Houseplant Musings – Mums

I have had an aversion to fake plants and flowers in my own home for years. In others homes and public areas they are fine and acceptable and sometimes even very well suited. They are just not for me. Why because I have to dust them.

They are outlawed form my house because someone I knew used them as an excuse not to have to buy flowers on special occasions. Although that person is long gone the ban on them still stands. Only bouquets, live or potted flowers in the house.

_20171117_110609.JPGMums, Chrysanthemums or Pot Mums are lovely guests in my house and they used to be put out to waste when their best was done but what a waste. I realized that I was putting a good plant to death by putting them outside to die off and then into the composter so I read up on them. My first few attempt felt dismal but I stuck by them. It has taken months but my first second generation flowers have now appeared and I am so chuffed.

The nurseries seem to have secrets to force them into flower at their most awkward times so they are available year round for a splash of color. From what I have read Mums like short days and longer nights. They are autumn flowering plants. This is the time of year that they flower naturally.

I love yellow mums – yellow is a color flower I gravitate towards but these are white. I have bought yellow and white mums but have forgotten which is which. I know the purple ones are fed a dye but I am not sure if the yellow ones are. It is really not important if the yellow ones are dyed because they are lovely too.

Whichever pot has decided to flower I am just happy I have achieved this little moment. I guess this means I will have to reconsider each time I see a lovely pot of mums available to bring home any season of the year otherwise I will have a house full of blooms each autumn and my other half may have to relocate to his beloved shed to make room.

Perhaps one day I will have to time to find a corner in the house to set up a space with a small controlled environment and see if I can trick them into blooming off season like the nurseries do.

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African Violet Update

My single sprouting African violet has turned into three. I planted four leaves in a tub and hoped for the best back in April. Strange that it was a month between each leaf sprouting but I am thoroughly happy with the results.

They are potted and progressing. Planning to give away two of them – one has already been promised when it gets a little more robust. I know I don’t need more than one African violet but my houseplants are like pets and you always keep at least one of the litter.

I have successfully started several Boston Ferns from my main large one. I mean it is not like I did much work providing the runner a pot of soil to root into. Still it makes for happy moments. Planning on keeping those for their contribution to our air quality.

Future house plant adventures include attempting to grow Peace Lilies from seed and propagating my Dumb Cane and Prayer plant (which feels a bit daunting.

 

Kitchen Shenanigans

I get up to some frightful things in the kitchen. The kitchen is a creative outlet for me (one of many) and I spend a fair amount of time in one (I also work in the catering field) on a day to day basis. But my kitchen at home is by far my favorite kitchen to spend time in. It is a place where I can try outrageously strange or optimally normal experiments with food, canning and preserving (from pickling to dehydrating), baking, bath and beauty products, mixing herbal teas and more.

I have more than a few experiments to share but a recent experiment turned out better than hoped for. I had and still have a regular amount of veg rolling in from the garden and I try to do a bit of preserving before giving away the surplus. Normal stuff like Chutneys, Bread and Butter pickles, Green Tomato Salsa Verde, spiced pears as well as pear wine, green tomato wine vinegar and more.

_20170912_152814I purchased an inexpensive dehydrator a couple years ago and it has turned out to be a favorite kitchen gadgets (although I may have to invest in another inexpensive model to replace this one soon, it is sounding more and more rebellious in its assigned tasks).

My most recent shenanigan is pictured here. They are bread and butter pickles made from cucumber and zucchini (courgette) dehydrated into chips (crisps). Bread and butter pickles are sweet and tangy and these dried ones are no different except perhaps they are a little more crunchy to start. Soon after you have crunched on them they become chewy delights to the taste buds.

The best part of making them is once you have made the pickles and they are ready to can you leave them overnight in the pickling solution, drain them well and place them directly on the drying racks. They take a good twelve to sixteen hours to thoroughly dry in the dehydrator but are a worthy snack for the time invested.

I do plan to try drying some store bought sandwich dill slices to see how they taste but for now, I have a few more batches to make before my garden runs completely dry with the end of season.

 

African Violets

We moved into our new house a year and a half ago and over the last few months I have been rebuilding my indoor plants. I had to pass on my plants before the move because we would be in transit anywhere from six months on and I didn’t want them to suffer. I have been choosing plants based on air quality and maintenance so some of the varieties I have chosen are new to me.

