Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Please email me, I have a question about your blog!

I do not know what this person heather is up to, but here is the result, upon checking her email in google. 

anyone, got any replies from her? What is the deal?
  1. OPERATION BRING HOME A BLOW: followed links and came to this ...
    4 days ago – 1 comments: Heather said... Please email me! I have a question about your blog! :) November 28, 2011 3:59 PM ...
  2. Adventures of the Stay At Home Mom: Life, According to my iPhone
    11 Nov 2011 – Heather said... Please email me! I have a question about your blog! :) November 11, 2011 2:11 PM · Miranda said. ...
  3. Clever Title TK: It Goes to Eleven
    11 Nov 2011 – D. Smith. November 11, 2011 1:01 PM · Heather said... Please email me! I have a question about your blog! :) ...
  4. Confessions of a Supermom Wannabe: Ode to a day of Snot
    20 Nov 2011 – 2 comments: Heather said... Please email me! I have a question about your blog! :) November 23, 2011 8:42 AM ...
  5. stephmodo: Modern Quilts
    21 Nov 2011 – November 22, 2011 12:20 PM · Jamie said... I just bought some fabric to make a few quilts for the thank ...
  6. Baby Bump & Beyond, LLC.: Maternity Wear Wednesday: 16 weeks
    15 Nov 2011 – 1 comments: Heather said... Please email me! I have a question about your blog! :) November 18, 2011 6:30 AM ...
  7. Ann Arbor Mom Blog: All About Owls - Free Nature Program for the ...
    14 Nov 2011 – 1 comments: Heather said... Please email me! I have a question about your blog! :) November 15, 2011 12:20 PM ...
  8. Motherhood Imperfected: Reminder!
    26 Oct 2011 – Heather said... please email me! I have a question about your blog! :) November 1, 2011 2:12 PM · Post a Comment ...
  9. #5 Decorate for Christmas: 25 Before 25 | Little Mama Jama
    2 days ago – Heather says: November 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm (UTC 0). Reply. Please email me! I have a question about your blog! :). HeatherVonsj@gmail. ...
  10. TripleZmom, not Supermom: Hot Pants. Literally.
    18 Nov 2011 – I have a question about your blog! :) 11/22/11 2:36 PM · WordVixen said... I'm thinking these would be awesome ...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Houseplant: Dracena reflexa "Song of India"

Houseplant: Dracena reflexa "Song of India"

This is probably my second Dracena reflexa - Song of India. See how long this will last with me.

The first one, I probably killed it within one month.
How did I kill it?
It look very healthy at the store. Took her home, find a good spot on top of my living room shelf. And then she sulk in a matter of two days. Leaf is not perky at all. So, I watered her. Next day, she was sulking still. Did not know what to do, so I watered her again. Three days later, the leaves started falling off, and I stop watering her. The leaves keep falling and the last time I check, there were no more leaves. I took her off the shelf, pull the stick, and off -- it smells stinky and she was dead.

This is another Dracena reflexa "song of india"

So far, I just have ash tray full of pebbles. I poured water on this base.

Put the water in there, and put the pot of dracena on top. Never ever watered the soil directly, except the first day after I changed the soil from store to my own soil mix recipe.

 Picture of her swirly beauty, Dracena reflexa "song of india".

Dracena reflexa "song of india"

Houseplant: Chlorophytum comosum (aka Spider Plant)


Chlorophytum comosum ( AKA spider plant)

this plant has huge roots (enlarge) that stores water when drought come along. She seem to be okay on top of the book shelf, so time will tell if I will lose her or not. 

picture on her first day at home from the store, just right after replacing the store soil with my own recipe:

Houseplant: Maranta leuconeura ( Prayer Plant)

HOUSEPLANT: Maranta leuconeura (prayer plant)

I found the name of this plant: Red Veined prayer plant, the picture is also more clearer than mine. (1)Maranta leuconeura erythroneuro,Red-Veined Prayer Plant,Marantaceae

there seems to be a buzz about this prayer plant, so I take her home. don't know how long she will last on top of my bookshelf, but yeah, I will let you know. 

If you have questions about how I care for this houseplant, leave a comment. How I care for her, might be slightly different from your style, it may work  or may not work, but worth the shot.

Maranta leuconeura erythroneuro
Red-Veined Prayer Plant




Houseplant: Stephanotis floribunda ( aka Madagascar Jasmine, Bridal Veil)

 Houseplant: Stephanotis floribunda ( common names: Madagascar Jasmine, Brival Veil)

Got this one at the store, and smells really nice, recall the Tomb Raider part where Lara smells * Jasmine*...what more I can tell you? The challenge will be to keep this plant alive in my home. 

