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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Weed Dating in Vermont

I came across this article on "weed dating," and I had to pass it on.  
What is weed dating?  It is basically speed dating with a practical purpose.  "Weed dating takes place on farms among rows of sprouting produce. Participants weed a row with a potential romantic interest, then move on to another row and another partner. At the end of the day, some people might have cultivated a mutual interest — and no matter, the field is freshly weeded."  The down side is that participants are charged $10 just for the "privilege" of weeding and meeting new people.    
Click Here for the Full Story .

I don't know if "weed dating" will gain popularity in other states, but you can still potentially make new connections and avoid paying a fee by volunteering for an organization or cause that you are interested in.  You may even get additional benefits for volunteering your time.  For example, volunteers for the University of California of Berkeley Botanical Gardens who volunteer at least 30 hours of their time can get free parking, shop discounts, and more.  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

I harvested sunflower seeds from my garden today.  I knew the sunflowers were ready for picking because the flower petals were gone, the leaves were brown, and a few seeds were already loose.  I just cut the stem, and rubbed my thumb across the seeds to loosen them.  Most of the seeds fell out effortlessly.   For the stubborn seeds I used a spoon to work them out.  My thumb is not fond of splinters.  

I am going to save some seeds for planting next season, but I am going to roast the rest.  This will be my first time roasting sunflower seeds.  I am going to follow the instructions on the National Sunflower Association website.  

I really enjoyed growing these flowers.  The blooms are large and showy, they last a long time, and I get a nice treat from them at the end of the season!  

Monday, September 6, 2010

Adding a Little Whimsy

You can add a little whimsy to old plants by placing fake birds among the foliage.  I bought this bird at Michael's craft store for $2.29.  They had a variety of fake birds available in assorted sizes, and they even had speckled bird eggs for sale.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Point Reyes Light House

Hi everyone!  I know I have not posted in a while.  I have been extremely busy with relatives and helping with weddings, bachelorette parties, and baby showers!  I have been taking mental notes of some new gardening topics I think are worth blogging about, but in the mean time, I wanted to share a few photos of my trip to Point Reyes Light House.  If you have not visited Point Reyes National Seashore (California) you should.  This place is absolutely beautiful and full of life and pleasant surprises.  If that is not tempting enough consider this---"a recent study by the University of Wisconsin found that only one spending category out of nine was actually shown to make us truly happy, and that category was leisure."  Ray Martin, a financial advisor, says "money spent on experiences such as a trip, versus material items, such as a car or a dining room set, will contribute more to your overall happiness."  I whole heartedly agree.
Photo 1: View of the coast from the path to the Light House.

Photo 2: I love how some plants can thrive just about anywhere.  

Photo 3:  Only one of the many views of the coast line.  We spotted several whales here!

Photo 4: Do you see the lizard here?

Photo 5:  Point Reyes Light House 

Photo 6:  302 steps back to the trail.  It is really not that bad at all, and there are a couple of rest stops along the way.   

Friday, July 23, 2010

Desert Gardens in Old Town San Diego

I visited Old Town San Diego, which is considered the "birthplace" of California.  It is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in California.  I spent the afternoon checking out some creative goodies in outdoor and indoor shops, watching the horses, and eating some good grub at Barra Barra Saloon.  I noticed a wonderful assortment of potted cacti and succulents.  Many of them were in or just outside the Barra Barra Saloon.  I liked the use of unconventional containers like the wheelbarrow (See Photo 2-3), but I fell in love with the cacti/succulent screen/divider (Photo 5).

Photo 1
Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 5

Photo 6

Photo 7

Photo 8

Monday, June 28, 2010

Killer Tree Branches

I don't think anyone expects to die from a falling branch especially when you are at a major park like Central Park, NY.  Sadly, falling tree branches have already claimed two lives at Central Park this year.  So if you happen to visit Central Park anytime soon, keep a look out for falling branches.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Great Green Careers

For those of you who are interested in starting a green career or who are just curious to see what is out there, check out Great Green Careers.  You can post your resume, search for green jobs based on type of job, location, salary and more.  Great Green Careers also provides a list of other resources for green jobs here.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Dinner Garden Gives Away Free Seeds

About The Dinner Garden
This organization's mission is to stop hunger in the United States.  They provide people in the U.S. with a packet of free seeds to start a vegetable garden of their own.  Their website also has information on battling pests, how to make inexpensive green houses, techniques on saving seeds, planting guides, recipes and more.

Free Dinner Garden Seed Packet
The Dinner Garden will mail you free seeds by filling out and submitting a request on their website.

