Pictures: Roses still Blooming in December

Plant Names and Classifications

Are you like me and didn’t know that common plant names are not the best way of identifying plants because a lot of the common names get confused or could overlap with others? I mean there are trees that are called oak trees that are not in the same group. It’s just a bunch of craziness and I just want to make it clear: up until this point I was entirely ignorant. I’m cool with it.

Now there is a science to plant classification and in that science there are two categories that we should be aware of and that is the plant taxonomy and plant systematic systems. We used to go by common names but it often became confusing  for a lot of people. Today we classify all plants based on their genetic and evolutionary characteristics, this means that the plants are grouped based on who their common ancestors are.

In horticulture they are primarily concerned with the last three levels of classification: Species, Genus and Family.

The species is the most basic level of classification and below this there can be many subspecies. These plants are usually the most closely related to one another and they can interbreed freely.

The Genus is a group of related species.

The Family is the general group of Genus who are all related by a common ancestor.

There are two important flowering plant families that my professor made sure that we covered. Frankly, I’ve already learned more than what I knew before and I am pleased, but we’re only part of the way through so I’ll continue to let you know what I know or I am learning.

First is the dicot family, which is a flowering family with two cotelydons (embrodic leaves). Just to let you know those cotelydons are inside and this is the largest of the two families. There are over 200,000 types and they are everywhere. They are roses, myrtle trees and so many more.

The second flowering family is the Monocot. They are grass like flowering plants that only have one cotelydon per seed. In agriculture the majority of biomass is created through monocots. You might find a monocot as wheat, rice, bamboo, sugar cane, forage grasses and many others. This family includes many bulb flowers like daffodils, lilies, and iris. They are not simply flowers and grasses but also tumeric, garlic, and asparagus.

Both are angiosperms and very popular. I really enjoy these classes and can’t wait to learn more. How many more things am I going to learn? Who knows but I can’t wait.

Although this information may not be useful right away I am certain being able to identify plant families will be useful in the future. These pictures are by a wonderful lady named Vivian Morris.

Plant names are identified not my their family but by the genus and species. Common names change by region and can be confusing because a rose is a rose and can be any different species of rose if you are looking for a specific type. Although common names can be misleading botanical names are not. The Botanic name is a Latin name accepted world wide.

For example: Magnolia alba or Ligustrum album.

Until next time…

Rosemary Indoors

I am having a lot of fun with rosemary. It is one of my favorite herbs to grow in our garden. I started rosemary in 2020 and I fell in love. Have you ever just taken your face and moved your face between their leaves? It is the greatest experience.

Also this is another perennial for my area. One thing I learned is that perennial doesn’t mean that it will live forever. It only gives the promise of three or more years. The more you know, right?

Rosemary is evergreen that boosts the immune system and helps blood circulation. This plant is high in antioxidants, improves digestion, enhancing memory and concentration, neurological protection, protection against macula degeneration, and many other amazing uses. They have this disclaimer that says: do not bulk up on rosemary and try to just eat all of it. Eating rosemary in bulk can put you into a coma and many other not so cool side effects.

This has been one of the easiest herbs that I have been able to grow. Rosemary can get between 1.5 and 3 meters tall- which is awesome. It can be used as an anti fungal remedy as well.

Fun Fact: this is a beneficial herb to help prevent scurvy and certain cancers.

I love that it is one of the many herbs that grows well in containers. I enjoy the smell and that is an evergreen. It is so pretty. Smells good, tastes good in food and has all of the benefits a humble farmer could want. It makes an excellent border shrub and repels certain insects.

I have dried out a large amount of rosemary and I am really excited about grinding it down. I have been making it into a powder and putting them in cork bottles. One day I plan on doing a lot with it. Unfortunately, my plants aren’t producing large quantities of rosemary just yet.

I have been thinking of it’s uses because I do not use powdered rosemary for cooking. Who knows, but the uses are endless.

Not recommended for women who are pregnant, nursing or wish to become pregnant. If you are taking medications that are prescribed or provide long term medical care always consult a physician before adding rosemary to your diet on a regular basis- as in more than 4 nights a week.

Just putting that out there so that if people see it prevents cancer they don’t eat three pounds, put themselves in a coma then sue me. I don’t have time for all of that nonsense.

