I know I promised you a gardening post next, but since I wanted to update you on several things that don't fall into gardening, I decided to make it a Daily Doin's and just include the little bit of gardening stuff I already had written. I hope this doesn't disappoint anyone.
First off, I want to share with you THIS YouTube demonstration by Mike McGroaty of freeplants.com on how to air layer new plants from old, using a product called "The Amazing Air Propagator". If you watch this demo closely, I'm sure you can think of ways to do this with stuff you already have. What those disks are that he puts on the inside of those fancy plastic "bubbles" are most likely compressed peat moss. You could make your own "bubbles" by cutting the bottoms off two matching plastic containers -- say, a couple of peanut butter or mayo jars -- stuff them with wet peat moss, and then fasten them together around the tree branch. Don't forget to peel off the bark and cambium layer where the branch will be enclosed in the "bubble", like he shows on the video. I think that's crucial. And I'd use the gel rooting hormone. I don't have anything but the powder, so I cooked up a little cornstarch in a small amount of water, in a glass measuring cup in the microwave, (stop and stir every minute till it has thickened) and then after it cooled, stirred in some of the rooting hormone powder. I haven't been able to FIND rooting hormone in gel form here in town (what ELSE is new????), and I haven't found a decently-priced option on Amazon. I do believe in "use what you have", anyway, but you know that. I wouldn't make this concoction till right before I'm ready to use it, I don't know how well it would "keep".
While I was looking around for matching peanut butter jars, I ran onto some of those white plastic ready-made frosting containers.
I cut about 2.5" off two of them and filled each "bottom half" with wet peat moss. I notched them so they'd fit together around the branch. Then I went out and stripped off the bark from the branch that I wanted to root. Had to have Hubs help me as the process of wrapping duct tape around requires at least three, maybe four, hands.
I've seen people trying to root a branch on a tree by packing it with peat moss, or sphagnum, and then wrapping it all in foil. The problem is that it eventually gets dry in there and I guess they have to unwrap and rewrap it every time they want to add moisture. Might be a problem for me, all thumbs and so on. Oh, and maybe the foil would conduct the heat of the sun that shines on it. Not sure. But if that's a problem, the duct tape will be, also.
Did you know you can plant the seed that's inside the fresh blueberries you buy at the grocery store? There are lots of propagation tips on THIS Pinterest board. Blueberries are starting to be offered at Aldi, and they've got the little border around the price sign, which means it's a "weekly special". According to the information I have, the seed must be winter stratified, but if you still happen to have blueberries, frozen whole, in the freezer, that orta do it. eHow says put the berries in the blender with a little water, whir it around, pour off the juice and pulp, and the seeds will be in the bottom of the blender pitcher. I did it a little different, using only the biggest of the berries because the little berries didn't have many seeds in them.
Now's the time to be watching the blueberry and strawberry prices at Aldi, if you like to pack some away in your freezer for eating later in the year. Or if you want to dehydrate. I've found that blueberries need to be cut in half for drying or they will grow mold. And strawberries..... I'm just not too wild about dehydrated strawberry slices. They're kinda papery.
We don't have any U-Pick farms here, and the Farmer's Markets want a King's Ransom for them, so I find Aldi has the best price for strawberries and blueberries, in season. Might be a better source where you live, just FYI....
Hubs and I were at the Opthalmologist's office on Friday morning (his annual checkup), and I picked up this month's National Geographic after I finished that last chapter in the book I'd taken to read (The wait is always soooo loooonnnnnng). They had a great article about food waste. You can read it HERE. I've been keenly aware of food waste for quire some time now, and I've had first-hand experience with the resistance a person can run into when the topic is brought up with the people who play a part in the food waste process. I had an interesting experience when I asked the produce manager of a local grocery store if I could have their produce-gone-bad for my compost bin, back in 2009. They always seem to think you really intend to EAT it and they have the attitude that, with your appetite sated, you might not be BUYING as much of the "perfect" stuff. This makes them afraid they might eliminate a paying customer. My heavens, we just can't be doing THAT, can we? They have concerns about being liable if you eat some and it makes you sick. I've even heard (but I do not have first-hand knowledge of it) that some grocers actually sprinkle rat poison on the produce that they put in their dumpsters. *Sigh*. This is supposed to discourage "dumpster divers" but since they have to have their dumpster in an unlocked area so the city sanitation truck can have easy access to it, it seems like they are courting disaster, anyway, if they add rat poison into the dumpster. I mean, what about the health of the sanitation department workers? Even if the dumpster is mechanically lifted and dumped into the truck, does not that poison become airborne? Does it not get on the workers' gloves and such? And what IF someone removes something for their consumption before the truck gets there? You know, I've actually seen people climbing INTO the dumpster. Does this not fall under the "Attractive Nuisance" law, like what happens to you if somebody drowns while swimming in your pool, without your permission or knowledge? Bad idea, I think. I have never "dumpster dived", per se, but I will admit that once, when walking past the Homeland dumpster on my way back to work at noon one day, I saw a case of yogurt in unopened containers just sitting on top of the pile, and I did retrieve that. And of course you all know that I used to go to the city recycling center and retrieve certain things that weren't bottles out of the bin marked "bottles only". I didn't feel like I was stealing, since the presence of "non-recyclables" in the bin means less value to the recycler.
My local Homeland used to offer damaged and over-ripe produce. They'd put it in a ziplock bag and price it about half of what the perfect stuff was going for. And I have bought some of it. It got to the point where they waited too long and it was not a bargain at any price. But sometimes, if I could find something that was over-ripe but not yet rotten I'd buy fruit -- strawberries, plums, peaches, apples -- and make jam with it as soon as I got it home.
