Sunday, January 29, 2012

35 Pest and Disease Remedies

Turn to your pantry and medicine cabinet for simple solutions to common garden problems

I’ve found that awareness and a quick response are two of the best allies against garden foes. By knowing my plants, as well as their pests and diseases, I can be proactive in combatting garden ailments.
When problems do arise, I turn to the most benign and natural forms of control, like hand-picking invaders, setting up barriers, or trimming problem areas off plants. If these interventions fail, I apply my easy homemade potions to treat my gardens, keeping in mind the welfare of the soil and the dwellers who share the earth with me.
Anyone walking into my potting area is liable to find four or five mixtures of fertilizer brews and oddball pest blends fermenting in tubs, along with a strange collection of tools and utensils. It is not the aftermath of some cataclysmic disaster; it is my laboratory, my living library, and the makings for a healthy garden.

Before you begin...

My friend and garden assistant, Peggy, tells me that of all the yards she helps tend, mine is the healthiest (although it is not necessarily the tidiest). I credit that health to myriad factors. Every speck of my growing areas (even potted plants) is covered with rich organic matter like aged compost, worm castings, or shredded leaves. I grow a diverse array of plants—bulbs, annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees—to create a well-integrated yet multifaceted garden that attracts scores of beneficial inhabitants such as insects, lizards, toads, frogs, snakes, and birds. Before adding any plant to my garden, I make sure that it is healthy and thriving and is planted in an area that suits its needs.
On the occasion that I need to treat a plant for a pest or disease problem, I follow these simple guidelines:
• Test homemade sprays on a small portion of the plant before applying it to the entire surface. Monitor the plant’s response for a couple of days to check for burning.
Add a few drops of liquid soap to homemade foliar sprays. It helps to emulsify, or blend together, the other ingredients. It also acts as a surfactant, or wetting agent, which will ensure uniform coverage on leaf surfaces or insect bodies (causing desiccation and death). Always use soap (never detergent) so as not to burn plants; good choices are Dr. Bronner’s, Fels Naptha, or any pure castile soap, all of which can be found in health-food stores.
Apply sprays early in the morning and never when the temperature is above 85°F to prevent sunburned leaves.
Wear rubber gloves when using any sprays containing peppers, alcohol, citrus concentrates, mint oils, or anything else that could irritate your skin. And when spraying outdoors in breezy conditions, wear eye and nose protection.
Examine your plants thoroughly before apply- ing sprays to make sure that you aren’t spraying any spiders or beetles that might be your allies in the fight against pests.

Animal pests

Make your own deer repellent
with eggs, beef bouillon,
water, and liquid soap.

Deterrents for deer
Most gardeners agree that a strong, tall fence (preferably electric), tilted outward at a 45-degree angle, or two fences about 5 feet apart are the longest-lasting solutions to a deer problem. But if a fence isn’t in your budget or doesn’t fit in with your garden design, here are some alternatives:
• Dangle strips of Mylar or compact discs from tree branches to alarm deer.
• Poke a hole with a needle and fishing line through tiny, scented bars of soap (wrappers on), and hang several on each shrub or tree in your garden. A Smithsonian Institution research team found Lifebuoy soap to be the best.
• Make your own deer repellent. Rotten eggs and beef bouillon are ingredients in many commercial deer repellents. Break 1 dozen eggs into a bucket, add 4 cubes of beef bouillon, and fill the bucket with water. Cover it with a lid, and let the mixture sit until it stinks. Add 2 tablespoons of liquid soap per gallon of liquid, and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Then hold your nose and spray the plants. Do not spray it directly on plants that you will consume; instead, spray it around them to create an invisible barrier. For edibles, use “garlic soup” (see “Diseases”), which I also apply to thwart plant diseases.

