Ponytail Palm Plant

Ponytail Palm Plant

ponytail palm behind the couch on the left, image via Unspash @stephwilll

I recently discovered a plant that I hadn’t ever known before. It’s called the ponytail palm. However, it’s not actually a palm tree / plant at all. Instead, it’s a succulent. And yet it looks just like a tiny little palm tree. It’s adorable. I don’t know why I’ve never come across this plant before. Now that I know about it, I’m seeing it everywhere.

Discovering the Ponytail Palm Plant

Every month, my best friend and I try to get together at his place for what we call “wine and whine.” It’s just a friendship catch-up day of conversation and wine drinking. Recently, his apartment has been taken over by plants. It’s funny, because neither of us was ever really good with plants. We used to live together and I don’t think we ever had a living plant in our shared apartment. I once bought him and his husband a bonsai tree, and I don’t think it lasted a few months.

And yet, in recent months, my bestie has taken up indoor gardening. He’s loving it. He’s good at it!

So, as I’ve been going over there, his plant collection has grown. There were a few simple plants. Then there were some more complicated plants. He has plants that are on a weekly misting schedule. He waters other plants every few days. Over time, he has even repotted plants.

One of his most recent plant acquisitions, as you may have guessed, is the ponytail palm plant. He found it at a store while looking for new pots. He fell in love with it, he purchased it, and that’s how I discovered it, sitting in the corner of his home.

A Plant By Any Other Name …

My bestie actually introduced me to the plant as an elephant foot tree. You can see why when you look at it. After all, the trunk sure does look a lot like the foot of an elephant. However, I actually mis-remembered it as an elephant palm. It looks so much like a little palm tree. So, when I went to Google it and learn more about it, I typed in “elephant palm” and what came up was the ponytail palm tree.

According to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, this plant’s official name is Nolina (Beaucarnea) recurvata. We most commonly know it as the ponytail palm. However, you might also refer to it as a bottle palm. And, like I said before, people sometimes call it the elephant foot tree.

A Palm, A Tree, A Succulent?

The ponytail palm looks like a palm tree. And yet, it’s not. Old Farmer’s Almanac explains that it’s more closely related to a Joshua Tree or a Yucca Tree. No wonder I’m drawn to this plant. I grew up in the Arizona desert. Therefore, I’m very familiar with these types of plants. I wouldn’t immediately think of the Joshua Tree when looking at the ponytail palm. Nevertheless, I see the family resemblance.

And, did you know, that the Joshua Tree isn’t a tree at all? It’s part of the agave family. And this, in turn, is a type of succulent. I’ve always loved succulents. That’s probably also the desert in me. So, again, no surprise that I found myself drawn to this plant.

How Big Is a Ponytail Palm Tree?

My friend’s new little plant is less than one foot tall. That’s partly why I like it so much. It’s this tiny, cute little palm tree in a pot inside of the apartment. However, as I did my research, I learned that these plants can actually grow to be quite huge. According to The Almanac, they can grow naturally in the wild to 30 feet in height with leaves that extend six feet long.

Of course, they don’t get that large when cultivated in a garden. Moreover, when grown indoors, they will remain quite small. They’re usually only about four feet tall when grown indoors. So, it will be interesting to see how tall my friend’s plant will get. We will get together once a month and I can watch his baby grow!

5 Tips for Caring For a Ponytail Palm Tree

Since this isn’t my plant, I don’t actually have to worry about caring for it. That’s my friend’s job. And yet, I was curious about what kind of care it needs. Between my friend’s information and what I found online, here are the five best tips I have for taking care of an elephant foot plant:

1. Lots of Light

This makes sense for succulents, of course. They want a lot of sunshine.

2. Fast-Drying Soil

Likewise, these aren’t plants that want to sit in water. They don’t want to be very wet. Use a fast-drying soil that’s good for cacti and succulents. Keep the soil relatively dry even when watering. The top soil should be completely dry before you water the plant again.

3. How to Water a Ponytail Palm

Basically, you want to soak the soil so that it gets wet all through it. However, you want to use a pot with draining holes. Moreover, you want to make sure that the excess water all drains out. You don’t want wet soil for this plant. This can’t be reiterated enough, according to the Internet.