Here are the pictures of my lovely Steph!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Soft Fluffy Snow, We Love it.

first decent good snowfall in ottawa, enough to make snowball. Yay! lovely and mild at 0C. Pictures of our backyard and the kiddos! kieren and karlina enjoyed it very much and can you tell, i love it too!

Matured Zucchini

I let the Zucchini mature itself,  and i wonder if this is really a zucchini or some random hybrid cross cucurbit that grow in my backyard.

Anyways, it grows more than 17 inches, more than the length of my laptop. But then,
it tasted good, so it may not be zucchini but some random cucurbits that grow because I toss them in there.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Houseplant: Aloe Vera ( barbadensis)

Scientific name:          Aloe vera, also known as Aloe barbadensis

Explanation of scientific name:    (1)   Aloe - from the ancient Arabic name for the plant

vera - true or genuine

barbadensis -   from or of Barbados

The houseplant aloe vera is very common, that every household has one. Maybe,  the purpose of a quick remedy for sunburn, minor burns and itch or just because this plant will live no matter what you do with it.  I resist buying this plant, simply that it's  always available anywhere. However, for some reason, today, I brought home this plant. It  has a white speckles, unlike the common aloe vera that was around in my "lolas" garden.

It was heavily rootbound in a 4inch pot, so I upgraded it to a round 6 inch pot. This will  probably last for 6 months, unless a baby Aloe Vera appear on the side.

Caring for your Aloe Vera: (2) along with what I do with my own aloe vera

SOIL: fast draining & fertile (2)
I mixed 4 equal parts: perlite, tropical mix, play sand, perlite.
Add slow release fertilizer granules.

LIGHT: Tropical, needs sun and partial shade.
While this plant can benefit full sun, I don't have any right now. (Ottawa City here, we will have freezing rain. So, if you ask me, this plant is on top on one of my bookshelf, where a single living room light gives it sun. This plant has been around for 2,000 years, I bet it can survive a living room light or else it will vanish.

Needs little,  as root rot will occur if too much on the roots.
Small houseplant like mine can benefit 1/4 cup of water every other week (winter), and maybe 1/2 cup on sun shining season. Allhough this plant is said to be 95% water, I notice that its roots is not swollen (unlike Chlorophytum comosum aka spider plant), so I would suggest making sure that soil mix promotes easy drainage and pots should have a bottom hole. Any nice pot without a drainage is a recipe to kill your aloe. TREAT YOUR PLANTS ETHICALLY!

Scientific Classification: (3)

Kingdom:     Plantae
clade:     Angiosperms
clade:     Monocots
Order:     Asparagales
Family:     Xanthorrhoeaceae
Subfamily:     Asphodeloideae
Genus:     Aloe
Species:     A. Vera

Pictures: These are pictures of my own houseplant. These are not copyrighted, however, a  simple courtesy is appreciated if you want to use it.

Houseplant: Aloe Vera
Houseplant: Aloe vera (leaves)



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Houseplant: Cissus Rhombifolia (Grape Ivy, Oak Leaf Ivy)

Houseplant: Cissus rhombifolia

Grape and Oak Leaf Ivy

Houseplant: Cissus rhombifolia is known commonly as Grape Icy and Oak leaf ivy. Because it grow slowly, it is now a very popular plant. This plant is part of the grape family, not ivy. (1)
Though unrelated to true ivy, it is commonly known Japanese creeper, Boston ivy, Grape ivy, Japanese ivy, and woodbine (though the latter may refer to a number of vines).(2)
This plant is native to S. America and the West Indies.Compound leaves with elegant 3 oak-leaf shaped leaflets; soft dark hairs on the stems; trailling habit. Great for hanging basket. Flowers inconspicuous. Runners several feet long. Width is variable.(3)

I was gifted with this plant from Ottawa Plantcycle and delivered by the owner to my home. It must have been  with her for awhile because it has bare stems which was ideal for my cuttings and propagation expirement.

The basic care  of Grape Ivy  is as follows:
Light - can tolerate low light, can be position on top of your bookshelf so it can trail without being disturb.
Water - it says need humidity, so probably do not get it dry before next watering. Once a week suffice, little bit of misting.
Soil: Well drained. African Violet mix if you are lazy to mix your own.
Grooming:  Decent support if you like this one to climb, or another option is to let it trail by your books.

