Thursday, June 10, 2010

A poem I love

Hi again,
Sorry for the absense again. Today I want to share a poem that I love. I hope you like it as much as I do. It was read at my cousin's funeral who died at a very young age. This always reminds me how short life is and to live the best I can with the time I have here. thanks and enjoy.

The '-' Dash
Words by Linda Ellis

I read of a Reverend who stood to speak,
At the funeral of his friend,
He referred to the dates on (his) tombstone
From the beginning ... to the end.

He noted that first came the date of (his) birth
And spoke of the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That (he) spent alive on earth
and now only those who loved (him)
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend out the dash.

So think about this long and hard;
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
(You could be at "dash mid-range").

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more,
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So when your Eulogy is being read
With your life's actions to rehash ...
Would you be pleased with the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Talking Green: When do I transplant?

Hi again,
Transplanting. I consider this different from pricking out because this is something you do either when the plant has gotten too big for the cell or it is time to put the plant into pots or the ground. You don't need to transplant really until the plants have outgrown their current home but you can transplant sooner than that. I like to wait until the plants have grown at least a few inches tall or they need more room for their roots because each time I transplant, it seems to shock the plant a little and they have to get used to their new home so I try to avoid it if I don't need to. I need to mention here that it is incredibly important to give a plant sufficient room for their roots to grow. Otherwise a plant will become stunted when it runs out of room for it's roots. When this happens it is generally called root bound and you can tell by looking at the roots and they are running in circles around the edge of the pot. With young plants though, it can be difficult and sometimes next to impossible to pull them out of the cell to check the root system. So the best way to know is to watch for roots poking through the bottom of the cells or if it seems that the plant has sort of stopped growing. These are both indications the plant is starting to run out of room. A plant can have roots poking through the bottom of the cell and not be root bound because they send roots straight down first but if roots have reached the bottom, chances are the roots will start to circle around the pot soon. It is best to transplant before a plant gets root bound. Giving a plant sufficient room for roots can really affect the size of the plant. I did a little experiment last year to see how much it would affect the plants and I left some marigolds a little longer in the cells and transplanted others and within a couple of weeks, the plants that were transplanted were nearly double the size. This is in no way a scientific experiment and just something for fun but it shows that giving a plant enough room is very important.
Also depending on where you are planning to transplant to can make a difference when to transplant. If you are planning to transplant in to your flower bed then the bigger the plant, the better I think. The more mature an annual is, the tougher it is. Also it is important to wait until it is warm enough that it isn't freezing over night any longer and the plants have been hardened off. I will talk about hardening off in the next post. Have fun!

Talking Green: Pricking Out

Now I would like to talk about Pricking Out. Once your seeds have germinated and they have grown enough that you can handle them (usually over 1cm tall) you need to seperate them so that they don't compete for light as they grow larger. Seed packages suggest just pulling out the extras and leaving the strongest seedling but for me I can't do it. I feel bad killing plants. So for those of us who don't want to just keep the strongest plant but rather all the plants-pricking out is for us. lol I have actually read books that tell you to grow seeds this way that you sprinkle quite a few into a try and then use the pricking out method to put them in individual cells. Anyways enough about that-here is how you do it. lol For me, I just take something I have on hand which is usually a popsicle stick or the end of a plastic spoon or knife-something with a small end on it. Then I take it and insert it in beside the plant I want to remove and gently push it up. In terms of how deep to go down, I usually insert the popsicle stick about half way down the cell or about an inch or so. Depending on how many seeds are growing, sometimes more than one comes up which is fine. When more than one seedling comes up, just gently pull them apart while being careful with the little roots. It is ok if some of the roots break so don't worry about that. Just be careful to not detach all the roots from the stem! I have read in books that you should hold a seedling by the leaves so you don't bruise the stem but personally I have little luck with that because often the leaves break off the stem quite easily. Just be gentle and everything should be ok. This is another reason it is good to have extras because despite our best intentions, sometimes a seedling breaks and dies. Once you have pricked out the seedlings you want to move to different cells then it is time to plant them.
Planting the seedlings is interesting sometimes with the tiny seedlings like lobelia. For the tiny seedlings I tend to fill each cell full of dirt and make a small hole to insert the seedling so I don't lose it and I don't have to try hold it up while putting dirt around it. For the bigger seedlings, it is not so hard to hold them up so you can usually fill the cell partially full and then put it in and fill up the cell the rest of of the way. Have fun!

