Fruit Fly Trap

This tutorial is a bit icky, but oh so rewarding… killing massive amounts of fruit flies.

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Can you see them at the bottom of that cup? More pictures at the bottom.

Call me a weird person for being so excited about it, but man do I dislike those things. Colorado doesn’t get much for bugs, so when this cloud invades our kitchen (or entire apartment) when the trash has a lot of “fresh” food in it (because we don’t have a compost), I get grumpy. Don’t stay grumpy, do something.

A lot of people have tried vaccuming the flies. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always kill them, and if you don’t own a vaccume that has it’s own bag, the flies will just get out when you empty it. Many people have heard of the plastic wrap over a bowl of fruit and/or vinegar method. this traps a good number of them, but it doesn’t really kill them, and it just produces a breeding ground so if any of them do find their way out you just have more!

Trust me, you need to try this method.

All you need:

  • small cup or bowl
  • Vinegar (I go with apple, not sure if it makes a difference)
  • Liquid Soap
  • Somewhat high pressure water (or something else to make it “frothy”)

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This is all super simple, not sure why I have so many photos.

First: pour a small amount of vinegar in the cup. A few tablespoons should be sufficient to start, but it depends on the size of your cup or bowl.

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Then, do about 1 pump of soap. I’ve heard people stop here saying the soap is toxic to them and kills them. I recommend going 1 step further.

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Give the mixture a quick blast of water to create some good suds. Now, the flies will come to the smell of the vinegar, and then they get caught in the suds and drown.

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You would be amazed how quickly this knocks out a swarm! Check on it a few times a day and refresh the suds as they die down. The vinegar smell is usually still strong enough even if you fill the cup up toward the top.

Can you see those black dots around the bottom of the cup? ALL fruit flies. This has typically killed off most of the swarm in just a couple days. That is a LOT of flies!

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So gross. So satisfying.

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Hanging Railing Planter

It’s garden time again! Due to the traveling we did this spring, I didn’t bother starting any seedlings because they never would have made it. Thankfully I have some over-zealous friends who planted a ton extra so I got some of their bounty! I’m learning from some of my mistakes this year and utilizing our new deck to create some shadier spaces to keep the plants cool. They say they are full-sun, but they haven’t met the match of Colorado draught sun on a roof!

One idea I’m trying out this year is to use a “planter” of sorts that doubles as some extra shade for the plants below.

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What you need:

  • A fabric shower curtain or window cover (try thrift stores or discount stores) or a couple of yards of fabric. – Be sure it’s some sort of polyester  you don’t want the planter disintegrating byt he end of the summer.
  • A sewing machine. – I have a pretty basic machine that only does straight lines and zigzags and it was sufficient.
  • Heavy Duty thread.
  • Cord or rope to attach the planter to your railing. – You could also create some straps from fabric if needed. Again, keep it synthetic, cotton and hemp aren’t going to last.
  • Dirt – plan on 1 cu ft  bare minimum. This also depends on the amount of fabric you have and the final size of the planter. Bags of dirt never go as far as you think they will, be safe and go with 2.
  • Plants. – I went with some heartier plants that do ok in sometimes dry soil. These hanging fabric planters lose water faster than pots. I also bought some basil which isn’t the heartiest, but I wanted to give it a shot and have some fresh stuff on hand.
  • Gardening tools and extras you want. – those other things that you want, gloves, fertilizers, labels, etc.

Start of by folding your curtain in half, bring the bottom up to the top. If there is an obvious “outside” (a pattern or nicer seems) be sure to start off by sewing “inside out” and have the pattern on the inside. If you don’t have a curtain that is already reinforced at the top, it would be a good idea to create a sort of thick hem on top that will be strong enough to support the planter. If you do already have a reinforced top, leave a little bit of that uncovered to use to hang from.

Then, simply sew the edges together. My machine has a harder time with thick spots, so I just kept it right on the outside edge of the seems.

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Be sure to keep the top open, that is one of the slots you will be putting dirt in.

Then, reinforce those seems with a zigzag. There will be a lot of reinforcing on this project, wet dirt gets heavy!

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Once you have the sides sewn at least twice, go ahead and flip it right side out. Now you will have the pattern (or nice side of the fabric) facing outward. We will be working with it this way the rest of the project.

Next, sew a couple more pockets. I decided to just do 4 total, but you can split it up as much as you want. I kept the pockets larger since my plants need a bit more space for roots. Be sure to double sew these lines as well.

*On this project I did not leave extra space in between top and bottom pockets. If you are doing larger pockets like this, I recommend you put at least a few inches of space between the bottom of the top pockets and bottom pockets so your plants have more room to grow up. You can see in my later pictures my mint and lavender are a little “cozy” on bottom.

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At this point you have sewn at least a couple of “pockets” shut. Cut a slit in the top layer. Don’t cut all the way through both layers!

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Sew around the raw edges of fabric, you don’t want them to fray away into nothing.

Also, on the outside corners of the pocket opening run that zig-zag a few extra times and make a nice thick edge. The corners will take a lot of weight and want to split.

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You can really see my perfectionist sewing coming out on this project… look at all those not-so-straight lines. That’s my life, friends, I hate straight lines. You know what? This thing doesn’t have to look perfect to function well!

Sew some super reinforced “buttonholes”. No need for a fancy machine to serge this, just zig zag over itself multiple times, leaving a space you will soon cut open to run your cord/rope through.

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I put 3 on top, and 2 on the sides to keep it from blowing in the wind.

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Again, 3 cheers for imperfection!

