Tips & Surprising Ideas for Decorating with Pumpkins

Despite the current temperature, fall is officially here! While the weather still feels like a mid-July summer, October is knocking on the door and cooler days are on the horizon. Don’t let the lack of low fall temperatures put a damper on your holiday spirit! It’s time to head to the attic and snag all things Halloween and Thanksgiving decor. But, let’s be real… Did you really even decorate for fall if there aren’t a few pumpkins scattered around? That’s a hard no! 

Head to your local farmers market to snag a few real pumpkins to throw in with your fall decor. If you’re in the Baldwin County area here’s a list of local farmer’s markets. On average, pumpkins that are kept in a cool area with plenty of circulation can last two to three months. Planning on carving a few? These bad boys can stick around for about two weeks as long as you put them in the fridge between uses.

Really wanting to kick your pumpkin decorating up a notch this fall? Here are a few of our favorite ways to incorporate pumpkins that are sure to surprise you!

Keep it Cool

When fall comes to mind, typically pumpkin spice follows shortly after. While the season is known for this warm drink there’s no reason we have to rule out the cool drinks too! Are you planning to host a Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving dinner? If so, kick the ice bucket to the curb and replace it with a hollowed out pumpkin! Scoop out the pumpkin seeds, fill it up with ice and put in a bottle of your go-to bubbly.

Candy Jar

Put a new spin on a candy dish by using a pumpkin! What cooler way to greet your trick-or-treater’s than with a pumpkin filled to the brim with sweets? Just simply slice a pumpkin so that about two thirds will act as the base, and one third will be the lid. Keep it around after Halloween and use it for additional fall decor!

Fall Vase

Displaying flowers inside is a great way to create a relaxed, beautiful atmosphere. Now, amplify the atmosphere by transforming a pumpkin into a vase to hold your favorite blooms! It’s much more simple than it sounds. After hollowing out a pumpkin, add a small-scale jar with water to the inside and place your bouquet inside. Use this as your dining table or coffee table centerpiece for the fall season!

Add Some Color

The days of orange-only pumpkins are long gone. While it may be the standard, it’s easy to switch it up and create a range of vibrant colors. Choose colors and styles to fit your home decor. Add some glam with metallic pumpkins or go for the farmhouse look with pastel hues. Go the whole nine yards by pairing a few different colors together!

Adding pumpkins to your home’s decor is a great way to get in the fall spirit. While it may not feel like fall just quite yet, it can certainly look like fall! Use the above tips to (pumpkin) spice it up and take your fall decorations to another level.

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Control Fire Ants in Your Yard

Did you know that fire ants occur in practically every home lawn across the United States? Even for those who manage to achieve a completely fire ant free yard, it usually doesn’t last long because newly mated fire ant queens will quickly make their way to colonize it. Plus, new fire ant colonies are able to thrive better in areas where they don’t have other colonies to compete with.

In the South, controlling fire ants in your yard can seem like a never-ending battle. But, there are steps homeowner’s can take to keep their lawn practically free of those pesky fire ants.

Baits

Baits are the easiest, cheapest, and most effective step a homeowner can take to controlling fire ants. You should apply them as broadcast treatments instead of trying to treat individual mounds. Broadcast bait treatment works by targeting all of the fire ant colonies in your yard, not just the big mounds. When you treat just the big mounds, it allows the smaller colonies the opportunity to thrive due to having less competition.

Early springs is a great time to start applying fire ant baits in your lawn. If you can treat your lawn again during midsummer and fall it will help keep the issue controlled. Try to apply the bait during a time when it is not supposed to rain for a few days. This will allow time for the ants to pick up the bait and take it back to their mound before the rain washes it away.

Mound Treatments

Do you have a large mound forming by your back patio that you can’t wait 4 weeks for a bait treatment to control? Try using an individual mound treatment. Individual mound treatments contain contact insecticides which provide a quicker control than bait treatments. Mound treatments are great to use when you want to quickly eliminate a large fire ant mound.

Dry mound treatments that contain acephate as the active ingredient are the most effective. However, the odor may linger in the area you treat for weeks. So, people typically tend to use treatments that contain the active ingredients deltamethrin or cyfluthrin.