Sweet gum pods protect plants from rabbits.
Simple ways to keep rabbits at bay
The heartbreak caused by a mowed-down sunflower, hosta, tulip, or whatever happened to be on the resident rabbit’s menu that day is something no gardener should have to bear. Here are a few tricks I use to divert those rascally rabbits:
• Shake baby powder or flour on young seedlings and garlic powder on mature plants to make them unpalatable.
• Surround prized bushes or herbaceous plants with a thick planting of garlic and wormwood to offend rabbits’ discriminating sense of smell.
• Encircle plants with small branches of spiny holly leaves or the large, dried, prickly seed vessels of the sweet gum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua). The evergreen holly branches can be collected and used anytime. Gather the sweet gum pods in the fall, and store them in a dry area. In early spring, place them firmly in the soil surrounding the plants.

Moles be gone
To discourage moles, sink a line of glass bottles into the soil with about 1 inch of neck exposed. The whistling sound of wind blowing across the bottle tops disrupts moles’ sensitive hearing and hinders their ability to find prey. Poking several noisy toy windmills into the soil will also disturb moles, as the vibrations will drive them away.
Moles dislike garlic, so try dropping some crushed cloves into the run. You can also repel them with a castor-oil concoction. Mix 8 tablespoons of castor oil and 1 tablespoon of liquid soap in 1 gallon of water. Dig down into one of the critter’s runs, and pour the mixture inside.

Insect pests

Grapefruit rinds lure slugs.
Barriers and baits for slugs and snailsSlugs and snails are responsible for wiping out many a gardener’sdreams. I create barriers around prized plants to protect them from annihilation. Copper strips produce a shock to snails and slugs trying to cross them. Wrap inexpensive, thin copper, found in craft stores, around pots, plants, and trees to create a protective barrier. Pine needles, coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, or diatomaceous earth (fossilized, silica-shell remains of prehistoric diatoms that desiccate insect bodies) provide a scratchy barrier and should be reapplied after a rain. Always purchase natural diatomaceous earth because swimming-pool grade contains crystalline silica, a respiratory hazard.

• I also use several bait techniques to catch slugs and snails; then I scrape the creatures into soapy water in the morning. Here are some ways to lure them:
• Set out fresh grapefruit and melon rinds each evening in a moist, shady area plagued by slugs and snails.
• Lay empty flowerpots or milk cartons on their sides in a shady area.
• Water a small portion of your yard in the evening, and put down a small, wooden board that is elevated slightly on a rock. The slugs and snails will congregate on the board’s underside.

Blended larkspur or delphinium
leaves make an effective spray
against Japanese beetles.

Japanese beetle busters
Like slugs and snails, Japanese beetles have plagued gardeners for years. One way to stop them in their tracks is to suck them up with a small, handheld vacuum. Another way is to throw a handful of larkspur or delphinium leaves into a blender, add the blend to 1 gallon of water, and spray the mixture onto plants being attacked by Japanese beetles. The deadly alkaloids (deliosine and delsoline) in the leaves will zap the beetles.

Some gardeners have had success deterring Japanese beetles by planting a ring of garlic and chives around the affected plants, while others bounce those bugs into a bucket of warm, soapy water with a long-handled spatula or spoon. It is a natural defense for a bug to drop to the ground, so the Japanese beetles will fall straight into their sudsy demise. Try to catch them in the early morning when they’re still a little sluggish.

Knock the beetles into a
bucket of soapy water.

Red-pepper powder repels pesky critters
I have been using red-pepper powder for years on everything from cucumber beetles and spittlebugs to leafhoppers and cabbage loopers. Now there is scientific backing for this treatment: Entomologist Geoff Zehnder of Auburn University in Alabama credits McCormick red-pepper powder for protecting cabbages better than any standard chemical insecticide.

Mix 2 tablespoons of red-pepper powder and 6 drops of liquid soap in 1 gallon of water. Let the mixture sit overnight, and stir thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle, shake well, and spray weekly on the tops and bottoms of the leaves. This will protect plants, especially members of the cabbage family (including broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussels sprouts), from destructive insects.

Adhesive tape lifts small
insects from plant leaves.

