January 16, 2019

Propagating a Monster

It's been a while since I've checked in but I figured with the new year and all it was time.

One of the things I have been wanting to do for a long time and am just now getting around to is taking cuttings off of this beautiful thing here:

She has come along so well since I got here way back on Mother's Day 2018.

I didn't know how well she would do with the crazy temps and sun patterns here in Northern Iowa. So far this has been a fairly mild winter but the temps have kangarooed around from the low 10's to almost 40 above. We barely have any snow this year and most days are sunny. Still, inside my apartment, it's been hard to regulate the temp for the plants. I tend to like it cooler, but I try keeping the air above 70 degrees and humid just for the green things.

Like I said, I have been wanting to take cuttings from Monster but was never sure exactly where to clip her. Finally, I found a video that clearly showed the best spot to cut:

Still, I am a bit unsure if I clipped from the right place. The mama Monster has a lot of the nodes the video mentions, but they are all on stalks with a lot of leaves. I didn't want to cut from the biggest stalks. I wanted to do my first try in a smaller bunch so... I finally found one with a small - very tiny - node (I think anyway) and clipped.
LEFT: you can kind of see a little node at the bottom there
So, fingers crossed.

The rest of the plants are thriving. For the most part.

 Both Pothos plants are doinggreat. One is trailing in the living room while the other is atop a kitchen cabinet. I have clippings from both mother plants.

I got the cactus from a grocery store while in Arizona for pre-Thanksgiving.

I did kill the Caladium but that was out of ignorance. It's a beautiful plant but the stems are too long and thin for my liking.

My pineapple plant is still going although it's not the most pleasant one to have around. I keep running into those sharp spiky leaves. I've also just started an avocado pit to see what it will do. Ever since I heard about them from a friend, I have been wanting to start growing microgreens for nutrition. I see that Amazon has seeds and growing kits. They mentioned that Sprout House has good seeds to start with.

I will be back, of course, to update on the progress of the baby Monster.


October 22, 2018

The Plants are Growing & Amazon Banned Me

Crazy post title, I know, but suitable.

I want to introduce y'all to one of my other blogs - which I started because... Amazon banned me from writing reviews on their site! Yep. I think I got caught up in some algorithm hijinks and, well, I can keep my Prime account but I can't submit product reviews.

Since I had 300+ reviews that Amazon deleted, I am basically rewriting and posting them on my Banned by Amazon blog. It's going to take forever to rewrite them all, but so far, I have 4 either posted or scheduled to post for this week. So go over and take a look. There are a couple of items for plants you might want to read up on.

Also, I want to hear from you all about any plant-related items you can recommend or that you would like to see reviewed. I can't promise anything, but I will try to review some of the suggested items.

Meantime, my plants say Hello!


June 18, 2018

**REVIEW** Sonkir 3-in-1 Soil, Light, PH Tester

For those of you who don't read my Plant It Earth blog, first, shame on you and second, I'm cross-posting this review here and there. (Did that make sense? My brain is acting crazy cakes this morning!)

That is the Sonkir 3-in-1 Soil, Light, PH Tester.  To be honest, I still don't understand plant PH (but my soils are usually packaged as balanced for the particular plants), and I've already got the hang of placing my plants in the right lighting. The water though...  Yeesh. The only plants I have ever killed have died from over- or under-watering.

Of course, I have read plenty of books and articles on providing the right amount of water to my plants, but the thing is trying to judge how moist or dry they are. I tried using a wooden stick (didn't always work) and I tried using my fingers (I'm squeamish about dirt!).

This meter runs about 11 bucks and I think the plants are worth that much.

When I was looking to choose a meter, I was on the hunt for something around this price, but it would have to actually work. I read reviews for a handful that fit my price range and most had too many negative reviews. The one I was hopeful about after reading about just a few reviews, dropped off after I read a few more. One reviewer did an awesome job of testing the meter on a large variety of plants - both freshly watered and dried out - and he noticed that the moisture meter never fluctuated from "dry" reads.