How do I care for my Grape Ivy:
Light - it is in the top of the kitchen shelf, meeaning it gets light when I am in the kitchen. Don't know if that is enough, but time will tell. I will update this blog if this one does not work.
Water: I bottom water, since pouring water on top of your pot compact the soil, which you do not really want.  The pot is big, so I used a cover of a round cake - disposable one as the bottom drip tray. I pour a cup of water on it once a week. This way, I do not  overwater it, I scheduled it every Monday morning after I prepare my son's lunch kit.
Soil : I happen to have decent tropical mix, perlite and vermaculite. So, its 1/3 tropical mix soil, perlite, vermaculite.
Grooming: I used whatever stick I can found in the kitchen and form a triangular support. Anything goes with this plant.

Pictures: I took few pictures of this plant, this will help readers identify their plants. If you need to use my pictures, feel free to do so. Just kindly let me know.
Jazz up for the Holiday! (Location: Top Shelf in the Kicthen)

Close up of the Grape Ivy Leaves

On top of the living room bookshelf

Bare Stem Cuttings, and 4 pots of young cuttings started. Grape Ivy Propagation by Stem cuttings



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Coleus Seed Propagation: Ebay Seeds (Ebay username: lilolfarm)

February 25, 2012. Another seed that came out of that batch, she was under a big velvet lime variety. I have to transplant her, so she can be the best coleus she can be. This one is green with cream center. Reminds me of Buttercream cultivar of coleus.

A tray of about 15 pots - coleus all in 4 inch pots. These were same batch of Nov. 2011 seeds.




The coleus seeds, sown in Fall of 2011. :) Lovely. Now, these are ready for new homes. Feb . 04, 2012

Seed Source: Bean Acres Seeds, Fresh Harvest of 2011
Ebayname: lilolfarm

Date: October 2011
Douglasville, GA, USA

Thank you very much Sandy, when you said FRESH! You mean fresh, look at these baby seedlings! With all the seeds that germinated from a humble $1.99 per packet seeds, I give these dealers A+ for fresh harvested seeds. I will definitely buy again.

Seed Pack: Farm Mix 50 seeds each packet.
Germination Rate is stated at 85%. I think I have about 90-95 % germination.

Coleus Seeds germinated after 10 days.
Some more coming up.

Update: My germination rate must have been more than 85%. Take a lot at these baby seedlings, they have overtaken the whole seed flat.
My light in the basement is just basic shop light.
Soil Mix: perlite/vermaculite, spaghnum/peat (1/3 each part).
Water is cooled boiled water (minimize bacteria)
Tray: A cheap one with lid.
I bottom water it, one of those pack that you can get at Home Depot.

The tall coleus at the back are cuttings overwintered.
My home is overpowered by colorful coleus.
Want some?

UPDATE: fEB. 19, 2012

These seeds have now grown up to full beautiful coleus. See above pictures.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Buy Canadian, Christmas Shopping ( Less Carbon Footprint), MEC

Buy Canadian, Be Canadian! The job you save maybe your own!

Hmmm... reading about it, seems like we become as patriotic as Americans (as Obama want them to be). Exactly not a bad thing.

Buy local, buy from small farmers, buy from local crafters!

Fueling our own economy, this might be a model to sustain ourselves, even to a smaller extent. We still import our food, because our weather does not permit farming 12 months a years, unless you live in BC. 

While my shopping are normally from MEC, there are other resources for the confuse shoppers. 
1. Why MEC? (
I know, expensive, but those products last for a long time thus less product go to landfill. If you buy MEC sweater, guaranteed that next year you won't throw it in the garbage. If you don't like it, you can basically sell it used ( good used value) or freecycle it (many would want it). MEC carries variety of durable products, and it is very easy to find the "made in canada" labels.   MEC has been the un-official guardian of our landscape, long before this movement of going green burst into the mainstream. Each adventurer with each backpack pledge to protect nature, or whatever is left of it. They promote healthy children by promoting nature friendly outfit, regardless if the weather is -40C or hot baking sun.

2. Another resource for good gift are local growers, who sells those bowls of succulents and cacti. 
Who can refuse a cup of air fresheners? Those cacti and succulent bowls, locally grown, and great home, (feng shui) accents. I have succulents that lasted years, versus the usual 3 month maximum life of a cheap houseplant.  
You can buy from hobby growers like me too, I don't spend more electricity that bigger greenhouses, just normal kitchen light I used for household. 

