Posts Tagged ‘Gardening’

Planting succulents A centerpiece using teacups and terrarium-sized plants gives my dining room a light and whimsical feel. So, why stop there? Teacup Floral CenterpieceRecently, I came across some hand-painted rice bowls and teacups that belonged to my grandmother. Noticing that a rice bowl and a teacup each sported cracks, I decided they would make perfect containers for succulents, my new obsession. Sorry Grandma, but it’s a great way to repurpose unusable china. I think my new little planters are pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself. Planting Succulents in Vintage China

Containers: teacups, bowls, ceramic pots, etc.
Succulent cuttings or small potted succulents, proportionate to the size of the container.
Lightweight potting mix for cacti and succulents or a 1:1 ratio of high quality potting soil and Perlite
Aquarium gravel or small pebbles

1. If the container you are using does not have drainage holes, pour a good layer of gravel in the bottom of it to enhance drainage.

2. Fill the container with potting soil to within 1/2″ from the top edge, allowing enough space to plant the cuttings without the soil overflowing.

3. Plant the largest specimen first and then working your way down size-wise, fill in the remaining areas. Remember to balance your arrangement by height, shape, texture, and color.

4. Top dress with aquarium gravel or pebbles. This prevents the Perlite from floating away, helps the cuttings stay in place, and keeps moisture away from the base of the plants.


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Carpenter Bee Bzzzzzz-bzzzzzz-bzzzzzz . . . bzzzzzz-bzzzzzz-bzzzzzz . . . ah-choo! A large black bee darted quickly in and out of squash blossoms. If a bee could sneeze, I imagine this one would, because it was covered from head to tail in pollen (click on the photo to see all the pollen). After hearing gardeners complain of low vegetable yields due to lack of pollination, I’m happy to have this bee in my garden. However, I’m not so thrilled to learn that it’s a carpenter bee, the type of bee that burrows into wood!

#1 – The Ultimate Packing List
If you are planning on doing some serious traveling, you will want to check out The Ultimate Packing List for Full-Time Travel by the Professional Hobo. She lists what she takes, why she takes them, and where you can purchase these items.

#2 – The Second Time Around
Repurposing Ideas If you have imagination, most things can have more than one life or one purpose. Some of the ideas in the article Creative Ways to Repurpose & Reuse Old Stuff I’ve seen before, but that’s probably because they are really great ideas and have been well-circulated. Thanks to creative people who continually find new ways to reuse things!

#3 – A Slice of Time
Chinatown Sunset, 2013 by Fong Qi Wei Photographer Fong Qi Wei places an emphasis on time in his collection of work called Time is a Dimension. His photographs reveal landscapes, cityscapes, and seascapes during a 2 to 4 hour period, rather than just a moment in time.

#4 – Shelf Life
This infographic reminds me of my daughter. On occasion she’ll call to ask if I think a particular item in her refrigerator or pantry is okay to eat beyond its stated date. If you, too, are confused with all the dates marked on food packaging, then make sure to read the section at the bottom titled, “What’s the Deal With Expiration Dates?”

The Shelf Life of Food

#5 – Life
Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.
Ashley Smith

Have a great weekend!

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I lost myself today. I mean I lost myself in the sense of not caring where I was or what time it was. Feeling a little creatively blocked this morning, I grabbed my camera and went outside to photograph my rose garden. There is nothing quite like losing yourself in the magnificence of nature, in my case a rose garden during its first bloom of the season. The first bloom of the season is always a show stopper. After being dormant for many months, the roses put forth a tremendous effort to produce a caliber and profusion of blossoms not seen during the rest of the year. One hundred and sixty-four photos later my head cleared and creative ideas flowed again.

#1 – Flower Power
Here’s a thoughtful way to recycle flowers! If you are planning an event that has flower power, such as a wedding, contact the Flower Power Foundation. Its web site states, “The Flower Power Foundation is currently working in association with world-renowned hospice care centers, nursing and rehabilitation centers, rape crisis centers, Alzheimer facilities, and hospitals. Since inception we have facilitated millions of flowers from being discarded and turning them into heart opening experiences for the receivers and the givers. We are passionate about living in a society that takes care of each other now.”

The wheels of this foundation may not have arrived in your area, yet, but the concept is still viable. Why not recycle and rearrange flowers from an event and give them to those who would really appreciate beautiful gifts of hope?

#2 – Wine Bottles In Your Garden!
If you have a lot of empty wine bottles around the house, here’s a way to recycle them. An an article in Lifehacker suggests using wine bottles as garden edging. Bottles are stuck neck down into the soil, two rows wide to form a protective border around vegetable gardens.