Tricks for removing aphids, mites, and other small insects
Scientists at Texas A&M University estimate that up to 90 percent of problems with aphids, mites, and spittlebug nymphs can be cured by dislodging them with a strong blast of water. You can also use adhesive tape to remove aphids and other small insects from plant leaves. Simply wrap a long piece of tape around your fingers (sticky side out), and blot off the bugs.

For aphids in particular, set a yellow dish filled with soapy water near the plant. Aphids are drawn to the color yellow. For spider mites that persist despite a daily spray of plain water, use a buttermilk spray developed by scientists at Purdue University. Combine 1/4 cup of buttermilk and 2 cups of wheat flour in 2-1/2 gallons of water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle, shake the ingredients thoroughly, and spray it on your plants.

An herbal brew to combat troublesome creepy crawlers
Basil and especially potently scented herbs- such as lavender, rosemary, tansy, southernwood, rue, mint, wormwood, or sage-help fight harmful leafhoppers, aphids, cabbage loopers, mites, cucumber beetles, and many other creepy crawlers. Simply gather a handful of fresh basil leaves and stems and any other herb trimmings you have on hand, crush them slightly, and stuff them into a mesh produce sack, if you have one. Put the sack (or the loose herbs) into a bucket or a large glass jar that is at least 1/2 gallon in size, and fill with water. Cover the container, and set it in the sun to brew for a few days. Remove the sack, or strain the solids from the mixture. Store the liquid in a covered container in a cool, dark area until it's needed as an insecticide. When you're ready to do battle, pour the herbal brew into a spray bottle, add 1/8 teaspoon of liquid soap, and shake well before spraying.


Chamomile tea is a cure-all for fungal diseases

It’s a little-known fact that chamomile tea has antibacterial and fungicidal properties that will aid plants suffering from fungus and mildew. I often make a simple brew for my sickly plants. Place 16 chamomile tea bags (or 2 cups of dried chamomile flowers) in 2 quarts of water, and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, and allow the tea bags to steep for several hours. Strain, if using dried flowers. Use the tea to irrigate tender seedlings (from the bottom) to prevent damping off, or use as a foliar spray to battle diseases on plants. Because I never let anything go to waste, I also add leftover tea and used tea bags to my watering can
A tonic for black spot and powdery mildew on roses
Roses, while beautiful, are often plagued with black spot or powdery mildew. I mix these ingredients into a tonic, which I spray on my roses: 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of liquid soap or Murphy's oil soap in 2 quarts of water. The tonic protects the roses for months.

Puréed garlic cloves or leaves
help restore plant health.
Garlic helps thwart noxious diseases
For plants with a fungal, viral, or bacterial disease, cook up a batch of what I call "garlic soup." Purée two cloves of garlic in a blender for a minute. Slowly add 1 quart of water, and continue blending for about six minutes. Strain the mixture, and add 1/8 teaspoon of liquid soap. Pour the liquid into a storage container and cover tightly. When you're ready to take action, mix 1 part garlic soup with 10 parts water into a spray bottle and apply the mixture to the top and undersides of your sick plant's leaves, taking caution not to spray beneficial insects and larvae. Scientists have discovered that garlic leaves are potent in their own right, so you can also purée two handfuls of leaves instead of using cloves.
Aspirin is the remedy for fungal headaches
Black spot, powdery mildew, and rust are a terrible trio of fungi, which can attack and destroy your plants. Scientists have found that two uncoated aspirin tablets (325 milligrams each) dissolved in 1 quart of water and used as a foliar spray can thwart these diseases.


For large areas, spray the vegetation, lay down pieces of cardboard, top them with shredded bark (a layer at least 3 inches deep), and let the bed “rest” for a season. The next spring, the cardboard will be like mulch, and the bed will be weed-free and easy to work.Vinegar wreaks havoc on weeds
Attack weeds with a directed stream of vinegar (5 percent acidity) mixed with a few drops of liquid soap. You may substitute equal parts water and isopropyl alcohol (70 percent solution) for the vinegar. This works well for areas in stone or brick patios where you don’t want grass or weeds. Drench the weed leaves in the heat of the day. When applying, be careful not to spray any treasured plants; cover them with newspaper for protection.