3. Free Cycle Ottawa,,

Stories - that's all that makes a holiday cheer!
Last year, I rescued few plants from the neighbors. They got busy in summer, that the plant was inching its way to the garbage bin. I ask if I can take them in, I cared for it, and when Thanksgiving came, I put it back in their front steps as a present. They all have a big laugh when I brought it back, all dolled up. They told me who gave it, and why it was given, then they neglected it and it came back like someone who gave it! LOL

Grab something old that grandma is not using, a favorite mug perhaps. Turn it into a cacti or succulent bowl, that way no need of watering at a regular basis. If you visit grandma once a month, then water the cactus at this rate. It won't complain. Small succulent fit on those wall units, encase in glass units in the living room. 
If you want to make sure your succulent bowl survive, do it now, the month of November.  I started mine yesterday.
A bag of potting mix, put in your plants (loblaws, home depot, lowes, rona) - check plantcycle ottawa  first if they got any for free-great, then top it when shattered glasses, pebbles, rocks - anything you got. NO drainage hole, or with drainage hole, no problem. If you water it ONCE A MONTH,  the water already evaporate! 
Here is mine: 

4. Lastly, if you must buy like coffee, consider Fair Trade. It will help those of needed it, no matter how far they might be, they certainly appreciate it. I know, we have our stories and volunteers overseas. 

In 2008, I organize the Massive Outreach in Ottawa to educate Ottawans about Fair Trade.  I am a member of Engineers Without Borders-Carleton Chapter. (

5. Think what's inside your cupboards, and your closet. Maybe, you can trade it with someone, sell it, or re-use for gift ideas!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Coleus List, Coleus Identification (Painted Nettle) Solenostemon Scu

Coleus Henna
Coleus Brilliancy or Saturn
Mixed Tray 6 pots - blaze would be my guess, along with Farm Mix
Here is the list of my coleus. I obtained many cuttings this fall, and believe me when I say, I maybe have 50 pots of them under a shop light, which I rigged suspended from the ceiling. If you want a small pot of coleus for a houseplant, contact me.  There is no way I can accommodate more coleus in my home without invading my kitchen. Plus, I got seedlings germinating in the basement tray. OPS!
Coleus Palisandra
Coleus Black Dragon 6 pots

Salmon Lace or  Blaze - 6 pots

 This variety is probably heirloom, you can found these colors in any coleus seed catalogs. If you think there are other names to this coleus, please let me know. I'd be happy to add the name.

 salmon Lace or Violet Tricolor Variety 
6 pots

A tray of Blaze, definitely needs repotting. 
These Blaze are propagated by re-using a plastic cover from a whole chicken BBQ. I have to pot them soon, roots are showing out in the transparent side.

  Probably, another batch of Blaze. A tray of sliced fruits - the empty plastic is used as cutting propagator.                       

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Coleus List: and How Many do I have in the Basement right now?

This season was crazy and I never got time to plant coleus in the backyard, and I was collecting Hosta. However, at the end of the season, friends were very generous to give me coleus cuttings.

So here we goes, and I must have close to 50 pieces of 4" pots. Anyone interested to own a coleus plant as houseplant, contact me and your toonie ready.

Potato ( Solanum tuberusom)

I recalled those purple potato - from little boomers, I think - yes, it is cute. I planted few of them, it maybe a gift from some gardening friends, and this bucket was all I had. It turned out really good spuds and I think I will do it again.

Easy Care! Duh! I Killed a Plant ( Get a Free Plant from your neighbors: Ottawa Plant Cycle)

The Art of Killing a Houseplant (over water it!)

Kalanchoe (from the Crassulacea Family)

Many plant labels at the big box store has labels like "easy care", or even tons of internet information tells you it is an easy plant. 
And when you went and buy one, it lasted few weeks and it died on you. 
Now, so much for that easy care, huh? Maybe it was my black nails or black thumb?

Actually, it is not. I am a crazy gardener, and I have killed lots of voilets.It is never easy to restrain yourself from over watering your plant. At the end of the day, you have this routine of checking out your plant and since the morning water evaporated already, there you are with a watering can. (ops! I did it again! ) And of course, you forgot that while you were having coffee this morning, you look at your plant, and you said " oh, i got a minute to water this baby!".

Another one too is adaptation. Plant are grown in warm greenhouses, and shipped or delivered to walmart where it is nice and cool. It may look nice for days, but plant will wilt eventually trying to cope with change. And seem to be sneezing and coughing too with cooler weather in fall? Sounds familiar?

Plant need to adopt to the new environment (temperature and light), and if not, they die. As you bring that baby from Walmart,Home Depot, Loblaws, and then your plant look sleepy and droppy, it's probably sensing it's new home.  You think, " gee I need to water it. " Oh yeah, (ops! you did that again! ) If the plant you bring home is from the Crassulacea family - from warm sandy humid dessert, you are slowly moving that plant to the compost bin. 