Just know rosemary is easy to grow, does well against cats using it as camouflage to attack one another and my children love running their fingers through it and it doesn’t die. I can forget to water it and it doesn’t act dramatic.

Healthy Hopefuls: Endive and Arugula

After 5 days. They are still babies.

I started planting endive and arugula. I was told I should plant them in January, they can’t be transplanted until after the front but they need a little bit more time.

At 8 days we had a few more popping up. This is a mixture. One side is arugula and one side is endive.

I think we should start with endive. I should let you know that before this I had no idea what endive was or that it was a thing. You should know that I am new to this and I am trying everything.

Still 8 days. They are just now coming out of their seeds you can see that on this one. It’s lovely.

We planted endive because it can take longer to mature than other plants. It grows like lettuce. They are a leafy green that can be placed in salads for a bitter taste [which is allegedly good in salads].

11 days and we are strength training our sprouts with a fan to over the stove. I know it sounds silly but it helps us thin out weaker sprouts and they are strengthening their stems for our windy area.

The primary reason we are growing it is due to the fact that it is high in fiber and endive glycemic index is very low at 15, which can help prevent spikes in blood glucose after meals. I do not have diabetes but it is a beneficial plant to keep in your garden just in case. Plus we’ve never tried it before. It could be a delicious addition to our salads.

11 days from the top under their grow light. I swear one day the cops are going to come over with a warrant and be very disappointed to find lots of herbs and plants.

Now arugula has this tangy flavor and is also known to help lower blood sugar. It is known to lower the risks to cancer, osteoporosis, assists in preventing insulin resistance, improves the heart and rich in vitamin K. Remember when dealing with vegetables that are high in vitamins similar to K that you should slowly introduce as this vitamin helps assists in blood clotting.

Day 15 and these babies are busting out. You can really see how putting the fan on them for a couple of hours twice a week has caused their thin stalks to thicken and some of the taller sprouts have fallen away.

They say that arugula is said to have a peppery taste as well. It can be chewed to combat sour breath so I have read. Again, this one is new to me but have you see the benefits? I am really impressed. I can’t wait to find out how arugula tastes. They say you can put it in salads, smoothies, and omelets. I am sure that there are a million ways to make it.

More day 15.

I enjoy learning about these cool foods are out there and how having them might benefit my family. I feel like I am missing a lot of useful information. I am hoping that I can continue to learn amazing things that we can all benefit from.

An from the top picture of my plants. From the top boys is all I said and they started posing. Look at Arnaldo, he is so proud of himself growing from the side.

Healthy Hopefuls: Endive and Arugula

After 5 days. They are still babies.

I started planting endive and arugula. I was told I should plant them in January, they can’t be transplanted until after the front but they need a little bit more time.

At 8 days we had a few more popping up. This is a mixture. One side is arugula and one side is endive.

I think we should start with endive. I should let you know that before this I had no idea what endive was or that it was a thing. You should know that I am new to this and I am trying everything.

Still 8 days. They are just now coming out of their seeds you can see that on this one. It’s lovely.

We planted endive because it can take longer to mature than other plants. It grows like lettuce. They are a leafy green that can be placed in salads for a bitter taste [which is allegedly good in salads].

11 days and we are strength training our sprouts with a fan to over the stove. I know it sounds silly but it helps us thin out weaker sprouts and they are strengthening their stems for our windy area.

The primary reason we are growing it is due to the fact that it is high in fiber and endive glycemic index is very low at 15, which can help prevent spikes in blood glucose after meals. I do not have diabetes but it is a beneficial plant to keep in your garden just in case. Plus we’ve never tried it before. It could be a delicious addition to our salads.

11 days from the top under their grow light. I swear one day the cops are going to come over with a warrant and be very disappointed to find lots of herbs and plants.

Now arugula has this tangy flavor and is also known to help lower blood sugar. It is known to lower the risks to cancer, osteoporosis, assists in preventing insulin resistance, improves the heart and rich in vitamin K. Remember when dealing with vegetables that are high in vitamins similar to K that you should slowly introduce as this vitamin helps assists in blood clotting.

Day 15 and these babies are busting out. You can really see how putting the fan on them for a couple of hours twice a week has caused their thin stalks to thicken and some of the taller sprouts have fallen away.

