Posted in houseplants, loreeebee.ca

Houseplants Deserve Some TLC Too

Houseplants deserve TLC too, this time of year is as good as any to give them the attention they need. As we are still in lockdown here in the Ottawa area, with strict “stay home” orders, my green thumb is coming out this week.

Over time, the soil in houseplants gets depleted of nutrients and compacted, similar to the soil in your gardens and containers outdoors. As I cannot get out into my gardens yet, my front hall way is currently lined with bags of soil, pots and plants. All of my houseplants will be getting fresh soil and bigger pots to spread their roots and strut their stuff with a chaser of diluted fertilizer to encourage root growth. If you are really ambitious, or you discover any rotting or dead roots, you can rinse your plants off before repotting them. A set tub works well for this job, although I prefer to do it in the summer, outside.

For an introduction to a few new houseplants (one can never have too many) and some soil I shopped online at the House of Plants, a small business here in Ottawa. Currently offering curbside pickup or local delivery with nationwide delivery resuming in the spring, House of Plants has not missed a beat during the pandemic. They offer a wide selection of houseplants, suitable for many different light conditions.

A while back I wrote about the role houseplants play in removing toxins from the air in our homes. With windows and doors closed tightly against the cold air and our furnaces running constantly, this air cleansing is more important than ever during the winter months.

Last summer gardening was a new found hobby for many, during the winter months houseplants are now on trend. Whether you want to add to your existing houseplant collection or start one, contact House of Plants for all your needs and support their new business.

Posted in grandkids, loreeebee.ca

Back to School in Five More Sleeps

My granddaughter is going back to school in five more sleeps. For real, in class school. She has been learning online since last March, almost a year now. Since September she has been coming here for school on the days her Mom goes to work.

She is very excited to be heading back, over the moon in fact. Grandma, not so much. Of course, I am happy she is happy, but I will miss her and the quality time we have spent together these past months. It has been a bright spot for me throughout our pandemic restrictions.

We have settled into a comfortable daily routine before, during, between, and after her online lessons. Classes start at 9am with her school day ending around 330pm. That’s a long day for a seven year old, and an over sixty year old, but we manage to sneak some fun into our day.

Card Games

When she arrives around 630am, we start our day with several rounds of cards, while I sip from my first cup of coffee. She has learned, and is now quite proficient at, the games of Concentration, Go Fish and Crazy Eights. So proficient in fact that she beats me often, without me having to let her win. She is very competitive, so winning is important and losing results in a pout and a demanded rematch. I look at these games as exercise for my short term memory.

back to school

Stretches and Yoga

After she has won enough card games, we get into stretches and yoga poses. As a competitive gymnast, she knows and excels at all the warm up stretches. Grandma can keep up for a little while, until the planks last longer than a minute or she tries to shape me into a human pretzel.

back to school

Reading Books

We have been reading lots too. She reads Mia Mayhem to me, and I read Harry Potter to her.

Mia Mayhem is a series of books appropriate for her age and reading level, but even more special because she shares her name with the super hero star of the series. Santa was very clever to pick those books out for her.

Harry Potter, I would imagine, needs no explanation or introduction. She loves the Harry Potter saga so much that she dressed up as Hermoine for Hallowe’en.

back to school

Culinary Treats

Concocting treats in the kitchen has been popular too with an endless supply of cookies, muffins and even Daddy’s favourite candy for Grandma’s counter and freezer. With doggie bags for her to take some home too of course.

Fresh fruit smoothies and breakfast pancakes are other favourites too. Oh, and she doesn’t let me forget an ice cream treat after her last lesson of the day, before she starts the independent learning hour.

Today, in honour of her last day at Grandma’s school house, we went to Dairy Queen for their Blizzard BOGO event.

Outdoor Time

We also get outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine every day, so important in winter. Before the snow and cold weather arrived we spent our outdoor time predominantly in my gardens, with a few treks to the gardens I tend at our local hospice.

back to school

These past few months, since our gardens are covered in snow, our outdoor time has evolved to include walks in the snow, shoveling the snow or playing in it and with it.