This is a great cause, and any amount you wish to donate goes really far here.  For example, "$1.72 provides 10 different types of vegetable seeds for one family to grow a full garden."  That is a lot of bang for a couple of bucks.  Click here to discover the several ways you can support this cause.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Vanishing Bees Documentary

Video: Trailer for the documentary feature film - The Vanishing of the Bees

Vanishing of the Bees takes a piercing investigative look at the economic, political and ecological implications of the worldwide disappearance of the honeybee.  US release date is August 21, 2010 National Honeybee Awareness Day!  For more information, visit

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Grow Your Own Beer Garden

Are you looking for a fun, unique Father's Day gift?  Does your dad love beer?  If so, consider getting him his own beer garden.*  The White Box Gardens Beer Garden growing kit includes a sprouting and growing dome, three (3) seed packs (wheat, barley, and hops), growing medium, 3 color plant stakes, natural gravel, 3 color decals, and an instructions/info booklet.

The beer garden costs only $21.55 at  This product is also eligible for Amazon's FREE Super Saving Shipping on orders over $25.  

Companion Gift Ideas:

*Item counts towards Amazon's Free Super Saving Shipping on orders over $25.  

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Disney Tree Planting Kit

This Disney Toy Story Space Alien Tree Planting Kit is a cute, inexpensive gift for kids and other garden enthusiasts.  For $9.99, you will get maple seeds, terra cotta pot, peat pellet and planting instructions, all in an adorable gift box.

Get FREE SHIPPING on your entire purchase when you use coupon code KIDATHEART and buy one qualifying adult clothing or accessories purchase.  May I suggest purchasing the earth-friendly Disney Reusable Tote for $2.95 to fulfill that requirement.  It can double as a gift bag and re-useable grocery shopping bag.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fresh, Flavor Packed Peas

I harvested some peas from the garden earlier today, and flash boiled them in lightly salted water for a couple of minutes before eating them.  They are the best peas I ever had.  I never knew peas could have so much flavor.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Old Aquarium, New Greenhouse

Photo 1: Lettuce and Nasturiums growing in my re-purposed aquarium

A small crack developed near the top of my acrylic aquarium rendering it useless as an aquarium (See Photo 2).  Instead of throwing it away, I decided to re-purpose it as a greenhouse.   
First, I removed the filtration system.  Then I used pea gravel to create a one-inch drainage layer (See Photo 3).  I normally use hydroton clay balls because it weighs next to nothing, but I had some excess pea gravel from another project.  Next I placed screen mesh on top of the pebbles to prevent soil from settling into the drainage layer (See Photo 3).  Lastly, I added organic gardening soil and planted some seeds.  I am currently growing nasturtiums and lettuce for my pet tortoise (See Photo 1 & 4). 

My fish tank is already equipped with a fluorescent bulb light fixture, which gives me the option to grow plants even in the dimmest corner of my home.  I currently have mine placed in front of a window so I am not using the light at this time.  If you do need to use the light, I recommend purchasing an automatic timer so you can easily provide twelve (12) hours of light per day without the hassle of remembering to turn the light on and off.   

Photo 2: Old aquarium

Photo 3: Screen mesh placed on top of layer of pea gravel

Photo 4: Seeds germinated three days later.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Grow Avocados The Easy Way

Anyone can germinate avocados from seed!  Forget the toothpick method.  You do not even need any soil.  Just wash away the flesh from the avocado pits, and wrap the pits in a damp paper towel.  Then place the wrapped pits in a plastic bag.  I used a snack bag (See Photo 1).  After you seal the bag, place the bag in a warm, dark place.  I placed my bag on top of my refrigerator.  Now just ignore it for a few weeks.  It will take about two to four weeks for your pits to sprout (See Photo 2).  

Photo 1: Avocado pits have been cleaned, wrapped in a damp paper towel, and sealed in a snack bag.

Photo 2: Both avocado pits have germinated

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Asparagus Anyone?

Photo: Asparagus Jersey shoots started from seed

If you are lucky enough to have an apartment with an outdoor balcony, chances are your balcony is still not large enough to hold all the plants you want.  I used to stuff my old apartment patio with several plants in various containers, resulting in a chaotic and unattractive space.  I have learned to be more selective in what I grow.

I have turned my attention to decorative, edible plants.  Under the right conditions, asparagus could be a wonderful and unusual apartment gardening jewel.  These mass of spears would look wonderful in the right container, and it will also provide fresh asparagus for future meals.  You can grow ordinary green asparagus or sweeter purple passion asparagus.  It is a perennial so it will continue to grow back each year, spreading more and more.  The down side is that it requires full sun, is a heavy feeder, and if you start them from seed, it will take a few years to grow spears large enough for consumption.  

It is a lot easier to grow asparagus from crowns.  Our local Home Depot were selling asparagus crowns in early spring, which is the ideal time to plant them.  I like a challenge so I started mine from seed.  It is currently in a 4-inch pot, but I will eventually transplant it in a container about a foot deep and two feet wide.  