They say that arugula is said to have a peppery taste as well. It can be chewed to combat sour breath so I have read. Again, this one is new to me but have you see the benefits? I am really impressed. I can’t wait to find out how arugula tastes. They say you can put it in salads, smoothies, and omelets. I am sure that there are a million ways to make it.

More day 15.

I enjoy learning about these cool foods are out there and how having them might benefit my family. I feel like I am missing a lot of useful information. I am hoping that I can continue to learn amazing things that we can all benefit from.

An from the top picture of my plants. From the top boys is all I said and they started posing. Look at Arnaldo, he is so proud of himself growing from the side.

Year Zero: Serious Moment

I have a five year plan. It is not a good plan and it changes from day to day but it is a plan. Right now, I have just left year zero. January 2021 is starting a new year for me.

You may ask:

What is Year Zero? Year Zero has been my year of planning. I also went around the area and looked at local nurseries. I wanted to see what everyone had to offer. It opened my eyes. I also planned to go back to college and learn about plant things.

Why is Year Zero so important? Year Zero is my planning year. We moved in October 2019 and that only started our adventure. During this year I have walked the property over five hundred times. I have learned the land-ish. There is a lot more to starting a permaculture food forest then I anticipated.

This is where I outlined my goals. I learned my property and I planted starter plants- which I will get into later. We have a lot to cover so I will continue.

Some of the trees ready for new homes

What does having a poorly planned year zero do for someone who is just starting out? This is a tough one because I had to reset my Year Zero last year. It was insanity. I killed every plant I got my hands on because I just jumped in. I thought I could just wish my garden into growth. It was poor planning and I wasted a lot of money on plants that died. So, don’t waste money use your year zero wisely. Learn to work with your property and not against it.

Year Zero is the most important year of planning and development. This is my year of research and getting to know my property. Here I started and failed then restarted after some research. Even still I am not 100% sure that everything will work out. My year one began with medicinal plants and evolved into the dreams of a food forest. Somewhere it evolved and I wanted to have real food security.

I learned a lot about the native plants that already live here and it inspired me to start a Monarch Butterfly Santuary. I started by going online and joining many types of groups. They kind of inspired me and so I continued with my year zero goals. I did way better than I anticipated.

The reason Year Zero is important is because it lays the foundation for success but remember: you can always switch it up later if your plans don’t work out. I know it sounds crazy but a lot of people (myself including) thought they could just jump in (like I did) and fail. I’ve learned it’s only a true failure if I stop trying and so I will continue.

It took me the better half of the first year to figure out I was doing things wrong and I might need to talk to experts. That’s why I enrolled in classes but I’ll share all of that information as I get it with you.

Squash flower (I think?)

Sure, I was in the best Facebook groups. Unfortunately I hadn’t been utilizing them. So I went online and I just dove into research on permaculture, companion planting, ph levels, soil samples and I was blown away by how much was out there. I will never know everything but I had started down a rabbit hole that brought me here to this blog.

Spoiler alert: my plants stopped dying. I got better at planting the more I learned and there is this feeling of happiness when you are using your own vegetables and fruits.

All throughout year zero I sat outside my plants hoping they might grow. It does not make plants grow faster.

Now I know I need a plan and in year zero it’s the perfect time to decide what you want and where you see that going in five years. Make it fun and exciting but remember: your plan must flow with the tide. So make sure you are ready for those changes and adaptations as you go. For example: I thought I could just put seeds in the dirt and it would just grow. It doesn’t work that way and now I know thanks to countless people.

Goals for my property and my life for the next five years. This is important because it gives me a general outline to work with. Remember, I am making plans but they are like the wind- every changing and straightforward.

In five years, I want to have every individual breed of plant I want on my property. Even if I do not have every part of my land covered (Which I most likely will seeing my progress already- it is a possibility). I am not talking about a neat little orchard- I want trees and shrubs. I want to be overwhelmed with sight, smell and feel like nature surrounds me.

Keep that in mind- it is the foundation for our success. My goals are not primarily food security, even though it is a reoccurring theme, but instead a food based garden of eden, a place for me to retire my body and my spirit. So, not all of my plants will be solely food based. I am going to continue on that note, but keep your goals in your mind.

Another goal I realized: I want the species here to be closer to disease resistant and ready to produce in five years. This means that in the first few years I have to plant my trees that need to be producing as well as create a water source.

