Category Archives: Gardening

When making a cross-country move I am realizing that I will not be able to pack my plants into a moving box and have the movers transport them. Plants can’t go without light, air and water for ten days so I wondered what about moving houseplants.Moving Houseplants

 

In the past year I have actually begun to decrease the number of houseplants I have. I found a woman on Freecycle that wanted some house plants so she took a couple. I also had a friend who asked for a cutting of my Hoya plant, instead I took a cutting and gave her the plant.moving houseplants

 

My beautiful bay plant I will have to give a way. I can always grow another and it’s just gotten too large to move. My plan is to pack a couple of my favorite plants and load them in the car as we will be driving cross-country again.moving houseplants, Sweet Bay

 

However first I will have to check that my plants can cross state lines. Many states and countries require inspections for plants and have restrictions on the types of plants that can enter their borders.

 

As I mentioned I already took cuttings of my Hoya plants so I will just have a very small pot to move. I plan to do the same with my aloe plant. I will just transplant a few babies and get rid of the mother plant. I do have two Christmas cactus plants that are rather special. One is from a very large plant my grandmother-in-law had. This plant was so large it sat on a dining room table and took up the whole table. I think every family member has a cutting from that plant. So like the Hoyas and the aloe I will take cuttings and start a new plant. The last remaining plant is a Christmas Cactus that was my mother’s. Luckily the plant is not that large and I plan to move the whole plant. My goal is to have a small box that these plants will fit in to. I will make room in our car and they should survive the move without any problem. Hopefully when we do make the drive cross-country it won’t be in the winter so I won’t have to worry about cold weather affecting the plants.moving houseplants

 

Consulting with the movers they had several suggestions for moving your plants. Three weeks before moving day, re-pot the plants into unbreakable pots the same size. Two weeks before moving prune the larger plants by pinching back new growth. This will make the plants more compact for easy handling. One week before moving take a close look at your plants and make sure there are no insects or parasites. Two days before moving water your plants normally but take care not to overwater.

 

The day before moving I will pack my plants in a box so that they fit securely and there is no chance they might tip over. As soon as we arrive in our new destination the plants will be promptly unpacked. It may take them a few days to recover from a cross-country move but they should all do fine in their new home!moving houseplants

Winter Reading: Seed Catalog Time

 

The weather outside may be frightful but my favorite thing to do on a cold winter’s day is sit by the woodstove and enjoy some seed catalog time. It’s the time of the year when the seed catalogs are arriving in the mail and it’s so much fun to look through them and plan a garden for the spring. I love to garden and if I can’t actually have my hands in the the dirt planning a garden is the next best thing!seed catalog time

 

My all time favorite catalog is Solstice Seeds. This is put out by local seed saver Sylvia ?. You may remember that I took a seed saving class from her several years go. She is meticulous in keeping track of her plants and growing conditions etc. Any seed I have ever purchased from her has a great germination rate and will do well in my garden. Sylvia’s seeds are all heirloom and her hope is that you too will begin saving your own seeds! This will be her last year of putting out a catalog. She will be moving on to other things and sincerely hopes that everyone that has purchased seeds from her in the past will now begin to save their own seeds. I have to say that Sylvia’s seed catalog, Solstice Seeds is by far my most favorite catalog. I know that all the seeds offered in this catalog were grown less than twenty miles from my home! Sylvia does not have a web site but if anyone is interested I’d be glad to send you a pdf of her catalog. Just contact me!seed catalog time

 

Another favorite Vermont Catalog is the High Mowing Organic Seeds catalog. I just love shopping local and supporting other Vermont businesses. I haven’t received this catalog yet this year but I’m expecting it any day!seed catalog time

 

Fedco is also another favorite. A company in Maine puts out this catalog. They carry a wide assortment of seeds some heirloom, and some not. The catalog is printed on newsprint and the only pictures you’ll see are drawings. If you want to see what an actually plant or vegetable will look like you will have to look elsewhere.seed catalog time

 

Baker Seed Heirloom Seeds Catalog is the catalog I spend the most time reading. All the seeds are heirloom and each seed has it’s own story! I was so excited to see that this year they will be carrying the Gete okosomin seeds.Gete okosomin If you haven’t had a chance to check out their catalog go online and request one. You’ll be glad you did their photographs are amazing!Gete okosomin

 

One last catalogs worthy of mentioning is the Seed Savers Exchange catalog, although not local, it is a catalog full of heirloom and open pollinated seeds. For 40 years the Seed Savers Exchange has been in the forefront of the heirloom seed movement, working with gardeners and seed savers to preserve our garden and food heritage.seed catalog time

 

Usually I start my own seeds but this year I will be relying on a local farmer who has a wonderful selection of heirloom seedlings. img_8238 As we continue to de-clutter and get ready for an eventual move there are some things I am cutting back on. I look forward to the day when life resume a more normal routine and I can go back to starting my own seeds once again. Are you a gardener? What are your favorite catalogs?seed catalog time

Christmas has come and gone and if you are like me you may be wondering what to do with our Christmas tree? For over twenty years we have had an artificial tree but in preparation for our eventual move we sold it and bought a real tree this year.Christmas Tree

 

Recycle Your Tree.

In many towns they offer curbside pick up for recycling your tree. Many providers will collect trees during regular pick up schedules on the two weeks following Christmas. Unfortunately this is not an option for us.

 

Take your tree to a drop off recycling center.

Most counties have free drop off locations. Usually you may take your tree to the drop off location for no charge.

 

Yard waste.

Cut up your tree to fit loosely into your yard waste container.composting, prudent living

 

Place the tree in your garden or backyard and use it as a bird feeder and sanctuary.

Tie fresh orange slices or string popcorn to attract the birds and they can sit in the branches for shelter.Treats for the birds!

 

Mulch.

Cut up the branches and put them through a chipper and use as mulch in your garden. Rent a wood chipper and invite your friends and neighbors to bring over their Christmas trees for a wood chipping party. Distribute chips to everyone.Christmas tree

Create fish food and habitat.

If you have a lake or pond on your property consider dumping your tree into it. That old pine or spruce provides a natural and decomposing habitat for fish and will attract algae for them to eat.Mid Pond and original mansion.

 

DIY Coasters.

Use your band saw or hacksaw to cut your Christmas tree trunk into coasters and trivets. Make sure you sand down the surfaces and stain and seal them before using to prevent the sap from leaking. You can gift them next Christmas!Christmas tree

 

Make Firewood.

Chop up your tree and use it for fuel in your fire pit. While the needles will dry out quickly, you may need to wait a few months before the log is dry enough to burn.Christmas tree

 

Create a brush pile.

A brush pile often consists of leaves, logs and twigs so an old Christmas tree can make a great base. It directly benefits the wildlife in your backyard during the winter months because brush piles and dead trees offer food and needed protection from the chill.

 

Did you have alive tree this Christmas? What do you do with your old tree?

Many of you have been following my adventures with the Gete okosomin squash seeds I obtained last year when we were in South Dakota. There are several stories going around about the origin of these seeds, they are also known as the 800 year old squash, but regardless they are an heirloom squash seed. These seeds have been grown by Native people in North America for hundreds of years. The squash produced is not only very large, up to 18 pounds, but extremely delicious! I’ve tried it oven roasted and in a soup and both were very tasty!gete okosomin

 

When I first wrote a post about the seeds I was swamped with requests. It wasn’t until after my small harvest that I had seeds to offer. Even then I didn’t have a lot of seeds to give away. Up until now the seeds have not been available commercially. However you can now purchase the seeds from the Whole Seed Catalog, put out by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.Gete okosomin

 

I have been working my way down my list contacting folks that originally expressed interest in the seeds. There have been a dozen or so people that have responded to my emails. I have been sending seeds out all over the place from Tennessee to Germany! One fellow I sent seeds to is married and his wife is Cherokee. They plan to share the seeds with the Cherokee Nation. Apparently the National Tribal Headquarters is just 25 miles from where they live.  I look forward to hearing back from these folks when they start growing their own seeds. I love when people are interested in growing heirloom vegetables and saving their own seeds, it’s so important!Gete okosomin

 

In the meantime for those of you who want seeds to plant this year I would suggest contacting Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Their catalog is beautiful and packed full of gorgeous pictures of heirloom vegetables!Gete okosomin

 

I hope you give these squash a try; you only need to harvest a few due to their large size! You’ll be glad you did! Plus if you order them from Baker Seeds they will be donating all proceeds from the sales of this squash to Native American non-profit organizations. Sounds like a win-win to me!Gete okosomin

Repotting a Peace Lily

 

Early winter is a good time for repotting your houseplants. Over the summer I tend to neglect my houseplants. Some of them are moved outside for the summer while others just enjoy the sunny windows. I keep them fed and watered but that’s about it. When the gardening season is over I catch a breath and really take a look at my various houseplants. Usually one or more will need some attention. My bay plant is doing wonderfully. Since they prefer a smaller pot I will not be transplanting it.transplanting a peace lily

 

My Peace lily is another story. Many people have a peace lily (spathuphyllum tango) in their home; it is very easy to care for and produces wonderful flowers. They thrive in indirect bright light. They like heavy watering but also like to dry out in between watering. Do keep pets and children away from this plant, as it is one of the many poisonous houseplants. Although they prefer a more compact root ball every other year or so I divide the plant, which seems to keep it pretty happy. When the active growth slows down or the leaves become smaller it is time to repot.transplanting a peace Lily

 

My plant is flowering less and less and it is extremely crowded so I know it’s time to re-pot.spathuphyllum tango, houseplants, repotting

First Steps in Repotting:

 

Repotting is rather easy. You can divide the plant into a number of new plants; perhaps you have a friend you would like to share with?

First fill a slightly larger pot that has drainage holes halfway with potting soil. Choose a pot only slightly larger because the plants grow well in crowded conditions. Make a small space in the middle of the soil for the divided peace lily plant.houseplants, repotting, potting soil

Loosen the dirt around the roots of the peace lily. Use a gardening spade to loosen the soil, and then carefully lift the plant out of the container. You can also tilt the container on its side and squeeze on it to loosen the soil from the container. I gently pull the plant out of the pot over some newspaper, usually in the garage. You can see that the plant is rather root bound.houseplants, root bound, repotting

Today it was too cold for such a project in the garage so I made a huge mess over a sheet on my kitchen floor. When you start pulling the plant apart you will realize it is made up of many plants.repotting houseplants, plants

 

You could actually put each plant in it’s own pot! After separating the plant I set aside the ones that will get re-potted. Rinse the dirt off the roots and run the roots of the plant under cool water.washing roots, repotting

 

Place the peace lily in the new container. Fill it with potting soil, and pack it down around the roots. Water the peace lily to keep the soil moist. I usually give the leaves a wipe with a damp cloth as well.repotted peace lily

 

I now have two plants and a pile of discarded plants for my compost pile!
repotted peace lily, houseplants
Don’t expect your plant to immediately look better. Give it several weeks and you should start to see signs of new growth. Transplanting is rather dramatic on a plant so give it some time to start looking good again. Believe me it won’t be long before you’ll be repotting it again.

Several months ago one of my faithful readers, Heather, suggested I do a post on making seed balls. I have made seed tapes using carrot seeds before but never seed balls!making seed balls, simple gifts After searching online I found there are many ways to make seed balls. Basically the recipes include equal amounts of compost and clay. Of course you also need your seeds!making seed balls, simple gifts

 

I wish I’d found the time to make these seed balls with my grandchildren when they were visiting. This would be a wonderful craft activity for your children. Instead I will have to send them some for Christmas! They will have fun planting them in the spring.

 

Ingredients for Making Seed Balls:

 

Seeds

Clay

Sifted aged compost

Water

 

The completed seed balls should have a 1:1 ratio of compost to clay. First moisten the clay with water until the consistency is like that of yogurt or soft ice cream.

 

When the clay is moistened and has the right consistency combine the compost with the clay; it is almost like creaming butter and sugar! Add more water as needed, you want the balls to hold together but not be sticky. Be prepared to get your hands dirty!

 

Pinch off a seed ball’s worth of the mixture and add your seeds. You only need to add 1-2 seeds unless they are hard to germinate then you may want to add more. I was using marigold seeds so I only added a few. If you add too many seeds they will be competing with each other when they germinate.making seed balls, simple gifts

 

Roll the clay-compost mixture into a ball and let dry at room temperature.making seed balls, simple gifts When completely dry store in an airtight container or place a couple of balls in a small bag for gift giving.making seed balls, simple gifts

 

I think this will make a wonderful Christmas gift! So glad my wonderful reader Heather suggested this project!

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