4. Room Temperature

The plant likes to be kept in room temperature. However, make that room a little bit chillier in the winter months. Your plant will thank you. That said, don’t let the plant sit too close to windows with cold air. You want a plant that recognizes it’s a little cooler during winter, but you certainly don’t want to freeze your plant.

5. Repot Every Year or Two

In order to keep the plant small, all that you really need to do is keep taking care of it in its small pot. However, you’ll still need to repot it. Doing so once every year or two is ideal.

Are Elephant Foot Plants Trending?

I didn’t know about these plants until I saw my friend’s recently. And yet, now that I know about them, I keep spotting them everywhere. For example, I went to a little store on Haight Street that only had a few plants among many other things and there one was! Is this a case of noticing what you’re focused on? Or are these plants actually trending now?

Are you familiar with the ponytail palm tree? What do you call it?

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5 Quick Tips To Rescue Your Plants From Root Rot

I am prone to overwatering my plants. I suspect that this comes from growing up in the desert. That might sound counterintuitive. However, I have this reverence for the magic of water as a result of my desert upbringing. And so subconsciously I tend to think that water will solve all plant problems. Which, of course, is not true. In fact, overwatering contributes to one of the most common causes of plant death: root rot. Luckily, you can prevent this problem once you’re aware of it. Moreover, if you catch it early enough, you can rescue your plants from root rot.

What Is Root Rot?

Do you have a plant that doesn’t seem to be growing properly despite watering it regularly? Are the leaves wilting even though the soil is wet? Do the stems feel mushy to the touch? How about the roots – if you look at them, are they the right color? Or are they more of a red-brown shade than they ought to be? Finally, how does the soil smell? If it smells “off” and you see these other symptoms, chances are that you have root rot.

As the name suggests, the roots of your plant are rotting away. Root rot is actually a disease. Blossom Plant explains that it has two common causes: overwatering and harmful fungi. In my case, it’s usually been due to overwatering, as I explained. However, even if you are great at watering your plants properly, they may develop root rot as a result of the growth of bacterial fungi.

Sadly, once you start seeing the symptoms of root rot described above, it might be too late to rescue your plants from root rot. However, it’s worth a try. Caught early enough, there are definitely things that you can do to save your plants.

5 Quick Tips To Rescue Your Plants From Root Rot

The most important thing that you can do is to keep a close eye on your plants. This way, you catch problems early. If caught early, try these five things to rescue your plants from root rot:

1. Carefully Cut Away the Rotting Roots

You can’t actually “cure” root rot. In other words, you must remove the roots that are rotting. In order to do this, you will have to carefully remove the plant from the soil. Then, you will have to remove the soil from the roots as much as possible. This allows you to look at the roots. Hopefully, plenty look thriving, meaning they are vibrant, white, and beautiful. The ones with root rot will look stringy and brown, as though they are dying — because they are. Alternatively, they may be a grey color and may feel slimy to the touch. Carefully cut away all of the rotting roots. You should cut just slightly above the damaged part. Maintain as many healthy roots as possible.

2. Carefully Cut Away the Dying Leaves

Cutting away the rotting roots is the most important part of rescuing your plant. However, you don’t want to leave other dying parts of the plant either. After all, you want to give your plant the best chance of survival. You want healthy roots to support the healthy growth of the rest of the plant. Therefore, you will also want to trim away all of the dying leaves on your plant. Be selective – trim away what you’re sure is dying but leave what might potentially grow well.

3. Repot Your Plant in Fresh Soil

Regardless of the cause of root rot, the soil is now a problem. If you’ve overwatered it, you can certainly let it dry out. Nevertheless, it’s not healthy enough to support the full healing of your plants. Of course, if bacteria is the cause of your root rot, then you want to get rid of the soil that has that bacteria, right? So, it’s time to get rid of all of that soil. Remove as much of it as you safely can from the roots of the plant. Get rid of all soil that is in the pot. Get fresh, healthy, new, dry soil and repot the plant.

4. Skip the Fertilizer for Now

Plants in a Box explains that your plant is fragile from root rot. Therefore, you don’t want to add the stress of fertilizer right now. Instead, just make sure that you use high-quality soil for repotting. Then hold off on fertilizer for the time being. Give the plant time to revive.

