Sunday, 12 April 2015

Repotting Plants (Indoor Gardening)

I have always found Spring to be the best time of year to transfer your plants into larger pots, as they will be starting into their growth seasons now. Most indoor plants grow year round, but they do seem to slow down in the winter months. As the sun is getting warmer and the days are getting longer, the plants will grow their most in the Spring and Summer months. I think April is the month to do repotting, as this growth season will just be starting and the roots will be expanding. I wouldn't recommend doing this in the winter, as your plant may not adjust to the larger pot well.

Clear an area on your table or counter or wherever you plan to do this. You can cover up the area with newspaper or a plastic sheet if you want to protect the surface. Have at hand some potting soil, water, an assortment of plant pots, pot holders (that hold the excess water) and a spoon or small hoe/trowel for digging. These are the basics for the task at hand.

Once you have all your tools together bring over the plants you want to repot. I have an Avocado tree that needs a larger pot and some cuttings that I have put in water to grow roots that are more than ready to be placed in a pot.

I started with the Avocado. This particular plant is a little less than a year old and is very hearty. I planted the nut (seed) and it didn't seem to grow at all. About a month later, I planted a second nut and they both sprouted at about the same time. I was surprised the first one took twice as long to sprout, but it grew thicker and taller than the other one. Back to the job at hand, you want to loosen your soil in the current pot that your plant resides. Take your trowel or spoon and dig around the edge of the pot.

Dig all the way around and as deep as you can, to completely loosen the dirt from sticking to the pot. I would not recommend digging just the plant out of the dirt it is in to replant it. Keep it in it's original dirt to cushion the plant and it's roots. This helps to prevent the plant from going into shock over the change, which can cause the plant to become sick and maybe even die. You might be lucky and it will survive, but this way seems gentler to me.

At this point, the new pot that you are planning to place your plant into should be partially filled with dirt. Fill it up to a height that would be good for the bottom of your plant to rest on, to fit into the new pot nicely.

Gently pull your plant and it's dirt out of the pot. Be careful not to yank the plant too harshly, you don't want to damage it. It should give way nicely if you have loosened it well. If you have trouble getting it out, dig around it some more and try going a bit deeper to loosen that soil.

So here is the plant and all the dirt now removed from the smaller pot. You can see that the roots have grown down and around the bottom of the old pot. This indicates that it is definitely time to repot this plant. The new pot is just underneath with a layer of soil to put the plant on. I also have some of the leaves that have fallen off the plant in there to compost and help nourish the roots. Be careful and check that this is a good idea for your particular type of plant, as some plants do better with the dead leaves taken away and thrown out or composted separately. Some plants can also be harmful and poisonous to pets and children, as they may chew on them, so choose your plants wisely.

Place your plant into it's new home and keep it as level as possible, so there isn't too much stress on the plant. It has to get used to it's new, larger pot, so try to keep any change as minimal as possible. You don't want it to have to adapt to too many changes at once.

Now take your potting soil and fill in the pot with enough dirt to hold the plant in steady. I have left the nut exposed a little bit at the top of the soil, as this is still a young tree and I want it to grow easily. I want to wait until it has a good trunk, before I cover over the nut with soil completely.

It is important to water your plant at this point. It may not be your regular watering day and it may not have been that long since you watered it. However, it is a good idea to water it after the transfer to help it adapt to the change. Be careful not to over water it, you want to sort of dampen the new soil your plant is exposed to. That kind of an idea. Get rid of any excess water that ends up in the pot holder. You can now move your plant back to it's normal location or if you are growing a tree, like this, you may need to find a new spot to keep your plant as it gets taller and larger.

Avocados are great trees to grow indoors for those of us in northern climates and can't get them to grow outside. I had good success with growing these plants when I lived in Southern Ontario, but I struggle with them here. The extremely cold winters combined with electric heat in my apartment, causes trouble. The electric heat is the worst, as it dries everything out. I know it's getting bad when I go to pet my cats and I get a shock from them. Poor things. It makes it difficult to regulate the amount of water to give my plants. They can get really dry between watering, but watering them too often can cause problems, too. I thought this tree was a goner when it began to turn brown at the top and shrivel up. But I kept watering it and hoping it would survive and low and behold it started to grow branches. I am so happy it looks like it will make it.

Now I just hope it will make through next winter. I'm not sure if the other avocado is going to make it all though. :-(

Well this is turning into a long post, so I will continue tomorrow with planting the cuttings. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Spring Feeding

Some people feed the birds in the winter and then stop once spring arrives, but this is an important time to continue to feed them. At the beginning of spring, there hasn't been any growth of plants yet, and it's too cold for the bugs. Well, at least up here in the Northern Hemisphere anyway. It is also the time of breeding, so food is vitally important for them.

So, to help our feathered friends get the nourishment they need, try sopping up any left over grease in your pots and pans with bread crusts. The birds really like this and it helps them after a long winter of reduced calories. If you tend to throw out the crust ends of your bread, please consider feeding them to the birds instead. This will help to slightly reduce the garbage you produce, the food won't go to waste and you'll feel good helping out the birds. After all, giving is a true source of happiness.