Food Pyramid is about the only grocery store now that sells imperfect fruit, and that's usually only bananas. So far, they are pretty good about not waiting till their skins have turned brown before they mark them down. They are ripe, but are still firm, so perfect for eating within a couple of days. I put some of them in the freezer and either eat them frozen during the days that follow, or I use them to make banana bread, muffins, or milkshakes. The skin of a frozen banana turns brown in the freezer, but it serves to protect the color and texture of the banana inside. My kids used to say frozen bananas taste "like banana ice-cream". The skins, of course, go into my compost.
People have gotten so cautious about their food. If something passes the "sell by" date, they throw it out. They'll throw away a whole piece of fruit because there's a brown spot on it. They'll clean out their spice rack and throw out everything that's a year old. Yeah, toss it out if it's lost its color. But if it still looks good and smells good, there's no reason to toss it. People are taking a bigger risk by going to a restaurant and eating food that looks perfectly good, and at the peak of flavor. You just can't tell what's gonna kill you by how it looks, I guess..... I buy my spices in larger sizes from Penzey's, because it's a LOT cheaper that way, pour some into my spice bottle in the kitchen, and stow the rest in the freezer.
People will leave their leftovers in their refrigerator till they're scared to eat them and then they throw them out. But hey, that's what the freezer's for. They think eating a potato that has started to sprout will make them sick, or that, if a potato has turned green, it's poison. All my life, every now and then I have eaten potatoes that have sprouted or turned green. I just break the sprout off and peel the potato as I normally do, cutting out the "eyes". If a green potato is not green all the way through, I cut away all the green parts and use the white part. Or I use that potato as a seed potato. I do believe eating the sprout or the green parts might make me sick, but why would I want to? I've accidentally gotten some on my hands and then touched my mouth. It's bitter. I have read that sweet potato leaves are edible and can be used in salads, but I've never tried that. All that said, if you feel like something's going to poison you, then do what you feel like you need to do. A lost potato is not worth laying awake wondering whether you'll go to sleep and not wake up.
Except for the fact that it's not "organic", a potato that is a grocery store potato and thus may have been sprayed with a "sprout retardant" does not make it a poor seed potato. If it sprouts, it's already overcome the problem. It is begging to grow.
Speaking of potatoes, I guess I need to update my potato experiment. On Saturday I dug holes in the garden and planted those "potato eyes" that I saved in potting soil in the garage. I wrote about that on the last garden post. So these have not been held very long, maybe only a couple of weeks.
Do you BELIEVE all these roots?? I was surprised. All I did was leave a little of the potato on the eye, and cover the potato pieces, in a bucket, with potting soil. Added a little water, not too much. And then just left it in the garage. I made almost a whole wide row with three buckets and one wide flowerpot full of these. Will they make anything? Only time will tell.
This is now Tuesday the 15th and I'm still here and using Windows7. Just waiting for the shoe to drop. I mentioned it to the pastor at our church last Sunday and he said he's upgraded his and that it's not bad at all, he says he finds it not that much different than Windows7 and decidedly better than Windows8. I have not had that notification box appear that says the upgrade will be installed within the hour, since that one time. Isn't that just the way? You finally get so you say, "Aw, hell, go ahead on...." and then it doesn't. Sheesh.
Does anybody remember the post in which I wrote about how I struggled with a sprayer tank when trying to get dormant spray on my fruit trees? OMG, WHAT a hassle. Well, our buddy June saw that post, and the other day she informed us that she still had her husband's sprayer that he used for his roses. She said it had never had Round-Up in it. Just insecticides. June's sweet husband has been deceased for quite awhile now, and so that sprayer has sat unused for all this time. We struck a deal and took that sprayer home. This morning we went to WMT and bought a new battery.
It took a little fiddling, but before long Hubs had enough water coming out of that spray nozzle to wet down a dry mule. I was really relieved it didn't need any new parts because I looked the company up, and it has moved TO CHINA. I looked up the address in Wichita, KS, where it was when this sprayer was sold, and it is an empty warehouse that is for sale.
This is going to make spraying the fruit trees SOOOOOO much easier. It holds 12 gallons, I think. I tried pushing it by the handle when it was full of water and it's not hard to do at all. Thank you, JUNE!! June also sold us a couple of small metal garbage cans with lids that her husband had used to store vermiculite and perlite in, and there was enough still in the cans that might round out what I have left, to get me through this spring. I had called Evans Greenhouse, on a tip given me by another customer at Atwood's last weekend, and they do carry vermiculite. It's $26 for a 4cf bag. That's about twice what I had bought at Lowe's last year for the same price. So before spring is over I'll buy one of those bags and that will take care of me through spring of 2017.
I know all you other Americans are just as concerned as I am about the coming presidential election. I don't know about anyone else but I'm sick and tired of going through this every four years. There is something to be said for the fact that the person that gets elected is only there for four years (unless they are impeached or assassinated, that is), but we don't seem to be getting anything but worse each time in our efforts to bring forward qualified people to run for office. Voting for The Lesser Of Two Evils is no way to elect someone to run your country. I haven't voted for someone that I was positive would make a good president for years and years, if EVER. I mean, I was too young to vote for JFK. And even then, he ended up disappointing me when I heard, after his death, that he had all those hot and cold running women at his pool parties, right under Jackie's nose. And Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday was just...... ......disgusting.
Well, that's about all I have for this time. Till next time, Rock On...