5. Review Your Plant’s Proper Care

Even if you think that you know your plants well, it’s worth it to refresh your memory. Do a little bit of research into exactly what the best conditions are for this plant to thrive. Pay careful attention to the watering instructions, of course.  But also look at the sunlight it needs, the temperature it does best in, etc. You want to give your plant as much TLC as possible while it’s working to heal.

How to Prevent Root Rot in the Future

Although you can do these things to try to rescue your plants from root rot, sometimes it just isn’t going to work. Once you start seeing the signs of a rotting plant, it might be too late. Therefore, preventing root rot is really the way to go. Do all that you can to prevent it in the future so that you don’t have to try to save your plants down the line.

Some of the key ways to prevent root rot include:

  • Remember to check exactly what conditions are best for each particular plant.
  • Be careful not to overwater your plants.
  • Use the right soil to get proper drainage for each plant.
  • Also, use the right pot, preferably with drainage holes, to prevent standing water.
  • Check your plants regularly. Pay attention to how they look, how they smell, and what the soil is like. Catch problems early on.

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5 Things I Learned About Gardening in 2022

5 Things I Learned About Gardening in 2022

I am happy to be back here on this blog with all of you who are interested in frugal gardening. I had taken a break due to health issues and a loss in the family throughout much of 2022. Luckily, a colleague was able to step in. It looks like they provided you with a lot of wonderful tips and information while I was gone. Now that I am back, I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I would most like to share with you in the months to come. In order to get into that, I think the best thing to do is to look back at 2022 and see what I learned. Here are the top five things I learned about gardening in 2022.

1. Plants Are Very Personal Gifts

I suppose that this is something that I already knew. However, I had many opportunities to think about just how personal plants are throughout 2022. As aforementioned, it was a year filled with illness and loss. As a result, many people wanted to reach out with their condolences. I received many wonderful handwritten cards. Moreover, I received practical help and emotional support. I didn’t receive a lot of gifts, and I didn’t receive any plants. And I am happy it was that way. Looking back now, though, I am a little surprised by this.

In my mind, it’s so common for people to show up with flowers when they want to express sympathy. Or when visiting your home. And yet, I realized, people actually don’t ever bring me flowers. This got me thinking – is that an old-fashioned idea? Do my people just not think of that as a gift because it’s not their love language or do they know it’s not mine? Mine is words and I receive cards, so that could be.

Recently, I read a memoir called “Where You End and I Begin.” The mother in the memoir has a lot of rules that people in her life find unconventional. One of them is that you don’t bring cut flowers to someone’s home because it creates work for the hostess. However, she liked to receive potted plants. To me, that requires a lot more ongoing work! And yet, I can see the point. So, what I learned – or what I have been musing on recently – is how personal the giving and receiving of plants is.

2. Plants That Are Best For Sympathy and Grief

Since I was on this topic, I started wondering what plants people do choose to give if they offer them to someone who is grieving. I learned that there are many different sympathy plants each with its own meaning. For example, gladioli represent strength. Hyacinths represent sorrow.

Since plants are indeed so personal, I don’t know whether or not you want to gift one to someone who is grieving. For me, though, what I found was that perhaps I could do some intentional plant shopping in order to find plants that represent the specific stage of grief that I’m in. I learned that palms represent protection, which is something that sounds nice to have during a challenging time. The plant I selected most recently, however, is a very small orchid.

I have never kept orchids because they are known to be such finicky plants. However, I was very drawn to one, so I decided to get it for myself. And only afterward did I do some research and discover that orchids have many different meanings but one is eternal love for someone who has passed away. That feels so meaningful for me right now.

3. Best Crystals for the Garden

Although I find crystals to be pretty, I have never been particularly “into” crystals. In other words, I don’t carry them around or add them to an altar in order to manifest the energy that I need in my life. And yet, recently, I also find myself drawn to them. Do they have inherent natural energy? Maybe, maybe not. It sure can’t hurt to learn more about them and choose ones that could offer what I’m seeking, could it?