Broadcast Insecticide Treatments

Broadcast insecticide treatments are applied across the entire lawn. These treatments are usually more expensive and time-consuming than baits. The usage of broadcast insecticide treatments is most common in highly managed areas, like athletic fields and golf courses.

Most broadcast treatments used for controlling fire ants also help with other pests including: chinch bugs, white grubs, and mole crickets. So, if you have multiple pests problems using broadcast treatments may be the most useful. It’s important to read over the label prior to purchasing to make sure the treatment will help with the group of pests you need to control.

If you are willing to go the extra mile in your efforts of controlling fire ants, you can combine the methods. Some homeowner’s use broadcast insecticide treatments on areas where there is high traffic, like the patio. Then, they will use baits throughout the rest of the yard. Want to learn more about fire ants? Read more by clicking here.

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Soil pH – Why It’s Important & How To Correct It

When it comes to plant health, soil pH plays a vital role. If your soil is too acidic or too alkaline, your plants will be unable to absorb the nutrients they need properly — which means they won’t be able to grow. Measuring the degree of acidity and alkalinity in soil is based on a scale of 0-14. Soil with a pH of 7 is considered neutral, 0-7 is acidic and 7-14 is alkaline. In terms of lawn grass soil, the ideal pH is 6.5 and can be determined by a soil test. If you perform a soil test and the results show your soil could use some adjusting, here’s how to correct it.

Soil pH Correction

  • Always read the product label. Once you choose what product you are going to use to correct your soil’s pH, it’s extremely important to read the instructions that come with the package. Depending on what product you choose, you may need a special spreader for it to be done correctly. For example, one brand of sulfur may be ground more finely than another, which could cause damage to your plants if too much product is applied.
  • Fall is prime application time. Try to make the fall months your annual time to test soil and begin correcting pH. This will help you get the desired results and offer plenty time for the soil to break down for spring planting.
  • Take your time. Correcting the pH in your soil may not happen after the first application. In fact, it could take up to a year or longer to get your soil back on track. Make one application of the product and then wait at least three months to retest and reapply if needed. If you apply too much product, it could overdose your soil which does more harm than good.
  • Be mindful of what you plant. When selecting what plants you would like, it’s best to choose those that are suited to the soil you have. You can tweak the soil pH to better growing conditions, but the overall makeup of soil pretty much is what it is.

Acidic Soil

  • Lime. Limestone is a commonly used soil additive that helps raise the pH level . There are usually two types: calcitic limestone and dolomitic limestone. Calcitic limestone is mostly calcium carbonate, while dolomitic limestone adds magnesium to the soil. Each type works well at raising soil pH. When choosing a product, you will notice that liming products come in granular, hydrated, pelletized or pulverized forms. Despite which product you choose, it’s important to know that they all work better when worked down into the soil, rather than being left on top.
  • Wood ash. If you want to take a more organic approach to making your soil less acidic, sprinkle about 1/2″ of wood ash over the soil and mix it about one foot deep. Choosing this route requires smaller applications over several years, but it is very effective.

Alkaline Soil

  • Sulfur. Elemental sulfur (or sulphur) may be the easiest and most common way to make your soil more acidic. Sulfur is cheap, relatively safe and can be spread on top of soil. It is does act slowly, so be sure not to apply more than 2 pounds per 100 square feet at a time.
  • Aluminum sulphate and Iron sulfate. Each of these products acts quickly. However, they can also cause the most damage by adding salts and elements that can build up in your soil. Be mindful when applying and only put no more than 5 pounds per 100 square feet.
  • Sphagnum peat. Another great organic solution is sphagnum peat. It adds organic matter to the soil and increases water retention. Work a 2″ layer of the product into the soil that is at least a foot deep. If you are adding it to a larger area, it may require the use of a tiller.
  • Mulches and Compost. When organic matter breaks down, it can make soil more acidic. Using organic compost and mulches over an extended period of time will help make your soils pH level closer to a neutral or slightly acidic level.
  • Acidifying fertilizer. If you use a fertilizer that contains ammonia, urea or amino acids, it can have an acidifying effect on your soil as time passes.