Quick Tip – Sprouts!

The first snowfall was pretty, but also makes me resigned to the long winter ahead. For those of you who, like me, enjoy standing in the garden eating peas right out of the pod, I’m posting a reminder about sprouts. I love sprouts. The batch above was especially delicious, although definitely odd in appearance, when I used them on hummus for lunch this week. The meal might look a trifle strange, but it is full of health benefits and a good percentage of your daily vitamins and minerals.

Amazingly, the sprouting seeds I used were purchased in 2015 from The Sprout House through Amazon. After three years almost all the seeds in the packet I chose to use still sprouted. The Sprout House offers an amazing variety packet that will last for months, if not years.

“There are tremendous health benefits from including sprouts in your diet: … Vitamin, such as A, B, C and E, and essential fatty acid nutrients increase in sprouting and minerals bind to protein, making them more easily absorbed. Sprouts alkalize the body and protect it from disease including cancer.” ~Longevity Wellness Worldwide

The Sprout House on Amazon. Here’s the link to the variety package I purchased in 2015. You can also find smaller products through Amazon offered by The Sprout House.

This post is part of Kammie’s Oddball Challenge

Quick Tip – Tuesday Tip/Replacements

“If like many people, you are afraid to try roses in your garden, you need to try the revolutionary Knock Out® Family of Roses. The only rose that doesn’t need special care from you, these shrub roses will reward you with a season long show of blooms from spring to frost.”                                                                                           KnockoutRoses.Com

 

If you are like me you have some empty spots in your garden that could use a quick fix. There is still time to find amazing bargains as big box stores and garden nurseries slash prices to make room for Christmas trees and outdoor decor. This past weekend, I found Knockout Roses, an almost problem-free shrub rose, for less than 5.00 each. I bought four to plant in an area that needs many plants to fill it. The Knockout Roses should quickly grow and fill in the area with beautiful pink flowers. I was lucky to find the double bloom variety. The bonus is the roses I purchased still have some bloom and buds to enjoy through Autumn.

I also found a flat of succulent plants that I greatly admired in the Spring, but wasn’t willing to spend the asking price at that time. Oh the joy of finding bargains. This flat was a steal at under 4.00. I wonder how many projects and plantings I can squeeze out of it. I’ll post a few of my ideas through the next few weeks.

Quick Tip – Bubble Wrap Upcycle

In the Autumn of the year, I hang this sweet welcome sign on my front door. The scarecrow and greeting are painted with acrylics on a heavy piece of slate making the piece very durable. My problem over the years has been the racket the plaque makes by banging to and fro when the door is opened or shut. At some point, after years of bouncing around, I’m concerned the slate will crack and be ruined.

Bubble wrap to the rescue! In this age of massive online purchases and mailings, bubble wrap envelopes are abundant. A good way to recycle a few of these is to cut out cushioning strips and put them on the back of items that might be broken by movement. To safeguard the plaque, I cut a few bubble wrap envelope strips and glued them onto the back with my glue gun. The whole process took about five minutes, and the strips work great. The racket is diminished and the plaque is protected.

Inspired by my success, I googled recycling bubble wrap. Two of my favorite ideas were found on The Secret Yumiverse: 9 Poppin’ Uses for Bubble Wrap. One was practical: put bubble wrap inside empty handbags/purses to help them keep their shape. The second just made me laugh: make a primitive burglar alarm by putting bubble wrap under the doormat/rugs near your front door. Funny, but hey, it just might work!

Quick Tip – Driftwood Plant Stakes

I’ve been repotting orchids using driftwood twigs in place of ordinary plant stakes. I prefer the natural appearance of the driftwood vs. manufactured plastic or dowels. One problem with any type of garden stake is the possibility of catching it in the eye while watering or grooming the plant. I have many plants and believe me, there have been many close calls in garden and house with plant stakes. Also, as someone who received sixteen stitches in my leg as a child due to a stake hidden in tall grass I am always aware of the danger of stakes.

Thankfully, the fix is easy for my houseplants. To go with the seashore theme of the driftwood I placed a few small moonshells over the end of the plant stakes. Anything will do as a protective piece, a bead, string wound around the tip, a drilled acorn or nut, clay fashioned into small birds, the possibilities are almost endless.

Quick Tip – Inexpensive Garden Pots

Dollar stores are the perfect choice for good prices, after all, everything is a dollar. This year, I planted eight dollar store oil drip pans, (large, shallow plastic pans) with plants suitable for pressed flower harvesting.

I expected the plants in these pots to be spent and dried out by the end of June. What an unexpected surprise to find that these containers, planted with four plants each, have thrived and are still lushly growing. Careful watering is the key to success with shallow pans.

I might empty a few soon and try them out for an Autumn lettuce crop. Give the dollar store a try for unique containers that can be turned into inexpensive planters.

Quick Tip – Potted Plant Stabilizing/Grooming

I have a large potted palm that spends the winter months in my home. During the summer, the palm is ‘vacationing’ in my backyard beneath the pines. While it is outdoors I will take a pair of scissors and snip away the browned ends of the fronds.

Potted plants, large and small, tip over easily in the high winds and heavy rains we have been experiencing this week in my area. I tried weighting the surface of the palm’s pot with rocks, but during the first strong breezes the pot tipped over. To better stabilize the plant I ran a garden stake through the top of the pot, threaded it through the side (or bottom) drainage holes, and hammered it into the ground. I used four stakes for the large palm, smaller plants will stand firm using only one.

I’ve shared this tip in the past, but it is worth repeating for those who are new to gardening outdoors.

Quick Tip – Saturday Reruns/Using the Heat at Hand

Some of my best tips are buried, way, way back in the archives of the blog.  Give this flash-drying tip a try, you will be amazed at how well it works.

Using the trunk of my car to flash-dry parsley and other herbs has been one of my better “quirky” ideas. Gently rinse fresh herbs, dry on a towel, lay in a single layer on a metal cookie sheet, place in your HOT car.

Parsley, and most other herbs, dry to a perfect crispness in only three days. The leaves lose none of their brilliant green color or sensational scent as they dry. I’m thrilled with the results.

In the photo above I’ve dried lemon balm, thyme, and basil. At this stage, the herbs are very dry. To further ensure they have no moisture left in their leaves I keep them in labeled brown lunch bag for a week or two longer, before final storage in a jar or plastic bag.

  • One note…basil does not retain its brilliant green color, but the flavor is still intact.

Give this easy drying technique a try…flowers work too!

Quick Tip – Garden Tips/Marking plants for Seed Harvest

The wildflower garden is full of beautiful bachelor buttons; there are many blues along with pink, lavender, and one or two white bachelor button flowers. I want to save the seeds of all of them but especially want to collect the white variety as there are fewer plants of this color.

As you can see in the photograph the plants are packed in, and after they bloom, it is hard to differentiate one from the other. A marker in the soil wouldn’t work, but something wrapped around the stem itself would be ideal. Aha, what about a self-adhesive address label? Most of us have these stored with our mailing supplies. I folded a label around the stem of the bachelor button, wrote the variety of plant on the end, and it is holding well. The marking might fade, but I am confident the label will stick. The glue is strong enough to withstand the mailing process, and I am sure even a little rain will not loosen the adhesive. Hopefully, I will be able to create my own wildflower mix with my favorites for next Spring.

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.