I tested this one the same way - checking plants that I knew were due for a watering and a couple that I watered about 15 minutes before testing. The reads came out pretty accurate for me. At least, I know that it read moister for the wetter plants and dryer for the one I had not watered.
If I use the camera's zoom, I can read the meter!
There is one thing I don't like about the meter. I need to use a magnifying glass or my phone to read the results. The print is tiny on the readout and in the instruction pamphlet. And the instructions include a handy little guide for the water and light needs of some commons houseplants.

The plant that I worry most about is my beautiful Monstera. She is thriving and sprouting new greenery by the minute, but her pot is too deep for me to accurately tell when to add water.

This is the Monstera (I call her "Monster") on about May 1st:

This is her June 5th:

she's sprouting more as I type this 

Wow, right? This plant is pretty effortless. I play violin classical music for her and every day I spray her leaves with filtered water. She is growing so much that I am going to have to anchor her with some sticks or something and learn how to prune her. Just yesterday, my Facebook plants group pals suggested turning her occasionally.

This soil meter is really going to help me keep on track with watering. Plus, if I have to go away for a few days, my neighbor will be able to use it while she plant-sits for me!

By the way, if any of you Being Free readers need some info on plant watering, here are a couple of useful links: Our House Plants has both a watering guide and a really helpful "hub" of plant info.


June 6, 2018

Do Plants Like Music? Depends...

My neighbor came by the other day and told me that my apartment had the true feel of a green oasis. There were all my lovely plants and the sounds of the rainforest. The rainforest sounds were courtesy Amazon Alexa. Of all the skills offered by Alexa, my favorites are the sounds. I use nature sounds for the plants and I use rainfall sounds for myself.

humidifier in right back corner, Amazon Alexa out of sight

Now that I have completed the green family (I finally have an aloe vera, another couple of Pothos, and even some lettuce that was given to me), I'm concentrating on keeping all the plants healthy an happy. Why not? They certainly have improved my mental state.

newest Pothos w/Spider Plant bottom left

I have always heard that music is beneficial to plants, but I never thought about what kinds of music might be best. This is an article talking about that. According to it, my plants like music that I also can enjoy, even if I don't listen to it all the time. Classical music, soothing music seems to be the key.

Lettuce given to me by a farming friend!

I found it so funny what was said about the negative effects of some rock music. I happen to think that a lot of rock music has the same effects on the human brain!

The Silver Pothos with her lovely markings

GreenMyLife has an article about this subject and they included this interesting photo:

Seems about right

(I just added Green My Life to my bookmarks, by the way.)

For the past few weeks, I have alternated playing violin music and different nature sounds for the plants So far, they seem to like it. The music, along with the plants, also alleviates my depression and anxiety.

By the way, when I got this Monstera back at the end of April, I thought it was a wonderful plant. Look at the difference some music and loving care has made:

She's just spreading her wings wide

So, yay for music.


May 20, 2018

**PLANT WATCH** Seedlings, Pineapple, and Lily in Water UPDATE

UPDATE June 6th:
I threw out the avocado pit (it was doing exactly nothing!), and the Moonflower seeds (they were just stagnant), but I did pot the pineapple crown. (And I actually dumped a few of the Moonflower seeds into a couple of my Pothos plants. We'll see...)

I'm on plant watch again. I have a few things in the green family brewing.

These are some seeds that someone in the building put out on the community table. They wanted someone to maybe plant them around the border of the building or garden. They'd been sitting there for a couple of days with no takers, so... I took 'em. I've only ever done anything from seeds via a store-bought plant kit (and that did not turn out well!), so I'm hoping these do alright. I had to look to YouTube for info and instructions. These are Moonflower seeds.

They are "Moonflower" seeds
 And this here is that troublesome Calla Lily that I picked up from a grocery store a while back. Dang thing was limping along so badly in soil that I decided to see if I could heal it in a water environment. So far, the roots are looking okay.

Finally, here's my Pineapple project. The roots are starting to grow out and I'll be excited to transplant the whole thing into soil sometime in the next couple-few weeks.