sticky strip off a dog or cats nose may be problematic.

The only problem I have found is availability.  I ended up ordering them online.  Before I discovered these strips, I used another sticky strip that worked well.  Last fall when I realized I had a gnat problem, I had to come up with a solution fast and didn't have time to shop around.  I went into our storeroom and discovered a package of sticky mouse traps.  I think we picked it up at a liquidators store for pennies, but we never used them.  I thought it was inhumane, and I didn't want to dispose of a mouse either dead or alive stuck to a board. 

I took one of the 5 x 8 inch sheets and cut it into strips.  I then folded the strip in half, peeled the protective paper and clipped it to a pinch clothes pin.  

As an experiment I tried both the yellow strips and the glue board strip.  They both work.  I caught one gnat so far on this plant but I just put it out a couple days ago.  I do know that if the gnats show up, I will be ready.  It isn't a pretty solution, but it is an easy inexpensive solution to an aggravating problem. 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

More 2021 Fall Colors at Rib Mountain

For years we have talked about going to see the fall colors from Rib Mountain in Wausau, Wisconsin.  Fall colors are so hard to predict.  A person can watch the color map diligently and still miss the peak color.  We have planned trips and then a big wind or rain storm would blow through and spoil the beautiful colors.  So when my daughter called to see if I was interested in going this year, I said absolutely yes.  Then I started watching the weather forecast.  Of course, we had gorgeous weather all week but the weather persons said the weekend would be cloudy and a 50/50 chance of rain.  It is one hundred miles to Wausau from my house.  It's a long way to go only to be disappointed by bad weather.  It took my eleven year old grandson to say, "let's just go! It will be fun anyway."  So we did.  My daughter Heather and her son Ewan picked up both grandmas, and we headed "up north".  

It was sunny and very warm when we left, but the weather can change dramatically in a hundred miles.  I would see some clouds in the distance and think things will change soon.  I'm usually not such a pessimist, but it has happened too many times.  It's Wisconsin after all.  The temperature has been in the 80's which is strange for October.  We even saw several lilac bushes full of blossoms and very few leaves.  Lilacs bloom in May in Wisconsin, not October.  Another sign global warming is real?

I'm happy I was so very wrong and so were the weather people.  The day and the weather were perfect.

We pulled into the Granite Peak ski area about one o'clock.  We had stopped for lunch earlier because we didn't know how long we would be at the park. 

We had reserved tickets online, but needed to go to the ticket counter to get our wrist bands.  The line was quite long, but it moved along.  It's always fun to people watch.  We could watch others leaving on the chair lift and returning so we knew exactly what we were doing by the time we reached the front of the line.


Before we knew it we were next in line.  Anyone who skis knows how this works, but this was only the second time I had been on a chair lift.  My husband and my daughters skied, but I did not.  I would go along sometimes and sit in the lodge with hot chocolate and my knitting.  My niece got married at a beautiful ski resort in Michigan, and the guests were taken to the top of the hill by a ski lift.  That was also a beautiful day. 

The trip up the mountain was great.  We stopped a couple times and it felt like the top of a ferris wheel, swaying in the breeze a bit.  On the way we stopped right to the side of some trees.  In the trees were some beads, several pairs of shoes and even a bright red bra.  I saw several people riding barefooted but I thought they just didn't want their flip flops falling off.  Maybe they threw their shoes onto the trees.  Seems to be a pretty expensive prank.  As for the, I didn't look to see where that came from.  

There were beautiful trees along the way.  The sumac was bright red, the birch trees were yellow and other trees were various shades of red, orange and gold.  It was a beautiful contrast to the trees that were still green.  

When we reached the top, we could stay on the chair lift and return or get off and explore for a while.  We got off.  Rib Mountain State park has a lot of trails and big rock formations.  Ewan was in his glory being the mountain man that he is.

There were stone steps and pretty ground cover.  People were hiking and running the trails.  It would be a great place to visit without the ride on the ski lift.  

The view of Wausau from the top was breathtaking.  Pictures don't do it justice.  I could never capture the real beauty of the area.

Eventually we returned to the lift and headed back.  It was just as much fun going back down.  

It was a wonderful warm and sunny day.  I am so grateful for the family I have and that they include me in their life.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Fall Excursion To Old World Wisconsin

It's funny how it happens.  September comes around, and we think of all the things we wanted to do during the summer months but didn't.  My daughters' family (especially her son Ewan) have wanted to visit Old World Wisconsin for quite some time.  Old World Wisconsin is located in the Kettle Moraine State forest near Eagle, Wisconsin.  Fall is a great time to go because the admission tickets are discounted, and the crowds are diminished.  They are only open on weekends September to the middle of October.  Anyone who knows me or has read this blog has been introduced to my youngest grandson Ewan.  He is interested in all things old.  Maybe that's why he shows so much love to his grandparents.  He even has his own YouTube channel called Old Time Skills. Visiting Old World Wisconsin was a no-brainer for him.  I haven't been there for almost 40 years.  I really wanted to return after reading the book Old World Murders by Kathleen Ernst.  The story takes place at Old World Wisconsin and the Eagle, Wisconsin area.  Some things have changed and improved over the years, but very old things that were old then are still old.  There are a few upgrades but overall the layout is the same.  They have trams instead of wagons to move people from village to village.  They have upgraded and improved the gardens and fencing while still keeping in the period.  There are a few new buildings being created.  One is a tap house and brewing complex.  A 115 year old tavern building was donated and is being moved to the site along with the fixtures.  I'm not sure when that will be opened.

After we got our tickets, we started up the first path we saw.  The first building was a Wheelmen's Club.  They were letting people ride the big old fashioned bikes, so Ewan took his turn.  It was a little chilly at first and we bundled up, but soon it became a perfect temperature for a fall day.  No mosquitoes either.

There were some old fashioned yard games to play.  The rolling hoop was very popular.  They could play catch or race across the grass rolling the hoop as fast as possible.

Walking down the the gravel road gave the effect of how it was with no paved roads or traffic.   We decided to take a path less traveled and headed off trail toward the Scandinavian section.

There were Finnish, Danish and Norwegian homesteads in this area.  They are quite a distance apart so we definitely got our steps in.  The houses were quite similar in their construction.  Since we are of Danish heritage, we spent a little extra time at the Danish homestead.  My son in law made a joke about being "Dane-ish" and not full blooded Danes.  I guess he is right but 23 & Me told me I am 33.6% Danish.

The gardens were almost harvested but they still had herbs, lavender and some strawberry plants.  The next house along the path was the 1860's Norwegian Immigrant farm.  They had beautiful sheep.  This home had a costumed staff member who answered questions about the building and instructed us on sheep shearing, how to card the wool and demonstrated the spinning wheel.  

After the sheep are sheared, the dirty wool is washed and carded to make the fibers long to get them ready for spinning.  A little like combing hair.

The spun wool is then dyed with natural dyes and hung outside to dry.  It is now ready to knit, crochet or weave.

As we worked our way to all three of the villages, we enjoyed what each of them had to offer.  There were fancy fences from the Hessian and Pomeranian houses, farm animals and interesting buildings.

This Polish house had very interesting construction and the honoring of their strong religion beliefs..

It was a beautiful fall day, and I am so grateful to my family for including me.  Ewan got a first hand look at what it was like to live as an early immigrant in Wisconsin.  Part of it was appealing imagining a life away from the rat race of today.  That is where it ends. Posing for a picture is one thing, but imagine having to walk a hundred yards to the privy in a blizzard without any Charmin. 

Or having to tend to the animals in hot humid conditions with the flies and smell.  Even when human food was scarce, the animals had to be fed.

The day ended with Ewan being able to make an item in the leather shop.  A lot of memories were made.