Call me weird. I’ve always admired the box of baking soda in the refrigerator. As a kid I’d open up the refrigerator and there was that bright orange box. I’d stare at the arm and the hammer.

“Wow, that guy’s got muscles”, I would say as I looked down at my arm holding my toy truck.

So, here I am recently cleaning out the refrigerator and I came across the revered orange box from my childhood.

I’m sorry. I don’t know what it is. I just like this label. Maybe it’s the arm and hammer and the baking combination. Arm & Hammer Baking Soda is one of those products that goes into a special category. There’s duct tape, baling wire, silly putty and WD40. All these items, along with Arm & Hammer Baking Soda are a must have. Let’s add vinegar, Super Glue and Preparation H to the list. All of which I’m convinced that we would perish from the face of the Earth without them.

All the years I’ve been staring at this box, I never noticed the motto on the box, “The Standard of Purity”. Mmmm. Really? Is it really the standard of purity? So, here we go. You decide if baking soda is the standard of purity.

It can relieve diaper rash. You can soak your tired feet in it. You can make your own deodorant, too. Freshen your breath. Polish your teeth. Clean your toilet. Polish silverware. Unclog drains along with the must have vinegar. Freshen coat closets. But I’m sorry, my coat closet doesn’t stink. We all know it deodorizes litter boxes. Petunia appreciates baking soda. Eliminate the “poo” by making shampoo. Use baking soda as a shampoo and finish off with an apple cider vinegar rinse. There you go, no poo. Warning: This could affect the pH of your scalp, but don’t worry. You’re not growing tomatoes on your head.

Okay. Brace yourself for this one. Eliminate farting. Soaking your beans with water and baking soda? Voila! No farting. I’m a little leery of this one. I’m going to go find a champion farter and test the theory.

Now, for all of you who are grossed out and offended, I apologize. But after all, so far the standard of purity is being upheld.

So, with that being said, let’s move outside. Do you have smelly compost? Use baking soda. But caution. Using too much will slow down the composting. When you’re done cleaning your toilets, go clean your walkways. Two tablespoons of baking soda with a quart of warm water. You can clean your garden furniture, clay pots and bird baths with no harmful residue.

You can kill with baking soda. Not my idea of the standard of purity. But you can get rid of slugs by sprinkling baking soda on them. So dust off your headlamp and go night hunting armed with the orange box. Or dusting baking soda around your plants will deter slugs from eating them. Be careful. Baking soda on the plants’ leaves will burn them. Let’s not stop at slugs.

Check this out. Baking soda is very effective and can kill bugs such as aphids and spider mites. Want the recipe? A teaspoon of baking soda and 1/3 cup of olive oil from the High-Hand Olive Oil Company. Olive oil can be purchased online at the Olive Oil store by clicking here. How’s that for product placement, Web Shaun? But back to the recipe. Add 1 cup of water. Mix the solution in a spray bottle and go to battle. This solution can also be used for black spot on roses and grapes when the grapes first appear.

Have an ant problem? Mix five teaspoons of confectioners’ sugar with an equal amount of baking soda and a bit of water just to make it moist. Don’t use regular sugar. Use confectioners’ sugar. The ants are smart enough to separate the grains of sugar from the baking soda. The powdered sugar, along with the baking soda will be eaten and it will be fatal. Pouring this over an ant hill? Fatal. Adding apple cider vinegar or white vinegar? Fatal. Both ingredients have insecticidal properties that are deadly to ants. I’m kind of afraid to bake with it now. I’m a little freaked.

Still in a killing mood? Weeds or crabgrass growing in the cracks of your sidewalks? Kill them with baking soda. Pore a thick layer onto weeds after moistening them with water. They’ll disappear in a few days.

Remember. Don’t get it onto plants or grass that you want to keep. Too much can kill.

So, after we’ve killed the slugs, bugs and weeds in the garden, let’s use it as a sweetener. Sprinkle baking soda lightly around your tomatoes. Lowering the acidity level makes tomatoes sweeter. No more tart flavor.

Did I tell you it will also discourage pets?

How about beautiful blooms? For flowers that thrive in alkaline soil such as hydrangeas, begonias and geraniums, just dissolve a little in water before giving them a drink and magically and magnificently beautiful blooms will appear.

Let me help solve the mystery as to whether or not your soil is too alkaline. How would I know? I’m a doctor. This is important because it’s the difference between life and death and success and failure. Using baking soda and vinegar to test the pH is so simple.

Collect two samples of soil from two parts of your yard. You’ll also need 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup baking soda. Pour the vinegar into one of your soil samples. If it begins to bubble it’s alkaline meaning your pH level is above 7. If there’s no reaction, take the other sample and pour the baking soda and a half a cup of water into it. Bubbling? That means your pH level is below 7 and your soil is acidic. While you won’t get a specific pH number it will help you zero in on what type of plants will work in your soil. You’ll know what direction you need to go to make it more hospitable for plants.

To decrease the alkalinity add organic matter. To increase the alkalinity add lime. But personally, I don’t know who would want to increase alkalinity. Anybody who does – likes drinking salt water and eating lemons.

A standard of purity? You be the judge, but there you go. Baking soda and your garden.

What’s up next?

SUCCULENT EXTRAVAGANZA

Come meet Robin, Sunset Magazine’s Guru of Succulents.

Here’s the program. Robin will be talking two times. Once at 10:00 a.m. and once at 1:00 p.m. Make a reservation for breakfast or make a reservation for lunch and then go sit down and listen to Mr. Succulent talk. He wrote a book. It’s a pretty cool one. We’ll have it for sale. Pick one up while they last. It’s truly a beautiful book filled with lots of inspirational ideas.

Did I say you can shop until you drop for succulents? See you on June 16th. Sign up for this free event by clicking here.

Hold, hold, hold. We are waiting for Mother Nature to tell us the dates for Lavender Days. It’s coming up. Two weeks? Three weeks? On a Saturday? Maybe. Maybe on a Saturday and a Sunday? Maybe. Mother Nature is not talking to me right now because I’ve been bugging her. I baked her some chocolate chip cookies to get on her good side so she can give me dates for Lavender Days. I’ll let you know if the cookies worked. It’s always worked for me.

I feel the trains vibrating the tracks.

Train Day is a Maple Rock exclusive. Who doesn’t like trains? Tickets can be purchased by clicking here, at the nursery or at Maple Rock on the day of the event. All aboard for Train Day.

What does this have to to with gardening, baking soda, Lavender Days and the trains coming down the tracks you ask? Absolutely nothing. I’m a boy. I like big toys. So we drilled a five foot wide hole 20′ into the ground. I just thought all you boys out there would enjoy this big toy. I’ll tell you later what we’re doing. Shhh. It’s a secret.

My standard of purity?

Beautiful High-Hand grown flower baskets. Did you know we grow a lot of our own flowers right here at High Hand Nursery? Come in and see for yourself.

Come see my standard of purity. See you at High-Hand Nursery.

Scott

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