Wednesday, December 13

My New Year Gardening Resolutions for 2018

Number One-Focus on Soil Building

I admit that I have been more focused on planting and growing in recent years, than I have been on soil building. Now I am seeing the results, or rather lack of them with dwindling vegetable yields. I know that this is from not making soil building a priority. Part of my excuse has been that I garden on land that is not my own so it would not make sense to make the existing soil better.  However, I have decided that in 2018, I am going to focus on this goal by using no cost, but effective methods such as  bagging leaves, building a compost bin, using grass cuttings as well as several the bio dynamic methods I have read about.

Number Two-Saving my own Seed instead of Buying Seed

This fall I started experimenting with saving my own seed. I found it fun, economical and easier than I thought. Just one plant can produce enough seed for not only you, but many of your gardening friends. So this year I am going all out.  I will be saving more seed next year, and planting any seeds that I did save. I will be sharing some with Caroline to see how it does in her Maine garden.

Number Three- Propagation instead of buying new Plants

This year I am going to divide perennials like hosta and take cuttings from herbs and even roses. Caroline started experimenting with this last year.  Even though propagation may take several years before you have a beautiful plant, I think it has many benefits. One of the biggest is that it it is free.

Number Four-Re-cycling or Re-purposing Gardening Items

Instead of buying new items for the garden like expensive containers, I am going to re-cycle items headed for the trash and re-purpose items found on the street. I live in Portland, OR where leaving items out for others is very popular. I have seen extra plants, hoses, containers, BBQ's and all sorts of useful stuff that I can use. One tip I have in this area is that you have to act fast and take the item before someone else does.

Number Five-Being 80% self sufficient with fresh Produce

Last year I grew more annuals because I was tired of the pressure and work involved in growing vegetables. But, I have to admit I missed all the fresh produce from my garden and I enjoy sharing the extras with others. This year I am going all out again and want to be as self sufficient as possible from April through November. That includes growing food for my rabbit ChaCha.

Number Six-More Perennials including  Edibles and less annuals

Perennials may initially cost more, but in the long term you are only planting them once and they come back year after year. Some perennial edibles that I have on my list are more rhubarb, strawberries, flowers, herbs and blueberries.

Number Seven-Less Plants and more Plant Research

I plan to make a plant list, do more research on "native varieties" and be more realistic on what space I have and how much time and energy I have to garden. Like others I tend to make a list every year, but then when faced with rows of interesting plants at the nurseries I tend to buy many plants that I have no space for that don't quite fit in with my overall garden plans.


Monday, December 11

Grow Your Own Christmas Wreath Ivy Topiary

Why not grow your own wreaths for Christmas? This is one my mother and father made. I asked Mom for how to instructions to share with our readers.

Step by Step Grow Your Own Christmas Wreath Topiary:

1. Buy or grow your own ivy. A holiday pot will look especially nice.

2. Obtain a wire wreath round. Mom's tip is to buy a wreath at the dollar store and remove the decorations for a budget friendly option. You can also make your own from wire coat hangers or purchase from a hobby or garden shop. Ask for a topiary form.

3. Attach popsicle or craft sticks with hot glue to the bottom, to hold the form in the soil.

4. Once the glue is dry, push the sticks down into the soil. This will hold your wreath form in place.

5.  Gently wrap the ivy around the circular form in a spiral motion.  Continue until all of your ivy is attached to the wreath. You can use florist wire to hold in place if necessary.

6. Decorate with ornamentation of your choice.

Sunday, December 10

Country Christmas in Maine Part Two: Indoor Decorations

As promised, part two of Country Christmas in Maine features some of Mom and Dad's pretty indoor decorations. Above is a display of a red poinsettia plant and large pinecones in an antique wooden bowl.

The bay window is filled with plants, ivy wreaths, a Lenox lamp, and a metal Christmas tree with glass ornaments.
This is a live Ivy wreath Mom and Dad grew over the summer, and then formed into topiary. She made two of these for the bay window.

A close up view of the tree.
A pretty display on a ceramic mosaic shelf, with pewter, poinsettias, wrought iron, and Mom's Christmas stoneware by Lenox. The Lenox pattern is Winter Greetings Everyday. Each piece features a different wild bird such as cardinals, goldfinches, chickadees and blue jays.

Coming soon: Country Christmas Ivy Wreath Topiary Tutorial

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