Corn gluten stops weeds before they start
Professor Nick Christians and other researchers at Iowa State University found an amazing use for corn gluten meal, the tough, sticky, elastic by-product of milled cornmeal. The protein-rich corn gluten meal contains an herbicide that inhibits root formation during germination, and this effect lasts for months.
Timing is everything when it comes to using corn gluten. If the weed seeds have already germinated and sprouted, this technique won’t work. To protect a newly planted (but unseeded) bed from a weedy invasion, work corn gluten meal into the top 2 to 3 inches of your soil, and water thoroughly. Lawns and existing flower beds can be top-dressed with corn gluten meal. Do not fertilize the treated area for a month after application because corn gluten meal is high in nitrogen.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

10 Food Myths Put to the Test

1. Eating chocolate gives you pimples

Not so, says Dr Pam Brown, fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists. "There is no good data that support that theory, although it used to be in a lot of dermatology textbooks. It's a myth that has a long history; it was originally touted in the early 1930s. There were a couple of studies in the 1960s and '70s, but these studies were poorly designed and not well done.

We do know that food is possibly one of a great number of factors, including genetics and the structure of the diet, that lead to acne." There is, she says, some evidence that high glycemic load may affect the body's production of the hormone androgen, "and androgen is one of the things that, in a genetically susceptible person, drives the development of acne lesions. But chocolate itself hasn't been implicated."

2. An apple a day keeps the doctor away

"It's obviously not literally true," says Dr Ronald McCoy, senior medical educator and spokesperson for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, "but as a metaphor there's a lot of truth to it. It recognizes that fruit is an important part of the diet and needs to be included on a regular basis. But you notice it's 'an' apple, not 50 apples a day. It should be part of a balanced diet. And while apples are full of antioxidants, it doesn't have to be an apple; it's symbolic of fruit in general. So the gist of it is quite sound: moderate amounts of fruit as part of a balanced diet are an important factor in improving longevity."

3. Drinking cranberry juice can cure a urinary tract infection

"There is no evidence that cranberry juice or cranberry tablets will treat an established infection," says Dr David Malouf, president of the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand. "A bladder infection should be managed with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. An untreated infection can spread to the kidneys (called pyelonephritis), which can make the patient very unwell.

"However, there is evidence that regular cranberry juice or cranberry tablets may reduce the risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI) in the first place. The current thinking is that cranberry stops the bacteria – the germs that cause UTIs – from adhering to the bladder wall. It's one of several strategies a patient with recurrent UTIs might try to reduce the chance of re-infection."

4. Fish is brain food

This one's true. Eating fish has numerous health benefits, including a significant decrease in the risk of heart disease and stroke (because fish oils are rich in the unsaturated fatty acids known as omega-3s, and these decrease the stickiness of blood platelets and increase the flexibility of red blood cells). But it also has specific benefits for the brain, especially in later life, and again it's a result of those omega-3s.

A study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that eating fish once a week led to a 60% drop in cognitive decline in older people, and significantly reduced the risk of developing conditions such as Alzheimer's. In her book 100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's, Jean Carper quotes Dr Emiliano Albanese, who studied the diets of 15,000 people aged over 65 from seven countries: "The fact is, the more fish you eat, the less likely you are to get dementia." Those who ate it a few times a week had 20% less chance of dementia, and those who ate it every day reduced their risk by 40%.

5. Avoid milk, especially when you have a cold, because it makes mucus

This incredibly persistent belief is completely false, says Dr McCoy. "Milk is a really important source of calcium, particularly in children, so it's important to allay this fear totally. There is good, scientific evidence – it's been looked at so closely – and the evidence is incontrovertible: there is absolutely no relationship between the two. But people don't believe that. The fact that they have a virus, which is causing them to produce mucus, seems irrelevant! People have fears around health and it takes a big grown-up to face their fears and say, 'Well, the evidence shows there's no connection'. If people persist in believing otherwise, they're being irrational."