Soak up all the grease with the bread crusts and rip the bread up into smaller "bite" sized pieces to make it easier for the birds to grab. I ripped it up before I rubbed it in the grease. This is also a great way to get rid of the left over grease in your pots and pans, making it much easier for clean up later. Once all your bread bits are ready, simply take them outside and scatter them around on the ground in a safe location. You may wish to do this near a window, so you can watch the birds and maybe squirrels enjoying your offerings.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Article on Hairstyles for Strapless Dresses

Here is the latest article that Metromela has published that I have written:

Hairstyles for Strapless Dresses: Metromela

I hope you enjoy the article and that it is helpful to you. 

(Once again I am having issues with being given credit for writing the article, but hopefully that will be fixed soon.) 

**Note: The authorship has been corrected as of April 11, 2015. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

3 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress in 5 Minutes

Of course, with any of these you can do them for longer than 5 minutes if you wish. These are simple things that you can do and are easy to remember. Try doing at least one of them a day to help reduce your overall stress level.

1. Listen to Birds Singing

For many of us living in cities, we often miss hearing our flighty friends singing. Too much traffic noise or living in apartments and working in offices with closed windows keeps us from hearing them. Listening to music or watching t.v. distracts us. People that are more in touch with nature, that live in the country or forest areas can tell you that birds singing means all is good. Birds tend to go quiet when danger is around and this alerts the animals and humans in the area that something is up. So, when we hear birds singing it acts to soothe us and keep us calm because it lets us know there is no immediate danger. Singing birds means that the birds are happy, so we can relax. Try listening to just 5 minutes of bird singing every day to reduce your stress level.

Try this link on Youtube or find another one that you like:  Sound of Nature - Bird Songs

2. Meditate

All you need to do is just 5 minutes of meditation a day to lower your level of stress. Surely, you can find 5 minutes somewhere in your busy day to meditate. Some of the other benefits of meditating daily are that it can lower your blood pressure, increase your concentration, decrease your pain and increase your immune functioning. For more information check out this page: 10 Science Based Reasons to Meditate.

Don't worry, you don't need to contort your body into a weird posture to do this. Simply sit in a chair with your back as straight as possible without being uncomfortable and your feet flat on the floor or you can even do it lying down if sitting is difficult. Close your eyes and breathe. (If you want to increase your flow of energy while sitting, you may wish to place your left hand in your lap palm upwards, and your right hand on top of your left hand palm upwards as well and then gently touch your thumbs together and point your thumbs toward your belly button.)

There are two ways to do Breathing Meditation:

1. Feel the air enter and leave your nostrils or if your nose is stuffed feel the air pass your upper lip. Just concentrate on the feeling of the air as it enters your body. This can be a cooling sensation or a very subtle tickling sensation. Don't follow the air on it's journey, but keep your focus on the feeling that arises on your upper lip or the rim of your nostrils as you breathe. Now notice the feeling of the air as it leaves your body. This can be a similar tickling sensation as breathing in, but in the reverse direction or it can be a warm sensation. That's it. Just breath normally, you do not need to take big, long breaths. Spend at least 5 minutes concentrating on the feeling the air creates at the rim of your nostrils or upper lip as you breath in and out, in and out.

2. Pay attention to the rise and fall of your stomach as you breath. If your shoulders are raising and lowering, this indicates that you are breathing shallowly, which is usually created by stress. This shallow breathing is not as healthy for you as the deeper stomach breathing, so try your best to breath deeper while meditating. You don't have to take long, slow breaths, just breath normally, but try to feel the air expand your stomach when you breath in. And then notice how your stomach returns to normal when you breath back out. Again, that is all you have to do, just breath in and pay attention to your stomach pushing out and release the air and feel your stomach return. You don't need to follow the breath, just focus your attention on your stomach moving each time you breathe in and out. Do this for at least 5 minutes.

You can do either one of these simple meditations and switch them up from time to time if you want to.

3. Healing Breathing Technique

You may be familiar with the phrase "in with the good air and out with the bad". This follows along that path. The beauty of this stress buster is that you can do it anytime, any where and no one will even know you are doing it. The more you practice it, the easier it becomes. Just breath normally to start for the first few breaths. Then imagine that every time you inhale you are breathing in healing white light energy. You bring this healing, white, light energy breath down to your heart and from there it spreads throughout your entire body. You can imagine this white light healing any illnesses you have and reducing your pain, or just imagine it giving you beautiful healing energy. Do this for a few breaths and let yourself feel more relaxed and energized as you do this.

Now imagine that every time you exhale you breathe out all your pain, illnesses and suffering in the form of thick, black, smoke. Once this smoke leaves your body it instantly disappears. Try this for a few breaths. Allow yourself to release these physical, mental or emotional problems. Give yourself permission to reduce them and let them leave your body entirely. Once you have tried these out, combine the two for each breath. For every breath you take, inhale healing, white, light energy and exhale suffering, thick, black, smoke. Breathe in healing and breathe out suffering.

Once you get the hang of it, you can practice this any time, even standing in the line at the grocery store or bank. It is easy to learn and easy to do with very little practice you can master this technique that uses visualization with breathing.

I hope you find at least one of these methods for reducing stress helpful. Give them all a try and find your favourite one or use all three of them. Let me know if any of these work for you and which one you prefer in the comments below. Thanks.