In that vein, I started learning about crystals that are popular for gardens. I will write about this in more detail in the future. The gist is that each one has a certain meaning and is good for certain types of energy. Some that are great for gardens include clear quartz and chrysocolla to promote growth, amazonite to protect against toxins in the soil and air, and black tourmaline as a protective border around a garden. It’s an intriguing new approach to adding different colors, textures, and energies to a garden space that I am excited to learn just a little bit more about.

4. Best Plants for Natural Plant Dyeing

I shared some of this with you in my early explorations. I have continued to explore this facet of gardening. In other words, I am very interested in growing plants for the purpose of dyeing fabric and, more specifically, organic cotton yarn. Additionally, I am interested in foraging for natural plants that are good for dyeing. To be honest, this is something that I’ve pursued wholeheartedly. However, thinking about doing so has been a beautiful way to enhance my daily life. And I hope to actively engage with this more in this fresh new year.

5. Plant and Gardening Podcasts

There is no substitute for first-hand experience. However, when I wasn’t home to take care of plants, or there wasn’t a garden nearby for me to enjoy, I found that books, documentaries, and podcasts made great additions to my life. Did you know there are lots of good podcasts about plants and gardening? I’ll do a full post on this soon. To get you started, though, you might want to check out “The Simple Garden Life,” “Garden Culture,” and “Roots and Refuge.” If you have any other recommendations, I’d love to know what they are!

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Gardening Books On My Library Want Shelf

Gardening Books On My Library Want Shelf

I have a confession. One of my favorite weird pastimes is going through all of the new books available at the library and placing any that I might read on my “For Later” shelf. I do this weekly. And I admit that there are more books on the shelves than I could ever actually read. However, I do also weekly browse my shelf and request some of the books, so I do end up reading a lot of them. Today, I thought I’d share with you some of the gardening books that are on my For Later shelf at the local library.

The Urban Garden: 101 Ways to Grow Food and Beauty in the City by Kathy Gentz

Obviously, I live in an urban area. I don’t have a huge yard to garden in. However, I have a deck, windowsill pots, and access to local community gardens. Therefore, I’m always interested in ideas about gardening in the city. I’m curious to see what might inspire me among the more than 100 ideas suggested in this book.

Companion Planting for Beginners: Pair your Plants for A Bountiful, Chemical-free Vegetable Garden by Brian Lowell

I love the idea of learning how to listen to nature when designing a garden. I remember during a vineyard tour learning about how they planted certain plants at the end of each row because they could see if there was any threat to the grapes by first checking out what was going on with those plants. That’s always stuck with me. This book seems like an amazing expansion upon that education.

The Regenerative Garden: 80 Practical Projects for Creating a Self-sustaining Garden Ecosystem by Stephanie Rose

Is her last name really Rose? That made me smile. In any case, I love DIY stuff, and I’m really curious about this idea of “practical projects.” Plus, it’s important to design gardens that work with nature. I’m really into xeriscaping and not planting non-native species. So, I think I’ll learn a lot from this book.

Sustainable Garden Projects, Tips and Advice for the Eco-conscious Gardener by Maryann Boswall

Here’s another one that’s along the same theme as the last. Whenever I see a book like this, I immediately add it to my library To Read shelf without hesitation.

Wild: The Naturalistic Garden by Noel Kingsbury

This seems to be another one similar to the two above. My library’s description of it includes:

“This is the first comprehensive overview of a new planting approach that is wild and natural by nature, reflecting the global turn towards sustainability and the current zeitgeist in garden design.”

It’s a look at forty different gardens from this perspective. I believe that I could learn a lot from this book.

Cutting Back: My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto by Leslie Buck

This is a book that I’ve actually already gotten from the library and have sitting right next to me to read soon. Memoirs are my very favorite genre. This one is about a female American gardener who went and trained in Japanese gardens.

Color in and Out of the Garden Watercolor Practices for Painters, Gardeners, and Nature Lovers by Lorene Edwards Forkner

I’m not actually a painter. However, I’m an artist (fiber and mixed media as well as writing). And I’m always inspired by creative exercises in different mediums. So, I probably won’t get out the paints to work along with this book, and yet I’m certain that it will give me inspiration.

Royal Gardens of the World by Mark Lane: 21 Celebrated Gardens From the Alhambra to Highgrove and Beyond

I’ve never honestly thought about Royal Gardens much. However, I imagine it would be like going on a vacation in the mind to flip through the pages of this book. Therefore, it’s on my list!