There is, he adds, "no connection between lactose intolerance, which is about bloating and diarrhea, and mucus production. (It's also quite uncommon for people raised on a Western diet to be completely lactose-intolerant.) People need the courage not to pander to those fears." This means saying to well-intentioned relatives and friends who push the myth, No, that's not true. "Look at it this way, if you're a parent, do you want to pander to a fear or have a child who develops osteoporosis later in life? It's a no-brainer."

6. Eating carrots improves your eyesight

This one has some truth in it. Eating carrots won't prevent or fix problems such as being short- or long-sighted, but eating even a single carrot every few days can be enough to prevent certain kinds of night-blindness. That's because some night-blindness, a condition in which the eye cannot adjust to dim light, is caused by a lack of vitamin A, and carrots are rich in betacarotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.

7. Spicy food gives you ulcers

"It does not," says Professor Bolin. "There was a wonderful study done some years ago, feeding an extraordinary amount of chilli to people and that didn't cause any problems. What spices do is disturb a potential irritable bowel. So if they do give you pain, you're likely to say, 'Oh, that's ulcer pain', but it's really not. It's pain from your bowel.

"We now know that a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori is the cause of almost all ulcers, except those caused by arthritis medication and aspirin. You wouldn't know if you had Helicobacter. Most people who do – that we see – have had it since they were a child or a teenager. We presume it's related to nutrition and water supply, because it's extraordinarily common in places such as Asia, but is disappearing in places like Australia."

8. Feed a cold, starve a fever

"This is absolutely wrong," says Dr McCoy. "People with a fever need their nutrition. They can find it harder to eat, but it's important they have small amounts regularly. They need to eat what they can tolerate. When people are sick, their nutritional needs increase; the metabolic rate goes up. People with fevers can lose weight very, very quickly. I once saw a patient with fever who lost 17 pounds in four days, and it wasn't fluid loss – he was on a drip – it was probably muscle wasting. So if you have someone with a fever, give them fever reducer and half an hour later when it has kicked in, that's the time to feed them. They'll probably be more able to eat then."

9. Eat yogurt to cure a yeast infection

"The jury's still out on this one," says gynecologist Dr Kristine Barnden. "The rationale is very plausible." Normally, "friendly" bacteria called lactobacilli in the vagina make the environment very acidic, which suppresses yeast organisms such as candida. But if something suppresses the lactobacilli, such as taking a course of antibiotics for an unrelated condition, the yeasts will flourish. "It's thought that eating yogurt that contains bacteria such as acidophilus, or even plain, ordinary yogurt, will restore the proper balance.

The trouble is there are no large, well-designed studies that prove yogurt works in this way, yet there are a few that showed no effect at all. We also hear a lot about probiotics (bacteria such as acidophilus that are consumed with a medicinal purpose in mind), but, says Dr Barnden, "all of the trials that have looked at this have shown a very strong placebo effect." In other words, it may only work because people believe it will work. "Still," she says, "there's no harm in eating yogurt."

What will cure thrush is over-the-counter antifungal medication, but if you're not sure it's thrush, or if it persists, "it's important to see a doctor".

10. Ginger taken in tea will cure an upset stomach

"There are lots of these herbal remedies about that have a reputation for being good, and I think sometimes it's because the problem that you're taking it for doesn't last too long. So, whatever you take, you're going to feel better the next day," says Professor Bolin. 

"There's no evidence that things like ginger will help. Peppermint will, particularly for reflux, and that can be taken as tea or as capsules containing peppermint." He makes the point that this pertains to the herb, not to peppermint candies.

5 Bizarre Weight Loss Tricks That Work

1. Sniff a banana, apple, or peppermint

You might feel silly, but it works. When Dr Alan R. Hirsch of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago tried this with 3,000 volunteers, he found that the more frequently people sniffed, the less hungry they were and the more weight they lost – an average of 30 lb each. One theory is that sniffing the food tricks the brain into thinking you're actually eating it.