The plant is sleepy, sort of jet lagged, and NO NO NO, the plant do not need water, put that watering can down! The plant is trying to adopt to your home temperature after being shipped from warm greenhouse, cool Walmart and your nice cozy home. 
Leave the plant to adjust, and do not water. Talk to the plant and welcome him/her to the home, introduce family members, and soon the plant will perk up to life. 
Crassula Ovata ( Common name: Jade plant, money tree)

 So here are the tips if you care: 
1. do not over water your plant. It enjoys conversation about the weather, but it will rot with too much water. 
2. easy on a new plant. let it adjust to your home, and put that watering can down. 
But I really want to have a houseplant? is the good news. You can have it for free, if you promise me you won't over water the poor plant. 

If you live in Ottawa ( that's right, Canada's capital city if you please),  or nearby Ottawa, ON, we have a local Ottawa Gardening Friends (OGF)group, some people have too much plant (like me), or are redesigning their landscape. Contact me to join, we also give away seeds for the season.
You will get lucky and become the owner of a plant .....and let me know how i goes. 

Organic Air Freshener : Herbs Mint, Rosemary, Lavender

Organic Air Freshener: Mint, Rosemary and Lavender
after that killing frost, I never thought my herbs survived, but they did. and today with a warm 7C, I harvested a bunch, more than enough for cooking requirement. I selected few cutting to root for small pots. I normally give these away, or ask a toonie for my effort of propagating these lovely herbs. I hope that is not too much to ask.

at lunch time, I can smell diaper stink and of course, I did not wrap it with a genie. 
To keep the air calm, and fresh for my kids noon nap, this is my version of air freshener.

1. I gather my herbs: mint, rosemary, lavender
2. i pour 3 cups of water in a pan.
3. i let it boil and drop the herb bunches. 

The house smells heavenly.calm, and I am ready to nap, unfortunately, the laundry is waiting to be folded. LOL

3 inch pot of Rosemary - poted by end of Summer


Want some rosemary? Got a toonie? Pick up an herb pot from my home. i live in the South End/South Keys of Ottawa. This pot is already like a houseplant, has adopted to indoor temperature, so this will last longer than the Loblaws/Walmart plants which come from a greenhouse.

This pot is ideal for window sill, kitchen window. Well rooted since end of summer, I think I will repot the second one, for the roots start to come out in the pot hole.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Houseplant: Crassula Ovata (Common Name: Jade Plant, Money Tree)

Houseplant: Crassula Ovata (Jade Plant, Money Tree)

I think the Jade plant name refers to its leaf color - a jade gemstone.

a succulent, easy to kill plant by over watering. This is one of my favorite houseplant.

Crassula Ovata (located on top of my kitchen shelf)

I put my Jade on top of my kitchen shelf, near a lamp. It gets light and I barely water it, so it has find it's perfect spot.

Members of the Crassulaceae Family were natives to dessert, growing in sand. However, these Jade plant are grown as houseplant in a home with really low humidity. To make matters worst, we tend to fertilize it, and put assortment of soil like cactus soil mix - which I find too fertile for Jade. As a result, the Jade grow too fast, only to fall over because the trunk was not sturdy enough to hold each growth weight. Ah, talking about plant on steroids! You cruel plant owner...yes, I am talking about you. So, we have the perfect formula to kill a plant?
No, you do not have a brown thumb, just don't use that thumb often, okay?

This tray of Crassula ovata were cuttings from Yvonne. She is a very lovely lady, who knows how to keep your Crassula Ovata alive. Since it was big tree, and has small branches that needed a good home, I am the willing, eager home gardener to do it.
an assortment of 6 clear cups of young cuttings.

one oddly cut branch, so I end up putting it in its own set-up (recycle plastic- a container of mini-muffins, I re-use as propagating pot).

last tray of Crassula ovata leaves. (re-use little plastic trays that I collected this season from Ottawa gardeners - Thank you again!) I cannot throw away such healthy speciment, so I made 2 trays leaves - propagating Jade by leaf cuttings.

SOIL MIX: please do not use garden soil if you think you are saving money, surefire way to kill a cutting. Organisms in the garden soil will chew this young plant to compost in no time. If you must use garden soil, bake it, microwave it, kill those organisms that may chew your cutting.
What I used? Perlite, Vermaculite, Canadian Spaghnum/Peat Moss and Tropical Mix, 4 equal parts.

I let know you what is the result of these cuttings. Since Crassula ovata grows with less care, I may have some baby plant to share to you soon.
Contact me on my email: if you want some of these young Crassula ovata.

I found this link on the web discussing more about Crassula ovata: