Welcome to my "all things plants" blog. These are my own personal observations, thoughts, and things I've found beneficial to me. Please comment and contribute.

“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” -Gandhi

Friday, December 27, 2013

Seed Catalogs

I've begun to receive all my "wish books", aka: seed catalogs.

My favorite by far is Baker Creeks which is super thick this year!!  They have SO many seeds now.  And they are all free from GMO's!!!! None of that nasty Monsanto!

The only problem is, I've no extra money to buy seeds this year.  The good news is that I only really "need" one or two things that I want to try to grow that I don't have seeds for.  So I'll probably skip those this year OR I'll just wait and order them later (and hope they still have some seed) and plant late.  Not the best choice but I could always toss the seeds into the fridge (I swear I need a fridge just for my seeds) until next spring... 2015.

I'm going to try to go all out this spring, build two or three more raised beds... I'd love to have at least five more.... but we will have to see about that.

English Walnut trees are still on my wish list and yeah, I'm going to get a few of those nuts from Wally world this winter and plant them.... see what happens.  I did plant a bunch of those a few years ago in one pot and I have one nut tree but I'm not sure exactly which.... I'm thinking Almond, which is very cool.

Which reminds me, I need to transplant that this spring before it gets leafy.  And my ginko tree.  And my oak tree...... And.... hahaha! just kidding................ I think. ;)

Anyways, enjoy going over your own "wish books" of seeds!  Maybe I'll make a plan this year.  hahaha, right.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Saving Seed

I tend to be a lazy seed saver and it shows.  lol!

I will go out and pick seed heads or shake them into paper towels or whatever I happen to have.  Then wrap them up and stick them in the fridge.  Until it's time to plant them.  I don't have a LOT of success in this so I go out and and buy seed every year...even if I don't plant them... extra goes in the fridge.

Why do I stick the seeds in the fridge?  Because I DO have more success with those from the fridge than those NOT stuck in there.

Have I ever mentioned I have two brown thumbs?

Yes, despite my love for plants, they don't love me like I love them.  And that may be a good thing because if they did, well, I'd be overwhelmed with plants..... literally.

Plants tend to do better without my loving attention.  Case in point, I have a few tree saplings and grape vines that grew like crazy this year because I ignored them.  So I'm going to figure out where I want my Ginko; Pecan; and Oak trees in my small yard or maybe over in my extra lot.  I'm hoping that one of the trees is an Almond tree which sprang from me throwing a bunch of the nuts from the grocery store into a pot and covering them.  (yes those from the big bin during the holidays..... I was trying for an English Walnut... but I have not given up on that since I have several in the .....you guessed it.... FRIDGE!)

Anyways.... back to saving seed.  Well, I've read several books on it and it seems that as long as you keep them dry and cool, they should stay viable for a least a year... germination rates go down each year.  I had one book tell me that I should just throw out all my "last year seeds" since they would not be worth the effort or work trying to germinate them..... WHAT????  I've had TEN YEAR OLD bean seeds germinate for me!!!  And these were from the bags from the grocery store!!!  (yes those one and two pound bags of dried beans you find on the bean aisle of every grocery store there is.... hey, cheap seeds and good beans! )

And guess where those beans were kept?  Yep, the FRIDGE, some had been in the FREEZER part for years.  sigh.... I never throw seed away, if anything, I toss it in one of my garden beds and see what happens.

So the two most important things to remember about saving seed.... dry and cool.

And don't trust any book that tells you to toss last years seed!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Do You KNOW It?

In my most humble opinion (snort), I feel it important that each and every person have some basic knowledge of plants.  Now it could be just because I happen to LOVE plants...after all, they "make" the air I breath, fed my belly, and sooth my soul with their beauty.

All over this earth, since man has been here, he/she has used plants to survive and thrive.

And yes I know how "many" opinions there are out there.... everyone has one.  And that is great since it allows us to have an exchange of ideas and thoughts.  Then each of us can glean out of this immense and vast pot of knowledge for those things WE feel are important for us and our family.

