Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Single Photograph

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.”
~ W.E. Johns ~

One of the joys of gardening is watching flowers developing.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday Silliness

Let’s get right to this week’s funny stuff...


Fun Things To Do At Wal-Mart

- Set all the alarm clocks to go off at ten minute intervals throughout the day.

- Challenge other customers to duels with tubes of gift wrap.

- When there are people behind you, walk REALLY SLOW, especially down narrow aisles.

- Walk up to an employee and tell him in an official tone, "I think we've got a Code 3 in Housewares," and see what happens.

- Ride a display bicycle through the store; claim you're taking it for a "test drive."

- Drape a blanket around your shoulders and run around saying, "...I'm Batman. Come Robin--to the Bat cave!"

- Take up an entire aisle in Toys by setting up a full scale battlefield with G.I. Joes vs. the X-Men.

- Dart around suspiciously while humming the theme from "Mission: Impossible."

- Set up a "Valet Parking" sign in front of the store.

- When someone steps away from their cart to look at something, quickly make off with it without saying a word.


Top Ten Kids' Instructions On Life

1. "Wear a hat when feeding seagulls."
- Rocky, age 9

2. "Sleep in your clothes so you'll be dressed in the morning."
- Stephanie, age 8

3. "Never bug a pregnant mom."
- Nicholas, age 11

4. "When your dad is mad and asks you, 'Do I look stupid?' don't answer him."
- Heather, age 16

5. "Never tell your mom her diet's not working."
- Michael, age 14

6. "When you get a bad grade in school, show it to your mom when she's on the phone."
- Alyesha, age 13

7. "Never tell your little brother that you're not going to do what your mom told you to do."
- Hank, age 12

8. "Never dare your little brother to paint the family car."
- Phillip, age 13

9. "Remember the two places you are always welcome-church and Grandma's house."
- Joanne, age 11

10. "When you want something expensive, ask your grandparents."
- Matthew, age 12

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sunny Side Up

“The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have
enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not.”
- George Bernard Shaw -

Introducing Sunny Side Up -- an end of the work week, good-humored, feel good post. It will be short and sweet, fun-filled and/or uplifting. It will be in the form of a video, a photograph, silly saying, cartoon, link to something cool, a happy story, quotation, poem...any which way. But whatever form it comes in, one thing’s for sure...it will (hopefully) kick start your weekend with a smile.

Here is this week’s smile...


Have a great weekend, everyone.

The Basic Needs Of Houseplants

The further we move away from nature - those of us living in urban areas surrounded by steel and concrete - the more we seem to be yearning for living green. It’s not surprising. Plants help soften some of the harsh and listless elements in everyday routines with their attractive foliage and mesmerizing flowers. The earthy smell and the feel of the greenery provide us with a much needed connection with nature; it may be minimal but it’s necessary.

Even if you are living in an apartment, indoor plants allow you to interact with nature. Stress is eased, blood pressure is lowered, harmony is felt and happiness is found just by handling and working with plants for as little as a few minutes a day. There is a magical calming effect brought on by plants that is welcome after a long and taxing day. Perhaps it’s the simplicity of it. Perhaps it’s the nurturing involved that is important to us. Perhaps it’s the eye candy that brightens our day. No matter what it is, it’s yours for the taking.

To many people a home without at least a couple of houseplants is not as warm and welcoming. Beautiful specimens, attractive flower pots and even eye-catching furniture to display their prized purchases on are added to their interior living space. And it’s all quite satisfying. But in order to increase or sustain that level of enjoyment – including extending blooming periods of flowering plants – houseplants need proper care.

If plants could speak, they would tell you that they have five basic needs:

Light
Water
Food
Temperature
Humidity

When each of these elements is provided accordingly, your plants will reward you with healthy and regular growth. Without effort on your part, your houseplants will decline over time. It’s hard to imagine when you first bring your plants home because they look so incredibly healthy (and some – the hardier types - will continue to look that way for an impressively lengthy period). But you have to bear in mind that the potted plant you brought home was grown in a greenhouse under ideal conditions. Now that it’s been placed in your home environment with all its surroundings altered (light, temperature, humidity), it will need adequate care to be able to adjust to its new environment. If you continually neglect your plants they will inevitably deteriorate.


Light

Light is the most crucial element in determining which plants to add to your home. Plants need proper light for photosynthesis, which produces the food and energy needed to keep them alive. It also allows for hormone production that induces flowering. Even if every other requirement is met, if your plant is in too much or too little light, its chance at optimal growth (and health) will be compromised. Your plant will be stressed and a stressed plant is an invitation to other problems.

When choosing a houseplant, learn about its light requirements and make sure you have the necessary spot in your home. Improper, insufficient, inadequate – these words should not be part of the equation when choosing plants for your home.


Water

Improper watering ranks right up there with improper light - a frequent cause for failure with houseplants. Most houseplants are killed by kindness than neglect and the kindness in question always involves water.

Did you know that most houseplants are killed from too much water than not enough? That’s right; indoor plants are more often killed by over watering than any other reason. They die because they drown. They drown because their roots rot. They drown because they can no longer draw in oxygen from rotted roots. Their roots rot because every single pore is filled with water leaving them with no ability to breathe. The roots need to breathe or they will die. With the hydroculture system you no longer have to worry about over or under watering. It’s about as infallible as you can get and you no longer have to be anxious about drowning your plants with kindness.


Food

Newly purchased plants have usually been well fed in the greenhouse therefore it’s not necessary to feed them immediately when bringing them home. Flowering plants that you intend to discard after they are finished blooming will not need to be fertilized but plants that you intend to keep permanently will.

Each plant has its own feeding requirements so there’s really no point generalizing. Another factor that determines feeding is location. If your plant is in an area that is not supplying adequate light, it will grow much slower. In that case feeding the plant and forcing it to grow can be quite detrimental.

For arguments sake about once a month during the growing season seems fairly reasonable. Some plants are very heavy feeders and require more feeding. Others are slow growers and require less. During the winter months most plants slow down in growth and are fairly dormant. Fertilizer should be withheld during this period.


Temperature

It is sometimes difficult to provide the preferred temperature from plant to plant and therefore another factor to consider before purchasing houseplants. A hot, dry atmosphere will shorten the life of flowers from plants such as Azalea and Gardenia, but will provide the ideal conditions for many cacti & succulents that will welcome that type of climate.

Although plants will tolerate temperatures that are slightly higher or lower than ideal, it does affect growth and quality. Temperature is important for successful indoor growth.

Temperatures are categorized as following:

Cool: 40 - 50 ° F / 4 - 10 ° C
Intermediate: 60 - 75 ° F / 15 - 23 ° C
Warm: greater than 75 ° F / greater than 23 ° C

The temperature in your home all year round – from room to room - is another important factor in determining which plants to purchase and which plants to leave behind at the greenhouse.


Humidity

Air in most homes is extremely dry. During the winter humidity levels plummet while the heating is on, and in the summer they also dive when the air conditioner is running. Humidity can easily drop to levels that are drier than the Sahara desert.

Humidity is extremely important to plants. The lower the humidity levels, the faster the moisture loss. If humidity levels are too low, houseplants will absorb water and release it through transpiration just as quickly, sometimes even faster. This rapid and severe loss of moisture is very harmful to indoor plants causing them stress. With the plant stressed and the air too dry, it is an invitation to unwelcome guests: insects.

