About Me

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South Carolina, United States
Vetsy is my nickname that my family have fondly called me since my childhood. My blog reflects my personal views about the world around me. My topics may be anything that interest me but the majority of it is about my favorite past times...nature and gardening. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment or becoming a follower.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy New Year! to All here on blogger

Here's Wishing You more happiness than all my words can tell, not just alone for New Years Eve, but for all the years as Well.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Garden Bloom Day 2009

 It's time to post for our host Carol of Garden Bloom Day. A day that the garden blogging community share with viewers on the 15th of every month what's blooming in their gardens.

Here in the Northeast zone 5b, plants are all sleeping awaiting springs arrival so no blooms to show, but here are a few pictures of my beautiful Barberry. ( Berberis thunbergii) "It's a thorny devil," and I once thought about removing it.

Thanks to it's thorniness my desire to remove it was put off until I forgot to remove it all together.. I'm now thankful that I forgot, because its gorgeous Red berries add color and texture to what is now a colorless winter scene. Winter snow would have made a striking back ground and photo for this shrub but it has not snowed here in Michigan yet.

Here's a little History about the Barberry shrub I thought I would share with you.  The Barberry is associated with the Berbers, who cultivated it on the African cost of Barbary.

The Moonshine Designs Nursery located in Milan, Illinoisdiscovered that Hummingbirds, like to nest in their barberry shrubs for they have found small walnut size nest in their nursery plants from time to time.

 It makes an excellent protective hedge..I can attest to that, and deers will not touch it.

There are fifty spices of Barberry grown in the US.

They are often used to hold slopes and banks.

They are used in making candles because of their scent. 

The ripe fruits are used to make jelly, uumm ..now that's very interesting and something that I must investigate.

In India they are dried and eaten like raisins.

 It's Medicinal...it has a high concentration of berberine a hormonal substance that fights diseases and infections and is used by naturopaths to treat dysentery.

Wow! and I once thought that this was just a pretty bush of thorns that I found annoying, I have certainly change my views about it.

If some of you crafty bloggers out there have made scented Candles or Jelly  from this shrub, please write me about it.  I would love to hear from you and thanks for stopping by my blog.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Day We Broke Tradition

Since my childhood it has been my families Tradition to purchase a natural Christmas tree.  It's pine fresh scent filled the house putting us in the mood for Holiday cheer and since our Mother's home was the place for family gatherings it was customary to sat up a tree in her home.

A couple of winters ago we were hit by an unexpected storm the very week we needed to shop for a tree.

 Frigid bone chilling winds blew Icy flurries across our faces and through our bodies as we Shook, Shivered and Shake our way from one tree vendor to another.

We were astonished by the quality of trees that were offered. They were in poor shape and every vendor we approached seemed to have them.

There were trees that were so dry if you Sneezed the vibration would sat them on fire!
Hundreds of trees with missing pine needles were sprayed with blue green paint and scores of knotty crooked trees so knotty and so crooked a squirrel would risk injury if it attempted to climb one.

This was not the norm..we never had trouble purchasing a natural tree in the past.

Chilled to the bone and close to frostbite, one of my sister's suggested that we do something we had  never done before.. Purchase an artificial tree!

So off we went to find our artificial tree, agreeing to stop at the first retailer we came across.
Back at moms we pulled the tree from the box that came with three dissected pieces that we had to put together.

when we were done ... It looked nothing like the fabulous tree on the box, but after a little more tweaking and decorating we had a tree we could be proud of.

I have a new appreciation for the artificial tree.. They are crafted to look like the ones found in nature and unlike the natural tree they save you time, money and clean up.

I have not abandoned my tradition and love for the real thing..but it is nice to know that I have an alternative when I need one.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Got gnats?

 Got gnats?.. last year I had plenty ..This year I have None!   Thanks to some simple tips that saved my plants and my sanity.   Fungus gnats are a specie of gnat that are commonly found indoors.  I saw these gnats everywhere. They occupied my home, taking up residents in my houseplants and my basement.  At my local garden centers I spotted them flying around the latest arrival of  plants.

