Spruce up your sprinkler system

It’s already time to run the sprinklers in our neck of the woods, and as always, it’s important to do a bit of maintenance at the start of the season. The EPA has some great tips for watering wisely, and we loved this infographic they created too.

sprinkler-spruce-up_infographic

Remember these four simple steps: inspect, connect, direct, and select.

  • Inspect. Check your system for clogged, broken, or missing sprinkler heads. Better yet, go with a pro—find an irrigation professional certified by a WaterSense labeled program to do the work for you.
  • Connect. Examine points where the sprinkler heads connect to pipes/hoses. If water pools in your landscape or you have large soggy areas, you could have a leak in your system. A leak as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen (or 1/32nd of an inch) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
  • Direct. Are you watering the driveway, house, or sidewalk instead of your yard? Redirect sprinklers to apply water only to the landscape.
  • Select. An improperly scheduled irrigation controller can waste a lot of water and money. Update your system’s schedule with the seasons, or select a WaterSense labeled controller to take the guesswork out of scheduling.

To see all the tips, visit the EPA Sprinkler Spruce Up page.

This entry was posted in garden.

How to care for air plants

Air plants have been a favorite of indoor gardeners for decades and it’s easy to see why. With over 650 types of air plants (Tillandsia spp.) to choose from, you can find interesting shapes and colors to compliment your style. The fact that they grow without soil makes them very versatile and opens all kinds of possibilities for use.

how to care for air plants

Air plants, which are a type of bromeliad, take water and nutrients in through specialized leaves. Instead of pulling water in through their roots, they use them to attach to rocks, trees, shrubs, and the ground. These warm weather plants can thrive even with a bit of neglect, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need a little care to grow well.

Water

Though the name implies they need only air to survive, they do need water. Give your plants a warm water soak for 5 to 10 minutes a week (this is my preferred method). Be sure to let your plants dry completely before putting them back in a terrarium or globe.

Never use distilled or soft water to water your air plants. Tap water or filtered water works best. If you use pond or aquarium water, you won’t need to fertilize your plants as the water will give them natural fertilizer.

Air

Air circulation is key for keeping an tillandsia plant happy. Take this into consideration when choosing where your air plant will be. Some glass globes and terrariums may not be large enough to allow good air flow.

Light

Filtered light indoors is preferred, as is partial shade if you are growing them outside (Zone 9 or warmer). Most homes will have enough natural light to make an air plant happy. especially if you have east or west facing rooms to put them in. Keep air plants out of direct, bright sunlight.

If your home doesn’t have enough natural light, full spectrum artificial light (fluorescent) will work well for your plant. Look for full spectrum tubes such as Gro-Lux, Repta-Sun, Vita-Lite, etc.

Temperature

Air plants love warmer weather, so be sure to keep them someplace that doesn’t get cooler than 45 degrees F. Optimum temperature range for Tillandsias is 50 – 90 degrees F, they will die during a frost.

Growth Cycle

The tillandsia growth cycle lasts until they bloom, after which the plant (depending on type) will start to produce pups (small plants). Most plants produce between 2 – 8 pups. Air plants flower once in their lifetime, and the flowers can last several days to many months, depending on the species.

When the pups are growing, simply remove the dried leaves of the mother plant as needed. Pull them gently, but if the leaf resists, its not dead yet. Empty spots will fill quickly with the new plant growth.

Uses

There are many fun ways to use air plants. From hanging glass globes, to terrariums, and even gluing them onto logs! Because they don’t need soil the possibilities are almost endless. I remember an air plant I had as a child that was glued to a small log with a magnet on the back. It was so fun to see that on the fridge.

For more information and inspiration for growing air plants, we love this book: Air Plants.

First snow of the season!

It finally feels like November. What an odd fall we have had. Yesterday we had a hard frost, all of our leaves fell from our black walnut tree. They fell despite being green still, and now the tree is bare. I’ve learned that this is normal for walnut trees when there is a frost.

I saw that we had snow in the forecast for today, so I set up our time lapse camera just for fun to capture it. If you look closely you will see a few birds too, small and large.

Hot chocolate season has arrived! What it is like in your part of the world?

Luffa update

It was a long shot from the start. Luffas require a long growing period that we just don’t have. However, I just had to give them a try anyway because sometimes we have warm weather longer than what is normal. This year however, is not one of those years. In fact, it’s been colder than normal at night recently.

Luffa plant

Even though it hasn’t been freezing, you can see that the cold weather has taken a toll on the plant. We have one lone luffa that I hope will survive and get large enough to become a “sponge”. You can eat the young luffas, but I am really hoping for a sponge.

At least we tried!

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This entry was posted in garden.
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