My suggestion:  do a inventory of what your family NEEDS.  Are there health problems?  If so, what is used for the care of these?  How much do you use?  How hard would it be to GET these if society fell apart?  Now think about and do some deep research on what plants these things FIRST came from.  Most pharmaceuticals are around because plants were used first.  Plants were the guides.  Not all, but most.

Now learn all you can about those plants.  Where do they grow?  Can YOU grow them?  How would you use them?  Exactly how would you PREPARE them?  In other words, get to know them.  Intimately.  Do try to grow them or see if you can find them in nature.... or find them in nature first and when they make seed, snag a few and then try to grow some.  (Use care for any endangered species, huge fines can be placed if laws are broken....this should be part of your research)

If you have time and patience, learn how animals use it....what pollinates it?  what scatters its seed?

Now if you do decide to try it, go slow....only a little.  You can see if may be allergic by rubbing a bit on the inside of your arm.... a LITTLE!  Use some common sense.  Pay ATTENTION to any WARNINGS you came across in your research.  Talk to people who have used it.  There are some great groups on the internet that can give you their experiences.  But don't expect YOURS to be exactly the same.  We are unique individuals after all.

Once you get to really KNOW one plant...move on to another plant.

I HIGHLY suggest you keep some sort of notebook, where you record everything you learn about the plants you research....and I mean everything.  From online research to the day you plant a seed (or transplant a plant) to all the end results.  It can be in some sort of online notebook but I suggest you go "old school" and keep it all recorded in good old pencil and paper.  (pencil will not 'run' like ink does if it gets wet, btw) Do both online and hard copy!

Then PASS YOUR KNOWLEDGE ON!  Leave a wonderful "library" for your offspring.  Share with others in those groups you learned from.  Start a facebook (or other) page and talk about wonderful plants!  Even if you do not feel comfortable posting actual "advise" about plants, and don't feel bad, many of us feel the same way.... encourage others to get to KNOW plants.

This does not mean you have learn all hundreds of thousands of plants in the world.... just start by getting to know ONE that will benefit YOU or your loved ones.

Have a great day!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Debuting the artificial......leaf???

ANAHEIM, March 27, 2011 — Scientists today claimed one of the milestones in the drive for sustainable energy — development of the first practical artificial leaf. Speaking here at the 241st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, they described an advanced solar cell the size of a poker card that mimics the process, called photosynthesis, that green plants use to convert sunlight and water into energy.

Now I have heard about this and it seems to work pretty well but somehow, I just do not think we would get the same pleasure walking through a garden of these as we do walking through real plants. :)

(update:  I found this one in my draft folder and don't remember if I published it, lol! that's me for ya)

collecting seed

One of the best things about growing things is getting free seed, that is IF you planted heirlooms.  Hybrids, well they don't put out seed that is like the plant....ok, let me take that back, they MAY put out seed that is similar for the first year but usually they revert to their original "parents" within a few generations.

I like hybrid veggies, especially burpless cucumbers; but with all that Monsanto is doing with their GMO's and such, getting good heirloom seeds is becoming harder and more expensive.  Unless you take advantage of a few tips.

Here are a few things I do:  I get seed from friends who have heirlooms, there are many groups like yahoo groups that are about gardening and most have seed exchanges.  Just be sure to ACTUALLY EXCHANGE seeds!  Don't just wait for them to send you some and then disappear. You'd be surprised at just how many people do that.  This is usually the second cheapest way (first being, people close by with whom you can exchange seeds or sometimes they will just give them to you).

Then the internet can be a great friend.  Seed catalogs do have heirlooms, but be sure they ARE heirlooms...if they are NOT labeled as such, they probably are NOT.  Now these seed catalogs, mostly have online sites where you can look at a catalog and order.   And ordering has gotten MUCH easier these days but be careful of how you use your information!!!  Make sure you do NOT click on those 'ads' on the sides of things unless you are on site you TRUST.  Go directly to the gardening site and make sure that in the URL, there is ONLY their name plus 'dot come'.  There should not be any other names or numbers.  If you go through any other route, be sure you are going through a trusted site.  Now that all that is out of the way, at this time of the year, many of these sites have major markdowns and free shipping coupons or enticements.   For example, Burpee just had a major reduction on many many seeds and if you bought $50 worth, you get free shipping.  (Yes I'm waiting for my order to get here, lol!)  If I were to have bought all I bought for $50 at regular prices, the shipping would have been $13 and the cost of the seeds would have been over $200.  And they are decent varieties.. Not all the "yucky stuff" that you may see in stores.