#3 – Aphids, Aphids, and Aphids
How many different types of aphids exist? I must have seen at least five types in my garden today. According to Wikipedia there are about 4,400 species! To rid my rose garden of aphids, I dislodge them with a blast of water or run my gloved hand along the stems to brush them off. For more ideas on how to get rid of aphids read this article.

#4 -Reusing Parchment Paper
When I bake cookies I always cover my cookie sheets with parchment paper. Most of the time it’s parchment paper that’s been used before. Every time I’m done baking, I wipe the grease and crumbs off the paper with a slightly damp cloth. After it dries I store the paper on the cookie sheets so they’re ready for my next baking adventure!

#5 – Find Beauty Every Day
You cannot control the world outside, but you can choose what you bring into yourself. If you do not see anything of value in life, begin by finding one thing of beauty every day until it becomes a habit.
Ron Rathbun, meditation teacher

Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderfully dedicated mothers out there!

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With the temperatures warming up outside, it’s time to put on the sunscreen, drag out those tattered garden gloves, and sharpen those rusty shears. Picture how good it’s going to feel to reestablish those short sleeve and ankle sock tan lines while working up a sweat in the yard! Yeah, well maybe not today. Just got an iPad an hour ago and it’s redirecting my best intentions!

#1 – Time to Plant!
It’s that time of the year again when little vegetable plants nod in the breeze as we walk by them in the garden center. It can be confusing to know when the best time is to plant each type of vegetable, but The Garden Helper can help answer those types of questions. This site has a vegetable planting guide and tons of growing tips that are helpful to novice gardeners and experienced ones, as well. For someone like me, who could not live off the fat of the land, every little bit of advice helps!

#2 – Poisonous Plants
Last week I addressed foods that your pets should not eat. This week I’m focusing on plants that are potentially poisonous to your pets, cats and dogs specifically. The Humane Society of the United States has an extensive list that you can download as a PDF. Review the complete list so that you are familiar with plants in your yard that could be a potential problem. Here’s a short list of a few that are more commonly found in yards:

Azaleas – entire plant
Bird of Paradise – pods
Caladium – entire plant
Carolina Jessamine – flowers, leaves
Common Privet – leaves, berries
Daffodil – bulbs
Daphne – bark, berries, leaves
Day Lily & Easter Lily – entire plant is toxic to cats
Delphinium – entire plant, especially sprouts
English Ivy – entire plant especially leaves and berries
Foxglove – leaves
Iris – leaves, roots
Lantana – foliage
Laurels – leaves
Lupines – seeds, pods
Morning Glory – seeds, roots
Narcissus – bulbs
Oaks – shoots, leaves
Oleander – leaves
Philodendron – entire plant
Rhododendron – leaves
Sago Palm – entire plant, especially the seeds
Wisteria – pods, seeds

#3 – Eating at McDonald’s Around the World
My daughter recently told me about some meat-flavored potato chips she had in Egypt. That reminded me of this site which features McDonald’s cuisine from around the world. It’s interesting to see how McDonald’s caters to the local crowds.

#4 – The Snail’s Drink of Choice
I was reading a gardening article in my local newspaper and learned a few things about snails I had not known before. Did you know that snails can devour 30-40 times their weight, that they are hermaphrodites and thus can impregnate themselves or their partners, and last, but not least, that they love to drink beer? It seems snails are attracted to the yeast in beer, so go ahead and put out some shallow pans of beer so that those little guys can drown their troubles. But, beware, if you put out the wrong kind, they may not take the bait. According to research done at Colorado State University, snails tend to favor Kingsbury Malt, Budweiser, Bud Light, and Old Milwaukee brands. Light beer? Snails watch their weight?

#5 -Has Your Soul Bloomed, Yet?
If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.  ~Terri Guillemets

Today’s the last day of April which means tomorrow is May Day! Go ahead and dance around the maypole if you feel like it! Enjoy your weekend!

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Today’s post is dedicated to the memory of Alicia Rose Parlette who passed away yesterday at the young age of 28. Alicia was a gifted writer, journalist, and was a close friend of my oldest son. Bravely chronicling her diagnosis and ensuing life with incurable cancer in a 17-part series called “Alicia’s Story” for the San Francisco Chronicle, Alicia was and continues to be a source of inspiration for people all over the world. The world has lost a beautiful person and a brilliant spirit.

