Cyclone Rake Blog: October 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

Cleaning Your Yard before Setting It Up For Halloween

Decorating the yard for Halloween is more popular than ever, with some fall yard setups designed to extend beyond Halloween and toward Thanksgiving. Whether you’re getting your yard ready for this season or the next, the Cyclone Rake and Cyclone SuperHauler are some of the most helpful tools around.
Clearing the yard for fall decorations usually involves removing leaves. Raking leaves can be a backbreaking task; even harder can be moving and disposing leaves after they are raked. The Cyclone Rake lawn vacuum takes care of that problem. The Cyclone Rake is easily attached to your riding lawnmower and vacuums up shredded leaves, making them easy to unload. The compact load of leaves can be easily dumped for the compost pile or spread for mulch around flower beds and in gardens.
            Decorating the yard can mean hauling heavy decorations from the garage, storage shed or a vehicle. The Cyclone SuperHauler has a large hauling capacity and the ability to maneuver loads over even difficult terrain. The SuperHauler offers stability for heavy loads, reducing the risk of dropping decorations or having them spill out of a wheelbarrow.

            The SuperHauler is also perfect for moving a load of pumpkins from the car. With an 800-pound capacity, the SuperHauler would be the tool of choice to maneuver all your pumpkins into place. The SuperHauler also has a convenient Flexi-Deck option, which adjusts to haul large objects – just in case you find a great big pumpkin to be your yard’s centerpiece this fall.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Make New Memories at an Orchard

Nothing says fall fun like picking fruit at your local orchard. Here are some tips for making your annual visit even more of a success, or starting a new family tradition with your first visit to an orchard.

Apples, pears and Asian pears are all ripening this time of year. Since different varieties ripen at different times, find out what will be available by calling or checking the orchard’s online information. You’ll also find you can probably do more than just pick apples while you’re there. Many orchards will have a spot to spread out a picnic lunch and other activities for kids, like pumpkin patches, corn mazes and even petting zoos.

Most “U-Pick” orchards will provide some instructions for novice fruit harvesters. You’ll be looking for tree fruit that is well-sized and firm, but easily pulled from the tree. Here’s one tip for success: Obey the orchard’s guidelines for which trees to harvest. Although there may be some low-hanging fruit on trees nearby, those varieties may not yet be ripe. Let the orchard operator steer you toward the ripest fruit.

Picking apples is great fun; still, younger children (and some older ones) might lose interest. Consider picking a small amount of apples, perhaps a variety you can take home and turn into either a baked good or homemade applesauce. And be sure to head to the orchard with plenty of water and other supplies (sun gear, insect repellents) needed outdoors.

At home, savor the farm-fresh fare while reminiscing with your family about the trip you made to harvest and bring home your food. That will help you make the most of your orchard visit, create new memories and help your family learn where food comes from.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

How to Win at Home Owning This Fall

For a majority of the country, the summer is unfortunately over. The good news is we are heading into everyone’s second favorite season, fall. According to a Gallop poll, 36% of Americans name spring as their favorite season of the year, while 27% prefer fall, with summer (25%) and winter (11%) slightly trailing. In the same survey, October ranks as the second most popular month behind May.
Now is the time to look forward to all the fun fall things to do like going to fairs, playing in the leaves and enjoying the cooling temperatures. However, the change in season brings about a long list of household chores that need to be done to prepare for winter. So before you fill up on too much lollipop fried bacon wrapped quail breast on a stick or edible cola (Bless the Texas State Fair), check out these ways to win at fall home ownership this year.
Have the Right Tools
Having the right tools handy can make any task easier, and trim the time it takes to do the job. Let’s face it, no one likes raking. A leaf blower is an amazing tool to have in your garage. It has many uses, but is really good for gathering leaves, especially if you have back problems.
Another great yard tool is a lawn and leaf vacuum such as the Cyclone Rake.
These tools, which hitch to a standard tractor or ZTR mower, allow you to clear large lawns of heavy debris and overgrown grass with ease. They reduce the work of an entire landscape crew down to something you can do yourself on a Saturday afternoon.
Upgrade Your Gutters
No one likes to clean gutters – it’s a dangerous and messy job, and often requires you to hire a professional. Gutter guards are a must have on your roof’s perimeter. The guards let water flow into the gutters while keeping debris out. They can be expensive if you have a large home and have them professionally installed, but they are worth the expense because you’ll never have to worry about them getting clogged, frozen, or breaking in the winter, and you will save on having them cleaned once (or more) each year.
There are three main types of gutter guards, depending on where you live, and what type of material you are trying to keep out of your gutters.

