Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Remembrances of the Green Thumb

Having worked twenty-plus years as an interior plantscape maintenance tech, I can't tell you how many times I've been told that I have a green thumb! Hardly a week would go by that someone didn't ask for advice on the care of houseplants. People are naturally curious about the tech that's poking around in the plants at the doctor's office and a discussion about what they're doing is the perfect way to pass the time while waiting to be called back.

My most frequent questions were about: Watering, fertilization, repotting, and the #1 question, "How do you get the leaves so shiny?" I can still visualize amazement on the faces of onlookers when I pulled out my super, duper plant polish and started spraying the leaves and wiping to a near mirror like finish! (I personally, don't like shiny leaves, but to each his own, I guess.) The next question would always be, "Where can I get some of that?"........and there's always, "I received a plant when my grandmother died, how can I keep it alive?" That's always a tricky one because you hope that your advice doesn't lead to the demise of "grandma's plant".......

Location! Location! Location! It was most likely the cause of the majority of losses of houseplants. People tend to buy plants they like, regardless of the space that they will be occupying. Ficus, though it may be beautiful in that dark corner, won't be for long! My best advice was and is to research the requirements for a particular species and plan the location accordingly...... With research, you too can have a green thumb!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cute Pup + Farm Pond = Saturday Bath

It's Saturday and I guess it's inevitable...the Saturday bath. Cute Pup is the latest addition to the farm after having been abandoned (dropped off, thrown out) by someone who obviously doesn't have a conscience. A keen eye and loving heart could readily spot a true friend and constant, loving companion.

Chasing birds, fetching sticks, runnning, jumping, and eating Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos was apparently not exciting enough for Cute Pup. She decides to take a swim, er...splash in the farm pond when I wasn't looking and then begged me to join her! Wet paws, dripping body, wagging tail all saying, "I love you and I'm gonna like it here with family!"

Be Encouraged!
Plant Lady

Friday, February 11, 2011

Still Pondering......

Hello Friends!

I'm still pondering........

..........more thoughts coming soon!

Be Encouraged!
Plant Lady

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I'm Back!!!

Hello Everyone!

I know it's been a couple of months since my last post. Thanks for all your prayers concerning the disappearance of Sweetheart, my daddy's dog. She still hasn't turned up and we're afraid she has been dog napped. Many tears have been shed for that beloved dog and we still pray for her protection. She is terribly missed.

We visited the local dog pound and found a puppy almost identical to Sweetheart. He was about four months old when Daddy adopted him. It was love at first sight for both the puppy and Daddy. He told me immediately that the puppy's name was Sam. I call him Sam I Am, after the Dr. Suess character. He lives up to his namesake. He is such a character! His idea of fun is shoveling his nose into the mud in the drainage ditch leading from the farm pond until he comes up with crawdads and other creatures that would rather be hidden and plunging into the pond for a swim or to fetch any object that will float on the water after having been thrown by any willing participant.

Sam is such a cherished companion and is Daddy's best buddy. They are inseparable. I hope to post pictures soon.

The Farmer's Market opened for the season the first part of May and I've been busy with my gourd birdhouses and jewelry. I have had great responses from customers and have had a lot of word of mouth advertising. By the way, I have been invited to a festival a few counties over by one of the board members who has seen my work. I later found out that the arts/craftspeople were selected by invitation only and it made me feel great that someone would think I have even a little talent crafting my gourds! The festival is in October so I have to get busy for a two-day show.

Blueberries have been kinda slow this year for us. The bushes had sustained damage from the freeze we had a couple of years ago, and they haven't quite recovered fully. Daddy is also slowing down with his age and is not as able to handle a 4 acre blueberry farm like he once was. He still "piddles" about with the vegetable garden he grows for sale at the market.

Today's blog finds us "On the Road Again". Actually, we've been in Albuquerque, NM since the 13th. It's fortunate that I'm not superstitious- I put myself in watchful care of our Lord, Jesus Christ, otherwise we maybe should not have gotten on a plane on that day for these reasons:

1. We received a call at 4 am from the airline that our flight (7am) had been cancelled. It was rescheduled for 4:30 pm. We checked for flights at another airport nearby and got one leaving about the same time as the original one (7am).

2. We drove to the airport for that flight and missed it by 5 minutes-they were doing the final call as we were checking our luggage. We had to wait until the next flight out (11:30am).

3. Finally arriving at Atlanta to make our connection to Albuquerque, we had a 4 1/2 hour layover. With all the plans in disarray, I wondered if we should get on any of the planes that day- BUT God was merciful and kept us in His care. How sweet it is to trust Him!

I have had a great time here. Sunday, we caught up on some much needed sleep (We were up Saturday since 4 am Eastern time until 10pm Mountain time, if I figured correctly, about 18 hours!) After lunch, we went to the Gem and Bead Fair at the fairgrounds. Yesterday, I took a tour of Old Town Albuquerque and visited a turquoise museum where I learned how to shop for "natural" turquoise. My understanding is that some "turquoise" is injected with a resin to enhance color and hardness. When buying turquoise, you want to know if you are getting the "natural"- which is formed over 2000-6000 years or some that is turquoise, but enhanced by man and is usually sold a "genuine" or "real". This is where you have to talk and most importantly "listen" to the salesperson. Dealers in "natural" turquoise should have not problem certifying in writing the mine the turquoise came from and the grade. All this is good to know when you are spending hard-earned money for a gemstone you might later find out is practically worthless. Buying any stone that you like is good, but the pricing should match the quality!