Diminished humidity levels also explain why the leaves of some of your plants have brown tips, are wilted, curled under and even crispy. It would further explain why the flower buds dried up before they even bloomed or why you rarely see flowers at all during the winter months.

If your home is too dry, raise the humidity levels or choose to grow plants that cope easily with dry air such as cacti and succulents.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tune Time – The End Of The Line

This is the last track from the ‘supergroup’ (a rock music group whose performers are already famous) Traveling Wilburys' first album, Volume 1, released in 1988. With the exception of Bob Dylan, it includes all the Wilburys as lead singers. George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison sing the chorus in turn, while Tom Petty sings the verses.


Today's Trivia – Movie Quotes

Here is another round of movie quotes. How many of them do you recognize?


"Who told you to step on my sneakers, who told you to walk on my side of the block, who told you to be in my neighborhood?"
BUGGIN OUT (Giancarlo Esposito)
Do The Right Thing (1989)

"There's a lotta things about me you don't know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand."
PEE-WEE HERMAN (Paul Reubens)
Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)

"Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?"
CAPTAIN OVEUR (Peter Graves)
Airplane! (1980)

"Empire had the better ending. I mean, Luke gets his hand cut off, finds out Vader's his father, Han gets frozen and taken away by Boba Fett. It ends on such a down note. I mean, that's what life is, a series of down endings. All Jedi had was a bunch of Muppets."
DANTE (Brian O'Halloran)
Clerks (1994)

"You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently, my cycloptic colleague informs me that that can't be done. Can you remind me what I pay you people for? Honestly, throw me a bone here. What do we have?"
DR. EVIL (Mike Myers)
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

“I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."
JESSICA RABBIT (Kathleen Turner)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

"You want me to strap her to the hood? She'll be fine. It's not as if it's going to rain or something."
CLARK GRISWOLD (Chevy Chase)
National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
MAXWELL SCOTT (Carleton Young)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

"Nobody's looking for a puppeteer in today's wintry economic climate."
CRAIG SCHWARTZ (John Cusack)
Being John Malkovich (1999)

"Hey, don't knock masturbation. It's sex with someone I love."
ALVY SINGER (Woody Allen)
Annie Hall (1977)

"She's my daughter!...She's my sister! She's my daughter! My sister, my daughter...She's my sister and my daughter."
EVELYN CROSS MULWRAY (Faye Dunaway)
Chinatown (1974)

"Open the pod bay doors, please, HAL."
DAVE BOWMAN (Keir Dullea)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)


"Because when you're a call girl, you control it, that's why. Because someone wants you...and for an hour...I'm the best actress in the world."
BREE DANIEL (Jane Fonda)
Klute (1971)

"So we finish 18 and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, 'Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.' And he says, 'Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.' So I got that goin' for me, which is nice."
CARL SPACKLER (Bill Murray)
Caddyshack (1980)

"Hitler was better-looking than Churchill, he was a better dresser than Churchill, he had more hair, he told funnier jokes, and he could dance the pants off of Churchill!"
FRANZ LIEBKIND (Kenneth Mars)
The Producers (1968)

"No, I'm all man. I even fought in WWII. Of course, I was wearing women's undergarments under my uniform."
ED WOOD (Johnny Depp)
Ed Wood (1994)

"You hear me talkin', hillbilly boy? I ain't through with you by a damn sight. I'm gonna get medieval on your ass."
MARCELLUS WALLACE (Ving Rhames)
Pulp Fiction (1994)

"I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries."
FRENCH SOLDIER (John Cleese)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

"...I have nipples, Greg. Could you milk me?"
JACK BYRNES (Robert De Niro)
Meet the Parents (2000)

"I just hate you and I hate your ass face."
CORKY ST. CLAIR (Christopher Guest)
Waiting for Guffman (1996)

"And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper."
MARGE GUNDERSON (Frances McDormand)
Fargo (1996)

"I do not, for one, think that the problem was that the band was down. The problem may have been that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf."
DAVID ST. HUBBINS (Michael McKean)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

"That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age."
WOODERSON (Matthew McConaughey)
Dazed and Confused (1993)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rhododendron ‘Roseum Elegans’

One of the most wonderful things is having a friend who is as passionate about gardening as you are. Well, I’m fortunate enough to have one of those types of friends here in my lovely city. Her name is Joy, and she’s not only a talented gardener, but also a warm and generous person. And that warmth and generosity stretches into my own backyard. In the past couple of years, she has shared quite a few plants with me.

This spring, Joy dug up a plant that she no longer had room for and brought it over to my place where there is still room to squeeze a few more in. The plant donation, as the title states, is the lovely Rhododendron ‘Roseum ‘Elegans’.

This pretty plant produces some of the most gorgeous puple/pink flowers I’ve ever seen.


The plant is still a little small, but it will reach a height and spread of about 5 feet.


It grows best in partial shade, although it is listed as being able to handle full sun. I have planted mine on the eastern side of my garden where it receives morning sun, and it seems quite happy there.


Here is some basic information about this Rhododendron:

Mature Height: 4 to 6 feet
Mature Spread: 5 to 6 feet
Soil Type: Well Draining
Moisture: Moist
Mature Form: Upright
Growth Rate: Medium
Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Flower Color: Violet
Zones: 5-8


Whenever I walk around my garden and spot one of Joy’s plants, I can’t help but smile; they are a sweet reminder of her. And Rhododendron ‘Roseum Elegans’ is undoubtedly one of the sweetest.


Words Of Wisdom


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Greek Style Chicken Kebabs

This delicious recipe is from none other than George Foreman. I have to hand it to the man; he makes a mean chicken kebab. These can be cooked on an indoor or outdoor grill.


Greek Style Chicken Kebabs
4 servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
8 (8-inch) bamboo skewers

(Note: I didn’t have a red onion on hand, so I used a yellow one. I also added cherry tomatoes to the skewers, which are delicious when grilled.)

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken and onion and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Preheat the grill to high.

Thread the chicken and onion onto the skewers, reserving the marinade in the bowl. Grill the skewers (in batches, if necessary, depending upon the size of your grill) for 2 minutes and then brush with the reserved marinade; discard any remaining marinade. Grill for about 2 minutes more, until the chicken has taken on grill marks and is cooked through. Serve immediately.

Original recipe can be found here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

“Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love
and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.”

I’m a very simple person, so it doesn’t take much to make me happy. I don’t chase fashion or follow trends or try to keep up with the Joneses. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

That being said, the list of things that bring me joy are so basic and so uncomplicated that not a day goes by that I don’t get to enjoy at least one of them, usually more. This week I’d like to share with you some of my guilty pleasures.


1) 70s and 80s Music – Play a song from the past two decades and chances are I won’t recognize it, not unless it was extremely popular at some point, and you couldn’t possibly have missed it. But play a song from the 70s and 80s, and more often than not, I’ll tell you which one it is and who sings it. I may even sing along with it. Yuppers, I’m a 70s and 80s girl. That’s where I spent my youth, and that’s where my favourite music comes from.