#1 – The Language of Flowers
Most people will agree that a gift of flowers is a thoughtful gesture. So that you know what your gift is really saying, here are some of the more traditional meanings for today’s popular flowers according to Pioneerthinking.com:

Anemone – Unfading love
Baby’s Breath – Everlasting love
Cyclamen – Resignation and goodbye
Daisy – Innocence
Forget-Me-Not – True love; memories
Gardenia – You’re lovely; secret love
Hydrangea – Thank you for understanding; frigidity; heartlessness
Iris – Faith; hope; wisdom and valor
Jasmine – Amiability; attracts wealth
Lavender – Devotion
Marigold – Comforts the heart
Nasturtium – Conquest; victory in battle; maternal love; charity; patriotism
Oleander – Caution; beware
Petunia – Resentment; anger; your presence soothes me
Rose (general) (red) – Love ; I love you
Stock – Lasting beauty
Tulip (general) – Fame, charity; perfect lover
Violet – Modesty; calms tempers; induces sleep
Zinnia – Thoughts of friends

#2 – A Book to Grow By
Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott wrote a little book called If Life is a Game, These Are the Rules that’s filled with a lot of food for thought. She writes about her “Ten Rules for Being Human.” These rules may seem self-evident to most people, myself included, but I discovered reading about them in detail to be an enlightening experience.

Here are Dr. Carter-Scott’s Ten Rules For Being Human:
1. You will receive a body.
2. You will be presented with lessons.
3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.
4. Lessons are repeated until learned.
5. Learning does not end.
6. “There” is no better than “here.”
7. Others are only mirrors of you.
8. What you make of your life is up to you.
9. All the answers are inside of you.
10. You will forget all of this at birth.

#3 – Make Word Clouds
Sitting at your computer, but need to take a little break? Go to www.wordle.net and make a “word cloud.” You type in the words and decide on font, layout, and colors. A print-worthy word cloud is yours for free.

#4 – Updates & Comments
Here are a few comments and updates from readers:
A. My coworker’s husband who has been eating steel cut oatmeal as per My Most Requested Recipe post has had his cholesterol score drop 34 points since his 2008 results! Way to go Jim!

B. I received a comment from someone regarding an entry I wrote on April 9th. I wrote about about how your garden can help others if you “Plant a Row for the Hungry” and reader Gar offered this additional information:
Another way your readers can help the needy is to visit http://www.AmpleHarvest.org – a site that helps diminish hunger by enabling backyard gardeners to share their crops with neighborhood food pantries.

The site is free both for the food pantries and the gardeners using it.

Backed by Google.com and the USDA, more than 1,600 food pantries nationwide are already on it and more are signing up daily.

It includes preferred delivery times, driving instructions to the pantry as well as (in many cases) information about store bought items also needed by the pantry (for after the growing season).

If your community has a food pantry, make sure they register on http://www.AmpleHarvest.org.

C. It seems a lot of readers did not understand the title of my April 12th post. “Release the Cracklin!” was a tongue-in-cheek referral to the phrase “Release the Kraken!” that the god Zeus yells out in the movies “Clash of the Titans.” A Kraken is a mythical sea monster of gargantuan size. A cracklin’ or crackling is the crispy skin of a pig. I was taking artistic leeway in calling bacon a cracklin’. Okay, you can laugh, now.

D. Although this is not a comment, it is a request from a reader. I have been asked to ask my readers, especially the gardeners out there, if they know of any pest or critter that could be responsible for stripping off all the leaves and flowers on his vegetable plants overnight. Something devoured his plants and he can’t figure out what. He has wired fencing all around his vegetable garden to keep the deer away and he has placed barriers into the soil to prevent rabbits from burrowing under the fence. He thinks it had to be something that climbed over the fence. Ideas, anyone?

#5 – Little Flower
Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.
-Hans Christian Andersen-

Goodbye little flower. Bless you Alicia Rose Parlette.

For more information about Alicia and to contribute to the Alicia Parlette Fund for Aspiring Journalists please go to msparlette.wordpress.com.

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My garden is a constant reflection of the saying, “Out with the old and in with the new.” The daffodils are sadly cheerful now, but the freesias have arrived and lend a delicate fragrance to the air. And all that remain of the dangling oak blossoms are the multitude of petals that are chaotically strewn amongst the perfectly formed points of rose buds. Life goes on.

#1 – Your Garden Can Help Others
National Garden Month is sponsored every April by the National Gardening Association (NGA). It is their hope that by encouraging individuals to garden they are making “America a greener, healthier, more livable place.” After reading the article, “Five Ways to Celebrate National Garden Month” these two suggestions stood out as great ways to help others:

Plant a Row For the Hungry
The Garden Writers Association created the “Plant A Row for The Hungry,” campaign that asks garden writers to encourage their readers/listeners to plant an extra row of produce each year and donate their surplus to local food banks, soup kitchens, and other service organizations to help feed America’s hungry. As you plan your vegetable garden, plant a few extra rows that will give you enough bounty to share with your local shelter or soup kitchen. Or, share your garden’s bounty with a neighbor who might need it.

