Category Archives: Gardening

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

This summer I grew some amazing heirloom cucumbers and I was interested in saving cucumber seeds. The cucumber seeds were called Athens and they were true to their description. About 9 inches long, this uniformly slender slicer has smooth, deep dark green skin, dense, firm, crisp flesh and a small seed cavity. Very productive over a long season on vines that want support.


There was one cucumber that didn’t get picked while we were away so I let it stay on the vine. Cucumbers that are being saved for seed must be grown to full maturity and allowed to ripen past the edible stage. The cucumber will be large and beginning to soften. Depending on the variety the fruits may change from green to white or deep yellow or orange. My cucumber was soft and yellow!saving cucumber seeds


Carefully cut open the cucumber and scoop the seeds into a large bowl.saving cucumber seeds Each cucumber seed is encased in a gelatinous sack that is most easily removed by fermenting the seeds.saving cucumber seeds Add about as much water as seeds but not too much or fermentation will be slowed. Set the bowl away from sunlight in a protected location to ferment. Depending on the temperature, fermentation will take from one to three days. During this time the aromas coming from the bowl will be less than pleasant and some mold may form over the top of the mixture. Stir the mass twice a day. Fermentation is complete when most of the seeds have settled to the bottom of the bowl and the seedcases are floating on top of the mixture.


Stir the mass while adding as much water as possible, this allows the clean seeds to settle to the bottom. The debris and hollow seeds will float and can be gently poured off with the excess water. Repeat this procedure until only clean seeds remain.saving cucumber seeds


Pour the clean seeds into a strainer, wipe the bottom of the strainer with a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible and dump the seeds on a cookie sheet or other non- stick surface. Allow the seeds to dry.saving cucumber seeds Cucumber seed will remain viable for ten years when stored under ideal conditions. Saving cucumber seeds is quite easy and now I now I will have seeds to plant next year.saving cucumber seeds

Harvest failure is always a possibility when you garden. Many of you have been following along with my adventure with the Gete okosomin squash seeds I received last year in South Dakota! I was given 9 of these ancient heirloom seeds with the hopes of growing a small harvest and be able to share seeds with my readers.Gete-okosomin

Knowing our home was on the market and could sell at anytime I only planted four of the nine seeds I was given.Vermont real estate Of the four seeds only three sprouted and did extremely well at first.Gete-okosomin Unfortunately we had several things going against us this year. Our garden was overrun with chipmunks and voles. The voles were especially destructive chewing off numerous plant stems and digging tunnels everywhere.voles We also experienced a drought this summer. While normally this isn’t a problem as we have a deep well and plenty of water to keep the garden well irrigated. However we had a granddaughter arriving in August, at the height of the growing season. When I left for Seattle the garden was doing well, it was also used to getting well watered each day. During the two weeks we were gone the garden was not watered and it suffered. When I returned home there was only one squash plant alive and even that was suffering. Insects had burrowed into the stem which limited the amount of water going to the growing squash. One of the growing squash  also was suffering from some sort of end rot.Gete okosominI have never had such a dismal harvest before. Usually when I grow winter squash or pumpkins I have more than enough. Not this year. I was only able to harvest two small squash plants.Gete okosomin, harvest failure Certainly there are not enough seeds to supply the hundreds of people that have written me requesting seeds.gete okosomin

However I now have about 100 viable seeds which I am willing to share. I plan to contact the folks that wrote me first and work my way down the list sharing the seeds I have. Hopefully next year I will have a better crop and will have more seeds to share.

gete okosomin

In gardening you are never guaranteed a harvest. Perhaps next year these seeds will be available commercially by another grower. If not I do plan to try again and may have some seeds to share next fall. Hopefully my next harvest will produce mature squash with plenty of seeds and I will not experience a crop failure again.

Gete okosomin

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