Speaking of stores, The Dollar General and Walmart have seeds for 20 cents to 3/$1 or close to this.  However, if you go this route, CHECK the packages.... gently feel them to make sure that there are not only seeds in it but plenty of seeds.  These cheaper packages are NOT always filled correctly.  I've found many with one or two seeds and others with lot's of seeds.  So check them all over.  They do ok.  In my opinion, just as good as the more expensive stuff.  Now if you want to go with Ferry Morse, well I have to say they have a great customer service.  I bought a pack of rosemary and none of it grew (probably my fault since I have two black thumbs) and they not only replaced that package but sent a freebie too!

Amazon and Ebay.  Yep you can find lot's of seeds that are fairly priced and if you buy several from the same "store", they usually will toss in free shipping (and no taxes for many of the states).  I love Amazon.  If I ever put ads on my page, that will be one of them.

At Ebay, look for "lots of seeds" as in a bunch of packages for one price/bid.  If there is bidding, bid, don't just automatically 'buy it now".  You'd be surprised what you may pay. But there is tax and shipping usually at Ebay.  (I like Amazon better, lol)

Lastly (but maybe not the last way...just the last way I will talk about) is saving your own seeds.  Which is what I started out to tell you and got sidetracked.  When you grow heirloom foods, let a few of the really good fruits (and veggies) go to seed.  I think tomatoes are the easiest  because you just pick when ripe and then mush out the seeds on a paper towel or three and let them dry.  WELL OK, some people will wash them first and them spread them out on the paper towel or plate and let them air dry.  That is probably the better way.  Don't forget some plants are biennial and you have to leave them for two seasons before they make seed.  Like carrots.

Other plants you can go online and find some great advise on how to save seed from specific plants.  There is a lot of good info out there.  For free.  You don't have to buy a book.  But my one final piece of advise is to go online and see what the seeds LOOK LIKE as they mature.

ok, I've blabbered enough.  If you have a great way to save seed, leave it in the comments! :) take care!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ever wondered about how radiation affects plants?

It's been a couple years now and we are seeing some of the "fruitage" of the nuclear melt down in Japan. 

The Fukushima nuclear disaster has left us with some strange looking fruits indeed:


I like this one:

Friday, August 23, 2013

ASU Medicinal Garden Update

These were taken yesterday, Aug 22, 2013.  Everything looks good except for the empty bed.  That was the beebalm.  I think it got too much sun so hopefully we will start some more and put it in the LONG bed where the Dill, Rosemary, and Ginger is.  The chamomile did not make it either.  :( 

But wow the mint went nuts!  Here we go....first the willow bed... look at those strawberry plants going like gangbusters!

 The Echinacae isn't doing too bad:

 That is the Oregon grape plants back there... still doing great:
 Here is the mint bed!  WOW!  Lot's of flowers so hopefully, lot's of seed:

 A little friend checking out the mint:  :)
 and another friend, can you see it? A little hornet ...I think:
 Chamomile all gone :(  boo hoo!  But that ginger is still there, needs more plants:
 Well hello there, where did you come from??  Hmmm.. I'll have to see about an ID for this pretty lady:
 The Dill beginning to go to seed:
 Ah, the Rosemary looks really good!  We may be able to put a few more plants in there, it looks like a good spot!

 Boo hoo!  All the bee-balm is gone... maybe too sunny???  Needs more plants!
 And this beauty is not in the garden but is native to the ridge, it's a Large Leaf Magnolia that is topping out at the bottom of the fourth floor there, (the pines are still way taller! lol!)

Friday, June 7, 2013

The US Botanical Gardens

While in Washington DC, I visited the US Botanical Gardens and took over 200 pictures and I didn't even get to see half of the place.  I won't post them all but here are some.  I loved the two story atrium.