Help me build my wish list! What are some of your favorite gardening books?

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Best Garden Instagram Accounts for Inspiration

Best Garden Instagram Accounts for Inspiration

Social media is a neutral thing. It’s neither good nor bad. It’s all about how you use it. For me, I limit the time spent on social media. Moreover, I only fill my account with things that inspire me. I want the scroll to be a resource for me, a way to focus on what I love, breathe for a moment into beautiful things, and feel energized to create and connect. I mostly use Instagram. And I follow a lot of accounts about plants and gardens because looking at them for a few minutes per day is inspiration. Here are what I consider the best garden Instagram accounts for inspiration.

1. @japanese_gardens

This is truly my favorite of all of the garden Instagram accounts. It’s a simple account in that each post is just a photo of a beautiful Japanese garden. There’s a caption that shares where the garden is located. That’s it. It’s all about the pure beauty of these simple, organized, aesthetically-pleasing gardens. I have never seen a photo here that didn’t make me smile.

2. @thejungalow

This is a totally different type of account from @japanese_gardens. It’s actually an interior design account filled with beautiful spaces. So often, though, those spaces include plants and/or decor inspired by plants. In contrast to the austere serenity of @japanese_gardens, this one is maximalism to the core. It’s abundance. And I am someone who goes back and forth between enjoying minimalist decor and abundance overflowing, so I absolutely love both of these accounts.

3. @sfbotanicalgarden

I enjoy following as many local accounts as possible. Therefore, it’s no surprise that I follow the San Francisco botanical garden. (I also follow our @conservatoryofflowers.) Mostly its images of what’s blooming and blossoming and vibrant in the garden at any given time. However, there are also event announcements, etc. This reminds me to get out and see what’s happening in the gardens and natural areas around me. And THAT is always inspiring.

4. @outersunsetgardens

This is another local account. One of the most interesting things about San Francisco is our microclimates. It can feel hot in one neighborhood and cold in the next. I often joke that it’s always 65 degrees in San Francisco, but it can be a hot 65 or a cold 65. These microclimates lead to totally different plants and gardens depending on the neighborhood. This account is “a catalogue of plants that thrive in the unique microclimate of the Outer Sunset.” Note that this is an old account, so it’s not one that I see pop up when I scroll, but when I visit it, I’m always reminded me of the very specific local beauty here.

5. @gardendesignmag

There are so many great gardening magazines here and in the UK. Most of them, of course, have their own Instagram accounts. While it’s not the same as looking at those bright gardens, and the tips that the magazines offer, on glossy pages, I still find it inspiring to check out these Instagram accounts. This is one of my favorites for pretty photos, both landscape and close-up, of flowers and other plants.

6. @leafygreenshack

I honestly tend to prefer photo-rich accounts to Instagram reels, stories, and videos. I just think it helps me slow down and enjoy the visual beauty. However, when I’m in the mood for great garden reels, @leafygreenshack is a favorite. It’s an account about :growing and collecting plants in Australia.” The reels are pretty and upbeat and make me smile.

7. @monalogue

And finally, here’s another account whose reels I love. It’s self-defined as a Cottagecre account by a neurodivergent person sharing “life from our cottage in the English countryside.” So it’s not all garden all of the time, but it’s a lot of garden. The music in the reels is usually lovely and uplifting. And there’s just a whimsical romance to this account that I adore. It’s dreamy.

What are your favorite garden Instagram accounts?

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4 Best TV Shows for Gardeners

One of my favorite ways to get inspiration for creative endeavors is to watch reality TV competitions and other similar shows. For example, I’m a huge fan of shows like Project Runway that get me thinking about fashion design options. There are some great garden-related TV shows out there as well. Of course, if you are streaming your favorite TV show you will need a reliable internet connection. For this reason, it could be worth keeping up to date with your satellite dish maintenance to ensure that leaves, dirt, and general debris on your dish don’t affect the quality of your internet signal. With that said, here are some of the best TV shows for gardeners.


Obviously, HGTV is the go-to channel for shows about homes and gardens. Therefore, it’s no surprise that one of the best TV shows for gardeners is a reality show on HGTV. It’s also probably no surprise to anyone that Martha Stewart is one of the shows hosts. After all, just check out her magazine for tons of great tips on Gardening.