Cultivating her Green Thumb

Even though we had to postpone our gardening adventures outside, we did spend time perusing garden catalogues, choosing new and interesting plants and seeds for spring planting. We also tend the seeds and cuttings we planted last fall, that now take up the entire counter area in my basement.

This week she has also been helping me repot my existing houseplants and find new homes for the new ones that have just arrived. (keep your eyes out for my next post about houseplants) We also rescued a forlorn and partially frozen large tropical corn plant from a neighbour’s snowbank today, hopefully it will survive.

Piano Lessons

All my grandchildren appear to love my piano, but this granddaughter, as the eldest grandchild, is really showing interest and talent. She has worked her way through the kids books, recently attempting a more complicated book of Christmas carols. We had planned to perform a mini concert of these songs at our family Christmas gathering, but neither the concert or the concert happened, thanks to the current rules of the pandemic.

She did let me record her playing a few tunes though…

As you can imagine, our days together have been jam packed with activities, and school lessons too. Her computer skills are now amazing for her age and she is thriving online, although she does miss her friends.

I do understand the importance of developing social skills at this age. Sitting at a computer for close to 5 hours every day is not healthy for any child. (or adult for that matter)

Grandma will miss the quality time. But not the 6am alarm.

Posted in health and wellness, houseplants, loreeebee.ca

Rid your home of toxins by adding houseplants to your decor

Toxins are present in your home in the form of cleaning products, paints, furniture, synthetic building materials such as particleboard and insulation, carpets, and even your printer and photocopier!  Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are harmful gases released by all of these common household items listed. Exposure to these VOC gases can cause lethargy, skin rashes, headaches, drowsiness, itchy eyes, asthma-like symptoms, and even cancer.

My body reacts to these toxins with cold and asthma-like symptoms.  Almost immediately upon exposure, I start off with a heaviness in my lungs, a vague headache, and a tickle in my throat.  I then develop a dry cough which can last up to four days after the exposure, as my lungs try to eliminate the toxin I have inhaled.  I have learned to avoid many of the toxins I was exposing myself and my family to by switching cleaning products.  Since switching to non-toxic cleaning products my mild asthma symptoms have disappeared.

You can also make your home healthier by adding house plants to your decor. This will help remove toxins you have less control over.  Not only do plants look nice, but they can also help keep your family healthy.  Carbon dioxide and the VOCs described above, as well as other harmful gases such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene are absorbed through the roots as well as through pores in the leaves of plants.   In exchange, beneficial and healthy products like oxygen and moisture are released into the air for us to breathe.

Choose plants such as spider plants, dracaena, English ivy, mother-in-law tongues, bamboo palms, and other tropical plants; they are all easy to grow and readily available.  Tropical plants are suitable for indoors in homes and offices because they are used to growing and processing gases in reduced light under the canopies of jungles and rain forests.  Water your plants thoroughly with warm water and let the soil dry out between watering; too much water is the easiest way to kill your house plants.

Some houseplants are suitable for a bright, sunny room while others prefer less natural light. Do your research to be sure you choose the right plants for specific areas of your home.

Fifteen medium to large houseplants (greater than six-inch pots) can greatly improve the air quality in an average-sized 2000 square foot home. What are you waiting for?   Get growing and remove the toxins from your home!

Posted in gardening, nature

How Disposable Diapers can Help Your Plants

This video describes an amazing way to keep your existing plants hydrated and to germinate any new plants. Follow the simple video instructions to cut back watering of houseplants, container plantings or even plants in your garden…

Play Video

watch the video here and be amazed at how the gel in disposable diapers can help hydrate your plants.

Your houseplants benefit from repotting every few years as the nutrients in the soil get depleted.  I plan to repot my houseplants as soon as the weather here permits me to take the plants into my garage or out on the back deck to do so. If your houseplants do not need repotting, try adding some of the gel from the disposable diapers to the existing soil as demonstrated in the video.