2) New Plants – Can you ever have enough plants? Indoors or out? Not in my world. Somehow, like magic, I always manage to squeeze one more into my home or garden, despite how many are squeezed in there already. Just one more, I promise myself. And then I break the promise and pick up another, and another. Can’t help myself. There are just too many beautiful plants calling out to me at the garden centers. I am shamelessly weak.

3) Cheesecake – There are very few sweets that I like, and this is one of them. But not just any kind of cheesecake. I need the traditional, New York style cheesecake with lots of strawberries on it, not the chocolate-style nonsense. I could live with substituting the strawberries with cherries or blueberries, but that’s it. Don’t alter the rest of the cake!

4) Pizza – If I was allowed to eat only one food for the rest of my life, it would undoubtedly be pizza. The world would be bleak without this precious food.
5) Long, Hot Baths – Quick showers are usually what I opt for, but every now and then I slip into a warm bubble bath, and stay there for at least an hour. With a good book, of course.

6) Books, Books, Books - Reading books, purchasing books, hanging around the bookstore...as long as there are books involved, I’m there. I am a voracious reader that keeps lugging books home. And now that you can order them online, well, they just keep piling up. Bliss...

7) Thrift Shops – As I get older, I find myself enjoying thrift shops more and more, not only for the low price tags, but also for the unique finds. Where else can you run across a pet rock, one of the nuttiest fads of the 1970s?

8) Peanut M&Ms – In a perfect world, all the comfort foods (like these delectable chocolate-covered peanuts) would be a dietary food, and I’d be able to munch on them daily. But alas, they are loaded with calories, so I rarely eat them. [Sad face]

9) Blogging – I love my blog. It’s my online journal where I can do some writing, upload my photos, express my opinion and share some humour. It’s also where I’ve met some really cool people from other areas of the world.

10) Taking Pictures – I’ve been snapping photos as far back as I can remember. And I’ve never stopped. I have tons of photo albums -- and they keep growing. Imagine how thrilled I was when digital cameras came along? Can you say oh-so happy?

11) Road Trips – Secretly (and it won’t be a secret after this post), I fantasize about jumping in my car, hitting the road and never looking back. I dream about driving cross country (USA and Canada), visiting different places and just wandering from city to city and town to town with no permanent address. (There must be an eclectic, adventure-seeking side to me. Or I’m heading toward a middle-age crisis.) But this won’t happen because there are people that love me, and there are people that I love, and I won’t (shouldn’t) abandon them. So, the closest I come to this urge is getting in the car with family members (who keep me restrained) and doing short-distance road trips to neighbouring towns and interesting tourist attractions.

12) Fudgsicles – When I was growing up, these were my favourite frozen treats. Years later, they still are. Fudgsicles are a deliciously drippy snack with their smooth chocolatey flavour that is not too sweet.


13) Popcorn – Air popped. In the microwave. With butter-flavoured cooking spray and whatever spices appeal to you. Result=delicious & low fat. Yummy.

14) Smirnoff Twisted Coolers (Raspberry Flavour) – I barely ever consume alcohol because I don’t really like it. But whenever I do happen to have a drink at a party, this is what I choose. If it’s available, of course. Very tasty. And it gives you a good buzz.

15) Gardening – During the winter months, I can be found with my nose pressed up against the window, whimpering at the inability to get outside and hang around in my garden. When spring finally rolls in, GERONIMO, I race out to my garden to embrace it. Day after blissful day. Chores are left undone. Groceries don’t get picked up. The family is hungry. Pffft... Who cares? It’s my favourite time of the year, and I’m insensitive towards anything that tries to get between me and my garden.

16) Licorice – Twizzlers. Strawberry twists. Oh my.


17) Trivia-Style Game Shows – OHMYGOD...when did this happen? 30 years ago (when I was a teen), I wouldn’t be caught dead watching a nerdy game show like Jeopardy. And now? Now I look forward to it. And feel exhilarated when I give the right questions to some of the answers. I get just as stupid with ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’.

18) Afternoon Naps – If life didn’t get in the way so much, I’d be enjoying afternoon naps a little more often. And my perfect nap includes a good book, a few comfy pillows to prop myself up on, and a rainy or snowy day to make me sleepy. When all that’s in place, it’s a matter of minutes before I drift off to snooze city...

19) Board Games – I’ve never outgrown my love for board games. Or my ruthless competitiveness. I play to win. Even with my kids. So much for cultivating their self esteem.

20) Ice Cream – Chocolate chip, heavenly hash and cookie dough...these are my favourite flavours of this most sinful comfort food. And a scoop of each in one sitting is heaven.

What are some of the things you enjoy?

Demotivational



Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Pretty Lamium maculatum ‘Anne Greenaway’

“Coffee. Garden. Coffee. Does a good morning need anything else?”
~ ~Betsy CaƱas Garmon ~

Attractive foliage and pretty flowers... You can’t go wrong with Lamium maculatum ‘Anne Greenaway’.



Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday Silliness

Let’s get right to this week’s silliness...


You Know You Need A New Lawyer When...

- When the prosecutors see who your lawyer is, they high-five each other.

- During your initial consultation he tries to sell you Amway.

- He tells you that his last good case was a "Budweiser".

- He picks the jury by playing "duck-duck-goose."

- During the trial you catch him playing his Gameboy.

- He asks a hostile witness to "pull my finger."

- Every couple of minutes he yells, "I call Jack Daniels to the stand!" and proceeds to drink a shot.

- He frequently gives juror No. 4 the finger.

- He places a large "No Refunds" sign on the defense table.


Top Ten Things Not To Say At A Funeral

1. What's that smell?

2. So who's that sleeping in the box?

3. I wouldn't be caught dead in that outfit.

4. I would have loaned him my good rope if I'd known what he was using it for!

5. (to the widow) Now that you're single, how about a date?

6. It must suck to be dead.

7. (crying) I guess this means I'm out of the buck he owes me!

8. When do we eat?

9. Can I have his car?

10. People sure look stupid dead.


Medical Quotes

The following quotes were taken from actual medical records as dictated by physicians...

"By the time he was admitted, his rapid heart had stopped, and he was feeling better."

"Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year."

"On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it had completely disappeared."

"The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me in 1983."

"The patient will need disposition, and therefore we will get Dr. Blank to dispose of him."

"The patient refused an autopsy."

"The patient has no past history of suicides."

"The patient's past medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days."

"She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate directions in early December."

"The patient left the hospital feeling much better except for her original complaints."

"The patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch."

"The patient was in his usual state of good health until his airplane ran out of gas and crashed."

"She is numb from her toes down."

"Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches."

"When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room."



Friday, July 22, 2011

The Epiphytic Moth Orchid

I was born around mid-February, which makes me a free-spirited, eclectic, water-bearing Aquarius. And although I hardly ever read or follow daily horoscopes, I do find the subject of astrology entertaining and rather interesting. I particularly enjoy learning about the zodiac signs that are associated with the closest people in my life.

For those of you who have taken even a slight interest in this controversial ‘science’, you’ve learned that every astrological sign has its own set of personal characteristics. Included in this mix are the representative symbols (water-bearer, crab, lion, twins and so forth), the associated elements (fire, earth, air, water), favourite colour(s), most compatible signs, ruling planet(s), quality (fixed, mutable, cardinal), preferred day of the week, positive and negative personality traits, metals, gemstones, lucky numbers, most suitable careers, possible health concerns, commonly-used phrases, likes, dislikes, and a whole slew of other related factors.