Clipped is a topiary competition show. So, you get the chance to watch the competitors participate in different challenges related to topiary. It’s all about making different plants and the settings that they’re in look stunningly gorgeous through shearing and other techniques. I’ll never make a plant look like any of these but I enjoy watching the process of the art form!

The Big Flower Fight

British reality TV shows are always a little bit hit or miss for me. They’re usually a little bit more serious, a little bit less of the silly drama you see on American TV shows. That can be a positive or a negative for me personally. In this case, I love it. No drama, just serious competition about how to use flowers to make a space beautiful.

AARP describes the show cheekily as “The Rose Parade meets Edward Scissorhands.” It’s really beautiful, though, to see how they use and shape flowers to create such original works of art. Every year here in San Francisco there’s a floral art display at the de Young Museum for about one week. I’ve never gone but I’ve always intended to and watching this show makes me want to prioritize doing so.

The Instant Gardener

This is more like the classic “home makeover” show that you might watch on TV. However, it’s for garden makeovers. A team of three people shows up, takes a look at a sad garden, and spends a day fixing it up. It’s one of those shows that is satisfying to watch because there’s a problem and it’s solved with the span of one episodes. So, when I’m looking for a quick fix to cheer me up, this is a good one.

Bonus: BBC’s Gardener’s World

I named this a “bonus” because I haven’t actually watched this show, yet, myself. I didn’t want to include shows I haven’t seen. However, in every blog post I saw about which shows are the best TV shows for gardeners, this one made the list. Apparently it’s a long-running British show featuring tips and tricks of all kinds for gardening. Have you ever seen it? What are your thoughts?

Do you have any other favorite gardening TV shows that I missed?

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Being a Beginner in the Garden

Being a Beginner in the Garden

I’ve admitted to you in the past that I honestly have a bit of a brown thumb. During periods of depression, this can make me feel like I will never be able to grow a plant ever again. However, most of the time, I’m able to turn off that kind of thinking. I’m able to embrace the beauty of being a beginner at something. It’s okay to be a beginner. And it’s okay to always be an amateur at something. In fact, I think it can be a really beautiful thing.

Being a Beginner Is Hard For Me

It’s taken me a long time to learn how to NOT be good at things. Obviously, I don’t mean that I’m naturally good at everything I try. Far from it. However, historically, I give up really easily at things I’m not immediately good at. School was always easy for me, so I pushed forward in that and excelled. Flute lessons and athletics were hard for me; I quit or didn’t even begin.

Learning How to Learn

Over time (I’m in my forties now!), I’ve learned how to embrace being a beginner. It started in school. It took me a really long time to comprehend the idea that school was a place for me to learn things, not to be automatically good at them. Since I had fit so well into traditional school growing up, it all came easily to me. I never realized I was there to learn hard things. Honestly, I didn’t learn a whole lot from my Bachelors’ degree either. I did the work, got the grades, moved on.

However, grad school was hard. I got my MA in Psychology. The school work wasn’t hard at all. The papers and tests came easily to me. However, the actual experience of pushing myself and learning and growing and being part of a complex group dynamic was really, really hard for me. And I did it. And I’m prouder of that than of any grade I ever got.

The Beauty of Being a Beginner

I’ve finally learned about how great it is to NOT know something but to want to learn it. I’ve learned that it’s not only normal and okay to mistakes; it’s great. Here are some of the reasons that it’s beautiful to be a beginner, in gardening or any other pursuit:

  • The pressure is off. You don’t have to do this perfectly because YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW YET.
  • The excitement is high. There is so much ahead to learn!
  • You don’t have preconceived notions. Or you do but you can let them go. Thus, you’re more present in the experience.
  • Hope, possibility, openness, curiosity … these are all things that it’s possible to bring to the garden as a beginner. And you can bring this beginner’s mind to the garden even if you’ve been gardening for a really long time.
  • The rewards feel huge! I feel good when I complete something I’m good at, of course. But I feel amazing when I succeed at something I’m not good at, yet!

