Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Plants, wonderful plants!

Macchia, our poor cat stuck in the house since we moved into this apartment without a yard or garden, is super happy to once again have a little fresh cat grass. As soon as I took it out, she can running to munch on it.

I love plants though I must admit that I'm not particularly expert. I hardly ever know what their names are nor the specific care instructions, but generally I get by pretty well. I do a plant and cutting exchange with a few friends and I love giving people plants instead of regular store-bought gifts. Seeing green leaves, delicate sprouts, soft flowers makes me feel at peace and I love to give this serenity to my loved ones. Because of my anti-consumerism, I've decided to grow my own plants for future gifts. I took a bunch of cuttings from my plants, split large plants into smaller ones, and repotted babies growing off of their mommies. We'll see how they grow.

Here you can see how our veranda is transformed into a greenhouse during the winter. This is just one corner and is quite full, enough so that I hope I will never need a book in the bookshelf hidden behind dozens of pots. There are african violets with unusual two-toned flowers, an aloe that has grown at an amazing rate and that gave of tons of baby plants, a begonia and a geranium that looks dead
but which comes back to life in the summer with gorgeous flowers.

There is a long piece from a friend's succulent and a little palm that was growing off the base of a palm tree in the courtyard. It hasn't grown even slightly since I potted it, but then again, it hasn't died either. I'm still hopeful.

Then there are babies of a succulent whose name I don't know, one of the many aloe babies, and another cutting from another succulent.

Last week at Auchan I saw this very cool little greenhouse in painted tin with 6 little pots inside to get seeds or cuttings going. I used it for 3 african violet leaves and 3 cuttings of yet another succulent, given to us from friends who moved to Bogotà. It is very cute and cheap....

...though not as cheap as what I used for the begonia and lavender cuttings. You can make a free greenhouse using the bottoms of plastic water or milk bottles, yogurt containers or whatever else you have in your trash. A few holes punched in the bottoms, a transparent plastic bag around it, and the plants are happy as can be with perfect conditions until they start growing a little. A bit less aesthetically pleasing, but who really cares?

My mother gave me a kick-butt old book called "Look, Mom, It's Growing." One chapter that got me really worked up is called "don't throw it away-- plant it!" and describes how to grow plants from produce, for example carrots
, avocados, peanuts. I tried out the pineapple one. Nobody thinks that it'll actually do anything. But then again, nobody thought that the lemon and persimmon seeds I planted would've done anything either, but just you look what I found the other day!


Katie said...

Could you blog about the greenhouses you made with the milk caps? I can't quite picture it but it's something I would love to do. I can never figure out how to start my plants well if they're not going into the ground. Do you have any pictures you can post?

Lisa said...

Uh, I've never made greenhouses with milk caps! But it sounds interesting! Maybe someone else did that? All I did as you can see in the 6th picture from the top is I cut off the top half (or more) from plastic water or milk bottles, punched holes in the bottoms and used them as pots. Then I just put those transparent produce bags around them and closed with those twist ties. That keeps the water vapor inside, which is all a greenhouse does anyway. But I have to update this, my cuttings put in these plastic "pots" didn't do very well. I don't know if it was because of the off season I did them in or the weird pots. Just something to keep in mind!