With so many interesting components used to define each unique sign, it stands to reason that plants and flowers are included in the mix. According to several sources of information on astrology, each sign is drawn to different botanical beauties. Some of the plants suitable to individuals born under my sign include: Sarracenia (Pitcher Plant), Zantedeschia Aethiopica (Arum Lily), Eryngium (Sea Holly), Polygonatum Commutatum (Solomon's Seal), Strelitzia (Bird Of Paradise), Banksia, Protea, Arisaema Triphyllum (Jack-in-the-Pulpit), Gladiolus, Olea (Olive), Sambucus Canadensis (Elderberry), Yucca and Trillium Ovatum.

That’s quite a list that’s been decided on my account, considering that I don’t even like half the plants listed above. While I do find the Arum Lily, Pitcher Plant, Olea, Yucca and Bird of Paradise very appealing, the rest don’t even come close. But there is a beautiful flowering plant that the ‘zodiac experts’ have assigned as perfectly fitting to the Aquarian personality, which they are absolutely right about (at least for me). I purposely left it out of the abovementioned since it’s the plant I will be writing about today. That lovely, popular, treasured specimen is (drum roll please) the Orchid.


No Other Plant Compares To The Beauty Of An Orchid

An Orchid is a prime candidate for anyone looking for something exceptional to grow. These queens of the flowering plants - once collected by the wealthy – are now available to everyone. There is an impressive selection to choose from in a variety of colours, sizes, habits and fragrances. And there’s no need to be intimidated by their exotic good looks; the ones that are readily available are also surprisingly easy to grow. If you can grow houseplants, you can grow Orchids.

Found on all continents excluding Antarctica, most of these plants are epiphytes, although there are also terrestrial and lithophytic (grow in or on rocks) varieties. With flowers in solid, striped or speckled shades of red, orange, yellow, brown, green, white, pink or yellow, there is an Orchid sure to satisfy even the most discerning palette.

As a very large and diverse family of plants, it should come as no surprise that requirements vary considerably depending on which Orchid you choose to grow. In order to succeed with these pretty bloomers, it is imperative that you research and learn as much as possible about the habits and growing needs of each species, and then apply that knowledge accordingly.

While each type has its own special needs, there are a few general rules that they all share: average room temperatures are ideal, hot and stuffy rooms are to be avoided, good quality light is essential, protection from midday sun is a must, compost must be kept moist but never soggy, a fast-draining soil is necessary and high humidity is important.

If you are new to growing Orchids, you should consider starting with varieties that are the most suitable to the growing conditions of homes, particularly your home, until you gain some experience. Certain species of Paphiopedilum - with their long-lasting, beautiful flowers - are good starter plants. But the extremely popular Phalaenopsis (Moth Orchid) is one of the best candidates for the average home. This is the plant that I will write about today.


Caring For An Epiphytic Moth

Even if you’ve never grown an Orchid, you probably recognize the regularly-available and increasingly popular Phalaenopsis, generally referred to as the Moth Orchid. The plant derives its common name from the way the flowers it grows resemble a moth with outstretched wings.

This Orchid, found frequently in garden centers, is grown especially for beginners with its simple care requirements and quick adaptability to the indoor environment of homes. The blooming period can last up to three months or more, and some of the newer hybrids flower all year round, some of which exude a pleasant fragrance.

Over the years, hybridization by growers has produced many different variations of the Moth Orchid, increasing the species dramatically. Ranging in flower buds from vibrant pinks and mauves, to whites, yellows, reds, violets, browns and even pale greens, there are many different types to choose from. And together with a wide selection of colours, flowers also come in various forms with different markings.

Easily maintained from one year to the next, there is no doubt that the exotic Phalaenopsis is a lovely addition to any interiorscape with its striking flowers and thick, shiny leaves that emerge from the central crown.

Like all epiphytic orchids, the Phalaenopsis does not require any soil to grow in and is therefore usually sold in a clear container filled with a growing medium that is specially-prepared for orchids. The medium provides stability by anchoring the plant, but it also allows for quick drainage and very good aeration - two very important factors in keeping the thick, fleshy roots on this plant healthy. It is important to heed this advice; orchids are quite often killed by being planted in soil mixes used by commonly-grown houseplants that lead to root rot.

The Moth Orchid does not enjoy being grown in dark corners nor does it appreciate having the scorching midday sun beating down on it. The best light is indirect light. Choose a bright spot but avoid direct noontime sun. Early morning or late afternoon sunlight in an east or west facing location is ideal, but you can also place this plant in a southern location in indirect light. If the available locations in your home do not offer enough natural light, which is important in healthy growth and flower development, consider supplemental lighting.

Average room temperatures that are comfortable for you are also acceptable to your orchid during the day time; cooler nights, if possible, are preferred. Hot and stuffy locations should be avoided; provide plenty of fresh air and proper ventilation, but avoid cold drafts, which can prove fatal. Humidity is essential to an orchid. Increase the levels by placing the plant on a pebble tray.

Be careful with watering this plant that is susceptible to root rot but also hates being left to dry out until it’s wilting. Keep the plant moderately damp; water only when the medium begins to dry out, but never allow it to dry out completely either. When it’s time to water, water thoroughly until it runs out from the drainage holes. Do not leave your plant standing in water; dump the excess promptly.

A Moth Orchid’s flowering period is impressively (and appreciatively) long, but like all good things, it does eventually come to an end – until the next time. When the flowering period has ended, cut off the flower spike slightly above the third node, starting from the bottom. If after two or three weeks a small flower spike does not emerge (another one does occasionally grow), cut off the entire spike down to the base.


Hydroculture And The Epiphytic Moth – A Perfect Match

There is no question that this Orchid and hydroculture make beautiful music together considering that no soil whatsoever is required for healthy growth. In fact, the roots of a Phalaenopsis will cling to whatever is offered to them; in this case it is clay pellets. What better way to eliminate the guesswork involved in watering a plant that is susceptible to root rot and requires perfectly moist soil than by growing it in this soilless system? The epiphytic moth converts effortlessly, and readily adopts the hydroculture growing style. This is truly a perfect match.

While the Phalaenopsis is one of the easiest orchids to grow indoors, you don’t have to settle for that one, nor do you need a greenhouse, terrarium or any other special setup to grow them successfully; they are not as delicate as you think. They can be grown indoors like your other houseplants as long as their specific needs are met. And while it’s true that you can’t just place them anywhere, the chances of you matching an orchid (with so many varieties to choose from) to the growing conditions you have to offer are excellent.

Thankfully, my zodiac sign includes a beautiful plant that “….no other plant compares to...”

What plants are included in your sun sign?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Today's Trivia – The Human Body

Once again, the useless but interesting information is all about the amazing human body...


- Fingernails grow faster than toenails.

- Fingerprints serve a function - they provide traction for the fingers to grasp things.

- From the age of thirty, humans gradually begin to shrink in size.

- Human adults breathe about 23, 000 time a day.

- Human hair and fingernails do not continue to grow after death.

- Humans shed and re-grow outer skin cells about every 27 days - almost 1,000 new skins in a lifetime.

