Collecting rainwater

We have been collecting rain water trying to be conservative. The rainwater falls off the roof into big black vats. Question is, how to keep mosquitoes from laying eggs in it? Don’t use additives to the water but keep covered like old cisterns once were?

Danetta Cates
Dexter, Missouri

If you keep your vats covered, you’ll find few mosquitoes find their way into the water. The old-time way of keeping mosquito populations down in the water was to put a couple of goldfish in the cistern to eat any wigglers or bugs that did happen to end up in the water. (Yep, I know…fish poop…. Oh well, I guess folks just didn’t think about that much when using the water.)

You can buy mosquito “dunks” which are floating discs that slowly release bT into the water, eliminating mosquitoe larva in the water. It is a natural bacteria, lethal to only mosquitoes; it won’t harm fish, birds, plants, or you. — Jackie

Canning cantaloupe

I have been told my whole life that you cannot can cantaloupe. However, my aunt used to can it every year and it was WONDERFUL! Do you know of any way to do this? Unfortunately, my aunt passed before I could think to discuss this with her and now I have nowhere else to turn. Thanks for any input you have.

Sandi C.

Your aunt probably canned “pickled” cantaloupe balls. They really aren’t sour as you’d think and turn out quite nicely. Here’s the recipe:


14 cantaloupe balls (1 inch)
3 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
4½ cups sugar

Spice bag:
2 sticks cinnamon
1 Tbsp. whole cloves
1 Tbsp. whole allspice
¼ tsp. mustard seed

Combine vinegar and water in a large pot. Add spice bag and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cantaloupe balls and let stand for 1½ hours. Add sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and simmer until melon balls start becoming transparent. Pack hot melon balls in hot jars, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Ladle hot syrup over melon balls, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim of jar clean; place hot, previously simmered lid on jar and screw down ring firmly tight. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.

I hope you like them. This recipe and a whole lot more “different” as well as regular recipes are found in my book Growing and Canning Your Own Food, available right here through BHM! — Jackie


  1. If you put a bit of Dawn in the water, any standing water, the surface tension is broken and the eggs cannot hold onto the surface of the water. Plus, mosquitoes will drown trying to land on the water surface. Yes, there is surface tension that will support a mosquito.

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