In Year Zero, I am going through plant lists to find edible plants, flowering plants, herbs, and pollinators. I am collecting seeds and planting what I like to call guaranteed success plants such as blackberries. During Year Zero I did a lot of planning but then I began planting samples.

For example: I don’t know of I even like certain fruits- this is a great time to plant one or two and try them. If I don’t like them I won’t plant more of that particular tree. It’s good to know before I make a mass planting decision.

The ones that do well and we like: we plant more of them. The ones that don’t we just move on from and don’t plant more. At least we are keeping those three blueberries (if any of them survive), but I am hesitant of planting more until we know they will survive. That is one of many examples. We keep what we like but we don’t want continue any difficult plants. If something happens we want to make sure we can take care of it. (Eventually I hope it will take care of itself, in my old age I don’t want to be chasing around a 7 acre mess)

I want to cover my entire property in plants that are useful primarily with a little playroom for beautiful things. I want to retire in my own hand made forest and I want to leave it for my kids to enjoy. I cannot wait until I make my dream come true, but Year Zero opened my eyes to the many possibilities.

Frankly, Year Zero did not go as planned and there is a good chance your Year Zero will not be magnificentbut don’t give up. I killed a lot of plants that I want to blame on bizarre seeds from China that I never received. Really it all came down to poor planning.

Year one starts now in January and during that year I have a lot of things I would like to accomplish. But first let’s talk about what i have already got started:

  • 75 thornless blackberries, three different kinds.
  • 33 grape plants, twenty four muscadine, six concord, two seedless randoms from Wal-Mart, and one Spanish grape.
  • 8 apple trees, 4 persimmons, 4 pomegranates, 5 peaches, 3 plums, 4 cherries, 2 pears, 2 limes, 2 lemons, and 2 avadaco trees.
  • Planted many perennials and failed two gardens.

Year One I have new goals.

  • I would like to plant 100 additional thornless blackberry plants. This year so far we have planted 75. We know that blackberries will do great here and we want at least 200. We want to primarily plant thornless varieties which is also why we are not dying into raspberries.
  • Set up the irrigation system that will support the amount of plants that I want to bring in. We already bought two irrigation systems. One is set up for bushes and one is set up for the trees.
  • I want to plant a minimum of 25 different kinds of apple trees, but that may not be possible.
  • I want to focus on the 41 disease resistant breeds that grow in my zone. Zone 8a.
  • Focus on filling in the spaces between my trees with shrubs and berry bushes.
  • Expanding my seed collection
  • Creating a creek system that runs through our property
  • Planting as much as I can as fast as I can and keeping it all alive with magic

So, don’t give up. Year Zero seems hard on everyone. We’ve got this now onward to YEAR ONE.

A much more detailed goal list for Year One is coming but you’ll have to be patient. I am busy looking through seed catalogs while listening to permaculture information.

Project Grow Your Roots 2021: Fun and Short Additions

Contributed by L. McKnight

All the way from Oregon, Groot wants you to know he is proud of you.

Contributed by Adrienne Westbrook

This is a weeks worth of growth on a Sunflower she planted with her daughter. I love the way she made the pictures come together in this photo. I love the family bonding in Indiana. Enjoy raising those Sunflowers.

These bad boys are the state flower of Kansas. They can grow in medium light and in clay soil. I’ll keep that in mind when I am planting. Birds love Sunflower for their seeds and who can blame them really?

But the most amazing thing is the amount of uses:

  • Poultice from the flowers for burns
  • Crushed root to draw out a blister
  • Leaf tea for high fevers

Also, one last bit a little bit of folklore: some places believe that planting sunflowers can ward off malaria.

Contributed by Colleen Esc

Started from leaf cuttings these Violets have grown to be lovely. So lovely she plans on spreading the love this season. I am sure that everyone will be thrilled, I know that I would.

Many are perennial but some are annual and very few are shrubs. The viola category has around 600 species which is amazing and a little overwhelming, but the flower is edible and can be used to add color to salads. If you needed a reason to plant this beautiful flower.

There are so many absolutely amazing people out there. As the pictures flow in I just keep becoming more excited about the outcome. Keep your eyes out for more plants that people are excited about.

Project Grow Your Roots 2021: Tonasket, Washington

Another lover of plants like myself is out there living the dream. She has sent us pictures of three different plants that are amazing and I can’t wait to look into and mention some cool facts about these amazing plants.

