Tag: how-to

Houseplants: Aloe (Aloe vera)

There’s a good chance you know the plant being highlighted today (and you probably even know it’s scientific name, you smarty-pants): Aloe vera. In the past it has also gone by the name Aloe barbadensis, but the most recent information I could find has grouped Aloe vera and Aloe barbadensis back together under the Aloe vera name.

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May is for Gardening

It’s that time of year again…

Time to get that garden planted! We have had quite a bit of cool, rainy weather here in Northern Utah the past couple weeks, but it’s time to start planting. And if you were thinking it was too late, well I have good news: you’ve still got time!

I planted up some of my buckets a few weeks ago with lettuce, spinach for a salad garden; and since I have a goal to beautify my outdoor space a little more, I also planted up some buckets with gladiolus and zinnias. Everything is coming up and looking good so far, but I’ll keep you updated on how the flowers do as the season goes on. When it gets a bit warmer (i.e., the threat of frost is gone), I’ll plant some cherry tomatoes as well. In my kitchen, I started some basil and cilantro that I’ll move out to the patio when it gets warmer.

If you’re in a similar hardiness zone and climate as me, and if you were wanting to plant lettuce or spinach or peas you should get those in as soon as possible. They like the cooler weather. Broccoli, onions, carrots, and beans can also go in now. But, hold off on the cucumbers, the tomatoes, the squashes, and the corn until after the danger of frost has passed (a good rule of thumb is the middle of May if you have a way to protect them, otherwise wait till after Memorial Day).

For more info on when to plant, or how to start your own bucket garden, check out these posts:

When Can I Plant?

Hardiness Zones…Do They Matter

Bucket Gardening 101

Bucket Gardening “How-To” Video

Starting Seeds Indoors (and another method to starting seeds indoors)

 

Houseplants: African violet (Saintpaulia sp.)

Chances are you or someone you know (your grandma, maybe?) owns or has owned an African violet. They’re the standbys and workhorses of every garden center – and perhaps the most well-known of all the houseplants. But, they’re lovely, so it’s a well-earned place. And there are so many varieties and hybrids available that you could amass quite a collection of them – and then join the African Violet Society of America (or a local chapter) so you can show them off and collect more! Continue reading

How-To: Forcing Bulbs Indoors

Over the years, a question I often get is “can I make these bulbs bloom indoors?” In the past, I’ve given an answer along the lines of, “Yeah, I think you should be able to. I mean, I know it can be done.” But because I had never done it myself, and didn’t really know the specifics, that was about as helpful as I could be. Sure, I had read that it could be done…but reading and doing are two quite different things. Especially when it comes to gardening.

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Houseplants: Dragon tree (Dracaena marginata)

My husband says that “car-guys” don’t name their cars; they call them what they are. Which is why my car is named “Hector-the-Adventure-Car”, and his is just “the Hyundai” (except that I’ve taken to calling it “the Vanilla Bean”, a name bestowed by a friend and former roommate of my husband, so there’s that).

Well, in my opinion, the same goes for “plant-people”; we call our plants by their rightful names. Which is why his plant is named Wilson, and mine, of the same variety, is “the dracaena”.

dracaena marginata

This is Wilson. He’s grown quite a lot (like probably a foot) over the last couple years that he’s lived here. I’m sorry I don’t have a “before” and “after” photo, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

I suppose we complement each other well.

Wilson and the dracaena came to us through similar means – he was given his plant as a house-warming gift and I inherited mine from a friend who was moving across the country. If there’s anything I love more than a good houseplant it’s a free houseplant.

dracaena marginata

This is “the dracaena”. It too, has grown a bit since I acquired it. But, our bedroom gets less light than the kitchen, so its growth hasn’t been quite as noteworthy. I’ve had it for almost three years, though, so I should probably repot it soon.

Dracaena marginata is the technical name for what is commonly called the Madagascar dragon tree, or just simply: the dragon tree. It’s an incredibly low maintenance plant, and with it’s multi-colored (variegated) leaves its really quite attractive. To keep it looking its best, there are some things you’ll want to remember:

  1. The dragon tree needs bright, indirect light. If it’s in an area that doesn’t get enough light, you’ll know because the leaves will become pale rather than the vibrant colors it once was. If it’s getting too much light, the leaves can become scorched (brown, crispy spots will appear).
  2. It doesn’t like to be soggy – so water it well once a week (or when the top inch or so of potting mix is dry) and don’t let it sit in standing water.
  3. To really thrive, feed it once a month (or up to twice a month in the spring and early summer) with a general houseplant fertilizer.

If your growing conditions are just right, the dracaena can grow quite tall (10-15 feet, indoors). As it grows taller, you’ll be able to see more of the pale, gray stem with the leaves bunched at the top. If it is growing quickly (as it can during the first few years) you may need to re-pot it every year into a larger pot. As the growth slows, you can delay repotting for every 2-3 years, keeping the same size of pot (really just to refresh the potting mix).

dracaena marginata

Here are Wilson and the dracaena together. Wilson is definitely catching up in height – but still has leaves along most of the stem, while the dracaena (which is considerably older) is showing a lot of stem.

How about you? Do you name your plants? (or cars?)

Houseplants: Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Today I want to introduce you to one of my oldest houseplants. Except that actually, the ones pictured here aren’t the original; they are clones of it, however. Confused? Don’t worry – I’ll explain it all. Continue reading

Preserving Summer’s Bounty: Freezing Corn

With it being the first day of October and all, perhaps I’m a bit late with this post. But maybe – just maybe – you are a lucky duck and still have some sweet corn available. And maybe you wish you could just keep it all winter long and have it taste just as good as freshly picked. If this describes you, then here’s an easy way to do just that. Continue reading

DIY: Dyeing with Dyer’s Woad

A few weeks ago my sister texted me a photo of an announcement about a “Dyeing with Dyer’s Woad” workshop presented by a local arts group.  Obviously this was something I was definitely interested in.  Not because I dye fabric on a regular basis, or because I consider myself a really artsy person, but because it dealt with a weed.  A weed I frequently get asked about.   Continue reading

Bucket Garden Update and Bonus “How-To” Video

I thought I’d give a little update on how my bucket garden is doing.  I haven’t said anything about it before now, because it hasn’t really been doing much.  Everything germinated about a week after I planted it – just as they should have! – but they’ve just been hanging out not doing much ever since.   Continue reading