Talking green: Where's the seed?

Today I want to talk about seed sizes for a moment. Seeds come in a wide range of sizes and the smallest I have seen are Lobelia seeds which are incredibly tiny. I would say the size of a grain of sand possibly. The reason I titled this what I did is because I showed the Lobelia seeds to my dad when I was planting them and that was his response. One of the questions I got from my sister was how to plant seeds like this because it is almost next to impossible to control where the seed falls first of all and second to know how much has dropped on to the soil is tough to know. You can count them if you are really willing to spend that much time and effort but if you are like me then you will not have the patience for it. lol So my rule of thumb for the really tiny seeds is to sprinkle a few onto the soil and place a very fine layer of soil over top and then once they are big enough I do what is called pricking out (which I will talk about in another post). With seeds this tiny it is very important to use a spray bottle to water them until they are bigger as to not wash away the seed. Also in my experience the smaller the seed, the longer they seem to take to grow. I could be wrong about this but it seems to be the case. Lobelia take a very long time to grow and I usually start them quite a bit before the other seeds to give them time to grow.
Next I want to touch on the seeds in between the tiny seeds and the big seeds. I like to plant more seeds than what I plan on needing just in case every seed doesn't sprout. Also if they all come up then I have some extras and you can never have too many! If you have limited room, the extra plants make great gifts. Anyways for the seeds that I can see fairly easily like Marigold or cosmos seeds, I will plant two to a cell. This is my own personal choice of course and if you prefer to just plant one-that is perfectly fine. I am not an expert and I am just sharing how I do things and how it works for me. One thing to keep in mind when planting is the age of the seed also. The older the seed is, the less likely it will be to sprout. Depending on how well seed is cared for, it can last many years or as little as a year. I have read that it is a good idea to keep seed in a cool dry place like a fridge and I would love to do this but there just isn't room in the fridge! So I try to keep them in a cupboard that stays cool. Some seeds seem to last longer than others also. So just keep that in mind. When the seeds sprout, if I need to, I prick out the extras and put in other cells.
Now to the other side of the scale in terms of size of seed. The really big seeds are seeds like some sunflower seeds, Nasturtium, Sweet Peas, 4 o'clocks etc. With big seeds I tend to plant one seed per cell because they take up a fair bit of room and for extra seeds I just plant more cells. I find the big seeds sprout pretty fast and you should see them popping up fairly quickly. Also the bigger the seed, the deeper you should plant it. I usually follow the instructions on the package and if I don't have a package then I just plant the seed about the depth of the seed size. I hope this information is useful!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Talking Green:Let's start at the very beginning

Hi again,
I realize it is too late to start seeds indoors for this season but for some seeds it isn't too late to plant directly outdoors so I will start at the very beginning. I also realize some of this information may be something you already know but for some it may be new information.
Of course to grow seeds you need seeds, soil, tray(s), water and if you are starting them early- a window to put them beside or a greenhouse.
Seeds come in all sizes and as a rule of thumb for me is if there are no definite directions on the package as to how deep they go then I plant them about the depth of the seed themselves. But there are some seeds that need light to germinate and there are seeds that need to be in complete dark to germinate. I can try to come up with a list at some point which need what but right now I will stick to the basics. Most seeds do not need to be in the dark (as in covered with something to not let any light in) and most just need to be planted in the soil. Seeds I know of right away that need light to germinate are snap dragons and alyssum and these you do not cover with anything and just spread them on top of the soil. Anyways some seeds do require some extra attention to grow.
Now on to the soil. Not all soil is created equal. I have learned that the best soil to use is not soil at all. Some people call it a soiless mixture but often it is called potting soil in the store I think. I am trying to think about everything in the mix but I might miss one but the main stuff in the mix is peat, perlite (the little white things that look like rocks) vermicilite, and sometimes a wetting agent depending on the type of mix you buy. Different brands will be different. To tell you the truth I always thought perlite and vermicilite did the same thing and I only recently learned otherwise. Perlite is added to improve drainage in the soil which is sometimes very important for certain plants where vermicilite is added to absorb moisture and retain moisture. I personally buy vermicilite to add extra to the soil mix and that is just something I do and to me it seems to help. As for the wetting agent, it is something that some soil mixes have added to help the mix absorb water. If you have tried different potting soils you may have noticed that some seem to repell water almost where others are not so bad. This is because of the wetting agent which apparently helps the water to get absorbed easier. The reason the water doesn't soak in good is the peat moss in the mix. Even without a wetting agent it is still possible to make the soil wet but it just a little more difficult but not incredibly hard. But sometimes paying a little extra for a better soil can really make a difference in how well the plants grow.
Last but not least-the water and sunlight. When you first plant the seeds it is important to use a spray bottle to water the seeds so you do not wash away the seeds. Once they have sprouted and grown a little bit then it is safe to move to a watering can if you like. Make sure to keep the soil moist but not wet because you can over water and it causes seeds to rot or go mouldy. To be honest I often worry the seeds will not have enough water and I am tempted to add more water thinking I am doing something good but I have to restrain myself because too much will be bad. As for sunlight, it is important to have them by a window or greenhouse if you are starting them indoors. Also as the seeds sprout, make sure to keep an eye on them if they seem to lean towards the window or not. I like to turn the trays when this happens if I start them in a window so they don't get too lopsided. Idealy it would be good to have a window that lets in enough light that they don't reach but it isn't always possible. I know I have only briefly touched on stuff in this post but I hope to get into more detail in the posts to follow about specific stuff. Thanks for reading!