Cut some small slits in the button holes, and strap your planter to your railing. If you know some fancy knots, you can make it so you can move the planter if needed. Otherwise, just tie it tight.

Fill your pockets up with dirt leaving a inch or two to the brim. That way if you get a downpour you won’t loose too much dirt. And plant your plants! Look at my herbs, nice as cozy:

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As I mentioned before, you can see how the lower plants are a little tight. They have room, but they have to dodge the pocket above them. If your pockets are smaller, this likely won’t be an issue. If you are doing larger pockets, be sure to create more space than I did.

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Here is the rest of my garden as well. A large variety of squashes  I found this lattice for a few bucks at our local ReStore (a crafters dream). I love beans, so decided to plant them late anyway. I’m also going to see if I can train the watermelon to grow up instead of out.

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A smattering of peppers, some hot and some sweet. The fruit crate planters are holding up well enough from last year.

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Our lonely tomato plant. Our friend didn’t have many extras, and since they didn’t do so well last year we decided to wait and see this time around. I will be giving this guy a lot of TLC, because there is nothing like a fresh grown tomato.

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A variety of leafy greens. They are doing better than I expected, so I will likely have to find a few more pots to put them in. Or possibly test them out in the pallet again, trying to keep it a little shadier. Also saving some space in the pallet for some more herbs!

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And I couldn’t resist getting some flowers this year. Even if we have another rough summer of draught, I can keep a little bit of bright color and life around with the cosmos. And maybe even get another bloom out of the Amaryllis!

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Here we go again, another summer of experimentation on the patio. Let me know what you think!

Frost-Proofing the Roof Garden

Pallet Garden Frost Proof

So the timing of this post is off. Talking about frost in July? It is Colorado, but I’m not too worried about it.

It was, however, a crazy spring, and it seems better to get this seed planted (pun intended) in your brain so when you have your own pallet garden and you get that surprise snow storm you’ll be prepared.

What You Need:

  • We inherited a roll of what I believe is painters plastic, which just so happened to be the perfect size for our pallet. Any large piece of plastic or old bed sheet would work.
  • Sticks or dowels taller than your plants.
  • Staple gun (or another way to hold the plastic down and make sure it doesn’t fly away in the wind)
I took some dead branches from a tree hanging over our porch, broke them into pieces that would hold the plastic above the plants. This is important, you want to keep the plastic off the plants as much as possible to help keep them from freezing. If they touch, they are more likely to freeze. If you want to look a little more clean and less haphazard, get a dowel or two, or even some paint stirrers, and cut them up. Place the sticks around the outside edges as well as throughout the middle trying not to upset your plants too much.

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Lay the plastic over your pallet and get it arranged and straightened. It was a good windy storm, so we went all out and stapled the corners down instead of just laying something heavy on the corners. Start at one end, get all the excess gathered, and make sure you pull it fairly tight. You don’t want to wind catching too much of the plastic and ripping it off.

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The plants, all cozy! They kind of look tucked in for bed. All the rest of the plants were still in small pots  we just brought them inside for the night.

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And safe and sound the next morning!

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The snow was already melting in the sun, and next to nothing was damaged. When I unrolled the plastic I only detached it from one end and left the top stapled in case we had another round of frost.

What method have you had luck with?

Roof Pallet Garden

So you have likely seen the vertical pallet garden by now, right? Well, we live in a second floor apartment with a door to a  south facing “porch” which is actually a flat piece of roof with no railings. We love it. (We have no children…)

But we want a garden. And not some silly little flowers packed in tight, we wanted to produce food from our plants. So our pallet garden looks a little different:

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What You Need:

  • – Pallet – if you are going to eat from your pallet, be careful to not get one treated with chemicals.
  • – Landscaping Fabric – keeps your dirt inside the pallet and not all over your porch.
  • -Staple Gun
  • – Dirt – our pallet was smaller than standard size 50in by 25in , and used less than 3 cubic feet of dirt (Get the potting kind! We had to exchange ours…)
  • – Plants – do a little research as to what you want and what works well in your region and in smaller spaces.

Start by fixing up your pallet. Clean up any stray nails/screws and sturdy up any loose boards.

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Some of the plants. We also bought a bunch of tomatos (already potted here) to see how they’d do. I eat tomatos like candy…

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Attach your landscaping fabric. We went overboard with the staple gun, but I don’t regret it. Went along all four sides as well as the support pieces that go across the middle.

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Make sure to keep the “top” open if you are going to put this upright at all. If you put it completely upright you will want to plant here, if it is at a slight upright (like ours) then it helps to collect rain water.

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Start filling with dirt, make sure to tuck it in the bottom and under the support pieces so there won’t be too much movement when you put it more upright. Don’t overfill yet, you need to put your plants in still.

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Happy garden making!

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Now put in your plants! Make sure to loosen the roots of the plant so it takes in its new place, but don’t disturb the roots too much, it’s hard on the young plants. Tuck them in fairly tight (but not too tight) with more dirt. Full in any sneaky holes, and save the rest of the dirt to fill in as it settles.

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The finished product a few weeks later moved to it’s final resting place:


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Facing slightly east for extra sun, with our struggling tomatos in front. (I trimmed all that blight off, but they still have a pile of flowers, so I think they will be OK!)

Thus far my main improvements have to do with my plant care, but this neat little pallet keeps out weeds and many ground varmints. I am however experimenting with how to keep the squirrels from digging, but so far they haven’t ruined any plants. However, the fight is on once fruit starts forming…