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nature's Insect Traps

Purple Pitcher Plant 50 Seeds - Carnivorous -Sarracenia

I know someone who used carnivorous pitcher plants to take care of a mosquito problem he had in his apartment.  Pitcher plants have special organs to capture insects, digest them and absorb the nitrogen and phosphorous that they need.  These plants are beautiful, and are a great non-toxic alternative to chemical sprays.  I plan on purchasing some for my home.  

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Birdie Planter

I came across this pretty, bird shaped bowl at Ross, and I thought it would make an interesting planter.  Ross was selling it 1/2 off for $9.99.  The bowl was somewhat shallow so I planted a drought-tolerant succulent.  I just have to figure out the perfect place to put this.  

Here is a photo of the bird bowl sans plant:


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Plant a Pineapple Head

Photo: Do not plant the fleshy part of the fruit or you will risk the roots rotting

Update: Just plant the green top part of the pineapple in the soil or you risk the root rotting.  Being careful not to hurt your hand, grab the base of the green top and twist.  The green top should easily twist off.  Then remove leaves from the bottom inch (or two inches) of the stem.  Plant the exposed stem in potting soil and water thoroughly.  Place the plant in a shady place, and keep watering your plant.  The plant will take root.  The outer leaves will eventually brown and die, but new leaves will form in the center, and eventually the plant will produce small pineapple fruit. 

Grow a pineapple plant from the top of a pineapple head!

Last Saturday, I had a craving for an "island" burger, which is really just a normal cheeseburger with a nice slice of grilled pineapple.  I had everything to make the burger except the pineapple so I had to ask myself, did I really want an island burger?  It turns out I did so I made a trip to the grocery store for a whole pineapple and some other munchies.

As I was firing up the grill, an idea in one my gardening books jumped out at me---I should try and plant that pineapple head.  According to this book, you can grow a whole new pineapple plant from the top of a pineapple head.  You should plant a pineapple head that is not too ripe, and has leaves that are still green.

My pineapple head's leaves were only partially green so I am curious to see if it still works.  For detailed instructions on planting a pineapple head, you can click here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Low-Maintenance Housewarming Gift

I returned to Home Depot to pick up one of these succulent collections as a housewarming present for one of my friends.  She is really busy so low-maintenance, drought tolerant succulents was a perfect match for her.

As I was walking to the register, a woman stopped to ask me where I got them from.  She loved them too, and she was surprised they were only about $20.  I am feeling good about my purchase.  I think my friend will love her housewarming gift!

Clean Up Stragglers and Stretch Your $$$
If you happen to get a collection that looks straggly or overgrown, take a sharp knife and cut back the stragglers, but do not throw away these cuttings.  You can turn these cuttings into new plants.  Succulents are easy to propagate.  I normally just stick them in ordinary potting soil and keep the soil warm and moist (but not soggy) until they sprout roots.  If you wish to take the safer route, allow a "scab" to develop over the end of the stem by allowing the cutting to dry out a bit, then dip the cutting in some Rooting Hormone before planting them in the dirt.  

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hiking in Mother Nature's Garden

View of Ocean from Tomales Point Trail (Point Reyes National Seashore, CA) 

It's spring!  I love to go hiking this time of year in California.  The ponds are full and the waterfalls are strong from the winter/spring rainfall.  Everything is green and the fields are full of blooming wildflowers.  It's a great way to rejuvenate your spirit and get a little exercise.

Here are some photos from my most recent hike.  I wish I could recapture the beauty of the place, but the pictures really don't do it any justice.

Another view of the ocean from the trail

Photo of waves crashing below us

Photo of a bed of wild irises.  
I also found a random cluster of giant calla lilies, chamomile, poppies, and other wildflowers.

Photo of a border of rocks.
You can hear your own heartbeat here.  It is so silent. 

Several deer in the mist

  Trees in the mist

To get to TOMALES POINT TRAIL (15 km / 9.5 mi.)
This open trail through the Tule Elk Reserve offers spectacular views of Tomales Bay, Bodega Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. It is also a prime wildlife viewing trail, as it is remote and the tule elk are enclosed in this reserve. The first 5 kilometers (3 mi.) to Lower Pierce Point Ranch are well marked and maintained, but the last stretch can be overgrown with bush lupine and other shrubs, so long pants and long sleeves are a good idea. The journey all the way to the Point is worth it, for the view is unparalleled. Fog and wind can limit visibility and make this hike more challenging. The Tomales Point Trailhead is at the end of Pierce Point Road, 40 minute driving time from Bear Valley.

For More Trails at Point Reyes National Seashore Click Here