Category Archives: Gardening tips

Just Root It!

Well it’s officially Fall but forever Summer in my mind 😊 I do enjoy this weather for longer cooler hikes, annual Fall social events/traditions and gathering all sorts of pumpkins and squashes to decorate and eat!  It’s also a great time to bring out the crockpot to use for a plethora of recipes and a perfect time to make soup for the soul.

In addition, Fall is a great time to plant in the garden and collect those favorite plants from summer you hope to overwinter with success.  Which made me think how do we get these plants to overwinter and bring us more joy next Spring and Summer?

First I had to acquire the right soil and it has been a challenge lately finding soil without the famous fertilizer we all know that begins with the letter “M” my experience with these new soils is they hold A LOT of water and thus rots the plants especially tender cuttings, I did however end up finding an organic potting soil that might work; we shall see.  The next thing that is needed in helping our plants form good and strong roots is a rooting hormone. In order to save some money and practice sustainability, I thought it would be great to use a natural rooting hormone and better yet maybe use something we had in our cupboards and storage bins as a source.

What exactly is a rooting hormone and what is it used for?

Rooting hormones act as catalysts for the promotion of new roots, they also protect the cuttings from fungus and disease that could have occurred when you initially cut the plant of interest.

A rooting medium is the mixture you would use to grow your new plants.  It is not a garden soil, but is usually much lighter; it actually is not a soil at all.  You can purchase pre-made rooting medium mixtures or you can use a combination of various commercially organized components as a rooting medium.

The trick is to get something that will retain water but not bogged down the newly forming roots.

I will share some homemade natural root hormone mixtures to try, just remember to make sure to separate your stock from your working mixture, just place what you think you might need in a small container or paper cup and dip your plant cutting into that mixture vs. the stock mixture to avoid contamination.

So the first idea was to just spit on the cutting, yup you heard it right “spit on it”  Hmm, that is a bit crass so I am going suggest you use your saliva sounds a little better right?. With all the new DNA tests out now to help us find out who we really are and which ancestors we came from you may have recently had to “spit in a cup” so this might not be so hard to do. The idea is to use your saliva and dip your cutting in it.  I’ll try if you will, LOL!  Just make sure you do not lick the cutting as some instructions suggest since your cutting could be poisonous or toxic so do not lick it!

Second idea is a honey root hormone mixture.  Just boil 2 cups of water add 1 TBSP of honey, let it cool place a small amount in a separate container and then dip your cutting.  The honey is antibacterial and antifungal so it will keep your cutting healthy and also promote new roots. This can be stored in a dark place for two weeks.

Third idea is using 3 tsp of apple cider vinegar in 1 gallon of water.  This is a large volume of root hormone mixture but if it works you will have an abundant supply of it.

Fourth idea is crushing an aspirin tablet and dissolving it in water, just use enough water to dissolve the tablet and it should produce a weak paste or loose slurry after it goes into solution.

Fifth idea is making a stinging nettle or comfrey tea let the leaves of these plants soak in water for a few days. I would say a cup of water would make a strong enough tea to create a good root hormone mixture. First picture stinging nettle, second picture comfrey.

 

Sixth and last idea is a classic old school natural hormone and that is using the new stems of a willow tree, best time to retrieve this is in the early Spring when the Willow is filling out and new shoots are emerging in abundance. Once the stem is retrieved cut into pieces and allow it to sit in water for three days, producing a willow stem tea. Maybe try a stem now and see if it works and let us know.

Keep in mind you can also root your plants by using the water method but not all plants will root this way successfully or may take longer but it is the “go to” option for sure.

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Hopefully these homemade ideas will allow you to save some of your favorite summer plantings by creating some really strong roots.  Once the cuttings have rooted plant in a good potting soil mix free of fertilizer and keep in an area that gets good lighting and warmth during the winter while inside, then after the first frost move outside so your plants can begin to get established.

Till next time; clean up your garden but leave some seed heads for birds migrating thru they make a nice flight snack and try gathering those seeds you want to share with the club in November, remember collect in a paper envelope or bag never anything plastic because seeds are living organisms in a dormant state and lastly enjoy saving your summer favorites and maybe try one or two of the ideas above and let us know which ones worked the best for you.

Happy Fall, ENJOY!

 

 

 

 

 

Beat the Heat

Hello Gardening Friends!!!

So it is pretty hot out there and I thought it would be nice to share some tips on how we can best serve our gardens in the extreme heat.  I found a great source of information and instead of me summarizing it all I figured I would just allow you to hit the link and enjoy this informative article.

https://www2.fiskars.com/Ideas-and-How-Tos/Gardening-and-Yard-Care/Watering/Gardening-Tips-in-Extreme-Heat

I will say the article link above is about helping your garden stay viable during extreme heat; but I would like to give some suggestions for you the gardener in these high temperatures and humidity.

Please please be careful while gardening whether you like it or not it is important to take good care of yourself while working outdoors.

Here are some tips:

  • Do your heaviest work early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Think “siesta time”and take a break between 11 to 2; sit in the shade, relax and enjoy your garden, do some birdwatching and let the weeding go till after the sun goes down when it could be much cooler.
  • Go slow and take quite a few breaks.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink plenty of cool water before, during and after working outdoors. And once you realize you are thirsty it is too late you are already dehydrated.  No cocktails until the work is done LOL, alcohol dehydrates you even more.
  • Use sunscreen! Remember to reapply after sweating.
  • Use a hat that covers and shades your face, ears and neck and wear light colored clothing it helps to reflect the sun.
  • Purchase a cooling tie if you are into gardening gadgets or just wet a bandana or old towel and wrap that around your neck to keep cool.

I don’t know about you but I am like the energize bunny and I tend to just keep pushing myself until I’m done what I set out to do in the garden for that day, but be careful doing this in extreme heat and humidity.

If the temperature plus the humidity added together equals over 160 you need to stop and definitely go inside to recover.  Also if your pet is gardening with you remember they have fur and do not sweat to cool themselves like we do, so their number is when the two values equal over 150.  For example if it is 80 degrees outside and the humidity is 90% add the two together and the result is 170 both you and your pooch need to run for cover! Heat induced deaths are more prevalent than natural disaster tragedies so take this seriously and avoid heat stroke or a fatality. Yes it would be nice to die in your beautiful garden but not like that!

If you experience muscle cramps, fatigue, headache, nausea, dizziness, heavy sweating or pale and flushed skin you are heading towards a serious issue so pay attention to your body it will definitely tell you when enough is enough. The symptoms above are for heat stress and heat exhaustion. When you stop sweating and are vomiting, your temperature is over 104, heart is racing and beating rapid, your breathing is shallow your are approaching a heat stroke and therefore seek medical attention immediately! Heat strokes can cause permenant and serious damage to your body so listen to it and be smart when you garden in the heat.

Ok now that you have been scared have to death; just remember your garden can not be taken care of if you dont take care of YOU in order to do so.  So garden when it is cool and garden with caution on these truly blazing summer days now and throughout the season.

Till next time, get out there and get dirty in the garden but stay cool and smart about it!

 

The making of a mushroom.

Well, we have had a great deal of liquid sunshine and with that being said; things grow, things we want and things we think we don’t want.  Rain is the precursor for mushrooms.  After our many torrential down pours at night we all are mostly likely to awaken to mushrooms and toadstools.

Hmm, what’s the difference between mushrooms and toadstools.  I have to be honest every time I hear or see the word toadstool I picture a toad atop a red mushroom speckled with white polka dots perched to perfection.  See the toadstool found in my garden in the featured picture of this blog above, I was bummed there was not a tiny toad sitting upon it like the photo below. LOL!

Image result for pic toad on toadstool

But the simple difference is mushrooms are edible and toadstools are not.  And yes I know not all mushrooms are edible therefore those mushrooms are toadstools.  Get it???

I will focus on mushrooms, so let’s get to what a mushroom is.  Mushrooms are fungi more specifically the reproduction part of the fungi that live under the surface of the soil.  They spread by spores into the air then go away when the sun appears or when the soil dries up.  What you see above the soil is the fruiting body after all the major production is done underground.  A fruiting body is the same as a flower on a plant, once that flower dies it spreads it’s seeds to continue procreating, thus the mushroom’s fruiting body is doing the same thing when it releases it’s spores.