- If you are a universal donor your blood group is type O.

- If your mouth was completely dry, you would not be able to distinguish the taste of anything.

- Insulin is produced in the pancreas.

- Iron deficiency causes the most common form of anemia.

- Some people never develop fingerprints at all. Two rare genetic defects, known as Naegeli syndrome and dermatopathia pigmentosa reticularis, can leave carriers without any identifying ridges on their skin.

- Sperm is the smallest single cell in a man’s body.

- The amount of carbon in the human body is enough to fill about 9 000 'lead' pencils.

- The average adolescent girl has 34,000 underdeveloped egg follicles, although only 350 or so mature during her life (at the rate of about one per month).

- The average height of a man in the Middle Ages was five feet six inches.

- The average human body contains enough: iron to make a 3 inch nail, sulfur to kill all fleas on an average dog, carbon to make 900 pencils, potassium to fire a toy cannon, fat to make 7 bars of soap, phosphorous to make 2,200 match heads, and water to fill a ten-gallon tank.

- The average human brain weighs 1.3 kg

- The average human produces 25,000 quarts of spit in a lifetime, enough to fill two swimming pools.

- The human body transmits nerve impulses at about 90 meters a second

- The human brain is about 80% water.

- The human head is a quarter of our total length at birth, but only an eighth of our total length by the time we reach adulthood.

- The human wrist contains more bones than the ankle.


- The hydrochloric acid in the human stomach is strong enough to dissolve a nail.

- The Islands of Langerhans won't be found on a map, they're a group of cells located in the pancreas.

- The largest cell in the human body is the female ovum, or egg cell. It is about 1/180 inch in diameter. The smallest cell in the human body is the male sperm. It takes about 175,000 sperm cells to weigh as much as a single egg cell.

- The largest human organ is the skin, with a surface area of about 25 square feet.

- The largest muscle in the human body is the buttock muscle.

- The left lung is smaller than the right lung to make room for the heart.

- The left side of the brain is usually responsible for the control of speech.

- The length of your foot is the same length of your forearm between your wrist and the inside of your elbow.

- The little lump of flesh just forward of your ear canal, right next to your temple, is called a tragus.

- The liver is the largest internal organ weighing about 10.5 kilograms.

- The medical term for a black eye is circumorbital haematoma.

- The most common form of cancer is skin cancer.

- The most sensitive cluster of nerves is at the base of the spine.

- The permanent teeth that erupt to replace their primary predecessors (baby teeth) are called succedaneous teeth.

- The smallest bone in the body is the stirrup bone.

- The tips of fingers and the soles of feet are covered by a thick, tough layer of skin called the stratum corneum.

- There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body.

- There are four main Blood types: A, B, AB and O and each blood type is either Rh positive or negative.

- There are more living organisms on the skin of a single human being than there are human beings on the surface of the earth.

- There are over 100 million light sensitive cells in the retina.

- There is more pigment in brown eyes than blue.

- There is no single word given to describe the back of the knee.

Tune Time - Shattered

This is a song by The Rolling Stones from their 1978 album Some Girls. I’m not a huge fan of ‘The Stones’ (that would be my husband), but I do enjoy some of their songs, especially this one.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’

Although I would never admit this to my garden plants, I do have my favourites amongst them. And one of them is the stunning Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’. I picked up ‘Nikko Blue’ last year; it was an impulse buy, which is something I did a lot of last year. It was my first real year of gardening after a hiatus of over 10 years, so my fanaticism enthusiasm was certainly understandable. Now that the initial excitement is out of the way, I’m no longer buying plants impulsively. On the contrary, I’m being very selective.

But despite last year’s plant-buying binge, and the fact that quite a few of those purchases were discarded (some intentionally), there were a few plants that turned out to be fabulous choices. And this is one of them.

When I planted this hydrangea last spring, it was an itsy bitsy thing:

Just a baby...

It was so small when I brought it home that it had a difficult time getting through the summer. It would dry out easily, and whenever the sun beat down on it, it would practically collapse. Then winter came along and there was the worry of whether it would survive until spring, so I offered it extra protection in hopes that it would help. So, in its starting stages, I had to keep a very close eye on ‘Nikko Blue’ to make sure it didn’t die on me.

Well, it was well worth the added effort because now it’s grown into this:

Amazing what a difference one year makes...
And it’s making flowers like this:


Isn’t it simply stunning? I certainly think so. And it’s not even done growing yet. It will eventually reach a height of 4 to 6 feet with an equal spread. I. AM. THRILLED.


Here is some basic information about this lovely plant for those of you who might be interested in adding one to your own garden:

Common Name: Big leaf hydrangea
Zone: 5 to 9
Plant Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Hydrangeaceae
Height: 4 to 6 feet
Spread: 4 to 6 feet
Bloom Time: July - August
Bloom Color: Blue in acid soil; pink in alkaline soil.
Exposure: Part shade (Tolerates full sun if kept moist)

Sometimes, impulsiveness pays off, don’t you think?



Words Of Wisdom


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Honey Wheat Bread

This is one of the best bread recipes I’ve ever made. Like all breads that require yeast, this one's a little time-consuming, but well worth the effort.

Honey Wheat Bread

Ingredients:

3/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°F)
1 envelope Fleischmann's® Active Dry Yeast
3/4 cup warm milk (100° to 110°F)
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour

Directions:

Place 1/4 cup warm water in large warm bowl. Sprinkle in yeast; stir until dissolved. Add remaining water, warm milk, honey, oil, salt, and 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour; blend well. Stir in whole wheat flour and enough remaining all-purpose flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Punch dough down. Remove dough to lightly floured surface; roll to 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Beginning at short end, roll up tightly as for jelly roll. Pinch seam and ends to seal. Place, seam side down, in greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Bake at 375°F for 35 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; let cool on wire rack.

Photo from breadworld.com
Original recipe can be found here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Childhood Pets

We didn’t really have any pets when I was a child. Not only was lack of enough space a major factor, but my parents weren’t too keen on animals in the house – especially cats and dogs. Animals, according to my folks, were...well...animals. And dirty. And smelly. And dirty, smelly animals belonged outdoors. You see, both my parents had grown up in small towns, villages really, with farmland and livestock. And cats and dogs on their land were not considered – or treated as – pets. They served a purpose. A cat’s job was to keep the home and the surrounding area free of rodents and bugs, and a dog was supposed to keep the farm animals safe from predators. And while you tossed the dog some food, and gave some table scraps to the cat on days when her hunting expeditions didn’t result in enough to eat, you never, ever caressed, slept with, kissed or fussed over the animals. And you absolutely never, ever allowed the dog to lick you. Ever.

So with my parent’s lack of enthusiasm for the customary pet dog or cat, the most we could hope for was some fish, which we had for awhile. But not fish in an aquarium, mind you, just fish in a bowl. One fish. And always goldfish. Because that’s what all the parents I knew, who didn’t believe dogs or cats belong in the house, had as pets. Goldfish. Only one. In a bowl. And each and every solitary goldfish in a bowl in our house seemed to mysteriously die within days and end up flushed down the toilet. Now, I don’t know for sure but I suspect that the premature death of all these goldfish had something to do with their environment.

Here’s why I’ve come to that conclusion...

