Hints - some smart, some thrifty

If your amaryllis is beginning to bloom, here are some suggestions for keeping the blooms lovely as a cut flower in a vase, and for supporting the heavy bloomns in the vase.

The best time to cut your flowers to showcase in a vase is before the buds begin it open. Snip the plant at a 45-degree angle with a sharp knife and immediately transfer the cut stems to water.  Fill the vase with tepid water and add in a floral preserve to help extend the life of the bloom. Now you can place your amaryllis flowers in the vase.

Place your beautiful display in a location with lots of sunlight and temperatures around 70 degrees to help prolong the flower’s life. You should change out the water and add more preservative every couple of days. Since the stems are hollow, you can insert a support—a flower cane or even a straw, to help support the heaviness of the flower.


Here are some guiding thoughts for the winter months....

1. I will not blame myself for gardening failures...Try again and learn from excperience. Both the garden and gardening friends are quick to forgive.

2. I will not be afraid to ask questions...that is one of the best ways to learn. Take advantage of the experience of your neighbor, your relatives, garden center employees, extension agents. Get and read good gardening books.

3. I will try something new. Ask what exciting new plants your friends have discovered. Grow a flower or a vegetable that is new to you.

4. I will share my excitement, experience and knowledge. I will be a mentor or helper to someone who asks for assistance.




Shrubs, small trees and newly planted shrubby material need water and sometimes it is neither convenient nor easy to get a small, steady, absorbable flow of water to them. Drill a small (3/8 or 1/4") hole (or several holes) in the bottom of a 5 gallon plastic bucket. If there is a good mulch apron ( see the mulch in the photo above) around the plant  material, drill the hole in the center of the bucket. If the planting area  is  smaller, drill the hole closer to the bottom edge of the bucket. Place the bucket close to the stem of the plant and fill with water. The plant will be rewarded by a  slow, steady flow of water, almost all of  which  will penetrate directly to he root ball. Fill it as  appropriate for the  needs of the plant and  that problem is solved. If wind is an issue, drive a stake or metal rod along the outside edge of the  bucket and  slip the  handle of the bucket over that and  tie the handle to the rod.


Use the same basic (recycle!!) idea and save sturdy plastic bottles to use as cloches for newly started  plants NEXT SPRING!! The choice of materials is up  to you. Many persons use milk bottles, others save the sturdier large containers of vinegar and other kitchen products. The containers can easily be strung on a rope and hung in a garage or basement until spring and time to use them in the garden.

Driving a stake (bamboo garden stakes or rebar) through the opening of the container can help hold it  in place in the  wind.

Every gardener struggles with the challenge of keeping the most frequently used tools at hand. Some of use use specially designed aprons on five gallon buckets. Some of us use horseshoes redesigned and welded to be tool  hooks. Others  (as shown in the photo) recycle  the working  end of a retired bow rake. 


Gardeners with arthritis in the hands can have a real challenge with water  faucet handles. Gripping and turning a reluctant handle can be difficult as well as painful. Here are two different  ways to modify handles (to turn easily.)  It is an adaptation that works brilliantly.



Miss Gardening? Grow Green Beans Indoors This Winter


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For gardeners who just can’t stand to keep their hands out of the soil for any length of time, growing food indoors in containers can be a great pastime during the winter months.


Green beans are a relatively quick-growing vegetable that can be grown inside your home and also look quite beautiful, as well.


Plants that you are growing indoors can be started any time of the year, but you still need to remember that they have certain environmental requirements. Green beans need plenty of light, so you will need to place them in a part of your home where they can get a minimum of six hours of sunlight each day. Alternatively, grow lights can work if you do not have a window that gets enough sun.