Organize a Flower “Brigade”
Bring fresh-cut flowers to a nursing home, care facility, or a local hospital. If you have some of your own fresh flowers you can bring them or you can buy fresh flowers or see if a local flower grower or florist would be willing to donate to help spread the community spirit!

#2 – Don’t Pour It Out!
If you have a little leftover wine that you just can’t bring yourself to drink, don’t pour it out! Instead, pour it into ice cube trays or very small containers and freeze. When needed, pop these guys out and throw them into sauces, gravies, or stews for added flavor.

#3 – Save Those Tissue Boxes
A while back I wrote in a post about a way to reuse empty tissue boxes. I mentioned that they make great trash boxes for cars. They do, but lately, I’ve been using them on my vanity to throw away used tissues, dental floss, q-tips, cotton pads, etc. Saves me steps to the garbage can.

#4 – Out With the Negative and In With the Positive
I stumbled upon an article on the internet called 18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick that had some good commonsense advice. One tip that I’m going to try is: use the word “but” to change bad thought patterns. For example, “I’m no good at this, but, if I work at it I might get better later.”

#5 – Dreamers and Doers
“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” Sarah Ban Breathnach

Enjoy the beauty of this day!

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It’s bleak and wet outside, but I’m thinking of the beautiful sunny days ahead. My garden will be lovely in the spring, but only if I put in the work now!

#1 – A Garden Tip
In his book A Year In The Life Of A Rose, Rayford Clayton Reddell suggests stripping (cutting not ripping off) the foliage of your rose bushes two weeks before pruning. He states, “When leaves are removed from rosebushes, the plant is given a signal to rejuvenate the foliar process immediately.” The best time to prune your roses? Reddell says, “Prune as soon as possible once dormancy is safely broken, that is, when you’re sure there won’t be another hard freeze.”

#2 – Recycle With Freecycle
Got a new Blu-Ray DVD player for Christmas, but don’t know what to do with the old one? Check to see if there’s a Freecycle group in your area. Freecycle’s internet site claims: “The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,878 groups with 6,913,000 members across the globe. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them’s good people). Membership is free.” Make sure to be smart and protect your safety and privacy when posting to any list or participating in any exchange.

#3 – A Kitchen Tip
When using honey in recipes try spraying your measuring spoon or measuring cup with non-stick vegetable spray first. The honey will pour out more easily.

#4 – Say Hello
Here’s how to say hello or good day in these different languages:
Greek – yassou
French – bonjour
Spanish – hola
Italian – buongiorno
Portuguese – olá
Chinese – nǐ hǎo

#5 – A Quote
I would disagree with those who say we cannot change the past. We can heal it, transform it, utilize it, build on it – any number of creative things.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way

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The leaves are turning varying shades of brown and are dropping one by one. I’m not referring to the oak trees that line my yard, but to my tomato plants. It’s that time of the year when summer’s bounty comes to an end. Summer’s bounty? I hardly think my harvest qualifies to be called a bounty. Here’s an accurate recap of my harvest: My cherry tomatoes were not so cheery; my peppers were only a little peppy; my zucchini zeroed-out; and my cukes went cuckoo. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a brown thumb, a dark chocolate brown one to be exact.

Every year I have this primal need to grow vegetables and live off the fat of the land. This year I went to great lengths and purchased Earth Boxes after seeing the glorious ads of luscious tomato plants growing skyward and after reading scores of testimonials from people reaping bushels worth of produce. I set the boxes on the south side of my yard so they would receive plenty of nice hot summer sun. Following the directions exactly, by adding fertilizer strips and attaching drip irrigation lines to the water tube, I had great expectations. As each little blossom of potential fruit developed, I marveled at the miracle of nature. Then disaster inevitably happened. Appearing like a light dusting of snow on the leaves of my plants, white flies came from out of nowhere and sucked the life juices from the besieged plants. Bees started avoiding my crops. Were my crops inhospitable? I was forced to perform cross pollination on my zucchini blossoms using a not so scientific looking elementary school paint brush. Large and lovely tomatoes would form to perfection only to have their beauty marred by the ugly brown spots of blossom end rot.

My sister-in-law and I were lamenting the other day about the failures of our summer vegetable gardens. The only tomato plant that had performed well for her was a neglected rogue volunteer in the corner of her yard. I recited my gardening woes to her and humorously said that my husband and I could not live off the fat of the land unless we could survive on rosemary, which is the only plant that seems to grow without any effort on our part. She laughed and suggested I write a post on 101 uses for rosemary. That’s a challenge for the future!

Here’s a photo that puts my gardening skills into perspective. Although, I was very appreciative of my pepper plant’s effort to produce something, it was certainly not on a grand scale, especially when compared to it’s market counterpart!

I’d love to hear your vegetable garden “success” stories!

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