A couple have been just good old favorites and one of those is African Violets. They can be tricky I am told but I seemed to have found a knack with them. Water when dry, find a spot they like and leave them (not too much sun), avoid touching them and always water from the bottom – those are the rules I was given, when I given my first one decades ago.  I no longer have those first ones (for various reasons) but I recently bought a new one and it is bursting in its pot.

I remembered a little article I had read years ago about using the leaves to start new plants and as I love trying new growing and gardening things. I looked around for more info on the net and have given this a try. The old instructions required a few more steps if I remember correctly but times have advanced or we just got lazier.

_20170710_065850-1Instructions:

Cut leaves with plenty of stalk on them.

Push into pot with well draining soil until the bottom of the leaf is touching soil.

Keep moist but don’t drown and ….

Wait.

My Patience seems to have paid off. One leaf has sprouted and there is another that still may but the two that are yellowing probably will not sprout. One out of four is still success!

Houseplants – An Investment in Health

I have recently been rebuilding my repertoire of house plants. We had a few in the house but they were just ones I had saved from demise at the hands of others. Some people do struggle with house plants for various reasons. I have found success by ignoring them (water wise) until they are on the edge of drooping. They also get the occasional cool temperature shower – it keeps the dust off them. This works for a majority and sems to keep them thriving.

My interest in house plants has always been aesthetic but more recently it has become a little health oriented. I read an article someone shared on facebook and did a bit of research. Certain species filter certain particles from the air, some plants filter more than others. So my choices have become more than just eye pleasing their presents is selected not only for looks but also for filtering. Bonus!

I have obtained from the list a few old favorites –

  • Boston Fern x3
  • Devil’s Ivy
  • Peace Lilly
  • Dracaena

Still others I want to add to my home are a Snake Plant (Mother-in-Law’s Tongue), Aloe Vera, Spider plant and Heart-leaf Philodendron.  If we had a large lovely house with lots of space I would include a Weeping Fig tree and some Bamboo but alas my other half is not ready to move in to the shed.

Below are a few of website from a google search. As with any research I recommend reading a variety of sources (more than just two) to get a broader outlook on the information you are seeking.

Houseplants That Clean Air

Mother Nature Network – A Breathe of Fresh Air

NASA Clean Air Study

My ultimate goal is to have one or two different plants in each bedroom as well as a variety in the kitchen and living room. Love having a little nature indoors.

Garden Pests

Last year was our first year with this garden. It was as much a success as it was a loss. We harvested lots but also lost alot to slugs, snails,  cabbage butterflies ( those white flying menaces) and the like.

This year we have started nightly slug and snail hunts.  After sundown one or both of us will go out armed with our containers of salt,  collect and melt the slimey things. It is not a fast process.

DSC_0474It takes time to lift leaves and move planters etc,  pluck them up and salt them. They love cabbage and peas and spinach, anything with smooth leaves.  Rhubarb is a place they like to hide and nibble before heading out. Thank goodness they don’t like things like tomato cucumber and squash or I would have to give up my day job.

We started hunting them as soon as the weather warmed a little ( middle of March)  and have not seen a single night where there wasn’t at least 3 or four and have gotten up to two dozen on warm wet nights. Remember to look for the little bitty ones too – they are harder to find but can do as much damage as they grow.

It has been a worthwhile pursuit. My cabbages last year, at this level of growth, were beginning to look like lace. The heads were less whole heads and more burrows for their pleasure. This year my cabbage look nice and happy so for them now it will be the great cabbage moth watch ( although I haven’t seen but two earlier in the season).

I always plant more than I can eat, can, dry or freeze. I like to be able to share with my neighbors, coworkers and friends. So last year we had plenty for ourselves even with the loses but this year I am planning to have enough to share.

My Sanctuary

Sometimes we must adjust our expectations. Where we might like our natural sanctuary to be a forest, a meadow, nature in its most natural and wild state, it is not always available when needed.

My gardens ( front and back) are my ( nature) sanctuary. My expectations changed but in no way have lowered. They may have even raised.  The pleasure of growing from seed, nurturing, maturing and then harvesting is heavenly for my heart, soul and spirit.