2. Hang a mirror opposite your seat at the table.

One study found that eating in front of mirrors slashed the amount people ate by nearly one-third. Seems having to look yourself in the eye reflects back some of your own inner standards and goals, and reminds you of why you’re trying to lose weight in the first place.

3. Surround yourself with blue

There’s a good reason you won’t see many fast-food restaurants decorated in blue: Believe it or not, the color blue functions as an appetite suppressant. So serve up dinner on blue plates, dress in blue while you eat, and cover your table with a blue tablecloth. Conversely, avoid red, yellow, and orange in your dining areas. Studies find they encourage eating.

4. Shoot your food

Rather than writing down every morsel, take a picture of it, and file the photos on your phone or computer by date. A visual account of your consumption may help you curb your intake. “Snapping photos and then looking back at them can make people stop and think before indulging,” nutritionist Joan Salge Blake says. It needn’t be a big production: your cell phone will do. Think about it: there you are at the salad bar, making a plate of vegetables. Don’t pat yourself on the back quite yet, though. A simple snapshot of your heaping dish may “show your extra helping of cheese or deep-fried croutons,” Joan cautions. A visual reminder might be just enough to give you pause next time before you ladle on the blue cheese dressing. -- 

5. Tie yourself up

You could try fitness guru Valerie Orsoni’s “Le Petit Secret”: “A number of French women wear a ribbon around their waist and underneath their clothes when they go out for dinner. It keeps them conscious of the tummy—particularly if the ribbon starts to feel tighter as the evening goes on!”

10 of the Most Irritating Phrases in the English Language

1. At the end of the day
2. Fairly unique
3. I personally
4. At this moment in time
5. With all due respect
6. Absolutely
7. It’s a nightmare
8. Shouldn’t of
9. 24-7
10. It’s not rocket science