Talking Green

Hello again,
Sorry for the absence first of all. I have been relatively busy when I am able to be and otherwise I have been dealing with my back which continues to cause problems. Anyways that is not the reason for my post today so I will get to the point. Over the winter I convinced my sister to try to grow her own flowers from seed which I do every year. The reason she needed convincing is because she has always considered herself to have a not green thumb-what ever color it would be otherwise is what she felt she had. I convinced her that it was worth a try and could be fun. Plus it would help me out because then I would not need to grow the seeds for her too which would be difficult because of stuff going on right now. Anyways she showed me something through this experience. That I have something to share-well knowledge to share actually. Knowledge that I actually assumed everyone knew because I knew it. But in the process of helping my sister, I realized that I know stuff that could help other people possibly grow better plants. I am not trying to claim I am an expert or anything close to an expert but I know stuff that may help other people out. So when ever I post about this topic I will title it Talking Green and then what ever the title is so that it is easy to find the posts about this. I hope to share something to help someone grow better plants. I will also share about my trials and errors as I learn too which can be funny sometimes. I have my sister to thank for showing me that I have something to share with other people which is important to me. So let's start growing! lol

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A NEW TOY!!!!!

Hi again,
I would like to begin by apologizing for my absense but I have not really had alot to blog about in the last while. I have been dealing with alot of extra pain and unable to spend very much time on the computer. But today I have something I am so very excited about and I have to share!!!! We got a new toy and I am sooooo excited about it!!!!! Let me tell you about it! We got a Mastercraft Maximum Scroll Saw with digital read out! But that is not all! It has a variable speed of 400-1600 spm which is way more than our little 2 speed scroll saw! The variable speed is a nice knob that you can turn while it is on to change the speed. It has a 16in throat capacity where our old saw only has 10in! One of my favorite features on this saw though other than the digital feature is the tool free blade change!!! Oh I am so excited about that! Our old saw was a pain to change the blade! This new saw also has a 2in thickness cutting capacity which is also better I believe than our old saw. But do you think the instructions were read before it was turned on? lol nope. We do read the instructions but it isn't fun. Today the instructions were tossed around to people to read them but no one wanted to read them. It was on sale for 99.00 and save 130.00 so it is regularly priced at 230.00!!!! My mom said happy belated birthday. lol I had my birthday about a month ago but I could not think of anything for gifts that I needed. I can not tell you how extremely excited I am about this new saw!!! It is going to be so much fun!!! I am not one to want alot but every so often I see something that is just something amazing! I hope to use this to make some money for myself if I can find something that I can sell. So it isn't just for pleasure purposes but I am sure going to enjoy using it!!! Here are a couple of pictures of our new toy!!!
Brand Spanking New right out of the box!!!

PS-I know it is Mastercraft and a Canadian Tire (aka to most as Crappy Tire) brand but it is the Mastercraft maximum and we have had good luck with stuff in the maximum line mostly. For the price we paid-you can't go wrong really. Here's hoping it doesn't break and we have to deal with Crappy Tire's customer service which is less than pleasent. lol