The perfect making of a mushroom requires moisture, shade, cloudy weather, and rich organic soil; mix these up in any combination or all of the above and a mushroom is born!

Things to do in your garden to keep the mushrooms from appearing more frequently:

  • Decrease shade – trim back or thin out branches on trees and shrubs
  • Avoid compacted soil- if you notice standing water or damp areas after long periods of rain your soil is compacted. Therefore aerate the soil to improve drainage and decrease thatched areas that are over an inch. What is thatch? Thatch is little bits and pieces of grass that have died and have gathered above the soil.

See photo below.

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  • Lastly, be attentive to old trees and pets – remove stumps completely to prevent organic matter for mushrooms to grow in and pick up pet waste and do not let it sit on your lawn or soil for this to brings about mushrooms.

Keep in mind mushrooms are not all “bad” they are an indicator of rich organic matter in your soil.  Mushrooms break down the organic matter and make the soil more productive.  Mushrooms found at the base of trees near their roots is a good thing, as pictured in my garden.

 

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But, those found on the tree such as the shelf mushroom pictured below is a warning for concern since the tree could be dying from the inside out, remember mushrooms start their growth out of sight in areas that are breaking down into organic matter. By the way, shelf mushrooms are edible at certain times in the season and are called “chicken of the woods” (Laetiporous sulphureus a bracket fungus)

Image result for shelf mushrooms on trees

A fairy ring is a natural occurring ring or arc of mushrooms that can grow up to 10 yards in diameter. The cute folk lore regarding this phenomenon suggests that fairies dance in the ring at night and rest when they are tired on the toadstools.  I know you have a visual don’t you (giggling) does it look like this?

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But this is what it would look like in nature for real.

Image result for fairies in fairy ring dancing pic

Hopefully this information has given you a closer look at how a mushroom is made and also what you can do to minimize their appearance in your garden if you choose to do so; or you could just go with the flow and maybe experience a true fairy ring and actually spy on those fairies dancing in the night when they aren’t looking, smiling. Anyhoooo, enjoy mushrooms both in the garden and in your kitchen but beware of toadstools, now that you know the difference:)

Till next time enjoy the season of summer gardening and Happy Early Summer Solstice, it officially arrives this Friday June 21, 2019. ENJOY!

 

 

Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter…

So which is your favorite, Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter? You are probably thinking I am referring to your favorite holiday, but come on folks this a garden club blog.  I am actually referring to your favorite Schlumbergera (a cactus of course!)

Yes, there is a difference and now lets see if you can identify which one you have in your possession.

It is pretty simple if we focus on their blooming times to help narrow down which one you may possess.  The Thanksgiving cacti typically start to bloom in late fall and Christmas cacti usually a month later. An Easter cactus will start producing flower buds in February. You can also look at their leaf shape to help you identify as well.

See the picture chart below (taken from a Pinterest gallery) The Thanksgiving cacti have pointy leaf ends, the Christmas rounded and the Easter one has little spiky protrusions on its leaf tip.  The flowers of the Thanksgiving cacti usually shoots outward, where the Christmas ones like to hang down, the Easter group blooms in clusters that tend to look like daisies or little starbursts.

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Now lets see pictures below, from my plant collection.  I have a Thanksgiving one and a Christmas cactus which happens to be over 50 years old given to me by a wonderful friend that belong to her grandmother!

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This one above is… yes that’s right, the Christmas one which has rounded edges like the letter “C” which is also the first letter in Christmas that’s how I remember.  Now check out my Thanksgiving one below:

 

See the pointy jagged leaves they are spiky and thorny-like, thus my silly way to remember “t” for thorny and thanksgiving; hey don’t laugh it works for me.  Also notice how the flower grows outward like it wants to fly away.  As for the Christmas cactus the flowers hang down like Christmas bells see the photo below (photo by hortmag.com)

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And lastly the Easter cactus with it’s daisy like flowers and the hairlike spikes on the ends of the leaves.

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Well, my favorite holiday is Easter because I love how it symbolizes second chances and forgiveness for us to get our acts together and try to please the infamous child born on Christmas which allows us to all gather as family and friends on Thanksgiving to share our blessings and gratitude for it all.

Guess I need to add my favorite to my plant collection.