Category Archives: Gardening

For some reason I have the perfect conditions to grow an aloe plant. The Aloe Vera plant is a popular houseplant with medicinal properties. The sap from the leaves has wonderful topical benefits, especially on burns and sunburns. I think I first started growing aloe plants when we lived in Florida over twenty years ago! These plants are an ideal addition to your home, and they are very easy to care for. In fact not only are they easy to care for, but propagating an aloe plant is also extremely easy.Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

My plant does so well that I find myself passing along baby plants to my friends. You might wonder how I do this. While you can actually grow an aloe plant from a leaf cutting it is much easier and more successful to propagate from offsets or “pups” .Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

Aloe vera is a succulent and as such, is related to the cactus. Cacti are fairly easy to propagate from cuttings, but aloe vera cuttings, with their high moisture content, rarely become viable plants. Rooting an aloe vera plant leaf seems like it should work, but all you will get is a rotten or shriveled leaf.

 

It is much easier to share this wonderful plant by removal of offsets. This is a simple process that anyone can easily do. If you look carefully at your aloe plant you will notice little aloe plants (offsets) forming off the mother plant. As a general rule the offset should be about 1/5 the size of the parent plant and should have several sets of true leaves.Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

When the offset is large enough remove the dirt from around the base. When you remove the offset you want to make sure it has a complete root system attached.Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

Plant the newly removed offset in a dry cacti-potting mix or make your own with one part potting soil and one part sand. Allow it to sit for one week and then water the soil. After this you would care for the aloe vera pup the same way you would the mother plant.Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

To successfully grown an aloe vera plant remember that the plant is a succulent and does well in a dry environment. They should be planted in a cactus potting soil mix and should have plenty of drainage. They do not like standing water. They also need bright light and do best in south or west facing windows.

 

Now you can not only grow your aloe plant successfully but you now know that propagating an aloe plant is easy and you can pass the aloe plant pups off to your friends!Propagating an Aloe Plant

Propagating a Christmas CactusDid you read my post on moving houseplants? If so you know that I can’t move all of my large plants with me. Instead I plan to propagate my Christmas cactus and have a much smaller pot to take with me. Propagating a Christmas cactus is very easy. This plant makes a great holiday gift for friends and family, so knowing how to propagate and grow Christmas cactus can give you extra plants to share with your friends!Propagating a Christmas Cactus

 

The first step is to simply take a short, y-shaped cutting from the stem top. The cutting should consist of at least two or three joined segments. Make sure all the cuttings are from healthy foliage.Propagating a Christmas Cactus

Allow the cutting to dry a few hours before potting it up for rooting, this will help to avoid any potential stem rot from excessive moisture.Propagating a Christmas Cactus

 

Once the cutting has dried for a couple of hours place the segment in a most peat and sand soil mix. Insert the segment about a quarter of its length below the soil surface. Place the pot in a well lit area, avoiding direct sunlight.Propagating a Christmas Cactus

 

Water the cutting sparingly at first to prevent rot. After two or three weeks the Christmas cactus cutting should begin to show signs of growth at the tips of its leaves. Once the cutting has rooted, it can be transplanted into a pot with loose potting soil. The cutting may wilt a little, which is normal and will eventually subside.Propagating a Christmas Cactus

 

Propagating a Christmas cactus is easy and can be very rewarding. Now you will have an inexpensive gift to give others during the holidays! My cutting is from a very large plant that belonged to my husband’s grandmother! I think everyone in the family has a plant started from cuttings! I’m happy to now have a smaller plant to move with us to our new home.

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

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