My parents were not the most knowledgeable people when it came to keeping fish as pets, nor did they feel the need to expand on that limited information. They did what they felt was right, and if it worked, all the better. Taking care of fish was one of those things; there was no thought put into it. Filtration, removing chlorine from the water, checking ammonia levels, making sure the temperature was right...none of that was part of the ‘taking-care-of-the-fish’ equation. As far as my mother was concerned, fish lived in water, and whatever came out of the tap at the sink was water. The care process was simple: put the fish in a bowl (no need for gravel, decorations, filters and all that nonsense), add some water from the tap and voila! If the fish died soon after, it had nothing to do with the care. It was old, weak or sick. And if it died, it was flushed and promptly replaced by another. This went on until we got tired of the fish bowl, which didn’t take all that long. There is only so much interest a child will put into a pet that does...well...nothing.

But the pet fish era wasn’t completely dull. I used to get a kick out of watching my mother changing the water and cleaning out the fish bowl. She would scoop the fish out of the bowl, put it in another container of water while she rinsed out its home, add fresh water and then plop it back in. And for whatever strange reason, the whole process simply fascinated me. Simpler times, simpler pleasures... And I wished I could do it myself, but because I was too young, I wasn’t allowed. That’s the funny thing about all this: chores that I find tedious as an adult were fun things to do when I was child. For awhile. Until they began feeling like a chore, or until something else got my attention.

That was the pet fish era...

The pet situation got just a tad more interesting when I received a blue parakeet on one of my birthdays from my mother’s best friend. Okay, so it wasn’t a dog, cat, turtle, rabbit or hamster, but at least it wasn’t a fish. And it actually did something besides swim back and forth and not much else. So it was a step up. And when you don’t really have much of a history of exciting pets, it’s a very much appreciated step up. So we moved into a more sophisticated pet-ownership club, and since it was about as far as my parents were willing to go, we embraced it - tightly. Over the years we had numerous parakeets. But we didn’t just place them in a cage; we took the time to train them. We let them fly freely, placed a finger in the cage to teach them not to fear us, and so on. Some of them turned out to be incredibly tame and friendly. We bought several parakeets over the years, and we even managed to find some over the years - obviously runaways from another household – that we adopted.

From all the feathered friends we ever had there was one amazing little fellow that left his mark. He was beyond tame. I don’t think he knew was a bird. He interacted with everyone, had a temper and sought revenge if you upset him, knew everyone’s schedules and feared nothing. He would jump into the pot when my mother was cooking anything that looked edible, wait at the door at the same time every evening when my father got home, stand on your pillow in the morning to peck at you until you woke up, explored every crevice in the house (sometimes putting himself in danger) and did almost everything except act like a bird. He didn’t even bother to fly everywhere. He’d walk on the floor just like we did (I’m surprised no one ever stepped on him). He was so unique and adorable that you couldn’t help but love him. Unfortunately, being the adventurer that he was, we lost him one winter day when he made a run for it through an open door. We never found him; never even saw which way he went. It was the midst of winter, and extremely cold, so I don’t think he got very far. It broke our hearts...

So fish and birds were the only types of pets I had as a child. But before we graduated from goldfish to parakeets, there was the ant collection. Somehow the idea of keeping ants in a jar as pets was exciting, and my brother and I collected quite a few and brought them into the house. We were fascinated with them, like most kids are about insects, pressing our faces up against the glass jar to watch them do whatever it is that ants do. And, oh, the plans we had! We buzzed about building an ant farm, and how it was going to be the greatest, most extraordinary one anyone had ever seen. And although our little ant jar was safe in the kitchen when we went to bed that night dreaming about the adventures awaiting us, when we woke up the next day, the ants were no more.


Nacho (left) & Bailey (right)
Apparently, throughout the night my parents kept hearing an annoying clanking sound. One of them (if I remember right, it was my father) got up to investigate and discovered that the ants in the jar were causing this commotion. It seems they were banging up against the glass, obviously looking for a way out, and the sound that the little buggers were making as they bounced onto the glass was loud enough to wake you up. Needless to say that ants and jar were tossed out into the night. The lifespan of the ant adventure was very short-lived – just one day - but I did learn a couple of things in that short period: 1) ants don’t think living in a jar is as cool as you think it is and 2) don’t leave your jar in the kitchen where your parents will find it; hide it.

And that was the end of the pet ant era...

Now that I’m an adult, the choice of pets is mine to make. And since I’ve no qualms about introducing animals like cats or dogs into our household, we’re up to par with many other North American homes with our two cats. And a little bit out of the norm with our two ferrets. Perhaps in time there’ll be a dog. Probably when I’m willing to brave the winter walks. Brrr...

And this week’s Monday post just wouldn’t be complete without a video on how to build an ant farm, would it? No, it wouldn’t, so here it is...




What kinds of pets did you have as a child?

Demotivational


Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Single Photograph

“Plants give us oxygen for the lungs and for the soul.”
~ Linda Solegato ~

Pulsatilla vulgaris Red Bells decorates the garden with crocus-like flowers covered in soft down, with bright-red petals.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Silliness

Time for some humour...



Frightened Nun

A guy is walking up to the doctor's office when a nun comes running out screaming and crying.

The guy walks in and says, "Doc, what's with the nun?"

The doctor says, "Oh, I just told her she's pregnant."

The guy says, "The nun's pregnant?"

The doctor says, "No. But it certainly cured her hiccups."


Step Back, I Know First-Aid!

When a car skidded on wet pavement and struck a telephone pole, several bystanders ran over to help the driver. A woman was the first to reach the victim, but a man rushed in and pushed her aside.

"Step aside, lady," he barked. "I've taken a course in first-aid!"

The woman watched for a few minutes, then tapped him on the shoulder. “Pardon me,” she said. "But when you get to the part about calling a doctor, I'm right here."


Coffee In Bed

A sweet little boy surprised his grandmother one morning and brought her a cup of coffee. He made it himself and was so proud. He anxiously waited to hear the verdict on the quality of the coffee. The grandmother had never in her life had such a bad cup of coffee, and as she forced down the last sip she noticed three of those little green army guys in the bottom of the cup. She asked, "Honey, why would three little green army guys be in the bottom of my cup?" Her grandson replied, "You know grandma, it's like on TV... ' The best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup.'"

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hydroculture vs. Growing Plants In Water

Many people have asked me questions about growing houseplants in a soilless system (hydroculture); how it works, why roots don’t rot, how to feed, and so on. But it’s not the basic questions that have persuaded me to include this post; it’s the widespread confusion that many seem to have about what hydroculture really is and how it works. In view of the fact that it’s so widely unfamiliar, there is an automatic (and understandable) merging of a) growing plants in a hydroculture setup and b) growing plants in water.

The only thing both methods have in common is that water is involved. Aside from that, everything else is different. The two methods are not two peas in a pod. They are in fact poles apart. Growing houseplants in water is exactly that – growing them in water. The roots are submerged in the water 24/7. On the other hand, growing houseplants in hydroculture is not growing plants in water. In hydroculture you are growing plants above water. The roots are not sitting inside the water; they are sitting above it. The setup is equivalent to plants in soil minus the soil. The clay pellets actually replace the soil.