So, I think it’s wonderful to be a beginner in the garden. I think it’s wonderful to stay an amateur. After all, I don’t plan to do any professional gardening. Therefore, I’ll never have to worry about striving for perfection, layering business over the hobby, etc. I have other things for that. A garden can just be a place to play.

What are your thoughts on being a beginner? Is it hard for you? Easy and exciting? Both?

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5 Ways Healthy Gardens Help The Planet

Ways Healthy Gardens Help The Planet

I just started reading the book “The Healthy Garden: Simple Steps For a Greener World.” It’s all about sustainable gardening that’s good for individuals and communities. A simple paragraph in the introduction got me thinking about all of the ways that the choices we make in our gardens can not only save us money but also offer benefits to our neighborhoods and the larger planet around us. Let’s consider some examples.

What Is a Healthy Garden?

Authors Kathleen N. Brenzel and Mary-Kate Mackey have put together an entire large book about healthy gardens. So, obviously, this isn’t a simple question to answer. Basically, though, they define health as balance. They look at ways to grow gardens that are sustained, benefit your own mind and body, and spread out to help the world around you.

Ways Healthy Gardens Help the Planet

Here are some of the ways that they list in that introduction and then go on to share details about throughout the book.

1. Strengthen the Soil

They talk a lot about choosing the right plants. Don’t choose plants that steal all of the water from a dry desert area. Instead, choose plants that are good for the growth all around them. When you do that, you improve the soil. You bring balance to the nature of the area. As a result, the whole ecosystem begins to thrive more.

2. Composting Is Good For The Planet

When you compost, you improve the soil. More that that, though, you also keep organic materials out of landfills. There are already way too many things crowding our landfills. We all know that this waste is bad for the planet. We can do our own small part by composting in our own gardens.

3. Upcycling In The Garden

You can save other stuff from going to the landfill, too, when you choose to use it in your garden. I’ve told you before about the Pine Street Garden which is a little local neighborhood garden where they’ve upcycled cans and bottles into beautiful plant pots for the whole neighborhood to enjoy. We’ve also talked here in the blog about how to use upcycled tires in the garden. You can DIY decor and functional items for the garden and make sure those items don’t go to waste.

4. Grow Food For Yourself and Others

There was once a time when almost everyone grew their own food. These days, we mostly buy our own food. When you grow your own food for yourself and others, you restore health and balance to your own little part of the community. When you and your children understand where your food really comes from, you are less inclined to waste it. When you give garden food to others in need, you improve their lives and health.

5. Feed The Local Wildlife

A friend of mine had a garden that was certified as a local wildlife habitat. She learned how to choose the right plants to provide water sources and food sources to the local wildlife native to her area. Mostly, she fed birds, but she also fed some raccoons and other critters. As your plants come to life, the wildlife comes, then they help spread that new life around the area, and everyone benefits. The planet is better for it.

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Inexpensive Alternatives To Grow Lights

(X) Inexpensive Alternatives To Grow Lights

Grow lights can be a really helpful tool for indoor gardening. Many people find that they are worth their cost. However, they aren’t cheap. Therefore, you might want to consider some of these inexpensive alternatives to grow lights.

What Are Grow Lights?

Grow lights are exactly what their name says: lights designed to help plants grow better. As you might guess, these aren’t just any regular light, though. You can’t just turn a desk lamp on to your plants and assume that they’ll grow better as a result. Instead, plants need light that’s similar to sunlight. Grow lights use particular colors from the light spectrum to help your indoor plants grow.

Inexpensive Alternatives To Grow Lights

There are several good inexpensive alternatives to grow lights. However, it’s important that when you look at these cheaper alternatives, you make sure that you’re choosing the right ones for your plants. There are different types of grow lights, with different intensity and energy efficiency, etc. Do your research to find out what works best with your particular setup.

1. Fluorescent Lights

Hydroponic Way suggests using fluorescent lighting as one of the best inexpensive alternatives to grow lights. They note that they generally don’t emit a lot of heat, which is important. A light bulb that burns too hot can burn your plants, doing the exact opposite of helping them to grow! However, because they don’t burn too hot, they also don’t burn too bright. As a result, they don’t produce enough light for some plants to grow well. Do your research to find plants that will grow well under fluorescent lighting.

