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How to Start a Campfire

When you hear the word "camping," a swirl of pleasant images immediately comes to mind. But perhaps the most iconic is the welcoming campfire.

More than just to ward off the chilly night, a campfire is a place where family and friends gather to lounge and chat, roast marshmallows, or simply stare into the glowing coals and let the mind wander.

But before you can reach such nirvana, you should know how to start a campfire. And really, it's not that hard...

STEP 1: Gather Your Tools

There's a bit more to building a great campfire than simply placing a few logs in a heap and tossing on a match. Here's what you'll need:

Tinder—the smallest and easiest burning materials used to get a campfire started. Tinder can take many forms, including: Wood shavingsWadded paperStrips of cardboardCommercial fire sticks or fire startersDryer lintWax

Kindling—the next step up in size. Usually twigs or small branches between 1/8 inch and 1/2 inch in diameter.

Firewood—the crown of an inviting campfire. Firewood can vary anywhere from 1 inch to 5 inches in diameter. It can be whole logs, or split down from larger pieces. It's important that your firewood is completely dry in order to start easily and stay lit.

Important Note: Don't break branches off trees for firewood. If everyone did this there wouldn't be any forests left. Some forest management agencies permit you to pick up fallen limbs but ask first.

Matches or a lighter—how else are you going to get your campfire started? Common stick matches are fine, although gas lighters used for starting BBQ grills are gaining in popularity.

STEP 2: Build the Fire

Before you can start a campfire, you have to build it first.

If your site has a fire ring, you'll probably have to push the ash and charcoal from previous fires to the outer edge of the ring to give you enough room for the new fire. For ashes that are stone cold, consider shoveling them into a plastic trash bag for proper disposal later.

If you have to create your own fire pit, clear away any dead grass or vegetation for 8 to 10 feet around. You want bare dirt. Then dig down into the cleared soil several inches and set the loose dirt off to one side for use in case of emergency. You can mound the dirt around the sides of the pit to act as a firewall, or place large rocks around the edge of the pit to insulate the fire. Next, at the center of the fire ring, lay a bed of tinder perhaps a foot in diameter. (Remember, tinder is the really light, quick burning material.)

1. The Teepee Fire: This style is good for cooking. First, arrange your kindling in teepee fashion over your tinder. Then build a larger teepee of firewood over the kindling. When lit, the flames will rise up through the kindling and into the larger wood.

2. The Lean-to Fire: This style is also good for cooking. Start by sticking a long piece of kindling into the ground above your tinder at about a 30-degree angle, with the other end of the stick pointing into the wind. Then lean smaller pieces of kindling against both sides of the longer piece to build a tent. As the kindling catches fire add more, followed by your firewood.

3. The Cross Fire: This is ideal for a long-lasting fire. Start by laying your kindling over the tinder bed in a crisscross fashion, followed by your logs or firewood.

4. The Log Cabin Fire: Another long-lasting fire. Begin by creating a kindling teepee over your tinder, then lay two logs on either side of the cone. Place two more logs on top of these to form a square. Then build up using smaller and shorter pieces of firewood until you've formed a cabin. Top off the cabin with some of your lightest kindling.

STEP 3: Light the Fire

Now it's time to enjoy the results of your labor. Remember to keep children and pets safely away, then light your tinder. For best results light the tinder from several sides. Don't squirt charcoal lighter fluid into a fire; flames could travel up the stream and burn you. And NEVER use gasoline!

Once your campfire is established, feed it with additional wood as needed, taking care not to build the flames too high. Be sure to keep your fire extinguishing tools nearby, and never leave a fire unattended, even for a moment.

Putting Out Your Fire

Once the evening is over, it's your responsibility to put your campfire out completely so give yourself plenty of time to do the job right.

Start by sprinkling—not pouring—water onto the flames or coals. Don't flood the fire ring or pit as you or the next camper will want to use it later.