Growing Plants In Water

There are several reasons someone would want to grow their houseplants in water. Watering soil-grown plants properly is one of the most difficult things to master. Improper watering can damage and kill a plant. The number one killer of houseplants – more than any other reason - is over-watering. Plants take in air through their roots and if the soil is constantly drenched they can’t breathe. This leads to root rot, which eventually leads to plant death.

Houseplant lovers don’t intentionally set out to kill their plants with water; it’s unintentional. Wanting to fuss and pamper over their leafy beauties, they tend to carry around a watering can with them, which they use at the slightest hint of a thirsty plant. Many times, that plant may not necessarily be displaying signs of thirst, even with wilted leaves or dry, brown tips. There could be other reasons for signs of stress. But the houseplant enthusiast sometimes jumps the gun and misdiagnoses, pouring water into soil that is already waterlogged. In the end, the plants are killed by kindness, not neglect. The plant lover is simply trying to feel like they’re doing something for their plant; fussing and mollycoddling them is just a way to be involved. Unfortunately, lavishing the wrong type of care on a soil-grown plant can bring on devastating results and a fatal outcome that no amount of proper care can undo.


I have met several individuals that have removed their plants from soil, washed away the dirt and placed them in vases of water. Others have chopped off the top of a declining plant, in an effort to save it, and also placed it in water. These actions have been a last resort to an ever-ailing (and possibly dying) houseplant with no other recourse. These are people who are tired of the watering game; trying to guess how much, when, how. No matter how hard they try or what road they take, they still can’t seem to get it right – the plant withers away. Eventually they turn to growing specific plants in water. And it’s not their fault. Despite popular belief, watering your houseplants properly is difficult to learn; it’s not a given. No amount of advice and no book – no matter who writes it – can teach you how to properly water your plants. There are too many factors involved in determining when and how much to water for it to be an exact science - type of soil, temperature in room, the plant in question, season, humidity levels and on and on.

So I’m never surprised when plant owners keep new cuttings in water indefinitely or transfer a plant into a water-filled container. There are several obvious advantages to ditching the soil. No more worrying about giving your plants too much or too little water, no messy soil or drain dish to be concerned about and no more time-consuming hassles associated with soil-grown plants such as repotting or dealing with eternal battles with soil pests.


Basic Rules For The Water-Grown

If you are determined to grow your plants in water, there are a few basic rules to consider if you want to keep your plants healthy - and alive.

Clean and Clear Containers

It is always better to choose glass containers over anything else. Other containers – pottery, plastic, ceramic, metal – may release harmful chemicals into the water over time that can damage or kill your plants. If you don’t like glass and prefer to use one of the other types, make sure to rinse the container now and then to keep it clean, and change the water often to keep it fresh.

Help Them Breathe

When plants are grown in water, they develop water roots. But even water roots need to breathe. Fresh water contains dissolved oxygen that your plant will use to breathe. You must make sure that there is plenty of oxygen in the water at all times for your plant to survive and avoid root rot. Change it often and do not let it go bad! If the water smells, it is an obvious indication that it lacks oxygen. That is a big no-no! Freshen it up pronto if you want your plant to survive.

Water Quality

Unlike soil-grown plants or plants in hydroculture systems, plants grown directly in water have their roots submerged at all times. Therefore the quality of water is even more important. If you suspect or know that your water contains high levels of fluoride or other harmful chemicals that do not dissolve over time, you might want to use bottled water instead. Either way, if your water is detrimental to your plants, your plants will let you know over time. Signs of stress and damage will be clues that your water is contributing to their problems.

Encourage New Root Growth

Don't be afraid to trim back the roots, even halfway - all of them. After you have moved your plant from soil to water, the existing roots (soil roots) are going to be useless in the long run. They will probably rot or be shed, and new succulent roots will emerge in due time. The new roots will be used by the plant, the old ones will not. Cutting off excessive soil roots with a sharp knife or scissors is encouraged; new water roots will grow quickly in water rich in oxygen (remember to freshen up that water!). Make it a habit of checking the roots now and then. Remove any dead or dying roots immediately!

Provide The Right Space

There are plants that develop massive root systems. Certain Dracaenas, for example, make a lot of succulent water roots so it's recommended to have a nice big opening in your vase/container to be able to pull the plant out whenever you need to change water or clean the container. Of course you can always start off your plant in a smaller container and then move it into a larger one as its roots grow.

Feed Very Carefully

Your plant’s roots will burn easily if fertilizer is applied to the water in full strength. Dilute the type of food you’re using to a very light application – 1/10th the recommended strength seems to work just fine – and change the water after one week. Do not leave fertilizer in the water indefinitely.


As you can see, there are just a few simple and basic rules to follow if you decide to grow plants in water. But is growing your houseplants in water, directly in water, the best way to go? Will your plants thrive as well as soil-grown plants this way?

The answer is no.

Is there an equivalent to soil-grown without the use of soil?

Absolutely.


Get Growing With Hydroculture

If you want to grow plants indefinitely without soil - above water - with great results (many times better than with soil) you can move up a notch and adopt the hydroculture method. Although the plants are no longer in soil, they aren't directly in water either. They also develop water roots like their water-grown counterparts but their roots sit on top of the water and capillary action moves the moisture into them. Beneath the roots you can add some clay pellets, which are standard in hydroculture, and then place more pellets around the rest of the stem all the way up to the top of the pot. The extra pellets are simply used to anchor the plant and keep it in place.

The advantage of this method instead of growing directly in water is that you never have to worry about the rooting system because of lack of oxygen, or worry about the roots rotting because they sit too long in water without that oxygen. The roots never sit inside the water and they are always able to breathe. You also don't have to worry about changing the water more often than not for that reason. You just need to add water to the bottom every now and then when it starts to finish. No more soil, no more soil pests, almost never a need to repot, no more possible allergies developing from substances released from the soil and no more under or over watering. You'll never make a mistake with watering again. There is hardly ever a pest to deal with and if there is the battle is easily won. If the plant is ever attacked by leaf pests, you take the whole thing apart, soak the plant for as long as you want to drown the critters, wash the plant from top to roots - pot and pellets included - and put everything back together again. That’s it.

Hydroculture is a highly successful method that requires little effort. There are so many wonderful reasons to adopt hydroculture and so many more benefits to it than simply growing plants directly in water. And your plants will love it. Just about any plant can be grown in this method - Aglaonema, Dracaena, Alocasia, Chlorophytum, Sansevieria, Ficus, Aspidistra, Spathiphyllum, Amaryllis, etc – unlike plants grown directly in water that are limited. Because the roots do not sit in water, there is no fear of root rot, therefore even cacti & succulents can be grown in hydroculture.

Both ways are possible – growing directly in water or growing in a hydroculture system - but the latter will allow you to grow plants that will flourish as much as soil-grown ones and the maintenance will be minimal. You have the option to choose between plants that are surviving – in water - and plants that are thriving – in hydroculture!

Learn more: What is hydroculture?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tune Time - We're Here For a Good Time

This song takes me way back to 1977, the year I started high school. The tune is a hit by the award-winning, Canadian rock band, Trooper.


Today's Trivia – Geography (Part 1)

This week’s useless but interesting information is all about geography. My knowledge in this topic is considerably weak; hopefully, along with you, I’ll learn something new today.