Last night we went to dinner in Old Town . We went to the Church St. Caffe. It was located in what is the oldest house in Albuquerque. The food was a little too spicy for me, but Mr. Plant Lady ordered the fajitas which were excellent. (He graciously shared with me after the fire department (just kidding!) was called).

Tomorrow, me and one of the other ladies at the convention are going back to Old Town to finish our shopping. One gallery caught my eye last night. It was one in which the senior citizens in the area have an opportunity to sell their crafts for extra income. Just peeking through the window, I can tell I'll be contributing to their local economy!

More later . . . . . . .

Be Encouraged!
Plant Lady

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Seed Have Arrived!

Hello Everyone!

Finally! My time of watching the mailbox for the arrival of my seed order is over! Earlier in the week the mailman brought the long awaited package of seed for the upcoming garden. Joyous squeals could be heard when Mr. Plant Lady announced that my package had arrived. It was like a scene from Christmas mornings long ago as paper wrappings were tossed about as I tore into the large envelope from the heirloom seed company. Does anyone get that excited over a few packages of seed? Anyone except me?

Packages of gourd seed were my main interest - eagerly anticipating the bountiful harvest I'm sure to have (with God's help) in the fall. They came!!! Loofah (dishrag gourds), an unusual kind I've never heard of (Gakhaa gourds), dipper gourds, and bushel basket gourds. I can't wait until April when it is time to plant! I also received some herb seed as well - a cilantro that is slow to bolt and one called "Oaxaca", along with some parsley "Brayor" and an oregano "Wild Zataar".

I'll be sowing the herb seed in flats in the greenhouse in a few days and I will post pictures as they grow! More later . . .

Be Encouraged!
Plant Lady

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Watching and Waiting

Hello Everyone!

It's looking more and more like Spring here in North Carolina! Daffodils and quince are already blooming and the buds of the blueberry bushes are beginning to swell. It won't be long until my days will be filled with quite a variety of tasks that are sure to inspire some "lessons learned" in the garden.

The other night, I sat down at my laptop searching many seed companies online catalogs looking for that special variety of veggie and herb that I will try in the garden this year. I would like to try them all, but space and time prevents that! I finally decided on the ones that I thought would be right for this season's offerings at our local farmer's market.

Last year, I planted four rows of gourds for crafting - martin, apple and small eggs-like gourds that make wonderful ornaments, birdhouses, and feeders. I have saved the seed from all of the martins and apples and have a bountiful supply of those seed, but I decided to venture out and try the long-handled dipper gourds as well as try my hand, once again, with the loofah or dishrag gourd. I also found some interesting gourds from other countries offered through an heirloom seed company. This seed company is quickly becoming my favorite! The varieties offered are very unique and colorful!

Growing culinary herbs have been a passion of mine for several years. I started off with a small package of sage seed and the rest is history! Having taken a horticulture class in high school, I learned how to sow, transplant, and grow vegetables, herbs and flowers. It was my favorite class! Our teacher picked four students from the class to "manage" the greenhouse operation during the days it was open for the community to purchase plants for their home garden. I was one of the four! I was thrilled to be out of "regular" classes, but it was also a thrill to interact with the public and answer questions about the plants we offered.

I ran into my agriculture teacher several years after I graduated and he told me that he had never had a student that showed as much interest and had really promoted the plant sales as much as I did! That compliment really made me feel good after so many years! He was really that one teacher that inspired me to go into the horticultural field as a career! Thanks Mr. G!

Back to my garden seed purchases - I found a couple of varieties of cilantro that are said to be slow to bolt - a problem that I always have. I usually sow cilantro seed directly into peat pots because I find it does not transplant as well as some herbs. Parsley and dill are others that I direct-sow. I am trying to "Go Green" by using the peat pots that are biodegradable and can be planted directly in the soil. I used them last year and was well pleased with the results.

Oregano, thyme, rosemary and a few others are easily rooted so I will propagate these myself for a quicker maturity rate. I have tried seed, but their growth rate is a little slower than I like in order for a saleable plant by the first part of April. I am able to heat my greenhouse, but I don't like to because I don't want the plant to be "tender" and die from a "cold" night that we sometimes have in early spring. Heated greenhouses make for faster growth, but in my opinion, not necessarily better growth. Basil will have to wait a few weeks, as it is particularly sensitive to cold weather. I have had LUSH green basil one day and DEAD black basil the next! A very awful sight!

Blueberry cuttings are going into the propagation bed when the one-year old plants are removed to a nursery patch. The buds of the bushes are already swelling, preparing for the fruits to come in mid-May. I have so much to do before I even think of blueberries! Speaking of blueberries, Mr. Plant Lady said he saw (and tried) some blueberries in Sam's Club a few days ago. He said they were good and were grown in Chile. For some reason, I can't imagine eating blueberries from Chile. When I think of blueberries, I think of North Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan, Florida and South Carolina as well as a few West Coast states that are into blueberry production. Oh well, I'm for buying American, I guess!

I am eagerly awaiting my shipment of seed! I'll be watching for the mailman and waiting!

Be Encouraged!
Plant Lady

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In The Meantime . . .

Hello Everyone!

. . . . . I'm still pondering! I haven't quite formulated my next post so please be patient with me.

It will be about the dawn of a new gardening season and all the challenges and joys to come. Stay tuned and always . . .

Be Encouraged!
Plant Lady