2. LED Grow Lights

There are actually many different types of grow lights on the market. Some are more expensive than others. If you want to purchase grow lights made for your indoor garden but don’t want to spend a lot of money, then consider purchasing LED grow lights. They’re easy to find. Moreover, they’re energy-efficient so they won’t run up the cost of your home electric bill.

3. Halogen Lights

Hydroponic Way notes that these are not the most efficient option. However, if you already have halogen lights or you can get them affordably, then you might want to see if they work well for your indoor garden.

4. Incandescent Light Bulbs

Today’s Homeowner notes that you can use incandescent lighting bulbs as grow lights. However, as aforementioned, they burn hot so they have the potential to burn your plants. As a result, make sure that you keep the lights further away from the plants than you would with the other types of alternative lights. They note that a nice option is to combine incandescent lights with fluorescent lights because each emits a different type of light on the spectrum, giving your plants a better balance for good growth.

5. Sunlight

Obviously, the sun is the best light source for your plants. If you can skip the grow lights and use nature, then that’s your best option. It’s free, after all. Of course, you might not have the choice to grow all of your plants outdoors. Or you might want to enjoy indoor gardening during months when it’s too cold for plants outside. If you can set plants up near windows that get the right amount of sun, this is still your best option.

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5 Ways Depression Costs Me In the Garden

5 Ways Depression Costs Me In the Garden

I struggle with chronic, recurring depression. While it’s well-managed, the symptoms do creep up from time to time. Depression is an expensive mental health condition, in ways that might surprise you. In fact, during bouts of depression, I find that it costs me in the garden. This does mitigate the many mental health benefits of gardening. However, it’s an important thing to know about if you’re a frugal gardener who lives with a similar mental health challenge.

5 Ways Depression Costs Me In The Garden

Here are the five most common ways that depression costs me in the garden.

1. Lack of Energy Means Slack in the Garden

A garden requires tending. Most plants need attention weekly if not daily. When this is part of a normal routine, it’s great. In fact, it’s a healthy part of the day. However, sometimes, depression wins. When it does, fatigue sets in. It literally feels impossible to get up out of the bed to do anything at all. If that happens, then gardening doesn’t. And this can mean the plants wither and die.

2. What’s The Point Anyway?

That refrain runs through my head when I’m dealing with a bout of depression. Depression is characterized by hopelessness and pointlessness and a lack of interest in doing things normally enjoyed. It’s really hard to stay motivated to work in the garden when you can’t see the point of doing it. Again, this means that the garden withers and dies.

If we can overcome these feelings (through medication, therapy, self-care, and other means,) then the growth and beauty of the garden can remind us of the point. But, sometimes, depression takes over.

3. Low Self-Esteem or Black/White Thinking

For me, depression is accompanied by a feeling of worthlessness. Some people experience black and white thinking because of their mental health conditions. In either case, this can lead to feeling like you aren’t good enough to make a garden grow. A plant starts to die, I feel like “I don’t know how to garden,” and I just give up.

Someone who loves gardening might see a small mistake in the garden and suddenly hate gardening. We lose the joy as we lose ourselves in depression. So, we abandon the garden. Or we get in there and rip it up entirely, destroying what we spent time and money creating.

4. Reckless Shopping

Although this is more commonly a characteristic of mania in bipolar depression, people, like myself, with unipolar depression, can fall into wasteful shopping as well. For me, it’s usually online shopping. I’m imagining some other life I want to have where I’m not depressed, and I’m allowing the easy mindlessness of the scroll to convince me that I just need this gadget or that to feel better. So, suddenly, I find myself buying new garden tools, plants, or a gardening apron that I can’t afford and won’t ever use.

5. Injuries

Ideally, I work through the challenges and overcome them and get back to doing things that I love. However, sometimes, when you push through before you’re ready, you end up injuring yourself. If you’re in the brain fog of depression while working with gardening tools, then you might injure yourself. This can cost me in medical care as well as lost work.

Tips for Coping

There are many amazing benefits of gardening. It’s just sometimes hard to remember them in the throes of depression. It’s helpful for me to keep lists of things I love, what the benefits are, little stories or photos that remind me of the good parts, etc. Then I look at those in depression to try to help myself overcome the inertia and get back to myself.

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