As you sprinkle, stir the embers with a stick or shovel to ensure that all the coals get wet. Once the steam has subsided and you no longer hear any hissing sounds you're just about done.

Before you head off to bed or pack up to leave, place the back of your hand just above the wet ashes. Don't touch them as they could still be hot. Don't feel any heat? Then the fire is out. If it still feels warm add more water and stir until the fire bed is cold. With the proper fire ring or pit, the right tinder, kindling and firewood, plus selecting the style of campfire that best meets your preferences, you and your family can safely enjoy an evening under the stars while making s'mores.

Don't Forget: Safety First

Safety is the most important factor when learning how to start a campfire—especially if you have kiddie campers. A 2011 study revealed that a person is injured by fire every 30 minutes, so stay alert as dancing flames have a magnetic quality that draws people close.

Right behind personal safety is the environment. The Earth's climate change is leaving our forests and grasslands parched—to the point where one errant spark can set off a raging wildfire. So before you even think about how to start a campfire, consider these important points:

Are campfires allowed in the area? Look for posted signs. Or ask a ranger or camp host. Just because a campsite has a fire ring doesn't automatically mean fires are permitted.Is the site properly prepared? Be sure there's at least 8 to 10 feet of bare dirt surrounding the fire ring. Take the time to clear away any flammable debris that can catch fire. And make sure there are no tree branches overhanging the area; they can catch fire more easily than you think.How about weather conditions? Take heed of building clouds and rising winds. An approaching storm can easily fan the smallest campfire out of control. If there's even the slightest doubt, wait for safer conditions. Do you have fire safety equipment? Always make sure there's a shovel nearby, along with a few gallons of water. While water is preferred, a liberal application of loose dirt can keep things under control. Just be aware that coals can stay dangerously hot beneath a blanket of soil many hours after you've put the fire out.
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How to Control Pests in your Organic Garden

Pest control involves the use of natural or chemical solution to control or completely eliminate pests in the garden. The problem is that these pests/ insects have benefits to the garden. Therefore, using chemical methods of control will only rob you of the unparalleled benefits of the pests and even weeds. I know you are wondering if I understand the pest menace, the answer is yes. I have been stung by wasps; some of the most prominent pests in most gardens. However, I understand that I need thse insects so I prefer to control rather than completely eliminated, therefore, I utilize my wasp trap. In the case of weeds, methods such as crop rotation and mulching will reduce the weeds, but, your pet rabbit can also use these weeds as a source of food, all you have to do is use excellent rabbit hutch plans to build an outdoor hutch with a good feeding area.

Organic gardening thrives on the notion of balance of nature, so much so that some gardeners have gone to the extent of building a bug hotel to promote controlled insect presence in the farm for the obvious benefits. There exists an array of options available to farmers that need a pest control option. Most importantly, control begins with the prevention of pest infestation in the first place. Prevention is truly better than cure. However, if you still have problems with pests you can then progress to non-lethal/ natural methods of pest control.

Pest control aims on imparting a balance of nature that will eventually lead to better yields and fertile soils for an organic gardener.

We believe the logical solution to organic pest control is to create a balance of organisms in your yard or garden. In a diverse ecosystem pest populations are regulated naturally. Development of this balance relies on products that minimize harm to pollinators and other beneficial insects. Traps & Lures are used to identify the presence of pests, and to help control them. If garden pests are present the least-toxic solutions should be used first — Barriers & Repellents, Beneficial Insects, Biological Pesticides, Soaps and Oils — with the more toxic (but short lived) Botanical or Natural Insecticides used only if necessary.

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The prevention of pest infestation in your garden is an important part of control. The following are some methods of prevention:

• Build healthy soil with compost and mulch – soil organisms protect plants from many disease and insect pest problems.

• Select pest-resistant plants, and put them in the sun/shade and soil conditions they like.

• Clean up diseased plants, and compost dead plants in fall to reduce hiding places for insect pests.

• Pull weeds before they go to seed and spread.

• Use a variety of plants, so if pests attack one plant, others can fill its place.