The soil in your gardens should also be amended (nutrients added to it) every year or at least every second year.  Good soil is the number one requirement of a great and successful garden.  This spring I plan to add some of the gel found in disposable diapers as suggested in the video, especially in the hot and dry areas of my gardens.

In the meantime, I will buy some diapers!

Posted in current events, gardening, weather

Winter Gardening c/o Home Depot

The latest Home Depot newsletter for garden club members has some great indoor gardening ideas for these cold winter months…

The first project is a garden dish, or a mini garden, suitable for any room in your home:

for this project you will need the following items:

  • horticultural charcoal to keep the soil smelling fresh
  • gravel for drainage
  • a shallow, low sided, heavy (ceramic is good) dish, with no drainage hole in the bottom.  You can use your imagination here to repurpose an old  container.  Any shape or depth will work with similar instructions, just use thicker layers of charcoal, gravel and soil.
  • plants, such as coleus, succulents and cacti
  • potting soil
  • moss or sand to cover the soil
  • decorative items such as shells, pretty stones, pine cones etc

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle less than an inch of gravel and charcoal over the bottom of container. (thicker if container is deeper than a shallow dish)
  2. Un-pot your plants, and position them as desired, keeping in mind that you are trying to create a miniature landscape. Be sure to use plants with the same light and water requirements in one container. For example, succulents and cacti like bright light, but require very little water.  In fact they will rot if watered too frequently.
  3. Surround the root-balls with soil, including a thinner layer over the non-planted gravel areas.
  4. Add a thin layer of moss or sand to ensure soil is covered.
  5. Tuck decorative items into moss or sand.
  6. Moisten your garden with a watering can or in the sink. Let it soak for a few minutes, then carefully tip out the excess water while holding the arrangement in place with your other hand. Repeat this procedure once a week or when the soil feels dry. Make sure your garden never sits in excess water.
  7. Given bright but indirect sunlight, most houseplants will thrive for months or even years in containers. Replace any overgrown or sickly plants as needed.

The next idea is for the transformation of a sunny window into a mini greenhouse that can showcase herbs and houseplants:

You will need the following items:

  • measuring tape, ruler, electric drill, level, pencil, hand saw
  • sand paper, wood putty, paint, moulding
  • 1/2 inch thick piece of glass
  • felt dots or plastic slide

Directions:

1.  Measure the depth and width of the window frame, and subtract half an inch from the width to determine      the dimensions of the shelves.

2. Have a glazier cut a 1/2”-thick piece of glass to size for each shelf. For a more finished look, have the edges sanded. Using a level and a ruler for precision, make pencil marks where each shelf support should go, starting from the top of the window frame.

3. Make supports out of moulding by cutting two lengths of moulding for each shelf (the moulding length should equal the depth of the frame). Sand the ends smooth.

4. Drill three evenly spaced holes (just bigger than the head of a wood screw) in each support. Hold a support against the appropriate mark on the window frame, insert the bit of an electric drill through one of the holes, and drill a starter spot into the frame. Repeat for the other holes, and then countersink screws so the heads don’t show. Repeat for remaining supports. Fill holes with wood putty, sand smooth, and paint supports. Once paint dries, attach a felt dot or plastic glide to each support end, and set glass shelves in place.

Filling your home with houseplants, tropicals or locally grown, is a great way to detoxify the air in your home, especially in the winter when windows and doors are shut tight against the cold.  Read this previous post to see how this works.  To increase your collection of tropical houseplants, take advantage of Home Depot’s current offer:

home depot tropicals pic

Click on this link to download and print the coupon Home depot tropicals    

There are many varieties of tropical houseplants to choose from, including the ever popular orchids.  Orchids are easy to care for, providing colorful and long-lasting blooms.  They are ideal for the indoor environment of your home and are sure to brighten up the dreary winter months.  The biggest challenge when buying orchids is what color to choose as they are all beautiful!

orchids copy