I have my first hoya!

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One of my Facebook gardening groups identified this as a hoya. A Google image search helped me narrow it down to a Hoya Carnosa.

I got the cuttings from a beautiful, climbing mother plant at the place where I get acupuncture. I was so attracted to the striking dark green waxy leaves with their interesting white markings that I inquired about taking a cutting.

I’ve had it in water for about 5 days. I’m not sure how long it will take to make roots. I was initially worried that it was hibernating, but this post from a Master Gardener says that they don’t hibernate in winter; great news! I just need to be patient…

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The post says the carnosa is the most commonly cultivated species but this is the first time I’ve ever seen this type.





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Happy birthday to me!

Happy birthday month!

I decided that I would celebrate my birthday all month, instead of just the actual day. It was an opportunity to meet up with friends and enjoy their company and to treat myself all month long. Not only with “things”, like $7 bars of handmade soap, but also with some of the true self-care stuff described in this article. After all, months like November and the rest of winter are all about self-reflection and introspection.

On the treat side, I bought myself a red amaryllis last week. I consider it a treat because $10 is a bit expensive (for some reason I thought I could have gotten it cheaper elsewhere), but I wanted it. I was given what I later discovered was a white amaryllis last year, but I didn’t have a red one. It was the only one that had two flower heads, another selling point.

The fact that the entire bulb was buried in the soil was concerning. I was worried about rot. 

I’m really glad I decided to repot it. When I took it out of its growing medium, most of the roots were soft and rotted; they came off easily.

The bulb seemed in pretty good shape. Firm and dry.

Thankfully, one good root remained (right). I’m hoping the other 3 are still OK. They don’t look as healthy.

Many rotted roots. Such a shame.

Repotted with a third of the bulb above fresh soil.

I’m hoping it will bloom soon.  I’ve been thinking about the pink one I saw at the same store. It only had one flower head, but pink!. It’s still a few more days before my birthday month is over…

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Circle of life

As predicted, my recently bloomed air plant is starting to make a pup!!!

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When old enough, the pup will bloom, produce pups of its own, and die. Circle of life.

I excited showed my discovery to my mom and sister, telling them that the mother plant would die after making pups. My sister said, “that’s so sad”; I said, bluntly, “that’s life.” And we were silent for a moment, as if sharing in some profound realization.

Maybe people are drawn to plants because they mirror our experience of life and death. Hopefully in life, much like these plants that bring us such joy, we blossom and bloom before our time is up.

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Growing date palms from seed

One of my colleagues, a beloved employee for near 30 years at our organization, retired last month. On his last day, he brought some dates to share.

We usually buy the pitted honey-coated dates at home. I find them too sweet to eat on their own, but I do enjoy them in healthy date balls. The dates my colleague brought had pits and no honey but they were quite tasty. And the bonus was I could plant the seeds!

I’ve been following this guide to start the seeds. I soaked 5 seeds for a week and now have them in a damp piece of paper towel in a zip-locked plastic bag on top of the fridge. It took about 3 to 4 weeks for the first seed to sprout a root.

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I love how chubby the roots are! I don’t think I’ve seen roots this thick coming out of a seed.

It is true that you should check them regularly for mold.

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Yuck! But don’t despair…

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I just rinse the remaining seeds and put them in a new damp piece of paper towel.

I plan to start them in one pot until they’re large enough to want their own space.

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Urban harvesting

I just love love love seeing homes in the city growing food! I often see veggies growing in people’s yards, but I rarely see fruit.

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Yep, those are grapes growing along this front porch! How cool is that?!

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Peach tree in someone’s front yard.

If private homes need help harvesting their fruits or have more than they can handle, they can contact groups such as Not far from the tree who put the fruits to good use, sharing the harvest between the homeowner, volunteers and organizations in need. It’s win-win!

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A manifesto for gardening

Really diggin’ this manifesto for gardening.

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Mid-season garden in all its glory!


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Much ado about mulching

This year I feel like a proper gardener because I’ve mulched my plots for the first time during the growing season. Last fall I began the trend: adding manure at the end of the season and mulching with fallen leaves lying around my plot.

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Looks much better than having it bare all winter. The leaves will break down and add organic mater to the soil.

I scored a bale of straw from my plot neighbour who was replacing her straw border. I’ve used about half the bale already, between my community garden and my friend’s allotment.

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Bare plot at the beginning of the season with garlic and thyme bush (that looks dead) at the back and calendula next to the straw bale.

I think my plot looks really professional with the straw. One of my plot neighbours mulches with leaves he collects during the season. I’ve read that you can also use weeds as mulch, but you have to ensure they don’t have any seed heads, or you’d just be adding to the problem.

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Just imagine how bare this space would look without the straw mulch

Mulching has many benefits, the best (in my opinion) being weed control. My friend’s allotment plot has a huge weed problem. My brother and I have been pulling weeds but they inevitably return, especially with all the rain we’ve been having.

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Nicely mulched herb garden at the allotment

I’ve been hauling straw down by hand to manage the herb garden and the zucchini bed. Not sure I have enough for the tomato and pepper bed. I’m thinking I should save the straw for the my plot rather than the allotment (I’m not sure we’ll have it next year). Perhaps I could try weeds; there’s no end of them down there.

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Endless weeds. This space was in pretty good shape a few weeks ago but didn’t mulch it. Now it’s back to square one.

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