Quick Tip – Transplanting Tiny Volunteers

Anyone who reads my blog knows I love plants that come up on their own in strange places. This week, in my front garden, I noticed several coleus sprouts beneath larger plants, volunteers from last year’s coleus. The coleus are extremely small and have no chance to thrive if left to grow beneath large trees.

After I spot a desirable sprout I dig a small shallow hole for transplanting. My favorite tool for removing the small plantlet is a putty knife. The knife slides into the soil easily and lifts the sprout right out of the ground. I don’t want to disturb the roots any further so I fill the transplant hole up with water, and while it is sinking into the ground insert the sprout into the well of water. The pull of the water plants the sprout without me having to touch it or crush it with a stream of water from a watering can or hose.

If you spot a small volunteer sprout in your garden and have a perfect spot for it to grow, give this technique for planting a try.

Quick Tip – Garden/Container Greenhouse Drainage

Here’s an easy way to create drainage holes in plastic disposable food containers. These containers come in all sizes and make perfect miniature greenhouses for stem cuttings and seed sowing, but creating drainage holes can be tricky. I’ve found that if I lay the container on the lawn to use as a stabilizer, an ice pick (screwdrivers and nails work great too) will easily pierce the plastic when hit with a hammer without tearing the bottom into shreds.

There you have it! Perfect drainage in less than five minutes with a minimum of fuss. Happy Gardening!

Quick Tip – Tip on Thursday/Volunteers

Among the clover…

…and the grasses of my back yard…I have been spotting and collecting dozens of garden volunteers. I call them volunteers, but they are in reality last year’s flowers that have self-seeded and sprouted in unexpected places.

This is the patch of Johnny-Jump-Up Violas the volunteers have sprung from this year. I have relocated enough of the flowers to plant a ten-foot border along my back porch. They will fill in and maybe self-seed more volunteers for next year. Hooray for Spring’s volunteers.

Any plant that the gardener didn’t put in, and is not a weed, is known by the term volunteer. In most cases gardeners consider these plants more than welcome, though they may need to be relocated or even shared. ~ Horticulture Magazine

 

Quick Tip – Tips on Thursday/Garden Repellent

This ladybug suet feeder never quite worked out as I hoped, with no easy perch for landing it was shunned by the birds. Instead of throwing it away, I filled the suet feeder with strands of cat hair, courtesy of the fur my cats shed when I brush them each day. The suet feeder seems to be doing the trick so far. I’ve also sprinkled a few red pepper flakes among the newly planted seedlings and this seems to be helping too. If you don’t have cats you can use smashed garlic cloves, onions, citrus essential oils as repellents.

Filling a suet holder with cat hair definitely makes this photo worthy of Cee’s Oddball Challenge.

Quick Tip – Tips on Thursday/Perfect Plant Perches

I enjoy finding new ways to display pots of plants. This year I used a log from the woodpile as a plant stand and three tall stumps, leftovers from our crabapple tree. They look great, but the pots are precarious and easily fall off their perches on a windy day.

I planted the larger terracotta pot first. To keep it stable I hammered a large nail into the stump and lowered the pot onto it through the drainage hole in the bottom.

The plastic planters were not as easy to support. They didn’t have drainage holes; I had to push through the bottom with a pair of scissors. To keep these lighter pots in place I nailed right through the pot into the stumps.

This worked great but meant I needed the ladder to plant the flowers.

I planted varieties that hummingbirds will find nectar in. Pentas, petunias, and verbena will draw both hummers and butterflies. Several other flowers were added for their colors.

“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
“For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”

― Benjamin Franklin

For the want of a nail my pots would have been lost. Thankfully, it’s unlikely now since I had a few on hand. I’ve also used pencils or dowels to stabilize pots on the ground: Stabilizing Pots on the Ground.

Quick Tip – Tips on Thursday/Easy Rooting

I visited the Philadelphia Flower Show this past March. While there, I purchased a French Lavender (Lavandula dentata) plant, also known as Fringed Lavender. I immediately fell in love with both the scent and the appearance of the lavender. I wanted to keep the plant indoors, within easy reach, to enjoy the fragrance throughout the day. I also knew it would thrive outdoors in the herb garden, but didn’t want to purchase more plants. I decided to attempt propagation and took four snips of it, hoping at least one would root for me.

My quick tip is the success that can be achieved using ordinary grocery packaging as mini greenhouses. These four pieces of lavender rooted easily enclosed in a muffin package. The clear bottom also allowed me to keep an eye on the success of the rootings. Oh Happy Day! All four cuttings rooted for me.

Give this technique a try. I used seed starter as my growing medium, moistened it, and just popped the cuttings in. If you try this technique, keep the cuttings in bright, but indirect light as they root.

Quick Tips – Five Tips on Tuesday/In the Garden

Here are a few quick garden tips. I have probably mentioned a few of them in previous posts, but they are worth repeating.

1. Are your hands too dirty to even touch the doorknob to get into the house? A net bag, think onions, potatoes etc., can be a terrific outdoor soap receptacle. I used some of my favorite flexible garden ties for this tip, wrapping the bag and attaching it to the hose spigot with the same tie.

2. Are you having a problem with ants getting into your hummingbird feeder? Wrap tape sticky side out around the hook post.

3. Are your hummingbirds tired? Just kidding—had to show this sweet hummingbird swing my husband gave me for Mother’s Day. Yes, I was thrilled with the gift!

4. Have your gorgeous tea roses reverted back to a deep red flower? Your rootstock has lived and the grafted on hybrid rose is gone. Since I think these wild roses are pretty in their own way, I will allow them to grow until they begin to look scraggly. The hybrid rose will not regenerate on this root stock. The only solution you have if you dislike the wild rose is to dig it up and replant a new hybrid rosebush. I’ve decided I’m going to enjoy the wild rose this year.

“Grafted roses, commonly called budded plants, are plants where the desired rose is grafted or budded onto a rootstock of a different type. The point where the desired variety and the rootstock meet is called the bud union.” ~ Houzz.com


5. Are weedy plants growing in the cracked areas of your sidewalk and concrete? Boiling water will kill them just as quickly as chemical poison sprays and will keep our world safer for upcoming generations.

Quick Tip & Pressed Flowers – Pink Leaves or a Baggie, Camera & Notepad with Pencil

I press flowers throughout the year and often create miniature gardens on cardstock to use in the place of overpriced greeting cards. Today, as I was walking, I noticed the Wild Grape leaves were beginning to emerge. The samples in the photo range in size from a quarter to about a dime. They are thick, but press well, and keep their beautiful Spring colors.

I often use the underside of the leaves for my compositions. The pink tints of Spring are deeper on the back, and I love the added texture of the veining.

I found these gems as I took a morning walk around the block today. I wish I had thought ahead and had a small baggie in my pocket. I also would have enjoyed taking a photograph of the tenacious vines in their native setting, and of course, a pencil and notepad would have been great to jot down my thoughts at the moment. I need to keep these things at the ready in the desk near the front door, easy to grab when on the run or starting a walk.

If you press flowers, or want to try, this time of the year is a perfect starting point. Trees are unfurling leaves, maple keys, and other bud-like growth that won’t be found again for a year. Happy Pressing! For more information on pressed flowers click on the title in the category cloud in the right sidebar of this blog.

Quick Tip – Losing my Glasses/Tip on Tuesday

I lose my reading/weeding glasses everywhere. Gardening brings about a constant loss and drop of my dollar store spectacles. I place them on the top of my head for safekeeping, but then I need a hat to shade me from the sun and must move them. I carry them in a shirt pocket or tuck them into my collar, and they drop out unbeknownst to me and blend into the weeds. I have a string to hang them around my neck, but it gets caught on bushes and twigs, and besides, I’ve lost that somewhere too.

I found the solution in a simple large safety pin. I attach it to my shirt, and the earpieces slide smoothly into the side, firmly held, but easily removed too.

Here’s a few more Quick Tips for using safety pins:
Safety pins eliminate static cling in clothing: Reducing Static Cling
Zip your dress: Alone and can’t zip, attach a safety pin with a piece of dental floss tied to it and zip away.
Avoid pickpockets: For added security in crowds, safety pin zipper to fabric of purse or pack.
Fix a broken flip-flop: Pin through stem underneath the sole. This will not last long, but might get you to where you can get a new pair.
Keep keys safely in pocket during an amusement park ride: Pin your keys to your inside pocket to avoid losing them when that roller-coaster goes upside down and around.
Keep spare buttons organized: When a shirt/blouse/coat comes with a little packet of replacement buttons, thread them on a safety pin and store in a safe place.
Hide bra straps: Use a safety pin (or paper clip) to hold the back of your bra straps together.

Added tips:
Sherry – Wearing a safety pin can be a way to show solidarity.
Prior – Has used a creative repair for broken flip-flops – a piece of silicon from pool goggles.
Derrick – Great idea for glasses…have a few pairs in different strengths for different needs.

Know another? Tell me in the comment box and I’ll add it to the list.

Quick Tip – Tip on Tuesday/The Miracle of Sharpies

I love Easter Chicks. Show me a small, feathery, fluffy, bright yellow baby bird with beady black eyes and I will definitely say, “Aw…”

I’ve had the chick in the photograph above for years. Over many seasons of packing and unpacking, the tissue paper covering his beak on one side tore away.

Sharpies to the rescue! These permanent markers are great for repairing loss of color. I use the black and blue most often. When I use bleach for cleaning or laundry, no matter how careful I am, if I don’t cover up with an ancient bathrobe while I pour the bleach, I tend to ruin my clothing. Sharpies to the rescue for bleach spots too! I’ve filled in many a spot on blue jeans and black jeans with a sharpie marker. It isn’t perfect, but it extends the life of the garment.

Look how well the Sharpie Marker filled in the torn area. Best of all, I bought this pack of Sharpies in the Autumn when they were almost giving them away during school supply sales.

My Tuesday Quick Tip: Always have an assortment of Sharpie Markers at the ready for small color loss repairs.

Quick Tip & Plants – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

In November, I shared a post relating how I was growing a staghorn fern on my living room wall. In the four months since the post,  the staghorn fern has thrived…this is the good!

To best care for the fern, and other plants, I allow tap water twenty-four hours sitting time before I use it to water houseplants. To store the water, I use rinsed out gallon milk jugs. This also allows me to have several gallons of water on hand  in case of emergency situations. Long story short, recently I grabbed a gallon and watered my fern. Horrors! I immediately saw bubbling in the water and realized I had accidentally watered with the dishwashing detergent and water mix I use to clean milk away from the sides of the jugs…this was the bad!

Dollar store purchases came to the rescue: a dishpan with a plate drying rack placed inside. These two inexpensive pieces make watering plants an easier job. I have many plants, large and small, and know the quickest way to kill them is to let their bottoms sit in excess water. When I water the dishpan catches the water run off, and the dish rack holds even the heaviest potted tree free from the bottom of the pan. The two pieces become quite soiled…this is the ugly.

So how does this quick tip end up in the same post as my staghorn fern? Well, my plant watering system allowed me to place the fern on the dishrack and pour two gallons of clean water through the soil. I almost think the whole ordeal did the fern good, it looks better than ever.

If you have a lot of houseplants try this system. It will save you hours of aggravation and also keep your plants from succumbing to soil that is too wet.

Quick Tip – Cleaning Vintage Needlework

I’m awed by the patience and skill it takes to create a doily. It has quickly become a lost art in most of the world. Twenty years ago, give or take a bit, when I was more ambitious, I crocheted two easy doilies. They took a lot of time, and if I remember correctly, several times I had to unravel a mistake and try again. I’ve walked by doilies at yard sales and thrift stores with hardly a glance in recent years. Doilies have fallen out of fashion in today’s decorating. I think I am going to reconsider that decision and start to buy some of the exquisite work now and then. Just like old postcards I like to hold them in my hands and imagine the life of the needlework artist.

This doily of mine recently became soiled. The stain lifted right out when I soaked it in warm water with a little Dawn detergent and peroxide. After soaking, you must block the doily back into shape by gently smoothing/pulling it and drying flat.

I came across a few recipes for cleaning vintage pieces of needlework. If you have a stained heirloom, perhaps one will work for you: Cleaning Old Doilies

Quick Tip – Eggshells in the Garden

Yesterday’s post was lovely, today I’m going to sling around a little dirt. I cooked up a batch of red beet eggs and had over a dozen egg peelings left over. I decided to add them to my Square Foot Gardens for a calcium boost. I whirled the egg shells in the blender with some water, but decided next time to use the food processor. When I poured the water off, all the shells were stuck around the blade at the bottom of the blender. The food processor would have given me a dry powder, easier to sprinkle on the garden. I made another mistake, I poured the water down the drain. GrowVeg.com has a great article on using eggshells for plants: Using Eggshells in the Garden. I’m going to start saving all my boiled egg water for houseplants.

Mistakes aside, I worked what I had into a section of the garden with a trowel.

In the next few days I’ll add a bit of organic garden soil, water it in, and then next week, near St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll plant some garden peas. Spring is definitely on the horizon.

Quick Tip & Pets – Cat Scratch Mat

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My cats Rusty…

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and Hans, love to sharpen their claws. This is not a good thing if it involves furniture or rugs. I’ve found a bit of catnip, a fibrous doormat, and a box of some kind makes a quick, easily moved, cat scratch mat.

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Place the mat over something that will give it some height.

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In our case we used a wooden box. Sprinkle the area that has a bit of a bend with catnip you’ve finely ground. The catnip sinks into the fibers. To stir this up for easier smell appeal my cats sharpen their claws against the swell of the mat against the box. Voilà  the perfect cat scratch toy, and better yet, it is about a third of the price what a store-bought mat will cost you.

Quick Tip – Easy Translation

 

Hello, My Friend – English
Helo, fy ffrind – Welsh
Hallo, Mein Freund – German

There are times I will visit a blog and find the post is written in another language. Google Translate is a great tool for detecting languages and translating the words into your own. I’ve also used the translator to compose a comment when a blog is written in another language. In the box above I’ve used the translator to say hello in a few of my ancestral languages.

Quick Tip – Transferring Letters Part II/Defeating the Wind

One of my blogging promises has been to post on projects or plans that don’t work as planned. Yesterday, after hanging my newly crafted plaque, I looked out the window to see an empty hook. The plaque was lying topsy-turvy on the front lawn, the wire I used to hang it broken and frayed. Hmmmm….my plaque was behaving more like a windmill than a sign of peace. What was the solution?

I tried taping first…electrical tape, duct tape. My next idea was a shepherd’s hook positioned directly beneath the plaque. None of my solutions worked. Finally, the answer dawned on me. I needed to keep the plaque steady by stabilizing more than just the center of the hanger, which by the way I replaced with a sturdy leather lace.

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Success!!! After moving the plaque closer to the house to block some of the wind, I found two hooks worked to keep the plaque from wildly swinging, and my “PEACE ON EARTH” stayed firmly in place through a very windy night. The moral of my tale: Sometimes two hooks work better than one.