24 Things You Might Be Saying Wrong

1) You never mean: Could care less
You always mean: Couldn’t care less
Why: You want to say you care so little already that you couldn’t possibly care any less. When the Boston Celtics’ Ray Allen said, “God could care less whether I can shoot a jump shot,” we know he meant exactly the opposite because 1) God has other things on his mind, and 2) God is a Knicks fan.
2) You might say: Mano a mano
You might mean: Man-to-man
Why: You don’t speak Spanish by adding vowels to the end of English words, as a columnist describing father–teenage son relationships seemed to think when he wrote, “Don’t expect long, mano a mano talks.” Mano a mano (literally, “hand to hand”) originated with bullfighting and usually refers to a knock-down, drag-out direct confrontation.
3) You might say: Less
You might mean: Fewer
Why: In general, use fewer when you’re specifying a number of countable things (“200 words or fewer”); reserve less for a mass (“less than half”). So when you’re composing a tweet, do it in 140 characters or fewer, not less.
4) You never mean: Hone in
You always mean: Home in
Why: Like homing pigeons, we can be single-minded about finding our way to a point: “Scientists are homing in on the causes of cancer.” Hone means “to sharpen”: “The rookie spent the last three seasons honing his skills in the minor leagues.” But it’s easy to mishear m’s and n’s, which is probably what happened to the Virginia senator who said, “We’ve got to hone in on cost containment.” If you’re unsure, say “zero in” instead.
5) You might say: Bring
You might mean: Take
Why: The choice depends on your point of view. Use bring when you want to show motion toward you (“Bring the dog treats over here, please”). Use take to show motion in the opposite direction (“I have to take Rufus to the vet”). The rule gets confusing when the movement has nothing to do with you. In those cases, you can use either verb, depending on the context: “The assistant brought the shot to the vet” (the vet’s point of view); “the assistant took the shot to the doctor” (the assistant’s).
6) You might say: Who
You might mean: Whom
Why: It all depends. Do you need a subject or an object? A subject (who) is the actor of the sentence: “Who left the roller skates on the sidewalk?” An object (whom) is the acted-upon: “Whom are you calling?” Parents, hit the Mute button when Dora the Explorer shouts, “Who do we ask for help when we don’t know which way to go?”
7) You almost never mean: Brother-in-laws, runner-ups, hole in ones, etc.
You almost always mean: Brothers-in-law, runners-up, holes in one, etc.
Why: Plurals of these compound nouns are formed by adding an s to the thing there’s more than one of (brothers, not laws). Some exceptions: words ending in ful (mouthfuls) and phrases like cul-de-sacs.
8) You almost never mean: Try and
You almost always mean: Try to
Why: Try and try again, yes, but if you’re planning to do something, use the infinitive form: “I’m going to try to run a marathon.” Commenting on an online story about breakups, one woman wrote, “A guy I dated used to try and impress me with the choice of books he was reading.” It’s no surprise that the relationship didn’t last.
9) You almost never mean: Different than
You almost always mean: Different from
Why: This isn’t the biggest offense, but if you can easily substitute from for than (My mother’s tomato sauce is different from my mother-in-law’s), do it. Use than for comparisons: My mother’s tomato sauce is better than my mother-in-law’s.
10) You almost never mean: Beg the question
You almost always mean: Raise the question
Why: Correctly used, “begging the question” is like making a circular argument (I don’t like you because you’re so unlikable). But unless you’re a philosophy professor, you shouldn’t ever need this phrase. Stick to “raise the question.”
11) You might say: More than
You can also say: Over
Why: The two are interchangeable when the sense is “Over 6,000 hats were sold.” We like grammarian Bryan Garner’s take on it: “The charge that over is inferior to more than is a baseless crotchet.”
12) You almost never mean: Supposably
You almost always mean: Supposedly
Why: Supposably is, in fact, a word—it means “conceivably”—but not the one you want if you’re trying to say “it’s assumed,” and certainly not the one you want if you’re on a first date with an English major or a job interview with an English speaker.
13) You might say: All of
You probably mean: All
Why: Drop the of whenever you can, as Julia Roberts recently did, correctly: “Every little moment is amazing if you let yourself access it. I learn that all the time from my kids.” But you need all of before a pronoun (“all of them”) and before a possessive noun (“all of Julia’s kids”).
14) You might say: That
You might mean: Which
Why: “The money that is on the table is for you” is different from “the money, which is on the table, is for you.” That pinpoints the subject: The money that is on the table is yours; the money in my pocket is mine. Which introduces an aside, a bit of extra information. If you remove “which is on the table,” you won’t change the meaning: The money is for you (oh, and unless you don’t want it, it’s on the table). If the clause is necessary to your meaning, use that; if it could safely be omitted, say which.
15) You never mean: Outside of
You always mean: Outside
Why: These two prepositions weren’t meant for each other. Perfectly acceptable: “Wearing a cheese-head hat outside Wisconsin will likely earn you some stares and glares (unless you’re surrounded by Green Bay Packers fans, that is).”
16) You might say: Each other
You might mean: One another
Why: Tradition says that each other should be used with two people or things, and one another with more than two, and careful speakers should follow suit: “The three presenters argued with one another over who should announce the award, but Ann and Barbara gave each other flowers after the ceremony.” (By the way, if you need the possessive form of either one when writing that business letter, it’s always each other’s and one another’s; never end with s’.)
8 Confusing Pairs
17) leery, wary: suspicious
      weary: tired
18) farther: for physical distance
       further: for metaphorical distance or time
19) principle: rule
       principal: of your school
20) compliment: nice thing to say
      complement: match
21) continual: ongoing but intermittent
       continuous: without interruption
22) stationary: stands still
       stationery: paper
23) imply: to suggest a meaning
         infer: to draw meaning from something
24) affect: typically a verb, meaning “to act upon or cause an effect”; as a noun, it’s “an emotional response”
effect: typically a noun, meaning “something produced,” like a special effect; as a verb, “to bring about,” as in “to effect change”