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In spite of the preventive methods, some pests/ insects will still be found in the garden. In minimal populations the pests are good for an organic farmer but in most cases the population is too high. The increased numbers of pests can be controlled using the following methods:

1. Floating Row Covers

This translucent, white, porous polyester fabric acts as an insect barrier, while letting in up to 80 percent of the available light. You can buy either lightweight or heavyweight types—you’ll want to use the lighter one for controlling pests in summer, because it will keep out bugs without cooking your plants. The heavier reportedly traps more warmth and so is better for season extending..

Use floating row covers as temporary barriers to get plants past critical stages, such as when they are seedlings or while the pest you are deterring is most active. Of course, you could keep the crop covered for its entire life span, although this isn't a good option for crops that require insect pollination.

Pests controlled: Row covers are especially useful against mobile pests, including cabbage moths (imported cabbageworms), Colorado potato beetles, most aphids, Mexican bean beetles, flea beetles, squash bugs, and tomato hornworms. Combine row covers with crop rotation if you’re dealing with pests that overwinter in the soil.

2. Pheromone Traps

Many insects produce powerful smells called pheromones that they use to lure the opposite sex. Scientists have duplicated several of these scents and used them to bait special traps for luring the target insect. But because these "sex" traps attract mostly male insects, they aren't very effective controls. They're useful as an early warning that a particular pest is moving into your area.

Pests monitored: Pheromone lures are available for diamondback moths and moths that produce armyworms, cabbage loopers, corn earworms, European corn borers, tomato pinworms, and cutworms.

3. Sticky Traps

These traps—a rigid material of a particular color that's coated with a sticky substance—are used to catch insects that are attracted to that color. To be effective, the traps must be clean and sticky. Also, use at least one trap (hung at plant height and close to the plant) every 3 to 5 feet.

You can buy packaged sticky traps or make them yourself.

Pests controlled: Yellow traps attract whiteflies, fruit flies, male winged scales, leafhoppers, fungus gnats, midges, male winged mealybugs and leaf miners, thrips, psyllids, and winged aphids. White traps lure whiteflies, plant bugs, cucumber beetles, and flea beetles. Light blue traps attract flower thrips, and red spheres attract the flies whose eggs hatch into apple maggots.

4. Bacillus Thuringiensis

Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) is a naturally occurring bacterium found in the soil. There are many different types, and some can be used to kill a specific insect or class of insects. When a target insect takes a bite of a plant sprayed with the type of BT the insect is sensitive to, the insect gets infected and stops feeding. Inside the insect, the bacterium releases a protein that causes the pest to die within a few days.

Most formulations of this bacterium are sold as a liquid or wettable powder that you dilute with water and then spray on the plants you want to protect. Some products are sold in the form of dusts or granules that you dust directly on plants. Because BT usually is effective only against the non-adult stage of pest insects, you must time applications carefully. As soon as you spot the pest larvae, thoroughly coat the affected plants with the spray or dust.

Pests controlled: The most common strain of the bacterium—BT var. kurstaki (sometimes called BT var. berliner)—kills hundreds of different kinds of caterpillars, including cabbage loopers, tomato hornworms, cabbageworms, corn earworms, European corn borers, and squash vine borers. BT var. tenebrionis (a new name—until recently this one was called BT var. san diego) kills Colorado potato beetles.

5. Parasitic Nematodes

Don't confuse these beneficial nematodes with destructive root-knot nematodes. Once inside a pest, parasitic nematodes release bacteria that kills the insect host within a day or two. Although these good nematodes occur naturally in the soil, there usually aren't enough of them in one place to control pests that have gotten out of hand in your garden. But you can buy them by the billions for use as a living—and organic, safe, and nontoxic—form of pest control.

Pests controlled: Nematodes attack and invade armyworms, corn earworms, squash vine borers, soil-dwelling grubs (including Japanese beetle larvae), weevils, root maggots, and cutworms

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