Contributed by Lisa Swinson

First, we have our Thanksgiving Cactus which is native to Brazil. These are primarily house plants. They are known by many names and there are only around 6 to 9 species of this genus. I found that to be very cool.

Contributed by Lisa Swinson

First thing that drew me into this picture was the amounts of snow. I could not imagine or survive such a large amount.

Amazingly, the Douglas Fir can. This tree has a hardiness of zones 4 to 6 and is number one in the lumber industry. If you couldn’t see this tree is an evergreen and absolutely amazing looking in all types of weather, but it really seems as though this tree enjoys the freezing temperatures.

Contributed by Lisa Swinson

This lovely cactus is unknown for now, if you have the answer comment below and I’ll update it. This was an anniversary cactus so we will call it a love cactus or a cactus of love. This commemorates 5 years of marriage and 2 beautiful children.

Greetings from Tonasket, Washington.

Ginger in Pots

I just began growing a sprouted ginger in a pot yesterday. This morning I was scrolling through my Facebook groups and there it was: a sign from the universe.

STORY TIME: We had this green shoot come off a piece of ginger I had lost in the back of my spices. I hate forgetting but sometimes, I just buy more. This time it came with a prize: a little baby green shoot. I thought, oh no, it’s winter and you can’t plant new plants outside – so I just potted it and put a little bit of hope into it. I said a lot of beautiful things to it in hopes it would inspire the ginger to grow like crazy.

Photo credit to Ronel Bey

Then the universe gifted me with the answer to the question: can you grow ginger in a pot? I had wondered when I potted the ginger, but I didn’t feel the need to research because this was the baby sprouts only chance.It was magic everyone, I just potted this yesterday and now I was seeing it in a Facebook group. Is this what fate feels like? I am so excited.

They posted the answer with easy to go to links. I followed those links because I just tried this yesterday.

Epic Gardening informed me that if you look for ginger at the store (to grow) you should look for eyes like you do potatoes. Also, the larger your ginger is determines how much we’ll get. Ginger grows faster and you’ll get more ginger when you pick larger pieces of ginger. This is because they’ll have more sprouts and that will lead to more shoots and more roots.

Ronel Bey is so amazing he has all of this ginger. I am impressed. I want to grow ginger now too.

He says that you need a shallow pot with good drainage. Now that I am seeing what he is doing: maybe I’ll repot mine. He says I should just barely cover it up. I will have to pull my ginger closer to the surface, and I should just give them enough water to tell them to grow but be sure not to over water the ginger.

They enjoy heat, humidity and water. He gave use some tips to look for as our ginger grows, which i found helpful you might too: Browning tips means your ginger needs water. Yellow leaves means your, nutrient loving, plant needs some nutrients. Give them the fertilizer they will thank you for it later.

Ginger can always produce new ginger was pretty cool too. You harvest at the end and they can be dry stored for a while. I like that because I enjoy using ginger in my cooking but sometimes I don’t have a recipe to require it.

My shoot of ginger that I am so pleased with

You should always look for multiple sources… So, I went and clicked a suggested video. 5 ways to get tons of ginger (Top Tips) is where I am going, he’s Australian which is appealing because I love the accent. That distracted me for the entire video and I can’t wait to try growing them outside next year.

It was not useful for containers, but it will probably be useful in the Spring. I can’t wait to get it started and he has such a lovely accent. His tips have also helped me before which made it a lot easier for me to consider his advice.

I love international channels because they place importance on different things. This YouTube channel Everyday simple health tips has a lot of useful information and this is specifically about growing ginger in containers.

Another Ronel Bey picture, I do not have my own pictures of a successful harvest yet so I must live through others.

He suggests that I dry my ginger out 10 to 20 hours before planting, which is good because my ginger was super dry. It probably was out longer than 20 hours, but we’ll see how it goes.

He also shows himself planting it not far from the top of the soil. I really love it when multiple sources use the same information, it shows that it is a common tip and will most likely be beneficial.

We should see a sprout in 10 to 15 days. After 6 months we should be ready to harvest the ginger. I like the time line in the video so that I know when to give up on this plant. The easier for me to understand the more likely I am to return.

We are going to see how this adventure works out. I will do more research and find out what I can, but I am excited to have a baby ginger sprout.

It is now snug as a bug in a rug only a few inches from the top of the soil.
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