  •       Screens — the most common type of gutter guard, screens work well in situations where leaves are the main enemy. However, the openings in screens are large enough to let in seeds and pine needles, so they will require some maintenance over the years.
  •     Surface tension — with surface-tension gutter guards, water clings to the rounded nose of the guard and flows into the gutter, while leaves and other debris fall off over the edge. Surface-tension guards work very well with leaves and other large debris. Small debris sometimes gets in but usually washes out the downspouts without a problem.
  •        Fine mesh — fine-mesh guards function like screens, but they block all but the smallest debris. The tiny spaces in the mesh won’t clog with seeds and needles, but they can fill with small particles like shingle grit. Fine-mesh gutter guards still need an occasional cleaning, but unlike screens, fine mesh is easy to blow or brush clean.
Be sure to consult with a professional to see which type of gutter guard is best for your home and area of the country.
Prep Your Soil
Aerating or loosening the soil is best for your garden when done in the fall. During this time, you should clear away any of those pesky weeds that you've been battling all summer long. You can finally win and show those weeds who boss (at least until next year). Add mulched leaves or compost to add nutrients to your soil.
Plant Your Spring Flowers
Once you have prepped your soil, fall is the perfect time to plant bulbs such as lilies, daffodils and tulips. Be sure to do four to six weeks before the ground freezes.
To help keep squirrels and other pesky varmint away, put a mesh down and then cover with dirt. This will keep those hungry little critters from eating your flowers as their food sources start to run scarce. You can always offer them an alternative as well.
Fertilize Your Lawn
After you have cleared away all the leaves and other debris from your yard, fertilize your lawn before the ground freezes. Fertilizing in the early fall can help enrich your lawn's valuable nutrients before the winter. Make sure to pick a fertilizer rich with nitrogen, as it helps the grass to grow thick and green.
Windows and Doors
Check the weather stripping and seals on all of your windows and doors. Be sure to check the seal on your garage door as well.
Check Your Snow Blower
If you live in a portion of the country where it snows, now is the time to prep. Once the snow starts to fall, everyone who did not prepare will be rushing to buy a new one or get theirs fixed. Stores know this as well. You can even get some pretty good sales before the weather gets too cold.
Check Your Heating Units in Your Home
Inspect your heating unit before the weather gets too cold. No one likes to think about turning on the heat in shorts weather, but you don’t want to be without it when you need it most.
Change filters and make sure there is no debris blocking any of the vents. If you have a fireplace, be sure to have that inspected so it's ready for a snowy night.
Whether we like to admit it or not, fall is here. If you want to win at fall this year, don’t procrastinate on your to-do list.
Leaving decomposing leaves on your lawn for too long can kill your grass. Piles of leaves in your flowerbeds can encourage bugs to live in the soil, which could be harmful to your future plants. Make sure to vacuum or remove those throughout the season.

Doing these few things now will make spring time a lot more enjoyable. Maybe that is why it is ranked the top season? Starting early on your fall checklist list will give you more time to focus on eating those deep-fried Oreo burgers and drinking a smores beer, and let’s face it, there’s not a whole lot anyone is going to be able to do after that!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Fall Garden Harvest

Summer sunshine may be past but your vegetable garden can still yield delicious, healthy produce through the fall. Follow these tips to pick the best harvest possible from your garden this autumn.

Grow Great Greens
Fall is a great season for growing greens – especially cold-tolerant lettuces, Swiss chard, spinach, kale and other dark leafy greens. Harvest leaf lettuces at four to six inches long, and they’ll keep for as long as two weeks in the refrigerator. Avoid letting chard and kale grow too large, which makes them tougher on the palate. In colder climates, try sowing greens in October for delicious baby greens or micro-greens; protect plants from the frost, and you’ll be able to harvest your own Thanksgiving salad!

Bank on Broccoli
Broccoli planted in late summer will yield a beautiful cool-season crops; home gardeners might find themselves harvesting fall broccoli heads a bit smaller than the typical six to seven-inch diameter. Enjoy fresh broccoli in any salad at your fall table.

Bet on Beets, Turnip
A late-planted fall beet crop doesn’t need to be harvested for beets; the greens can be harvested at 4 to 6 inches and pack a punch for fall fare. Dig fall-planted turnips and beets when they’re less than three inches in diameter; try roasting them with other fall vegetables or serving in preparations that complement their earthy flavor. And don’t forget radishes, the garden’s easiest fall-grown garnish; they can be planted as late as October for harvest in most zones.

Frost Helps Brussels Sprouts, Parsnips
Light frost improves the flavor of Brussels sprouts. Start picking individual sprouts from the base of the plant, as they grow firm, at about an inch in diameter. Harvest going up the plant, leaving lower leaves on the plant. Parsnip flavor is also improved by frost; parsnips insulated with straw can be left in the ground and harvested into winter.

Winter Squash Wonders
Nothing says fall garden bounty like winter squash (and, of course, pumpkins, which after all, are actually squashes). Use a knife to cleanly cut winter squash from the stem, when the squash surface is dull and hard. Leave about an inch on winter squashes like acorn, butternut and Hubbard. Pumpkins should be cut with about a 4-inch stem, or “handle.” Hubbard squash usually keep the longest, as much as six months, when stored in a cool place with good air circulation (don’t crowd the squash together). In the same storage, butternut will keep a couple months, or more, and acorn one or two months. Try roasting winter squash, perhaps alongside fall root crops like parsnips, for a nutritious and healthy dish. Or seek out a winter squash soup recipe – the squash shell might even be used as its own tureen!

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes grow best during the hot summer months; dig them throughout the fall for peak flavor. Be careful when digging; use smaller roots at your table immediately, as larger roots store better. Try roasting or microwaving sweet potatoes, and be sure to eat the skins – they’re packed with nutrients.

Don’t Forget Tomatoes
Finally, if your tomato plants are still bearing fruit at frost – all is not lost. Pick the green tomatoes and they’ll ripen if you keep them inside, between 55F and 70F, wrapped in newspaper or a brown paper bag. Then enjoy the ripened tomatoes as part of fall salads, appetizers and other fare.

If you didn’t find tips for picking your favorite fall crop here, try an online garden guide or a university extension publication like this one at Iowa State University: