Feb 142014
 

Small Space Garden IdeasMy past experience with garden idea books is that many of the projects they contain require one or more of the following: specialized materials, expensive materials, hard to find materials or things that I may need to special order.  The projects themselves are not always something I would have a place for in my garden.  Sometimes the projects are just not my style, or anyone else’s that I know for that matter. And other times I find that the projects contained are just variations along one theme.  None of those descriptions fit the 40 plus projects described by Philippa Pearson in Small Space Garden Ideas.

The first 5 chapters of the book (Micro Garden, Let It All Hang, Grow Up, Contain Yourself, and Go Wild) help divide the projects into categories.  The choices cover a wide range of skill levels, time requirements and are for both inside and outside locations.  Once you figure out the kind of project you are wanting, you will find that each project begins with a list of materials, including suggested plants.  Please note: the author is from the U.K.  If you are located elsewhere you may have to find comparable plants to those listed in the book.  Some will work well in various locations, while other may need to be substituted.  This in no way takes away from the book, if anything I enjoyed seeing the ideas from a gardener across the pond.  Variety is the spice of life after all.

Following the list of materials are the projects steps.  These are written very clearly and pictures shown, of which there is not a lack.  A section about Care Advice is given at the end of each project description to help maintain what you have just created.  This last section was something I greatly appreciated.  Taking care of what you have made is sometimes tricky, so knowing ahead of time what to do will help you continue to enjoy your creation.

Personally, I’m looking forward to decorating my terracotta pots with both paint and decoupage, two of the projects contained in Small Space Garden Ideas.  What a great solution for the random pots I have in my basement.  These will be used on my back deck this summer.

My kids would love to take on the portable Kid’s Miniature Barnyard Garden, complete with tiny plants, sown seeds, a pond, a fence and other features.  Philippa Pearson even describes how to make a scarecrow with twigs, hot glue and scraps of material.  The two items on list of materials I don’t have can easily be acquired at one of the local department stores.

The last chapter of Small Space Garden Ideas, Plant Practical, has no specific projects but does contain a lot of useful information.  The focus of this chapter is on small spaces and containers, which often present unique trials of their own. Watering, composting, plant selection, and tools needed are just a few of the things you have to consider.  I appreciated the thoroughness taken with this chapter.  Pearson touches on some of the unique challenges small space gardeners face, giving suggestions and idea of how to address or overcome them.

Remembering to water my pots is something I struggle with.  Often I remember to water when I realize the plants are on the verge of dying.  At that point either the plants can’t be brought back or if they do come back they are never reach their fullest potential of color or production.  This is one area of concern that she covers in the last chapter, including several solutions.  One of Pearson solutions is to make my own irrigation system, which should only take half an hour or so, after I have the supplies on hand.  The supplies themselves are things I already have around the house – an old hose and a bucket.  In seasons past, I have just over watered with a hose, hoping the plants would make it to the next watering.  Often the potting soil is so dry by then, the water would run between the pot and the dirt, not watering the plant at all.  Going with the suggestion Pearson gives, the pots should get a slower, more thorough watering.  My plants thank you.

If you are a gardener who is looking to spiff up your small space, or a gardener who has a small space they are looking to do something with I suggest checking out Small Space Garden Ideas by Philippa Pearson.

I received a copy of this book for review.  

This post contains affiliate links.

 

Feb 112014
 

watering plant in shower

Even with frequent watering there are times my houseplants need a deep drink.  The air in the house is dry, the heat is blowing on them, or I don’t give them enough during the regular watering.  Whatever the reason, sometimes they just  need a long drink.

A few years ago I came across the tip to give them a good watering by placing them in the shower and giving them a good, long drink.  At first I was skeptical, thinking it would wash all the soil out or not really be worth the effort.  After trying it a few times I realized just how easy it was to do it this way.  If I had put this much water into the pot outside the tub, I would have ended up with a large puddle on the floor before the soil in the pot was thoroughly wet.

I used this method to bring a prayer plant back from the brink of death after my husband decided to turn the heat in the house down to the mid 40’s while we were away for several weeks.  Most plants don’t appreciate temperatures this cool.  All the leaves on the prayer plant were brown and crumbling.  As a last resort I decided to give it a big drink, hoping to stimulate any remaining energy reserves to form new leaves.  It worked.

Sometimes it is the simple solutions that work the best.

This post is linked up at Growing Home.

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May 302013
 

 One of my weekly goals last month was to divide my aloe plants and dead head my other house plants.  Here is what they looked like before, they were starting to take over this area.

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This plant was looking wimpy.  Some leaves had died and not fallen off, while others had been torn and battered by little hands.

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I had picked up a box of pots from a store that was going out of business.  It was a discount store to begin with, so these were very affordable.

box of potsI started on one of the house plants as it was in front of all the aloes.  This vining plant had leaves and sections of vine that were either dead or looked dead.  I had almost given it up as un-salvageable.  Glad I didn’t follow through with just throwing it away.

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First, I pulled off all the dead leaves.  This allowed me to see which sections of vine were dead.  Those sections were cut off, as were the parts where a large section of vine had no leaves.

Ah, looking much better.

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I did a trial run of getting roots to grow from sections of cuttings.  So far no luck, but two of the three jars are still sitting in a sunny location to see if the stems will grow roots.

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The aloe plants came next.  I placed all the current plants on the table. Some were so full and large they were not able to stay standing up without something to lean on.
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Little hands wanted to “help”.  I gave scissors and allowed them to cut up leaves and stems I had removed.

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Here is a closer view of the aloe plant pots.

DSCN7325Here is a plant that was in a different window.  It was in such a place that I often forgot to water it.  The aloe plant was still alive though you can see how different the color is.  I find that aloes plants this dehydrated can still be brought back to a nice green color with regular watering.

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Here is the root ball of one of the aloe plants when pulled out of the existing pot.

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I loosened up some of the soil around the roots…

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Once I had them all removed from the pots, I sorted them.  Plants that were not growing straight, missing parts, or too small were discarded.

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The remaining plants were sorted by size …

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This plant was easily removed from the parent plant by pulling it away.  The roots of the aloe plants are not extensive, which is what made it so easy to separate them.  Even this section will grow and reproduce.  Aloe plants reproduce, or create new plants, via root sprouts.  I found root sprouts in the bottom of some of the pots, starting to grow off the roots there.  It has been just over a month and some of the newly potted aloe plants already have sprouts sticking up out of the soil.

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Most of the newly potted aloe plants are being sold on the produce stand.  Another great example of using what you have to make a few extra dollars.  This helps offset just a bit of the cost of gardening.

Also, aloe plants, if left to grow long enough, will flower.  Unfortunately, I missed getting a picture when mine did so this last winter.  It really was a lovely delicate looking flower, one I hope to see again this year.

The ficus tree was saved till last as it was the largest of all the plants and took the most time.

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(Above) Since I was working on our dining room table, I put the tree up there too.  It made a convenient height and was close to where the plants had been and were going.  I had a bad of potting mix and a pitcher of water.  You can see the pile of discarded aloe plants towards the bottom of the picture.

(Below) The new pot for the ficus tree allowed the roots to spread out.  Previously they had been starting to circle the root ball.  The tree looks much healthier now and is able to sustain itself between watering.

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This was one project I put off for a while, to the detriment of my house plants.  Once I decided to do it, it took me a few hours one afternoon.  And that counted stopping to explain things to little minds.

Is there a ‘quick’ project you have been putting off?  Go do it today, then come back and let me know if it took as long as you had thought.

 

Oct 022012
 

It seems as if I have been talking a lot about books on here lately.  It isn’t that I’m changing the focus around here.  Instead, the reason is that I am just in a reading mood as of late.  I especially love the fact that ebooks can be found for free and saved for reading later.  However, they aren’t always free forever.  Take the book, “Growing Herbs Indoors“.  I was sure I had shared it on here, however I can’t seem to find the post.  That must mean it was before I started posting about books I found.  (It is still available on Amazon, though now for a small price.)

Lee Ann Dobbins gives an easy read and explaination into how to grow herbs inside.  Before reading this I assumed they would be like any other house plant – you put them in a pot and sit them in a window.  While that is true in the simplist of forms, there is more to it than that.

Growing Herbs Indoors covers several different topics..  The section on the different herbs and their requirements was a very practicle section, and something that I would have had to learn the hard way.  As was the part about getting them started; use transplants instead of seeds.  I am frugal enough that I would have chosen the seed route and then wondered why I was having such poor results.

She also gives a clear explaination about why there may be certain problems and then how to troubleshoot them.  I was actually able to figure out a problem with another plant of mine while reading this section.  (It isn’t getting enough light.)  Most of the solutions are simple and something you can do with what you  already have.

I was able to read the book, 32 pages in length, in about an hour. I am glad I read through the book, as I will now go into any herb growing I may try with a better understanding of what may be needed. If you are looking for a more technical book or a step-by-step guide, then this is probably not the one for you. While there is a good explaination, I feel that she assumes you already know a bit about growing plants.

Growing Herbs Indoors is a book for beginners and those growing herbs at home.  It touches on the basics and uses clear language.