 I found them annoying but my lack of knowledge concerning their existence didn't give rise to any specific concerns or red flags! In my inexperienced  mind..  these insects were just a part of life, bugs came with the territory..

You got plants..You Got dirt..You Got gnats and other critters that like your plants as much as you do.  This concept almost caused me to lose my Chinese evergreen a plant I purchased for it's noted ease of care and beauty.   I purchased it from  my local home and garden store it was dense and beautiful.  It's unique contrast of dark and light green patterns on broad pointy leaves,  make it a stunning specimen and  I was thrilled to own it.  

After about a week or two, it suddenly became limp and turned yellow. I was mortified!, What have I done!  did I over water it?   I stared at it in total anguish and disbelief.... Maybe I have it placed in to much light?.. Maybe the room is to drafty?   If  it's sick why?  it was fabulous a week or so ago!  What happened!  
Oh my God please don't tell me that I just killed this beautiful plant!

                          Chinese Evergreen -Aglaonema

I decided to get to the bottom of this literally...I grabbed some news paper, purchased new soil and got out my planting equipment. As I prepared my table for dissecting my evergreen..I surveyed and studied my other collection of  houseplants which are Golden and Marble queen pothos, English Ivy, a Jade, Ponytails, and a few Cactus.  Gnats were flying around and sitting on most of my houseplants and they appeared fine but I wasn't taking any chances they too were getting a check up.

I grabbed my evergreen and begin moving some of the top soil around to check for crawling nemesis..as I did so a couple of gnats emerged out of the soil followed but a dozen others!  I began to dig a little deeper and every inch reviled more gnats!   I had a gnat infestation  and I feared the same fate for all the other plants.  My first step was to search the net for some info on this matter and the solution I found was surprisingly simple.

Neem oil was my choice for an insecticide simply because it's organic and non-toxic to me and my environment.

                                  Jade- crassula ovata

 I removed all the soil from my evergreen completely, sprayed it's roots with Neem oil and placed it in new soil. This step was repeated with all my other houseplants.  For I read that by the time you have discovered a gnat flying around your plants there maybe a nursery of baby gnats already present in your soil.

Days passed and all of my plants rebounded with-out incident except my Jade and Chinese evergreen.  They continued to falter, leaves shriveled up and fell from my jade and the evergreen continued to yellow and go limp and a third of it rotted and died.

Desperate I returned to the internet for some answers and learned that certain plants are very sensitive to some pesticides, even those that are derived from botanical sources, so please take care to learn your plants sensitivities and  read the care instructions before applying any insecticide/pesticide.

 I  soaked the roots of both the jade and evergreen in a shallow pan of water hoping to remove traces of the Neem.  In the mean time I search the internet again and found an answer and solution that was So simple, and So darn easy I felt stupid when I finished reading it.

I was instructed to allow the soil in my houseplants to dry out completely between watering and to add a little sand to help improve drainage.

 Fungus gnats love and thrive on moist soil, moist organic matter and dampness, which are perfect mediums for them to lay eggs.   Dry and well drained soil prevents this problem.. gnat eggs won't survive and will die in dry soil. This solution worked so well for me I no longer needed any insecticide to deter them!  I only watered them when they were almost bone dry!  a risky undertaking but one that work for me.

 It has been a year since this incident and this winter my Chinese evergreen is green once again although not bushy and full  like it was when I first purchased it and my Jade is putting out new leaves.  Yippy!

So here are a few simple tips to help you keep gnats out or cut down their populations if they are already present  in your home.

When possible purchase the lightest soils you can find because Some houseplant soils that are frequently sold at our garden centers are too heavy and hang on to water and if gnats are already dancing around plants in the store..duh! pass them by!

Watch for leaking facets and other sources wear water tends to leak. keep an eye on places like your attic and basement for creatures such as dead birds and vermin.
Mops, kitty litter pans and garbage cans attract these tiny critters as well so keep them clean and dry!

 Thank you for stopping by my blog do leave a quick hello I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Avenue trees in mists and sun

The Avenue trees in mists and sun

  The Avenue trees in mists and sun originally uploaded by algo.

  "Yesterday's the past and tomorrow's the future. 
Today is a gift which is why they call it the present"

    source unkown..