Category Archives: Gardening

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!



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:




Sifted aged compost



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!

Fall is the time to be planting daffodils! The garden season has come to an end and most of the leaves have already fallen off our trees. The garden chores have been completed, the day lilies and hostas have all been cut back. Hoses and tomato cages have been stored for the winter along with the wheelbarrows.gardening, garden tools

It’s been a busy fall, but the ground is not frozen yet, and although I’ve usually already gotten my bulbs planted I still have a little time to plant daffodil bulbs. I love scattering the bulbs to create a natural look. flower bulbs, daffodils, gardening

Ideally you should plant your bulbs as soon as you get them. It’s nice to have a sunny day to do your planting. Often I put it off and end up planting on a cold, blustery day. This year I chose a nice sunny day to do my planting. You want to plant the bulbs when your soil can still be worked, this gives the bulbs a chance to develop roots and establish themselves before winter arrives.

The rule of thumb for planting bulbs outdoors is to set them two and a half times deeper than their diameter. For my daffodil bulbs this meant 5-6″ deep. If you want a naturalizing look to your planting, take a few bulbs in your hand, toss them gently on the ground, then plant them where they have fallen.daffodil bulbs, bulbs, spring flowers

Dig a hole in the dirt with a trowel for each individual bulb.daffodil bulbs, spring flowers, planting, garden

Special bulb-planting tools are available at garden centers; they make it easy to dig neat, circular holes. Place the bulb in the hole and cover with dirt. In the spring before growth or flowering begins spread a complete fertilizer over your flowerbeds. The spring rains will carry the fertilizer down into the soil.Daffodils

Planting bulbs requires patience because you have to wait almost six months before you can enjoy the flowers! Patience is a good virtue to practice, it involves waiting. In our society we want things immediately, which is why so many people have debt problems! If we would learn to wait and save for something we want rather than “buy now, pay later” we would be much better off financially! Even stocking your party requires patience. A pantry does not become a well-stocked pantry overnight. It takes months of careful planning and preparation, which is a good rule to live our life by!spring flowers, daffodils, Vermont

So I will be patient, the bulbs are planted and I will wait to enjoy their beauty. I will look forward to the daffodil blooms come spring. If by chance our home sells before the spring the new owners will have beautiful daffodils to enjoy!daffodil bloms, spring flowers, bulbs

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness;

it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.

Gertrude Jekyll

Saving Gete okosomin seeds is very simple, like any winter squash in which you plan to save the seeds the squash must be grown to full maturity, which is best determined by examining the stem of the fruit. A squash that is ready for harvest when the fruit’s stem changes from green to brown or yellow. Although mature, squash at this stage still contain large amounts of water and should be placed in a cool, dry location with good ventilation until completely dry.gete okosomin


I harvested the only two Gete okosomin squash I had and allowed them to sit in our cool garage. After a month I decided it was time to cut them open and access the number of seeds. I was pleasantly surprised! I did not expect to find any mature seeds in my small squash but there were about a hundred seeds that all look viable.gete okosomin


You may have read my post last week that my harvest was not what I expected. There were just too many gardening challenges this year, voles and chipmunks creating damage in the garden and a wide spread drought! Unfortunately my yield was only two squash, much less than I expected from three plants! Perhaps I’ll have better luck next year saving Gete okosomin seeds!gete okosomin


Unlike tomato and cucumber seeds, which require fermentation, the seeds of the Gete okosomin do not require fermentation. The seeds only need to be separated from the pulp and allowed to air dry.


Once the squash were cut open I removed the seeds and separated them from the pulp the best I could. saving Gete okosomin seedsThe seeds were then paced on a paper towel and allowed to air dry. Once the seeds are dry I will store them in a jar. I have about 100 seeds to share. Not nearly enough to fill all the hundreds of requests I’ve had but I will be contacting the folks that requested seeds and work my way down the list until I run out of seeds!saving Gete okosomin seeds


To read more about my Gete okosomin harvest click HERE.

If you are interested in learning more about saving your own seeds I highly recommend the book Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth.seed saving

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