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Saturday, December 20, 2014


Gardener friends!  What do YOU do to quell the gardening "itch" in the winter months? (Please comment below!)

You may gather from my posting of lists that I do a lot of "studying" of gardening information in the winter... and that's true.  But I also require more ways to stay connected to nature.  I honestly believe that if I did not have these outlets, I would GO COMPLETELY NUTS!!  LIKE A TRAPPED ANIMAL RAGING WITH CABIN FEVER!!!!  /throat clearing/  Anyway... here's what I do:

** SNICKERS : I walk the dog and take her to the dog park.  No matter how cold it is, she always demands that we go. This gets me out of the house no matter how much I feel like hibernating.  Snickers is also my primary connection to nature within my house.  She makes our house a home in many, many ways.

** BIRDS: I watch/ feed the birds.                   Flying. Garden. Beauty.                   'Nough said.

 **HOUSEPLANTS: I fuss over the houseplants.  Like Snickers, I feel like these plants are my pets! Is that strange? Is it weird that I named most of them? WELL I DID!  Plant roll call:

 AUDREY 3: ("Little Shop of Horrors" - get it? - no? ...)   I've had Audrey since I was in high school, which makes her at least 13 years old. "She" has moved with me from my parents house to at least 3 different apartments and 2 different houses.  Just last year she had 8 "babies" that I adopted out to various friends and neighbors.  When she was growing her clone babies she looked especially frighting/mighty.  Audrey is an Aloe.  I use her leaves to make sunburn balm in the summer or to soothe my skin when I make a cooking blunder. I occasionally put her leaf slime in smoothies. She is my oldest and most useful houseplant.

GINGER:   Ginger is my newest plant. I did not give her a very creative name.  She is simply an organic ginger rhizome that I bought and planted.  I consider her to be female because she smells good and will make edible babies the way that Audrey 3 did.  The tricks to planting a ginger rhizome are to buy an organic one that hasn't been sprayed with preservative chemicals, buy the freshest rhizome you can find, buy a rhizome with "nubs" on it that will grow into stems (like potato eyes - sort of), not to bury it too deep (1/4 inch of dirt on top will do), and to give it a sunny south facing window. VOILA! I see culinary opportunities in the future!

LIMEY:  Limey is my second newest plant. I got "him" this summer at Bordine's Nursery.  So far, he has made tiny flowers, but no limes. He is supposedly self-fertile with regard to fruit. I followed the directions, and am providing fertilizer and southern light exposure... but no limes so far.  It's only my first year with this plant, so perhaps it will produce next year.  But does anyone reading this have experience with indoor limes?  Any ideas for troubleshooting?  Please comment below if you can assist me!

I really love cooking with limes.  Mmm......

BAYBAY:   This is my bay tree that I bought a year ago.  Unfortunately, my poor Baybay got munched by tiny green caterpillars while sitting on the back deck this summer, so "he" is looking a bit bedraggled at the moment.

What? You thought my gardening skills were infallible? That my plants never get touched by pests or diseases? YOU SO CRAZY!

 I got Baybay at  Heavenly Scent Herb Farm in Fenton, MI about a year and a half ago.  Heavenly Scent is an awesome place to visit. They have a gorgeous garden, an herb shop, a gift shop and a restaurant. They even host weddings.  But I digress...   I use Baybay's leaves for cooking.  He also smells excellent when I brush by him and has proven to be a pretty tough plant.

ORI:   Sadly, I acquired this orchid at my mother's funeral, 3 years ago. Having it helps me feel connected to my mother, but thinking about Ori's origins makes me sad.  Fortunately, the sad memory is off-set by the beauty and toughness of this plant. Orchids are surprisingly easy to take care of.  The main thing is to NOT over-water. You can actually water it by putting 2 ice cubes (3T water) on top of the pot once a week, or even just spraying it with a thorough mist of water every week.  Eventually, the flowers do die. At that point you just cut the stem down to the second notch in the stem, and wait for new stems to grow. Occasionally (every 3 months or so), I put some 8-7-6 liquid miracle-gro houseplant food into a watering can and dribble this onto the orchid.  I use the remainder of what's in the watering can to fertilize the other plants.

                                             GENERAL TIPS FOR INDOOR PLANTS:
Do NOT fertilize often in the winter. The plants really aren't growing much during this season.  The only exception is supposed to be Limey (or other tropical plants that fruit in winter). I fertilize him more often in hope of limes.

Do NOT over-water any indoor plant. Watering once a week is fine for most indoor plants.  Once a month for the aloes or cacti is plenty. Orchids only require a few dribbles of water weekly (3 tablespoons, or 2 ice cubes.) Over-watering will kill indoor plants faster than anything.

Mist the plants with water from a spray bottle to prevent aphids/insects.  Try to avoid putting them over air vents to avoid drying as well (not always possible - it seems like builders like to put air vents under windows for some reason.) If you have to put a plant over an air vent, mist it more often and try to put it on a table/surface to give it some distance away from the vent.

Remember to rotate the plants to prevent lop-sided growth. (They won't die if you don't rotate, but all the leaves will be on one side of the plant only.)

I hope this helps someone!

Do YOU have indoor plant pets?  Tell me about them - comment below! :)

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