Saturday, December 12, 2009

Oh You Adorable Terrarium Christmas Tree!

If you're anything like me, right now you have a few extra plant cuttings gingerly placed in beautiful vases along your kitchen windowsill so that you can "make more plants". Again, if you're anything like me, your entire windowsill is filled with these tiny little babies and that's just how it is in your home.

This Christmas I became more proactive than usual when the vases filled up with that characteristic hint of green gunk. I don't know what it is and I don't really want to know, so I just moved them on in the propagation process and potted them up—sort of.

These little glass balls are for crafting Christmas ornaments and in this case, that is what I made, right? At a thrift store I found this cute little red metal tree, for displaying Christmas bulbs I guess, so that's exactly what I did. The great part is that it makes one heck of a Christmas decoration, the bad part is that these little glass balls are quite delicate. What I mean by that is that if you overload one, the little metal thing on top will just pull out and you'll have one little mighty holiday mess you just don't need.

On the other hand, these will then make great gifts for those friends or family members who get it. Not everyone will understand a gift that they need to break the glass in order to enjoy. Oh right, and then they have to buy a pot and have some soil sitting around to keep it alive. It's the gift that keeps on needing, but it does come from the right place.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Funny Thing Happened at Dinner Last Night

For plant nerds and other kinds of garden wackos the Web has been a great tool. Like many other people with compulsive hobbies that cannot be understood—let alone controlled—with it in our lives we can do just about anything. Just recently I met a friend through a gardening Web site and it is the first time in many years that I have had to explain to people: "Oh, how did we meet? Online of course, we met on a gardening Web site called Davesgarden. We were talking about plants."
Last night I sat at a dinner table, with my friend and her partner Bill, explaining to people I used to work with at the Gordon house how we'd met. Since most of the attendees at this potluck were retired folks, and my new friends are retired folks too, you'd think that any kind of odd asides wouldn't occur. Nevertheless, people were kind of laughing a bit when we explained how we'd "met online". Maybe it's nice to know that such things are still not completely commonplace. I guess I'm just glad that is not the only place we meet other people.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Houseplants have not always been my forté. Throughout my childhood, though, I always had one cactus in my room. No wait, scratch that, let me restate that, I had a very long procession of look-alike cacti much like Snowball the cat on the Simpsons. In reality, every cacti I ever owned was an Old Man Cactus, but I should say I always had Old MEN Cacti. After one died, I always replaced it with another. I think when I discovered boys and sports though, the cactus in my room just disappeared altogether.

When I was 25 or 26 I assembled a cactus for the dining table in my condo. Since the table was surrounded by windows on two sides, the plants did very well. Then I met the man I married, and we moved out into what is now our old rental house. The cacti grew, and moved out of their terra cotta planter into other planters. Some struggled and died, others were simply forgotten and neglected, and one, a large Opuntia, is still with me today.

That cactus is in the back of this large plant pile that I have assembled in our old sun room. With the folding plant stands, I purchased the light, and I have to say that the addition of artificial light has saved so many plants from seeing that final compost heap in the sky.

So the moral of this story? Just make sure that your houseplants always have the light that they need in order to succeed in life.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Phalaenopsis Birthday Orchid

This beautiful orchid was a birthday gift given to me by my employers. For the last year I have been taking care of their many orchids—as well as the other houseplants in their historic home—so I suppose I deserve the opportunity to try NOT to kill another orchid in my own home. (Yes, in the past, two orchids had failed to thrive here while under my care. They knew that though when I was hired.)

My plant is a Phalaenopsis cross: Phal Taisuco Grace x Phal Taisuco Swan. The genus itself has approximately 60 species of orchids, but it has been toyed with since the Victorians first fell in love with it so there are many others out there that have been crossed and crossed again. (I should add that they can do so on their own in nature as well. Shocking! I know.)

What I love about this plant of mine is that the blooms measured in at just under 5 inches wide! To add to that, the blooms are so large, the pot practically tips over from their weight—poor thing. I can now see why Phalaenopsis orchids are among the most popular orchids sold, but how can I help it survive here in my home? Popular because it's easy to grow is what they say about spider plants. I killed one of those too. In their native environment they can bloom for several weeks, but in a home, they flowers can last for 2-3 months! I must know how to achieve this!

In the wild: 68 to 95°F
Acceptable home temps: 59 to 86° F
Below 64.4°F, overwatering causes root rot
Need high humidity 60-70%
Low light of 12,000 to 20,000 lux (1,115fc to 1,858fc)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recycling Items for Seed Starting Needs

In the time that I have been trading seeds with other gardeners online, I have seen a lot of recycled items. Usually it's simply the puffy envelopes, then sometimes it is a bank deposit envelope with seeds in it, but this trade, this one really surprised me! I love recycling, but, cigarette wrappers just seem wrong.

Monday, February 9, 2009

There are Posts to Come!

Last winter I typed away here. This winter, I am:
1—making sure to start the 250 different seeds I have lined up to grow (so far, so good!)
2—dealing with two bulging disks, physical therapy and all... (my new rubber boots did not like the none-slip plastic on my wood stairs)
3—coping with the fact that although my plasma treatment is now available in the US, my insurance won't cover the cost of $100,000 per year

More posts to come though in the coming weeks. I am happily working on several plant/garden related projects I cannot wait to share.
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