Friday, October 23, 2009

Fall Tips: Birds, Houseplants & Herbs

A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night. ~J.M. Barrie

Goldfinches are one of my favorite birds because they remind me of little bits of fast moving sunshine as they hunt for seeds. They will eat seeds from many garden plants and herbs such as catnip, lemon balm, coneflowers, rudbeckia and sunflowers. They also have a reputation for being "weed eaters" because they love thistle seeds and other weed seeds so much that they reduce their number by eating so many! If you have any of these plants in your landscape consider leaving the seed heads rather than cutting them down for the winter.

Many people are convinced their houseplant foliage should shine, so they buy commercial leaf-shine products, but these really aren't good for your plants. They clog the pores and cells of the plant. Instead, wipe the leaves off with a clean cotton t-shirt or other cotton rag, dampened with water. Hold the leaves gently in your hand to clean. Spray your plants regularly and provide good air circulation to keep them looking their best, and give them an occasional "shower" by placing them in your bathtub, giving them a gentle rinse with shower water.

Remember, if you haven't cut back herbs such as oregano, mint, chives, thyme and lavender do it now before winter sets in. If you don't have time to preserve and harvest the plant cuttings, add them to your compost pile.

I have a tip for those who would like to grow Christmas cactus.....

These are "tropical" plants, even though they're called "cactus" make sure they get LOTS of sun in the summer. In fact, I move mine out of the house and put them on the back porch where they get lots of afternoon sun (not directly overhead since they're "inside")...but it's very hot in that porch, so toasty warm for them. Also whenever I'm home at the same time that there is a gentle rain shower, I move the plants out on the porch rail, so they get a good dousing.

I recently purchased an "Easter" cactus (I don't know if that's for real or not, but it did bloom in spring), with white blooms. It's a baby, though, and only had three gorgeous white blooms this past spring. I'm hoping for better in a couple of years. As you said, it takes a bit of time to get them well established and "root bound."

~God's blessings from an avid-reader and friend in Wisconsin, Deb H.

On OFL we have tips on fresh and ground ginger in your cooking:


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