(This is part 1 of 2)


- About 90% of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere.

- About one-tenth of the earth's surface is permanently covered with ice.

- About two-thirds of Africa is in the Northern Hemisphere.

- According to National Geographic, Mt. Everest grows about 4 millimeters a year: the two tectonic plates of Asia and India, which collided millions of years ago to form the Himalayas, continue to press against each other, causing the Himalayan peaks to grow slightly each year.

- Alaska and California are tied for having the most national parks in the United States. They each have eight.

- All gondolas in Venice, Italy must be painted black, unless they belong to a high official.

- Approximately one-tenth of the earth’s surface is ice-covered.

- As of Dec. 31, 2000, the number of climbers summiting Mt. Everest reached 1314, and the number of deaths on the mountain reached 167.

- At 840,000 square miles, Greenland is the largest island in the world. It is three times the size of Texas. By comparison, Iceland is only 39,800 square miles.

- At its nearest point, the United States is only two miles away from Russia. The Little Diomede Island is part of Alaska while the Big Diomede Island belongs to Siberia.

- Australia is the only country that is also a continent.

- Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Cape Town, and Sydney are each thousands of miles apart and are known for having unusually pleasant year-round climates, and they are all almost identical distances from the Equator.

- Bullfrog County, Nevada, never had any residents. The Nevada state legislature created the county in 1987 as a way for the state government to receive federal monies for storing nuclear wastes at Yucca Mountain. It was a desolate 144 square mile enclave in the middle of Nye County. After an unfavorable court ruling, Bullfrog County was dissolved in 1989.

- Canada has six time zones.

- Canada is known for having the longest coastline in the world at about 244,000 km (151,600 miles).

- Canada is an Indian word meaning 'Big Village'.

- Canada's land mass is 9 970610 km2. (The world's second largest country)

- Crescent City, California is about 15 miles south of the Oregon border, but it’s about 10 miles farther north than Newport, Rhode Island. In other words, you can still be in California and be farther north than coastal Rhode Island.

- Damascus, Syria, was flourishing a couple of thousand years before Rome was founded in 753 BC, making it the oldest continuously inhabited city in existence.

- Detroit is the only city in the lower 48 states where you drive south to reach Canada.

- Devon is the only county in Great Britain to have two coasts.

- Disney World in Orlando, Florida covers 30,500 acres (46 square miles), making it twice the size of the island of Manhattan, New York.

- Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.

- El Azizia in Libya recorded a temperature of 136 degrees Fahrenheit (57.8 Celsius) on Sept. 13, 1922 -- the hottest ever measured.

- Europe has no deserts - it is the only continent without one.

- Florida is the flattest state. The highest elevation is Britton Hill, only 345 feet above sea level.

- For every 10 successful attempts to climb Mount Everest there is one fatality.

- Forty-six percent of the world's water is in the Pacific Ocean; that's around 6 sextillion gallons of water. The Atlantic has 23.9 percent; the Indian, 20.3; the Arctic, 3.7 percent.

- France is about 30% larger than the state of California.

- French was the official language of England for over 600 years.

- Geographically, the largest county in the US is California's San Bernardino County. At 20,164 square miles it is bigger than nine states.

- Glasgow is about 280 miles north of London. Keep going another 250 miles north for Stockholm, another 370 miles north to reach Reykjavik, and 413 miles north to reach Hammerfest, Norway, which is almost 5,000 miles north of the Equator.

- Grand Rapids, Michigan was the first city in the US to put fluoride in their water.

- Great Bear Lake is the largest lake in Canada with an area of 31 326 km2.


Hawaiian Cardinal
 - Hawaii is the only state with only natural borders (no straight lines).

- Hawaii is the only US state that grows coffee.

- Hawaii was annexed by the United States as a territory in 1898, and became a state in 1959.

- If Monaco's ruling house of Grimaldi should ever be without an heir (male or female), the country will cease to be a sovereign state.

- If you are trying to get a handle on the climate of India it helps to know its northern border is the same as the northern border of Mexico in Tijuana, and the southern border is about the same as the southern border of Panama.

- If you combine England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, then together they are a bit smaller than the deceivingly large state of Michigan.

- In 1771 the kingdom of Poland was larger than any other European country except Russia, and had a bigger population than any other European country except France.

- In the Great Seal of the US the eagle grasps 13 arrows and an olive branch.

- India has the most post offices of any country with 280,181 of them.

- Indiana has a city named Santa Claus.

- It is forbidden for aircraft to fly over the Taj Mahal.

- Italy completely surrounds two other countries: the Vatican City and San Marino.

- Japan is the world's leading importer of iron ore.

- La Paz, Bolivia, at 11,900 feet above sea-level, is the highest large city in the world.

- Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in New Orleans, Louisiana, is the world's largest bridge. It is almost 24 miles (about 38 kilometers) long.

- Los Angeles County has the most people, more than 9 million.

- New York City encompasses five counties.

- New York County, more commonly known as Manhattan, has the greatest population density with more than 50,000 people per square mile.

- Madrid, with summers so blazing hot that most people take a long break from work every afternoon, is about 10 miles farther north than Salt Lake City, Utah.

- Maine is the only state in the United States whose name has one syllable.

- Mexico City is sinking at a rate of 6 to 8 inches a year because it's built on top of an underground reservoir. Wells are drawing out more and more water for the city's growing population.

- Mexico City is the oldest capital city in the Americas.

- Most land filled trash retains its original weight, volume, and form for 40 years.

- Mt. Everest grows approximately four millimeters a year. This is due to the tectonic plates of Asia and India. These plates collided millions of years ago and this is how the Himalayas were formed. These two plates continue to press against each other, causing the entire mountain range to grow a tiny bit annually.

- New Jersey, with 96, is the US state with the greatest number of hazardous waste sites.

- Niagara Falls has more water flowing over it every year than any other waterfall in the world.

- On France’s southern Mediterranean coast, Cannes, the sunny summer playground of the rich, which is sometimes incorrectly called ‘tropical’, is about 10 miles farther north than Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

- One-fifth of the world’s freshwater surface is held by the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes are Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior. Lake Michigan is the only one that lies completely in the United States. All others are shared by Canada and the United States. Combined, they hold approximately six quadrillions of water and are the largest group of freshwater lakes in the entire world. Lake Superior is the largest freshwater body in the world.

- Only one county in Great Britain has two coasts. That county is Devon.

- Perhaps the most redundant name of any place is Torpenhow Hill in Cumbria, England. Each syllable of the name means "hill" in a different language, so its name could be translated as "Hill Hill Hill Hill". According to tradition, as each new tribe settled in the area, they appended their own word for "hill" to the existing name.

- Portland, Oregon, where it rarely snows, is about 130 miles farther north than Toronto, and over 200 miles farther north than Boston.

- Quito in Ecuador, South America, is said to have the most pleasant climate in the world. It is called the 'Land of Eternal Spring.' The temperature rarely drops below 46 degrees Fahrenheit during the night, or exceeds 72 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. (My kind of place...)

- Rome was discovered in 753 BC and Damascus, Syria was thriving and flourishing thousands of years before this. That makes Damascus the oldest city ever that has always been inhabited.

- Rome, which is located in the center of Italy, is located at the exact same latitude as Chicago.